Crazy in Chicago

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The young son of a widowed man calls up a radio show on Christmas Eve and shares with the host, and anyone listening, how sad his father is. He wants his lonely dad to find a new wife. The boy, Jonah, is able to convince his father, Sam, to pick up the other extension and have a conversation about his wife, who had passed away a year and a half ago, to a complete stranger. (Only later does he realize he’s been talking to a nationally syndicated radio show.)

A woman, Annie, who lives thousands of miles away, has just left a Christmas party with her fiancee. She drives alone and turns on her radio and a child’s voice fills the car. She listens as the boy talks about his dead mother and his heart-broken father. When Sam gets on the phone, his voice is soft, deflated, as he runs down his daily routine of trying not to miss his wife.

Annie is stopped by the way the man on the radio longs for his dead wife. He loves her still. Probably always will. Annie listens, breathless at times, as he tells of how they met and when he touched her for the first time it was like…magic.

Annie and Sam say “magic” at the same time.

A shared moment between two strangers living on opposite ends of the country, Sam in Seattle and Annie in Baltimore.

What Annie feels in that moment is enough for her to write a letter to Sam, but she doesn’t send it, a friend, her editor (also a woman captivated by this man’s story), secretly does. Annie is a reporter and she is sent to Seattle to do research on talk radio shows.

In Seattle, she finds Sam and watches him play with his son on a beach. Sam notices her from across the street and walks toward her because he is taken by her, but she leaves before he gets too close.

If you don’t know, what I’ve written is the premise of the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Tom Hanks plays Sam and Meg Ryan portrays Annie.

In the end, the two strangers meet at the Empire State Building in New York City. Sleepless in Seattle is one of the most romantic movies of all time and the two main characters share only a few scenes together. They touch once. They hold each other’s hand. And that’s all they need because like magic, they just know.

I wonder how a story like this would play out in real life. If a woman jumped on a plane, tracked down a man she’d never met before, but felt a deep connection to because she listened to him a couple times on a late-night radio show, and watched from the street as he played with his son.

If the “darling” of movies at the time, Meg Ryan, wasn’t the real-life version of “Annie,” would this still be written like a sweet romance movie? Or instead, would it be watched as a “scary-as-shit, holy-fuck, Glenn Close Fatal Attraction-esque, I’m calling the cops!” psycho-thriller?

Sleepless in Seattle was made in 1993. We hadn’t yet been introduced to social media and because of that, this kind of story is more likely to happen in 2014 than in 1993. The Internet has given us access to people’s lives we didn’t used to have. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, Vine, Tumblr, etc. can allow us to feel like we know a person, when we really don’t.

Annie fell for a man by listening to him tell his story over the radio, so is it that crazy to imagine it’s possible to fall for someone by following them on Twitter, reading their blogs, or creeping their Facebook page?

You stumble upon a person’s writing and they stop you because their words hit you so hard, right in the gut, that you can’t stop reading and need to know more. And the deep connection you feel overwhelms you and soon, you’re reading everything you can find about this person.

But how do you know if you’ve taken it too far? Where’s the line? And if you cross it, how far do you go?

To look at a stranger’s pictures and they feel like home. To be so inspired by someone you’ve never met before that you can compose the most powerful, breath-taking ballad or write an emotional, heart-melting love story that blows Sleepless out of the water – is amazing.

And what if you meet this person and she ends up being even better than the fantasy? And her beauty, stronger than any dream you could ever imagine. What if she is everything you want and just when you get close, she slips away and into the arms of someone else? Bam! You couldn’t see that coming because it doesn’t fit the version in your head of the way this would play out, because it doesn’t fit the movie.

All you want to do is cry because she’ll never know how much you longed for her or all the nights you went to bed thinking of her in your mind and woke up feeling her in your heart. She’ll never know that you check her Twitter account every day just to see what she’s thinking, if only for that one moment, to feel close to her.

What if nothing else mattered – a huge promotion, winning the lottery, publishing a book. What if none of that meant a goddamn thing if you didn’t get the girl in the end?

Tom Hanks got the girl in the end. He got his “Annie.” I still ache for mine and I don’t think she even knows.

