• American Idiot and ONCE

    Eldest son gifted us with theater tickets for Xmas, so off we went last night to see the 8 pm performance of AMERICAN IDIOT at the Opera House. Parking is a Big Deal in-town Boston, so I feel as though I have the right to brag about the $16 space we snagged at the Hiatt Hotel’s Garage, right next door to the venue. We parked there last month to see ONCE, as well, and it works out well. We usually park at the Underground Garage at the Common and walk down to Washington St, so this is a HUGE discovery, particularly on a frigid winter night.

    IMG_1012

    We’ve had the Green Day CD for years, but this was our first viewing of the rock musical that premiered in Boston in 2012. Unlike a typical play, the show has very little dialogue and no intermission. No real scene breaks for moving props around, either, so limited space for squeezing in applause. At the end of one number, a new song would immediately start. People were getting up and down between songs for potty breaks. Disconcerting at first, but then added to the rock show ambience.

    These are my impressions: Popping lights on the stage that could trigger an epileptic seizure. Pulsing music that never quit. High octane from the actors throughout, no energy lags whatsoever. The thread of the character arc was carried by a few BIG songs: “Wake Me Up When September Ends”; “Before the Lobotomy”. ( Terrence is playing the former as I write this blog.) Unusual way to plot the story, which I enjoyed when I got used to the style.

    As to ONCE, I’ve seen the movie twice and the stage show the same amount of times, once in NYC and once in Boston, another Xmas gift, this time from my remaining two sons.

    I liked the movie better. Didn’t like the musical score as much in the play and, unlike in American Idiot, I found the limited scene changes claustrophobic after a while.  DH, of course, preferred ONCE to AI even though he’s the Green Day fan.

    Boston Opera House
    Boston Opera House

    However — straightaway after our early arrival at the Opera House, we lined up to go on stage, which was set to look like the interior of an Irish Pub, complete with full liquor-serving bar. Though only 40 audience members were allowed up there at any given time, the stage quickly grew crowded, which only added to the authenticity. The distant view of the theatre from the stage was spectacular, as were the props and instruments up-close. Unfortunately, no pix allowed.

    Terrence ordered a beer. No Guinness!!! And a straw in the plastic cup! HUH???? We could’ve stayed up there while the actors came on and launched into a medley of Irish tunes, but others were waiting, so we returned to our seats. Before too long, the audience smelled of Fenway Park. I LIKED IT.

    But, I liked the movie more, even without the beer aroma.


  • Oh, No, Not Again.

    LTSnowNo absorbing Vitamin D today. The weather is bleak and dreary, with a scattering of rain overlaying already densely packed,  heavy, WET, snow. Great for making snowmen and for putting out the backs of those shoveling.

    That would be me.

    Last year, after living in this house for twenty-odd years, we finally broke down and brought a snow-blower home from a Big-Box store. It’s earned the investment and then some. A few miles from the Atlantic and with a brackish river running through it, the town is subject to both ocean effect and lengthy power outages. The last storm produced the most snow in the state. A reporter for Boston News lives behind us and she was broadcasting from her roving TV van, yardstick in hand, measuring as the inches piled up.

    Not a contest I ever wanted to see the town win.

    Hopefully, the blower will keep us out of traction,  but it can’t climb terraced stairs to the front door. That’s where I come in. While DH blows, I lift and throw the white stuff. There I am in the front yard by my little girl fountain. Those poor battered bushes are boxwood. I should  burlap them so they’ll retain their shape. Covering them will also help reduce breakage and winterkill. Obviously, I don’t do that.

    We have plans to see American Idiot this weekend at the Boston Opera House. And another storm is moving in.

    I’ll keep you advised.


  • Scarves of 2014

    Every time I visit a yarn store, the Koromo display draws my eye. The variegated colors are gorgeous, the texture rough and earthy  — a cotton, wool, silk blend — and the price steep, too steep for me.  When it went on sale at a yarn store I visited this past summer while in Northampton, en route to Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires, I snapped it up on-line.

    The end result reminds me of a woven wall hanging, the sort that features prominently in TEMPEST, a sci-fi erotic romance I wrote.  So as not to detract from the beauty of the colors — in fact, to highlight the beauty of the colors — I used  a plain stockinette pattern.

    I like the outcome, but the process drove me NUTS.

