Thursday, September 25, 2014

An Essay About Grief, Rejection, and Jock Strap Island

I've had some tough stuff go down in the last couple of years.  Major family illnesses, friends in a world of trouble and hurt, and some personal things that I'm not really ready to talk about too much, but that rhyme with "zinfertility."*

Some days it's nigh impossible to get out of bed. When so much trauma comes at you all at once, it can start to feel like nothing good will ever happen again. You just duck your head and pray for NOT BAD things, because believing in GOOD things seems, well, stupid. You see people succeeding all around you, their dreams coming true, their careers on a wondrous upward trajectory...but you just try to not step in the shit pile every day.  Well, the big shit piles. The small ones you shrug at.

Yesterday I experienced that thing that happens to all writers: rejection. Of something I was really excited about. It happens, especially when you're like me and writing some pretty unusual stuff for the genre you're in. And I can handle it, I can. Hell, I got rejected the morning after we found out we'd never have a baby. That one stung. It was kind of a mean note, too--insulting--but on that day, I remember thinking, Yeah, I got punched pretty hard yesterday. Try harder, editor--at least call me ugly or something!

Real grief can give you perspective. For sure, a rejection letter is nothing compared to hearing your mom has breast cancer (Which happened to me in the middle of trips to the zinfertility doctor. Fun!) But a rejection can compound what you're already going through, especially when writing is your one salvation, your last vestige of sanity-saving.

The more time that passes, the more I start to climb through the stages of grief, and the easier the little pitfalls get. But I still find it almost impossible to believe that good things can happen out of the blue, as opposed to horrid ones. Believing positively seems like an exercise in futility. And I'm a positive person! My level of self-delusion is high, folks, but it's taken some hard knocks in the last two years.

Something occurred to me yesterday, and it's the reason for this piece. Yes, I'm finally getting to the point, huzzah! I realized this: optimism is one of the bravest things a person can feel. Optimism says Hey, even though I'm buried in a pile of dirty jock straps and the way out is being guarded by a Dementor, I still believe that I will escape from Jock Strap Island and that all will be well.

Do you know how freaking difficult that is?  To keep going after being kicked in the face over and over and over again?  To lift yourself up and take to the computer again, to think to yourself Well, 643287642 bad things have happened, but I bet thing 643287643 will be great!  My grief tells me that all is terrible.  Hell, my PMS tells me that all is terrible.  But there's one, tiny corner of my brain that whispers...Keep going.  Things have to improve sooner or later.  It's been "later" for years now, but better is coming!

I'm not trying to be too "woe is me."  There is always worse in the world--always.  And I wrote a three-book series in the midst of my worst grief.  (Badass, party of one!)  But I do want to tell everyone out there that hope is a brave word.  A brave, brave, brave word.  Optimism is easy when everything you touch is gold.  It's a defiant act of aggression when everything you touch is rust--an act you should feel damn proud of.  That's not to say that when you or I feel hopeless we're doing something wrong.  At times, there's nothing else to do but sob and scream and beat up your couch pillows.  But if you can lift your face to the sun, even for one second, I'm proud of you.  I know how much that belief in good things costs you.  "Just cheer up!" "Just relax!" they parrot at you.  They have no idea, but I do.

You're amazing, and so am I.

So I wrote 3000 words yesterday after my rejection.  Emily Dickinson said that hope is a thing with feathers.  But hope is also a warrior woman in steel armor covered in the blood of her metaphorical enemies who picks herself off the battlefield and keeps on fighting.

*I'll say this as kindly as possible: I'm not looking for advice or uplifting stories or "have you tried...?" regarding our zinfertility. Also, yes, we've heard of that thing called zadoption, so we're good on that score. Thanks for your understanding.

The Dimple of Doom Featured in Chat Magazine!

Wowee, look!  The Dimple of Doom is offered in this week's Chat Magazine as a promo giveaway!  

Chat is a UK mag, for those of us in the US who may not be in the know.  I feel so fancy now.  Surely my boring life will soon give way to yachting expeditions with J.K. Rowling and the ghost of Ernest Hemingway!  

Ugh, maybe not him.  The ghost of Mary Shelley instead.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stupid Questions with Lucy:
Horny Ghosts > Zombies Edition Featuring Lisabet Sarai
(& a Giveaway!)

