A Review for Her Name on The Lesbrary

My book, Her Name, was recently reviewed on The Lesbrary. The Reviewer wasn’t absolutely thrilled with a very specific shift in tone the story took near the end, but that’s okay. Not every reader is going to emotionally connect with every aspect of a story and be satisfied with it.

Still, despite any frustration she may have felt about the climatic ending, sentiments of the story stayed with her and made her reflect on her own life.

The Reviewer writes, “If truth be told, there will likely never again be a night that I don’t turn down the covers, anticipating the presence of my true love — though I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath. One thing is for certain, however. I will make a concerted effort to approach each moment as fully present as I’m able so as to prevent my very destiny from slipping away.”

This why I write. I want to emotionally impact someone’s life. I don’t write for people to tell me what an awesome writer I am. I don’t need to hear that I am the best. I write to make a person feel. That’s all I want.

“Without a doubt, Her Name felt to be more of a dear friend’s diary than a work of fiction.”

This will probably be my most treasured comment in a review ever. Thank you, The Lesbrary, for reviewing my book.

If you’d like to read the entire review, please click the link below. Thank you.

http://lesbrary.com/2014/12/02/kalyanii-posted-her-name-by-alicia-joseph/

Her Name
Her Name

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My Interview with Lynn Lawler

Today I am featured on Lynn Lawler’s Book Blog. Ms. Lawler is the author of the upcoming novel, Enlightened Desire. I am privileged to be a guest on her blog where she has given me the opportunity to discuss my lesbian romance novella, Her Name. 

Please follow the link to her blog: http://lynnlawler.blogspot.com/

Thank you!

Her Name
Her Name

Labeling the Lesbian

I write lesbian romance stories that don’t usually tackle the slew of political, social, or religious issues that can be so brutal towards homosexuality that taking one’s own life can feel like the only, and easier, option. It’s not. And it never will be, but I don’t write about those issues. Not yet.

The sexuality of my characters is at times so irrelevant in my books that the f/f romance could be swapped for their m/f counterparts and the story will read almost the same way. Am I playing it safe? Possibly, but what I know is this – I love a good romance – but eventually I will write stories with more substance, more backbone. I have a few in my slush pile, but for now, I’m a hopeless romantic aiming my bow directly for the reader’s heart.

I write about love and I choose two women to represent the love I want to show. But I’m very conscious that when writing about this kind of romance, I am avoiding the Butch/Femme dynamic of a lesbian relationship (even though it is very prevalent in the gay community) because I don’t know exactly what this combo entails and misrepresenting an entire group of lesbians isn’t something I’m willing to chance.

I neglect the whole Butch/Femme coupling because I know if I characterize a woman as appearing “manly” I will be tempted to attribute all the masculine traits that go along with that. I will write scenes with the Butch clamoring her tools underneath a car, or driving a pick-up, or with her face shoved beneath the kitchen sink fixing a leak.

Is this accurate? Do all Butches fix things? Does every single one of them know how to change a tire or rewire the electric cable? Are they even interested in these tasks or do they learn it to satisfy the expectations placed on them by the feminine women they date? Is this all part of the “role” in being butch?

If I wrote a Butch to be so typically “butch”, would I get slammed for it? On the flip-side, if I distinctly characterized feminine lesbian women as standing in front of the stove stirring a pot of some deliciously-mouth-watering concoction, or being experts at removing stains from any stubborn shirt, or as always being pretty and femme and femme and pretty, would it cause a backlash of angry Femmes? Gotta look sexy for the Butch!

Are these expectations placed in a Butch/Femme relationship accurate? I’m asking because I really don’t know. I hate labels and I refuse to make a distinction as to what kind of lesbian I am. I never saw my father hammer a nail into a wall. He didn’t even know how to put the Christmas tree together. My mother did that. But that didn’t make him any less of a man – it only meant he wasn’t a “handy” man.

Although I won’t label myself, I do know that in my relationships I see myself as the “protector.” I have an innate desire to take care of the people I love, particularly the woman I’m with and keep her away from harm. Does this make me the “man” because I’m the one who will jump out of bed in the middle of the night and tell my partner to stay safely in the room while I inspect the strange noises coming from the kitchen? Is it “gentlemanly” of me because I like to help my girlfriend slip on her coat and open doors for her. “Ladies first,” leaves me the one waiting and I’m okay with that, but that doesn’t make me butch.

