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You Have To Play To Win

dice

I’m clearly not a risk taker. I’ll just say that in case my years and years of publishing short stories and not full length works, waiting over a decade to even attempt editing a collection myself and starting and stopping umpteen novels weren’t enough of a clue.

I touch on the topic from time to time. Okay, I talk about it a lot, so much so that I start getting on my own nerves which only leads to more frustration.

But, with the publishing world being as finicky as it has been lately, and my not having a steady 9 to 5 in over a year, I’ve been tossing around ideas on how I can make things happen for myself, be it revising my NaNo novel, doing a kick starter for another anthology, or putting out a few volumes of my own previously published shorts.

Those things sound easy enough. And they probably are easy enough. But then the fear kicks in. A writer friend asked this morning what exactly the fear was and I told her…”fear of the end.” Sure, success might be there waiting, and so could failure but I’d never know which one it is if I never get there. I guess this is my crazy little safe zone.

The thing about my safe zone, though, is that I’m not doing what I love. I’m not going where my heart leads me. And I’m not  making any real attempt at achieving any major goal I’ve ever set for myself. So, while I’m safe from hurt and disappointment and failure, I’m also hiding from what really could be an awesome future for me and my work.

I’ve been getting signs lately. Not only had I been considering moving forward with these ideas myself, a dear writer friend tossed them out to me as well. Then this morning I had a phone conversation with my BFF and self proclaimed biggest fan, and she invited me to set up a booth at a local Women’s Expo. I had been approached by someone else about this recently and my excuse, of course, was that I didn’t have anything to offer. Sure, there’s Can’t Get Enough, but otherwise, what had I done lately? What comes next?

So, she also brought up the possibility of me putting together some collections. And I mean, self publishing now a days is too damn easy not to. I have just shy of a month to do this, and I’ve decided that I will. I mean, you can’t get mad that someone else won the lottery if you never even buy a ticket…right?

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Renee Swindle’s “Shake Down The Stars” – A Review

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Not so recently, I was the lucky winner of the latest novel of Renee Swindle, A Pinch of Ooh La La. I was happily surprised by this win as I had tried for it on a whim and had just finished Ms. Swindle’s second novel, Shake Down The Stars. For years and years I waited for another Renee Swindle book as I loved  her first, Please Please Please so very much.

Now, before I begin this review I must tell you that I’m forgetful. Let’s just…put that out there. I say and do things on the fly. I hoard notebooks. I write myself notes on an app on my phone. It’s how I live. I’m saying all that to say that I immediately wrote a review for Shake Down The Stars which I fully intended to post here and upload to Amazon. Who knows how that went awry, but in one of my cleaning frenzies yesterday, I uncovered the abandoned review, and well, better late than never…right?

In this ultimate comeback novel, the main character Piper won me over from page one. You see, hooking and reeling me in the beginning is important as I have the attention span of a… wait… what was I saying?

Oh, right. Piper. What a mess! But quite frankly, I need for my characters to be a bit of a mess, so I know they’re real. Fortunately, Renee Swindle shared my sentiment in this brilliantly crafted and tightly written novel where she presents readers with a character who immediately resonates. Be it Piper’s alcoholism, (whether she acknowledges it or not), family turmoil or unimaginable loss, there is a little part of this character we can all relate to.

It is all these parts of Piper that made me ask the question over and over: Who will love you at your worst?

Though Piper isn’t overtly in search or love, or any one thing in particular, it’s a question she seems to want the answer to herself. While dealing with the unthinkable in the only way she knows how, drinking until she can no longer think nor feel, engaging in reckless and promiscuous behavior and clinging to an unhealthy back and forth relationship with her ex husband, Piper often looks for answers in the stars. Star gazing is a passion of hers, and after hitting rock bottom, the stars, it seems, are all she can hold on to.

It takes the chance meeting of a perfect stranger to bring Piper’s starry gaze into focus and force her to confront her demons and, once and for all, decide who she really is, and if the real Piper is worth loving at all.

Since her breakout novel Please Please Please, I’ve found Renee Swindle to be synonymous with creating shockingly real and relatable characters and terribly realistic stories. Her much anticipated follow up proves consistent in presenting readers with a complex and flawed character that we have all at one point either known, seen or been. 

Filled with detailed descriptions, familiar settings and sharp, snappy dialogue, Shake Down The Stars is an engaging and compelling read that I highly recommend.

Now…on to A Pinch of Ooh La La!
 

So you edited your first anthology…now what?

I have a problem. No, a habit, of letting things define me. It’s never intentional, but it happens. Years ago, I was published for the first time in two major anthologies simultaneously. All of a sudden I was the girl who wrote erotica. I proudly took this on as my little niche in writing, a place where I could make a name and hopefully, someday, maybe…a living.

I published plenty. I crossed off a lot of goals on my “to be published by” list. And then I had the opportunity to achieve a major goal of mine: editing my first anthology.

As you know, it came to be Can’t Get Enough and it was a whirlwind experience.