I'm so happy to have lively author Lisabet Sarai here to answer my hard-hitting questions about acid-farting aliens.  Take it away, Lisabet!

1. If you could have one otherworldly alien ability or body part, what would it be and why?

I’d opt for a long, prehensile tongue. Just think how convenient it would be to be able to lick the very last vestiges of Martian Melon ice cream out of the corners of the container. And then I could use the tongue to clean off any unsightly residue clinging to my cheeks. (I’ve always envied my cats that ability.)

The tongue would likely be studded with highly sensitive receptors for temperature, humidity, pheromones, and other assorted organic molecules - rather like a snake’s. This would enable me to intuit the mental states of people around me. 


Actually, I considered requesting telepathy as my desired alien ability, but I decided that could get messy. Probably I’d be totally disgusted if I knew what most people are thinking. The tongue, in contrast, would give me more general information, responding mostly to those chemical signals that reveal emotion or arousal. Just imagine, no more wondering: “Does he really fancy me, or is he just buttering me up because I’m his boss?” And no, the sexual advantages of this hypothetical alien tongue have nothing to do with my choice. How could you suggest such a thing?

2. What Smurf would you be?

There’s more than one Smurf? Sorry, but I’m barely aware of what a Smurf is. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit my cultural illiteracy, but I grew up in the original troll era. Now, if I were a troll, I’d have purple hair. 

(I’m well aware that I could have purple hair now, if I desired, but I don’t think the effect would be the same.)

So, I surmise, based on this question, that there are multiple Smurf characters who are named based on their personality attributes. (No, I am not going to go to Google and research this issue. That would be against the rules.) Under those constraints, I’d probably be Goody-Goody. Though you might not guess this from my avocation as an author of seriously spicy fiction, I’ve always tried to follow the rules and win the approbation of those in authority. And when I don’t – well, I just don’t advertise the fact.

Hey, it works for me.

3. Do you think the aliens who inevitably enslave the human race will treat us well or eat us?

Actually, I think it’s likely they’ll ignore us – sort of the way we ignore mold, algae and worms most of the time. Any creatures bright enough to make it to our planet would have no need for wimpy creatures like us as their slaves.

Unless, of course, you’re talking about sex slaves. There are always possibilities in that plot line.

Especially if they have prehensile tongues. 

3A. Follow up: What will you do to distinguish yourself to our benevolent overlords so that they don't destroy you with their acid flatulence?

Well, if they actually did want to eat me, I’d point out the research that suggests vegetarians taste better than meat eaters. I have an unfortunate weakness for pork chops and roast lamb. If that didn’t send them running off in the direction of the closest hippie commune, I’d whip out my tongue and try to distract them.

4. What's the best way to foil a ghost? A smart one, not one of those dumbasses in a sheet?

This question is not sufficiently well-specified. What is this smart ghost trying to do to me? What are his motives? What tragic events in his past have led to him hanging around the material plane in the first place? As an author, I know you’ve got to understand the conflicts between characters before you can imagine a way to resolve them.

Actually, I’ve got a soft spot for ghosts. The first romance I wrote, back when I was in high school, featured a mansion overlooking the ocean, haunted by the shade of a sea captain who’d owned the place a century before. Of course he falls in love with the current tenant, and vice versa. This was long before the movie Ghost.

I find the notion of seducing a specter – or the opposite – more appealing than scary. So I probably wouldn’t try to foil him at all. Especially not if he was as intelligent as you claim. For me, brains are the ultimate turn-on. (We’re talking ghosts here, not zombies. Don’t get me started on zombies... I hate zombies.)

Think about it. An incorporeal boyfriend would be pretty low maintenance. No dirty socks. No problems with leaving the toilet seat up.

5. If you could slap the shit outta one beloved historical figure, who would it be and why?

I’m not really a “slap the shit outta someone” sort of girl. However, I’d be tempted with Margaret Thatcher. Her lack of compassion was simply appalling. It’s really hard to find a way to be funny about her.

6. Cake or pie? And, if you said pie, why are you so happy to be wrong?

Pie, hands down. Much better for throwing in the face of people whom you’d really rather slap the shit out of, if you’re too goody-goody to attempt real violence.

