As you know, my brother passed away in February (Valentine's Day *sigh*) - and my friend Mary Ellen's husband passed away about a couple of weeks later, end of the month. My brother's tombstone arrived in time for Memorial weekend, which makes me glad, simply because it means so much to my parents.
It's raining today - and while others look at these grey, stormy days as depressing, they're oddly refreshing to me, because after the rains...well, you know the rest. ANYWAY...
I received an email from Mary Ellen this morning, and I couldn't help but smile. Today would have been her and Charlie's 56th wedding anniversary, and she shared a story with me that I hadn't heard.
Before you read it (and I don't think she'll mind my sharing it), picture a young bride, about 19 yrs old, who had just married a man 16 years her senior. Her father had taught her how to ride motorcycles, and she met this handsome hell-raiser at a motorcycle rally. Her dad was leery, because Charlie was so much older, not to mention experienced in a lot of ways his daughter wasn't. But the family accepted and loved Charlie - if you'd met him, you'd know why. The man was incorrigible but irresistibly charming.
Mary Ellen and Charlie wound up owning several businesses, which they passed on to their children, helping them establish livelihoods. One of the businesses was a motorcycle shop, and one of their 8 children was Guy Cooper, who was twice named the World Motorcross Champion.
I digress, sorry. Long before the businesses and the children, though, there was the couple. Here's a snippet about their honeymoon.
Hello! 56 years ago May 24 was also on a Sat and it looked like rain that afternoon too. We were married on Sat morning in St. Francis Xavier and the reception was next door in the school basement because at that time the church basement wasn't fixed up with a kitchen. We were supposed to leave immediately after the reception, but Charlie's motorcycle was still being overhauled, so I hung around his sister's and mother's house until about 3 or 4 o'clock when we finally took off on two motorcycles.
We had no reservations anywhere, we just knew we were headed for Arkansas. We would look at the clouds at each highway intersection and he would motion and away we would go.
We stopped in Henrietta, ate supper of a bowl of chili each, which cost 35 cents (and was the cheapest thing on the menu). After church on Sun we continued on south in OK to what is now the Winding Stair Mountain road, a scenic drive, but was then a jeep trail/fire watch road.
There being no restaurants, we took a lunch. Of course, I have a booklet of black and white pics we took on the trip. Most of the photos are of my back when we were riding down highways. Charlie would turn loose of his handlebars and snap my picture from the camera hanging around his neck.
He could ride for miles with no hands, but I always kept one hand on the handlebars. I will never forget, nor did Charlie, how he got tired of me being so slow in riding down hills on the jeep trail, using my brakes and engine to hold me back.
At one point, after several hours of this, he said, "I want you to kick it out of gear and coast down the next hill." So I did. It was the steepest, roughest with big rocks the size of basketballs and deep ruts.
When I finally stopped at the bottom, shaking. He rode up beside me, saying, "I'm so SORRY! I rode as fast as i could and I could not catch you! After this, you just ride as slow as you want to."
My fast ride had really frightened him. We went on to see several places in Arkansas for a week. By the next Sat we were both tired of looking at mountains and trees and were ready to get back home. I'm sure I've told about our honeymoon trip before, but today just reminded me again of it.
Life does indeed go on. Sometimes we're sad when Memorial Day or that weekend comes around, but this cheered me. It reminds me of the joys I've had with those who have passed. It reminds me to be grateful for the soldiers for whom this holiday was established and for everyone whose life I celebrate when I think of this day.
Have a good weekend, everybody.
~ Sunny Lyn
Next Up on the Passionate Ink Cyber Tour - SHARONA NELSON!!!!!
Amber Quill Press
ISBN: 978-1-59279-664-9 (Electronic)
ISBN: 978-1-59279-691-5 (Paperback)
COVER ME—the story of a single mom, a single man, and a health insurance plan…
Single mom Sunny Montgomery survived a lousy childhood with hippie parents as well as a terrible marriage with the cheating Kirk Stanley (AKA Kirk the Jerk), so she figured she could deal with whatever life threw at her. In short order, however, Sunny loses her job, car, health insurance, and life’s savings.
What’s a single mother to do? Get married, of course—though not for love.
