Charities, Love, Sci-Fi, Fantasy and History. And Turkeys…

 

Mia Darien has been in touch again.  The romance anthology Amor Vincit Omnia is going to be re-released.  There will be a Facebook party for the re-release between December 12-13th.  So, bring your beverage of choice, (mine is made from grapes), some glitter, a party hat and get ready to celebrate noble characters, hidden beauty and love conquering all.

https://www.facebook.com/events/346359732386799/

Another item for update is that Mia is arranging a new short story anthology.  Guess what! It’s for charity, namely ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).  The genres of the stories will be sci-fi, fantasy or dystopian.  It’s looking like a January release for this project.  However an exact date is yet to be set in stone.

Regarding my historical romance with a paranormal twist manuscript.  Yeah…that one.

I am nearly finished with the second draft.  I say nearly because…this is historical and I’ve got to sort something before typing ‘The End’.  It’s set in roughly four different historical periods and two different countries (actually, three if you are counting changing national borders).  And the timing of things I have right towards the end needs altering a little bit.

There will be charming Old World villages, there will be immigrants, there will be vast American prairies, there will be love.  And more.  I do have wonderful relatives and other author friends who are beta reading for me.  Their response has been positive so I’m excited about this project.

The community of folks who hold the knowledge of the relevant group portrayed in this tale has been particularly supportive.  I hope something comes of this work, but even if it doesn’t, I am so honored and thankful to have been able to learn from them.

I’ve still to go back and tweak my earlier chapters, write one chapter about young love at a festival in old Austria-Hungary and then I am just about ready to go bug Mia for some serious editing.

Then you can read it.  Yes, it’s taken a while.  I’m not Philippa Gregory okay?

How long before it’s available for all?   I am honesty scared to predict. Let’s hope nothing happens in the next few weeks that means endless cooking and kids being home and shopping and preparations and possibly travel.  Oh. Crap.  I’m not going to lie.  It might not be this year.  But it is going to surface before the buds fully bloom in temperate climates.

If I get a moment before the big holidays hit I will compose a history article for the next blog post regarding some of my research.  I love history.  It’s become like a companion to me over the last couple of years.

But let’s look to the future and hope that 2017 will be a wonderful year for all.  Happy Thanksgiving all🙂

By jmnauthor3000

Sparing No One. Not Even Myself.

 

I’m trying to write my novel but with November 8th nearing I am starting to lose focus.  I know we all feel the same way.  It’s maddening.  I just want to crawl into a hole with a bottle of white wine and stay there until this all blows over.

Am I going to vote?  Yes.  Am I going to rant right now regarding why I’m voting for who I’m voting for and why everyone who is voting for the other person is an idiot? No. I’m not.  I won’t rant.

At this point, we have all made up our mind.  Telling people they are stupid for believing a certain way only makes them belligerent.  It makes them hostile and stubborn.  It causes them to search for incredibly biased yet well worded or craftily filmed sources of information so that they can self-soothe and bask in self-righteousness.  I include myself in this by the way.

I have been guilty of it when feeling wound up after reading a political Facebook post I whole heartedly disagree with.   I’ve honestly thought, ‘are they crazy?  They cannot be serious!!!’ Then I’ve thought ‘Do we really need this on Facebook?  Is this necessary?’  Then I’ve thought…‘Well…people do have a right to their opinions.  But still…’   Like I said, it’s maddening.

Words spoken or nowadays, ‘shared’ in the heat of passion are dangerous.  Yet political propaganda has wormed its way into our communal online photo and status sharing.  And oh boy are we eager little fish.  Again, I include myself in this.

Propaganda is dreadfully powerful thing.  Its purpose is to incite intense emotions.

Like telling people that an entire ethnic group or faith or people of a different sexual orientation are all out to get them and destroy their way of life incites great fear.

Example?  Like telling them that all Christian Americans are racist idiots.  What good does that do?   Who does that comment help?  Answer?  Your ego.  Admit it, it feels good.  When you’ve had a few bad experiences with evangelical types who have been a bit pushy with their beliefs.  Again, I include myself in this.  But they have a right to find solace in their faith.  Jesus loved and loves everyone.  Everyone.  So should we round up all the Christians and put them away?  No.  Should we emotionally bully them into believing that their faith is completely wrong?  No.

Example?  Like telling folks that all transgender people want to go into public toilets and abuse your children.  Who does that comment help?  Answer?  Your ego.  Because you really don’t understand the concept of someone being born a gender they do not identify with.   You automatically associate it with the worst sort of sexual perversion.  It’s a concept that I struggled with when I was first made aware of it.  I was born female and even though I am not entirely ‘girly’ I cannot imagine wanting to have a medical procedure that would make me male.  But do I assume they want to abuse my kids?  No.  Do I think they pose a danger to myself or my family?  No.  Should we round them all up and put them away?  Or bully them into denying who they are? No.

Are there reasons to fear other human beings?  Yes.  Of course.  Some people are really not okay.   Evil does not discriminate when it chooses the ones who would do its bidding.  Though it knows how to play the hate card very, very well.  It knows how to play the religion and politics card.  How perfect – to use the very institutions that were put in place to encourage morality and togetherness.  Target them and use them as powerful tools to drive people apart.  Take sensitive issues and commence with intense imagery and aggressive wording.

Distribute the propaganda and hey presto!

You have hatred and dissent, even amongst families.

These days, I’m a fan of the following sentiment,  ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’  That is incredibly difficult to live by.  We can cause harm and hurt so very easily.  We can be swallowed by dangerous mindsets before we even fully comprehend what we’ve subscribed to.  We are all a bit more emotionally delicate than we would like to admit.  I know I am.  It really gets to me when someone tells me I’m stupid and wrong.

