What Have We Become? #MFRWAuthor

I’ve thought about this for a while, and haven’t been able to bring myself to blogging until I shared my concerns. This started with a meme showing up on my FaceBook feed, comparing the Melania and I think Ivanka Trump to two woman, much more casually presented. I had to dig a bit to find out these other two women were Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.

Comments followed. Ugly, ignorant, misogynistic comments based on a cleverly presented set of photos. Of course no one addressed anything beyond surface appearance. Why bother considering intelligence or moral value for any of the four women? And it got uglier.

Okay, so I can sort of understand the driving need to criticize Hillary Clinton. She’s been a favorite target for a while now, for any number of reasons. But to attack her daughter, who has pretty much just gotten on with her life? Why? And if these people, many of whom are FaceBook ‘Friends’ were so vicious with these images, what would they have to say about the pictures I post of me with my dogs? I’m certainly not in the same stratosphere as any of these women, either in shape or presentation. Nor are most of us.

So I was in a butt hurt frame of mind. Until eleven people were killed in a synagogue. Two more shot in a grocery store, because the gunman couldn’t get into the local church. A journalist was brutally murdered in Turkey. And so on.

And…WHY? Okay, yeah brutality through the ages etc etc etc. But we should hope by the time we go into space and discover and create we could maybe, I dunno, be BETTER people? Maybe evolve a bit?

I pretty much forgot my original concerns and instead thought about the ongoing, increasing level of, well, nastiness in our world. Petty, snipey, self serving, bullying, misogynistic…the list is endless, isn’t it? Sure it’s been around forever. I get that. I don’t have to like it but I understand.

But then, I hear about people who have become better. About the Muslims who reached out to help the Jewish synagogue. About the people who have reached out, helped, embraced and shared support. I see a turtle picked up from the road and taken to a safer place. I see motorcycle riders blocking traffic to allow an elderly woman to cross the road. Random and not so random acts of kindness, people going about their lives looking out for others.

What have we become? We’re the same complex, simple, wise, foolish, kind, angry, sweet, confusing people we have always been. It’s up to us to choose which direction we want to take, and encourage those around us to follow that positive road.

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Don’t forget to call someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Hold the door open, tell a stranger that life IS good.

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Project Goldilocks: A Question of Trust #MFRWAuthor

When I first sent A Question of Trust to Black Opal, I included what I thought might makefront cover interesting scenes for the front of the book. They went with something more relevant to the story, featuring Lana. This was my favorite of what I sent, probably because it was a light moment before the intense drama.

At Stormhaven:

“All right then,” Roz said, rubbing her hands together. “Let’s get this party started. First of all, we need a name for this caper.”

“We do not involve ourselves in capers,” Powers intoned.

“Project? Assignment?”

Powers sighed. “Is she ever quiet?”

“Nope.” Ty grinned. “Pretty much not.”

‘I’m thinking Project Goldilocks. That sound good to you?” Roz looked around at the puzzled faces. “Simple. The way I see it, I’m absurdly tall. No, Ty, I am. I always have been, and I’d be silly to think otherwise. Sydney is adorably small.”

“Hey!”

“She’s right, babe,” Devin agreed.

“That would make Lana—”

“Just right,” Adam said in a deadpan voice.

Roz nodded. “Therefore: Goldilocks.”

Lana shook her head, wondering where all this energy, all this manic support, was coming from. Powers merely heaved another sigh.

***

Yes, Rosalind and Ty are a part of this book. While Lana and Adam pretty much resolve their relationship, the other couple still hesitate on the brink of commitment. Now that I’ve resolved WHY Lana acted the way she did (A Question of Honor) I have to ask WHY in the world aren’t Roz and Ty married. Hmmm. That’s for a future story.

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Yes the skies can really be this pretty

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Judgemental? Of Course I Am #MFRWAuthors

So are you. So are all of us. We judge every time we shop, every time we relate to the public. Heck, every time we go through our residence…Is this dirty or clean? When do I absolutely need to muck out this cupboard? Did I wear this or just try it on and decide against it? Yikes, when am I going to go through that pile of clothes (clean? dirty? outdated?) on the back of the chair?

