Blog Ring of POWER!

How cool is this?!  I’m the feature of a Blog Ring of Power!!

You can read part one at E.M. LaBronte’s blog, in this post.  About yours truly.

Second part of on Sandra Almazan’s blog, in this post.  About my writing life.

Continue on over to Vicki Lemp Weavil’s blog, to this post.  About the creative process.

Then head on to Terri Bruce’s blog, to this post.  About my current work.

Wrapping up is T.W. Fendley, in this post!  Words of Wisdom.

 

Thank you so very much, ladies!  And an extra special thank-you to E.M. LaBronte for surprising me with this in February!!

Today is the day!

Sacred Honor CoverSacred Honor is now available!

Never could Juliette St. Claire have guessed that her future would involve the hard work, glitz, and glamour, of an indie-film actress-turned-Hollywood starlet. Challenges presented by a new relationship with a co-star force her to abandon her comfort zone professionally and personally.

As her twenty-first birthday quickly approaches, an unexpected invitation from an old love quickly propels her back into the danger she thought she’d never again experience. Juliette quickly learns she must choose: her own happiness, or her family’s safety.

Intensely captivating and seductively romantic, Sacred Honor is the empowering continuance of Sacred Blood that will keep you on the edge of your seat challenging perceptions of sacrifice.

 

I wrote the first draft for this book back in 2012, November to be exact, but spent much of the next year editing Sacred Blood.  After releasing Sacred Blood in December 2013, I decided to push our a release date for Sacred Honor before it was finished.  Since dates are oddly important to me, I picked today since it is not only a weekend, but is the date closest to a dear friend’s birth AND is lucky number 13.  I anticipate the release of Sacred Heart to be September 27.

In other news, Sacred Blood is now available in print!  Only a limited number are available from this print run.

 

An interview and update

Interesting interview! I may be biased. :)

Interview with Author Alys B. Cohen

All my spare time, and even time that isn’t really spare, is going to editing Sacred Honor.  The release is less than a month away.  The cover and blurb are finished.  The editing and layout is not.  I have no idea how some authors punch out a book a month.  Yes, I do know authors who release that often, though not at the top of my reading list yet.  I asked one of them, and she dodged my question about how she could write AND edit 100,000 words every single month.

Well, I can’t.  I can write a draft that fast, but will turn around and spent 250 hours or more revising and editing, on top of running a successful small businesses and household duties.  This may explain why I’m sick as a dog right now.  

Back to work!  From my bed.  I haven’t managed to leave it since laying down to go to bed.

More loss of rights for women

You know, I write the books I do hoping to empower women not to take bull from jerks, and while I like to think there’s a chance at least one more woman could find courage, when our lawmakers are against us, I don’t know what to do. Our politicians who should be protecting our rights are the ones standing by and enabling the violation of our bodies. So we need to teach our daughters to start carrying knives and mace to fight off those who are empowered by the government to assault them?

The latest anti-woman news out of the US, on the heels of a Massachusetts high court deciding yesterday that sneaking up-skirt pictures is legal (thankfully rushed to the legislature, which immediately overturned the ruling and banned up-skirting, and is set for the governor to sign),  that women in the military who are raped are often afraid to speak up because of retaliation will continue to be deprived of justice. There’s a growing problem of women in the military having to give sexual favors in exchange for documents and other things necessary to do their jobs, on top of outright forceful rape.

Military commanders remain in charge of deciding which cases are prosecuted at all, and how. What happens if the rapist is a good buddy of a commander? What happens then the commanders are raping women? Today’s vote was on a bill that would have removed these decisions outside the chain of command to the Judge Advocate General, but instead it was struck down. This is like a crooked cop deciding which cases to have taken to trials instead of prosecutors and judges having any say.

So our women soldiers still can’t get justice because they, like us civilian women, have rights that are subpar to the rights of men.

For an idea of just how accepted military rape is, try not to have a heart attack over this quote from Virginia State Sen. Richard “Dick” Black when he defended rape as a natural and predictable part of human nature:

“Think of yourself at 25. Wouldn’t you love to have a group of 19-year-old girls under your control, day in, day out?”

Thank you, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for your attempts at standing up for our military women who already put their lives on the line, and whose biggest threat is from our own government.  Thank you for sponsoring this bill, and for fighting so hard for it.  This photo, taken following defeat, shows us how much this meant to you, and how disappointed you are that our senators let us down.  Those of us with any measure of decent sense are right there with you.

Image

Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) taking a pause during speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington following the bill’s defeat. Photo:Charles Dharapak/AP

Sacred Honor has a release date

Yes!  April 13th.  It’s not finished yet, but having a date means no excuses!  I have two hours scheduled every single day for work, though this is by no means the only time I’ll be burning the midnight oil.  I have a cover to photograph and work on, a blurb to do, editing and more editing…  I have the ISBNs, the easiest part of this.  

