Stigma Fighters: Mary Rowen

So honored to be featured on Stigma Fighters stigma fighterstoday. This was hard to write, as it’s about how bulimia changed my life in some sad ways. I do hope, though, that it may inspire someone with an eating disorder to seek help. Please click on the link below to read the post.

Stigma Fighters: Mary Rowen.

Posted in eating disorders, guest post, health, life experiences | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

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Hi Friends!

I’m very excited to be participating in this Valentine’s Day book giveaway! There are 40 different books you can win, including my two (#8, Living by Ear, and #9, Leaving the Beach). Please check them all out, then scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter giveaways for each book. Best of luck!

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And here are the books!

1. DANGLED CARAT by Hilary Grossman

Dangled-Carat-Hilary-Grossman FINAL
For every girl who wondered if she should love him or dump him…..

For every girl who listened to her heart instead of her friends advice….

For every girl who l wondered if she was wasting her time dating that guy….

meet Hilary….

She had gotten used to dating the commitment-phobic Marc, thirteen years her senior. They had a great relationship–why rush into things? She saw no need to pressure him for marriage, believing that when the time was right, he would propose. But after they had been together for four years, their friends decided to take matters into their own hands, pushing Marc to propose and making Hilary realize how much she really did want to marry the man that she loved.

Unfortunately, Marc still wasn’t ready–and their friends’ meddling in the form of a faux engagement party led to a disastrous New Year’s Eve that brought their relationship to an inevitable turning point.

“Dangled Carat sparkles with humor and shines with wisdom. It is a gem of a book.” – Christina Baker Kline – New York Times & USA Today Best Selling Author of Orphan Train.

Available: AMAZON Print $11.53 eBook $2.99 Barnes & Noble

2. OUT TO LUNCH by Stacey Ballis

Out_to_LunchA touching and hilarious novel from the fabulous Stacey Ballis about best friends, true love, and the joy of food—for fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin…

Jenna has lost her best friend.

With Aimee gone so tragically young, Jenna barely knows where to turn. Aimee was the one who always knew what to do—not to mention what to wear. The two built a catering company together and had so much in common—well, except their taste in men. Jenna never understood what the successful, sophisticated Aimee saw in Wayne, with his Star Wars obsession and harebrained business schemes.

And gained her best friend’s husband…

But Aimee has left a shocking last request: Jenna now has financial custody of the not-so-merry widower. True, Wayne needs someone sensible around to keep him under control, but what was her dear departed friend thinking?

The thing is, as she gets to know Wayne better, his latest moneymaking idea actually starts to intrigue her. Her attractive new lawyer boyfriend doesn’t approve of it—but then, Wayne doesn’t approve of her attractive new lawyer boyfriend. Now Jenna has to figure out what direction her life is going to take next. And she can’t help asking herself: What would Aimee do?

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble Print $9.70, eBook $9.22

3. MY BIG DELICIOUS LIFE by Stacey Ballis

Big_Delicious_Life150 simple and scrumptious recipes from Stacy Ballis’s hit novels Out to Lunch, Off the Menu, Good Enough to Eat, and Recipe for Disaster, as well as 40 new, never-before-seen recipes!

Stacey Ballis is not a professional chef. She is, however, a foodie novelist, meal innovator, family cook, memory maker, and Brussels sprout advocate who believes that delicious meals can be simple, fun, and creative. Her love of all things culinary has made her “foodie fiction” irresistible. Now, all of the best recipes featured in her novels are available in one mouthwatering cookbook, including 40 “lost” recipes that were not included in the original printings.

With dishes for every occasion, designed to appeal to both experienced cooks and kitchen newbies, this easily-transportable digital collection will make every meal a happy moment and a special memory.

Includes a preview of Stacey’s delectable novel, Recipe for Disaster

“Deeply satisfying.”—Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of The Tao of Martha

Available: Amazon eBook $3.79

4. BLOGGER GIRL – by Meredith Schorr

blogger girlWhat happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out. A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” Kim, with her blog, “Pastel is the New Black,” has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead” once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm. While Kim’s day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that’s turning heads—and pages—across the land. It’s also popped into Kim’s inbox—for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim’s coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.

Available Amazon eBook $1.99

5. HOW DO YOU KNOW - by Meredith Schorr

how do you knowWhat if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding toward her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up,” Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $3.99, print $14.64

6. BROKEN PIECES – by Rachel Thompson

Broken-Pieces-paperback

Not easy subjects — love, loss, sexual abuse, date rape, grief — but real ones, told in pieces (thus the title). Broken Pieces is a work of non-fiction.

Poetry, prose, and essays to let you into one woman’s life — a searingly raw examination of topics most people avoid.

Already a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse, this book is recommended for mature audiences only.

Available Amazon $0.99 eBook, $7.10 print

7. BROKEN PLACES – by Rachel Thompson

broken places

Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Available Amazon

mike_lbe8. LIVING BY EAR - by Mary Rowen

What happens when the world you love doesn’t press pause when you do? Singer-songwriter Christine Daley hit the streets of Boston and became a minor celebrity—with a local radio hit—in the 90s, but a “short” career break to marry and have kids changed everything. Now, sixteen years later, she’s a frustrated suburban housewife, struggling to find her place in life.

After filing for divorce, she learns that her attempts to reestablish her own rhythms—both in music and in love—are more complicated than she’d anticipated. Her two teenagers are desperate for their mom, and her soon-to-be-ex-husband is throwing every obstacle he can in her way. Adding to the stress is the progress in technology, which has not only changed the music industry, but also the dating world. Is there room in the mix for Chris?

Available Amazon eBook $3.99, print $13.59

9. LEAVING THE BEACH - by Mary Rowen

leaving the beach

Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison. She loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen is there to comfort her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she actually meets a rock star? Leaving the Beach is a gritty story about illusion, reality, and the odd ways that music can blur the lines between the two.

Written with heart and keen observation about the day-to-day struggles of a “functioning bulimic,” Leaving the Beach explores the power of fantasy, then shoves it up against harsh reality until something has to give in this women’s novel set on the sandy beaches of Winthrop, Massachusetts.

Available Amazon eBook $3.99, print $13.59

10. STARTING FROM LOST – by SK Wills

Starting from LostHannah Rogers is lost: cynical, insecure, and withdrawn. Skeletons forged through a bad breakup that should have been a marriage proposal. Now four years later, Hannah follows her dead-end job to the big city where her only hope is to survive the next eight months as her flirtatious boss’s personal assistant. The last thing her predictable life needs is to collide with the boy responsible for breaking her heart, or the twist of fate that sends a sexy new neighbor to awaken feelings she’s long since put to bed.