And if I got hit with a pie myself, I could easily use the tongue to clean myself off.

The Ingredients of Bliss 

One sexy French chef. One kinky American TV producer. One ambitious Chinese gal who thinks she wants them both. The ingredients of bliss? Or a recipe for disaster? 

Accomplished cook Mei Lee “Emily” Wong knows exactly what she wants - her own show on the Tastes of France food channel. But life is full of complications. First, her deceptively nerdy producer, Harry Sanborne, initiates Emily into the delights of submission. Then her boss, legendary chef Etienne Duvalier, begs her to dominate him. Emily just can’t resist - especially when Harry orders her to explore her inner mistress. Suave and sexy Etienne will do whatever she asks - in the bedroom if not in the kitchen. And Harry, her lovingly diabolical Dom, adores pushing Emily’s limits.

When the network sends the trio to France to shoot a series of cooking shows on location, Emily knows her career is on the upswing. Her plans fall apart in Marseille as a Hong Kong crime syndicate kidnaps both Etienne and Harry. The Iron Hammer Triad mistakes Etienne for notorious gangster Jean Le Requin, who has stolen their drug shipment, worth millions. Emily realizes she must find the real Le Requin, retrieve the purloined dope, and bargain it for Harry’s and Etienne’s lives. The secret she’s been keeping from Harry might prove useful. Still, what chance does one woman whose knife skills are limited to chopping vegetables have against the ruthless cruelty of two criminal organizations?

Get your copy of The Ingredients of Bliss today:

Totally BoundAll Romance eBooks, Amazon US, Amazon UK

For more about me, follow my blog Beyond Romance ( Visit my website ( for a full list of my books, covers and excerpts, and lots of free stories.


I'm not nearly as funny as my hostess. However, if you'd like the chance to sample some of my more humorous work, leave a comment with your email below. I'll randomly drawn one name and give her (or him) a copy of Her Secret Ingredient, the prequel to The Ingredients of Bliss. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Self-Love is Sexy and Good for the...Brain

My husband and I just got back from four days in Palm Springs, where we'd rented a house with a pool and pretended to be rich.  It was a good fantasy, the adorable mid-century house with the crystal-blue pool in the back yard.  We needed a getaway to turn our brains off and de-stress.

Just before we left LA to drive the two hours or so, we were a little late, and my husband was stressing out big time. He not only had wanted to get out of the house earlier, but blamed himself for not doing so, and thus, began a cycle of self-flagellation.

Leslie Knope does not approve!

I said something spur of the moment that kind of became a mantra: We're only allowed to say nice things to ourselves this weekend.

We're only allowed to say nice things to ourselves this weekend.

It may seem silly, or trite, or even rather useless, this sentiment.  But I found myself saying it to him here and there, and to myself quite a lot.  When I fussed over an outfit to go out to dinner in, being hyper-critical of my appearance...say nice things to yourself, Lucy.  So I took a step out of the negative lady programming screeched at us from every TV show, movie, and magazine, and told myself I looked nice.  And I did!  Cute dress; bangin' body (if I do say so...); sexy, wild hair.  What's not to like?

I did this again and again over the few days.  When I felt guilty for putting my writing work down for a few days...I told myself I deserved a vacation.  When I might have had too many margaritas and accidentally left the hot dogs out on the counter all night...I told myself that everyone makes mistakes.  I urged my husband to be kind to himself, too, and I saw him relax more and more as the days went on.

This morning, it was back to the grind for us.  I saw the mantle of responsibility slip once again over my husband's shoulders.  I gave him a kiss and said to him...let's keep the rule going.  We're only allowed to say nice things to ourselves in our heads.  Because you know what?  It works.  It's a much pleasanter brain to live in, this one that's being kind to itself.  I will shove out the negative, cyclical thoughts...and treat myself the way I'd treat a friend or family member who was being too hard to themselves.

In my regular life, there are certain sneaky hate spirals I go to again and again, brought on by the grief I've been coping with, or book sales and writing frustrations. Today, I stopped these nasty thoughts by telling myself that's not nice, Lucy! Would you ever say this to a friend? Then stop it, and also you look cute in that skirt.

