Fearless Flying–Sneak Peek

I’m finally putting the finishing touches on Fearless Flying, the first book in The Vivienne Series. To whet your appetite I wanted to give you a sample chapter–a chance to meet Viv and peek into her (very orderly) world.

Remember that you can get a FREE e-copy of Fearless Flying by clicking here and letting me know where you want me to send it. For right now enjoy chapter 1. Goodreads members be sure to add it to your TBR!


Chapter One

 I can count the number of guys I’ve slept with on one hand. I can count the number of guys I’ve wanted to sleep with on one finger. And that man is on his way to my apartment right now. Ironically, if I end up having sex with Danny tonight I have my dad to thank, or blame, depending on how this goes.

It’s 4:05 and the chime on my electronic meat thermometer dings. Perfect. Danny will be here at 4:15 so that gives the roast beef ten minutes to rest before I need to serve it. I do another walk through of my tiny apartment for a final confirmation of the details of my plan of seduction.

Pecan pie warming on the stove top and combining with the roast for the perfect scent—check.

Tools necessary for removing and storing the window A/C unit lying next to it—check.

Pristine linen sheets replaced with Walmart cheepie sheets that I am willing to have sex on—check.

My heart is racing a little but ten years of anticipation will do that to you. I check myself in the full length mirror in my bedroom one more time. Even I have to admit, I’ve nailed this outfit. My new jeans keep it casual, but have strategically placed seems and fading to highlight all my curves. My ass could turn me on in these. My tee shirt looks like I just threw it on, but I shopped for an hour online for this specific one—it’s a little sheer, hangs off one shoulder, and highlights the blue lacy bra underneath. And even through my toes are freezing on the hardwood floor I’m barefoot to show off my shell-pink Pedi. My feet are one of my best features; no way I’m hiding them today. If all goes as planned I can warm them under Danny’s gorgeous muscular legs during our post-sex snuggle.

I grab the tousle spray from the bathroom cabinet and primp my perfectly-styled messy beach waves one last time. Good luck resisting me now Danny. You’re going to need it.

At 4:15 I hear the buzzer from the building’s front door announcing his punctual arrival. I knew it. Danny doesn’t do late. He was never late one day in the eight years that my dad was his boss. Yes, his reliability is one of the reasons I crave this man. I buzz him in and use the two minutes it will take him to climb the stairs to my apartment to pull the roast from the oven and tent it with the waiting piece of foil.

I try to suppress my smile as I open the door. I’m keeping it casual. Like he’s just Danny moving my air conditioner to storage, not my undying crush finally ready for me.

He is definitely looking laid back, leaning on the door frame, hands in his jean’s pockets, looking at the floor. He looks up and shifts the tooth pick to the other side of his mouth, drawing my attention (once again) to how damn full his lips are. I swear I’m already wet and he hasn’t even said a word.

Then he does. “Roast?”

I regain my composure and nod. “Yep.”

He takes a deep breath in and launches himself off the door frame. “Pecan pie too?”

“Yep.”

And he lets out a long frustrated sigh.

     What? NO! Not this. Not again.

He walks over to the window and starts to pull the air conditioner from its perch. It’s wedged tightly into the ancient window frame and puts up a fight. I silently thank it for making this harder for him. In muted distress I watch him as he takes a screwdriver from my tool kit and uses it to push the frame back where it has embedded itself into the unit. After replacing the screwdriver in its correct slot (Do you see why he is perfect for me?), he shifts his weight back, stretches his impeccably muscular arms around the machine and heaves. I can’t help but marvel at the way his shoulder muscles flex then settle as he leans the old hundred-plus pound thing against his chest.

He looks at me, but only to get my attention, then nods toward the door. “Let’s go.”

My weak smile can’t hide my disappointment. Surely he must see that I anticipated and want more than this.

I open the door to my apartment then walk ahead of him down the three flights of steps to the basement storage area. He’s not even trying to make small talk–not asking about my job or my new car. This is worse than I thought.

I admit I knew there was a chance he would turn me down, but I weighted it as a slight chance. He could still be getting over his divorce, but it’s been over a year. She left him. How long can he mourn the loss of the stupid, wussy woman? I’ve written off his reluctance to let her go to the fact that she has their son. That’s the only reason I can see for him not moving on to someone better, someone who won’t bail at the first sign of trouble, someone with a backbone—

Someone like me.

I fumble with the padlock on the door of my storage locker. I probably should have had it unlocked already so he wouldn’t have to stand there holding the A/C unit, but I didn’t want to leave it unlocked for too long and I did not plan on him doing this right away. My roast and pie were supposed to work their magic and slow this project down so it would last until morning, or at least a few hours.

With the lock finally off I open the door and step aside for him to enter the tiny room. I fight the urge to lock him in there and hold him until he wakes up and notices what is right in front of him.

“I didn’t ask you to do this, you know.”

He sets the unit down with a grunt and turns to me. “I know.” He dusts off his hands and walks past me as I shut and lock the door.

“I had already made a deal with the maintenance guy to do this for me.”