    First off, the yarn produces a striped appearance, not a subtly random color variation. The strands vary greatly in thickness, going from a fuzzy blob in some spots to a narrow thread in others. Because of this inconsistency in weight, keeping the edge neat and tidy…and straight…was problematic. Also — there were knots, knots galore, which I chose to frame rather than disguise. Consequently, on one hand, the piece has an Americana homespun quality, a Little House On The Prairie sort of theme,  if you will; while, on the other hand, the scarf looks primitively artsy. As both orientations appeal to me, I was pleased.

    new scarf 2


  • Scarves of 2014, all about me

    Last year, I gifted everyone with the scarves I made during the preceding twelve months. Since I wanted to keep them a surprise, I couldn’t keep scarves lying around the house in various states of completion in case the kids dropped by. I’m not the neatest or most organized person, so this was a HUGE chore. But this year…this year…my Scarf Project is all about me, so tangled hanks and knotted balls and messy skeins of yarn can be found in every room. Ditto for all my crochet hooks and every conceivable sized knitting needle. If I need one I’m missing, I search sofa cushions. I just found a hook this morning I didn’t know I was missing when I was scouring the house for a knitting needle I did know was missing. It was in the same general vicinity as my favorite craft glasses, which, unbeknown to me, had fallen on the floor under the coffee table. WIN!

    I’ve never worked in cotton yarn so I wanted to give it a try. MEH. The yarn split. It’s a simple K2, P2 pattern.

    new scarf1


  • How A Skein Of Worsted Is Like Telling A Story

    And I don’t mean a writer has to pull the wool over a reader’s eyes or the yarn will unravel.

    I knit. I also crochet. A lot. Anyway, at an end-of-year sale, I bought 3 skeins of variegated wool yarn on-line without first reading the reviews or noting the labels. I was in a hurry, as usual, and let the pretty price tag lead me astray.

    To make a short story long…I didn’t like the stuff after it was delivered.

    photo 1

    I pushed through it. I often don’t like things right off the bat, then I change my mind and fall hard. Like my first visit to Portland, ME. That story will have to wait for some other time. Must stay on track. No side trips.

    Three days into crocheting a spring scarf, I discovered my new red, white and black yarn was actually red, white, and green yarn. Light from my magnifying lamp hit the WIP just right, hence my AHA moment.

    This should’ve been the tip-off. Alas, no. Not til Mr. Trent looked in on me crocheting madly away, my knuckles pumping, wrist rotating, and said, “Christmas?” in a quizzical tone that I looked at the name on the label.

    “YULE TIME.”

    No spring scarf for me.

    I pushed through it. Nearing the end of the second skein of yarn, my knuckles stopped pumping, my wrist stopped rotating. I stopped pushing through it.

    I hated my new scarf. Loathed it. The colors. The “linen” crochet stitch. The texture. The pattern was okay for a rustic table runner but not for something I wanted to wear around my neck, not even at Christmas.

    photo 2

    What if I changed things up? What if I knit the third skein of yarn, instead of crocheting it?

    You be the judge. Same yarn, new approach. Did I achieve a different result?

    photo 4

    Plotting a book often involves experimentation. This is what I did with SEX STINGS, on sale now for $.99 at Amazon.

    You be the judge. The reader always is. I wrote a psychic romance plot, but used a new approach. Did I achieve a different result?

     


  • Scarves of 2013 (part 2)

    Actually, for this 2013 Scarf Project, I completed more than these examples here on the blog. But — Christmas was rapidly approaching and I forgot to take pix of the rest.

    I love drooling over scarf patterns on Pinterest and Ravelry. Placing SEX STINGS on sale at Amazon for $.99 inspired me to restart my old blog.

    scarf20

    scarf21

    scarf19

    scarf15

    scarf16

    scarf17

    scarf18

    scarf14

    scarf13


  • Scarves of 2013 (part 1)

    My favorite yarn store has a Sunday Super Bowl sale every year right before the game starts. Naturally, I was there to get my worsted fix. The place was packed with ladies, all draped in beautiful scarves, all lovingly caressing the merchandize. To pass the time while waiting in a LONG line for the register, we all chatted about our latest projects. It seems like knitting has never been more popular.

    SEX STINGS, my book currently on sale at Amazon for $.99, is an erotic romance about knitting and falling in love in Boston.

    As an aside — last year, I knitted and crocheted 28 scarves in total, all of which I gave away to family at Christmas in a modified Yankee Swap. (SEX STINGS doesn’t involve swapping of any kind.)

    These are the pix ( part 1) :

    scarf2 scarf3 scarf4 scarf5 scarf6 scarf7 scarf8 scarf9 scarf10


  • SEX STINGS on sale

    sexstingsBoston is my hometown. I was born, raised, educated, and employed within the city limits. My origins are readily apparent as soon as I open my mouth. And not only because my conversations are liberally sprinkled with “wicked pissa.”