On April 13th, I will be hosting an online launch party and cover reveal.  On April 14th, I will be on a blog tour.  I’m nervous for April 26th since I’ll be having a radio interview.  My only comfort is having a semi-pro recording setup in the office.

This is, by no means, all I’ve got on my plate.  I’ve got clients to deal with for my business, some more volunteer work (I’m at about 100 hours for the year, and am on track to beat last year), and am planning ahead for a benefit gala in May.  

And then…editing for Sacred Heart!

Since I began writing…

…I’ve become a more critical reader.  Years ago I read Nora Robert’s Dream Trilogy: Daring to Dream, Holding the Dream, and Finding the Dream.  These books take place in Monterey, California, a place very dear to me.  I’m from coastal California, and have lived as close as a block from the beach.  More than just that drew me to these books.  I loved the three different stories for each of the main ladies, the way the books were progressive for the time (though stated as “freedom of sexual preference,” the point is the same, and this wasn’t common in anything mainstream), the characters having goals despite having wealth, and so on.

Last week I decided I wanted to re-read them.  What an eye-opening experience this was!  I’m not quite certain these books would have landed a deal today, though who would have expected certainotherbooks to land deals. I still love the stories in the Dream trilogy, but can’t say I’m a fan of the style.  

Among other issues, her use of omniscient narration is jerky.  One moment we’re in the head of one character learning information that, if withheld from us as it is from the focal character, could have added tension.  Yes, we learn things that the characters involved don’t know, and often.  There’s no notice when the head we are in will change.

In addition, she tells far more than she shows.  This is probably what bugs me the most.  Telling rather than showing is needed sometimes, and can be used to pass time, but this shouldn’t be the bulk of the non-action.  She does a beautiful job describing the scenery and the waves crashing on the cliffs.  The shortfall here is when describing the feelings and actions of people. 

I’m presuming that this is a result of having nine books published in the same eleven-month span of time between the first and last books of this trilogy.  Since her first published book, she’s had another out approximately every six weeks.  I don’t see how very much editing can happen in that time.  

These are things that wouldn’t have bothered me so much before I started writing.  Since I wasn’t making any genuine attempt to do better, what place did I have to be overly critical?  However, now that I am writing seriously, it reinforces to me the importance of showing.  Showing is like a seasoning in a pie you’d notice if it was gone, but might not be able to put your finger on it.

Right now Sacred Honor is in editing.  I will be more aware of areas that tell, and will be editing those to show more.

I must be out of my mind

Editing two books.

Trying to promote Sacred Blood.

Writing a serial spitefic and typing in promotion.

Writing two book analyses.

Running a business.

Family duties.

Volunteering for a local theater and a national ballet company.

Activism in support of local teachers.

Trying to keep everything else straight.

This sums up my life in a nutshell.  This blog and my Facebook pages are what fall off my priority-list first.  I can often be found with my iPad mini and a stylus editing something while waiting for an appointment.  When cooking dinner, my computer is usually on the counter so I can type while waiting to stir something.  While cleaning up or taking care of business, I’ll have an audio book on so I can listen to something I’m supposed to critique.  The voice recorder on my phone gets heavy use dictating the neck chapter in that spite fic.  Updating Twitter usually happens while I’m “taking care of business” or while walking the dogs as they take care of theirs.

I have a cook book with French mararon recipes I want to try, and the ground almonds to do it.  I’ve got ballet classes I keep meaning to rejoin since exercise is good for me and I love ballet.  I…uh…well, pretty much everything else I already do.  The peril to enjoying and doing so many things is a severe shortage of time.  Thank goodness I don’t care to sleep a lot.

Back to work I go, with a blog update, a real one instead of 3:40-am ramble thoughts, to finish and post tomorrow night.

Gravity (spoilers)

A couple days ago I saw this movie.  A film carried entirely by two characters who are trapped in space after their shuttle is destroyed and they must face their mortality and impending death.  A small cast means each member has a tougher job. The premise sounds fantastic, and I’m a fan of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, so was really looking forward to this.

I was floored in my disappointment.  The special effects were fantastic.  I could believe they were really in space only as far as the effects.  Weightlessness, droplets of water, and how pens and other objects moved are a testament to the skill of the special effects and CGI department.  Unfortunately the positives stop there.  Bring in the stereotyping of the weak woman and the big, tough man.