Sunny accepts a marriage-of-convenience offer from her landlord, Ben Hart, so that she and Libbie, her asthmatic daughter, will have health insurance. The only problem is, she’s falling in love with him—despite the fact she thinks he’s gay. And, while she sometimes craves more distance from the temptation known as Ben, heaven knows that good, affordable apartments in Boston are as rare as winters without snow.
Through it all, Sunny perseveres. Whether beset by estranged hippie parents, money troubles, a creepy new boss, an is-he-or-isn’t-he faux husband, or the Boston mob, Sunny sustains herself with her inner strength, her best friend Dulcie, odd-duck neighbor Ray, and lots of mac-and-cheese, hot dogs, and ice cream. Oddly enough, what Sunny’s daughter, Libbie, wants—comfort food and plenty of SpongeBob SquarePants on the tube—aren’t fundamentally different from what Sunny wants—happiness and love.
Sunny’s struggles teach us that making lemonade from life’s abundant supply of lemons isn’t too difficult, as long as we follow our hearts…
I spent most of my adult life in the Boston area. (I miss the city, but not the winters. Heaven is eighty degrees and blue skies.) While in Boston, I was a jack-of-all-trades, mastering two: radio personality and technical writer/online help designer. I also worked as a taxi driver, clerical chartist for the Federal Reserve Bank, and temporary office worker for half a dozen companies. However, fiction writing is my first and longest-lived love.
The inspiration for COVER ME was my own life, though the book was heavily fictionalized, of course. I did not marry my husband for health insurance, nor is my ex a rat like Kirk the Jerk—far from it. I will admit to being a single mom for a while, and I do have a daughter, now grown, who could show a bit of Libbie’s attitude when young—and still does, on occasion…
I read widely, adoring a good story with quirky characters. Besides reading, I enjoy being around horses and cats, singing, creating new recipes, taking solitary road trips, and hanging with friends. I confess to being hopelessly addicted to the wonderfully-over-the-top television shows Boston Legal, House, Men in Trees, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and 24. I write erotic romance under the name Barrie Abalard.
My family and I currently live in one of the Middle Atlantic states, but are considering relocating someplace it’s warmer in the winter.
1. With which character do you identify most closely?
I partially identify with the heroine, Sunny, but also equally identify with her nutty hippie mother, Daphne (“Daffy”). Because both characters have elements of me in them, COVER ME was a pure hoot to write. I was very much a hippie chick for many, many years, and still hold a lot of the same political values. I also have a grown daughter, so I know how the mother would feel about the estrangement with her daughter. But, because I’ve also dealt with difficult parental relationships in my own life, I perfectly understand why Sunny might want to keep her mother and father at arms’ length, and why she might feel pissed off at them.
2. Where did you get the idea for your latest book?
A long time ago, I was living with the man who’s now my husband. We’d never felt any special impulse to tie the knot, but when my ex said he planned to remarry, that meant I’d lose my health insurance. So, my live-in of nearly ten years and I got married. Though we do love each other, we had some fun with the wedding, including putting the initials of the health plan on the arch over the bride and groom atop the ice cream cake (ice cream cake because my daughter doesn’t like regular cake.)
I told the complete story of my wedding to someone once, and they said, “You should write a story about someone who gets married for health insurance.” The idea appealed to me, and the inspiration for COVER ME was born.
I spent most of my adult life in the Boston area, so setting the story there was a no-brainer. By the way, the information about health insurance options for the unemployed was accurate when the book went to press. But now Massachusetts has a completely different system. (Just wanted Massachusetts readers to know that yes, I do the research, but the Commonwealth changed the game on me when it was too late to revise the manuscript!)
3. Do you have a favorite comfort food?
Like my heroine, Sunny, and her daughter, Libbie, I love most all comfort food: old-fashioned macaroni and cheese (not some low-fat imitation), ice cream, homemade soups, rice pudding with lots of cinnamon and raisins. I love pretty much anything chocolate, though peanut butter’s a close second, and I’ve been known to go ga-ga over a rich, cinnamon-y coffee cake, too.
