Monday, January 30, 2012

January Gush and Gripe

I've decided to work with my friends at Talk Supe ( to join them in bringing you my own monthly Gush and Gripe!  I hope you enjoy them.  Of course, these opinions are mine alone and in no way are meant to reflect the opinions of Talk Supe or any of my writing partners or associated companies.


Ok, since this is my first one of these, I am going to gush about my kids!

I think, being biased of course, that I have three of the best kids in the world.  First, there’s my 14-year-old daughter, my oldest.  Scholastically, she is in the International Baccalaureate program in 8th grade.  She has desires to become a marine biologist, a desire she has expressed since 5th grade, so I have no reason to think she’s going to change her mind.  She is also a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, working on her 2nd Degree, and hoping to spend some time as an instructor there as well.

Second, is the middle one, the 11-year-old.  She has been in the Magnet Dance program since 3rd grade, and she’s definitely the artist of the family.  Her writing is incredibly deep for an 11-year-old.  On top of all that, she is a top keeper in the local soccer league, and after a season off is getting ready to return to that sport.  She has a sarcastic wit to match my own, and beware when the two of us get started on something.  We’ll have each other in stitches in no time.

Finally, there is the seven-year-old boy.  He is a Blue Belt in Tae Kwon Do himself, and the focus he has learned doing that is quite amazing.  Case in point – the day after Christmas, with all the stuff he got, he spent seven straight hours assembling a Lego robot he received that had almost 600 pieces, and these were the tiny pieces that are easy to lose.  He never asked for any help or got upset or complained, just did it. 

They deserve every bit of Gushing I can do about them!


I’m going to stick with the theme of kids for my Gripe as well.  I just recently heard about this issue that the FDA has been investigating about the connection between food dyes and hyperactivity or bad behavior in children.  Granted this has been going on since March of last year, but I hadn’t heard about it until this past month.

Now, of course, I think food dyes have plenty of negatives, but to be honest I don’t think too much about them.  What strikes me about this story, and thus my Gripe, is why everyone wants to find some key external cause to explain why their kids don’t behave.  “It must be the food dye” seems to me to just be another excuse in today’s all-too-common propensity to give everything a named “syndrome” or “condition” that might need to be medicated or controlled.

The flaw with any study such as this is that there is no way to completely factor everything else out.  Let’s face it, there are plenty of conditions which make the foods with these dyes more popular with certain parts of the population … most notably, convenience.  These foods are often quick snacks, and for people that are incredibly busy with working two jobs, or having tons of after-school activities, they are sometimes not only a food of choice but in some cases, they may feel it’s a necessity.  Or, they are easy to have around the house for when the parents can’t be home right away.  Plus, let’s face it, in today’s economy, putting “natural” on the label often can be an excuse to make the product more expensive, regardless of whether it truly is or not.

Of course, these are exactly the kinds of environmental factors that might ALSO cause hyperactivity and bad behavior.  One reason I feel blessed is that I have a job where my bosses are flexible and allow me to start work very early so I can get home earlier for the kids, when my wife is working.

There may very well be anecdotal evidence that eliminating these types of foods is beneficial in the area of hyperactivity.  I would never try to tell any family that something that they are sure works for them doesn’t work.  But, to put a ban on such foods based on what is purely circumstantial evidence, to me, smacks of too much control.

I’m a fan of the FDA, they have done great things to make food and drugs safe and healthy and I would never dream of eliminating them.  I just think they need to focus on those things and make absolutely sure there is a causal connection between things before even considering something so severe as a ban, or even going as far as a warning label.

Coincidence does not necessarily equal causation.


Loving the creativity of the writers of Once Upon a Time, the way they are interweaving the fairy tales together.  The last one I saw was the one where the genie got freed with the king’s first wish, and also got given the final wish by his liberator.  Unfortunately for the genie, it led to him becoming the evil queen’s magic mirror at the end, trapping him once again.  “I have granted 1001 wishes, and 1001 times they have ended badly.”  And it did even for him.  Brilliant!!!


Saw the Adventures of Tin Tin with the kids.  Just didn’t get it.  At one point I almost dozed off.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of kids’ movies that I love – Finding Nemo, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Tangled, Enchanted – this one didn’t have any of the elements I loved about those movies.  Characters were not engaging, and the story didn’t hold my attention at all.  The animation was amazing of course, but that just doesn’t cut it with me.  Sorry, Mr. Spielberg, I know you got fascinated with the books and wanted to bring them to the big screen, but this was a miss.