Now I am a fan of both George Cloony and Sandra Bullock, and the idea of a movie carried entirely by a cast of two people about a couple astronauts on a destroyed space station who are drifting further into the abyss and must learn to accept impending death has all the makings of a touching movie that makes you think. Instead the station was destroyed, the big, tough man dies voluntarily to let the whiny woman have a chance at life, and she hallucinates help from him while she gets back to earth. No real reflection on life and death, not much acting, poor script, and how the hell did this movie get ten Oscar nominations?

I don’t feel anything for these characters. Most of the acting takes place in space suits, leaving their faces and voices to get their emotions across, and these are just plain dull roles. George’s character is the smart, tough man not afraid of death, and he goes into it willingly to give Sandra’s character a chance to live. She’s not believable as an astronaut because she panics very easily, cries at the drop of a pin, is emotionally unstable (her entire character revolved around mourning for her daughter and hasn’t come to terms with it), admitted to failing certain parts of astronaut training…. Basically the man is the strong woman, and the woman is weak. I don’t think I’ve ever seen stereotypical gender roles so perfectly displayed in a movie, even in the classics.

For crying out loud, she only got out of a tough spot and survived because she hallucinated George telling her what to do, and the problem with this is he, her hallucination, told her something she didn’t know. So it’s not like the hallucination reminded her of something she forgot!! Frankly that’s like Bella’s hallucinations of Edward telling her what to do when facing danger she didn’t know existed. Hallucinations don’t work that way! Yet they couldn’t make Sandra’s character figure it out. Nope. Deus ex machina with a hallucination of the man giving her new information to save her ass.

Yeah, I just can’t let go of how she only survived because the man sacrificed himself and then came back in a hallucination to tell her what to do because she, an astronaut, failed a part of training and so didn’t know the work-around he told her.  I know her character is a mission specialist in space for the only time.  However there is no skill so special that NASA couldn’t find a person with both that skill and the intelligence to pass training.  If she was so brilliant that no one else alive had that skill, she would have passed.  Instead we were given a stupid character.  This movie would have been improved if she had figured out how to save her own life.  No, hallucinating a dead guy bak to life to tell you what you didn’t already know doesn’t count.  Think of Gusteau telling Remy, “How should I know? I am only a figment of your imagination,” when Remy wanted his hallucination to figure out a problem.

There was no sadness for George’s death, and I don’t feel relieved that Sandra lived. It would have been a better movie if she had suddenly died. Let you think she’ll live, then the sudden jarring impact of death and a black screen. Instead we were “treated” to a not-subtle bit of imagery of her floating in another space station she found in a way very reminiscent of an unborn baby in the womb, complete with a flesh-colored cord behind her obviously meant to be the umbilical cord. Rebirth, you know she’s going to have a new start, a second life, and that she’ll live. Frankly this was framed so obviously that it felt amateurish. It also completely killed off any tiny bits of tension there could have been because we knew she was going to live. No question. Halfway through, and the ending was foreshadowed too strongly.

Oh yeah, and no problems with decompression. She landed back on earth in water, got out of the module and her suit, swam to short, kissed the sand, and started walking off. The end. Yeah…it doesn’t work that way.

The special effects were the only good point to this film. The acting was subpar, the script was pointless. You could nix every single word and just have the music and sound effects and have a stronger movie.

But what really gets to me is how weak Sandra’s character was.  Couldn’t they have given her calmness and smarts?  Or maybe have had her die and George’s character live?  Or break the mold altogether and have two women astronauts so that we have a strong one to counter the weak one?

I know I’m in the minority for not thinking this movie is the most amazing ever, but given the weak plot, non-development of characters, other impracticalities and impossibilities, and the utter misogyny with the portrayal of these characters, I absolutely hated this movie.

Racism

I know this seems like an odd topic for a white woman with a blog primarily about writing books to bring up.  But since equality (sex, gender, race, orientation, etc.)  is important to me, I’m going to discuss this.

A week ago, the Seattle Seahawks won over the San Francisco 49ers with the prize being a trip to the Super Bowl.  For a moment there, it looked like the 49ers were going to win.  But Seahawk Richard Sherman tipped away a pass to 49er Michael Crabtree.  In layterms, he stopped the ball from getting to the other guy, preventing the other guy from scoring for the team.

Now when you’re a young player and you are the reason your team is going to the Super Bowl, you’re going to be filled with adrenaline and just be thrilled to the moon and back, feeling on top of the world.  Before this, Sherman offered Crabtree his hand and said, “Hell of a game, hell of a game” (verified by video), a good sportsman gesture.  Instead of shaking, Crabtree shoved him.  After this, Sherman gave a bit of a cocky statement about being the best.  As he walked off the field, he make a quick throttle gesture toward Crabtree.  In football, this has never been a big deal.

