Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Who's Ben Skrewd?"

Who's Ben Skrewd, you ask? Take a peek behind the Red Door and find out! 

  I've joined forces with some very talented romance authors and we've come up with something I think our readers will really love. Eleven novellas, each with a red door, and one thing in common: Ben Skrewd.

Who is he? Well, we can't really pin him down. He's somebody different in each novella--as unique as the authors who created his various personas. I'll give you a hint, though, he's been lurking on our websites.

  On April 15, 2014, you can check him out for yourself. Also, you can get involved in our hunt for him and possibly win a pretty cool prize. (Seriously, it's a very nice prize!) Visit http://www.reddoorreads.com/#!whos-ben-skrewd/c1un for details and a complete listing of participating authors and their novellas.

Also, follow us on Facebook ( www.Facebook.com/RedDoorReads ) where we'll be doing give-aways and having a party all day! I personally will be offering a prize at 8:00 pm, EDT. It should be fun, and you'll be able to tell all your friends you saw who's Ben Skrewd.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love What Gets Us Bullied

I usually like to post about happy things and love. However, I had a hard time finding much of either in an article I read recently. It's been gnawing at me, so of course I decided to write about it. That's what writers do. Even the ones who insist on writing sappy endings.

When a nine year old boy in North Carolina complained of being bullied at school his mother went to the school guidance counselor. That's what we're supposed to do, right? And the school did what they're supposed to do by listening and then responding with a solution.

How did the school respond? By telling the child he had triggered the bullying by carrying a backpack with a pony on it. The solution, according to the story I read, was simple. The principal told boy's mother to keep his beloved backpack at home. No more backpack, no more bullying.

Seriously! Here's an article you can read for yourself:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/03/18/my-little-pony-backpack-banned-school-north-carolina/6565425/  I'm sure there is more to the story than we can learn here--there always is--but let's all agree there is ample credible information for us to get the gist.

The school believes that bullies will stop bullying when they have nothing left to pick on. When everyone is just the same and no one stands out from the crowd, then the bullying will end. Doesn't that sound logical? All we've got to do is be just like everyone else and society will embrace us with love and compassion.

What a shame, then, that NONE of us is just like everyone else! There is no "everyone else". There is just "everyone" and we are all a part of that: ALL of us, with all our many flaws, talents quirks, and very obvious differences. We can no sooner leave those at home than we can our arms and legs.

And what if the things that make us different ARE our arms and legs? What if instead of a backpack, this little boy was being bullied for his prosthetic leg, or a paralyzed hand? Could the principal so glibly tell him to just leave those at home? Of course not. I'm sure there are many days when my own son's principal would love to ask him to just "leave his autism at home" so he can be like everyone else, but since he can't do that we've all had to learn to live with him just as he is.

This is what really bothers me about this story. "Leave the backpack at home" isn't simply about a little boy inviting youthful teasing by waving a fuzzy pony in the face of other kids, it's about some deep-rooted human urge to avoid facing the "different" in our midst, to avoid learning to live with uncomfortable things.

We aren't living in generations past when the physically handicapped, the mentally challenged, the blind, the deaf, the ones born a little bit "different" DID get left home. Or worse, they didn't stay home but where sent away to some institution so they couldn't bother "everyone else" with their differences. The bullies didn't bully them, but only because they didn't see them. Those bullies never had the benefit of learning not to bully. They just simply had to find other targets.

This is what I fear will happen in North Carolina. That little boy did end up staying home. He's being homeschooled now for his own safety. He learned that society is no place for him, that he can't trust his counselor or his principal to keep him safe, and he certainly can't trust his peers. The only way he can be himself is to just stay home.

And what did the bullies learn? Exactly what they believed from the start: if something outside their comfortable norm makes them feel awkward and unsure, they can raise their perceived confidence and social status by declaring that someone else is beneath them. Then they'll be all right. Then they'll be "normal." They won't have to stay home.

But now they do have to keep bullying. With no better skills to navigate life, these kids become victims of their own misguided efforts to "fit in". Because they haven't learned to love other people's differences, they haven't learned to love their own. They have to carefully manage their environment so that everything around them perfectly suits their tastes and abilities--failure at this would mean they might not fit in; they might seem "different". And we all know what happens to those who are different!

Bullying hurts everyone. That's because EVERYONE is different. We all have things a bully might pick on, and we all have the capacity for bullying. Both are just part of our human condition. Unfortunately, we can't leave that condition at home. We have to sling it over our back every day and carry it everywhere we go. Each one of us has our own very unique backpack, not like anyone else's. We can fill it with love or intolerance, ignorance or pride, wisdom or fear.

Our backpack's appearance is the last thing any of us should care about. What really makes us different is everything we pack inside. So let's all love what gets us bullied, and just hope that someday those bullies can learn to love themselves.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Funny Thing About Love

Love's funny sometimes. That's my tag line; my motto. I believe it wholeheartedly.

But don't get me wrong, there's nothing funny about love! It's serious business. It's not always easy to love, and sometimes it's too easy to love the wrong stuff. (Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Gelato, anyone?) Ah, love... so many different kinds of it.

Miss Farrow's Feathers final FRONT.jpgI write books about romantic love. Every romance writer knows that the quickest way to put readers to sleep is to be skimpy on conflict. The path to true love simply must be paved with all sorts of difficult things for our characters to get over. 
In MISS FARROW'S FEATHERS my prim and proper preacher's daughter is stuck with a foul-mouthed parrot and a handsome bird trainer who does more than just ruffle a few feathers.