It almost makes me want to scour the internet for clever articles and images that will make me feel better.  Oh the blind self-righteousness…drink it in.

And I am not even getting into violence and wars fueled by propaganda.  This is where conflict starts.  With hurt feelings and insecurity.  It’s shocking how terrified some people are of being wrong.

I love my family and friends even though I don’t always agree with their politics. I still love them. Even after the Facebook posts.  I always will.  And I know they feel the same about me.

God Bless.  And God Bless the Chicago Cubs.  Amen.  Blessed Be.  Namaste.

By jmnauthor3000

The Vampire Story I Haven’t Written Yet

 

When I was a little girl, I watched a film that introduced me to vampires.  It was the 80s,  the film was a bit on the cheeky side, and I probably should have just gone to bed.  Yet I was allowed to stay awake and watch.  I have no recollection of the title of the film or who starred in it.  I just know that it introduced me to vampires.  To the myth itself.  The concept of the vampire was way more exciting to me than the film.

I fell asleep in my bed with my covers pulled right up to my neck.  I kept my rosary near.  When I woke in the middle of the night, realizing that my neck was cold and the covers had fallen down to my abdomen I was terrified.  What if a vampire found me?   What if they watched people, while they slept, waiting for the sleeping person’s throat to be exposed.  Turned at just the right angle so as to be irresistible to a creature who survives off of blood.

I also discovered my writing ability when I was a little girl.  Back in the good old 80s.  Yet the vampire story wasn’t something I even thought about penning until recently.

The combination of death and seductiveness really works for some people.  A lot of people actually.  Yet the reality behind the myth is gruesome at the very least.

Remaining physically fit, with superhuman strength and being immortal is pretty appealing.  Despite it meaning being immortal unless someone cuts off your head, drives a stake through your heart and burns you.  Then you’re not immortal anymore.

Let’s break down the history of why people may have believed in vampires.  Basic superstitions.  Believing that those who were horrible in life might continue to be so in death.  So, if diseases or tragedies came about in a village, a recently deceased jerk might have been thought to be the culprit.  Burial customs that might have meant accidentally interring some alive, thus finding claw marks on the inside of coffins near graves where people reported heard noises.  Horrid.   Exhuming bodies thought to be vampires and finding they hadn’t decomposed as much as expected.  The body may have made a noise when touched.  Natural gases could have caused this.  The process of decomposition after death wasn’t completely understood some time ago.

And of course, serial killers.  Real life monsters with deranged minds obsessed with blood.

Most people know Vlad the Impaler is the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  In Bram Stoker’s Dracula he is portrayed as a frightening yet enticing character.  To some folks in Romania, Vlad The Impaler isn’t seen as a murderer, rather as a national hero who defended his territory using brutal methods.  Some believe that he kept order through the use of torture.  That he used ‘necessarily harsh’ ways of punishment and establishing authority.  Like impaling Turkish envoys.  And soldiers.  And women and children.  And boiling people alive.  History can be very subjective.

As for the Hungarian Countess Elisabeth Bathory…she has been portrayed in some popular culture as a bit on the sexy side.  A sultry, powerful woman.  Personally I don’t have much time for depicting her as some sort of wicked seductress.  Wicked seductresses are cool.  I like them.  Disturbed women who liked to torture little girls I don’t like.  That’s not being a wicked seductress.  Her nickname ‘The Blood Countess’ came after it was discovered that she believed the blood of young, virginal girls made her skin softer and smoother.  And that she enjoyed tormenting children by sticking needles beneath their nails.   The Countess was one for brutal ways of punishment too.  She had a thief sewed alive inside a horse.  This might not shock you but Erzsebet, (the Hungarian version of Elisabeth), suffered from severe mental instability.

Tales of graphically torturing the innocent are not my preferred form of entertainment.  However, there have been books that have used Bathory’s ‘legend’ that have been well done.

Linda Lafferty’s House of Bathory is an example.  Taking into account the humanity and identity of the poor young ladies who found themselves employed by the Blood Countess.  Poor village girls whose murders long went unacknowledged due to the powerful status of the Bathory name.  Also acknowledging Erzsebet’s tragic mental state.

There are a host of other murderers who were into very unfortunate ways of ending people’s lives…involving blood drinking.  But….let’s leave that there.  You get the idea.  *goes to wash hands*

One vampire legend ‘adaptation’ I really enjoyed was Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire.  New Orleans is a wonderful, gothic setting for a vampire story.  It’s rife with paranormal history and legends.  Including vampiric ones.  I think part of this could be because of the area’s history.  Deep in the slave holding south, where all manner of decadence and cruelty resided.  For me, I’ll leave the New Orleans scene to native folks.  I think people who have lived in and/or extensively visited AND studied a place are the ones best to write about it.  Still, it doesn’t stop people who know bugger all about something from writing about it.  Fiction…is unbelievably subjective.

Anyway…

Twilight..*cringe*…*groan*…*hiss*…say the haters.  I’ve heard people say that Twilight insulted the vampire genre by its very existence with its sparkly, vegetarian vampires and metaphor for chastity.  I comprehend the sentiment.  I get it.  However, let me just say now….I enjoyed the movies…and the books afterwards.   Bored housewife desperate to escape back into her loved up youth comments aside, I wouldn’t say they were the ‘best’ out of the vampire genre and representative of it as a whole.   But they were enjoyable.  For me.  A bored housewife,  (*cough* writer), desperate to escape back into her youth.  And like…millions of others of fans of different ages.

How old are you?  

35

How long have you been 35? 

A while…..