And that drives me crazy.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Please Help Musa Publishing Celebrate its Three Year Anniversary

To celebrate their 3rd Anniversary, now through Oct 31, Musa Publishing is offering 30% off all its books! Please check out some amazing authors at a spectacular price. Whether your favorite genre is Romance, Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Paranormal, Historical, Classical, LGBTQ or Erotica, Musa offers it all!

Please go to their website, Musapublishing.com, and take advantage of these great prices.

You can find my lesbian romance novella, Her Name, originally $2.99, for only $2.09!

Her Name is a story about a woman, Madison, who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life. She has vivid dreams of the same woman every night, and soon, Madison believes this woman is the love she has been searching for. Madison’s dreams become more intense and she realizes the dreams she’s having recreate moments taken from actual events from her life–and this woman is there for all of it. Madison searches for her, but how can she find a woman she knows everything about… and yet nothing? She doesn’t even know her name.

Below is an excerpt from Her Name:

Shelly and I walked across the dog park, chatting while Shelly’s pooch ran free.

“Freddy! Stay where Mama can see you!” She turned to me. “Has Becca tried contacting you?”

I shrugged. “A couple calls. Some texts, but I didn’t respond, so I think she got the message.”

“Good.”

We walked for a little while, and then she asked, “So, did you really wake up crying this morning?”

I had told her over the phone earlier that day about my dream. I looked her dead in the eye and nodded. “My pillow was drenched.”

Shelly shook her head. “And you don’t remember what you were crying about?”

I glanced toward the sky and shrugged. “In the first dream, I didn’t know her. She knew me, but I was looking at her for the first time. In the second dream, it seemed like we were living together and we had our own little routine, like I’d come home from work and she’d cook dinner. But in this last dream, the way she held me in her arms as I cried was so personal. I wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable around her. And then she told me she loved me.”

Shelly stopped walking and grabbed my arm. “Wait, she told you she loved you?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Did you say it back?”

“Of course I did.”

My friend threw her hands in the air. “How could you tell her you love her? You don’t even know how long you’ve known her for!”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “Are you [messing] with me?” I asked.

She looked at me, and I suspected she was holding a straight face for as long as she could before she burst out in laughter. “Of course I’m [messing] with you! This is a [frickin’] dream we’re talking about! She’s not real!” she yelled.

I walked away, but Shelly followed me. “What? You’re mad at me?”

“No, it’s my own fault. I shouldn’t have told you. I’m not even sure why I did.”

“I’m sorry! Please don’t stop telling me! I’m dying to hear more about this amazing fake woman.” She cracked up and wrapped an apologetic arm around my neck. “I’m sorry, really I am, but let me just make sure I’ve got this straight so far. You’ve played games with a hose, you woke up naked with her, you cried, and you told her you loved her, but you haven’t even [slept with] her yet?”

I pulled away and gave her a hard look.

She laughed. “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just insult your girlfriend? If she’s mad, just apologize for me when you see her tonight.”

“You know what!” I yelled. I started to let her have it, but stopped myself. I wasn’t sure what I’d expected my friend’s reaction to be, because they were only dreams and everyone had them.

Thanks for stopping by and please give a Musa author of your favorite genre a chance!

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The Frappuccino – A Glorified Milkshake

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Yes, this is another blog about Starbucks. I must be intrigued. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve finished reading the book, Starbucked, by Taylor Clark, and yet there is so much that still resonates with me. I want to dislike Starbucks for its ubiquitous nature alone, and for taking away the unique character of every town in this country, or more accurately, the world. There aren’t many places you can step off a plane, walk out of an airport, and not find a Starbucks within a twenty-mile radius (chances are a Starbucks, or two, will be inside the airport).

But to be fair, Starbucks isn’t the only American corporation plopping its banal stores across multiple culturally-diverse nations. This blog isn’t to rag on Starbucks (maybe) or rant about why we should consciously buy Fair Trade coffee over non-Fair Trade coffee. The debate about how the free market has created a huge surplus of coffee beans, causing the price to plummet so low that coffee growers have burned millions of pounds of their own product because they can’t make a living selling what takes them years to grow, will not happen here – at least not now.

I’m dedicating this blog to the Frappuccino.