Of course, the book wasn’t even out yet before ideas for more and more anthologies were taking over. I jotted them down. I eventually wrote them up. I decided that if this book did well, this was my chance. I could establish something. This would be my first in a heaping pile of anthologies edited by yours truly.

*Insert belly laughs here*

Though I’ve come across many wonderful people in this community of ours, several of whom turned out to be great mentors of mine, there was never anyone I really spoke to about how this really works. That nothing happens as quickly as you want it to, or does as ridiculously well as you’d dreamed it would and that, well, you do more watching and waiting than anything for a really long time.Suffice it to say, I don’t have any new calls for submissions to list and be excited about, and honestly, I don’t know if I ever will again. I know that’s the opposite of positive thinking, but I have to be real with myself if no one else.

And yes, I drafted a novel in the meanwhile and have started countless other projects. But, what have I done to really push myself forward? To really capitalize from the momentum of Can’t Get Enough’s release?

Editing the project while working a full-time job, moving to another state and caring for twins was enough in and of itself. To keep writing and submitting short stories at the same time sounded crazy.

But, that was where it all began. That was what I was known for. And apparently, I must have taken heed at some point (in my sleep maybe) because I received word a little while back that the amazing Alison Tyler will be publishing three of my shorts in two of her upcoming anthologies.

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In Bondage Bites (due out in August), I have Minute to Minute and Anything But Loose, and in Hard At Work (release date TBA), I have A Hard Sell.

 

On Life and The Fast Lane

And just like that, it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I could follow that up with the usual. How I’ve been busy, in pain, depressed, etc. but the fact remains…it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I remain amazed and in awe that during my period of silence here and barely tweeting, “Can’t Get Enough” continues to do well, people continue to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and I still have some faithful followers of this tired, old blog.

To detail the happenings of these past months would take a long, drawn out post that I don’t want to write and I’m sure you don’t want to read. But, to be as brief as possible, I started an intense weight-loss and work-out regimine that required all of my attention (apparently) and as a result I lost nearly 50 pounds.

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I also went blonde.I re-entered the work force, temping at a warehouse for a couple of months before the contract ended, and now I’m basically back where I started. Except, I now have the first draft of a novel thanks to NaNoWriMo. Yes, I participated in and completed National Novel Writing Month. I began rewrites on my WIP, but quickly became…unmotivated. So, there’s that.

Otherwise, I’m existing and trying to find ways to be more present, both here, and in life. My birthday is approaching, so it’s getting pretty dark over here.

The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica: One Delighted Reader’s Review

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I have a special and specific love for libraries. I always have. Maybe it was because I grew up in a town where the only book store we had sold how-to manuals and office supplies, and the only chance I had at getting my hands on the newest piece of fiction was to travel three towns over and buy it from the mall or, at my age with no money and no car, visit my local library.

Now, well into adulthood, I spend most of my time surrounded by books. I am always, at some point or another, reading one, reviewing one, adding one to my already overflowing collection, and never, not once, has anyone ever heard me complain about it.

To say that I’m a bookworm would be of course, cliché, but I urge you pick up your dictionary, flip the page to bookworm and look at the definition. Then, yes, there slightly to the right, see that picture? Why yes, that is me with my black framed spectacles holding my current book of choice.

In fact, in the case of my untimely demise I have just one request, I’d like to die the way I live, buried in books, and if I must be specific, make them sexy books, and I have to be more specific than that, bury me right there smack dab in the middle of Rose Caraway’s The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, which I happened to have had the pleasure of being snuggled up with for the better part of the week.

For me, the bigger the book, the better, so this book appealed to me before I even turned back the cover. The twenty-two stories are not only perfectly lengthy and equally meaty, but are preceded by Bix Warden’s clever foreward and Ms. Caraway’s own spot on introduction.

Bookended with stories by well known sex writer and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel and the Ms. Caraway herself, this anthology offers up shelf after shelf of goodness, so much so that as I was reading, highlighting and taking notes (because I do that) I realized that it would be difficult to point out my favorites.

While I enjoyed them all, yes, every last one, I was particularly fond of Bussel’s Book Swap, where book lover Brianna swaps books mid flight with a her seatmate, who happens to be a sexy young Dom. Embarrassed at first by his discovery of her choice of reading, she is pleasantly surprised at what fantasies, pleasure and punishments he has in store for her upon landing.

The story immediately following, Lillian Douglas’s Sensate Silicone, appealed to the gadget geek in me. A self proclaimed porn star and sexpert who not only enjoys but endorses dildos, is introduced to the ultimate sex toy, and she pleasures herself in a way she never imagined she could.

Fans of mythology will enjoy Janine Ashbless’s Three Legs In The Morning, a smart, incredibly well told fairy tale type story that highlights bits of voyeurism, mystery and intrigue.

But oh, the cherry on my southern ice cream sundae was Salome Wilde’s Moonshine Ballad. Lyrical and literary, this story was as satisfying as apple pie, and as fulfilling as forty-five minutes on the dirt floor of your grandfather’s barn.