I would have perhaps liked something a bit darker.  Not involving teenage characters and perhaps a love story between an innocent young woman and a powerful, intensely attractive man with a taste for dark things…I suppose it would almost be like fan fiction…oh…oh wait…no?  No?  Has that been done?  And people hated it for condoning abusive controlling relationships?  Yet others loved it for it’s ‘edgy’ theme and it was a huge best seller despite being poorly written and blatantly feeding off of the atmosphere of obsessive love and sexual tension in Twilight?  Damn.

I’m joking.  The practice of BDSM could be viewed as a ‘dark’ and ‘mysterious’ world that you could compare to (and in fact, combine with) the lore of vampirism.  And this has and is being done in many popular ‘steamy’ paranormal romance books.  Personally, like New Orleans…I think I will leave it to people who actually know a thing or to about it.

Whether you like it or not, sex, murder and the abuse of power are inevitable things that a writer will have to deal with if they want to write about vampires.

The whole romance thing just makes it all a bit more bearable.  And I freaking love romance.  And no, I am not into the fluffy, sunny, romantic comedy type stuff.  I need a bit of darkness or I just get damned bored.

Like the wine swilling, bourgeois, tiny brained woman that I am.

I currently have two other large manuscripts requiring my attention.  One a dystopian story I came up with the concept of when pondering how A-list celebrities are like a modern aristocracy of sorts.   The other, a historical romance beginning in early 1900s Austria-Hungary.  Winding up in modern day North Dakota.   I’m focusing more on the historical romance at the moment…rather determined to get it right before I head back to the dystopian.  My Mom read a draft and said she liked it.  So there.

Yet there is a vampire story waiting in the background.  Patiently.  Maybe watching me sleep at night.  Wearing a cape or period dress of some description.

Or maybe it’s the one with heavy footsteps across the floorboards chasing me in my dreams, having come from some dark, dark place.  To do very bad, bad things.  The one that finds me hiding in the attic.  The one that scares the sh*# out of me.

At any rate, I don’t doubt that the vampire story I haven’t written yet will come to me.  This is how it all starts, isn’t it?  Most authors would agree.  A story lurks in your head.  People start to come alive.  You can see the way they move.  You know what their childhood was like.  You’ve watched them sleep.

And, like a vampire it starts to pull you from your human life.  You find sunlight and living people tiresome.  They keep bothering you with mundane, every day life problems.  They want to eat normal food and stuff.

When all you want to do is go into the shadows and see what the damn vampire wants.

When you wake up and the covers have fallen down to your waist.  And your head has been turned just the right way.  Your throat has been exposed for so long your skin is cold.  You sit up and it’s there on the other side of the glass.   The vampire.  Do you let it in?

One side of me says yes.

The other says no, don’t do it Jessica.  Write about mermaids.  You used to like mermaids in the 80s too.

All the cruelties of Vlad Tepes and Elizabeth Bathory and all their coverage and adaptations disintegrate into the background.

The agonized screams of soldiers and children fade away into the night.

It’s just me and the vampire.  And the story I haven’t written yet.

By jmnauthor3000

My Halloween Obsession

 

Hello.  My name is Jessica and I am obsessed with Halloween.  I love pumpkins.  I love witch’s hats.  I love skulls.  I love candles.   I love dressing up in a manner completely unfit for the other 364 days of the year.  As a child I adored trick or treating as much as Christmas morning.

But Halloween meant something more to me from an early age.  It spoke to me on a level that went beyond candy, pumpkins and cool costumes.

I love the concept of opening one’s self up to a wider and wiser world.  The thought of being able to step outside of your immediate experience and surroundings.  The idea that, just for one or two nights, our limitations can be removed.  And the great beyond can reach through to touch us.

Not in a weird way though.  Also, general eeriness and spookiness I dig.  But sadistic cruelty, not so much.  This I don’t like.

I love Halloween.  Not horror movies.  No offense intended to those who are a fan of the genre.  I am not a fan of gory, violent slasher flicks depicting demented, cruel ways of ending life.  THAT side of things I don’t like to cast my eyes over during this sacred time. Know why?

Because there are dark, violent forces out there in the greater universe.  They mainly go by the names of fear, greed and hatred…but these demons have many other forms.  They can and have brought horror movies to life.  For example, the Holocaust and other acts of genocide.  The slave trade.  Modern human trafficking.  Terrorism.  Hate crimes against those of different sexual orientations or races or faiths.  War.

Hate=bad.  Love=good.  Yet this is a concept folks struggle with….

As our world ages, evil takes different forms.  It’s clever.  It even understands the value of subtlety.   It knows how to disguise itself and play tricks.  A true knowledge of what is genuinely ‘of the dark side’ and what is not is a challenge for us all.

Seeing behind masks of righteousness, hearing beyond charmed words, feeling beyond the anger within our heart,(a very difficult task indeed), are skills that take effort to hone. To taste sugar-coated bitterness and know it’s far better not to ingest it.  You get the idea, sniffing out evil’s tricks that would lead us to a path, unfit for a loving, caring person.

I believe in the other side.  I believe there are good and bad energies that we can encourage depending on what resides within us.  Yeah…I’m into all that.

So, the whole notion of the autumnal time of year being when the veil between the living and the dead or rather between our mortal world and the world of the beyond is temporarily lifted, I find quite beautiful.

It proves something in my heart every year.  We are not limited by what mean-spirited people would say about us because they have a twisted view of how we live our life.  We aren’t limited to the sorrows of our time.  We aren’t owned by grief.   We aren’t alone.

For me it’s about accepting the world beyond myself, my past and current situation.

Accepting the world beyond this one in which we draw breath.