    I sound like Boston. Vacations confirm this. When I’m out-of-state, locals routinely approach me and say, “You’re from Boston, aren’t you?” I’ve been known to lay it on thicker when this happens, as it did this past November when we were visiting San Antonio. Not that Bostonians all sound alike. We don’t. Dorchester sounds different from Southie sounds different from J.P. etc, but there is a nasal commonality to our speech, regardless of the neighborhood where we grew up.

    I miss the city. Now that my kids are gone and the house that was once just right is now too roomy, I’m thinking about moving back. A smaller place that’s cheaper to heat and closer to things on foot. I hate driving. At Open Houses, real estate agents say city living is a growing trend among empty nesters. The thing is, though, the city has changed in the decades since I’ve been gone. And though I haven’t lost my grating Boston twang, I’ve changed too.

    I was used to city living once. Can I get reacquainted?

    Looking out a window and seeing the neighbor’s house directly next door? Shades you need to pull down for privacy? Cheek-by-jowl fences to delineate property lines?

    I don’t know.

    Out in the boonies, I garden on an acre of land. That’s 40K square feet. You can’t get that in the city, where a buildable house lot resembles a parking space, which, BTW, you also can’t get in the city. Not much room to play in the dirt in the city.

    Growing up in Rozzie, (Roslindale) I had two gardens — a perennial bed with a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary within our property line and a vegetable garden I squatted on next to the tracks, a narrow buffer strip of land chocked with weeds and infested with tossed beer cans. Rumble-rumble went the freight trains on the hour, every hour. I don’t think I can find a setup like that anymore in the city.

    So I write books about the city instead, both historical and contemporary erotic romances.

    SEX STINGS, now on sale for $.99 at Amazon, takes place in Boston.

     

     

    Blurb:

    Previously released and newly revised. Also RE-FORMATTED. 50,400 words.
    Snooping is one helluva dirty business, and no one knows that any better than down-on-his-luck P.I. Daniel Murphy. But with baseball bat-wielding loan sharks after him and his kneecaps on the line, this South Boston tough has no choice but to deliver the goods on a high-stakes sex sting operation. To collect the endgame bonus, all Dan has to do is covertly videotape his target Thérèse Walsh cheating on her boyfriend.

    With him.

    That’s right. Dan’s supposed to make like a porn star on camera with a woman he doesn’t even know and then deliver the evidence of her two-timing to his client. Can he do it?

    When Dan Murphy walks into her little knitting shop, Terry Walsh is immediately and overwhelmingly attracted to him and she understands exactly why. This is a new experience for her. Although she’s a psychic, Terry rarely understands her own hidden motivations. But, this time, she actually gets why she’d want to go to bed with Dan Murphy — any woman would. He’s one caring and protective guy.

    That’s a problem.

    Dan’s a little too caring, a little too protective…a little too vanilla. And she’s a lot BDSM. Going to bed with Terry always means the SEX STINGS.


  • Finding Inspiration for Writing

    My erotic romances run the gamut — contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, and historical. The latter genre is by far my favorite. I can bring an element of darkness, a tone of the forbidden, to an historical that far surpasses any other genre.

    During Victorian times, the turn of a lady’s ankle could scandalize. In such an outwardly (and often hypocritically) repressed time, imagine, if you will, the eroticism contained in wantonly displaying the quickening pulse at a lady’s throat, the graceful line of her collarbone, the hint of breast. In an historical, the possibilities for sexual excitement are as fertile as my writer’s wicked imagination. Add elements of BDSM to the mix, and the carnal seduction between a gentleman and a lady takes on a delightful taste of taboo.

    There’s a certain language to the historical, a formality, a cadence that walks a precarious line between stiffness and entertainment. Step over that line, and you have either a bored reader or one thrown out of the story by anachronism.

    I do lots of research for my historical romances — reading, museums, movies…travel. Walking tours, in particular, help me experience the atmosphere of a place. Visiting historical houses also helps enormously. I highly recommend the tours given by the National Park Service.

    To get a feel for the seaport town I wrote about in THE ACQUISITION, I spent an entire day in New Bedford, Massachusetts. At the TouristCenter, I soaked up tons of information and viewed a wonderful movie on whaling in 1844 New England.