I encourage you to be nice to yourself today.  Pay attention to the negativity you throw at yourself--I bet you don't even realize it's there, do you?  But it adds up, and it's so cruel.

I'll help:  Hey you, reading this amazing blog--you are only allowed to say nice things to yourself today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stupid Questions with Lucy:
Up with Jane Austen! Edition Featuring Angela Quarles

The lovely author Angela Quarles is here this happy hump day to tell us how she's (mostly) a cake lady, and thank goodness.  (As always, this is a down-with-pies blog!)
1. If you could have one otherworldly alien ability or body part, what would it be and why?
Oh, wow. Hmm… I don't know if this counts, but right now it'd be really handy to have the ability to create duplicates of myself like the characters in David Brin's science fiction novel The Kiln People. Basically you could make clay copies of yourself that had your memories and abilities and they lasted for about a day, and you could send them off to do errands for you.
2. What Smurf would you be?
Yikes, I'm going to show my age here by saying I have no clue. I was in high school and college when they were on TV. I just know they're blue, and they have floppy white hats?
3. Do you think the aliens who inevitably enslave the human race will treat us well or eat us?
Neither probably. Though, of the two, eating us would be more probable, LOL. If not used as a food source, then probably as some kind of forced labor, and I doubt we'd be treated well. I've always kind of hoped that the reason we haven't seen any yet, is because in order to get to the stage where intergalactic travel is possible and affordable, a species would have to evolve to a certain point socially (overcome their own planetary politics) and if that's the case, they just have us on some kind of low-grade monitor waiting for us to get our act together before they make First Contact.
3A. Follow up: What will you do to distinguish yourself to our benevolent overlords so that they don't destroy you with their acid flatulence?
Oh gosh. Try to find out what entertains them writing-wise and write, write, write!
4. What's the best way to foil a ghost? A smart one, not one of those dumbasses in a sheet.
Hmm, kind of hard to answer as I don't know what the ghost is doing. I live in a house that's supposedly haunted, but they're my own ancestors, so they don't bother me I guess. 
5. If you could slap the shit outta one beloved historical figure, who would it be and why?
Mark Twain for his dislike of Jane Austen, though I've never been quite sure if it was just part of his cantankerous posing or what he truly thought. I mean, OUCH: "I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
6. Cake or pie? And, if you said pie, why are you so happy to be wrong?​
Thankfully, it's cake for me! German Chocolate cake… Carrot cake… though I'm not adverse to the odd pecan pie thrown my way, just saying.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stupid Questions with Lucy:
He Smurfed His Smurf Edition Featuring Ella Laurance

In the hot seat for my ridiculous quiz about Smurfs and whatnot is author Ella Laurance!

1. If you could have one otherworldly alien ability or body part, what would it be and why?

I wouldn’t mind a brain capable of thinking up perfectly edited stories that I can upload to a computer from any place just by thought alone. Let’s be honest, most of the writing happens in your head anyway.

2. What Smurf would you be?

Story Smurf, what else? He smurfed his smurf and she was so smurfy about it that she slowly began to smurf his smurf too... See what I mean?

3. Do you think the aliens who inevitably enslave the human race will treat us well or eat us?

Keep a few of us as pets for fun, and eat the rest.

3A. Follow up: What will you do to distinguish yourself to our benevolent overlords so that they don't destroy you with their acid flatulence?

That’s easy. With two sciency sons, it should be possible to develop a perfume so horrible the aliens will think I am the one and only earthly incarnation of the Goddess of Godly Stink.

4. What's the best way to foil a ghost? A smart one, not one of those dumbasses in a sheet.

Simply ignore them, it makes them sit down in a corner and softly complain. Keep it up for a while (yes, even when the moans and groans get louder and some might even try to lure you into a never ending philosophical debate about the Definition of Reality, because ghosts don’t like to be ignored) but after a week or so they will leave and try somewhere else.

5. If you could slap the shit outta one beloved historical figure, who would it be and why?

Since greatness all too often comes with a wide variety of ugly, nasty or generally unpleasant traits, I consider this too much work for one individual. So kindly assign one to me and I’ll do my bit for humanity.

