Monday, December 26, 2011

The Minds of Men

If you ask most women how a man reacts to losing love, you'll get an answer along the lines of "Oh, they don't feel the same way we do. Men have a much easier time of it than women. They just go out and find another woman."  I suppose in some instances that's true. But for the most part, I think men experience the same hurt, the same sorrow, the same feelings of helplessness. They just don't show it. It isn't "manly".  But that doesn't mean the feelings aren't there.

Aint' No Sunshine: Men Reveal the Pain of Heartbreak was a revelation to my daughter and me. We really didn't know what to expect when we began collecting the stories but what we got exceeded any expectations that may have been lurking in the backs of our minds. Some of the stories brought us to tears. Others made us laugh and only one painted the picture of a man whose first and seemingly only concern was for himself and yet, we still applaud that man because he sent us an honest story. We are finding those who've read it agree with us.

We expected that only women would be interested in this book. We were wrong. We've heard from  several gentlemen who told us the book was helpful to them because now they knew they weren't alone. Wow! That's the icing on the cake.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The 42 year Old Virgin

It isn’t often one finds a totally honest person when it comes to the subject of virginity. It’s the reason my daughter Kimberley and I decided that anonymity was the way to go when we began collecting stories for our book The Virgin Diaries. It’s a personal subject and most people don’t want to go on record talking about what in so many instances was an awkward and sometimes embarrassing event in their lives. In my instance, I really didn’t care but needed to be mindful of the person who was my first. After all, I may not care but it’s possible that he wouldn’t want the whole world to know about his deflowering of me.

Recently my daughter started corresponding with a gentleman who found our book online and was overjoyed to find something of this nature. Why? Because he’s a 42 year old virgin. Hard to believe but true. He’s written a book about it and wanted to participate in our blogs and so Kimberley, that Mistress of the Questionnaire, came up with some questions and he answered. His entry is thoughtful, well written and honest. I am impressed!

In the course of going through and editing his piece (I did very little—didn’t have to because it was so well written) I couldn’t help but feel compassion for this man who is now experiencing regrets for having waited so long. I’m certain that fear is also a part of the equation because after having waited for all these years, there must be feelings of inadequacy. I just want to tell him not to fear. Don’t be afraid that women might think you’re weird. Well, perhaps they might but then again, you may find a woman who will be happy to show you the ropes. For you, Anthony, are that rarest of creatures: an adult male who has never engaged in sex and therefore, carries absolutely no threat of transmitting a venereal disease. In this day and age that is SUCH a plus!

Although Anthony is an arch conservative and I am a proud liberal, there some things that transcend politics and this is one of them. I commend him for his honesty and sincerely hope he finds that Sarah Palin loving, pro-life Tea Party woman who will rock his world.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Serial Killer In My Head

I am currently rewriting a novel I completed about a decade ago. It's about a woman who has begun to achieve success only to be stalked by a nefarious character who remains unnamed and mysterious for a good part of the story. The killer decides that not only should the object of hatred be killed but tortured in a most unusual way, that being to kill people who look like her as a prelude to the main event. The character is loosely based on a person I've known in the past but who is not, at least to my knowledge, a serial killer.

When I first wrote the story, it was titled The Happy Face Killer and it was fun in a bizarre way to have the killer leave a bright yellow Happy Face with the inscription "Have a nice day!" at the scene of each murder. You can imagine my dismay that after spending a year writing and polishing and paying for a professional edit, I found out there was a real Happy Face Killer and someone had written a book about him titled The Happy Face Killer. I bought the book and read it, recalling that I'd actually heard reports about the guy on the news. He was a long distance trucker who picked up women who hung out at truck stops, raped and murdered them, then left little scrawled happy faces in restrooms along the interstate system.  Not a very imaginative fellow, nor was he very smart because they caught him and he's in prison now, but wow! Was I ever bummed. So I put the story aside and thought perhaps I'd drag it out again after a few years had gone by.

So they've gone by and I'm doing the rewrite and it won't be titled The Happy Face Killer any longer because I don't want my novel to be confused with the true crime story. In doing research, I've had to read about real killers but I do things ass backwards sometimes, so I did the research after I'd finished the story - just to check if my killer is believable. I found that my fictional killer was just as much of an egomaniac as real killers are. My killer sends missives to the news media. So do real killers. The Happy Face Killer did and so did the Zodiac Killer. Zodiac was smarter than Happy Face because they never found him, although I recently read they think they know who he was but now that person is dead, so the authorities will never know for certain.