He starts back up the stairs ahead of me. “Yeah, well your dad asked me to come over here and do this, so here I am. You’re welcome.”

     God-damn it. I did sound ungrateful, but this was about so much more than the air conditioner. “I made you dinner to thank you.”

We reach the landing with the building’s front door and he turns toward it. I can’t let him go yet. I need to have this out now. “You’re not staying for dinner?”

“Can’t. I’ve got to go to work.”

     Puhleeese. What a lame bull-shit lie. I know where he works, I know his hours, and I know that he doesn’t have to go back to work tonight. His shift ended at three and he’s not wearing his work uniform. “Did you change shifts?”

“No, but I’ve got to go.” He makes a move for the door and I block him.

The war of anger and embarrassment and pain in my head has me at a loss for words. I open my mouth to speak but I’m afraid of what might come out. I needed time to process this and formulate my response. For once I have no plan B. I didn’t plan on failing this spectacularly. All I can think to do is kill him with kindness. “Take the pie at least. I can wrap it up and you can share it with the other guys on your crew.”

“Not tonight.” He moves toward the door again. I block him again.

“Danny, I…”

“Vivey, I told your dad I would come over here and help you move your air conditioner. That’s all he asked me to do and that’s all I’m going to do.” He reaches out and touches my arm as if the contact would somehow lessen the blow. “I…,” He checks his watch. “I gotta go. I’m gonna be late.”

He pushes past me, his size and warmth momentarily engulfing me, his Irish Spring scent lingering in his wake as he passes by me. He doesn’t look back as he descended the stairs then gets on a motorcycle illegally parked on the sidewalk. When did he get a motorcycle? He guns the engine, checks for pedestrians and cars and pulls out onto Drayton Street heading toward downtown.

I’m not sure how long I stand there, recovering from the shock of that short, excruciating brush-off. I had an armory of temptation ready in my apartment and he ran after he caught a whiff of my first shot. I shut the door tightly and check that the handle has locked. I love this apartment and this neighborhood, but I’m not stupid enough to not be aware of its dangers.

On my way up the stairs I pull my phone from my back pocket to call Dom who’s on standby, waiting for her BFF sex summary. She answers, “So soon? Jesus he’s quick on the draw.”

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The End of Being Chicken Sh*t or Why I Self-Published

To celebrate my 50th birthday I jumped out of an airplane, got a tattoo and self-published my first novel. Of the three, publishing was by far the scariest but they were all part of my midlife journey, my campaign to live my life differently, more deliberately, for the second fifty years (give or take a few).

The night before my skydive a friend asked me why I was doing it. I told her that I couldn’t live as a chicken shi*t any longer. There were so many things that I feared, irrationally, at that time. I was scared to death of heights, but I knew that statistically skydiving was pretty safe. I was scared to do much of anything permanent, because I was scared of making a mistake and scared of regret. My tattoo is permanent and a constant reminder that I can trust my gut and the choices I make for myself.

And I was scared to death of anyone knowing me, who I really was, what was in my heart. Writing “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” was me leaning into that fear and pushing past it. It was me giving it the finger and saying that maybe I did have something to offer.

At first I was defensive of my writing and the topic, young love. But reviews told me that a lot of people really enjoyed reading the book because it mirrored their own high school experience and they loved reliving it. I began to apologize and back peddle less and own it. I showed up at writers groups and proclaimed that I write romance.

Other fantastic changes also happened when I hit publish. I was forced out of my very small world. I had to interact with other authors and ask tons of questions because I was so incredibly lost. I met amazing friends, people who are stoked about life and writing and helping others reach their dreams. My world expanded and filled up with great people. And I reconnected with others from my past. They read my book and contacted me to say they liked it and played the guessing game of who from our high school inspired certain scenes or characters.

A few days after publishing I created some flyers and carried them around with me (because I was still too chicken to ask to hang them). I had lunch at a local coffee shop and my friend/editorial goddess, Chrissy, pushed me to ask to hang one on the bulletin board. I can still remember how I described my book, with a long list of everything it wasn’t and a promise that the owner didn’t need to read it if she didn’t want to. Leanne, the owner of Pinks coffee shop is one of those really sharp, funny people who read people well. She welcomed my flyer (it’s still there now!) and read my book and recommended it to others. I have lunch there frequently because the food it really good and the coffee and hanging around Leanne reminds me how far I’ve come. I tell her all my writing plans now and I’m open to having a book signing party when I publish the Vivienne series in a few months, something that sounded absolutely painful two years ago.

This past Wednesday, February 4th, was my two year writing anniversary. I realize that in some ways two years isn’t a lot. I hope its the start of a very long career. But I’m commemorating it to celebrate just how far I’ve come. My bravery level is through the roof compared to back then. I do things daily that I would have been absolutely traumatic to the old me. Right now I am planning to teach a class on self-publishing locally starting in April. Going through all the steps to make this happen I still feel fear–fear of failure, fear of rejection. But I’m not the chicken shi*t I was in my 40’s because even if I am afraid, I do it anyway. I tell the negative voices in my head to shut the F up and I do it. And it feels amazing, life-affirming, crazy powerful. I’m pushing forward, past my fears because I want others to get a chance to feel the same thing.

