Friday, September 25, 2009

I'd also eat more cake..but I know where that gets me

I don't normally forward the "forward this or else" e-mails, but I enjoyed this one enough to share:

Passing the Purple Hat to You

In honor of women's history month and in memory of Erma Bombeck, who lost her fight with cancer.

Pass this on to five women that you want watched over. If you don't know five women to pass this on to, one will do just fine.

(written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.'

There would have been more 'I love you's'. More 'I'm sorry's.'

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it ... live it and never give it back.


Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Technorati Claim

Claimin' my blog. You can't have it.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Out now! Don't Dare the Reaper by Leigh Ellwood

Don't Dare the Reaper - Buy Now!
Phaze Books, $2, Paranormal, Menage MMF

Something spooky is going on in Dareville. En route to a sexy Halloween soiree, Cal and Sue Briscoe are involved in a car accident and die...or do they? Stranded between layers of the veil, they cling to each other with the hope that whatever happens, they will stay together. As the Grim Reaper - a handsome fellow introducing himself as Gil - tries to discern their fate, the Briscoes take advantage of the moment out of time to celebrate what could be their last chance for love...or the beginning of a new life.



She knew that voice—though it sounded distant and full of static. Probably a faraway temptation to rejoin the waking world, but she wanted none of it. Just a few more minutes of sleep, she decided. She had no pressing appointments at her photography studio. The people of Dareville could wait for their portraiture.

“Sue, baby, come on.”

No. Behind her eyelids came into focus a clear image of ice, stretching for miles before her. Her skates laced and tied, she took to the endless rink with all the poise of an Olympic champion, twirling and gliding with ease. Figure eights, figure sixty-nines—no number proved too difficult to etch on the hardened surface. She contemplated starting pi as well, right after a double axel.

The landing she flubbed, and Sue landed face down on the ice. The dry cool of the surface numbed her skin and left a lasting impression as that insistent voice guided her back to consciousness.

“Sue!” Cal shook her now, and she finally opened her eyes to discover they weren’t in their bed at home, but lying on a dark floor.

The entire room was pitch black, in fact. Yet, there had to be some light source since she could clearly see her worried husband.

She looked down at herself, then at Cal. Neither wore a stitch of clothing, yet it seemed natural in this situation. She experienced neither a chill nor embarrassment.

“Thank God,” he said, and drew her close.

“Where are we?”

“Hell if I know, are you okay?”

“I-I think so.” Nothing hurt. She tried her legs and stood without any problems, as did Cal. She studied their surroundings, or rather lack thereof. “Nice place.”

“Could use a window or two, but sure,” Cal said.

Sue smiled, happy to know her husband’s sense of sarcasm hadn’t suffered whatever had befallen them.

What had happened, exactly? She closed her eyes to recap the events of the day, but recalled nothing unusual. They’d made love that morning, then an early run and breakfast. Grocery shopping at Jake’s and lunch with their friend Kate at the Dareville Inn. Tiny Jack O’ Lanterns lined the lattice work of the small hotel—there was to be a Halloween party for the kids there…

Halloween party. Brady and Ellie. They were on the way to the Garristons’ house when they were hit.

“We crashed,” she said out loud. “The car.”

“Yeah, but where is it?” Cal loosened his hold and stepped away. Each footfall echoed an odd sound, as though they stood in a large, empty soundstage.

“We couldn’t have been thrown, we’d be all bloody and cut,” he added. He looked about to say more, but his face paled. Sue realized he shared her very thoughts.

Perhaps, they hadn’t been ejected from the car because they were still in it—their corporeal selves, anyway.

“We’re dead, Cal?”

He shook his head, bewildered. “I don’t know, babe. I don’t know. Come here.”

She gladly eased into his embrace and pressed against him, then gasped when she confirmed her worst fear. “I can’t hear your heart beating.” She trembled in his arms, trying to sob but tears didn’t come. Cal kissed the top of her head, but beyond that she detected no other movement. His breath didn’t caress her skin. His pulse didn’t race. He, like her, just was.

At least her sense of touch remained intact, and she assumed the same for Cal. That provided some comfort in this uncertainty. She savored the scratch of a light tuft of chest hair against her cheek, and how his hand smoothed over the swell of her backside. Any other time, this would arouse her, and she felt sad. Had they lost the ability to truly enjoy intimacy in this place?