I am a limited, terribly flawed person.  But I know in my heart that in the great beyond I’m loved.  Out there beyond the veil.  It comforts me and I’m not ashamed of that.

What I’m saying is this, that you shouldn’t be afraid of something just because it’s from outside your realm.

But you should be wary of what’s hurtful and dangerous.  Hate, fear and anger don’t manifest unless they are invited.  And keeping your heart closed to them is a formidable challenge.

The veil fades soon.  Don’t invite them.  Their true forms are terrifying.

Happy Halloween.

By jmnauthor3000

Urban Fantasy Short Stories Meets Kindness Promotion.

 

Ten authors have given their time and talent to write an #UrbanFantasy short story for the Good Things anthology.

The multi-genre loving Mia Darien has chosen the writers well, (completely disregarding myself).  The contributors’ back catalogues involve, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, mythology and romance stories (both short and novel length).

She also chose the Random Acts of Kindness organization to be the charity receiving all author profits.

The Good Things anthology is not official merchandise of the charity, however they were very gracious in accepting our form of donation.

Here is a list of each story’s blurb, title and author.  It will be available for Kindle ereader as well as paperback via Amazon.  My story’s blurb is last.

If you wish to know my inspiration and the background behind my story you can keep reading.  If not?  Just have a little peek at the following blurbs and ignore my ramblings afterwards.

Here are the blurbs, followed by their titles and authors:

When a century-old treaty with a rival pack is broken for the sake of forbidden love, the alpha heir of the Wesley pack, Kane, is deposed and his unwilling cousin, Xavier, ascends in his place. But when Roman Diallo, the king of the werewolves, makes mention of the rising danger to all lycans, Xavier must quickly take control of his destiny for the survival of his entire kind.

“Alpha Ascension” (A Wesley Werewolves Story) by A. Star

The deal you made with Death was clear: Your memory of me in exchange for my life. But Death is never so kind, and what we had was not enough.

“For You” (The Letters #2) by Angela B. Chrysler

If it’s not easy being a telepathic, it’s even harder to give away the bride when that bride is your ex. But the things we do for love can go above and beyond what anyone would ask for.

“What We Do for Love” by J. Kim McLean

Broken dreams, an ancient enigma tainted by the past, a mystical bond beyond time and space.

“Outreach: Part One” (An Orlosian Warriors Story) by Dariel Raye 

When the key witness in a high profile trial needs protection, “human taser” Special Agent Serafina Torres is put on protective detail. But when said witness is a vampire and those in the spotlight are anti-preternatural activists, how could it possibly go smoothly?

“Personal Responsibility” (An Adelheid Story) by Mia Darien

Quinn Carson’s unique ability lands her in a heap of trouble when she overhears something she shouldn’t. Enter Daniel Cain and his unusual special forces team of telepaths, hell bent on bringing down the supernatural trafficking ring she stumbled upon. Drawn to Cain despite her better judgement, Quinn decides to help, risking her own life–yet again. But will this become a case of no good deed goes unpunished?

“Psyched” (A Legendary Consultants Story) by Abigail Owen

Kamry is keeping a low profile in her new life, keeping the old one as far behind her as possible, but nothing ever goes as expected. She gets help in an unexpected place to learn how to keep her past at bay, while also getting a step up into her future.

“Kamry’s Hope” by Crystal G. Smith

When Jesse’s husband is injured and in a coma following a car crash, she will stop at nothing to bring him back to her. Even Odin himself won’t stand in her way as she confronts the very gods to save the man she loves.

“An Act of Love” by Kat Jameson

How does a Lakota young woman find her way back to the reservation? With the help of a new friend, and some very ancient spirits.

“Windsong” by Christi Rigby

A soldier keeps vigil in front of a city center church. Nyx, the primordial goddess of night, stalks the shadows of the same town, craving worship. And a beautiful young woman uncovers the truth behind the powerful mother she never knew.

“The Will of Nyx” by Jessica Nicholls

Here is a link to ‘Good Things’ on Amazon.  It will be available for kindle as well as paperback after August 18th.

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology/dp/1535202564/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471377847&sr=8-2&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01HYA2XI0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471377847&sr=8-1&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien#nav-subnav

The world in The Will of Nyx is taken from another story I wrote, entitled Into the Arms of Morpheus.  It’s set in Manchester, England.  As far as cities go, Manchester is the one I know best. I went to university there, and lived in the greater Manchester area for ten years.   I still go back and visit due to having family and friends in the region.

Nyx, (The goddess of night) and Morpheus (The god of dreams), are two of the Greek deities taking part in the story.   Most folks into mythology would agree that greek gods and goddesses can be a little on the selfish side.  It isn’t in their nature to exhibit ‘kindness’.   They are forceful beings looking for pleasure and/or yet more influence.

When Into The Arms of Morpheus was released Nyx, in particular, was described as ‘arrogant’ and ‘fierce’.  She has a bit of an ego problem.  What with the obsessive desire to be worshipped and all.  I hope you find my version of her interesting.

As far as the mortal characters are concerned, all too often, bad things happen to good people.  Simple, innocent folks who just want their own small slice of happiness.  Then the likes of Nyx and Morpheus come along and take an interest in them.  Awww…

I do my best to write what I would fancy reading.  I’m a sucker for tales of decent people who find themselves at the mercy of far more powerful and volatile forces.

All in good fun of course.

I hope you enjoy my story.  If not, there are nine others by some quality writers.  At any rate, it’s for a good cause.

Happy reading everyone!

By jmnauthor3000

Good Things….

 

Brace yourself.  This is the nasty side of me speaking.  The lousy, self-absorbed side.

And I am going to talk about *eyes rolling*…#kindness.  Yes, I just hash tagged #kindness.  Like a pretentious, self-congratulatory jerk.