We all judge ourselves and the people around us. Do we know them? Can we trust them? Do they belong in our neighborhood,have we seen them before? When traveling, especially alone, we judge the potential for every service station, every restaurant, every parking lot. Safe? Questionable? Worth the risk of maybe running late and having to reach your vehicle after dark?

We are all judging. All the time. For me, in my ‘other’ life I’m expected to be judgmental.

Image may contain: Monica Stoner and Deej McClain, tree, dog, outdoor and nature

Here I am with DJ and Zinnia. Can’t read the photographer’s name. This was in Connecticut in August

Heck people hire me to judge…dogs. They expect an honest opinion and yes they get it. When I’m judging dogs I have no friends in the ring with me. I don’t know the history, breeding, owner or handler…only the dog in front of me. I judge this dog against the standard …the written description of a good Saluki.

In the process I see people of all ages and sizes, dressed in any fashion from expensive to economy. At least I think they are dressed that way since for the most part I really don’t see the people. Just the dogs.

Does this make me unusual? Nope, most judges only see the dogs, at least while they’re judging. We all get kind of tunnel visioned. Not a bad thing for this sport. I’m just mentioning this to show I understand judgmental, and I apply it to a specific part of my life.

I try very very VERY hard not to be judgmental in any other part of my world. NOT to ‘notice’ how a friend has gained weight, or maybe is trying a newer, less attractive hair style. I figure it’s their hair let them wear it however they want. If they don’t ask, I don’t say anything except how good it is to see them. I also try hard not to comment, even to myself, about the people in the grocery scooters, carts loaded with expensive low quality high calorie sodas and chips. Maybe, just maybe, if they got something ‘better’ to eat they might not ooze over the sides of the seat. Their health, their business.

Heaven’s know I’m no poster child for great health. Getting there, but still not there. It’s a journey…a life long struggle to do better. But having lost a husband to diabetes/cancer/kidney damage…it’s so hard not to judge here.

Oh and I judge writing contests. I’m as objective and upfront as I can be. Too harsh? That’s a difficult judgment call (HA! Pun probably intended) since we are supposed to be helping guide future writers. Better to find out now you need to work on subject/verb agreement than to find out after your first (self) published book goes live.

However, if someone acts like McDonald’s donkey?? Yeah I’ll be judging that, and remembering the braying long after it’s over. Because some things just need to be judged.

For now, hug those you love, call them if they’re not near. Love them for who they are. Go outside and enjoy the weather. Winter’s on the way, it’s not going to be like this soon.

BICHOK, y’all

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Here’s Ms Sunshine because we can never have too much happy sun.

 

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A Question of Trust COVER #MFRWAuthor

This post has been a long time coming, mainly because this book has moved at glacial speed. Trying to experiment with ‘writing aids’ just knocked me for a loop. But it’s DONE and I’m going through the galleys so it is HAPPENING.

You may have noticed the kinda bland (BLAH) cover I put together as a place holder. front coverThis week Jack the fabulous cover artist sent me something that…well, what do you think?

Yeah, that’s kind of how I felt when I opened that email. Jack said marketing wanted a cover that was “a bit more suggestive…Spicy, but not crude.” I think he got it first try!

A Question of Trust is the story of Adam Roberts and Lana Greene. If you remember, Adam carried Rosalind out of that hellacious desert camp, pretty much in the nick of time. Lana is Sydney’s sister…yeah, the woman Ty Randolph was married to for a short time who left Ty, taking the horse, truck, trailer. What an evil woman, right?

Pretty much someone we could all love to hate. Except…why? Why did she run off with the horse? Rosalind asked this in A Question of Faith . Up until then Ty was so consumed with bitterness he never bothered to ask, he just shut himself down emotionally. Until Rosalind blew into his life and knocked him on his gorgeous but supercilious rear.

Lana always had a reason for what she did. She had to keep her reason secret, let people think she was amoral and grasping and greedy, whatever it took to get the job done. Until she hit a point where she had to reach out for help. The one place she knew she could depend on was Stormhaven, where the code of honor was absolute.

THE BLURB

Lana Greene doesn’t care that most of the world sees her as avaricious and amoral. All the better for her to stand as a shield against those who would exploit the weaker. Until the day she comes up against a situation too difficult for her to handle on her own, and she has to reach out to her ex-husband, Ty Randolph, owner of Stormhaven Ranch.