I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to see it in the theaters, but the movie “Chronicle” intrigues me.  For one thing, it’s got a bunch of relative unknowns in it … and for another, I think I’m one of the minority who enjoy the kind of grainy low budget feel that this one looks to have (Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, District 9).  It seems as though it will be short however, at only 84 minutes.  Which means … it could be another “Jumper” or “Push” which were both disappointing.  But this is a hopeful anticipatory gush.


Why, George Lucas, must you continue to try to squeeze every last penny out of the “Star Wars” franchise?  I’ve seen so many 3-D movies that have disappointed me with the fact they would have been just fine without it, there’s no way I’m spending any money on “The Phantom Menace 3-D”.  Not gonna do it.  Ok, I guess this is more of a standard gripe … I already know how I feel about this LOL.  Love “Star Wars”, hate what you keep doing with it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Time, the Great Enemy

Sometimes I feel rather inadequate when I look around at what authors are able to accomplish.  The sheer volume of the work some of them produce is staggering to me.  I wonder every once in a while if I should even bother.

I have to admit a slight level of envy when I consider Allison Cassatta and Denyse Bridger, two authors I've spoken with online, and who've been incredibly helpful to Patricia and I ... and I watch them as it seems like they are coming out with something almost constantly.  And we have one story to our credit.

I see Sherrilyn Kenyon, the whole reason I got into writing in the first place, and see how she comes out with a major novel every three or four months it seems, and everything she puts out turns to gold.

I wonder, what the hell am I doing?

But then I look at where I am in my life and all that kind of melts away.  They do what they are able to do, and I do what I am able to do.

I have to keep my full time job, there's too much at stake not to.  To be honest, I've never even considered quitting.  And my three kids need me too.  So I have to accept that I can only do what I can do.

I can say however, that I don't regret or resent where I am.  In fact, I look at the advantages ... I have SO MANY ideas bouncing around now ... the limitations of my time is making me focus on the REALLY good ones.

So ... I'm not going to be the most prolific writer in the world ... not by any stretch ... but hey, keep paying attention ... I promise what does come out that my partners and I come up with ... it'll be worth the wait!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Credit where Credit is Due

So I was in a discussion today and it kind of centered around taking credit and giving credit, and whether one gets validation from themselves or from other people.

Myself, I write stuff that I would like to read, and I write for my writing partners.  If people enjoy reading it, I see that as a bonus.  If I get recognized, that is a HUGE bonus.

So, XOXO just announced their best of 2011 and Evernight: Romance in a World of Darkness was one of the books picked as Best Anthology.  It's a collective award for all the authors who worked on it ... so I wanted to post links to their pages here.  I know I have an extremely small following right now, but this group was all great and we all should deservedly share in the honor.  Congratulations Evernight authors!!!

Allison Cassatta
Donya Lynne
T.A. Grey
Angela Kerns
Tracey Steinbach
Audrina Leone
N. Bance & Lee Leskova
Aaron Speca & Patricia Laffoon
L. S. Beck

I know it's been a while since I posted, my full time job has been crazy lately.  But I'll be back with some more news soon ... and it's good :)  See ya later!!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Miracles Do Happen

So a little break from talking about writing, to say a little something about something that happened between Christmas and New Year's.

If you've been reading, you know that I am part of a Role Playing group, and we've gotten fairly close over the last eighteen months.  I mean, I only know a couple of them from face-to-face meetings, but still we are like an extended family.  We talk and support each other all the time.

So you can imagine how we all felt when we heard from one of our member's family that he had been killed in a head-on collision with a tractor trailer two days after Christmas.  Shock wasn't even close to the right word.  We were all affected, and a couple of our members (one who was his best friend outside of the group, another who played his mate) were absolutely devastated by the news.  There was a lot of chatter going on, tons of virtual hand-holding and shoulder-crying.  It hurt tons.

So I was online putting together some things for them when lo and behold, he pops up and just starts talking on our page!  At first I thought someone had hacked his account or something or was playing a sick joke.  I mean let's be honest, we had heard from the family and the friend ... and crazier crap has happened online.  But after a couple of posts it was obvious it was him.

Seems that he and a friend of his had gone out drinking.  At one point, his friend had given him his wallet to hold.  Later in the night, his friend was sober and needed to drive and asked for his wallet back.

