Let’s Learn Something From This Whole Trump Mess

 

The new book I’m working on, tentatively titled “Constellations of Alice” is heavier than the cozy mysteries I’ve been writing. But Alice has been bugging me for a few years to tell her story, so here I am.

 One of the themes in this book is sex trafficking. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this (and sexual assault in general) and I can tell you, the statistics are shocking.  

One in 5 women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime.

This has to change.

And it can. I believe it can. But it has to start with changing the mind-set of our society.

This whole Donald Trump thing has blown up an important issue and started a dialog about sexual assault. The silver lining in a very vile, dark cloud.

His lewd comments about women and about being able to kiss them or grab their private parts whenever he wants amounts to sexual assault. The fascinating and disturbing thing to me was watching the fall-out as both men and women defended his talk as “locker room banter.” Including a GOP Senator who doesn’t think grabbing a woman’s genitals is sexual assault.

So what? All guys talk about women like this. Just words, right?

Well, NO. Wrong. Words are nothing more than an outward expression of a person’s mind-set.

This mind-set is dangerous. He thinks this way so he speaks this way so he acts this way. And he’s had more than one woman accuse him of sexual assault or rape.

Including a thirteen year old girl.

His ex-wife. (Who, under oath, accused him of violently raping her. His chief counsel’s defense was, “One can’t rape one’s own spouse.” Just. Wow.)

A business acquaintance.

I’ll stop there because this is actually not about one man. The problem is bigger than that.  

This is about the culture we live in. A culture where abusive masculine power has taken root and allowed men like this to terrorize women.

How do we fix this? Well, I can tell you the answer is not just laying down and accepting it. Nor is it women covering our faces or our bodies or staying indoors or being escorted by a male guardian everywhere we go. 

The answer is men changing the way they think about women. Period. (And I know there are good men out there who don’t talk or think this way, but since 98% of sexual assault perpetrators are male, this has to be addressed as a male problem.)

It’s been encouraging to see the men who are standing up against this kind of abusive speech and behavior. But it’s time for the others, the “boys” who are being “boys” to grow up and become men. To drop your sense of entitlement. To see women as more than body parts there for your entertainment.

It’s  also time for women to stand up and stop tolerating this mindset as “normal” male behavior. It may very well be the norm right now, but when men know better they can do better. So please stop defending “locker room talk” as innocent and harmless.

It’s neither.

 

Snowbirds: a poem

 

Snowbirds:
Please don’t take offense to
our ‘welcome-now-go-home’
attitude.

We understand your flight from
black ice, snow shovels and frozen
gray skies.
It’s endearing the way you
come to us in a wave
of exhales;
Your cares abandoned
in your coat pocket
back home,
Alongside crumpled Kleenex and
sticky throat lozenges.

Our service industries bow down to
your appetites, open wallets and ability
to morph into an audience:
Filling seats, buying tickets, renting
squares, shares and time.

We do try.
When you pour in, filling the space
between the crusts of clouds and sand
like too much pie filling.

We do try…
Politely maneuvering around
your grocery carts clogging
the aisle at Publix. Counting
backwards or counting
our breath as
we sit
in the parking lots that used to be
our highways;
Buying mangoes at midnight because
there’s no room
to park
in our parking lots.

Detouring us to accommodate you.

We do try.
Because we also like turning
strangers into friends,
Seeing our home fresh through
your eyes;

We do watch you–
Now that the thousands of
Ibis are gone.
(The ponds are gone, also.)

As you watch the sun
sink below the horizon;
smelling of sunscreen and
the Pinot Grigio in your
plastic cups.

A shared awe.
In these moments we
don’t have to try.

But also know that when
you go, when you flee
the humidity, leaving us to our
hurricane shutters and
evacuation routes,
We will exhale and stretch
into the quiet
space
you leave behind.

We will lay–empty as discarded,
pillaged clam shells—
(Our patience shucked)

Under the baking
August sun. We will float
in the salty ocean bowl–
warm as bathwater–and
recharge while smiling
languidly at the
stories
you’ve left behind.

