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

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

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/

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

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

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.