I knew at a young age I had no interest in being Cinderella – with her white poofed-out ballroom dress and wearing her extremely narrow, high-healed, glass slippers that had to be, without a doubt, excruciatingly painful to walk in. No thank you. Give me Prince Charming’s black pants, elegant blue suit jacket, and flat comfortable shoes. And I’m good.

My role in relationships may seem male-oriented, and I may have an affinity for young men’s graphic t-shirts, camouflage shorts, hoodies, backwards hats, and converse cons (but even straight girls love cons, right?), and I don’t wear dresses, skirts, or anything that is extremely bright in color, still, this doesn’t make me butch.

It only makes me, me. And I say that ain’t so bad.

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Full disclosure. I once told an old girlfriend in lieu of flowers to buy me baseball cards – okay, so maybe this ONE thing makes me a little butch. 🙂

Dream Without Fear

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A Personal Legend is what a person has always wanted to accomplish. When we are young, every person knows their Personal Legend because at a young age our dreams are big and we dream without fear, but instead with optimism and fervor. “But as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince [us] that it will be impossible for [us] to realize [our] Personal Legend.”

An unexpected illness, a love we’re afraid of abandoning, fear of failure, or an envious person’s manipulation because they don’t want to witness us achieve something they could not, are all impediments that can destroy our dreams. But the worst reason for not pursuing a dream is believing we don’t deserve it.

Because we do.

I know a book that tells the story of a crystal merchant who has never done one of things the Koran obligated him, as a Muslim, to do – set forth on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. It was something he’d desired since he was a small child, but when he grew up, he bought his shop and refused to leave the store in the hands of someone else. So he stayed, and every day, for many years, he watched, through his store window, pilgrims pass happily as they headed for Mecca.

When asked by a young shepherd boy, who was in pursuit of his own Personal Legend, why now the man didn’t go to Mecca, the merchant answered, “Because it’s the thought of Mecca that keeps me alive. That’s what helps me face these days that are all the same…I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living.”

Some people want to realize their dreams, while others are content with merely dreaming about their dreams. But when we ignore our Personal Legend, the omens, signs, will speak to us, and remind us of our calling, but we’ll pretend not to hear. The sounds of the omens will continue and regret will take over us. And maybe the person we love and who loves us back will feel our resentment because they will think they are the ones who kept us from achieving our Personal Legend. And then, after time, “the omens will abandon [us] because [we’ve] stopped listening to them…[we’ll] spend the rest of [our] days knowing that [we] didn’t pursue [our] Personal Legend, and now it’s too late.”

Don’t let it be too late.

I believe life is more than what my eyes can see. I believe in omens. I look for signs. I meditate. I talk to the universe, whether it be the sun, the sky, the stars, the wind, the trees, the moon, or God, and if the universe can talk back, I want to be open in understanding its language. I’m on a journey. I go it alone right now, but I know if my love ever comes, she won’t prevent me from realizing my Personal Legend because true love will ride the journey with me. I know what it is I must do. I know my Personal Legend.

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.”

But only you can choose your destiny. Not even fate can do that for you.

“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” But you have to want it so bad that it exists in your every breath and then listen to the universe as it talks to you.

Follow the omens. Trust your heart. Dream without fear.

I’ve read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho three times. And I will read it many more times. It has guided me in my life when I needed it the most, and it will continue to guide me even when I think I need it the least. All the quotes above were taken from this book and all of the thoughts I express were influenced by this book, so really, nothing that I have written is truly of my own expression, but instead were completely inspired by the brilliance of Mr. Coelho.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

John Boy – A Shelter Dog

Everybody hurts. Everyone gets sad. At times, life can seem so hopeless you wonder if it’s even worth living anymore. And then something good happens. You find inspiration in a place you weren’t looking.

A year and a half ago I started volunteering at a dog shelter. I wasn’t prepared for the profound impact it would have on my life. I went into it believing I was the one who was going to save lives, but I was wrong. Those homeless animals saved me.

My shelter takes in dogs from all different situations – dogs from other over-crowded shelters, owner-surrenders, dogs found amid the aftermath of natural disasters or roaming the streets as strays, or taken from abusive/neglected homes, or rescued from puppy mills .

Each dog comes with its own story, its own unique path, that led them to the cages lining the walls of the kennel I work. Some stories are worse than others, leaving you clenching your fists as you witness, first-hand, what the horrendous cruelty and lack of humanity residing within a person can do.

It forces you to question who the real animals are, and they aren’t the ones with four legs, a tail, and a wet nose.

