Thanks a Lot, Kurt

I’m currently working on a piece I wrote in college called The Hideout. I may keep the title, but most of the story will get tossed in the garbage soon, but it’s given me enough to work with, and though I’m sure I am barely a decent writer now, seventeen years ago, I sucked.

A horrible writer, but showed flashes of possibilities, ever so slightly, and today I’m trying to right my wrongs. It’s a big task, and only when my mind is saturated with enough alcohol do I believe I can succeed. It is late. I am drinking – writing – while watching a documentary on Kurt Cobain, and though I didn’t embrace Grunge when the music first hit the scene (because it knocked the #uck out of the long-haired, hard-rock bands I loved so dearly and I was bitter), it brings me back to my teenage years. I may not have connected instantly with the angry and depressing sound that was Grunge, I did love the fashion trend that came along with it. Flannels. Baggy jeans. Jesus sandals with socks. It was suddenly cool to dress like a lesbian…or the grumpy old man three doors down.

Plus, the ozone layer needed a break from all that Aqua Net. Goodbye high-hair!

And now, in the solitude of the late hour and the fog in my head, with Kurt’s tragic life playing in the background – I’m sure I can write this story – fix my mistakes as though they were never made because no one will ever know. No one needs to know how bad I was. The beauty of words written down that have never been read is that they are easy to erase.

And like magic, tonight, I will make my mistakes disappear. The mistakes I’ve made on paper. The mistakes not already revealed. The mistakes I don’t have to drink to forget because I can make them go away… and no one will ever know.

Usually I eat a bag of Doritos when my head is this heavy, but tonight I write. A half-filled glass sits next to me that was filled four glasses ago, and I want to sleep, but tonight I write.

I erase.

All of my old stories, finished or not, have death in them. I hadn’t noticed this reoccurring theme in my writing while I was writing them so many years ago, but there it is. Every damn story has a character who dies.

I reread a piece that I had submitted to a publisher fifteen years ago when I was twenty-four years old. This was before submissions were sent electronically and everything was sent through the mail. The response time was slow, about six months. Writers spent a lot of time waiting. I had sent a query letter, a precis, and the first couple chapters of my story. Some time later, a woman from the publishing company called me, talked about the process, and requested the entire manuscript. I was heart-pounding ecstatic.

Shortly after I sent my complete story to her, I received a thin envelope regretfully informing me that my book was rejected. After a phone call and talk about book tours, I was denied a chance at my dream.

A few months ago I reread that story. The piece needed heavy edits, but I didn’t think it was too terrible, until I got to the end. The book was about two women who, after a lot of push, pull, and resistance, fall in love and then in the end one of them dies in a plane crash.

In my precis I didn’t divulge the ending, but I did set the tale up as a love story because that’s what I believed it was, and this was the last line of my lovely love-story:

“Loneliness never killed anyone, though sometimes she wished it would.”

That was my romance novel – my version of a love story. It was depressing as $hit and I was only twenty-two when I wrote it.

I don’t know how I became so jaded about love and life. Maybe it was all that Grunge music I learned to love so much.

Thanks a lot, Kurt.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

A Creative Treat by Author Leigh Goff

Please welcome Leigh Goff, a talented Young Adult author who blends fantasy and romance into her remarkable stories. Her latest book Disenchanted releases through Mirror World Publishing in print and eBook on June 1. The kitchen is all yours, Leigh!

These cookies are just what a white witch like sixteen-year-old Sophie Greensmith from my debut YA fantasy, Disenchanted, would bake after a long day of concocting potions with exotic flowers from her aunt’s enchanted garden.

Disenchanted takes place in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the home of the first American witch trials (not Salem!). As descendants of the original witches, Sophie and her aunt practice white magic and work in a little shop called Scents and Scentsabilities. Their organic bath and body products like Tulips to Kiss Stick to lushify lips and Forever First Love Lip Balm to lock in that true love are crafted to benefit the ordinaries in town. However, not all of the ordinaries approve and when danger catches up to Sophie, she’s left with an impossible choice—turning to black magic, a forever choice, to save the life of her forbidden first love. Will her true love still want her when her heart is touched by darkness?

This yummy recipe from the Foothill House B&B in California includes ginger to soothe the stomach, cinnamon to reduce puffiness, and walnuts to help you deal with stress.

Foothill House Sweet Dreams Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

1½ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups unbleached flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. salt

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Cream butter and mix in brown sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and blend into butter mixture.

Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (Sometimes I leave these out or substitute pecans.).

Refrigerate until dough is firm.

Lightly grease baking sheets.

Break off small pieces of dough and roll into 1″ rounds. Dredge in powdered sugar.

Arrange on prepared baking sheets at least 2″ apart.

Bake 10 minutes.

Cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring to racks to cool completely.

Store in airtight container.

Yields 6 dozen cookies

Here is a brief intro to my novel that appeals to people of all ages. I hope you like it, too.