Alex Sorrento doesn’t have any room in his life for another pet project. He’s already put aside his career and his personal dreams to follow his half-sister Mackenzie to the big city. Lost in the guilt over the events that nearly took her life, he feels he owes her that much. When Mackenzie befriends the new girl on the third floor, Alex finds himself defenseless against the sizzling chemistry between them and the sadness in her eyes. Can he protect Hannah from her ex without losing his heart?

In this turbulent journey about self-discovery, forgiveness, and love, some second chances aren’t worth taking, but others have their own rewards.

Available Amazon eBook $3.99

11. MY FAIR LILY by Meara Platt

My Fair Lily CoverEwan Cameron, estranged grandson of the Duke of Lotheil, is in London because of a deathbed promise made to his father and has no intention of staying beyond his three month obligation. Nothing can tempt him to remain, not even Lily, the beautiful bluestocking determined not only to restore relations between him and his grandfather, but to turn Ewan into a proper gentleman. Ewan, proud of his Scottish heritage, refuses to admit that Lily, a blue-eyed, English girl, has claimed his heart. It doesn’t matter that his big lump of a sheepdog is madly in love with her. Nor is it significant that Ewan can always tell Lily apart from her identical twin sister. Always.

Lily Farthingale, the scholarly twin, dreams of becoming the first female member of the Royal Society. She grabs at the chance when the elderly Duke of Lotheil approaches her with a proposition – he’ll admit her into the Royal Society, if she helps him to establish a relation with his estranged grandson, Ewan Cameron, a very rough-around-the-edges Scotsman who hates everything English. Between shootings, explosions, and Lily’s abduction, Ewan ends up falling in love with Lily in this Pygmalion-inspired story.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $3.99

12. A SHIFT IN THE WATER - by Patricia D. Eddy

shift_fullCade Bowman leads a small werewolf pack in Bellingham, Washington. Or he did, before a fire elemental intent on revenge traps him as his wolf. His pack gone, held prisoner by the elemental’s charms, he knows death is coming for him.

Mara Taylor is dying. A mysterious blood disorder is taking her life and her doctors can’t seem to stop it. Only her daily swims offer her any relief. Resigned to her fate, she heads to Orcas Island for one last swim.

When Cade’s wolf finds Mara, he knows instinctively that she’s the key to freeing him from the fire elemental’s charm. She’s more than that. She’s his.

Can Mara free Cade his wolf and save her own life in the process? And if she does, can they survive when they learn the identity of the fire elemental hunting them both?

Available Amazon eBook $3.99

13. 32 GOING ON SPINSTER SET – by Becky Monson

Spinster Cover - Amazon

Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her career, and lives in her parent’s basement with her cat, Charlie.

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia’s mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie.

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

14. 33 GOING ON GIRLFRIEND

Girlfriend Cover - AmazonJulia Dorning thought she would die a lonely spinster. That was until nine months ago, when her world was turned upside down. Now she’s got a dream career as a bakery owner, and a relationship with handsome Jared Moody—a life she never thought possible.

Just as she’s starting to feel comfortable in her new life, Julia is invited to battle it out on national television making cupcakes. An amazing opportunity, if she can muster up the confidence to do it, that is. Then, out of the blue, Jared goes and throws a rather large wrench in their relationship causing Julia to have to make some big decisions. With her two trusted confidants off in wedding la la land, Julia is on her own to figure everything out.

Left to her own devices, will Julia be able to work things out for herself? Or will she make a disaster of it all?

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $0.99 Spinster $2.99 Girlfriend

15. WHISKEY AND GUMDROPS – by Jean Oram Book TWO in the Blueberry Springs series — All STANDALONE novels from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jean Oram!

Whiskey303KOne woman. One case of self-denial. One hunky best friend who wants a lot more.

Mandy Mattson has always believed that what you want isn’t what you need. But never in her life has she been more wrong.

As a small town waitress, Mandy has never felt as though she deserves the love of her best friend Frankie. But when she sees an ex-lover marry her rival she realizes her life is adding up to a big fat nothing and she needs to make a change. With every path in her new life leading back to Frankie, will she finally be able to reconcile that the one thing she’s always wanted is the very thing she needs?

This best friend romance is a companion novel to Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick lit Contemporary Romance and can be read as a standalone–does contain spoilers for Champagne and Lemon Drops (free ebook).

Available Amazon Barnes & Noble Print $10.99 eBook $2.99

16. THERE ARE NO MEN – by Carol Maloney Scott

ThereAreNoMen-ebook coverDivorced thirty-something Claire doesn’t know who’s in her dating pool—but she’s doing her best to avoid shark infested waters.

Leaving her clueless and insensitive husband behind was a smart move after losing her fertility, but now she’s riding the wave of flying toupees and strange men in leather thongs.

After a long drought, men are flooding her shores and she’s drowning in choices. There’s the 25-year-old IT boy-genius with the GQ looks, the charming but mysterious doctor, and her hot new neighbor with the hard rock night gig.

To further rock her boat, Claire’s ‘stable’ career in publishing has been tossed about by her floundering company’s launch of a new line of trendy, salacious books. Cookbooks aren’t selling these days, but erotica is flying off the shelves—and challenging Claire’s attitude about sex, work…and her new, tempestuous life.

Available Amazon ebook $2.99

17. CHARLOTTE’S RESTRAINED, THE ACCIDENTAL STALKER - by Celia Kennedy

2 Charlotte's Restrained E-Book Cover

What could go wrong celebrating New Years in the swanky, celebrity-packed, French Alps? The answer is nothing, unless your name happens to be Charlotte Young.

Her four closest friends conspire to help Charlotte meet long-time celeb crush, Des Bannerman, a.k.a. King of Romantic Comedies. While she may not be able to dislodge his world-famous girlfriend, the evening is a dream come true. That is, until an innocent night of champagne, gambling and lighthearted banter turns into tabloid fodder and a restraining order.

An entertaining series of events allow Charlotte to hunt Des down, helping her restore her reputation and uncover a misunderstanding. Fifteen minutes of fame just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

18. VENUS RISING – by Celia Kennedy

Venus Rising E-Book Cover

Akshaya Bertrand, is a Professor of Art History at an Ivy League college in New England. Young and incomparably beautiful, she hides her traumatic childhood in India behind vibrant veils of secrecy.

Jared Harrison, a war correspondent in the Middle East accepts a position as guest lecturer. Upon meeting, the two find themselves drawn to one another, sensing the others deep wounds.

Thrown together on a voyage of discovery, the two travel through exotic India. Amongst beauty and poverty, sorrow and friendship, they both will finally face the past that has shaped them and the present that defines them.

Will the answers they find close the gap between them or push them further apart?

Available Amazon $2.99 eBook

19. I’M STILL HERE – by Kathryn Biel

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00070]It started out as an ordinary day for Esther Comely-Cox, if you consider simultaneously totaling your car, smashing a Ho Ho in your face and meeting a handsome doctor ordinary.