Because it’s so freaking easy to be nice.

Random Acts of Kindness Charity was co-founded by one of the actors starring in the show, Supernatural.

I’d heard of the show.  I don’t like television.  Most of it I find mediocre at best.  Full of people who might be on the attractive and quirky side but who generally deliver substandard self-indulgent crap.  Granted part of that is the fault of the writers, but I like to be mean to good looking people who want to be successful and famous.

I don’t like shows about people dying in hospitals, or being murdered, or laughing about the every day things we don’t realize are so funny (Apparently.  I mean I’m not convinced). I’m not hugely into sports.  Reality television disgusts me on a level I can’t quite describe.  The news is usually biased or frustrating or sad.

I haven’t designated any dedicated viewing time to a TV show since the BBC put out Desperate Romantics back in 2009.

Before that I’d say it was when there was a remake of Dark Shadows going on in the early 1990s.  Yes I have since had a look at the original 1960s series but my eleven year old self thought Ben Cross did a fine job.

The other eleven year old girls I screamed at to leave me alone so I could watch it at a slumber party in 1991 didn’t share my enthusiasm.

I took my obsessions seriously.   None of your bubble gum crap.

At any rate, I would like to thank Mia Darien for introducing me to the joys of Supernatural.

Thank you Mia.  Um, and while we are at it…thank you for asking me to participate in another one of your anthologies, as well as all the editing and cover art work you do.

I wanted to come up with a post that would amount to something along the lines of…

’look at how negative the world is, people are always being awful to each other, how about we try being kind to one another?’ 

Bla bla bla.

You know, like that.  Only without being so utterly predictable and saccharine.    But I’m struggling.  Just like I’m struggling to be *wave of nausea approaching * #kind and generally #positive.

Sometimes it feels good to be a bit negative. Sometimes the pull to be unkind, to do the wrong thing is enticing. Or at the very least, it’s easier.  To be selfish and not care about other people.

Take right now for example.  I want to wrap myself up in a big fleecy, black blanket and play with the imaginary friends in my head.

I like being alone.  Or drunk.  Or asleep.  Whatever.  As long as I don’t have to face anything bothersome.

Like life or the real world.

Sometimes I want everyone to bugger off who doesn’t care for shows like Supernatural so that I can binge watch, without judgement or interference,  to my self-centered little heart’s content.

However the credits will eventually role or I will wake or sober up.

Damn.

There’s the real world with its bad news and unfortunate people.  There is that empty, empty feeling inside of me again.

The one that is only filled with….*cringe*…love and interaction and stuff.  The void inside that is only satisfied by connecting with other human souls.  The void that calls us to contribute something positive and good to the world.  Ugh.

I’d rather read about ghosts.

*Sigh*

Fortunately, it is actually possible to merge paranormal fantasy related entertainment and being a kind, loving person.  It….*swallowing nervously*…*feeling uncomfortable*…. actually is.

I dare you to have a look at The Random Acts website.  I…*eye roll* experienced this foreign warmth and emotion upon reading some of the sweet, kindhearted actions random folks thought of doing for others.

Really.

It made me realize I’m not alone when I feel all gloomy.  When I want to shut everyone and everything out.   I’m not the only one who wants to do that from time to time.

Which surprised me because isn’t that the whole point of being a selfish jerk?  My nasty side’s general idea that everyone else is either sickeningly happy or…not as good as me….or well…evil.

It came as a bit of a shock that I’m not alone in feeling horrible.  Huh…how about that. Other folks have to fight their nasty sides.  Other people have problems.  Wow.

At any rate, if you are like me and you like reading about vampires, wolves, ghosts, gods and magic, or basically #UrbanFantasy then…

It will be possible to purchase Good Things for your e-reader as well as order a paperback on August 18th, 2016 via Amazon.

Lousy me, or in fact any of the nasty sides of the other authors won’t earn a single penny.

Random Acts of Kindness will.

Because, it’s okay to want to do good things. 

An impartial ear.  A non judgmental hug.  A brief reprieve from loneliness.  A compliment.  A cookie.

Because whether you’re a pretentious self congratulatory jerk, a greek goddess, a vampire or you know, just a nice person…

A good thing is a good thing.

Link to Good Things on Amazon (out August 18th).

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01HYA2XI0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468353217&sr=8-1&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien

Link to Random Acts of Kindness site.

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

Other charity anthologies I’ve been involved in:   I’m not all bad.  Not really.  Actually if you’ve been kind enough to read my blog post this far, I should tell you at this point that I’m actually a nice person and it’s cool if you dig other television shows or even reality tv.

I don’t think other people are evil.

And those girls from 1991 still talk to me.

Here Kitty Kitty (The Exotic Feline Rescue Center),

Reaching Out (The American Red Cross),

Bellator (Wounded Warrior Project),

Amor Vincit Omnia (Breast Cancer Charity).

By jmnauthor3000

‘I’m not a woman anymore. I’m a Mom.’

 

There was an article in the New York Times about ‘Mom Hair’ and how to avoid it.  The New York Times!!  Really???

I just have to do this.  I’m a Mom, I have been for a while now.   And frankly, when I watched comedy skits about ‘Mom jeans’ or even ‘Mom hair’ aka ‘The Cut’…I’ve giggled a bit.  I do find Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to be very very funny women.

But alongside my giggles at the ‘Mom Jeans’ skit, alongside the little glimmer of hope that at least these lady comedians are acknowledging the ridiculousness of such things, I also sunk a little inside.

Because I thought that ‘wait a minute…I’m a Mom.  I have been for a few years.  And now I’ve got to be careful that I don’t have any personal style reflecting this?’