To The Men Running the U.S. Government

So, this should probably be a slam poem and maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to record it as such. For now, I’m sharing it as the written word. After learning about the House panel voting to make women sign up for the draft, my rage and fear needed somewhere soft to land, to untangle itself. That place for me is here:

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Sorrow

Vincent Van Gogh Public Domain PD-old-100

To the men running the U.S. government, the ones on the House panel who’ve voted to force our daughters to sign up for the draft…here’s the thing: Yes, I’ve known women who’ve been raped. I’ve known women who’ve locked themselves in a bathroom on a date and slept there to keep from being raped. I’ve even personally known a woman who was abducted by a serial killer, raped and strangled with her own underwear.  I know a woman who clutches her mace and her anxiety as she walks to work, as she pumps gas, as she maneuvers any parking lot with trepidation because she’s been accosted by more than one man over the years who just wants to chat or wants five dollars for gas or possibly wants to stab her and tuck her into his trunk because she watches the news and this is a possibility. She’s learned to duck the bullets of hey baby and you fine girl and you too good to talk to me?  I know this woman because she is all of us. The woman living with a flight or fight system on high alert. A twitching ear. A body poised to run. The mothers who send their daughters off to college with pink mace and pleas to text us when she gets home safely; the young girls who are beginning to understand the leers, the danger the entitlement lurking behind them…women are already veterans of a silent war at home, one that has us on edge behind our polite smiles, one that you in your place of patriarchal safety will never understand.  So, yes, by all means…send them to the front lines of a different kind of war you created for the purpose of power and money and greed and invisible lines where they don’t even have the protection of a “civilized society” or of murder being an actual crime. Send them to be captured by the enemy and raped and put their fellow male soldiers in danger because they will lose their shit and most likely their own lives trying to save them because that’s what the good ones do. Bring home your warped idea of equality in a body bag and lay it next to all the other dead things you refused to understand.

(“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.” -Margaret Atwood)

 

 

 

Terrorism: The World Is On Fire

Dear readers,

I try to keep this blog light and only talk about things that pertain to my cozy mysteries. But I am a writer, which means words are the way I work things out for my own sanity. Today–in the aftermath of yet another act of terrorism and senseless loss of lives–I feel the need to write about this, to make some sense of it, because my heart is heavy and the world is on fire:

How do we fight terrorism?

match flame

First, I feel like we have to acknowledge this particular pathology is a part of us all and stop thinking it’s “us” against “them”.  It’s not.  We are all vulnerable to becoming “them” because the problem is inherent to human nature. What is this problem, this disease…this fire that’s spreading and consuming our peace, our humanity and our future? It’s this:

A willingness to embrace a particular idea or ideology at all costs. To let an idea, a religion,  a deep emotional/psychological wound or even fear separate us from one another while we stand with unyielding conviction on that idea, condemning those around us who don’t embrace it. This common human condition is  what terrorists are suffering from, they’re just acting on it with extreme violence. It’s the underlying ideology of separation and condemnation which spreads fear and hatred and must be stopped.

Sure, once this violent ideology is embraced, a  terrorist, with no value for life, is born and they become the threat…because how do you fight someone who doesn’t want to live? How do you fight the already dead?

I know it would be ideal to bring them back to life. To lead them back to the land of the living by rooting out whatever weaponized belief system they hold from their clenched fists and closed minds. I also know that’s probably not possible. And it’s tragic… It’s tragic that so many of our fellow human beings are choking on the ashes of their charred humanity.  If I could make a wish for them–and for us–it would be that they could once again taste the sweet innocence of childhood; jump start their dead hearts with an act of charity instead of violence; hear a kind word; fall in love instead of commit rape; see the ray of sun through the black clouds instead of the storm behind it… heal from whatever festering wound their starved hearts are suffering from.

If only…

I have no answers. I don’t think anyone does. But I know that feeding their hatred with returned violence is not the answer. But neither is silence. We must all speak up, come together and leave our own ideology at the door.

Because the only thing I do know for sure is there cannot be peace until we learn to accept each other’s beliefs and ideas without trying to change them with violence, control and containment. In other words…letting ideas and beliefs start wars.

We have to care for each other, love each other. If we don’t, we are them. We are dead already.

 

Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

It’s finally time to reveal the secret project I’ve been working on for Severn House and TAAA DAAAAA!!! Here is the cover:

Isn’t it soooo cute?! I have to tell you, I was a bit worried when they said they weren’t going with the traditional illustrated cover (at least it’s traditional here in the US for cozies) but I really love the cover they came up with. It sets the perfect atmosphere for the story. And what is the story? So glad you asked. Here’s the blurb:

Introducing ‘doggie-yoga’ instructor Elle Pressley, in the first Paws & Pose Mystery – featuring canine cuties, Florida sunshine, a sexy Irish PI . . . and murder.

Doga instructor Elle Pressley just wants to teach her classes at Moon Key’s Pampered Pup Spa & Resort in peace and save money to move out of her crazy mother’s house. But when her deceased childhood dog, Angel, shows up, she knows she’s about to be in danger. Sure enough, one of her clients winds up dead, and Elle is pulled head first into the investigation. For the prime suspect is Dr. Ira Craft . . . the husband of Elle’s best friend, Hope.