I gotta tell you, it's a pretty weird thing to find out that the serial killer living inside your head mirrors the real ones out in the world. In one way it's a great feeling because you know the character stands up to the test of reality and is, therefore, believable, or at least as believable as a crazed manic can be in an ordered world. But on the other hand, it's scary to know that a character like that is back there, lurking somewhere in  the nether regions of your brain, just waiting to get out.

It makes me grateful that writing about it is all the thrill I need rather than the screwed up soul who has to act on those thoughts.

So I'll get back to work and try to get this done by the end of the year and then all you people who like to read mystery-thrillers can pick up a copy of Crazy and get a glimpse into the mind of my serial killer. More than a glimpse, actually but I'll leave that for later. Don't want to put too much on the table right now!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Reader In Me

From the moment I picked up my first grade primer and learned how the letters on the page formed words to tell me the adventures of David and Ann and their dog Spot, I have loved to read.

I grew up with books in the house. We had shelves full of books: the Cherry Ames, Nurse series, the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Hardy Boys, Don Grady Among the Gorillas. There were so many and I devoured them all. I used to like it when I got sick because my mother’s library card allowed her to get an unlimited number of books to bring me, while my card limited me to three at time.

When I was ten, I borrowed a library book titled “Marjorie Morningstar” because my older sister had read it and I idolized my older sister. It was the story of a young woman who joined a summer stock theater company and there was sex in it! I had no idea what I was reading but I wasn’t interested in kids’ books after that one!

I once read James Clavell’s Taipan—all 736 pages of it—in one sitting. It took me about thirteen hours and my eyes looked like they were bleeding by the time I was done but what a book!

My love of reading is what led me to write. Writers have always been my heroes because they were the ones who allowed me to go places I’d never been, imagine things I’d never imagined and think about things I’d never been aware of until those words jumped off the page and into my brain.

People ask me who my favorite author is and I have to laugh. I have so many! It’s hard to begin the list without thinking of another and another and then another. I appreciate the creepiness of Stephen King, the lyrical style of Dean Koontz (yes, I do consider his writing lyrical!), the introspective style of Patricia Cornwell, the political savvy of Richard North Patterson. I love biographies and autobiographies and historical books, fiction and non-fiction alike.

When asked what I like, my answer is always the same: Everything and anything, as long as it’s well written.

Which brings me to my pet peeve, perhaps the biggest pet peeve I have going: That being a writer who is sloppy. I hate it when I’m a quarter of the way through a book and I already know who did it. I paid my money and I want to be entertained and don’t want to know the payoff before I get to the big climax. And it’s happened. I won’t mention the name of the writer, as she is well known and sells a lot of books. Just not to me. Another thing that really chaps my hide is the writer who constantly has zingers in the plotline—things that maybe once could happen but not every other page. I think it’s lazy and a contrivance to keep the reader on the edge of his seat. All it does for me is make me close the book.

I don’t care how outlandish the story is, I just want it to be plausible.

That’s what I try to do with my books: create characters who are real, put them in situations that are believable, even when they’re fantastic, and build a story to make you keep wondering what’s next. You may think you know where it’s going but then it’ll go somewhere else and you won’t know the ending until you get there. Because I respect the fact that you paid your money—even if it’s just 99 cents for an eBook—and I wouldn’t expect my readers to accept anything less than I would accept. That’s what I did with Decker Jones and Albert Crawford and Ruby Wheeler in Dreams and Nightmares and what I did with Amanda Harris and Seth Crowfoot in The People Next Door and what I will continue to do in the books I will publish in the future. Because I want to be one of those writers you think of when you think of your favorite stories.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A 21st Century Sexual Revolution

I was kid in the ‘50’s and had what can only be described as an Ozzie and Harriet/Leave It To Beaver kind of childhood. My father was the wage earner and my mother stayed home and took care of the kids and the house. Except for the style of automobiles, music and fashion, my childhood was pretty much interchangeable with the ‘30’s or the ‘40’s. Except, of course, the Great Depression and World War II were behind us. But, for the most part, societal norms were the same.

One of those societal norms was that a woman’s place was in the home. Nobody questioned it. I’m sure everyone reading this has seen that email making the rounds depicting the top ten sexist ads of the day.

Then came the ‘60’s and the sexual revolution. I think it’s a fair assessment to say that a contributing factor was the hard fought battle to make birth control pills available to the public. The battle was long, having begun in 1950 and the history is interesting, if you care to look it up. The pill made it possible for women to have sex without the consequence of getting pregnant. It gave them the freedom previously enjoyed only by the male of the species. 