    On  vacation on the Atlantic coast, I visited Cape May, NJ. I’m not a beach person, but the resort boasts a marvelous collection of Victorian houses. Before even setting out on the trip, I borrowed a CD from the public library on Cape May architecture, done to familiarize myself in advance with the various building styles. Upon my arrival, I toured various homes and purchased six research books, among them: THE HISTORY OF UNDERCLOTHES, authored by Willett and Cunnington; and FASHIONS OF THE 1880’s FROM THE 1885 BUTTERICK CATALOG.

    In writing TAINTED LOVE, I visited the Morse-Libby brownstone mansion (circa 1860) in Portland Maine. I asked the very patient tour guide multitudinous questions about Victorian plumbing. If she thought I had some weird WC fetish, she’d be spot-on! In writing historical romances, the small everyday details — like toileting — lend a story an air of authenticity.

    studio of her ownWhile writing TAINTED LOVE, I also visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to view the traveling exhibit of “A Studio Of Her Own”, a display of paintings which spotlighted 19th century women artists.

    Since my heroine, Lily, was just such an artist, I felt this trip was vitally important to characterization. And it was! The BIO’s the museum posted about these women provided much useful background material for my book. I learned about what these dedicated and ambitious forerunners had to give up to pursue their art—marriage and children, the good opinion of society. And creature comforts. I also learned how women supported one another emotionally to achieve their goals. I came across the term “Boston marriages”—love relationships between women that lasted for years and flew in the face of convention.

    I was so impressed with the exhibit that I purchased the poster you see to the left and hung it in my home as a reminder of these courageous women.

    The “nuts and bolts”of writing TAINTED LOVE.

    We’ll start with the TITLE:

    Lyrics to “Tainted Love” covered by Marilyn Manson

    Sometimes I feel I’ve got to
    Run away I’ve got to
    Get away
    From the pain that you drive into the heart of me
    The love we share
    Seems to go nowhere
    I’ve lost my lights
    I toss and turn I can’t sleep at night

    Once I ran to you (I ran)
    Now I’ll run from you
    This tainted love you’ve given
    I give you all a boy could give you
    Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
    Tainted love
    Tainted love

    Now I know I’ve got to
    Run away I’ve got to
    Get away
    You don’t really want any more from me
    To make things right
    You need someone to hold you tight
    You think love is to pray
    I’m sorry I don’t pray that way

    Once I ran to you (I ran)
    Now I’ll run from you
    This tainted love you’ve given
    I give you all a boy could give you
    Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
    Tainted love
    Tainted love

    Don’t touch me please
    I cannot stand the way you tease
    I love you though you hurt me so
    Now I’m going to pack my things and go
    Touch me baby, tainted love
    Touch me baby, tainted love
    Touch me baby, tainted love

    Once I ran to you (I ran)
    Now I’ll run from you
    This tainted love you’ve given
    I give you all a boy could give you
    Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
    Tainted love
    Tainted love
    Tainted love

    Manson’s single was getting plenty of airplay while I wrote the story. Since the contemporary lyrics so closely described my historical book, I lifted the title.

    Still with me?

    Okay, moving onto the next element. THE SYNOPSIS:

    TAINTED LOVE is an 82,000-word Gothic mystery of obsession and possession, featuring a terrified heroine in jeopardy, a morally ambiguous hero, an isolated setting, an eerie house, and layers of old family secrets.

    A decade earlier Lily Hill, a twenty-eight year old artist and teacher, was involved in a lurid sex scandal that led to a suspicious death in which Doyle Donovan, the architect she once loved, remains the prime suspect.

    On the surface, Lily’s homecoming is no more than an uncomplicated act of kindness and affection. But nothing is uncomplicated in Lily’s life. When she returns to the home she both loves and fears, she intentionally reopens a painful chapter from her past.

    Lily sees herself as a coward, little more than a pretty face. This is far from the truth. In returning home, she knowingly places her life in grave jeopardy. For years and unknown to anyone, she has been receiving anonymous threats, warning her to stay away.

    Now that she is home, will intimidation escalate to murder?

    • Here, I detailed the sexual elements.      I’m not listing those in this essay because, frankly, the sexual acts are smokin’.

    Next comes the BLURB:

    The year 1887. Bar Harbor, Maine.

    Lily Hill’s sexual odyssey begins when she returns home to untangle the lies and distortions of her past, a past involving a lurid sex scandal, a suspicious death, and the angry man she once loved and wronged, Doyle Donovan. Despite anonymous threats warning her to stay away, Lily is resolved to make reparations to the brooding Doyle … in any manner he so desires.

    And Doyle is a man of many dark desires.

    Okay, so what sort of story is TAINTED LOVE? In what CATEGORY does it belong?