Adam Roberts dedicated himself to keeping the world safe—until his efforts took part of a leg and much of his self-worth. Recuperating at Stormhaven—a remote ranch, where the main concern is helping out vets—he jumps at the chance to assist his new friends when Ty asks him to take on an escort mission.

But there is far more at stake than anyone realizes—including a number of innocent lives. And Lana is in way over her head. Now she and Adam must learn to trust themselves—and each other—fast, if they are to have any chance of saving innocent lives

Oh yeah, Lana’s a heroine, and she’s found herself a true hero. A Question of Trust is scheduled to release October 6, from Black Opal Books

For the month of September, A Question of Honor , the first Stormhaven Love Story, is available through Amazon Kindle for just .99.

Enjoy!

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Squealy Fan Girl Moment–Alice Duncan #MFRWAuthor

I love sharing authors with people who might not know them. Makes me feel good and One Bright Morning (n/a Book 2) by [Duncan, Alice]helps all of us. Alice and I go way, way back. Before either of us was published (she long before I did) we would meet at Bearly Used Books as critique partners. I’d have a chapter to share, she’d have most of a book. One of those books became a Golden Heart finalist, and was her first book published, One Bright Morning

Over achiever much? You betcha. She admitted she was driven to become published. Even more than that, these were GOOD books. Mostly historical, well researched, elegantly written, often described as ‘literary’… she prefers a comparison to writers such as Bret Harte. Either would of course cause a problem in a world of more modern writing. After a stint of writing historical romances she turned to more mysteries. Historical of course. In particular Pasadena in the early 20th century. Did you know Pasadena was the place to be if you were in the film industry? Yup. Alice wrote about that in Cowboy for Hire

The Daisy Gumm Majesty Boxset (Three Complete Cozy Mystery Novels in One): Historical Mystery (Daisy Gumm Majesty Mystery) by [Duncan, Alice]Alice has written so many excellent books you can easily depend on her for many days of snuggling up with a cup of tea and a story on a winter’s day. Heck, you could spend a month enjoying the intrepid fake medium Daisy Gumm Majesty. You heard me right, a fake medium, who gets herself involved in the real problems of her clients. Add in a family that would drive any sane person around the bend, with a bit of pathos for her young husband, injured in The Great War, and you have a series of never ending enjoyment.

Even better, you can get your start with A set of the first three for only .99!

When not writing, or tending her roses, Alice is involved in her true love, Dachshunds.Image may contain: dog and indoor For years she has opened her home and heart to these fiercely loyal but frankly kinda silly- looking dogs. Yes, that’s her reading the Sunday comics to the pack. Most if not all of her wiener dogs through the years have been rescues. So glad for them there are people like Alice

If you want to see what she looks like without the newspaper shield, check out her very clever website Alice Duncan’s website Here you’ll also find ALL her books under ALL her names.

Happy Reading!

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What Shape is our Shape in? #MFRWAuthor

When I first thought about sharing my shapewear experiences,  I had in mind some humor, some pathos, something along the lines of the great brassiere debacle. Which I thought I’d shared here, hmmmm. I’ll have to hunt it up and share later. More musings

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serious thoughts

on living larger than life size.

As far as the shapewear. I had a prestigious judging assignment on the east coast, and I wanted to look as good as I possibly could. Which meant maybe not quite so large? A bit more svelte? Less opera star, more pop star? Well maybe not THAT much of a change but just something…better.

An ad came up on FaceBook (good ol’ FB) for this miracle shapewear. I saw a multitude of full bodied women pulling on these wonder garments, smiling the whole time at how much nicer they looked. “Never Rolls Down,” the ads said. “Look the way you’ve always wanted to look.

Well, okay. I checked the size charts and {{sigh}} my measurements were a bit more generous than their largest size. Still, nothing ventured, right? Right. I sent off the order and waited. Waited. Waited. HERE they are. Open the package, shake out the miracle garment. It’s a warm day so pulling it on is a challenge. Finally it’s up most of the way, seams straightened, and I do that last roll up, the one where the models were all grinning.

It rolled down. Okay maybe I didn’t do it quite right. Pull it down. Pull it back up more carefully, smoothing it all the way.

