Saturday, February 2, 2019

My Sentient Ravioli

It's February, which means we've passed all the holiday madness.  But it also means I've hit a very special anniversary.

I have a dear friend who's seen me through all of my adult milestones.  Our relationship preceded my marriage and the birth of my children.  She's been with me through my highs and lows, she's gone through cross-country relocations, suffered blistering heat and traversed snow and ice for my family.

Today marks our 20th anniversary.  What a (literal) ride it's been.

She rolled off the production line in Sept. '98 and has been mine since Feb. '99

Yes, my friend is my car, and I love her.

But as we cross through the two-decade mark, I can't help but be sad.  For, right at this moment, the Rav is having her first major mechanical problem.

My husband assures me that it's only the radiator and he can fix it, which is a relief.  But, in the spirit of honesty, I need to face facts and admit what I've been trying to deny for many months:  She's a beater.

The A/C isn't functioning--there's a leak somewhere.  The lever for the cruise control is broke, and gas mileage has become terrible.  Rolling the driver's side window down is a gamble, as the slow descent combined with a god-awful whine threatens a motor failure.  She's got a huge gouge in the hood where my daughter, trying to lift her basketball hoop into an upright position, struggled under the weight and dropped it onto the car.  My son has managed to loosen the cloth and foam surrounding the inner back door handle, and wear from the car-seats and boosters has created at least one tear in the cloth of the backseat.

She's been rattling, letting me know she's not as spry as she used to be, and I realize I've taken for granted how reliable she's been.

Thinking of my sweet, little Rav-ioli as a tool to be used and replaced, rather than a sentient member of our family feels wrong.  Replacement feels like abandonment, but I think I need to consider it.

As all of us old fogeys say, "They don't make 'em like they used to," so I'm apprehensive.

Are cars built to last anymore?  Honestly?  Is anything?

Where's the profit in a vehicle that will run decade after decade?  Will I buy another Toyota, hoping for another faithful friend, only to get a tool that works great so long as the warranty is valid?

Tell me Reader, do you have a model you swear by?  Is your car a member of your family, or am I just a crackpot?  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Big, Dirty Boots and a Teeny Tiny Romance

Last night my husband came home from work sick as a dog.  He shucked off his boots in the dining room, grabbed his dinner I'd prepared, and headed to our room to bed down with Ny-Quil.

His boots were filthy.

But far from being annoyed, I was struck with the memory of those boots (well, a different pair, surely), and the mess they'd made, inspiring me to write a story.

Back in the summer of 2017, Cara McKenna's writing website, Love Notes from Purgatory, opened a contest called The Teeny Tiny Romance Contest.  The rules were simple:  Anyone could enter, newbie writer or seasoned, published author.  The story had to be a 2,000 word (or less) romance with a satisfactory ending.

Feeling bolstered by the enthusiasm I'd seen from readers of my fan-fiction, I decided to enter the contest.

But what would I write about?  How was I going to establish a relationship, get the reader invested, and create a conflict and resolution in 2,000 words?  

As I pondered these questions, I looked down at the dirty tile floor near my desk, and was struck with an idea.

I was, at that moment, angry with my husband for carelessly tracking mud from his work boots into the house.  As a matter of fact, I didn't so much think it was "careless" but "passive-aggressive".  I was in my own established relationship, in conflict with my partner, and assuming some pretty nasty things about his motivations.

I knew I had my story.

So I swept up the clods of dirt, cussing him all the while, and set to work.  The story came easily, the word count constraint wasn't the hurdle I thought it would be, and I managed to bring a little tear to my own eye as I wrote.

I was happy with it.  Yes, it was cheesy, and the title, Poet's Sunshine was even cheesier.  But I was starting to suspect that cheesy romance was going to be my thing.

The most worrying thing for me was that Cara McKenna--THE Cara McKenna-- was going to be reading and judging something I'd written. I didn't necessarily think it could catch the attention of Ms. McKenna or set itself apart (in a good way) from the other submissions--which I knew were probably, in part, from veteran authors who actually knew what they were doing.

I didn't have hope that I would win.  And I didn't.  But I became a finalist!

And, let me tell you, it did wonders for my confidence.  Truly, it was an honor just to be nominated.

Seeing my husband's dirty, crusty boots last night prompted me to remember that I'd never posted my story anywhere other than LNfP, and maybe that should be rectified.  Who knew boots were so inspirational?

So, here it is.  Poet's Sunshine: 2,000 cheesy words about love and marriage.
I encourage everyone to check out Love Notes from Purgatory.  There's romance industry and craft advice, and of course, all of the submissions from the contest.

And, because I'm a fan, I heartily recommend Cara McKenna's books.  I don't think anyone does erotic romance better than she does.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Vincent Price and Fireside Snuggles with Mom

California's Foggy Coastal Highway
It's October!  In America, most of us are getting ready to enjoy crisp, cool weather, pumpkin spice everything and all of the fun that comes along with Halloween.  I love Autumn.  It's my very favorite season in every region I've lived.  But strangely, there's a bit of melancholy that accompanies Fall and I hadn't been able to pinpoint its cause until recently:  Homesickness.

My favorite part of October has to be the Spook-Factor.  The stores are stocked with costumes, make-up and enough house-and-garden decor to turn the whole town into one large Munster's House or abandoned cemetery.  Walking those aisles makes me giddy.  There's also a renewed interest for setting the mood with horror flicks--everything from Goosebumps to Saw.  I don't enjoy horror movies per se, at least not the Freddy and Jason type, where body-count and gore is valued over atmosphere and story.  I much prefer a creepy mystery.  A big, old house, filled with shifty characters trying to cover up some long-past, heinous goings-on.  Newcomer arrives, unravels the mystery and is imperiled in the process.  Ooh, I love it!

I have to give credit for this to my mother.  She's passed on to me a love of old scary movies like House on Haunted Hill, The Bat and Hound of the Baskervilles.  Basically, if Vincent Price was in it, she watched it.  And when I watch them now, I wish I were home, curled up in a blanket watching them with her while the fire in the stove blazes.  But, alas, I'm 2,000 miles away, so I must do my Halloween movie viewing without her.

Every October, I'm in search of more entertainment that fits the bill.  My most recent finds were Rebecca and Kristen Ashley's Lacybourne Manor.  Both of these provided mystery and suspense with spine-tingling atmosphere. 

Rebecca, especially, with its foggy beach and rough sea made me think of home in northern California.  It too, along with the devilish visage of Vincent Price, gave me pangs of homesickness while still filling my need for quality macabre. 

I have fantasies of winning the lottery, buying a home on the Mendocino coast and watching the crashing sea from a large bay window.  I'd see the fog rolling in (because it never stays away long), make a cup of tea, settle myself at my keyboard and write an epic Gothic romance.  The wind, waves, fog and forest all inspire artistic creativity.  Smell the salt in the air, hear the deafening roar of the sea, peer down from a craggy cliff to the rocks below and it's easy to imagine murder and intrigue or star-crossed lovers in a suicide pact.  Man, do I miss home.

I remembered recently that there was a haunted house movie filmed (at least in part) in my hometown.  It's a made-for-TV film starring Ally Sheedy called The Haunting of Seacliff Inn.  I've got that sucker queued up and ready to go, though I'm afraid it's going to be too cheesy to endure.  I'll keep you posted. 

Homesickness and maternal longing aside, I'd absolutely love any and all recommendations of your favorite atmospheric, creepy books and movies.  Hit me with 'em!  'Tis the season for chills and thrills!