Disenchanted

A forbidden love. A dark curse. An impossible choice…

Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, sixteen-year-old Sophie is struggling to hide her awkwardly emerging magic, but that’s the least of her worries. When a dangerous thief tries to steal her mysterious heirloom necklace, she is rescued by the one person she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. He carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. She will have to uncover dark secrets from both of their families’ wicked pasts and risk everything, including her soul to save them from a witch’s true love curse, but it will take much more than that.

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Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Musa Publishing in December 2014. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog Stay connected on  FacebookInstagramPinterest, and  Goodreads.

The Bar is Open – Guest Blog by Author Viki Lyn

Redemption is my latest book written with Vina Grey, a m/m fantasy featuring angels and demons. In our world, angels have a difficult time handling human alcohol. They have their own liquor of choice = ambrosia which gives them a slight buzz. So when we wrote a scene where Uriel visits a gay bar in San Francisco, we had to come up with an appropriate drink – one that a besotted bartender would make for the beautiful angel.

To my surprise, we found the perfect cocktail – Angel Face! (Although jealous Izar muttered that Hot Devilish daiquiri would have been more appropriate!)

Angel Face Cocktail

1/3 Dry Gin

1/3 Apricot Brandy

1/3 Calvados

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir well and strain into cocktail glass.

Enjoy!

Viki and Vina

An introvert and artist with a healthy dose of skepticism about life and love =Viki. An extrovert and academic and a die-hard romantic = Vina. It was so not a match made in heaven. But Viki and Vina discovered a mutual love of traveling around the world, the paranormal, good coffee, and a healthy admiration for their respective creativity. Sitting in a coffee shop one day, they started brainstorming about story plots and Vince and John and the car crash in the bakery. A story was born. Vina writes the sappy romance and Viki tempers it. Between them, they managed to find their boys a ‘happily ever after’.

Thou shall not kill.

An angel who sins may never find love again.

Archangel Raziel had no choice. He would break the Infinite’s commandment again to save his lover, Uriel, from a demon’s talons. Yet even the Infinite’s most trusted archangel cannot avoid punishment. Forced to go through the Cleansing, Raziel loses his memories and is renamed Izar, a Protector sworn to kill for the angels.

Years later, Izar is summoned to work alongside Uriel to capture a killer. Izar is shocked when his bloodlust spikes hot for the archangel. But a relationship between Protectors and angels is forbidden. As they rush to find the killer, their passion plays into the demon’s plan. Izar will have to choose between life and death if he is to save Uriel again.

BUY LINK

Multi-published and award winner, Viki Lyn is a successful writer of gay paranormal and contemporary romance. After reading and collecting whatever she could get her hands on, she wrote her first male/male romance. And that was ‘it’ for her. She never looked back. Viki travels the world in search of inspiration. She considers herself blessed to have traveled to many of the mystical sites she had dreamed about as a child. Her travel experiences have been influential in creating her paranormal worlds. When she needs to relax, she calls a friend to meet at their favorite coffee house. When the chattering in her head goes off the charts, she plays one of her favorite RPGs on her PS4 and immerses herself in the world of dragons and magic.

Learn more about Viki Lyn on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.
Vina Grey has lived in eight different states and if her family hadn’t grounded her, she’d be on the move again. So, instead she writes, living out her adventure-lust in her books. She made up stories in her head from the time she could register thoughts, so yes, there are many more books to come. Coffee, chocolate, Scotch, Kindle books, and traveling to far away lands are among her…ahem…very few vices. Actually they can be lands close by, too. But at the end of the day, to write a love story that makes a reader sigh with satisfaction–that’s what it’s all about. Vina Grey loves writing about romance. Two people finding each other, the two-step before they get together and the happily ever after — really is the best story ever. Throw in some paranormal elements and she’s in heaven. Vampires and cops, anyone? Her other love is traveling. From the deserts of the Middle East to the temples in Japan to the rice fields in Bali, she finds inspiration for her stories in every country she visits.

Vina loves to jabber away with anyone about books, so drop her a line. Stay connected on Facebookand Twitter.

Learn more about Viki Lyn and Vina Grey on their Author Facebook Page.

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Hemingway

I love reading Hemingway. He never strays. He never babbles. Every word is relevant – precise and concise writing. His prose is eloquent with a natural progression that makes the reader feel the story inside the book they hold could have been their own journey in a different lifetime. He lures his reader this/close to his stories.

I can’t write everything I feel about Hemingway in one blog. I can zero in on one or two aspects of his writing, or his life, that inspires me, but not all at once.

I just finished reading At First Light, a fictional memoir based on Hemingway’s time spent in Africa in a safari camp, with his fourth, and last wife, Mary. She is obsessed with hunting a very elusive and intelligent lion. Everyone in camp is aware how badly she wants to kill this lion. She tells her husband she loves the lion and that’s why she has to kill him.