Estranged from her family over her sister’s mental illness and death, Esther can’t help but feel alone. And when Esther hears the voice of her twin sister who committed suicide seven years ago, she begins to question her own sanity, leading her to wonder if anything is what it seems. Searching for answers, Esther must confront her past while looking towards a new future—one in which she is finally accepted.

Through humor and heartbreak, Esther learns that blood does not mean family, that absence does not make the heart grow fonder and that silence can speak volumes.

Available Amazon Barnes & Noble eBook $3.99

20. CONFESSIONS FROM A COFFEE SHOP – by TB Markinson

Confessions CoverCori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.

A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.

Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.

Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

21. FRENCH TWIST – by Glynis Astie

french twistSydney Bennett had spent her life in pursuit of perfection. She planned, weighed her options and made careful choices based on calculated outcomes. Through all of her efforts, she had come pretty close to perfection, if she didn’t say so herself. She had fled the cold winters in New York for sunny California, found a job that she loved and lived in the same town as her sister, and best friend, Kate. The one area of perfection that had always eluded her was her love life. No matter how hard she tried, she always ended up with a broken heart. After a particularly traumatic breakup, Sydney vowed that she was done with love.

Just as Sydney threw herself into her new plan to forget about men, a handsome Frenchman tossed all of her intentions out the window as he swept her off of her feet. Louis Durand had lived a life filled with excitement and adventure. He was impetuous, intelligent and incredibly charming. So naturally, he scared Sydney half to death. From the moment they met, Louis and Sydney’s romance progressed at warp speed. Sydney did her best not to run, but her deep rooted relationship anxiety threatened to provide an easy exit. When Louis mentioned marriage before Sydney even knew his favorite color, she was more than tempted to reach for her running shoes. Will she be able to put her fears aside to follow her heart? The one thing that Sydney will learn is that sometimes perfection comes with a twist…

Available Amazon eBook $0.99

22. FRENCH TOAST – by Glynis Astie

FRENCH TOAST!Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?

As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months.

With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

23. HOME – By Rachel Smith

homeAfter twelve years on top of the charts, country music superstar Lily Rae has decided to hang up the microphone and move home. Becoming Lillian Raftzen again is harder than she anticipated and soon, it seems running home is not enough to escape from her manipulative ex-agent, who not only threatens to end her happiness, but her life.

When the girl of his dreams walks back into his life twelve years later, Justin DeLuca realizes as much as he loves her, she is no longer the girl he remembers. With everything they must overcome, can the two of them make their dreams come true? Lily’s dream to sing and Justin’s dream for a family are so very far from the same path. But by veering off course they find a new dream on a new path ending up right where it all began…..home.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $2.99

24. FIVE MINUTES LATE – by Rich Amooi

Five minutes late ebook coverCan an always-tardy garlic mogul and a punctual Silicon Valley librarian fall in love?

The world needs garlic and somebody’s got to sell that garlic. Cedric Johnson is that man. But even though he’s got just about everything he can wish for, Cedric is still missing one thing in his life: someone special. Fate may be on his side, but he encounters a few distractions along the way—like almost being killed by a UPS truck. Oh, and a little case of blackmail.

Ellie Fontaine is a walking Wikipedia with clear professional goals, but when it comes to landing Mr. Right, she doesn’t know jack squat. She even gives online dating a shot and ends up with an unappetizing buffet of unibrows and losers. What’s a girl to do?

After Ellie saves Cedric’s life, serendipity takes over as they continue to run into each other. Their connection grows stronger with each meeting, even though he embodies her number one pet peeve: he’s always late. But even if they can get past their issues and misunderstandings, Ellie’s ex-boyfriend, an unscrupulous cop, will do anything to keep them apart.

Five Minutes Late is a hilarious fast-paced romantic comedy, full of snappy dialogue and fun, quirky characters, guaranteed to warm your heart.

Available AmazoneBook $4.99 Print $12.99 Paperback

25. PLOTTING MR. PERFECT – by S.E. Babin

Plotting mr perfectThe closest Katie has come to romance lately is arguing with her lawn-care-obsessed, handsome neighbor, Will. After a drunken girls’ night out with her best friends involving a visualization exercise for the perfect man and an instance of breaking and entering, Katie wakes up thankfully in her own bed with a massive hangover and her neighbor standing on her porch with a peace offering.

But soon after, she gets another surprise in the form of a naked man in her driveway who proclaims he’s been created just for her. As antics and romantic gestures commence, Katie will begin to question herself about love and loyalty. How do you know when the perfect man is not really perfect? And when does Mr. Wrong begin to look like Mr. Right?

Available Amazon eBook $3.82

26. BATTER UP – by Robyn Neeley

BatterUp_FinalShe mixes more than flour and sugar into her cake batter, and he’s about to find out if a little bit of magic is to his taste…

Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret — a delicious, slightly unorthodox secret. Each Monday, she mixes up a premonition to share with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, and sets one lucky man on the path to true love.

When reporter Jason Levine finds himself mixed up in a Las Vegas bachelorette party, he hears the strangest rumor: the marriage is happening thanks to magic cake batter. Seriously skeptical, and sick of frauds, Jason journeys to the backwater town of Buttermilk Falls to expose the baker and release the townspeople from her evil clutches.

But when Jason meets Emma, tempers flare and sparks fly. Will Jason cling to his logic at the expense of a future, or will he let himself fall under Emma’s spell?

Available Amazon eBook $3.53

27. THEIF FOR HIRE – by Jillianne Hamilton

Theif for hireProfessional, experienced contract burglar.

It’s not exactly something you can put on a business card.

Molly Miranda has made a successful living from “acquiring” valuables and delivering them to clients who pay buckets of cash for her unique services.

So what if she has to lie about her lavish lifestyle in Manhattan and her frequent trips out of the country? Molly has everything under control.

Things go astray when she knocks boots with her charming roommate right before taking off to Scotland with an untrustworthy wildcard on a job assignment that doesn’t go quite as planned.

It doesn’t help that this new partner-in-crime is super annoying. And attractive…

Join Molly on her hilarious adventures as she dodges bullets, trespasses, wears disguises, and steals her way into trouble.

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

28. SHE SINS AT MIDNIGHT – by Whitney Dineenshesincover-copy

Lila Montgomery, thirty-two-year-old Hollywood assistant extraordinaire, has a secret. On the outside, she’s a hard-working dedicated employee, a good friend, and a loving daughter. But above all else, she’s been raised to be a lady, which of course is why she’s determined to conceal her secret life. If her straight-laced friends and family back home ever discover that she is really the smashing new author of a steamy romance novel, their disapproval would shame her forever! That’s why Lila has chosen to publish her sexy narrative under the nom de plume, Jasmine Sheath.