And coffee—I love coffee (any anything mocha). I would drink it 24 hours a day if it didn’t destroy my sleep. Starbucks is on my speed dial. (my kinda friend, Sharona - lol - Sunny Lyn here checks herself in mirror to make sure we're not the same person)
4. What is your idea of a perfect romantic evening?
Champagne, a satisfying meal, chocolate, flowers, lingerie that makes my middle-aged body look good, and a nice, hot bath for two. Or a hot tub. Use your imagination for what happens after the hot tub.
5. What makes a hero for you? Do you see them on the street, or are they simply in your head?
Ah, heroes. They’re almost always completely in my head, though occasionally inspired by men I’ve known.
While I sometimes write those alpha he-men guys, I tend to prefer someone a bit less, um, alpha in my real life. Ben’s sort of an amalgam, a bit more beta than I normally care for. However, he reminds me of some hard-science academics I’ve known and loved.
For me, a real hero is a man who’s not afraid to take a chance and reveal his heart when it’s clear he’s fallen for the heroine. Ben was a little slow to risk it all, but in the end, he jumps off the cliff of love. He may not be Rambo, but he wants to help and protect Sunny and her child. He’s a genuine, 100% good guy. In a movie or TV show, Ben might be best played by the actor who plays Henry on “Ugly Betty” (Christopher Gorham). Gorham’s character looks very much as I imagined Ben would, and he’s got the perfect combination of awkwardness, nervousness, inexperience, and willingness to pursue the woman he loves.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring romance writers?
Write what you love, because if you become a hit, readers are going to want more books in the same subgenre. That’s one of the best reasons not to write to market in some genre you don’t enjoy—you might end up with a career in it.
I also suggest you take the time to school yourself on the basics of grammar and story construction. It’s rare for an editor to buy a story whose mechanics aren’t the best.
Also—as they say in “Galaxy Quest” (and what a wonderful, silly movie that is)—Never give up! Never surrender!
Don’t quit trying, no matter what.
7. What does your writing space look like?
It looks as if a paper bomb has gone off, and I’m sitting at ground zero. I am a very messy person when I’m creating. When I have some time after finishing a project, that’s when I clean up (if then).
More concretely, I have a nice, big desk with a computer and several small items that have personal significance, along with all the paper. I spent some money on ergonomics because I have fibromyalgia, and I need my work space not to cause me any additional pain.
I have a wall lamp I rarely turn on, so I’ve draped a very colorful net-and-sequins shawl over the lampshade. It brightens up my little corner nicely. I also have a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf that holds my research books and my promotional materials, among other things. My calendars (I have two) are within eyeball distance and/or reach. I live or die by my calendars. If I don’t write something down, I’ll never, ever remember the deadline.
8. What do you have planned for your next book?
I’m working on two stories. One is a novel set in Seventies Boston that, again, is inspired by parts of my own life. The book is written, but needs revisions—a lot of revisions. The working title is “Alice in Boogieland”, but I’m not wild about the title. So far, I haven’t come up with anything that’s much better. (Unless a title comes to be at the beginning of a story, my titles usually stink.)
The other novel is a contemporary story of two sisters who are like day and night, and who can’t really stand each other, but who come together to search for their third sister. But is she really their sister? The working title is “Shirley Goodness and Mercy,” and I’m told the first chapter—a funeral—is reasonably funny. The book’s not finished. It’s set partially in southern NJ, southern Delaware (where I’m from), and in the deep south—the sisters, Shirley and Mercy, were born and raised in Louisiana.
9. Of all the stories you’ve written, which book is the closest to your heart? Why?
I think that would be “Alice,” mentioned above. The storyline is intensely personal, as are a number of the characters in it—that’s one of the reasons it needs a heavy rewrite. I think writing that book was more like therapy than novel-creating, and it needs to be a novel, a good one.
My life in the Seventies was darned crazy and quite unorthodox. That’s all I’m going to admit to here. But having a juicy past does make for great story ideas.
10. What is your stress buster?
I love to go on solitary road trips. Being alone is the best tonic for me, and traveling alone combines two situations I enjoy. As I can’t take road trips every time I’m stressed out, I substitute a long walk, all by myself.
Reading a gripping novel also relaxes me. I’d rather read than watch television or go to a movie. This must be the reason I have several enormous bookshelves crammed full of interesting tales.