I can never turn a blind eye to exhibitionism, so Full-Frontal Neighbor by Lynn Townsend tickled my fancy as well and if you’re hungry for oral, hotel sex and a wee bit of cuckolding, then by all means, follow the arrows to Sommer Marsden’s Appetizer where Jamie indulges his wife’s fantasy as a surprise, letting the eager Oliver whet her appetite before he took over to fill her up.

As I mentioned, I’m a story whore, and in this collection I could absolutely dote on every one, but I always prefer show over tell. So, by all means let me show you the way to Rose Caraway’s The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, and you thumb through the pages and bookmark some favorites of your own.

Accountability

When I sort of accidentally began this journey, accountability was a big thing for me. I talked about it. Owned it. Showed it. Through daily full body Instagram photos, I am holding myself accountable to myself and to (I’d like to think) the world for my fitness and health, whether I do or don’t meet my goals for that day, week or whatever.

Just recently, I’ve begun adding food pics to the mix, which I had been doing from time to time before, but that’s when I was flaky about it all and could easily have had a salad for lunch and fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner. You’d see the pretty picture of the salad, but you wouldn’t see and I wouldn’t speak of the fried chicken.

I guess it’s like the proverbial tree in the forest. If I eat it and no one’s around to witness it, does that mean it didn’t happen? Well, I knew that couldn’t last because even if I didn’t post pictures of every meal, I repeat, I post full body shots of myself every single day, so you would know something went awry, somewhere. I wouldn’t be telling the truth. I wouldn’t be telling my truth. And there are many parts to my truth.

The truth is, if this were five days ago, I’d have either a vodka cranberry or a glass of wine in my hand. And if I’m going to tell the truth, five days ago, I DID have a vodka cranberry in my hand, and followed it up with several more. And let’s just throw a couple of shots of tequila in there for sport, because that happened, too.

Also, a hangover happened, and though I’ve posted a vicious hangover selfie on Instagram, I made sure I got myself together before I posted my daily shot, and I still went walking/jogging.

I haven’t had a drink since Sunday and that’s in part because I’ve been thinking a lot about this accountability thing and also because a friend challenged me to a strict seven day fitness thingy that doesn’t allow for alcohol.

It’s been easy. Unbelievably easy until today, when my day wasn’t so good, when my relationship isn’t glowing that perfect glow, when I’m so annoyed/pissed/mad/sad that I just want to numb myself with a vodka neat or a whole bottle of wine. And yes, I can take down a whole bottle…and a half.

So, far I’m resisting. Sipping iced water and channeling this negative energy into new words and promoting Can’t Get Enough. And I think I’m able to resist mostly out of stubbornness and a small part of me thinks it may be an around about attempt at sabotage because my husband of course lives with me, knows my habits, my weaknesses and unfortunately, my triggers.

It’s good to get that off my chest. I’ll let  you know how it turns out tomorrow. Honestly.

Easy like…

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…feel free to take it from there, but let me tell you, nothing about this Sunday is easy, not for me anyway. I knew it had been a few days since I updated here, but a whole week?! Wow, I had no idea. And in the meantime, so many readers, blogger and reviewers were happily participating in the Can’t Get Enough blog tour, including the Trollop With A Laptop herself, Alison Tyler, who posted this colorful interview with me on her blog yesterday, while I was busy shuttling the twin to the sitter, driving to a book signing…

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…signing one (tee hee) book and driving back, picking up twins, picking up dinner then coming home where it began storming and the power went out.

And that was just yesterday. Today I planned to stay in bed all day and rest because I was bold, no foolish enough to wear heels yesterday, and apparently I must atone for that today. However, instead of resting and recovering peacefully, I’m having to deal with the difficult tenant I’ve been avoiding mentioning to much over the past year (because I’m such a fucking lady) because after avoiding being served with a notice of eviction, she finally got served, then tells me that she needs more than ten days. Not because she doesn’t have anywhere to go, mind you, but because she doesn’t feel like moving her stuff.

Really, she doesn’t feel like it? Well, you know what I don’t feel like? Paying mortgage on a home that I’m not living in and not being reimbursed for it and having it torn all to hell to boot. So, yeah, that’s going on right now, but I’m trying to put my energy elsewhere.

Like this creative spurt I’m going through right now. While the power was out yesterday evening, I entertained my husband by reading him the beginnings of some things I’m working on. One story is a comedy in addition to being erotic, and the first paragraph made him laugh out loud. That was cool.

But speaking of Alison Tyler, one of several things I did on Friday (indcluding having tires changed, ugh!) was visit the Atlanta bookstore Charis Books where I spotted her Dark Secret Love on display on the shelf. I couldn’t resist snapping this picture and tweeting and tagging her.

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She wrote about it on her blog today.

I know this is a super long post, but I had a lot of catching up to do. I haven’t even mentioned that Rose Caraway announced the winners of her give away on Friday! And she did it in such a unique and clever way!

Thanks, Rose, thank everyone, and thanks if you made it through this post!