With her fifteenth high school class reunion on the horizon, Lila finds herself at a crossroads. More than anything she wants to go home and see her childhood friends but is embarrassed that she hasn’t accomplished the things she feels she should have by this time in her life; mainly marriage and children.

After another brutal run-in with Melinda Forrester, Oscar nominated actress and client of her boss, Josh Furber, Lila decides that fleeing Hollywood for a month is the best thing for her. Lila packs her bags for her childhood home of Bentley Hills, sure that her friends and family will be the touchstone of normalcy that she so desperately needs. What she doesn’t expect is that Melinda will follow her and a tabloid media circus will ensue!

Not only does Lila discover that her home is nothing like she remembers, but she meets and falls in love with the very man that inspired the hero in her novel.

She Sins at Midnight is full of laugh out loud hi-jinks that will make you never look at Hollywood the same way again!

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

29. SET ME FREE – by Jennifer Collin

Set me free coverDisastrous love life aside, Charlotte Evans is rather content with her life. Her quaint little art gallery is plodding along nicely, and her sister Emily’s artistic career is about to take off, thanks to her tireless promotion. She even gets to see her best friend every day and drink his delicious coffee in the café next door.

But when dastardly property developer Craig Carmichael comes along, threatening to demolish her gallery and take everything away, Charlotte has an unexpected fight on her hands. Not only is she battling to stop Craig’s development, she’s also struggling against the mysterious magnetic pull that has her on a collision course with Craig himself.

Craig Carmichael is fighting the Battle for Boundary Street on more than one front. The tenants of the building he wants to knock down are mounting a strong case against him and in a hot-headed moment he put his career on the line for a project that is threatening to fail. If the project doesn’t succeed he will lose everything, but for some reason he’s having trouble maintaining his focus.

As their worlds begin to unravel around them, anyone could win. It’s what they might lose that has Charlotte and Craig wondering what it is they really want.

Available Amazon eBook $0.99

30. What A Texas Girl Wants – by Kristina Knight

what a tx girl wantsKathleen Witte is a down-to-earth girl. She has to be, with the family

ranch on the verge of success. After seven months of keeping it all

together by swearing off men, however, Kathleen needs a bit of fun in the

sun. Waking up with a husband she can’t remember isn’t how she planned to

blow off steam.

The last thing Jackson Taylor wants in his life is a down-to-earth girl.

He has four weeks of freedom in which to find his birth mother. He’s done

well avoiding commitment until now, so when he wakes up on a Mexican beach

with Kathleen his first reaction is curiosity. When he spies the matching

wedding rings on their left hands curiosity turns to concern.

Neither Jackson nor Kathleen want to stay married, but when her family

shows up, they have no choice. Once back in Texas, however, can they keep

this all-business marriage from turning into an all-consuming love?

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $3.82

31. THE DAUGHTER HE WANTED – by Kristina Knight

the daughter he wantedSince the loss of his wife, Alex Ryan has been living a half-life. But

with one phone call, Alex discovers he’s the biological father of a

four-year-old girl…and everything changes.

Single mom Paige Kenner preferred to have a family without the man. Now

suddenly there’s Alex, who desperately wants to be a father to her little

girl. A gorgeous, kind and committed father. Letting a stranger into their

lives is far too dangerous—especially if his presence stirs a part of

Paige that she longs to forget…

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble eBook $4.74

32. THE TROUBLE WITH DYING – by Maggie La Page

the trouble with dyingWhen Faith Carson wakes up on a hospital ceiling looking down on her body in a coma, it’s a bad start to the week. A very bad start. She has no idea who she is or how she got there or why, and the biggest mystery of all is why she married the schmuck who wants her ventilator switched off.

As if that’s not enough Faith has a dead gran haunting her, a young daughter missing her, and one devilishly delicious man making her wish she could have a second chance at life. And maybe she can, if she finds a way back into her body and wakes up by Friday. But if she doesn’t, this will be her last bad week–ever.

Nate Sutherland decided long ago he’d settle for friendship if he couldn’t have Faith’s heart. But now, as she nears death, he’s going to have to listen to his feelings in a whole new way–and act. Because if he doesn’t, this week will be the worst damn week of his life. He’ll lose everything he’s ever loved.

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

33. MISS ADVENTURE - by Geralyn Corcillo

Miss Adventure Cover

Day-dreaming city girl Lisa Flyte decides to face her fears and get a backbone by going on daring outdoor adventures with the cynical adrenaline junkie Jack Hawkins. She survives all the treks, dives, and jumps (barely!), but can she use her new found moxie to become the alpha hero of her everyday life? Will she find the grit to go after a career she really wants or the nerve to stand up to her bulling family? And will she get gutsy enough to go after Jack? He’s a man who’s not afraid of anything…except falling for Lisa.

Available Amazon eBook $2.99

34. CHEATING TO SURVIVE – by Christina Ardigo

Cheating_To_Survive_E-Book_CoverEdge-of-your-seat Drama, Steamy Romance & Hilarious Humor!

So many Women are trapped in Marriages & feel they have no options.

Is Cheating the Answer? Heather traveled down a forbidden Road. TWICE.

And she was Married.

Can Cheating on Your Husband Bring Unimaginable Pleasure or Completely Destroy Your World?

To her three daughters, Heather is a fun-loving, silly mom. Her co-workers at Norlyn Plains Hospital think she has it all, including a handsome lawyer husband.

But when a flirtatious new doctor chooses Heather to spend his down time with, he reminds her of the man she regrettably gave up so many years before. Each interaction breathes new life into her and she gives in to the doctor’s seductions, threatening her fifteen year marriage.

Her co-workers Victoria and Catherine, are stunned by her actions, but when they see the positive transformation in Heather, and question their own crumbling marriages, they wonder if she has the right idea.

Can cheating on their husbands bring the three of them happiness? Or will they be destroyed by the consequences?

Available Amazon $3.99 eBook $11.99 print

35. BLACKMAIL BRIDE – by Storm Chase

Small Blackmail Bride by Storm Chase

No swirling highlanders here! This is a modern Scottish novel (But the hero is a hunk and the heroine has brains!)

Stalked by her abusive ex-husband, Lucy Grant is desperate for a protector. Lucy aims for the one man who is tough enough for the job, ex-convict Jack Welsh. Found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, Jack Welsh is convinced Lucy’s ex set him up. Jack will do anything to clear his name – even if it means marrying Lucy. A story of love and redemption with fully depicted love scenes.

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $1.49 eBook

36. THE DEGAS GIRL – by AJ Adams

small The Degas Girl“He wore jeans and a turquoise T-shirt. The colour made his eyes look blue instead of green. I wasn’t fooled by his looks and his gentle ways. This man had a will of iron, and by the way he looked at me, I could see he was just as determined to control me as Angelo. He just used his tongue instead of his fists.