Do you know how the Frappuccinno was created? I didn’t know either until I read this book. First, what is a Frappuccino? After some research it seems that a Frappuccino is nothing more than a glorified milkshake, but as of 2007 data, Starbucks makes more than a billion dollars from the Frappuccino alone.

Damn, those people who invented the “Frap” must be raking in the dough, right? Um…sadly, they’re not.

The Frappuccino was invented in a Southern California Starbucks store in 1994. Two managers of a Santa Monica Starbucks wanted to do something to put bodies in their establishment that found itself mostly empty by the afternoon. Apparently, not many people favored sipping on hot coffee under the midday blistering sun. So managers, Anne Ewing and Greg Rogers, began experimenting with a blender and concocted a drink made up of half and half, regular sugar, espresso, ice, vanilla powder, and chocolate powder – all ingredients lying around the store.

It didn’t even take a special delivery to create a billion-dollar plus drink.

Only months after they began serving this sweetened-chilled chocolate potion to their sweaty customers, it was making up thirty-percent of the store’s sales. Starbucks added to the blend and then presented it to all its stores in April 1995 – and sales took off.

How did Starbucks express their gratitude to the original creators of the drink that was boosting company profits to astronomical levels? By giving them a $5,000 bonus, a President’s Award glass statue, and a Rolex.

What!!!?? Five grand? Seriously?? A bonus no less than six-figures would have been the least the company should have offered. I know. I know. The managers received a Rolex, but that Rolex came only after complaints. Which means those greedy bastards at Starbucks thought $5,000 and a $ucking glass statue was a sufficient enough exchange for a billion dollar-generating drink. And this from a company who charges four dollars for a cup of coffee that costs pennies to make.  $uck you, Starbucks.

I’d be pissed and bitter too, even after that Rolex. There’s a story where one of the original creators was in a store and he pointed to a bottled pack of Frappuccino for sale and told the stranger next to him that he invented that drink. She laughed in his face and walked away. Maybe she did this thinking it was the lamest pick-up line in history (which it would have been if it weren’t true). Or maybe she couldn’t believe that the man behind the invention of one of the world’s most famous drinks was wearing such cheap shoes.

That guy stopped telling strangers about an achievement he should have been very proud of ….and that’s very sad.

Just so that this post isn’t a complete rag on Starbucks, one nice thing about the company is they offer insurance and stock options to part-time employees working twenty hours a week. This is practically unheard of in the retail sector – of course the employee first has to meet these hourly requirements consistently for six months and there have been accusations of Starbucks deliberately cutting employee hours (Wal-Mart style) to avoid coverage. Sigh. I tried to make you the good guy Starbucks. I really did. But these kind of shenanigans make it very hard.

Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Rainbow Book Reviews

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Thank you, Rainbow Book Reviews, for a wonderful review of my book. I appreciate you having me on your site, as well as for the kind words.

The review below was written by JJ.

Thank you, JJ.

–This is a remarkably imaginative story. I was so touched that I more than found myself laughing with the main character, crying with her, obfuscating with her, and trying to make sense of the phenomenal gift she is given even though it came with as many pains as amazing highs. I was so moved by her dreams…their possible meaning and their potential insights stay with me till this moment. This book is full of passion and love. Plus, I felt myself filled with powerful feelings penetrating my soul. Outstanding!

Madison or Maddy is not in a really good space. She is fast racing towards her fortieth birthday and her life has not gone the way she wanted. She has not met the woman she could love for forever and be loved in return. Her mother passed away recently, her father is devastated, her sister and brother seem to be where they hoped to be. However, Maddy has this job that is a bit of a grind, friends and temporary lovers who possibly should be committed, and a growing fear that life is passing her by. Then she starts having these continuing, greater than life dreams on a nightly basis where all her hopes and desires seem to be actually happening. No one wants to hear Maddy expound on these dreams anymore, her family and closest friend thinks she needs therapeutic help, and she is simply caught in between. However for Maddy, there is unquestionably something very real going on in this astonishing, episodic piece of paradise. Enchanting!