Hemingway and his wife talk about never wanting to leave Africa because they have both fallen in love with the culture and the hunting. Being one of the greatest writers that ever lived had afforded Hemingway the luxury of living whatever lifestyle he chose. Hemingway refers to himself as a rich man and he was. He could travel anywhere he wanted.

At one part of the story, towards the end, Mary talks about all the places she still wants to see, despite having already seen all of Tanganyika and the Bohoro flats and the Great Ruaha. She’d been to Mbeya and the Souhthern Highland. She lived everywhere from the hills, to the foot of a mountain, and in the bottom of the Rift Valley.

Yet, Mary asks her husband if he knows what she wants for Christmas.

“I wish I did.”

“I don’t know whether I should tell you. Maybe it’s too expensive.”

“Not if we have the money.”

“I want to go and really see something of Africa. We’ll be going home and we haven’t seen anything. I want to see the Belgian Congo.”

“I don’t.”

“You have no ambition. You’d just as soon stay in one place.”

“Have you ever been to a better place?”

“No. But there’s everything we haven’t seen.”

“I’d rather live in a place and have an actual part in the life of it than just see new strange things.”

The last line stopped me and I reflected on its simple truth. In a quest to see everything, sometimes we see nothing. I do want to travel, but my traveling doesn’t include beaches, resorts, selfies in front historical landmarks, or the rush to visit eighteen countries in thirty days.

I was about twenty-three years old and on a first date when I was asked, “What is the one thing you really want to do?”

I told my date, with some reservation, that I want to go to all the small, run-down, dinky towns in the middle of nowhere, and stay there for a while and get to know the people, and their lives, because I was (and still am) sure there are big stories in those little towns, and probably a lot of secrets, too.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Just Try

I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for two years and each pose gets a little easier after months of repetition. Standing forward-bends used to strain my back, and even with my knees bent, my fingertips barely brushed the ground.

But after years of practice, standing forward-bends are one my favorite asanas. I can lay the palms of my hands flat against the floor, with straight legs, and the sensation that runs through my body is no longer straining, but rather soothing and relaxing.

It took time to get here, and even after two years of practice, six to seven days a week, I still have to do the modified version of many of the poses. I’m not yet strong enough to carry the weight of my entire body on my hands — but I will be — with more practice.

Aside from practicing yoga daily, I also meditate, and study and learn from books how I can deepen the spiritual impact yoga has had on my body and mind. I have altered my eating habits to fit a more compassionate diet because plant-based foods complement yoga better than any other diet.

Yoga has become such an integral part of my life, I was not surprised when I woke up this morning having dreamed of doing yoga.

In my dream, I was sitting on the floor with my legs spread apart. A man, who I assume was my teacher, sat across from me.

“Fold your body over your leg,” he said.

I lowered my body over my leg until my forehead rested effortlessly against my thigh, and my arms stretched forward and my hands bound evenly around my foot.

“I didn’t know I could do that,” I said to my teacher.

“That’s because you never tried.”

I opened my eyes this morning to the most powerful dream I have ever dreamed.

Just Try.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

“Leave the Light On”

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” – Margaret Mead.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to write for my next post (this post) and I got stuck. I don’t know what to write. My intention was to blog two days a week. Sounded simple. But it isn’t because I want to write meaningful posts, not fillers, (like this one?) just to take up space, or to pat myself on the back for being one post closer to my weekly goal.

My blog isn’t overrun with hundreds of daily visitors. But still, even if only one person reads my blog, from here or some other country, I wonder about who that person is, and how the words I wrote made them feel during, and after, they read them (if they felt anything at all). To write with the intention of someone taking the time to read your words is the kind of tough pressure you put on yourself when you don’t want to let someone down.

As a writer of books, and now blogs, I don’t want to disappoint my readers (as few as they may be), and I feel a great deal of anxiety (and guilt) when I feel I cannot write, because it’s what I (I’m supposed to) do.

I rely on inspiration to write, and then my imagination usually takes over. Someday maybe my imagination will jump-start itself, but till then, I need help. I turn to music, movies, and other writers to inspire me.

I came across the above quote while watching a performance on Youtube of a brilliant musician. Her name is Beth Hart, and I wish I could write the way this woman sings. I remembered her from the late nineties because she had a hit song about L.A., but I’d forgotten her over a decade, until I stumbled across one of her performances on the Internet, and now I am sure I will never forget her again.

She is that amazing, and I know she will inspire a story out of me because her lyrics capture every raw emotion that runs through a person’s veins. The above quote will inspire me, too, because the words grabbed me and stayed with me. Anything I read that stays with me, will always have some bearing on me.

The performance Ms. Hart mesmerized me with was a song titled, “Leave the Light On,” and here are a few of the lyrics she sings with so much pain you swear she’s bleeding.

* “Cuz I want to love, I want to live.

I don’t know much about it, I never did.

I don’t know what to do, can the damage be undone?

I swore to God I’d never be, what I’ve become.”

Beth Hart inspires me. Who inspires you?

*These are copyrighted lyrics. I don’t own them.