It rolled. I was too big for the shapewear (and right there is another question…why not shapewear for we who are larger?) All righty. It went back into the package, back to the supplier. I got on the plane, judged a gorgeous collection of Salukis, looking the same as I always had. No one mentioned my size, my shape. I doubt anyone noticed. Except perhaps myself when I looked at the mirrors in the hotel exercise room.

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My stage, before judging started

The reality is, we are pretty much never happy with the way we look. We want to be taller, leaner, more rounded, less rounded, straighter hair, curlier hair, older, younger, just different. And this rarely is someone else’s opinion, it’s in our own heads, our own selves.

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Winners Bitch, and Reserve. These people didn’t notice I was large. The dogs don’t care

Face it no one can body shame us more than we body shame ourselves. We are all too often our own worst enemy

 

 

 

NO ONE CAN BODY SHAME US

MORE THAN WE BODY SHAME OURSELVES

From now on, let’s concentrate on loving ourselves…sound like a plan?

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Channeling Kristen Lamb #MFRWAuthors

Because some people need to be shared as much as possible. It seems I can’t like any more. Grumble Grumble. Use this. Please. And I’ll share the story of my new shapewear disaster. THANKS

What Makes a “REAL” Writer

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Let’s Get Intimate #MFRWAuthor

This is a writer side of me blog. No recipes. No dogs. I know, kind of odd!

Ah, Intimacy. Such a necessity for Romance, and all too often the bane of Romance writers. You’d thinking writing about intimacy would come easy. Yeah, you’d think. Look at all those ‘intimate’ books to choose from. But are those depicted relationships intimate?

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Because a blog needs pictures, and this was a particularly lovely sunset

Truth is, many of these stories are about sex. There is nothing wrong with sex, in a book, on the screen, or personally. Not one thing. Especially not when the sexual relationship is part of an overall increasing intimacy. But if the so-called sexual revolution (and birth control!) taught us nothing else, it was that sex without intimacy is often fun but it’s not really enough. And once you experience the ‘whole ball of wax’ whatever that actually means (I’ll let you look it up, it makes for a great time waster) you realize what you’ve been missing. And you look for more in your stories, written or read.

For me, intimacy with the characters, where I feel like I could know them, makes a good story. However:

PHYSICAL INTIMACY + EMOTIONAL INTIMACY = A GREAT STORY

Particularly when the emotional intimacy comes first. Although physical intimacy with a segue into emotional intimacy can be satisfying, if well written. How do we write this?

Certain gestures:  pushing hair back, brushing the back of the  hand against the cheek, lingering while assisting with the coat show intimacy. Heck in these days just helping with the coat is a biggie. All these gestures have been used to show growing intimacy or an attempt to establish intimacy. Has anyone ever reached out to touch your hair without asking? Especially a stranger? Yup happened to me and I was not pleased!

Stormhaven Banner

Recognizing preferences: how someone takes their coffee, if they want just a bit of ice or a cupful, shows an attention to the other person and helps establish intimacy. In A Question of Trust, Adam discerns in one day that Lana prefers hot water, with a slice of lemon, and not the coffee she pretends to like. In one revealing (to me) scene, Ty realizes he’d never noticed this, never really paid attention to her preferences while they were married, which has him questioning their time together. This leads to actually talking TO her instead of AT her, something he’d been guilty of until he met Rosalind  A Question of Faith Which, by the way, has led to me asking when Ty and Rosalind will marry. Hmmm

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Yup, Stormhaven’s back there somewhere

These are some rambling thoughts on intimacy, in my life and in my books. BICHOK my fellow writers. Don’t wait until tomorrow to tell someone you love them.

 

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There and Back Again…and Again #MFRWAuthor

So it looks like the hooligans have already told you about our trip. For them it was a first,Image may contain: Monica Stoner, smiling, standing but to the other ‘lukis in the motor home it was the annual pilgrimage to the Saluki National. I’ve attended most years since 1989…from California (flying or driving) then from New Mexico (driving). These last four years I was show chair (essentially show manager). Last as in nope I won’t be doing that again for a while! Hence the somewhat goofy expression!  That lovely dragon bag was made for me in appreciation of working to put on a great show.