Elle is determined to clear Ira’s name, for Hope’s sake, and she enlists the help of Irish private investigator Devon Burke. But someone is determined to stop Elle from uncovering the truth. And now that Devon’s involved, it’s not just Elle’s life that’s in danger: her heart is too . . .

What do ya think? Sound like a story you want to cozy up to? (See what I did there :-))

Well, if so here’s the details:

It will be available in the US & as an e-book on December 1st. PREORDER
UK folks can order it on Aug 31st or PREORDER
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Now the fun part… the super cute doga beach-tote giveaway!

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY you just need to leave a comment below with the email address you’d like to use to receive my newsletter. (I only send them when there’s a new release or contest)

Also, if you want me to put your name in the hat twice, you can like my Facebook page here as a bonus. (Mention that you did this in your comment)

That’s it!

I’ll randomly select a winner on Tuesday, August 18th. The winner will be notified by email and also be announced on my Facebook Page.

Go forth and enter & good luck!

Are you on Pinterest? Want a peek at my inspiration for this book? Just go HERE

My Yoga Mat Is My Life Raft

So, I’ve told you guys about my new pet cozy series coming soon from Severn House. Some news … I’ve learned the first book is slated for hardback publication in the UK this August, the US edition and worldwide e-book will be out the first of December.

I can’t wait for you guys to meet the main character, Elle Pressley. I think you’re going to love her story! Today, I want to give you a little insight into her world (and mine) by talking about something Elle and I have in common: the use of yoga as a life raft.

Someone else is pretty fond of my mat, too.

Someone else is pretty fond of my mat, too.

I love my yoga mat. When I unroll that sucker and smell the faint scent of rubber, I’m reminded of the saying “where the rubber meets the road” and it definitely fits. But yoga is more than exercise for me, and nothing brought that fact home quicker than this past year of recovering from a serious medical trauma which in turn triggered fibromyalgia.

Because of this, spending time with just this small rectangular space and my own body has become difficult. First of all, there are so many things to overcome now just to get in that space (like joint/muscle pain and fatigue that could take down an elephant). So much to work through not to give up. Frustration. Anger. Grief. So many negative thoughts to let go of in order to stay present and pay attention to my new physical boundaries so I don’t cause a flare up. To be kind to myself. Why is it such a struggle to truly be kind to ourselves?

Yoga has become a vital part of my well-being and the lessons I learn on the mat always translate to life off the mat. The biggest one:  I must show up.

You’d think that would be the easy part, right? Nope.

The importance of this “showing up” has been a valuable lesson for me off the mat, too.

Like my writing. Whether I feel like it or not, I must show up in my writing space every day. I have no boss, no one clocking my hours. But to experience the version of life I want to experience I must write. I must show up. And not just sit at the keyboard and stare out the window, I must be mentally present.

Atlas feels the need to show up with me

Atlas feels the need to show up with me

My kids. Same thing. If I don’t want to wake up one day and realize they’re surly teenagers who would rather walk on hot coals than have a conversation with their mother, I must show up and be present with them now. While they struggle to learn new things, when they fail and fall, when they hit their first homerun. I must show up. Be present. Pay attention.

The family who oms together stays together.

The family who oms together stays together.

Who would have thought a six foot strip of rubber could be such a life saver? But there you have it.

Fortunately, I don’t have to show up to solve a murder in real life like Elle does!
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(If you want to be notified when the new book is released, please sign up for my newsletter on the sidebar —>)

So, what things in your life demand you show up and be present? Have you tried yoga? Loved it? Hated it? Please share?

 

 

 

 

 

Hoodoo Halloween Party & Ghost Photo!

hoodoo

I’m participating in ParaYourNormal’s Hoodoo Halloween Blog Party, and Halloween for me includes ghosts. So I thought it would be fun to do an interview with my mom, who–besides telling us lots of creepy stories growing up that we learned later were actually true–has managed to capture a ghost on camera.

So, before we get into the how and where and what-the-hell, here’s the picture in question:

Just another tour picture, right? Now here’s a close-up of that mirror in the upper left corner:                                     

Do you see him now? It doesn’t take much imagination to see the upper torso of a man in a white silk shirt, long brown hair… the eyes obscured by the default in the mirror. When we blow this image up more, we even see a red ring on the hand that he’s got raised in front of his torso.

Now let’s get the scoop from Carol:

Me: Where was this photo taken?

Nemacolin Castle. Photo by Acroterion, Creative Commons

Nemacolin Castle. Photo by Acroterion, Creative Commons

 

Carol: The photo was taken at the Nemacolin Castle in Brownsville, Pa. while on a tour, but this was not a ghost hunting tour. I love antiques and wanted to learn about the history of the castle. The important thing to remember about that day is they only let eight people go through at a time and didn’t start another tour until the last was gone. So there was no other group around us. But, we did notice a paranormal group in the last room as we were leaving.

