Sunday, March 28, 2010

of spring, the earth and ebooks...

The weather here in the Finger Lakes has turned cold again after several days of positively balmy temperatures. While I know this cold snap is simply Mother Nature’s way of reminding us it’s still March, I certainly enjoyed getting out into the garden and turning over the soil in preparation for this year’s planting.

Being forced back indoors has given me time for reflection instead of action. An ardent composter, recycler, turn-off-the-lights-when-you-leave-the-room nag gives me the environmentalist label in our household. I hang some of my laundry out to dry; I make paper from the lint. I grow a few vegetables. We’ve been using cloth napkins for everyday for years and use the wax paper from cereal boxes instead of buying it new (and believe me, we eat a LOT of cereal! My son seems to think there’s no other food group and would have it for all three meals and snacks if I let him). In spite of all the things we already do, I find myself asking, what ELSE? What more can we do?

And the answer is, “very little.” I need to sell a few more books before I can put in the solar electric system my husband has his eye on. Same deal with getting hybrid cars and solar heating. The tax breaks help, but the price is still high. We manage to only put one grocery bag’s worth of garbage into the landfill each day(our town charges by the pound and believe me, that gave us incentive to recycle even more things), but I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce even that amount. Buying in bulk helps reduce packaging – sometimes. I hate when I buy a big box of something, thinking it’s going to be less “stuff” and find inside that they’ve simply put two of the smaller size packages with all the wrapping still intact. Now I not only have what I would have if I’d bought smaller, but I have the larger wrap around it as well. Grrr…

Of course, buying ebooks is always a greener way to go (shameless plug). Although there have been some debates about the use of electricity vs. paper mill pollution, I’m inclined to think the ebooks win. They certainly win as far as storage is concerned. Less clutter means less dust means less pollution, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

Okay…so what are the ways you help the environment as the weather turns warm and we come out of our winter cocoons? Give me some ideas for my what ELSE?


Sunday, March 21, 2010

How do YOU make yourself feel sexy?

For years I didn't feel sexy.

When I was in my teens and twenties I did...sort of. In my teens it was dicey because I couldn't seem to get a boy to be interested in me. I wore the tight jeans--the kind that forced you to slide into your desk sideways and stick your legs out in order to avoid being cut in half--and I had the 80's hair. I smiled at a few boys, and even managed to get one to kiss me. But for the most part the boys in my age range weren't interested in a rather outspoken Sci-Fi freak whose abilities in math could shame even the nerdiest pocket-protector-toting geek. Let alone the star of the volleyball team. Apparently teenage boys don't like girls that are smarter than they are. Who knew?

So, not until I met my number one hunny at the tender age of 19 did I really start to feel like I had the kind of sex appeal required to lure all those good little Mennonite boys into temptation. Alas, however, the very first boy I dated was so perfect that I never needed to look any further! Therefore my exposure to the opposite sex, and hence the affirmation of my sex appeal, ended up being very limited.

So, through the years of marriage, home-ownership, pregnancy, lactation and wonderful hunny continued to always tell me how beautiful and sexy I was. And that is wonderful! However...I confess that after 20 years it started to lose it's...zing. And I confess that through those years of pregnancy and looking after toddlers I pretty much gave up on the whole sex appeal thing. What's the point, after all when you spend much of your free time wiping up poop and mopping up puke? But then...suddenly...and yes, I do believe it was right around that proverbial female sexual peak...I decided it was time to get off my ample butt and start to feel like a woman again! And I did. I lost 30 pounds, grew out my hair, and bought my first pair of low-rise jeans. I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. But I still didn't feel sexy. Not...really. And at the time...I couldn't really say why. And then it happened--the epiphany!

I had gone out to a bar to meet some girlfriends for an evening of dancing. However...arriving at the ridiculously early hour of 10:00 pm....left me waiting for my girlfriends all alone. Not being particularly shy I got a drink at the bar and sat down to wait. The first to approach was a college age boy with a rye and coke and a goofy smile who sat down beside me and proceeded to inflate my ego exponentially. I'm not sure if he...flirted exactly, however I did come away from that table with a perpetual invitation to keg parties at his house. (I have yet to take him up on that.) But it was upon walking away from that table that the real fun began.

I heard my name called and was startled to discover two of those volley-ball playing jocks from my old highschool...two men who in 1982 barely knew I existed, and who had, on occasion teased my geeky friends and myself to distraction. seemed that NOW the distraction was on the other foot. These two divorcees on the make had eyes that were so big, and jaws that had dropped so far that I almost thought I was going to have to start mopping up their drool. I confess it felt good...damn good to turn away their advances with a little flick of my wrist. "Sorry boys. I am sooooo out of your league."