The four-legged beings that I have the privilege to spend time with each week have demonstrated a level of compassion and forgiveness, so heartfelt and ardent, that I fear I will never, in all my life, come close to attaining the emotional intensity attached to the freedom that comes with letting go of the past, and truly allow myself to forgive and forget, while being open to new happiness without the weight of old baggage holding me down or the pain of worn-out, ancient scars running through my body.

Shelter dogs know how to move on. They are eager to love despite the fact that somebody had let them down because they ended up in a shelter. They forgive the hands that have hurt them and forget the dirty shed they were chained to their entire lives because all they want is a home and someone to love them.

The shelter I volunteer at is a no-kill shelter. However long it takes for a dog to find a home, that’s how long it stays. Unfortunately, there is dog who has been there almost as long as I have. His name is John Boy and he is amazing. Despite being passed up day after day, week after week, and month after month, he has not lost an ounce of spirit. Whenever I, or any other volunteer, pass his kennel, he pops to his feet and hurries to the front of his cage, with tail wagging, and watches us with eager eyes, hoping that he is next to go out. He loves his time outside, even in the bitter cold.

When I put him on his leash, he pulls me to the yard with an overflowing excitement he can’t contain, the way I imagine I dragged my mother from one roller coaster ride to the next. But John Boy isn’t hurrying to jump on a fast-paced ride filled with sharp twists and quick turns. He’s rushing toward the same yard, with the same familiar toys, he’s been going to for fifteen minutes a shift, four times a day, for almost a year.

There is nothing “upside-down-roller-coaster” thrilling about that, but John Boy loves it. He inspires me because even though he’s not where he wants to be, he still wags his tail. He still licks my hand. He still enjoys the yard. He still has hope.

John Boy wants to live and he is looking forward.

He deserves a home, like every dog in the shelter, but he’s one I wish for the most. Every Friday night I say goodbye to him hoping I won’t see him the following week, but I always do. I will miss him so much when he’s gone because we’ve bonded during his long stay, but I anxiously anticipate the feeling of joy that will rush over me when I pass his kennel and don’t see his nose pressed against the metal or the stub of his tail wagging side to side.

I can’t wait for the day I don’t recognize the name sprawled across his cage. I’ll smile big because John Boy will finally have found his home.

Millions of dogs are euthanized every year. If you are looking for a pet, please consider visiting your local animal shelter. There are many loving animals in need of a second chance. Most pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills that breed dogs under inhumane conditions. Please Adopt and Don’t Shop. Thank you for reading.

I am Joined Today by the Talented Author, Carol Browne.

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I am so excited to have Carol Browne on my blog today. She is a tremendously talented author and was gracious enough to accept my request for an interview. Thank you Carol and welcome to my blog. I am privileged to have you as my first guest on my blog.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been a scribbler since I was six or seven but large chunks of my life passed by without much in the way of creative endeavour. I’m back on track now.

I’m so glad you’re back on track, because I feel this is where you’re supposed to be. When was your first book published?

Apart from dubious forays into self-publishing, my first ‘proper’ book is The Exile of Elindel, published as an eBook by Musa Publishing on 18thApril, 2014.

I understand you have a trilogy coming out with Musa Publishing. Will you tell us a little about that?

The Exile of Elindel is Book I of my fantasy trilogy The Elwardain Chronicles. Book II, Gateway to Elvendom, is scheduled for release in March 2015; Book III, Wyrd’s End, will follow in December of the same year. Exile was originally a stand-alone book but the characters niggled at me for thirty years until I gave in and continued writing about their adventures.

Here’s the blurb for The Exile of Elindel:

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

Congratulations on the two scheduled releases for next year. You have been busy! I need to ask. What inspires you?

I am inspired by music, nature, the beauty of words, history, the supernatural, the triumph of good over evil, and by people who refuse to give up in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

I like those inspirations. Why do you write what you do?

I wrote fantasy because of a day-dream I had in which I saw my characters when they were nearing the end of their quest. There were other factors that started me writing in this genre but it was never a deliberate choice. It just happened.

Do you find any recurring themes in your writing?

A major theme is one I know interests you, Alicia: the idea that one small action done, or not done, can have a far-reaching effect on everything that follows. I do love the theme of friendship too; it has been so important to me in my own life. I also like unusual relationships where friendships are formed between unlikely characters. The battle of good against evil is a given theme for the sword-and-sorcery genre, of course, and I also like the zero-to-hero scenario. This happens to several of my characters as they grow into themselves and find their place in the world.