All of a sudden women were footloose and fancy free: burning their bras, opting for careers over family and having sex when they wanted with whom they wanted. They were speaking up and speaking out.

Except, in a lot of instances, in the bedroom. We had learned to speak up for ourselves outside the bedroom but were afraid to use that newfound freedom for fear that we would be rebuffed, be called names like “ball buster” or drive our men into the arms of other, less vocal woman.  So, much like the women who went before us, we suffered and still suffer in silence as the man has all the fun and we feel like we missed the party.

Men, on the other hand, have the lament that their women seem to get a lot of headaches or have their period every other week and aren’t interested in sex. There are a lot of men out there who remain faithful in the face of a less than enthusiastic partner but they sure would like that magic bullet to clue them in on what they can do to regain the sexual glow that enveloped them when the relationship was young.

Have I got a blog for you! My daughter and I are currently collecting stories for a future book dealing with women and sex and what turns them on. We decided it would make a terrific blog and we invite you to come on over, take a look and give us your input. Whether it’s women giving detailed instructions or men asking questions or the other way around, we’d love to hear from you.

A sexual revolution is more than taking your clothes off in public and dancing naked at Woodstock. A real sexual revolution is when men and women decide to talk to each other about the things that make them sexually happy and do it in a way that is non-confrontational, informative and fun.

Come check it out! Here She Comes Blog

Monday, August 29, 2011

I like Bad Guys!

I like bad guys. Not in real life. In books.  Love, love, LOVE ‘em! They fascinate me and I guess that’s because deep down inside of me, there’s a bad guy (or gal) lurking. I just don’t let him (or her) out. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, otherwise people like Thomas Harris, Dean Koontz and James Patterson wouldn’t have an audience. There’s just something so cathartic about getting into the mind of a seriously disturbed individual without having to bear the consequences. It’s why we like horror movies and novels like Silence of the Lambs, which was made into a very scary movie.

I have found, however, that there’s one thing I like even better than reading about bad guys or watching them on the big or small screen and that is creating them. I’ve written a few novels and even though I’m an avid and eclectic reader, when I sit down to write I just naturally gravitate to the dark side. There is nothing more fun than coming up with a totally horrible person and bringing that person to glorious, bloody life!

Take for instance, Albert Crawford, one of the protagonists of my newly released novel Dreams and Nightmares. I had Albert down before I ever put word one on the page. He was a character in a novel that didn’t gel but I’d come up with this wonderful character and I just couldn’t let him go. Eventually, a light bulb went off in my head and I found the perfect home for Albert and his band of miscreants.

Meet Albert:
Albert Crawford had a face that looked as if it had been pressed upon glass. His nose, larger than most, had been broken in a bar fight some years back and it spread across his face like silly putty left too long in the sun. Thick, protruding lips opened in a perpetual pout exposing teeth that looked more like they belonged to some feral animal than to a human being. His smile, an infrequent thing, was literally wolfish and had the tendency to scare people; except for Ruby Wheeler, his biker girlfriend, who seemed to thrive on danger and what she referred to as Albert's "edge". At one time, his mother had purported to love that face and she'd promised the boy she would get the money to have his teeth fixed. The promise, like so much of what she said, was a lie. Empty words uttered by an empty woman. She was dead now, at the hands of her loving son, although this was a fact known only to him and Ruby. His eyes, his best feature, were a shade of blue that bordered on turquoise. They would have been beautiful, were it not for the hardness in them that chilled the soul of anyone unlucky enough to become the object of their scrutiny. To compensate for his lack of physical beauty, Albert worked out like a demon and had a physique that could easily have been the envy of Conan the Barbarian.  

This is a guy you don’t want to meet in a back alley. For that matter, you don’t want to run across Ruby Wheeler either, because she might just be a bigger badass than Albert and that’s saying something!

I’ll let you in on a secret. When I’m writing some of the awful things these people do, it never fails to strike me funny. I mean, I will sit there and spew the worst of the worst on my computer screen—scare myself half to death sometimes—and then I’ll read over what I’ve just written and laugh (sometimes hysterically) because I can’t believe that what I just wrote came from some fevered part of my brain that otherwise would never see the light of day. It certainly does alleviate any tension I may have built up in the course of my everyday life.

If you like bad guys (and gals) too, then I invite you to check out how Ann Werner does them! For only 99 cents—not even a buck!—you can meet the gang in Dreams and Nightmares. It’s just been released on Kindle and also on Smashwords for you Nook and other e-reader fans.  My advice: pull the covers up over your head so the bad guys don’t get you!