I’d go along with it, because anything that kept me out of the hole meant I had a chance to escape. I’d pretend to be docile, and as soon as he fell asleep or took his eye off me, I’d make a run for it.

He looked me over, frowning slightly. Suddenly I wondered if he was changing his mind. Maybe he wasn’t going to let me eat. Maybe it was a game. Maybe he’d show me the food, and then tie me up and leave me to starve while he stuffed his face. I was trembling at the thought. “

###

Serenity Bishop is a work of art. Her skin a canvas, decorated with the scars of her evil captor’s twisted abuse. But her tormentor, Angelo, is about to lose control.

Zachary Schiavelli is an art thief and forger. His handsome face is merely the mask that hides a cold, calculating man whose own childhood of abuse has honed him into a remorseless killing machine.

Zachary is about to take an intense disliking to Angelo.

Sometimes you need to fight fire with fire.

In a violent tale of mob rule where violence begets violence, an unlikely alliance between two forces of nature is about to change the face of organized crime. When Serenity and Zachary collide, it’s an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, and everyone around them is about to get caught in the crossfire.

A complete novel with no cliff-hangers.

A violent tale of mob rule and dark romance. Warning contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence and sex. Adults only

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $3.99 eBook

37. A FAIR EXCHANE – by Monique McDonell

A_Fair_Exchange (2)Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?

What if you got a second chance?

Amelia Armstrong is about to find out. What a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.

How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses? Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.

Available Amazon $2.99 eBook

38. THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP – by CeCe Osgood

Divorced Not Dead Workshop. Final.contrast ebookcover (2)Divorced five years ago and recently dumped by Theo, her Brit boyfriend, Dorsey brainstorms about a dating workshop for divorced men. Too bad she’s an idea person with zero follow-through.
That all changes when her feisty best friend opts to set up the workshop on a cruise ship. But do things ever really work out as planned. No. No, they don’t.

A startling mishap, rebellious workshop attendees and the arrival of handsome but wily Finn Woodall soon send things topsy-turvy for Dorsey. More trouble arises with the unexpected re-appearance of Theo. Will Dorsey and Theo rekindle their relationship? Or is she smitten with Finn who could possibly be a back-stabbing weasel? And has the workshop made a difference in what she desires in life … and love?

Available Amazon $2.99

39. THE UNICORN’S DAUGHTER – by Norma Beishir

unicornJaime Lynde would stop at nothing to find the truth….

As a child, she was told her father was dead, but one by one, the lies began to unravel. James Lynde was an operative for the OSS during World War II, and later for the CIA. In 1986, he was still alive and working undercover in Libya. As Jaime followed his trail, a traitor followed hers…and the US prepared to take military action….

“Beishir pens a winner with this gripping thriller…she confidently builds to a revelatory and spellbinding finale.”

— Publishers Weekly

Available Amazon, Barnes & Noble $2.99 eBook

40. WE’VE ALWAYS GOT NEW YORK – by Jill Knapp

Weve_always_got_new_york high resThe second book in Jill Knapp’s fabulous series about dating in New York picks up after Amalia Hastings returns to Manhattan from her trip to Brazil – and finds that life has indeed gone on without her.

Fresh off the plane, Amalia’s feeling anxious and unresolved; left alone to pick up the pieces and deal with the repercussions of choosing her own path over Michael.

Without an apartment, without a job, and starting to wonder if she’s even without a best friend, she finds herself holding on tightly to the one thing she is familiar with, New York City.

Sometimes you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be…

Available Amazon $4.74

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You’re Too Old To Listen To That: #MusicTuesday Guest Post by Keisha Page

My guest for #MusicTuesday is author Keisha Page. In addition to being a great writer, Keisha is also my marketing person at Booktrope, and I’m so happy to be able to share her post today.

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keisha.headshot

I’m going to tell you a secret.

I’m a fangirl. Almost, but not quite, one of those raving lunatic women you hear about at concerts. While I’ve never thrown my panties up on stage, I did cry during a Queensryche concert in 1996. It was at Red Rocks (http://redrocksonline.com/about/photos), in Denver, and I was standing at front row center. I was feet away from the band I had idolized since high school. I sang along to every song, even the one from their EP. I looked like the women in those black and white videos of The Beatles’ first shows in America. It was a moment, people.

Redrocks

Today, I’m 42. My oldest daughter is 22, and planning her wedding. I have teenagers and pre-teens. And I have some type of music player in almost every room in my house. At any given time, one of them is probably playing Queensryche.

guitar

Queensryche has been the soundtrack to my life. It was literally the first sound one of my children heard, as he made his way into the world, kicking and screaming. It was the music I played at full blast, wearing headphones, trying to find the right way to mourn the death of my father. It’s usually what I dance to in the kitchen as I close the oven door, baking cookies for my kids or making a casserole for dinner. One of the first songs my son managed to pick out, on his Ebay special acoustic guitar, was “Silent Lucidity.”

Oh sure, there’s been other music. David Bowie and Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers have all been there for me in those moments, both ecstatic and miserable, when I needed something, anything, to grab onto. The music was there for me. But like a trusted friend, Queensryche was always the band I went back to. They were truly my first love.

Recently I was participating in a discussion on a thread on a band’s Facebook page. The topic of the discussion was “being too old” to still be listening to bands like Megadeth and Nine Inch Nails and, yes, even my beloved Queensryche. Apparently, somewhere between 35 and 40, your musical tastes are supposed to change from Black Flag to Lawrence Welk.

The thing is, though, many of those bands are still making music. And like we view those bands as beloved friends, they are trusting of their fan bases, that they’ve been working for twenty or more years to build. While every artist needs new blood to love and adore them, insuring future music sales, it’s the older fans, who were there from somewhere near the beginning, that shell out $20 a pop for every single album, and, sometimes (I’m looking at you, Kiss), hundreds of dollars for concert tickets.

David Bowie is 67, and his latest album was released last year. Alice Cooper is 66, and he released his most recent album three years ago. AC/DC released their first album in 1975, and their most recent this year, almost forty years later.

I kind of want to meet the guy who walked up to Alice Cooper and told him he was too old.

The point is, if these musicians are all still making music, and they’re a good bit older than I am, why am I too old to be listening to them? I’m not. There’s no too old, and there’s not really too young (age-appropriate lyrics aside). There are no specific ages that are allowed to listen to specific genres, and there’s no rule that says you can’t play Metallica in your minivan on the way to drop the kids off at pre-school. And thankfully, there’s no rule that says I have to stop listening to Queensryche because I’m old. Cause if you try to take my Queensryche CDs, I’m going to beat you with my cane.

———————————————————————————————————-Keisha Page has a music-themed story called “Rhythm of Love” included in the holiday anthology Unwrapping Love. She is currently working on a novel, which is scheduled for publication later in 2015. You can learn more about Keisha on her blog, or visit her on Facebook here. Her Twitter handle is @_WordMistress.