Don’t get me wrong.  I love SNL.

It didn’t escape me that there were lines like ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom.’  It’s funny.

It made a point.

But sadly not everyone will grasp the undertone of the joke that says ‘isn’t this ridiculous?’

Yes, SNL, and all you gifted comedians it is ridiculous.  And no it shouldn’t even matter.  Surely you must realize that you are solidifying a term, a phrase that not everyone recognizes as absurd or insulting.  Some people, even yes writers for the New York Times think that ‘Mom Hair’ is a shameful thing and it’s to be avoided.

It’s heartbreaking that the line ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom’ is part of the joke.  It was slipped in there between the laughs and the funny ladies posing and pretending that they don’t realize their ‘Mom look’ isn’t flattering.

The fact that it’s been given a name says something.

Wanna know what it says?  ‘Oh please please don’t look like this.  It means you are a Mom.  It means your body has done things that deplete it.  It means you have to care about other people very often…much more than yourself.  You don’t have time to be ‘hot’.  It takes great care and time to be a ‘Yummy Mummy’ or a…well you know the other stupid crude term coined in the film American Pie. But even then…you are a Mom.  You are completely and utterly defined by the fact that you care for smaller, younger people.’

Wanna know what I say?

‘*EXPLETIVE SAVAGELY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* YOU!!!!’

Yes thank you I know I’m a mother.   I remember sitting on a rainy day in a hospital, feeling like a ton of bricks just crashed down on me. I remember realizing that things would never QUITE be the same for me after this.  And no I wasn’t entirely positive.  What I didn’t think about was that I should now be mindful of my hairstyle and the cut of my jeans.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love my children.  But it does mean that yes, I got it.  I got that a demanding role was now to be expected of me.  I could screw it up if I chose, and contribute two horrid people to the world by neglecting or abusing them.  Or I could be an okay human being and encourage them to be good people.

It’s called being a parent.

It isn’t easy for mothers OR fathers.  I’m not going to rant about the disgusting double standards of appearance expectations for women and men because do you know what I think the standard is?

I’ll tell you…

FEMALE expectation:  ‘Don’t get wrinkled. Don’t be fat.  Be pretty.  Keep your tummy flat.  Small or big chests are okay depending on the taste of the person looking at you.  And they are looking at you.  Assessing your standard of beauty.  Rating you.  Constantly.  For GOODNESS SAKE don’t look like a Mom because that’s just gross.  But hey, there are multiple articles, beauty treatments and salons that are there to help you.  Go spend some money.  If you are poor and not necessarily that attractive, it’s recommended you lower your standards.  A LOT.  Because of course you want some sort of approval.  All women need approval.’

MALE expectation:  ‘Be exceptionally manly.  Have impressive abs and biceps.  Because that way, even if you are starting to get a bit older that’s okay.  It’s nice when men look distinguished.  But don’t look so old you can’t hook up with a hot younger person.  But if you are a wealthy man, there are websites that would help you with that sort of thing.  If you are willing to be a bastard with no soul.’

That’s a thing, btw.  That’s a successful business that exists.  Because apparently, ‘love is a concept invented by poor people.’  Someone said that.  That’s a thing.  That’s a business.

I recognize that it isn’t easy for men when they realize they have gained weight.  When the hairline is receding.   It hurts to be told that the older we get, the less likely it is we will be considered ‘hot’ or ‘attractive’.  It shouldn’t hurt.  But it does.  Because they want it to.

I can think of one skit where a very buff, topless Patrick Swayze dances next to a very overweight Chris Farley on SNL.  It had nothing to do with Dads and it was classed as controversial and mean spirited by some.  It was.  No offense meant to the dearly departed actors who performed in it.

People who live with a weight and general looks struggle do not deserve ridicule.  Looking after your health is a good thing.  We should all do it.  We should all make the effort.

Not because it’s important to be a ‘Hot Dad’ or a ‘Yummy Mummy’ or *cringe*…whatever.  But because of this:

We WANT to get older.  We are blessed to get older.  Not everyone gets the privilege.  But when you get there you want to be happy.  Not struggling with health issues that contribute to a miserable existence of endless doctor appointments, inability to travel, inability to be active, constantly dealing with all manner of pain and discomfort.

You don’t want to be struggling with a media filled with messages saying how inadequate you are.  Now, yes we can turn off the television and cell phones, computers, ipads, stop getting the paper, etc.  Yes.  We can.

BUT why should their insulting content be allowed to continue without a bit of hitting back?  Yes okay, they were technically referring to the cut of a pair of jeans and a hair style.    But there was another message there.

‘I’m not a woman anymore…I’m a Mom.’   

I laughed.  But my heart sank…because they wouldn’t have said it if there wasn’t some little grain of truth in it.  They wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t funny.

But let’s be even more fair.  Perhaps the articles suggesting remedies to ‘Mom Hair’ are ‘kind’ reminders to women not to ‘let themselves go’.   Okay, let’s look at it that way.  Sure, because that’s fine, right?  It’s basically wealthy, attractive, successful people reminding poorer, insecure people to take more care of how they look.

*EXPLETIVE VIOLENTLY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* YOU!!!

If by using the concept of one’s sex appeal is the best and most effective way to encourage parents to generally care for themselves better….well….

….then what the ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom’ is wrong with us?

‘Mom Hair’…’Mom Jeans’…’Dad Bods’…gimme a break.

Go drink a smoothie and see your highly qualified, extremely expensive personal trainer, wealthy entertainment industry, relatively well known media news type people.

And God bless you and keep you.

But if you try and get my interest or make me laugh by using the above terms again?