6. Cake or pie? And, if you said pie, why are you so happy to be wrong?​

As a Dutch person I can happily say: “Who cares? It’s all taart.”

* * *

Ella Laurence writes about independent women who know what they want from a man and who are unapologetic about their sexual fantasies.

Wanton Women at Work, the complete collection, can be found here. Ella's blog:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Just Look at This Mansion for Cat Poop!

As found on

Holy crap, pun intended, look at this thing my husband came home with last night.  It's a freaking shit mansion for our cat.

It's got a sunken poop room.  I don't have one of those!  My toilets just bolt to the floor like I'm some kind of schmoe.  And our bathrooms are rectangular--I never feel like I'm whizzing in a space ship.  I don't get to pretend I'm on the Enterprise about to pass Uhura a tampon like we're bathroom buddies.

I really hope princess kittypants appreciates her amazing new toilet.  I bet she won't.  I bet she expresses her gratitude the same way she always does.  By pooping on everything that's lovely.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stupid Questions with Lucy:
Anal-Retentive Edition Featuring Jessi Gage


Up at bat for my silly questions today is romance author Jessi Gage, a lovely lady indeed and a great friend.  See, ain't she the cutest?

1.  If you could have one otherworldly alien ability or body part, what would it be and why?

If I could stop time, I would be golden. I would love an extra ten hours in every day. Just for me. I would use it to read. Yup. That would be awesome.

2.  What Smurf would you be?

I would be Anal Retentive Smurf.

3.  Do you think the aliens who inevitably enslave the human race will treat us well or eat us?

I’m hoping they’ll be like the Kindred in Evangeline Anderson’s sexy Sci-Fi series. I think they will want to make us all their unwilling brides, and they will spend an entire week courting us and chipping away at our resolve with tender caresses and thoughtful dirty-talk.

3A.  Follow up:  What will you do to distinguish yourself to our benevolent overlords so that they don't destroy you with their acid flatulence?

I will distinguish myself by being the willing one.

4.  What's the best way to foil a ghost?  A smart one, not one of those dumbasses in a sheet.

Funny you should ask. This is actually the main conflict in my new release, Jade’s Spirit. A stripper on the run and a virginal lawn guy have to put their heads together to fight a ghost with a sexy agenda. It’s kind of a mashup of romance, inspy, and horror. You’ll have to read it to get my answer to this one *winks* But I’ll give a hint. Foiling a ghost might require you to get over any fear of commitment you might have…

5.  If you could slap the shit outta one beloved historical figure, who would it be and why?

Does it have to be a real historical character? Because at the moment, I would love to smack the shit out of Black Jack John Randall in Outlander. But knowing that sadistic bastard, he would probably like it.

6.  Cake or pie?  And, if you said pie, why are you so happy to be wrong?​

I don’t like cake. *sticks tongue out like Mr. Yuck* I’ll eat it to be polite, but I much prefer pie. Cherry is my favorite. My mom’s apple pie is a close second. Chocolate crème pie is great for pregnancy cravings. Pecan and pumpkin are perfect for autumn. I could go on, but I suddenly find myself needing to run to the grocery store for ingredients.

Thanks so much for having me, Lucy! You always make me laugh!

[Editorial note:  Thanks, Jessi!  I like you, too--despite your pie penchant *Mr. Yuck face*.]



When exotic dancer Jade seeks refuge from an abusive boyfriend in her grandmother’s aging Victorian home, she finds she’s not the only houseguest. A dream-invading incubus has taken up residence, and it wants Jade’s soul. Fortunately, a flirtatious lawn-care provider has a trick or two up his sleeve for dealing with hauntings. And he has definite rebound-guy potential—if only he would stop inviting her to church. 

The virginity vow Emmett "the lawn guy" Herald took when he was seventeen has become legendary in Dover, Vermont. Ten years later, everyone is waiting to see if he’ll blow a decade of “waiting for marriage” now that he’s dating the new girl from the big city. Even Emmett thinks he has met his match in the vivacious Boston beauty. In fact, he’s starting to think virginity may be overrated.
A spark of attraction ignites between Jade and Emmett, and quickly grows into a roaring inferno. But with a demon fanning the flames, attraction has never been so perilous.