Maddie does not get to know the name of the woman in her dreams till near the end of this story in a core-piercing, breath-losing, and time-halting kind of way. Yet, this woman is clearly the other most important person in this novella. In the beginning there are snippets. Later on, there is a rather long and cathartic path to the big truth about the origin of the dreams. It was intensely illuminating. Maddy gets to see with such clarity how a hypothetically much bigger life story unfolds possibly simultaneously with the life she actually walks through each day, each year. To my surprise, this part of the story totally stopped me in my tracks. Jaw-dropping, eye-popping, heart melting I simply cried an ocean of tears and had my heart burst wide open with joy. Phew! However, I felt that both stories had actually unfolded and blossomed around Maddie as her eternal love lit up the universe. After my initial and cathartically tearful reaction, I felt born again with a sense of the larger picture. Astounding!

I completely recommend this with the proviso that you might shed some tears from joy, from loss, or from bewilderment. Ever since I was introduced to the possibility of alternative worlds, I have tried to be open to such beautiful stories. This one is presented with such darn good insight into such an extraordinary though sometimes difficult to imagine potential. Supremely satisfying! –

If your curiosity has been piqued, you can purchase my book at http://www.amazon.com/

It is only $2.99!

Thank you!

Also, if you’d like to read more reviews of your favorite gay and lesbian books, please visit http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com

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Every Lesbian Needs a Gay Man in her Life.

Not all lesbians are fashionably challenged, but many are, and I’m no exception. We wear clothes as a necessary comfort, not to make a statement, except to say, “Yes, I threw on the first thing I saw in my closet without much consideration.” I wear clothes because it’s illegal to mosey around naked, and also because I don’t have the body that wears “naked” very well.

I can’t understand how anyone who knew me as a child (mom, siblings) were as surprised as they seemed to be when I came out. Since I was a little girl I hated wearing dresses. I have distinct memories of standing in the middle of my kitchen, begging my mother to let me wear my holey jeans.

“They have holes in them. And they’re dirty!” she’d scream.

Dirty, holey jeans were my preference of attire (and this was before they were trendy and stores didn’t sell pre-torn jeans). In the mid-eighties, ripped jeans were for burnouts with long hair, who smoked and listened to loud guitar-thrashing hard rock music.

I loved my holey jeans.

While I had no qualms with being messy, my brother (my twin) would change his outfit if one drop of anything – including innocuous water – touched a single thread of anything he wore. Pants, shirts, and shorts popped up all over the house. On the kitchen floor, across the stairwell, behind bathroom doors, or tucked between the couch cushions.

“Joey!” mom would scream. “Did you change your clothes again!”

Yep, mom. He sure did.

Though she never admitted it, I’m positive having a daughter eager to wear the same worn clothes over and over was a welcomed relief to the scavenger hunt of missing trousers my brother had tirelessly put her through each day, but one thing is clear. There was a mix-up somewhere in the womb because my other half (literally) got the girl genes and to me, befell the genes that to this day make me recoil at the sight of department store make-up counters, and to the perky saleswomen with their overly painted-on faces standing under those bright, shiny lights.

Thank Christ grunge was all the rage when I was a teenager. Flannel shirts, baggy jeans, sandals with socks – it was fashionable in 1993 to dress like a lesbian – and I loved every second of it.

I was twenty-years old when I crept into my first Gay and Lesbian support group where I met my friend Tony. My fashion disaster ways were still prevalent and every lesbian needs a fashionably sensitive gay man in her life to tell her it’s time to tweeze those eyebrows.

“Eyebrows are supposed to have an arch, Alicia,” he’d say. “And there’s supposed to be two of ’em.”

Goodbye uni-brow. Hello shapely new, separated eyebrows!

But it did’t stop there. He also gently persuaded me to dump my white leather fringe jacket and ditch the blue eyeliner and bright-red blush.

Farewell rosy cheeks, it was time for a more subdued look because the year was 1996, not ’86.

Eighteen years later, Tony is still my fashion confidant, but he’s also a dear friend – a friend who listens without judgement and has the uncanny way of knowing exactly what I need to hear during my most vulnerable moments. A friend who constantly reminded me I was a writer, even when I didn’t feel like one. His support helped me to never give up on my dream. When my first book was published, he was as happy for me as if his own dream had come true.

He helped me pass bookmarks out in a predominately lesbian neighborhood to promote my book. Over lunch he gushed about how talented a writer I am and then told me to burn the jeans I was wearing as soon as I get home.