“This is too weird. Cal, you don’t think this is Hell, do you?” Despite seeming to have no major working organs, Sue managed to sense a chill shiver down her spine after all. She thought of everything she and Cal had done, the earthly pleasures enjoyed since they fell in love, and wondered how much of it counted against them in their final judgment.

He didn’t answer right away, and part of her hoped for a joke to lift her spirits. Finally, he looked up and said, “This can’t be Hell.”

“How are you so sure?”

“If it were, I’d be the only one here.”

He looked down at her. In this state—death, near-death, whatever—his eyes maintained their lively hazel color, and she saw the desire flickering within them. Cuffing the back of his neck, she pulled him down for a long, slow kiss, relieved to know not everything ended in death.

Copyright Leigh Ellwood 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Review: Phaze Books Current Calls for Submission

Current calls for submission at Phaze Books, erotic romance and women's erotica. First, the special anth calls:

As Yet Titled Steampunk Anthology: M/M or bi-Male Menage, one-time rights sought, payment on acceptance. Details for guidelines on this post. This is an open call until the slots are filled.

TouchAble: Stories featuring characters with disabilities sought for anthology. One-time rights sought, payment on publication. Details for guidelines on this post. Deadline February, 2010.

Lemon Kisses: Yaoi anthology. Standard Phaze rights/royalty payment policies apply. Details on this post. Deadline December, 2009.

Present Phaze Books lines open for works:

Urban Phaze: Erotic romances set entirely in one metropolitan city. Duplicate cities permitted. Min 10K words, no max. All sub-genres.

Phaze Scores: Romances with a sports theme. Min 10K words, no max. All sub-genres.

Phaze Rocks: Romances bearing title of a popular rock classic or contemporary hit. Story doesn't have to be music-themed. Min 10K words, no max. All sub-genres.

Phaze Binary Stars: Two-story collections, with both stories by one author or two, with collected work totalling 10K minimum. Great for authors experienced in flash fiction. All sub-genres.

Please review the Phaze Books submissions page for details on how to send us work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Blubber Principle

Surely you've read Blubber by Judy Blume. Back in the day just about everything Blume wrote ended up on some library's banned list, and what's the first thing an eager young adult reader does once he/she gets wind of that? Of course, they immediately heat-sink the book to find out what the big deal is. Oh, some pre-teen is fretting about her period, that's all? But that was Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret - we'll discuss that another day.

For the benefit of those who haven't read Blubber, here's the breakdown: Jill (Everygirl), along for the ride - as it were - in her middle-school class, goes along with the unprovoked mob-like teasing of Linda (Fatgirl) as instigated by Wendy (Meangirl) and supported by Caroline (Toadygirl). When Wendy sneers, everybody responds in kind, and despite the fact that Linda has done absolute nothing to warrant poor treatment people go along with it...until the day Jill grows a sac and calls Wendy out on her Meangirlness.

Big mistake. Apparently Jill's clout couldn't match Wendy's among the legion of yes-men. Where Jill once guffawed, she now becomes the object of scorn. If that's not enough, the mean girls have accepted Linda into the fold. Now, one might expect her to tell Wendy to f*ck off, and one must wonder what Wendy told her to win her forgiveness overnight, but there is Linda gleefully swinging her bat at the pinata with everybody else. It isn't until Jill points out to Caroline that her position as Riker to Wendy's Picard is threatened that Wendy's reign of terror ends. By book's end, everybody has a new BFF except for Linda, who has been cast aside and, while it's implied she's no longer the town kickball, she's not exactly popular.

So what was the point of this story? One can easily apply it to real-life behaviors that extend way beyond middle school. What this story tells me, for one, is to exercise caution with words and actions. It's fun to point and laugh, yes, and it's fun to join in a social media conversation or thread of blog comments thinking you are immune to criticism.

Are you, though? Are you a Jill, merrily riding the waves, unconcerned about ethics until it really, truly affects you? Are you a Linda, biding your time until you can finally don your red dress and dance on a few graves? Are you a Caroline, who would rather side with a "winner" regardless of any possible damage done to others, than think for yourself? Do you ever wonder if your actions will come back one day to bite you on the ass?

Are you a Wendy? I've known quite a few Wendys in my day, and could never figure out why they acted the way they did. Insecurity? Who knows. I have learned a number of them grew out of it after college. The rest...sigh. If it's any consolation, the best revenge is living well. I'm not rich, but I've done what I set out to do.