11. What is the last time you did something for the first time? What did you do? Any feelings from the experience?
I recently returned from a trip to Cairo (yes, the Cairo in Egypt) to visit my daughter, who is researching her doctorate. I knew not one word of Arabic, nor did I have any idea what I was in for. Now I know about five words in Arabic and can tell you I loved, loved, loved being there. My daughter acted as my own personal guide to the ruins in Luxor, and spoke for me every time Arabic was needed. (It’s wonderful when you realize the kid you raised has turned into an absolutely sterling adult.)
The Egyptian people are warm, friendly, and generous. I truly enjoyed the many folks we met, from the guy who made my morning coffee, to the woman my daughter has been working with. I would love to go back and spend about a month in Cairo, sharing my daughter’s apartment, both of us writing.
I believe in challenging myself with new activities on a regular basis. It keeps me from growing old on the inside. The outside, I can’t do much about.
12. Describe yourself in one word.
Independent as the day is long!
Modern romantic comedy with attitude—because you don’t want to read your mother’s romances
oh good grief
Is it just me, or is everyone attending the upcoming writers' conferences a bit baffled by the money aspects? Used to be, you could send in your reservation for RT, for instance, in January or February and be assured of getting a conference registration without hassle...and a ROOM soon afterward.
NOW...they're taking advance payments IN SEPTEMBER for an APRIL conference, and you STILL might wind up in a motel 1/2 mile down the street from the convention. The next RT convention will be held at the Wyndham Orlando Resort April 22-26, 2009.
RWA - same thing - earlier and earlier, the fees are mounting - more every year, it seems, and just because you secure your reservation does NOT mean that the hotel will have you listed, even if you've checked via telephone or internet within days of arriving, just to make certain you're booked!
I love my writers' conferences. Just seems that the red tape lasts longer than the coffee breaks any more. *wry smile*
So...anyone else going next year? I have San Francisco under my belt for this year but am working on attending both conferences next year, RT in Orlando and RWA in DC. We...shall...see.
* joke from Janet* Underwear Dust
One evening a husband, thinking he was being funny, said to his wife 'Perhaps we should start washing your clothes in Slim Fast. Maybe it would take a few inches off of your butt!'
His wife was not amused, and decided that she simply couldn't let such a comment go unrewarded. The next morning the husband took a pair of underwear out of his drawer. '
What the Hell is this??' he said to himself as a little 'dust' cloud appeared when he shook them out.'
April,' he hollered into the bathroom, 'why did you put talcum powder in my underwear?'
She replied ...'It's not talcum powder......It's 'Miracle Grow'
Photo of the Day - Flood Survival Kit
(you've gotta be kidding...)
Keystone Ice Beer.............................check
Misc. other bottles of alcohol...........check
Piece of plywood to float your old lady and booze on .................check
And I repeat...
About those nasty EC Cavemen…I’m sure by now that many of you reading my blog will have read others’ comments about how raunchy the Ellora’s Cave Cavemen were at the recent Romantic Times convention. Well, re: their dancing, depending upon how prudish you are or how open-minded, you can judge for yourself here. Does this seem inappropriate for a romance writers’ convention to you?About those nasty rumors regarding the fight between Samhain and Ellora’s Cave…
HELL NO, I’m not gonna comment. I WILL say this: I have never ever received a late payment from EC (in fact, my sales there are better than ever), I have never had reason to question their ethics, motives, or handling of my books, and saying something nice about one of them is no crappy reflection on the other one, so get over yourself if you think it is. About whether or not RT should have a separate “goody room” for their attendees next year…
Unequivocally YES. Say what you will about RWA, but there would never be the same problem at one of their conferences, so I don’t see the big deal in securing one freakin’ room for authors’ promo materials during the RT conference. Sure, RT would have to pay for it, but c’mon. Our conference fees are steep enough to cover the cost. #1, it would keep those who haven’t paid for the conference from snagging materials that are there for the readers, booksellers, authors, and editors who DID pay for the conference. #2, it would keep some unsuspecting hotel guest from bitching about promo materials that they shouldn’t have access to in the first place. #3, it’s unfair to the authors who pay for those promo materials to have them removed simply because someone outside the conference objects to the content.Do I think that people who paid to stay in that hotel should be subjected to material that offends them? NO. I also don’t think that authors paying for a writers’ conference should be forced to cater to the needs of anyone outside the confines of that same conference. Therefore – secure us a room for our promo materials and be done with the issue.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
avoid the (nasty) funny tale if you are offended by fart jokes...Subject: Home Made Chili
(story about a man, not me, FYI – lol…BUT…there by the grace of God go I
type stuff…) – He says…
I went grocery shopping recently while not being altogether sure that said course of action was a wise one. You see, the previous evening I had prepared and consumed a massive quantity of my patented "You're definitely going to mess yourself" chili.