A tractor trailer crossed the center line as they were headed home in bad weather and hit them head-on killing the driver.  Turns out, his friend had inadvertently gotten the wrong wallet.  Our member was unconscious the whole time they were going through the notification process, and when he woke up, they were calling him by his friend's name.  He spent the next several hours proving that he was who he said he was.  He came out of it hurt, but overall okay.

Now it is a tragedy still that his friend was killed, so it's tough to know what feelings one is SUPPOSED to have when something like this happens.  But it was an incredible story and roller coaster.  I mean, you can't WRITE this stuff!

So what's my point?  Well while this was all going on, I had written a note for some of our members, a couple who had mentioned the possibility of quitting.  I wanted to express how I felt about that whole thing, and it turned into a little commentary on living life and how we all needed each other.  I felt like sharing it here.  Peace, hope you all had a great holiday season and will all be able to enjoy it again next year!



Why do we do this?

When something tragic happens to someone we know, no matter how closely or distantly, inevitably the questions come up.

For those that were close, they ask questions like "Why did this have to happen?"  "What do I do now?"  "How can I ever do this again?"

For those that might have known the person just on the periphery, they might ask "What if it were {fill in the blank}?"  "What would I do if it were someone close to me?"  "Why do I even take the risk?"

Genesis 1:3-4 -- "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.  God saw that the light was good."

This mantra is repeated over and over in the first two chapters of Genesis.  God created, and saw it was good.  Land, sea, sky, stars, plants, animals.  Every time God created something, He saw that it was good.  Until the sixth day, after God created the first man.

Genesis 2:18 -- "The Lord God said, 'It is NOT GOOD for the man to be alone.'" (my emphasis)

To me, this passage is not about how many days it took for God to create the world, or whether or not He even exists.  No matter what you believe, whether it's in God, or an intelligent design, or that it is just random bits that fell together ... I believe that we were not made to be alone.  That we would literally shrivel away to nothing if not for other people.

I was talking to someone today who thought she might seriously quit RP over this loss.  Now she admitted she probably wouldn't, but it got me to thinking, are there others that might feel this way?  That might feel that the risk is too great, that the pain of someone hurting you, or being different than you thought they were, or leaving, or God forbid even dying?

These thoughts have crossed my mind as well.  What if?  That is the biggest question.  What if it were Nick, or Jeshika, or Savitar, or Trish, or Kyra, or Siana, or Aimee, or Bride, or ...  What if it were someone I knew in real life?  My wife, my sister, my friends, my parents.

How easy would it be to shut them all out and avoid that pain?

For me it would be impossible.  Because, MY world would be a very boring place without them in it.  ALL of them.  And all of you.

Why do *I* do this?  Because to me, it is all worth the risk.

I could be alone, but alone I am nothing.  I can't write on my own.  I don't go out to be on my own.  I can't love on my own.  I can't live on my own.  Avoiding that is worth the risk of pain or loss that will inevitably happen every time I open myself to a new friendship, here or in my "real life".

"It is NOT GOOD for the man to be alone."

It is not good for any of us to be alone ... don't make that choice.  Take time if you need it, even leave RP if you feel you need to, but please don't make the choice to BE alone.  To EXIST alone.  It wasn't meant to be that way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Excerpt Time!

I've included here excerpts from the story "Tears of the Mermaid", published in Allison Cassatta's anthology "Evernight: Romance in a World of Darkness"; and "Heart of the Mermaid", the hopefully soon-to-be-published prequel.  And look to the right for links to the anthology on XOXO Publishing's web site and on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Tears of the Mermaid