You’re right, I’m not dressed to the nines. It was freaking hot, I was on the go for five days…I was dressed to work! My Fitbit had a great wonderful time, one day I logged 20,000 steps! Not so much since then but for the most part I’ve worked at the staying active thing.

And smiling. I try to smile a lot. Frowning is just exhausting!

The drive from home to there is 17-18 hours. Usually one eight hour day, one nine hour day. A lot of time to think along the way.

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our favorite stopping spot…lots of wonderful people

Right now our world, our lives, face turmoil. Politics, Haters, Fanatics, Anti Breeders, new diseases, old diseases coming back, misguided fake rescues, well meaning people who just don’t ‘get’ why we do what we do.  How can I justify the time, money, effort spent driving those two days, staying those five days, and driving back?

Then I think of the unusually large number of children, from 2-3 years up to teenagers. All of them interested in the Saluki. Well raised, with wonderful parents. Great attitudes.

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Trophy table

And I think of the cadre of adults who kept those children connected and entertained. Seminars, pizza parties, water balloon fights (1,000 balloons!!!) And…my drive became easier, if not shorter. My efforts, my costs…became worthwhile. For those five days we gathered in (mostly) harmony and love of our breed, and of each other. Salukis showed to various judges. Some won, some lost. All loved by their people, part of the family. Not only their personal family but also the large family of we who love and cherish this breed.

Yeah the budget took a hit. It does every year. But we did our bit to make the world just a little better. And isn’t that what life is all about?

Hug those close to you. Pick up the phone and call those far away. We have today. We hope for tomorrow.

And…sneak a bit of tasty goodie to your ‘lukis.

Oops, that was one of the four leggers sneaking in while I grabbed more coffee. Not a bad idea, though. Share something wonderful with your friends, four or two legged!

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home again

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How to Keep YOURMom Happy: Advice from Israfel and Arielle #MFRWAuthor

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I’m Israfel, and I’m gorgeous

OURMom is busy starting a new book. This means she’s putting flowers in pots and sweeping the floor while she talks to herself. We’re going to help by keeping her blog more current. I’m Israfel, I’m a Saluki. Salukis were bred to be beautiful and decorate the Pharaoh’s tent.

We’ve been with OURMom for almost a year. She’s taken us places so people can admire how beautiful and smart we are. She’s also taught us things so we can make her happy. If you want to make YOURMom or YOURDad happy, you need to learn these things.

If YOURMom puts things in pots where you can reach them, pull them back out. She likes you helping her garden.

DO go shopping in YOURMom’s purse. She wants you to know what she keeps there in case she needs you to find it for her later.

DO check out the countertops. She likes to know how tall you can be.

OH NO. NO NO NO NO. Who let Israfel near the computer? Sigh. I’m his sister, Arielle. He

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I’m Arielle. My brother is an idiot

can’t help being kind of an idiot. It’s not his fault…he’s a boy, after all and everyone knows they grow up much slower than girls. Let me straighten him out.

Yes we are Salukis. Some Salukis might have lived with Pharaohs but many of them lived with people who herded and hunted all over the Middle East, pretty much from North Africa to Afghanistan. Salukis had a JOB and it wasn’t to be decorative. They hunted things that went very fast, so they had to be very fast. Being beautiful was a happy side effect!

As for my brother’s idiot advice I hope you realize he’s trying to cover up what he’s been doing? OURMom puts things in pots to be pretty, or maybe to grow so we can eat them. If she wants us to play with the plants, she pulls them out of the pots and throws them for us.

NEVER NEVER go in YOURMom’s purse. That is HER stuff. Israfel, don’t you remember what happened when we found her new brush? She was NOT happy with us.

Countertops are NOT for checking out. No wonder OURMom gets cranky with you…good grief!

DO trust YOURMom to have your best interests in mind. If she asks you to go into a new building or new vehicle, then go. She’s not going to let you be hurt. Ever. DO try to think before you snatch…that’s a hard one. Our toys are in our toy tote but sometimes we see something that is sooo tempting. But we’re trying!

We just went with OURMom in the motor home to a place far away. We met lots of new people and friend Susan gave us new collars. Susan’s collars

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Purina has great yards for us to play in.

I think OURMom is going to write about that trip. It was loooong.

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