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Songs of Paper: #MusicTuesday Guest Post by Duke Miller

Today, I’m thrilled to have Duke Miller as a guest for Music Tuesday. “Songs of Paper” is an excerpt from his forthcoming book, On Damaged Ground.

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I dedicate this story to Pantopicon. She is a writer working at Wattpad.com and loves Jacques Derrida and Japanese robots. She writes by deleting. We like to pretend that we are pretending as we deconstruct our way to nothing.   DM

The Autumn of the Patriarch

The Autumn of the Patriarch

Songs of Paper 

(What a shame about me…we could be high…where are we Mikey, on the moon?)

I am certain that “The Autumn of the Patriarch” by Gabriel Marquez is a good place to start a story about music.

There are few mentions of music in the book and for most people the paper is silent like the tips of soft fingers. That doesn’t bother me. Neither does the fact that many of the sentences in the book are three or four pages long and one runs fifty pages that throws beach sand into the face of James Joyce.

Large numbers of people find it unreadable, as if the ink painting the words is made of high-quality boredom.

The only thing important is that I hear music coming from “The Autumn of the Patriarch.”  My ears are like Randy Newman writing a song and the book is a radio playing the composition. The melody flows across the history of Latin America with the sound of idealistic men and women scratching out an escape plan on broken plaster to the irrational signature of 3/10: the off-beats of the jailers, the repeating phrases of the interrogators, and the frenetic motion of the torturers, all combine to build toward a destruction of captured eyes looking outward from rows of mesmerizing red seats.

Join me in the power of stillness. The singers, guitars, and horns will reanimate and take their place beside the pages that are full of mass murder, pain, pedophilia, rape, and assassination. The crazy dictator has his day and the music comes from the dog ears of terror; from the muteness of bodies changing into tears.

The refrain is an all-consuming fire.

Bear with me while I avoid the error of confirmation. The mistake of following a well-worn path that is reinforced by expected outcomes. No, the “The Autumn of the Patriarch” will lead me to exhilaration and unknown consequences. I’d like to think it could produce autoeroticism, but I can only hope.

So we start with no music in the normal sense, and you will enjoy it or not; yet I need to grow in the highlands and remove the hand over my heart and run away while others march over the cliff. I can no longer salute or pray and my sentiments are like the ditches of a country road waiting for cars to crash or foxes to hide or bodies to be dumped by lovers.

I fall into my feelings. The interior of my personality hears voices from a great distance and they are traps of solid tones. I am desperate to live in that place beyond caring, but it is impossible as long as I breathe.

Dissolution is my loving companion. I offer this to you, even if you don’t care. In fact, it is better that way. It is more personal and I can feel your eyes burn into me as if my secrets are naked atheists tied to an ancient stake.

All light fades.

The Marquez book rests upon my desk. It is heavy with humidity, stinks of mildew, and wrinkles as still-wet coffee gravitates. Ants crawl out of the pages and onto my arm.   They try to get their pincers into my skin, but I mash them with my thumb and watch them squirm around and die. They are the type of ants that still kick when they are decapitated. I think they must be critics or internet trolls.

RuinsA few days ago I walked with Octavio through the languid streets. We searched for food. I carried a cane for show and bare-chested Octavio dressed in a cap, shorts with holes, and flip flops.

He is an old squatter living in the ruins of my compound, here by the dying sea. Neighbors say he is not to be trusted and that he gets high with bad people. I am a poor judge of how the future might turn out, so I close my eyes in his presence.

The smell of shit, piss, and pot comes from the fallen, defaced existence in the pile of rubble he calls home. People should visit him on an adventure tour. They’d need to bring satin sheets that are capable of creating dreams about fancy hotels with maids and pool boys. That would be nice on the stained concrete floor of Octavio’s life.

He is thin like a speed freak, but has been free of alcohol and hard drugs for 20 years. The overworked therapist treating him recommended that he use only pot. “Marijuana has saved my life,” he says.

Music was his first love, and he used to be a student and played different instruments. On most nights, I hear him at the baby grand piano abandoned in our shared ruins. His scabby hands beat on the keys and the clashing sounds are only traces of talent from a missing person. Hallucinations are part of his life now, but he is also mostly present and maintains a keen sense of fairness. Sometimes I buy him powdered doughnuts and he tells me thanks for the vegetables.

We came to a long sidewalk with garbage cans. “These are the best ones,” he said. They were all near restaurants and the jackpot was finding a takeout order dumped, instead of carried home. “But if not here…well, I eat garbage,” and then he laughed with one tooth showing on the left side of his mouth.

Octavio and I found two half-filled Cokes; a partly eaten sandwich; a piece of fruit pie; and a glob of beans in a Styrofoam container. He also pulled out a Spanish language copy of “The Autumn of the Patriarch.”   We both looked at the paperback as if the trash can was an opening into the mind of the past. The music began immediately and built an inlaid ceiling over our heads and spot lights made golden circles upon the stage where the actors moved.   We were captured in our upper right balcony box and I could see a reflection on the top of the conductor’s bald head.

“Look,” he waved, “a book by the master. I give it to you as a present.” He grabbed my arm and opened my hand and put the book there as if he were curing me. There was something putrid and sticky on the outside. I picked a few leaves from a bush and wiped the green cover that showed four flowers and distant mountains.

One of Octavio’s dogs was at our feet. He watched and waited for a bite to eat.

polo

Polo

Polo is the black and white one. He looks like an old man trying to find his teeth. His head quivers with sad eyes and he is always moving; jerking his feet, twitching his head. Polo got a nerve disease last year that should have killed him, but it didn’t, and so he lives in constantly mutating moments.

Octavio saved Polo by singing corridos to him. The songs became machetes and trains bristling with howitzers that carried soldaderas to the front where Pancho Villa shot his own men for being late to supper and then rode like a nightmare to the next town and enlisted thousands of the poor, just like Octavio, to take revenge upon landowners and fat bankers with round faces. The corridos transported themselves across the decades to come out of Octavio’s mouth and destroy the illness within the frame and fur of Polo.

That is what Octavio believes, as if Polo’s wagging tale is a renaissance born to outwardly shine from the center of the universe. There is love there and I can see it in both Polo’s and Octavio’s eyes. People invest everything that is good about themselves into their dogs. Octavio, despite his pathologies and rumored crimes, is no different. The evil, mistakes, and bad manners within people are momentarily transformed when they love a dog.

Sometimes Octavio goes without food, but never Polo.