(Laughing)Oh yes, Carol. I do love contemplating the consequential lingering effects of our actions – both big and small. It is fascinating that decisions made in one moment, one second of our lives, can drastically change our paths.   Would you like to share an excerpt from one of your books?

 Here’s a short extract from The Exile of Elindel:

 Supporting herself against the tree, Elgiva struggled to her feet. Her head reeled, and her legs were weak, as though her bones had melted. Her body felt scorched by magic. Her powers were growing stronger, but she lacked the strength and skill required to protect herself from their intensity. She felt like a shallow river, broken-banked and choked with stones, unable to cope with a fierce spring flood. She cursed her weakness and also the fever that had cost her so much energy, yet she smiled at the irony of it all. The more she exercised her powers, the stronger they became; the stronger they became, the more they weakened her. She was on a downward spiral that could only end in death, and perversely, there was pleasure in it, for it was true what Vieldrin had said: power was like a drug.

But it was pointless bemoaning her weakness, and she had no time to convalesce. Only magic mattered, and she was born to serve it, and if it destroyed her, so be it.

Wow, this trilogy sounds amazing, Carol. Congrats to you with your upcoming releases! Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to talk with me today. 

Carol’s first book The Exile Of Elindel is available at the links below.    

Buy links:

Amazon USA – http://tinyurl.com/k79eoh7

Amazon UK – http://tinyurl.com/n8msefk

Musa Publishing – http://tinyurl.com/o5zk2ja

Barnes & Noble – http://tinyurl.com/lo4ukvo

 

CarolA

Author Bio:

Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

 

Carol can be contacted at:

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolBrowne
https://twitter.com/@CarolABrowne

http://authorcarolbrowne.wordpress.com/

It’s Not What You Think – Really, It’s Not!

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I took my little niece to the show. She had to go to the bathroom. We walked into the restroom together and I asked if she needed help. She told me she could do it herself. So I went into my stall and she went into hers. I finished first and as I exited my stall, I stopped in front of her door.

“Are you okay? Do you need help?” I asked.

“I’m fine,” a sweet voice responded.

Fine. I walked to the sinks, washed my hands, and waited for my niece near the entrance. The way the bathroom was set up, a person washing their hands couldn’t see the see the line of stalls in the other direction. After a couple minutes went by, and with no sign of my niece, I walked back to the stall area and waited outside her door.

I asked again if she needed help and the door swung open. There she stood, in one piece. I poked my head inside (without touching a thing). She did not pee all over the seat nor was the stall flooded with mounds of toilet paper. Nicely done, little niece!

I followed behind as we made our way past the long line of stalls. At the threshold, she turned left for the sinks and I headed straight to the entrance/exit where I had stood before. I watched my niece wash her hands and my gaze shifted to the woman standing next to her. She was staring at me through the mirror, giving me a “look.”

I didn’t know her and we had no interaction that day, so I turned away, chucked it up as just my imagination. But then she headed in my direction with the same stare, the same look of disgust across her face – directed right at me.  It wasn’t my imagination. This shit was real!

She passed me and as she reached for the door, she tilted her face toward me and then leaned her head back in the most snobby, disregarded, “I’m the head-cheerleader and you play clarinet in the marching band” kind-of-a-way.  I didn’t know what I’d done. I stared, dumbfounded, as I watched her leave.

My mind quickly backtracked every step I’d made since I arrived at the theater to get to the moment I was in. I hadn’t stolen anyone’s parking space, nor had I cut in line. I hadn’t let the door behind me slam in anyone’s face. I always did the courteous, “hold the door behind you for the next person” gesture. So what gives? What the bleep did I do?

My niece was walking toward me while wiping her wet hands against her pants. I pushed a strand of her hair behind her ears. “Did you wash your hands really good?” I asked.

And then it hit me.

Oh bleep me! That woman thought I didn’t wash my hands! She didn’t know that when she saw me walking back from the stalls that I had only gone there to check on my little niece, but she couldn’t see that from where she stood at the sinks. She didn’t know that I had already gone to the bathroom and had already washed my hands!

I fought the urge to chase after her while yelling, “It’s not what you think! Really, it’s not! I only went back there to help my niece and I didn’t  even touch anything! I swear! My hands are clean!”

But it was no use. I had to accept that I was known by a stranger as “the woman who didn’t wash her hands after using a public bathroom.”

I was disgusting.

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Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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