Despite being shoved after offering his hand to an opposing player, Sherman has been called a thug.  In times past in football, this has applied primarily to Raiders fans for being a bit rougher than the fans of most other teams.  Now maybe it’s because I am a member of the Raider Nation, someone who grew up surrounded by those typically called thugs, that I didn’t get it at first.  What did Sherman do that was wrong at all?  He wasn’t rough.  He didn’t call anyone names, or hit anyone.  He behaved no different than any other player in that regard.  He actually tried to congratulate Crabtree on a very good game that was so close that it came down to that very last play!  I asked on Facebook what was going on, and friends posted links to a video of him talking about being the best.  Okay.  What did he do wrong?  And then video to that throttling gesture.  Okay.  What did he do wrong?  What did he do that hundreds, if not thousands of players before him didn’t?

Ah.  I found out.  It’s because he’s a black guy, and so that throttling gesture was taken as him making a threat.  I guarantee you that if John Elway had been walking off that field instead and made that gesture, excited about his team going to the Super Bowl, no one would have paid him any mind.  I know, I know, I’m a white lady, so why should I care when my own race wouldn’t have had issues?  And that’s just the problem!  Different treatment based on race is wrong.  People using a different word as a stand-in for another word I won’t even type is WRONG.  Just a few years ago, what he didn’t wouldn’t be a big deal.  But now?  Oh my god, whutta thug….

We are in 2014.  Why is society still judging people on race?  We’ve got plenty of white people who are morons who should be dropped off on a deserted island to rot, and plenty of black people who are full of heart, intelligence, and who’d do anything to help anyone.  Judging on race never should have happened, and if we want to be in a more enlightened time, it definitely shouldn’t be going on today.  But racism is on the rise, and this proves it.

I’d read many reports that try using the fact that this young man earned a full-ride scholarship to Stanford University because of his grades in high school as evidence that he can’t be this big bad guy.  This misses the mark.  You don’t have to be a 4.0-student in high school or go to college to be a good person.  On the flip side, you can get a scholarship to Harvard at the age of 16, get a degree, earn a PhD in mathematics from University of Michigan, and then become an assistant professor at UC Berkeley by the age of 25, and still end up like Ted Kaczynski.  You might know him as the Unibomber.  Plenty of people who didn’t even finish high school are polite, hard-working people, and their formal education status shouldn’t be used to say they have a higher chance of being a bad guy that someone who got a couple degrees by his early 20′s.  However Sherman’s education is all that’s been used by the media to defend him.

I think the one good thing to come out of this is that, in the last few days quite a few people I know have been posting about his their own visceral responses to this who situation, a knee-jerk response of jumping on the bandwagon and looking down on someone did nothing wrong, has made them realize they have more deep-seeded racism than they realized.  I’ve been biting my tongue from snapping, “No shit, Sherlock.”  These are people who get mad when a white guy trails and kills a black teen who only defended himself against his armed stalker.  Still, their reaction, when there was no physical harm, was to denounce the black man as if he’d committed some great crime against humanity.

Since then, NFL has decided to find Sherman almost $9,000 for “unsportsmanlike conduct” while looking the other way regarding Crabtree shoving Sherman without provocation.

I don’t know what I can do about this.  In my writing, such as Sacred Blood, I prominently feature people of different races, including interracial pairings and marriages, without making it out to be anything out of the ordinary — because it shouldn’t be seen as unusual.  I’ll go to bat against injustice when I see it.  I’ve cut out an entire side of my family largely because of their racism (frankly I’m not missing anything by not being around people like that).  I will not support racists in any way, and frankly, I will not respect someone’s “opinion” that any race is inherently better than any other.  But what else can be done on the individual level?  I don’t know.  The rise in racism is horrifying, and Sherman’s statement garnering this level of vitriol just goes to show that these days a black person can do the same thing as a white person, and will still be targeted for it.

If your first reaction to Sherman was to get mad at him, please ask yourself what he did that was so different from what any other player has done.  Think about how Crabtree shoved him for no good reason, and ask yourself if Sherman was really the one out of line, or if you just jumped on the bandwagon of putting him down because it was the easier thing to do.

And then ask yourself why Justin Bieber, despite causing $20,000 in damage to a neighbor’s house, having the audacity to write in the guest book at the Anne Frank house that she’d surely “be a Belieber” (a term for his fans), and most recently, drag-racing through a residential Florida neighborhood while drunk (he’s not even 21, so drinking at all isn’t legal), and then resisting arrest, hasn’t been called a thug.  Charges were actually dropped aside from resisting arrest.  Yet 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian was slammed to the ground by Florida police officers for “dehumanizing stares.”  Black kid gets physically slammed for looking at a cop wrong, and the white kid gets treated with kid gloves.

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