The Earl's Passionate Plot final cover 2.jpgIn my upcoming THE EARL'S PASSIONATE PLOT, Lord Dovington is trying to evict a very unwilling young lady who is not about to go down without a fight.
Lord Woodleigh is having more trouble than expected finding a husband for Miss Canton in THE EARL'S INTIMATE ERROR. He never dreamed he might want her for himself, especially since he's already arranged to marry someone else.

Oh, the drama! Life is full of it; sometimes it feels like too much. But that's why love is so very important. Love keeps us going. Even in our darkest days and greatest conflicts, if we hunt really hard, we'll find a little bit of love.
Usually, we can find a little bit of Funny, too. The more often we can put those two together, the better off we'll all be. I try to do that in my books as well as in my real life. Whether it's love for a puppy, love for a pizza, or love for the love or your life, I think it's pretty safe to say that really "Love's funny sometimes!"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Coming Soon Exclusively on Amazon Kindle!

It's A CHRISTMAS CAROL meets THE NATIVITY  in Jane Austen's England!

I had a lot of fun writing his story. Yes, I took a few liberties, but I just want you to know that I am a fervent believer in the True Meaning of Christmas. I hope that shines through in this story. If you are looking for a warm, feel-good Christmas-time romance novella, then let me introduce you to my earl, Jacob Myserleigh, and his unexpected passenger, Miss Carole Meriwether. They're about to learn that true love is definitely the greatest gift this wonderful season can offer.

Jacob Myserleigh, the Earl of Bahumburgh, thinks he's merely delivering Christmas gifts to his sister. His simple trip home turns into a madcap journey filled with gold, frankincense, myrrh... even bedraggled shepherds. A beautiful young woman helps show him the way and the most unexpected thing happens--there might be no room at the inn, but he finds space in his heart for true love.

Here's an excerpt:

He cleared his throat loudly.

The young lady inside the horse stall looked up, startled. She could not have seemed more out of place, sitting primly on an overturned bucket while a rotund gray pony nibbled the straw flower on her trim bonnet. How did a Mayfair miss end up locked in this Cheapside mews with a pony? Why on earth wasn't she shouting for help? Surely someone had noticed her.

"Do you need some help, miss?" he asked.

"Er, no thank you, sir," she replied then glanced around nervously when he continued to stare. After a moment's silence, she spoke again. "But you appear to be confused. Do you need some help?"

"I was... well, I think I must be in the wrong place."

"Where are you supposed to be?"

He looked back at the letter. Yes, his sister's list definitely directed him to this place. The next gift he was to collect ought to be waiting for him here. But he'd expected a shop of some sort, not a dirty horse stall with a captive woman inside.

"I was given this address and instructed to meet with a man named Carl."

"Carl? I don't know any Carl, sir, and I've been tending the pony here every day for two weeks."

"You come to tend the pony often? Dressed like this?"

"No, of course not. But today I'm supposed to meet someone so I thought I should appear more presentable."

"I see. Well, good luck with that. I should probably continue my search for Mr. Meriwether."

"For whom, sir?"

"Meriwether. Carl Meriwether."

Now she looked as confused as he felt. Her delicate features screwed into a frown and she chewed her lip.

"I am Carole Meriwether, sir."

"Is Carl your relative, then?"

"No, sir. I don't know who... oh, good heavens! You aren't the Earl of Bahumburgh, are you?"

            "I most certainly am. Who the devil are you?"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Release -- Yuletide Lies

Stay tuned!
I should be able to announce availability any day now.

YULETIDE LIES is a very sweet, Traditional Regency Christmas novella. Short, sweet, and full of all those things we love about Christmas time romance in Regency England.

Amidst mistletoe, mystery, and a motley menagerie, the greatest gift this Christmas might turn out to be Love...

Victim of a horrible scheme gone wrong, Miss Cassandra Loring expected to wake up dead. Instead, she has found herself in a castle somewhere in the remote English countryside. Her rescuer, it turns out, is the irresistible Lord Braden who, oddly enough, is under the mistaken belief her name is Miss Horne. And that they are engaged to be married!

With danger nipping close at her heels and a kidnapper still on the loose, it simply makes sense not to correct him. There are plenty worse things than to have a kind--yet mysterious--earl doting on her. She's almost positive he isn't the villain behind her abduction. Besides, she'll be gone long before their scheduled Christmas Day wedding... no matter how much she might wish to stay.
Available soon exclusively on Kindle. Other formats to follow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MISS WHEATON'S WHISKERS has been officially out for one week now. Yay! What fun it's been to make this story available. The next few weeks she's only available on Kindle, but soon she'll venture into other formats.
For now, here is a tasty little snippet in case you're curious what the sneaky little miss is all about:

"You weave an attractive packet of lies, Miss," the man said at last.

"You call me a liar?"

"A storyteller, perhaps. But it makes no difference to me. I'm happy to stomach the whole of it—drunken brother, ailing mother, destitute siblings. Certainly it is more than enough to explain your hasty engagement. And far more entertaining than whatever true reason there must be."

"Why should I need a reason to give my consent to any reasonable man?" she asked. "Just who are you to be my judge?"

"Ah, so now you are interested in me, are you? Perhaps I wish to keep my identity secret just as much as you do."

"It makes no matter to me, I assure you. I simply wondered, since you seem to think you are somebody. Are you? Do you have a name?"

"John," he said, after a pause. "That is my name."

"Ah, well that answers everything," she declared.

He gave her his first name and nothing more? Now what on earth was she supposed to do with that? It wasn't as if she'd go around calling him by it. Certainly not! And John was quite an ordinary name. He could still be anyone and she'd never guess it.

"Just John? I'm surprised. You seem to think of yourself overly high, Just John. Isn't there a Mister or a Sir with that? How should I call you?"

Now he turned just enough to meet her eyes with his own. They were a deep, deep blue that hinted at night time. "I am pleased to know you wish to call me at all."