Trish did not have long to wait. He didn't arrive the way she thought he would. No, he stole onto the beach like a thief in the night. His steps faltered at first as he rose up from the waves that crashed upon the shore. He quickly found his footing and made his silent way towards the single, solitary figure sitting by the bonfire. Tossing down a bundle of clothes, standing naked he towered over her.
A small gasp escaped her lips and it was not one of pleasure by any means. "What?" he demanded. "Do you not find my form to your pleasing? I seem to remember a time when you thought so."
She turned her face away from him, and in that moment he leaned over, inhaling her scent. His eyes flared in the rapidly darkening dusk, then narrowed as he pulled on his britches, tucking his feet into a stout pair of black leather boots.
"You lied to me; you said there was no human here." The look on his face turned into a snarl. "I can smell the same male on you that I smelled before!"
She scrambled back from her place on the sand in fear. "No! No you are mistaken!"
"Am I?" Aaron bent his knees slightly, grabbing Trish by her slender arms, dragging her up his well-defined chest. He could feel her resistance in the way she went rigid against him. His groin tightened as he drew in her scent again, dragging his nose and lips from the curve of her graceful shoulder, up her slender neck nuzzling just under her ear, whispering, "He was here, but he's not now is he?"
She tensed at his touch turning her face away from him. There was only one man's touch that she relished and his was not it. She had sent Rudy away from the island, and yes, she had summoned Aaron but it was to tell him that his attentions were no longer desired; actually that they never were. Now that he was here, the fear and trepidation she always felt in his presence came flooding back, as did the memory of his last visit when he first suspected that not only was there another man here, but a human at that. She had refused to tell Rudy where the scars had come from.
"I…," she trembled, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Trish you lied to me once and paid a heavy debt for it; don't let us have a repeat of that tonight. You called to me; there must have been a reason, what other could it be than you wanted me."

Heart of the Mermaid

Rudy saw the slightly open door of the bureau and slowly pulled out his sword.  He swiftly used it to lever the door open, pointed his pistol at the now open bureau and saw … a woman … collapse out of the small space.

Trembling with rivulets of water running from her long blonde curls and down her body, she looked at him with the deepest blue eyes he had ever seen.  She tried to cover herself with a dress that she was not wearing at the moment.  But her wet body made it cling to her, and it didn’t do much to cover her curvaceous shape.

Rudy certainly didn’t remember her being with the group they had brought to the Americas.  And he absolutely would have remembered her.

Her eyes were wide and frightened, and he tried to change his demeanor to put her at ease.  He pushed the hammer forward to uncock the gun, and put it back in its holster slowly.  But he did keep his sword out.  She was a stowaway after all.  “Hello,” he said softly.  “What are you doing here?”

He knew he should grab her and turn her over to the captain.  But he also knew what might happen if he did.  He felt an overwhelming need to make sure that didn’t happen.  And he already knew he was in trouble.


Trish tumbled from her hiding place and lay sprawled at the feet of … Oh my … She looked up at a god.  He was tall, really tall as he peered down at her, and his skin was brushed with a golden hue.  His uniform fit like it was a second skin.  She had never had this reaction to a human male … ever.

She trembled and began babbling in the tongue of the Merfolk before she regained her senses and drew the dress up to attempt to cover her nakedness, swallowing hard.  Then she said in a soft stuttering whisper, “Please … my l-lord … have mercy on a poor female.  I need sanctuary.”

Surprisingly, he sheathed his sword and crouched down next to her.  Then something tumbled out of his mouth that she did not expect.  “Please don’t refer to me as ‘your lord’.”  She shivered as he took off his shirt.  Paralyzed, staring at the rippling muscles of this paragon of a male, she was both excited and frightened.  Gods, what is he going to do to me?  But then, he did the most amazing thing.

He gently placed his shirt over her shoulders and closed it around her.

She could barely comprehend what he was doing.  He was so close to her now, when he pulled away she almost gasped.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Introducing My Writing Partner on "Tears of a Mermaid", Patricia Laffoon

Written by Patricia Laffoon ...

Getting this started is as hard for me as starting a new story line; some days it's there and others it's not ... let me start off by introducing myself. *Standing I take a deep breath and look out at the audience*

Hello my name is Patricia A. Laffoon, I was born in Lexington, Kentucky, where I have lived most of my life. I served twenty-three years in the United States Army Reserves. During that same time period, I worked in a factory making cruise controls for cars, a bank in the proof dept ... don't ask too boring to go into ... a gift shop, and a rental company where I rented tents, tables and chairs for any event you need them for {mostly weddings}.

How did I get started down this path of writing you ask ...well it was my art teacher.  We had to write a poem about the painting we had just completed for class; she took one look at my painting, read the poem, and told me my time would be better spent writing than painting. So started my road to writing.

I joined Facebook over a year ago and started meeting people quickly.  By a chance posting I met one of the first people who ever encouraged me to write, Brandon Yeung. He asked me if I would like to join their Role Playing group, well of course I said no but after three months of being cajoled and prodded, I finally gave in and dipped my toe into the water so to speak.

Yes, I am the only land-locked mermaid you will ever meet, all though I do live on a lake. But I digress.