Honest friends aren’t always good for your ego, but thank God for them because I shudder to think what I’d look like if Tony wasn’t in my life.

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Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Starbucked…Again

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the book, Starbucked, written by Taylor Clark after reading one chapter. I’ve since finished the book, and with close to three hundred pages, writing a full synopsis of this piece would go way beyond the suitable length for a blog, but there is much to say/debate about the cultural issues and business practices that arise when Starbucks invades your neighborhood. Yes, “invades” because Starbucks travels in packs, never alone. When you have one, you will soon (emphasis on soon) have another. And another.

Starbucks is everywhere. The gourmet coffee craze has taken over the world.

Paris, France, the city known for its essence of cultural snobbery, has twenty-three stores (and more coming) of this ubiquitous American company wrapped within its famously charming and romantic streets and landmarks. Oman, Qatar, Chile, and Cyrpus are also places Starbucks calls home. Along with, Seoul, South Africa, London (Britons now consume more coffee than tea. What? No more spots of tea?), and Saudi Arabia.

Starbucks even made it into Beijing’s Forbidden City, the “political and cultural heart of imperial China” for over five hundred years. That’s a lot of culture, but still, when a “Forbidden City” opens a Starbucks, it loses much of its mystique. Now I’m walking into that “forbidden” town as though I own it, “Billy the Kid style blazing through Dodge” because there’s nothing less ominous than a store with a mermaid logo and employees bouncing behind a counter donning green aprons and khakis while lame remakes of Bee Gee songs play in the background.

Forbidden City, you need to be a little more forbidding.

There are so many Starbucks locations in this world, it would probably takes less time to list the cities and countries where they’re not.

*Note – there were more fun facts and not so fun facts I learned about Starbucks that I will share in a later blog.

*2nd Note – this book was written in 2007 – so when I write that a city has twenty-three Starbucks, seven years later, that city most likely has two-thousand, three hundred and fifty-nine stores now.

Please Don’t Steal My Book

The first time I saw my book illegally downloaded on the Internet I wanted to cry – but not before punching in the face those six hundred-plus people who stole my book. Yes, stole. They didn’t pay for it, so it’s stealing. I had a discussion today with my sister about this issue. She knows a person who sells pirated-DVD copies of movies – new movies – movies less than a week in the theater new. She makes six hundred dollars cash a week. That didn’t sit well with me.

I told my sister this person was making money off someone else’s hard work. A writer’s words. A director’s vision. An actor’s passion. A costume designer’s sore, over-pricked fingers.

“She’s s single mom,” my sister responded. “Maybe I’d do that too if I needed the money. Would you rather have me work as a stripper and give lap dances?”

Please get over yourself, sister. You don’t have the boobs to be a stripper, but if you did, then yes. Yes, I’d rather you be a stripper giving lonely guys lap dances in dark rooms because at least that’s your hard work you’d be getting paid for. I had to explain it to my sister the way I explained it to my ten-year old niece that buying pirated movies is the same as walking into a store and shoving a DVD under your shirt and leaving.

“But we’re paying for it,” my niece said to me.

“Yes, but to people who stole it,” I responded.

The digital world has made books, movies, and music so conveniently available to us (on our phones, our computers, our Ipads) that it gives the delusion that we own the product before we even buy the product.

I know this didn’t just begin with my book. This type of theft has been going on for a long time. I remember Napster, but I never downloaded music I didn’t pay for, and that goes for books as well.

Authors don’t get paid much, especially authors of e-books that sell for three dollars. The price of a coffee. The price of my book. I didn’t become an author for the money because I knew long before the digital world came around that the writing business was tough. Not many people can make a living doing it, and those who do are probably not living the high-life, but merely scraping by (unless your last name is King, Grisham, Patterson, or Rowling).

Since I’m not here for the money, I admit, I got a little excited when I saw that over six-hundred people had downloaded my book. The prospect of over six-hundred people reading my book was thrilling, thieves and all. Recently, I’d been notified by my publisher about another piracy site. I checked it out and found that my book hadn’t been downloaded at all – not even once. I was relieved, but then quickly thought, “What the ^uck? People don’t even want to read my book for free?”

As a writer I think I’ll always be stoked when people read my work, but is it too much to ask them to pay for it, too?

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net