Who am I? I'm me. I prefer it that way. To anybody who is content to fall into a category than create their own, I say good luck. Just watch for falling flensers.*

*Read the damn book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eight down, **** to go

I had to stare at the scale several minutes this morning to confirm that in my first week of Weight Watchers I'd lost EIGHT FREAKING POUNDS! Looking in the mirror later, I didn't think I looked any different from when I began the program, and my clothes aren't falling off yet, but I'll take eight lost over one gained any day.

I've done Weight Watchers before, but not once have I lost so much in one week. It's inspired me, to say the least, to be more mindful of how I eat and to exercise daily - even if I take a short walk. I will admit, the loss resulted in my losing a point in my daily allowance, but I see it as a challenge to work around foods I enjoy. Chocolate comes to mind. I blog enough about it, and I don't intend to give it up. I'll simply enjoy it in smaller quantities. Right now I have all my Vosges bars marked in one-point portions. One thing to note about chocolate is that dark doesn't equate to diet - don't think you can eat more of it and not be penalized down the road.

I've promised to take the little one camping this fall, too, and camp food is anything but forgiving. Right now I'm working to devise the lowest-point possible s'more. Here's what I have learned so far:

  • A marshmallow is half a point
  • A low-fat graham cracker (intact with all 4 perforated sections) is 2 points
  • The traditional milk Hershey bar is 5 points total, so 2.5 per half used per s'more, unless I use quarters, which likely knocks off half a point
Going the standard route, a s'more figures out to be 5 points each. Now I could go open-faced and knock off a point, and maybe I could use a miniature Hershey bar, which is only one point. Or I could try something really exotic and use a mini York peppermint patty. Now there's a taste sensation.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Newsletter Manager needed for Phaze Books

Twice now I have started up a monthly newsletter for Phaze Books, only to have the project fall to the wayside. As we continue to grow I would like to have a monthly, or 6-issue a year, HTML newsletter to share with our mail subscribers, Twitter followers, etc. Given my present workload, I've accepted this isn't something I can do on my own. Others on our staff have enough on their plates to take on such a project, too, so it appears we are going to outsource this.

So I'm putting the word out: we would like to take on a freelancer to handle the creation of a monthly newsletter. Basically we are looking for somebody to provide some content (interviews with Phaze authors, maybe a short thematic piece, recipes, etc.). We will provide content on sales and forthcoming releases. We aren't looking for anything too elaborate, but a nice newsletter presented broadsheet style in HTML once a month or every two months.

The ideal candidate will be somebody familiar with our house who enjoys all genres of erotic romance (i.e. somebody who won't favor a particular genre over others because he/she likes it best). This will be a paid position - details will be provided on request.

So if you know somebody interested in doing this for us, please have them contact me at klively (at) phaze (dot) com with examples of work. I'll also take recommendations for promotion companies, too. I know a lot of authors use them.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Girl, You're Gonna Carry that Weight...

Yesterday afternoon I meant to take a picture of myself in a nifty t-shirt I purchased from the Coming Together CafePress store. Yesterday afternoon I discovered that my body has graduated from XL to infinity...and beyond. I saw things no human being should ever need to experience. There was a spare tire, and I don't mean the limp tire you use to get your car from the side of the road to the nearest gas station. I'm talking those jumbo, waffle-fry tread behemoths that feature largely in Jeff Foxworthy monologues. Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle, watch me reach for the comfort of another doughnut. After all, what harm can it do?

It's done plenty, apparently.

There is a dry erase board in the back room of our house, at the corner of which is a number: 187. Over a decade ago I had written that number down as my weight at the time, with the purpose of shrinking it. Today that number is just above my goal weight now. I'd like to step on a scale without hearing it cry for mercy.

It's my own fault, really. Before I got pregnant I had done well - Weight Watchers, no dairy, daily exercise. Even during pregnancy I didn't go overboard with cravings, yet shortly afterward fatigue and apathy settled in. I don't work at a labor-intensive job - I sit all day. I sit all night. I watch my little girl run laps around the house and think I should join her, let her sweat with this oldie.

And dairy, Geds. I've become it's bitch again and there's no turning back, it seems. But I did take one step in the right direction by signing up for Weight Watchers, legitmately this time. Used to be I'd just download eat sheets and try to figure out the points myself. It works for a month then I'm back to old habits. No more. I have trackers and planners and hopefully offline support. My sister lost 40 pounds with WW, my closest friend nearly 70. I know the plan works, I just have to get off my ass and do it.

I just have to get off my ass.