I am going to actually type my anger words.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go for a run.  Because I like it.  It makes me feel good.  It gives me a sense of escapist joy that has positive side effects.  But I also want the continued use of my knees so I do very basic yoga (via free online videos).  It calms me down when I feel enraged.   I am going to try not to drink excessively or eat too much cheese.

Because I WANT to get older. Because I want the privilege of smiling, crying, breathing for many years to come.  I want to enjoy my old age.  I want to enjoy being a woman.  BECAUSE I AM ONE!!

I want to enjoy being a mother.

DON’T YOU DARE *EXPLETIVE VIOLENTLY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* TELL ME NOT TO LOOK LIKE ONE EVER EVER AGAIN!!!

By jmnauthor3000

The Dark Side of Summer Solstice

 

Summer Solstice.  The lightest, longest day of the year.  A time for new age spiritual types, pagans, Wiccans, to perform rituals, celebrating the power of the sun.

A time for yoga articles saying it’s about finding a light inside of yourself.

When you don’t feel there is one.  When everything inside is pitch black.  When in fact, the sun that has just decided to come out is irritating.

I’ve seen enough of the damned sun.  I don’t care if it’s warm outside.

I’m ready for an excuse to be selfish.  To completely indulge myself and forget about everyone else.  I don’t want to care anymore.  Yet at this time, I’m being asked to care.  To think.

To love.  Constantly.

To be ever ready to be useful.

Have I been okay this week?  Have I offended anyone by not doing enough?

Do I look okay? Am I being selfish?  Does anyone think less of me?  Are they okay?  They don’t seem okay.  I must comfort them…

Has anyone noticed the empty bottle that was not opened when company was around?

Empty bottles don’t disappear.   They hang about and stare at you till you put them with the ‘acceptable’ recycling.  They are the embarrassing relation next to the elegant green glass that went well with dinner.

Does anyone else find responsibility to be completely and utterly soul destroying?  That, by ‘setting a good example’ this penetrating dullness seeps in that cries out for relief?  It’s mind numbing.

It’s simply a part of mortal nature that we can’t be perfect.  You can’t ask for good behavior ALL the time.  It isn’t natural.  It isn’t normal.   I’m a woman.  Not an angel.

At some point, we crack.  And the more you push, the more you demand of the good one, the quiet one, the one who never has a problem, the more you lean on THAT person, the more you punish them for the slightest discrepancy….

The more dangerous they become.

One day can go by like a dream.  The night can be an intoxicating epiphany where everything is clearer and more enjoyable.

Finally.  Happiness.

The following morning poisonous and cruel, filled with injections of shame every few moments.

A savage circle.

Time is slow and I am not a good person.

Yet the ‘wonderful’ light goes on and on and on and on.

#Summer Solstice.

It’s like it’s saying…’Look, I’m here.  Even if you don’t appreciate it.   Even if you won’t do anything about it.  I’m here.  And I always will be.’

And I reply…’I know.  And no dark deed I perform will change how beautiful you are.’

By jmnauthor3000

Amor Vincit Omnia

 

Amor Vincit Omnia, literally means ‘Love Conquers All’. So it should. Love is the driving positive force in our world. It should be more powerful than anything. When Mia Darien first approached the authors with her idea for another collection of romance short stories, one of the criteria presented was that the stories have a theme of ‘beauty is only skin deep’.

This theme is fitting seeing as all author profits from this collection will benefit a breast cancer charity.  I’m going to go into why. Cancer treatment, in particular breast cancer treatment for women brings forward certain sensitive body image issues. Issues that shouldn’t be there but are.

From the survivors I have read about and spoken to, their main concern has been to become themselves again. Whole and complete no matter what treatment options they went for. To regain their health and to live.   The threat of the disease coming back, and the difficulty of living with the memories of those who did not make it is hard enough. It’s important to them, during and after treatment, not to be defined by cancer. To live and to love.

Because cancer sucks.

Now…about those body image issues…

I do believe that love conquers all. But in our selfie, looks and physique obsessed culture, there is an underlying notion that worries me. This notion is that the type of fulfillment that comes from true love can somehow be replicated or sped up by having a society and marketing approved appearance.

Let’s be honest, body shaming whether it be fat shaming, slim shaming, AGE shaming, even the varying double standards about what is classed as attractive for men and women, is RIFE in our society. There is even the shaming of those who are supposedly too attractive. Really.

The media can’t get enough of it, in fact thrives off of it. These days, there will be one article or post shaming those who shame, then another one after showcasing unrealistic standards of supposed ‘ideal’ beauty.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being traditionally ‘beautiful’. It’s cool to paint your nails and have the odd facial.  For the record I love essential oils. But drilling into the public consciousness again and again and again that only a certain thing is attractive is wrong. Breaking that one down, the all too frequent message is this: That only youth in all its sexed up, newly voluptuous and toned glory is accepted as ‘hot’, appealing and worthy of romantic love.

I get that marketing is necessary, but come on media…come on. Really? Again?

I honestly think that what media and society class as ‘flaws’ are appealing. A missing body part or two? Hot. Scars? Definitely beautiful. Laugh lines? Gorgeous. Freckles are particularly pretty in my opinion. Those little shadows that live under the eyes of deep thinkers can be hauntingly beautiful. A bit of extra oomph in a lady’s posterior? Haven’t we yet learned that that is actually quite attractive? Not everyone is blessed with oomph, some of us are slimmer than we’d like to be.  It’s okay to be naturally slender.  It is graceful looking, even ethereal one might say.

Shouldn’t it be obvious that there is a great difference between self care and self obsession? It’s a GOOD thing to exercise and eat healthy. We should all do it, it will make for a happier, healthier and YES by default more attractive world.

Yet it is the first two that are the most important. Happy and healthy. The last is just a side effect. When people are happy and healthy, it shows. People glow. So, why is that the ‘attractiveness’ side effect is still the driving force for marketers and consumers? This focus feeds a weakness in our world instead of encouraging strengths.

When people are eaten up by insecurity and loneliness, it also shows. Way too many reach out to the virtual world for comfort and find the opposite. They find inadequate connection. They probably yearn for love, they want to feel desired.  Don’t we all?  Still, what they find are endless images ruthlessly designed to market products to them.

Wanna know what I hear when I see some of the ads knocking around these days?

‘Don’t get old, don’t be ugly, don’t get fat. Or no one will love you. See this wealthy famous person whose career totally rides on them being classed as hot? They use this product. So should you. Maybe someone will find you desirable. Then you will be happy.’

I appreciate what actors and pop stars do and all, I like music and films.  Famous people are real, actual people and it isn’t right to lay into them as though they have no feelings.  I can grasp that.  All the same, stay the hell out of my bathroom and gym routine, celebrities *evil glare*.

Erm, A-list celebrities? News Flash! You have enough money.

Marketing people with no soul? I feel sorry for you.

Again, I stress that taking our health seriously SHOULD be encouraged.

There is no one who doesn’t benefit from being in good health. Each day we learn more and more about what is good for our bodies and what is not. That’s great. Let’s go with that. A part of this whole fight against cancer thing involves eating and living right.

But enforced obsession with our looks is wrong.

The marketing industry’s continued bombardment of our screens with ‘perfect’ images is wrong.

Genuine true, mutual soul fulfilling love is a natural, gorgeous thing that can’t be artificially reproduced. Us human beings NEED real love.

You know why? Because only in its purest and truest form can love conquer all.

And supposedly ‘perfect’ looks have nothing to do with that.

Look out for Amor Vincit Omnia on Amazon, November 11th. Stories by Mia Darien, Angela B. Chrysler, Christi Rigby, Crystal Smith and myself Jessica Nicholls.

http://www.amazon.com/Amor-Vincit-Omnia-Anthology-Romance-ebook/dp/B016VSSOLG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447143654&sr=1-1&keywords=Amor+Vincit+Omnia

By jmnauthor3000

Never Judge a Book by its Cover.

Never judge a book by its cover.  But we do it.  ALL THE TIME.

I am seeing lots of sexy covers on Twitter.   Twitter is great for writers.  It is a way to instantly draw folks to a link or a website.  A writer can flash out a rather appealing picture, to tempt romance lovers to purchase a story.

Let’s be honest.  Sex sells things.  It just does.   It lures people in a way nothing else can.  It makes people terribly uncomfortable.  It causes extreme debate as there are some VERY different beliefs out there.  It makes people angry and…sometimes very lonely and sad.

I’m talking about this because I follow a lot of romance writers.  I have written romance short stories and it is one of my favorite genres for reading.

The typical covers of romance novels aimed at straight women usually involve shirtless men, looking manly.  Exuding attractive masculinity catered to catch the eye of the lady reader.  Real, actual men perhaps role their eyes and even feel a little affronted by the image of these perfect fantasy men.  Maybe they do think ‘How the hell am I supposed to live up to THAT for my significant other?’  Maybe they really couldn’t care less.

I can relate to both the insecurity and the ambivalence of how marketing folks, writers, media people etc. portray how we all should look in order to be at our most ‘appealing’. On good days I just roll my eyes at the endless images of impossibly hot twenty something people trying to get us all to buy stuff.  On bad days…I feel like punching their stupid gorgeous faces.  I get it.  I benefit from idealized, unrealistic appeal and I suffer from it as well.   Don’t we all?

But back to the saucy covers aimed at straight ladies.

The fellow on the cover isn’t only going to take his pants off at some point in the story.  He is supposed to capture the imagination of the reader, make her giggle, make her angry, make her heart melt.  He’s supposed to be dashing yet flawed, he’s moody and wildly passionate. Perhaps on some level he is extremely successful.

That is one formula anyway.  Or perhaps he is such a good natured, sweet guy, hard-working to the core.  Maybe he doesn’t have much but he is so lovely and has a heart of gold.   A salt of the earth darling.

And yes, at one point, he will take his pants off for the lady who by default has to be worthy of him AND likable by the female readers.

So, in a way that IS more intimate and all engrossing than a few minutes spent watching explicit footage or images.   In my opinion a good romance novel beats naughty movies and reality television hands down.

But the cover aim is rather the same.  Look at this.  You know you want to.  Look at this, spend your money, download it, open it up, get involved.

I am aware of a few romance writers who are established enough that they don’t need the swoon worthy cover in order to attract readers.  To some their covers might appear rather dull, just a title in cursive with a colorful background.  But by the name you know it is probably going to be good.

I just had to point out that the insides of these covers vary.   I recently read a fantasy romance novel (fairy themed) that was pretty quality.  It wasn’t the cover on twitter that pulled me in.  It was the quote beneath it that got me.  It revealed the intensity of the couple’s feelings for one another in a unique, very intimate way.

There is no real marketing formula for that I’m afraid.  It just requires imagination and talent.  A writer either has that or they don’t.   The story I read, involved a lot of imagination and it was pretty funny as well as sensual in a psychological way.

My point is this, covers are great.  But much like us real life human beings, behind our physical appearance, no matter how glamorous it is, no matter how dull there could be a whole different world behind the lame or hot ‘cover’.

In this writing era of twitter, blogging and instant downloading onto ereaders, when it comes to the romance stuff…the words should still be louder than the covers.  That SHOULD be what still matters.

By jmnauthor3000