Okay...I didn't say that. Not out loud, anyway. But the way that little experience made me feel was...beyond description. It was the boost and the affirmation that I had been seeking...and I hadn't even known it. Of course I came home and told #1 hunny all about it. He was fine with the flirtation, but I think he was a little hurt when he said, "I've been telling you you're beautiful and sexy for years. Doesn't it mean the same coming from me?" And I replied bluntly, "You know I love you, but...No. It doesn't." Sad, perhaps...but true.
This is a man who looked at me during the bloating and pain of childbirth and still TRULY believed I was beautiful. That means something, of course. It means everything! But there is a part of me that wants to be seen as sexy just because of the way a pair of jeans hug my ass, and the way a push up bra sets off a low-cut top. It's about walking down the street and FEELING sexy. Feeling like you stand out. Feeling superficially special, I suppose.

I guess it is superficial...and probably somewhat sad, but I don't think I'm alone in that feeling. FAct is I've put a few pounds back on again, and I'm not quite as sveldt and toned as I was five years ago, but I still have that feeling. When I do myself up, and put on those low-rise jeans, I feel good about who I am. I feel confident and sexy, and when I walk down the street I feel good about myself. And if it meant I had to crush a couple of old highschool bad-asses to get that feeling...then too bad for them. And YAY for me.

I think we all have to take that feeling wherever we can get it. Whether it's by spending $150 on a kick-ass hair style, or picking up a sexy pair of thigh-high boots....Whether it's by lacing yourself into a corsette until you've got "bum back" and your waistline has been cut down by a third....Whether it's by getting your nails done or treating (hmm...not sure THAT's the right word) yourself to a Brazilian wax....

It doesn't matter.
Do what you gotta do to find your inner Diva...and make no apologies for it!

(This entry is cross-posted from Diary of a Sex Diva)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What Makes You Buy a Book?

There's been an interesting discussion on one of my authors' loops the last few days about a particular author and why this author is so successful when there are so many authors out there who are more talented, but don't sell nearly as many books. Is it strictly marketing? Is the publisher pushing this author to success by extra promotion or publicity or bigger print runs? Does this author have that "thing" that makes people snap up the author's books as soon as they're published? What the heck is that "thing" and where can I get it? :-)

I buy a lot of books. I'm an author, but I'm a reader first. I love books, both e and print. I love curling up on my loveseat with a cup of tea close by (or a cold Dr Pepper) and losing myself in the author's world. I want to be so involved with the author's words that I block out everything around me. Sometimes that's hard to do. Sometimes I buy a book because of an excerpt/blurb/friend's recommendation and it turns out to be a snooze. Maybe my friend loved it, but it did nothing for me. Do I throw it against the wall? No. I read every word. I keep thinking it'll get better. I'm so disappointed when it doesn't.

So how do I pick which books to buy, you ask? I have an autobuy list of authors I love and know will never disappoint me with a wallbanger. I go to that list first. If one of those authors releases a new book, it's soon on my bookshelf or in my e-reader.

Next, I look at covers. If a cover grabs me, I'll turn it over and read the back blurb (or read the online blurb for an e-book). If I like that, I'll read an excerpt. I want a taste of the author's voice. That has to come from his/her own writing. Hook me with the excerpt and the chances are very good that I'll buy the book.

Do I buy a book based on reviews or bestseller status? No. I used to, I'll admit that. I used to look up reviews and buy my books based on ones that received 4 stars/hearts or better. I learned very quickly that tastes vary widely. What that reviewer considered a 4 I would've called a 2, and vice versa.

I love discovering new authors and adding them to my autobuy list. So what if some of my favorite authors aren't bestsellers? They're tops to me and that's what counts.

How about you? What makes you buy a book?


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where’s my author insecurity?

We’ve talked about, written about it, even blogged about it…authors are, seemingly by nature, insecure creatures.

We hand something we’ve written to another person then cringe (either inwardly or in my case, visibly) while that person reads our words, desperate to see a smile or hear a chuckle at the right places. My editor knows, because I’ve explained this to her, that when she writes back to say “yes” to a book she must also tell me she loves it. If not, I start flipping over all sorts of rotten scenarios in my head about how she doesn’t really like it but they need to fill a slot in the schedule and this is the last time she’s taking one of these books from Tielle St. Clare! (Her voice rises in my mind as she reaches the end of that run-on sentence).

So, yes, insecure…sometimes. But not right now. I’m working on a book, due to my editor April 15, and I think it’s honestly one of the best stories I’ve written. I’m about two-thirds through the book. This is usually the point when I discover my fatal plot flaw and have to try to give the main characters have some motivation. Or I realize one of my sex scenes doesn’t quite work but I need it there. Something happens to stall my progress.

Not this time (at least not yet). The plot works. The characters have depth. There’s action. There's humor. There’s hot sex (well, duh). I’m so happy with this book, I can’t wait to finish it. I want to hand sections to people to read because I know they’ll come back with “my, it’s brilliant.” I know they will.

Having said that…who knows what the next week will bring? I might go from “genius mode” to “idiot mode” in a moment. Or as one of the women in my writers' group said “I don’t know who wrote that crap that was on my computer because what I wrote was perfect.”

I’m sure the insecurity will hit or at some point I’ll dread working on this story but right now, it’s fun and I can’t wait to get back to my keyboard. I’m riding the wave while it lasts.