Tasty stuff, albeit hot to the point of being painful, which comes with a written guarantee from me that if you eat the next day both of your butt cheeks WILL fall off.
Here's the thing. I had awakened that morning, and even after two cups of coffee (and all of you know what I mean) nothing happened. No "Watson's Movement 2". Despite habanera peppers swimming their way through my intestinal tract, I appeared to be unable to create the usual morning symphony referred to by my next door neighbors as thunder and lightning.
Knowing that a time of reckoning had to come, yet not sure of when, I bravely set off for the market; a local Wal-Mart grocery store that I often haunt in search of tasty tidbits.
Upon entering the store at first all seemed normal. I selected a cart and began pushing it about dropping items in for purchase. It wasn't until I was at the opposite end of the store from the restrooms that the pain hit me. Oh, don't look at me like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm referring to that "Uh oh, gotta go" pain that always seems to hit us at the wrong time. The thing is, this pain was different. The habaneras in the chili from the night before were staging a revolt. In a mad rush for freedom they bullied their way through the small intestines, forcing their way into the large intestines, and before I could take one step in the direction of the restrooms which would bring sweet relief, it happened. The peppers fired a warning shot.
There I stood, alone in the spice and baking aisle, suddenly enveloped in a noxious cloud the likes of which has never before been recorded. I was afraid to move for fear that more of this vile odor might escape me. Slowly, oh so slowly, the pressure seemed to leave the lower part of my body, and I began to move up the aisle and out of it, just as an elderly woman turned into it.
I don't know what made me do it, but I stopped to see what her reaction would be to the malodorous effluvium that refused to dissipate, as she walked into it unsuspecting. Have you ever been torn in two different directions emotionally? Here's what I mean, and I'm sure some of you at least will be able to relate. I could've warned that that poor woman but didn't. I simply watched as she walked into an invisible, and apparently indestructible, wall of odor so terrible that all she could do before gathering her senses and running, was to stand there blinking and waving her arms about her head as though trying to ward off angry bees.
This, of course , made me feel terrible, but then made me laugh.
Here's the thing. When you laugh, it's hard to keep things "clamped down", if you know what I mean. With each new guffaw an explosive issue burst forth from my nether region. Some were so loud and echoing that I was later told a few folks in other aisles had ducked, fearing that someone was robbing the store and firing off a shotgun.
Suddenly things were no longer funny. IT was coming, and I raced off through the store towards the restrooms, laying down a cloud the whole way, praying that I'd make it before the grand mal assplosion took place.
Luck was on my side. Just in the nick of time I got to the john, began the inevitable "Oh my, Oh my", floating above the toilet seat because my butt is burning SO BAD, purging.
One poor fellow walked in while I was in the middle of what is the true meaning of "Shock and Awe". He made a gagging sound, and disgustedly said, " Oh h h h!", then quickly left.
Once finished I left the restroom, reacquired my partially filled cart intending to carry on with my shopping when a store employee approached me and said, "Sir, you might want to step outside for a few minutes. It appears some prankster set off a stink bomb in the store. The manager is going to run the vent fans on high for a minute or two which ought to take care of the problem."
That of course set me off again, causing residual gases to escape me.
The employee took one sniff, jumped back pulling his shirt up to cover his nose and, pointing at me in an accusing manner shouted, "IT'S YOU!", then ran off returning moments later with the manager. I was unceremoniously escorted from the premises and asked none too kindly not to return.
Home again without having shopped, I realized that there was nothing to eat but leftover chili, so I consumed two more bowls. The next day I went to shop at Albertson's. I can't say anymore about that because we are in court over the whole matter. They claim they're going to have to repaint the store.