    The following guidelines are from Dorchester Publishing’s Candleglow imprint:

    . . . With the popularity of the dark hero again on the upswing, Love Spell has brought back a beloved mainstay of romance: the Gothic. Set against dark backdrops such as Transylvanian castles and keeps on deserted moors, these romances are mainly told from the heroine’s point of view. The books most often revolve around a naive heroine who is placed in close proximity with-and often under the protection of-a hero of whom she knows little and whom she suspects or even fears. However, these enigmatic men are often those who claim our hearts and seduce our bodies, and the unveiling of their mysteries is part of the path to true love.

    The challenge in writing a Gothic for Candleglow, along with creating an evocative, ominous setting, is maintaining the powerful sexual attraction the heroine feels for the hero-despite any questions she might have regarding her safety and the trustworthiness of her lover. . . 

    Told entirely from the 3rd person POV of the heroine, TAINTED LOVE fits this Gothic Romance CATEGORY — except my book is an erotic romance, so there’s explicit sex.

    These guidelines are from St. Martin’s Press/MALICE DOMESTIC CONTEST
    for a Traditional Mystery Novel:

    . . . .Murder or another serious crime is at the heart of the story, and emphasis is on the solution rather than the details of the crime.
    Whatever violence is necessarily involved should be neither excessive nor gratuitously detailed, nor is there to be explicit sex.

    The crime is an extraordinary event in the lives of the characters.

    The principal characters are people whom the reader might not like, but would be interested in knowing.

    The suspects and the victims should know each other.

    There are a limited number of suspects, each of whom has a credible motive and reasonable opportunity to have committed the crime.

    The person who solves the crime is the central character.

    The “detective” is an amateur, or, if a professional (private investigator, police officer) is not hardboiled and is as fully developed as the other characters.

    The detective may find him or herself in serious peril . . .

     
    Remove the explicit sex, and TAINTED LOVE would fit this CATEGORY too. I use a small cast of characters, there’s a strong familial component, an isolated setting, very little gore is described — I even have a tea-drinking elderly lady, a cat, and a house that subs as a secondary character in the story.

    Basically, TAINTED LOVE is a cross-genre romance: A gothic, erotic, historical, mystery with BDSM elements.

    Okay. Here’s the irony: I didn’t use any of the above ingredients in the construction of TAINTED LOVE. I just sat at the PC and hammered out a story. TITLE, SYNOPSIS, BLURB, and CATEGORY all came later, pretty much after I had already written the book.

    An outline, with cogent and cohesive plot points in advance of writing a book?

    Not me. I couldn’t produce such an animal, not even if my writing life depended on it.

    Letting raw emotion guide me, I write by instinct using as close as I can to an entirely “deep penetration point of view.” This means a total immersion in the character’s head. If the character wouldn’t think it or feel it, I try not to include that thought or emotion in the book. There can be inconsistencies however, and the character should, hopefully, grow during the course of the story.

    In the final analysis, I have no idea where I get the ideas for my stories or how they’ll unfold (or, more aptly, evolve) until I type “THE END”.  Writing for me is an act of discovery, an organic puzzle that I piece together during a multi-layering process. When pressed, I always say my stories and my characterizations originate in my psyche.

    Fancy, huh?

    In reality, I press the DELETE key many times during the creation of a book, certainly more often than I care to admit, erasing passages…whole pages. And, yes, even chapters. I edit and edit and edit. I revise and revise and revise. Even after all that polishing, I still manage to give human heroes three arms during sex scenes.

    Historical romances take time to write. CAPTIVE, TAINTED LOVE, THE ACQUISITION, TOUCH ME, COURTESAN, and my most recent paranormal historical release, ON MOORSTEAD, took almost a year each to complete.

    When it comes right down to it, writing an historical is just plain hard work. If you don’t love the process, stand clear.


  • Mixed

    Finally, a new book! MIXED, a 19th century multi-cultural, erotic romance released this week. I’m thrilled to have self-published a third story.

    mixed

    But I won’t lie — it was a difficult story to tell. In every book, I try to be sensitive to the reality of the era without writing revisionist history. After all, I don’t write straight historicals — I write historical romances. I want to entertain my readers. I want them to escape in these the books. So I wear rose colored glasses.

    But this one, man! This one nearly broke me. A PoC romance in an immediate American Post Civil War setting?

    The social commentary aspect was a tough haul.

    Anyway, I tried.

    Readers have asked me to write multi-cultural romances with a PoC heroine, not always a PoC hero. And I’ve done so. JOHARI GOES KINKY is a contemporary with a WM/BW and now MIXED is a WM/BW  historical.

    Enjoy!