I’m going to end with a quote from one of those amazing, stoked, life-affirming people I’ve discovered along the way. Danielle LaPorte creates Truthbombs, daily smart thoughts. This was one from the other day, yet another that nailed exactly what I was feeling. If you like it you can subscribe to them here.

blog second image feb 7

Support A Sister–Samantha Bee Goes Full Frontal

Ladies, we have a new representative in the world of late-night TV. Starting Monday, February 8th on TBS Samantha Bee will join the males-only club of late-night television hosts with her new show titled Full Frontal. If you’re a fan of The Daily Show you will already know her brand of witty, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic humor. I have my DVR set to record it (because the term late night implies I would have to stay up past 9:30 to watch it) and I encourage you to do the same and support this sister.

Follow this link for the show’s homepage.

Samantha Bee
You may have seen her on The Daily Show

You see I’m not only excited to see a woman breaking though a barrier, I’m excited that it’s someone whose work I can truly support. In the past there have been three other woman who have hosted a late-night show–Joan Rivers, Chelsea Handler and Kathy Griffin. While all are funny their type of humor often relied on the shock value of a woman being crude. I’m all for crude but for me it wears thin quickly. It’s not enough to base a long-running show on. And I’ve never been a fan of women who get ahead by ripping on other women. Joan lost me when her red carpet comments got personal and ugly.

This is why I think Samantha Bee will have staying power. She’s smart. To get her humor you have to know some background about the topic. She was able to skewer politicians on The Daily Show because she understood them. She knew enough about their views to ask the questions that led to some hysterically funny subtle confrontations. Her subjects would walk right into the jokes and usually not realize it until later. If you watch this preview of her show you’ll see what I mean. She calls bullshit in a really funny way. She’s the opposite of pratfalls and shock-value crudeness.

I’m not only encouraging you to catch her show but let’s talk about it too. Bookmark this post and come back and let me know what you thought after the first show and I’ll do the same. Let me know if you think she has what it takes to take on Conan and Colbert. I’m looking forward to having a smart woman’s perspective but I won’t keep watching just because she is female. I’ll tune in but I’ll only keep watching if she brings the smart, sex-positive, female-supportive humor we need more of.

 

 

The Quiet Ones

I’ve always admired quiet strength–people who wield power in a way that is so subtle the source can go undetected or overlooked. It helps if these power players can hide behind a blustery front man, someone who draws all the attention, usually because they believe they’re in charge (must be yelled, while pounding on a table).

For me it all started with the nuns. In the early 1970’s I went to an all-girl, Catholic school that was run entirely by an order of nuns. Women’s lib was all over the news at the time–images of women protesting, burning their bras, joining the work force (and showing up in pants suits! gasp) The nuns didn’t protest loudly, some opted out of wearing habits, but they did so with little fanfare. On the surface they seemed almost cloistered from the changing times, but I can tell you they were revolutionaries, making huge strides for the cause of equality for women. They had a school full of females, potential future leaders in their eyes and they led by example. They ran the place, with no priest or male influence in sight. Our principal, Sr. Steppe, was a pillar of a woman who could intimidate at the Leona Helmsley level but also possessed a wicked sense of humor and a truly kind heart, which she shared with me more than once when I was (insert terror soundtrack) sent to the principal’s office for failing grades.

In general, worldwide, nuns have kept a low profile. So low that the ruling Church patriarchy ignored them, figuring them meek and weak. Ha!

For decades they used the fact that they were on the front lines for the Church, much more involved with the communities they lived and worked in than the priests, to build up the parishioners and students. They not only promoted equality to the millions of Catholic girls they taught, they also promoted acceptance for gays. In 2012 the Vatican finally paid them some attention–the angry kind, accusing them of radical feminism and undermining the Church’s teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality (AP, May 6, 2014). I’m proud to say that these women who gave me my first taste of the power of quiet strength haven’t backed down. (You go girls!!!)

Fast forward to 2014. I read a fantastic series about the King Arthur legend as told from the perspective of Guinevere. Not only did the author, Lavinia Collins, create a wonderfully-complex queen in Guinevere, she introduced me to Nimue. I love Nimue, the quiet, sweet young woman who tricks the master magician, Merlin and plays puppet master to knights and a king. Her quiet power reminded me of the nuns, of women who are overlooked and written off as having no chance of being a threat. Women who are smart enough use this to their advantage.

I’ve distilled this energy and poured the nuns and Guinevere and Nimue into the heroine of my work-in-progress, Vivienne. I’m currently writing the second book in the series where she meets her first blustery men in charge and figures out how to gain power then wield it. She’s still young at this point and like a sorcerer’s apprentice she is discovering her powers; powers she will hone and refine to create the life she wants.

Do you know of a Quiet One, someone who wields stealth power? Comment below and share their (or your) story. If you would like to support Catholic nuns in their stand against the Vatican, you can find information on The Nun Justice Project here. If you do follow up on their story, get ready to be wowed by some very wise, very strong little old ladies.