Me: What was your reaction when you saw the image of the man in the mirror?

Carol: I didn’t believe what I was seeing. I called my sister immediately and our family got together to go through all the photos of the people in our group. No one even remotely resembled or was dressed like the man in the photo. So I then called the castle and asked if they had a mannequin in a period costume in that room. When they said they didn’t, a chill ran down my spine. We were all excited at this point. They asked me to bring my camera in to see the photo for themselves. They also arranged for me to meet with the paranormal group.

Me: I can imagine how excited a paranormal team must have been to see this photo. What was their reaction?

Carol: They were very excited. After viewing all the photos, they did a recreation and had me stand in the spot I was when I took that particular photo. I was standing in the doorway of the room at that time. The funniest part was the team tried to take photos from that point and their batteries drained twice before they could get a photo. Finally, they were able to take several photos with people of different heights to determine how tall he was. Their conclusion was, by the angle and reflection of the  man, he had to have been standing in the doorway next to me. And looking right at me.

Me: Sounds like you had a secret admirer! Did you have any other odd experiences during your tour?

Carol: Yes, when they looked at my photos they showed me several orbs I had captured. One was on the steps where a little girl is often seen. I suddenly remembered a man with the paranormal team telling me a little girl was following me as we were leaving. I laughed it off at the time. Little did I know what I’d find on my camera.

Thanks, Mom! Well guys and gals, what do you think? Do you believe in spirits, ghosts and things that go bump in the night? Do you have any questions for Carol?

 

Book News

Fall_Wallpaper
Fall is here and change is in the air! Normally, this would be the time of year that I would release a new book in the Pet Psychic series, and I’ve been receiving a lot of emails lately asking when book four will be out. Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

Bad news first. While I definitely will be releasing book four eventually (after all, there is Sylvia’s big wedding coming up!), it has been delayed.

The good news is why it’s delayed. I’ve recently signed a contract for a two book deal with Severn House Publishers for a brand new pet cozy mystery series!

So, this new series will be my priority. I’m so excited to be working with Severn House on this project. They have forty years of experience behind them and everyone has been so charming and kind. Plus, I am having so much fun writing the first book. I can’t wait for you guys to read it! There’s plenty of dogs, humor, romance and of course… murder.

If you want to know when either of the new books are out, the best thing to do is sign up for my newsletter. (Sign up on the sidebar—>)

I won’t spam you, I promise! I only send out a newsletter when I have a new release or special offer.

Happy Fall!

My Mystic Faire Experience

It’s been awhile since my last post, so I thought I’d share my day at a local mystic faire with you. Have you ever gone to one? It was the first time I’d ever been and I’m not sure why it took me so long, it was so much fun!

“Crystal skull” by C. Corleis – Uploaded by photographer as Image:Kristallschaedel.jpg

Some things of particular interest there were crystal skulls (above); Rods of Isis (which got super warm when my mom held them and freezing cold when I did. Not sure what that meant); a Tibetan bowl demonstration that we put our feet into while the energy sound healer made it sing. (It actually made me lightheaded); every flavor of gorgeous crystals you could imagine and of course… a pet psychic!

I couldn’t bring myself to talk to the pet psychic because I’m too emotional to handle thinking about the dogs I’ve lost in a public setting. I know… I’m a big chicken. I did, however, try a palm reading. She was pretty amazing.

First, did you know that the lines on your palm are always changing? I didn’t! She said you can make a print of your palm and then watch how the lines change over time. Anyway, the first thing she told me was never to move away from water because my soul needed to be by water. Yeah, I already learned that lesson and found happiness when I moved back to Florida.

I won’t go into all the personal things but I will just say that besides telling me basic things like how many children I had, that I was a writer, etc. she read a very specific event that threw my entire twenties into turmoil. She almost had to pick me up off the floor, I was so shocked. I still get chills when I think about her knowing such a specific thing about me. So, now I’m a believer in the art of palm reading. Or at least in this particular woman’s art.

Oh, I also brought home this gorgeous necklace!
I have no issues with psychics, energy healers, shamans, etc. After all, everything is energy so it makes sense to me there would be individuals who are sensitive to more subtle forms of it.

What about you? Have you had an experience with any psychics, palm readers, etc.? Please share!

 

Venice Book Fair

Spring is here and with it comes the annual Venice Book Fair & Writer’s Festival. It’s one of my favorite events in our quaint little beach town. I’ll be there signing my newest release so if you’re any where near us next weekend, stop in and say hi & get your books signed by some fabulous local authors!