Octavio's Piano

Octavio’s Piano

The sun is setting now. Octavio is at the piano and sings “Sólo Le Pido A Dios,” which is not exactly a corrido, but rather the beating heart of Latin America’s fight against injustice. Mexico is a battleground and the innocent are beginning to smell the dirty war. The sorry fuckers always attack the students first; the ones who are too young to totally understand the danger, but old enough to threaten those in power. The naïve, beautiful sons and daughters of the nation are the cut off ears and tails of dead bulls and they hang on the walls of wealthy aficionados. Normally the masses are still, but maybe not this time. Who knows? Unfortunately, it has been years since the passenger trains stopped running and thoughts of Zapata and Villa and Juarez have diminished like the rainbow butterflies dreaming in the tall trees.

The expatriated ghost of Marques rides the black Arabian horse across the burning green stream while a dozen exiled generals wait in crumbling mansions.

I walk outside and lie in my hammock. Octavio’s voice is earthy. The fragrance of pot is in the air and I hear dogs circling within the shadowy ruin. Footsteps are in the alley just outside his chained door and suddenly he shouts “Don’t kill my dogs you bastards!”

I live in the Melodious Church of Octavio and his voice is a choir and the dogs are the parishioners and the sermon comes from a time long ago when the Division del Norte was the devil’s finger torching Mexico.

There is no end to the world’s insanity and it runs all over me as my hammock sways.

The stars come and the wind carries the sound of the waves into the rustling palm fronds.   Octavio’s voice heroically rises upon the cracked piano keys. Maybe the road is not so black. Marquez’s mad patriarch and Octavio’s psychosis merge in my mind. I decide to return to my writing. I type two quick sentences that have been years in the making: “He was decaying in the tropics like a thousand books of literature lining the moist, dark aisles of the world’s last library. Yet, the books sang to him and the lyrics were complex patterns of felt light.”

Postscript

Thomas Mann says writers shouldn’t reveal their inspirations. It destroys the “magic.” Perhaps, but I do believe that most writing is born of negative things: war, abuse, illness, heartache, disappointment, insanity, crime, bad government, something broken along the way. So music is a little different, since I can see nothing wrong with the principle of pleasant sound. I write with music at a very high decibel level. Sometimes I play the same song over and over and people complain. I’m like the guy in sunglasses sitting in front of the big speakers and his face and ears are pinned back and his tie is flapping. All writers are thieves and I steal feelings from the music and fit them into my stories. “Songs of Paper” is filled with Wilco, The Blue Nile, Daft Punk, Steely Dan, Michael Franti, Leon Gieco, Dr. Rockit, Herbie Hancock, Mercedes Sosa, Nine Inch Nails, Randy Newman, Broken Social Scene, Talking Heads, Miles Davis, Max Richter, and Kinky. The sentences you might have contemplated are born in the loud, sad, uplifting, mysterious, primal, and melancholy notes from these groups. Absolutely! If I am the master of my words, then music is the woman waiting at the bar. I tend towards ex-drug addicts and reformed alcoholics who have survived to play for the rest of us about what it is like way out there. That’s where I like to be; way out there, somewhere; anywhere, but where I am. It is my burden and music helps.

Now I just need to get rid of my worms.

(What a shame about me…we could be high…where are we Mikey, on the moon?)

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Duke Miller expatriated himself from the United States many years ago.  He has lived and worked in more than 25 countries, most of them at war.  His philosophy has been hard won and he is happy to be alive and tries to be mindful of each moment.  Writing is a form of therapy and he considers himself more of a poet than a prose writer.  People suffering in hidden or overlooked places have greatly affected the stories that he writes. 

If you’d like to read more of Duke’s work, his first novel, Living and Dying with Dogs (an extraordinary book) is available in many places, including here on Amazon. His second book, Handbook for the Hopeless is due to be released soon, and he is currently at work on On Damaged Ground.

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Does My Underwear Make Me Look Old?

undiesAs I type this, I’m thinking, why? What’s the point of this post, and will anyone want to read it? It falls into several lame categories, such as TMI and Pathetic Navel Gazing. Or, more accurately, Pathetic Butt and Crotch Gazing.

Not to mention that the world has so many hideous problems right now. Every day, we read about more terror, death, and turmoil. So many senseless, horrific attacks on innocent people. Nigeria…Paris…Syria…Australia…the US. How do we process it all? Can we stop it? Are there peaceful solutions? And how do we discuss these barbaric attacks with our children? It’s enough to keep any sane person awake at night.

And yet, I did get some sleep last night, and awoke this morning feeling compelled to write about something lighter. Something that won’t invoke anger or fear. Something simple: women’s underwear. More specifically, my underwear. Feel free to stop reading right now and move on to something more interesting if you prefer. I’ll understand completely.

spanky pantsIf you’re still with me, though, I’ll start with a little history. Growing up in the 70s, I gave little thought to underwear. My mom bought it all for me, and it was sensible, wholesome stuff. The brand and style I recall her buying most often were Carter’s “Spanky Pants.” I’d put on a clean pair every morning, and head out for a day of adventure. I had no idea that Spanky Pants were worn by women of all ages, and a favorite of grandmothers everywhere. If I had known, I’m certain I wouldn’t have cared.

In high school and college, I began wearing more mature clothing and became aware of stylish underwear. And by stylish, I mean bikini. Suddenly, I had no use for those high-waisted bloomers, or even hipsters, which felt cumbersome and also had a tendency to show above the waistband of my jeans. I maintained a preference for cotton fabric—I guess those Spanky Pants made an impression—but that was no problem. Cotton bikinis were quite easily obtained.

The years passed, and, of course, underwear evolved. Thongs happened, along with lacy lingerie, lots of nylon, and new synthetic fabrics. Like most women, I dabbled in different styles, but none were as comfy, economical, and practical as plain old cotton bikinis.

Which isn’t to say that I invested much energy in my underwear purchases. Put another way—no pun intended—undies were never tops on my mind. Usually, I’d pick them up while I was out shopping for something else.

And so, for about thirty years, that method quite literally kept my butt covered. But last summer, in Marshall’s, I stopped into the “intimates” department to buy a few new pairs. But all I could find were nylon, polyester blends, and a few thongs. Not a problem, I decided. I’ll just buy underwear the next time I go shopping. But the next time—at TJ Maxx, I believe—I ran into the same situation. Not a single pair of cotton bikinis! I checked at Costco too, but no. Nothing that fit my criteria.

“What’s going on?” I asked one of my close friends. “Aren’t there any women out there who want comfortable, low-cut, cotton bikinis any more?”

“Just get them online,” she said.

But I don’t like buying underwear online. Pictures can be deceiving, and I’m picky about the cut. So while my existing undies became increasingly worn, I kept an eye out for new ones whenever I was in a store that sold women’s clothing. I even ventured into Victoria’s Secret one day, but although they had plenty of bikinis, none were all (or mostly all) cotton.