After a very tentative start I worked with him to build the role of Trish-Sea Maiden. I grew a little bolder as time went along, till one day as fate would have it my now partner Aaron {Rudy} asked if I would play his wife in a Story Line {SL} that took place in the future, and well I took a deep breath and plunged into very deep water with him and have never looked back.

Now about the story in Evernight ... this is just a small snippet of the larger one that is going on right now, and that is still in progress, but one afternoon Aaron came to me and said he had seen a call for story submissions and entered one of our {SL} in it. To say I was bowled over was an understatement.  I never dreamed going any further than writing for our own amusement and that of our fans, but he was so excited I got the fever to, and lo and behold we were accepted.  You could have pushed me over with a feather.  I am still reeling from the adventure that this has been.

Aaron checking in on this blog post ... and I just like this pic :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Introducing ... Me ... (Part 3 of 3)

August 2011, I was home sick, and I noticed something posted on the wall of a new Facebook friend, Allison Cassatta.  Seemed she was looking for submissions for a paranormal romance anthology, and the deadline was just a couple of days away.  Now, under normal circumstances, I would have looked at it and shrugged, and moved on.  But it was pretty early in the morning, my wife was at work, my kids were at school and I had hours.  And I started thinking.  We had so many pieces of our story that would meet the submission requirements.  What did we have to lose?  So I read through the pirate story we had done so far, picked a piece of it that would fit as a good stand-alone story, and got to work editing it.  In just a couple of hours, I had something that I really really liked.  I didn’t even ask Patricia, I just submitted it that afternoon.  (I thought she might actually try to talk me out of it!)  She did about beat me virtually that night, but I think she was okay with it actually.

The day after the submission deadline passed, I got the word.  The story had been accepted!!!!  I about fell over.  And ever since then, it’s been just a whirlwind.  To have fans in a RP group is one thing (and I love every single one of Rudy and Trish’s fans and the fans of our RP group).  But to have an author, a published author, look at your work and say … yeah I want my name associated with that … THAT is an amazing feeling, I don’t care how big or small the publishing company is.  The anthology is #3 on XOXO’s best seller list.  #3!!!!!  WTF???!!!!!  *dies*

Ok, so if you made it this far, you might be thinking “ok, ok, so what’s the story ABOUT already?!”  This story is a love story, of course, but there is a big conflict.  You see at this stage of their story, Trish has been keeping something from Rudy.  That something is that she is betrothed to one of her own kind, a merman named Aaron.  (Yes, ironic, Patricia had the name for her antagonist picked out long before we ever met.  She often asked me if I wanted it changed and I said NO!!!  I thought it was great.)  Ok, I can’t stand this guy.  He’s controlling, abusive, arrogant … all that crap.

Just before the story starts, Trish had sent Rudy to the neighboring “big island” for supplies, intending to summon Aaron and tell him she could not and would not marry him.  Aaron won’t accept that answer.  And what happens when Rudy arrives back much sooner than Trish thought is what the story is about.  It’s tense, powerful, action-packed, and the end is … well, I let you judge the end for yourself … if, no when you go get the book.

The other eleven stories in Evernight: Romance in a World of Darkness are just as poignant and powerful.  The stories of twelve couples from different worlds trying to make it to their Happily Ever After, if there is such a thing, overcoming their differences, others’ jealousy, people out to destroy them … I feel like you will connect with these characters.  If you connect with them half as much as Patricia and I have connected with Rudy and Trish, you will fall in love with them completely. 

We absolutely want to do more with Rudy and Trish!  Whether it becomes more short stories, or maybe a full-blown novel, we want to continue to bring these characters to life.  Writing with Patricia has been an absolute joy from day number one, and I couldn’t imagine doing this story without her.

With my next blog post, I’m going to turn things over to Patricia for her to tell her story from her perspective.  Later in the blog, you’ll find a little PG13 excerpt from “Tears of the Mermaid”, which is Rudy and Trish’s story.  I hope you enjoy it, but if you do … you will want to find out how it ends, and most likely how it started *wink*.

(Oh, and one more side note … I haven’t read them all yet, but I’ve now read several of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series and love them!)

The first review of our short story was done by Talk Supe (, and they put this picture of Philip and Syreena from Pirates of the Caribbean 4 in their article.  We wrote the story before the movie of course.  But their story was my favorite part of that movie.