And then, it happened. You know how people say you always find what you’re looking for when you’re not looking? About a month ago, I was in the local Walgreen’s, when I walked down an aisle that featured a few clothing items. There were some pantyhose, socks, and…holy cow! Hanes brand, 95% cotton, low cut, bikini underwear.

hanes briefsNow I must admit, I stopped and thought for a moment. Was I really going to buy underwear in a drug store? Yes. Yes I was. They were perfect, and the price was right too. Besides, what was the big deal? Finally, I could throw away my old, threadbare undies and have some new ones for the holidays. I bought six pairs and only looked over my shoulder once to see if anyone I knew was watching.

“Retail sure is changing,” I told my friend the next day. (I’m sure I was seeking her approval.) “Can you believe it? They’ve started selling nice cotton bikini underwear at Walgreen’s.”

My friend nodded, but raised her eyebrows. “So is retail changing, or is it us?” she asked. “Maybe women our age have become the target market for drug store underwear.”

“Oh no,” I said, quite confidently. “I remember about ten years ago, the only underwear they sold in drug stores was the old-fashioned, high-waisted kind. The kind older women wear.”

She nodded. “Exactly.”

“No!” I said, much more emphatically. “These are young woman underwear. I’ll show them to you. They’re exactly like the ones I wore in college!”

“Look,” said my friend. “I’m no expert on retail, OK? But you graduated college in 1986. And everyone knows the big stores cater to women in their twenties and thirties, right? So who knows? Maybe we’ve reached the age where retailers see us as people who go to the drugstore for hemorrhoid cream, reading glasses, and prescriptions, and grab some underwear while we’re there.”

For the record, I wasn’t buying any of that stuff when I made my discovery. I was buying shampoo, OK? And yet, each morning, when I get dressed, I wonder if my underwear and I are moving into “older woman” territory. Am I aging out of the styles carried by major clothing retailers? And although this “issue” is microscopic compared to the real problems in the world, I can’t deny that it makes me a little sad.

On the other hand, I’m pretty psyched to have discovered a new source of undergarments, and plan to keep buying them at Walgreen’s for as long as the store carries them. They’re good quality undies, damn it. So ladies, regardless of your age, if you’ve been frustrated in your search for comfort and style—and yes, I consider them stylish—they’ve got what you’re looking for down at the corner drugstore.

Posted in aging, clothing, health, life experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Truly Humiliating Experience: #MusicTuesday Guest Post by Arleen Williams

Arleen Williams joins us today for Music Tuesday with a post about music and parenting. Thank you so much, Arleen, for sharing this!

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Arleen WilliamsI am not a music person. My office is silent when I plan classes or grade papers. I don’t plug my ears with earbuds when I walk. NPR plays on my car radio. When I write, I prefer to hear the words in my head. Should I write in a public place, the music must be loud enough to drown ambient conversations. And though there are musicians I appreciate and enjoy – Dylan and Cohen, Marley and Cliff, Muddy Waters and Louis Armstrong – when I listen, I want to listen. I’m not fond of background music. Our home is a quiet place.

In my teen years, I attempted to teach myself folk guitar. Didn’t we all? Wasn’t that the thing in the 1970s? I didn’t get far. I lacked both patience and a singing voice to accompany the guitar. “My bags are packed, I’m ready to go …” was such a disappointment to my own ears, I gave up.

Still, when my daughter began kindergarten, I was convinced of the importance of a music education, and Erin started piano lessons. Four years and two teachers later, Erin still hated piano lessons.

As the mother of a single child, I tried to be as fair and democratic as possible. So when Erin demanded to know why she had to practice piano every day when neither her father nor I played, I fell for the bait.

“Okay,” I told her. “Let’s ask Dell if I can take lessons, too. I’ve always wanted to learn.”

And it was true. I’d even tried a group class at the college where I teach only to get bored and frustrated. I struggled to learn the language of music and couldn’t keep my butt on the bench long enough to improve. There was no plot to follow, no interesting characters, nothing to hold my attention.

After the first month or so of lessons, it was clear to Dell and me that mother and daughter were cut from the same non-musical cloth and neither of us would ever master even the most basic piano skills. We fumbled along, but only one of us honestly voiced her boredom and frustration. I was still busy setting a good example. I forced myself to sit in position, my lower back aching, and curse myself for ever volunteering to take lessons. And that was before any thought of the annual recital entered my head.

Dell suggested we play one or two individual pieces and a duet. She suggested this to the two of us. Together. How could I weasel out of it with my ten year old at my side awaiting my response? Trapped, I agreed.

I practiced like never before, but as the date approached, my terror knew no bounds. Here I was a forty-five year old college instructor. I spent every day in front of students and I’d given more than my share of conference presentations. But the idea of sitting at a piano to play anything, let alone a duet with my daughter, had me shaking. Literally.

program

The program

The day arrived. The program had us spaced out: first my solo, another student, Erin’s solo, two more students, then the duet. Lots of time for tension to build. Somehow I made it through Greensleeves and returned to my seat. When it was Erin’s turn, she walked to the piano bench like a pro. She had three prior recitals under her belt after all.

Our names were read for the duet. I wanted to vaporize. How can a young girl’s eyes be pleading and defiant at the same time? I wobbled toward the piano with her and we floundered our way through This Land Is Your Land. When it ended, I wrapped my daughter in an embrace of understanding and apology. That was the last time either of us played the piano.

arleen's_piano

Arleen’s piano

Twenty years later, the silent piano continues to occupy a corner of our dining room. Maybe someday I’ll have a grandchild who wants to play.

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Arleen Williams is the author of three books. The Alki Trilogy includes Running Secrets, a novel about the power of friendship in helping overcome the dysfunction of family and life, as well as Biking Uphill, which touches on thought-provoking contemporary political issues including immigration. The Thirty-Ninth Victim is a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister’s murder.

Arleen teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle. To learn more, please visit http://www.arleenwilliams.com.

Posted in guest post, life experiences, music, music tuesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stay in with a Bunch of #Authors and #Books this New Year’s Eve

picasso, the diners

Pablo Picasso, The Diners

Would you prefer to read a good book than go out on New Year’s Eve? Or maybe you’re just not in the mood for partying tonight? Well, here’s a way to have a little fun without ever leaving the comfort of your couch, and you just might win some great books too.

A group of authors have gotten together and planned a fun party on Facebook tonight., January 31, 2014, from 7PM till midnight, EST. There will be lots of opportunities to interact and ask questions, plus plenty of book giveaways, contests, and games. And at midnight, we’ll raffle off a bundle of books (some ebooks, some paperbacks). All you need to do to enter the raffle is drop by the party for a short time.

Click here for the link to the party on Facebook, where you’ll find a schedule, and lots more info. Hoping to see you there!

Oh, and in honor of the party, Double Album: Two Novels, (an exclusive Kindle collection of Living by Ear and Leaving the Beach) is on sale New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for just $.99. 

Posted in events, new year's eve, parties, party | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments