Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday's Recommended Reading!

This Thursday's In-The-Know Recommends come from Debbie Campbell, owner of Statesboro, Georgia's independent bookstore The Book and Cranny.

For the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan:
Echo by Jack McDevitt
Described as satisfying, masterful, and suspenseful, McDevitt's work challenges and haunts his readers -- Echo is no exception. Available in November.

For The YA Reader:
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
More from the adventures of Percy Jackson and Camp Half-Blood. Available now.

For the Mystery Fan:
The Confession by John Grisham
Its tagline: "Only a guilty man can save him." This book is John Grisham "back on his game," says Debbie. Available now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lady Rider

by Catriona Iams, Lady of Harley, and writer of historical fiction and historical romance

As many of my friends know, I ‘ride bitch.’ As of September, I’m a ‘lady rider.’ I think I’ll still ride bitch from time-to-time, after all, it’s an intimate way to travel, and I’m new to this. If it’s dark and rainy, I drive my cage to meet my friends for dinner. And I’m laughed at: “Wimp!”

Oh … excuse my biker vernacular. ‘Ride bitch’ means to ride passenger on a motorcycle. Lady Rider is a woman who rides her own motorcycle. Cage is a car, and if you get out on the road on a motorcycle, you’ll know why a car is called a cage.

Harley-Davidson, Life Begins When You Get One”

For me, this marketing slogan is partly true. My babies are grown, my first born 20, and my baby girl is 16. Need I say more? The only time I can get my daughter to go anywhere with me is if there’s something in it for her, like a pair of UGG boots. When my son went away to college I went into grieving mode. I knew I’d miss him, but I had no idea that the process would feel more like mourning than a tough adjustment. And yet feeling that way seemed so wrong. How could he be away having the time of his life while I was feeling like someone close to me had died? My mood did improve, and relatively quickly, the grieving process short, since no one had really died.

So, one Summer weekend My Mr. Darcy (MMD) and I were potting flowers for the yard, havign the usual seasonal discussions, such as how much more use can we get from our gas grille and current patio furniture, and how lucky we were to be able to afford heating oil through the winter (I might just be the only non-Southerner, here), and how often, if ever, we should check our ravaged 401k. Frankly, it occurred to me suddenly that I was sick-and-tired of sitting home waiting to grow old. Who am I kidding … getting old.

My brother-in-law has a Harley-Davidson, a big HOG, and on the weekends he wears a leather vest with patches and a doo-rag on his head. During the week he’s the guy in a pair of khakis and a polo shirt who heads-up a purchasing department for a large company. So me thinks: A Harley?


I don’t know what possessed me, but I said to MMD: “Let’s go to the Harley-Davidson dealership and just look around.” Well, that’s like saying to the ultimate sports fan: “Do you think we should buy tickets for a few of the Phillies games?” That’s right, the baseball fan, with little encouragement, would buy season tickets. My husband had me at the Harley-Davidson dealership within the hour. We owned a big, fat HOG within three days. Here it is: 2003 Road King Classic, 100th Anniversary Edition. All silver and shiny and clad in chrome.

Two helmets, two leather jackets, and two hard-core motorcycle boots later and we were set to ride. Well, I was anyway. My husband hadn’t ridden a motorcycle for many years, and then it was smaller, lighter, metric bikes. He had to get used to balancing the weight of a Harley-Davidson. And once he’d mastered that, he had to get used to balancing the bike with me on the back. I had to cool my boots for three weeks until he felt confident that he could ride with me as passenger.

This was just the “posing” picture. I hadn’t actually been on the back with the motor running yet.

For about a month we rode to various parks and friends’ houses and then wondered where we could go next. Lo and behold, an envelope arrived in the mail from National Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.). The dealership where we’d purchased the bike paid for a one year membership for us. I logged on and discovered road maps with pre-planned, downloadable routes; an online store; message boards; enthusiast journals; and most importantly, a link to a local H.O.G. chapter. There was one in our county that met monthly.

MMD and I went to the meeting held in a local firehouse’s banquet hall. About fifteen round tables (sans the linens that usually adorn them for baby showers and weddings, were spaced about the room) and for the most part, full. Leather clad men, and some women, sat around, drinking coffee and eating cake. Yes, eating cake. Bikers eat cake. They like ice cream, too.

MMD and I did not know where we fit-in, so we chose a table with two open seats. There, we met the Kauffman’s. And the Bittner’s. And the Nicely’s. Mrs. Kauffman is in my age group, pretty curly hair, silver from the day she was 20, and a graphic artist with her own business. She rides her own motorcycle. Mr. Kauffman is a talented guitarist and vocalist. Mr. Bittner works in IT at an ivy-league university, and Mrs. Bittner rides bitch with her Bichon Frise in a customized pet carrier on the back. Mr. Nicely is retired airforce and Mrs. Nicely is a witch. The good kind. She just got her mc license.

Since then, we’ve learned that local H.O.G. chapters are populated with judges, the ex-convicts they’d convicted, volunteer firemen, accountants, and romance writers, like myself. Though I’m the only one in my chapter, and does it make for fun conversation. We ride for charity, and we ride for fun. Our club motto: 'Live to Ride, Ride to Eat'.

On the back of MMD’s hog, with our group, we travelled to Washington, DC for “Rolling Thunder,” to support a chapter by the same name’s efforts to keep focus on POW/MIA. We spent the weekend touring museums, eating at fine dining establishments, sightseeing, and memorializing with other “bikers.” We’ve been to Gettysburg and toured the battlefield on our chrome pony, and riding those old horse trails, paved now, was just like seeing the roadsides and rolling hills and farmhouses the way those cavalrymen would have seen it in 1863, I’m convinced.

There’s nothing like seeing the country (indeed, our world) on the back of a motorcycle. We’ve met International H.O.G. members in Sweden and Finland, Scotland and Belfast, Ireland. Well, maybe being a rider, instead of passenger, might be better. I’m soon to find out. I just passed the state Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and then the road test and 'M' was added to my license, meaning I am a licensed motorcyclist. I bought a bike!

What’s it like? Riding passenger (or riding bitch in the motocycle enthusiast’s vernacular) is very nice on the back of a big Harley hog. They are smooth, and not as loud when you’re on one as when you’re beside them on the highway. You see everything in panorama. A storm off in the distance looks like a shimmering gray horizon, from which bolts of lightning charge up from the ground and meet bolts that are fired down from above. At least that’s the way it looks. The smell of ozone is crisp. Being caught in the rain is really quite a pleasure. The aerodynamics of the bike cause you to ride with a flow of wind over you, so you feel only a cool mist. On a hot summer day it’s delightful. When riding in a car, you are looking out a window, even if the window is open. It’s not a full view by any stretch. Inside the car you smell leather, pleather or carpet and plastic. On the back of a motorcycle you smell freshly cut grass, smoke from a chimney, honeysuckle, lilac and anything that’s about. Riding in a group over and through historic covered bridges is sensational, your senses seduced by the sound of wheels on thick wood planks, sharp edges of sunlight pouring in through the slats of the bridge, the smell of the dry cedar roof rafters, and the echo of the pipes as riders throttle up. These small thrills remind all riders of the simple and pleasantly overwhelming delights of childhood.

When you join a club, you could be riding with 20 bikers or more, and so you ride in formation. Have you ever ridden behind a motorcycle “gang” and seen them hold up their left hand and make the sign of the devil’s horns? I have, and thought it some diabolical symbol of unity among the demons on wheels. It means: resume staggered formation in two rows. One finger means single file, narrow road ahead. In this pack, many bikers have headsets, complicated systems that make it possible to listen to music on your iPhone or MP3 player, answer your cell phone, and communicate with the others riding in your formation on a designated channel. So the commaraderie is wonderful. We laugh at the heady scent of cow manure, share the oohs and ahhs as we see wild turkeys, deer in the field, llamas by a fence, vineyards we pass, and, living so close to the shoreline, the smell of the ocean and the fun to be had along the roadways to the seashore.

That’s what it’s like to ride passenger, and I’m sure it will be that way again for me as a Rider. A rider is one who is driving the motorcycle. Right now, it’s not quite the idyllic scenery of roaring loudly through the bucolic countryside. It’s so much more physical. I was sore after my first day of riding. I didn’t go very far, clocking about twelve miles. My arms, shoulders, forearms and calves were sore. The clutch is within reach of my left hand, the front brake within reach of my right hand. Rear brake, right foot. Shift lever, left foot. WeightWatchers credits you points for riding a motocycle. “What gear am I in?” (out of 5) is a constant refrain I repeat to myself. “Stop sign ahead, slow down. Use rear brake first. Can't go up hill in neutral.” It’s a series of isometric exercises, using motor skills, and some coordination I didn’t think I was capable of. But I’ve accomplished something major, at a time when I thought the most major thing I could do is sell a manuscript, or wait for one of my children to provide me grandchildren. Riding a motorcycle compares, I think.

The first time I picked my feet up and clutched, shifted gears, turned a corner and then sped-up to follow MMD through the winding roads of my neighborhood felt great. I hope to be comfortable enough with the process to ride to the Pennsylvania State Rally in Summer 2011 to Gettysburg, PA, with my fellow chapter members, both male and female, and meet with other members of the Ladies of Harley (L.O.H.), a sub-chapter of National H.O.G. So, yes, I am truly a Lady of Harley. Here's our Crest:

And here’s what a Lady of Harley looks like on a bike in Pennsylvania in Autumn:

Why all the leather and chains and skulls? It's positively medieval. And I love it! And I love old castles, too. Both motorcycles and castle ruins inspire my muse. Here's me straddling a motorcycle:

And here's me sitting like a lady on the causeway of Urquhart Castle's main gate, and the inspiration for my work-in-progess: HIGHLAND PRINCESS.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Susanna's Review of His Majesty, the Prince of Toads by Delle Jacobs

Book description:
Sometimes it takes more than a kiss to change a toad into a handsome prince.

When Captain Lucas Deverall returns from the Peninsular War to succeed to his deceased brother's title, he grudgingly decides to take back his wife. But even before he learns the circumstances of his inheritance, he encounters her at a New Year's gala. Shock sets in as he realizes the most beautiful woman in England is the same gangly, calf-eyed chit who tricked him into marriage six years before.

That's not how Sophie remembers it. She wishes fervently she'd had the sense not to scream when the drunken scapegrace crawled into her bed at her Uncle Harry's house party. True, she'd had a secret tendre for the handsome wastrel, until his scathing denunciation of her after their forced wedding. Then he went off to war without even consummating their union, and for six years she heard nothing from him.

Now the toad offers her forgiveness in exchange for his presence in her bed? Revenge comes more to mind.

And so the battle of wits begins. And the harder they fight it, the more they fall in love.
The author would have you believe that Deverall is a toad of a man, but I never believed that for one second. As much as Delle may want you to think the worst of Lucas, you can’t, because he is so much fun! In my way of seeing things, an author gets extra credit for creating wily, interesting characters.
No other heroine but hard-headed (that’s right, hard-headed and stubborn, not head-strong and spirited) Sophie could match for this man.
I’ve been a big fan of Delle’s work for several years. However, this is the first time I’ve read His Majesty, the Prince of Toads. So, I’m quite aware that Delle likes to lead readers down the rosy path. You think her story is going to do something predictable, and then the situation explodes into something you never imagined. Or, Delle can shove her characters into the tightest corners and you truly wonder how they can possibly get out of this fix. Yet they do and with great flair.
When Lucas returns home from the war to discover his estate in disarray thanks to his brother, Lucas finds he needs his estranged wife for her inheritance, her body, and ultimately her love. He gives Sophie a few days of freedom before she has to move in with him and start living as his wife. He enlists the help of his friend and fellow rake, Carstairs, to help him win his own wife.
Sophie has no intention of obeying the toad. She and her friend Minvera engage Lucas and Carstairs in a hilarious battle of seduction that takes place in the ballrooms and streets of London
I have a soft spot in my heart for all Delle’s secondary characters. Minvera and Carstairs are no exception. Delle writes well–rounded minor characters who are motivated by very real emotions. No boring subplots here!
Of course, through their misadventures, Lucas and Sophie come closer. Does Lucas finally capture his wife? Or does Sophie capture him? I won’t tell…
For all the fun, the story has a very serious side. Lucas and Sophie are being haunted by the terrible atrocities they both suffered during the war. Sophie, the daughter of a German Count, lost her parents to the conflict. With the help of her uncle, she fled to the safety of England. It takes Lucas and Sophie working together to heal what they couldn’t on their own. These characters truly love and need each other. The ending is satisfying on multiple levels; a marriage is united, the pain of the past can begin to be healed, and the couple has the support of dear friends and family.
So often I finish books and I think the story is over for the hero and heroine. After the words “the end” the characters can move on to their happily-ever-after, boring married lives. Not Sophie and Lucas. Together with their friends, they are just gearing up for more adventures.
Delle writes precise prose that just sparkles. Her scenes have a beautiful arc and are packed with tension and great dialogue. (Most of this book takes place in London. However, if you read one of her books set in the countryside, you will see Delle has a fabulous eye for describing nature…it reads like a lovely painting.) If you want traditional romance with a little something added, this book is it!
I would read this book with a McManis Pinot Grigio. Crisp, dry, and a little fruity.

You can find out about Delle Jacobs and her work at her wonderful website:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Susanna Interviews Delle Jacobs

The Mojito Literary Society is delighted to have the acclaimed Romance writer Delle Jacobs as a guest. I've been a fan of Delle's writing for several years. She develops amazing characters and unique plots. I was giddy when she agreed to come on our blog. So without further ado...

In our conversations, you seem to possess a rather artistic view of story creation. Can you tell us about the writing process for His Majesty, The Prince of Toads?

Thanks so much for inviting me to join you, Susanna! I'm looking forward to this group.
I've never thought of bludgeoning one's Muse as artistic, but it does work. Really, I think creation is as more of a process than an inspiration. The more you do it, the more the insights flow.

Every time I start a new story, I set for myself a challenge, something to do I've never tried before. In HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS, I wanted to write the evolution of a Toad into a Handsome Prince, the man who believes in all sincerity that he is right and has the heroine's best interests at heart, but in fact has a lot of changing to do before he's worth her love. But writing such a fellow without making him such a book-hurling jerk is a huge challenge. Lucas is much like the ordinary privileged man of his time, but he has the advantage of being able to admit he's wrong. And that is his saving grace. Showing his potential encased in his flaws was really interesting work.

What I love about your books is how you take a cliché situation and alter it until it becomes something new and wonderful. What is your mental process when you create scenes and characters? How many drafts do you typically make of a scene? When do you know you have it right?

The Regency Period is so narrowly confined in time and place, even in class structure, that there's really nothing that hasn't already been covered. Finding the new twist, I think, is in the characters. I'll think of a new way of turning an old plot, but then I have to think who would be the people who got themselves into such a tangle. My Toad, Lucas, comes from a really crazy family with lots of family secrets, but he almost doesn't realize how abnormal it is. His solution as a very young man was escape into drunken escapades, and finally running away to war. For me, no other hero would have fit.

Sometimes it's just voices or actions when I start- just that sketchy. But setting influences how interactions come out. I use physical settings in symbolic ways, like the missing staircase in Lucas's family home. He had built his memories around those stairs, and when he found it torn out, it was like the heart was gone from the place. He had to work around what was missing, just as he'd done all his life. But I didn't know that when I wrote it. In fact, I just realized it. That might tell you just how organic I feel the setting elements are in my stories.

You were employed for years as a social worker. Do your experiences in that job transfer into situations and characters in your writing?

Social work and counseling taught me a lot about people. Nobody comes to a counselor if they don't have troubles, and the core for treatment for me was always very practical: Problem Solving Therapy. It has other more modern names but I always like the one that says what it does: it teaches people how to identify and solve problems.

People haven't really changed over the centuies, but they didn't know about psychiatry, or speak in psychiatric terms in the early Nineteenth Century. They didn't analyze each other, or blame their over-doting mothers for smothering them emotionally. But strong people are the same as strong characters, and those who have problems and can find the ability to seek out solutions are the ones I most admire. The people I served taught me more than I ever could have imagined about the human spirit.

You won the Golden Heart, the highest accolade for an unpublished romance writer, three times. Yet your books received an interesting reception in the NY publishing world. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened in those years?

Remember, most of those years were the ones when the historical romance was considered either dying or dead. In 2006, I won the very last Regency Category Golden Heart, and this after the last two surviving lines of the Traditional Regency had finally closed down. I had taken a historical and cut it down to Regency length to try to assure the category of having enough entries, certain it wouldn't win. It did, but then had to re-construct it once again. That is LADY WICKED, which is finally coming out next February.

It is a very good example of the story that just won't sell in tough times, when the publishers only want the ‟tried and true". No glitz and flash in that story- both hero and heroine are past that. They're both outcasts- she through no fault of her own, and he- well, he earned his way out the doors of the Ton. She has a hidden backstory of domestic violence that still threatens her. She makes some people uncomfortable because she's deeply wounded and withdrawn from a rejecting society. Only Lord Savoury sees the truth of a damaged but indomitable spirit, a woman who will beat the odds and make her way in a world determined not to give her a chance.

Davina's story is an important one for me to tell. It must be told. I could not dumb her down because I believe readers are intelligent. If you want a generic romance, sorry, this isn't it. But it's a beautiful redemption and triumph story anyway. (And the villain really gets his in the end in a way that still makes me gleeful.)

You were one of the first romance authors to embrace online publishing and receive acclaim. What was your rationale when you first started ePublishing?

Part of it was that very poor market for historicals. But I was intrigued by a very different path for publishing. I did know how few books I would sell, and I did guess it would be a good ten years before everything pulled together for ebooks to become an important force. I was shocked by some of the nastiness toward ebook authors over the last ten years and I really had no idea I would be so vilified as a writer. Unfortunately, I'm not good at backing down or running away. So I'm still here. Still loving writing.

Recently, you’ve had a very interesting career turn. Can you tell us about hitting the top of the Amazon charts? How has it affected your other publications?

It was a complete surprise to me. I knew about Kindle's Free Reads, but thought those books were chosen from major ebook publishers. I had recently re-issued my backlist myself, with very good results. Then suddenly my sales numbers zoomed. I was at a conference and was so shocked I had to find my roommates to tell me it was really true. The upshot: five days on Free Reads netted 20,000 downloads for those two and quadrupled an entire month's sales for the others. Since then, I've had books at the top of almost all of Amazon and Kindle's Best Seller lists, including a third, not free, book, HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS. List numbers do drop, of course, but sales are continuing at a fairly brisk pace. And it doesn't hurt my feelings that Kindle is actually going to pay me full royalties for nearly 24,000 books.

For ebooks, visibility is everything, and an opportunity like the Free Reads is promo no money can buy. But I'm immensely proud of my books, of the great reviews and numbers they've gained once the Free Read slot closed for them. Now to get the fifth book up, before people forget me!

You design amazing book covers. You seem to get inspiration from the visual. When you create a cover, does a story rise from the image? Or do you create the image from a story in your head?

It can go either way. Sometimes, I'm just playing with an idea, and suddenly it all comes together, complete with new title. The sequel to my SIREN historical sea fantasy came to me this way recently. I was just playing with a Jimmy Thomas portrait (every author/artist should play with Jimmy Thomas, really), with a beautiful fanlike graphic piece in golden colors, but it just wasn't working. Then when I shifted the gold colors to deep blues, it just hit. INDIGO OF THE OCEANS. What a weird title. A few more additions, and then the first sentence for the book hit me: ‟He was called Indigo for the color of his eyes- " And now I'm writing his story.

What is on the creative horizon for you?

I have two books in submission now. I'm also working on a four-part series, a time travel. And I have two Regency Historicals to finish. So many books, so little time...

Is there a question I should I have asked but didn’t?

I'm just glad you didn't ask the standard questions. You've really made me think. And thanks again for the invite.


You can learn more about Delle Jacob's books and covers by visiting her lovely website:

Ask Delle a question or leave a comment below!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Recommended Reading!

Recommendations from H – the world’s best Borders manager

BAYOU MOON by Ilona Andrews
Second in her Edge chronicles. After her parents are kidnaps, Cerise must keep her family together and protect their properties from the strange creatures that live in the Mire, a region of swamplands which exist in between US and magical realm the Weird. At the same time William, a changeling warrior, has been sent into the Mire to track down an evil spymaster bent on killing all changelings. No holds barred action, believable romance, and intense individualistic characters (they are all nuts.)

Scion of an ancient House, Malian knows her duty is to protect her people against the Darkswarm. However, some people think the Darkswarm no longer exist. Believable and complex characters. Fully realized civilization and intricate plot line. One of books that you still like characters even if you don’t agree with all their decisions. Looks like the start of a good new series.

Recommendations from E - the wonder librarian and bookworm.

STORK RAVING MAD by Donna Andrews
Andrews is writer who doesn’t have to strain to be comical, her humor flows naturally. Anytime your heroine is eight and half months pregnant, it’s gonna be funny! While hosting a flamboyant playwright, her animal activist grandfather, flaky cousin, and several of her husband’s college students in her home, a murder occurs. Our heroine Meg must find the killer in between bathroom breaks, naps, and labor.

THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin
An epic novel about vampires who were engineered by the US Military. The vampires ravage the country to satisfy their blood lust. Humanity chances rest mainly on one little girl (who is kinda weird). A novel lover’s novel.

BODY WORK by Sara Paretsky
V.I. is back!

Great Southern revenge novel, climaxing with debutante ball in Wal-Mart parking lot. Funny, funny, funny.

What books do you recommend?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Regency Roses

Some of us who love words the same way we love gardens -- the lush creative profusion, the careful nurturing, the riot of extravagance that is a blossom, any blossom. Glory glory glory.

So a special treat for those who love both. Writer Amy Corwin is guest blogging over at The Fascination Files on Regency roses -- she's included some lovely photographs, plus some interesting history about roses themselves.

If this piques your interest, check it out here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Suicide is stupid

I'm just going to come right out and say it, suicide is stupid. It is, as my father likes to say, a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But of course, that's the 40 year old me talking. The 14 year old me would have said it was a perfectly reasonable choice. That is one of many many ways 40 has 14 beat. I may have wrinkles to go with my pimples now, and my figure is more clock than hour glass, but I have fucked up. I have done dumb things, and wrong things, and been to bad bad psychological places. And I have lived through them. I may have a bunch of scars on the inside, parts of my mind may be held together with crazy-glue. (Which explains so much when you think about it.) But I am very very happy.

At 40, you have so much experience, both with how terrible things can be or feel, and how-- surprisingly enough you can survive them. Being secretly video-taped having gay sex and then having that video shown around the world, would be embarrassing, but not as bad as some of my other secrets getting out. I would know that unless I wanted the Tea Party Senatorial Nomination in Delaware, my political career was, umm, undermined. And that I'd be the butt of a few jokes. On the other hand, I'd know that quick round, of “Silly me, I forgot to ask for royalties” or “It's terrible, that angle makes my bum look huge” and it would be pretty much over.

If only that poor boy from Rutgers had had those extra 20 years, then he would have gotten another 40.

It's easy to say the evil room mate stole them from him, but it's more complicated than that. Does he bare all of the blame? He raped the psyche of that poor boy who killed himself. There is no denying that. He broke another's will to live. Still, the boy who killed himself, he did that, he choose that. How much free will does a person have after an assault like that? Most rape victims don't kill themselves. What about the poor Irish girl in Boston, bullied for being foreign? Those other girls, hounded her viciously, and deserve punishment. However, to say that a suicide has no choice in the matter, was driven too it by the actions of another – that is dangerous too. Because every time someone says “they were driven to it” it takes the choice out of the dead person's hands. And that choice is so important. I know at 14, or 20, it feels like you have no choice, but you do. You do, you do you do. Choose, angry, choose hurt, choose drunk, choose trashing your room-mate, but don't choose nothingness, because you will never get to choose anything again.

Now that was never me, college was fine, and micro cameras belonged only the CIA, who did not care about me. But elementary school? That was terrible. I can suppose in retrospect that somebody has to be least popular, I just wish there hadn't been such a gap between second least popular and me. Or rather that it hadn't been the done thing to tease, torment, and whack the least popular. So trust me, I know how much it hurts to be taunted, to not fit in and have that held against you, to be deliberately humiliated by the people you though were your friends. How you feel for Cinderella's evil step sister who cuts off her toes to make the shoe fit. Because had you been able to cut off some part of yourself to make it stop, you would. So I will say this to you no-fit-in-ites, fuck 'em. That's right, fuck them all. They are bland, scared conformists. And they are mean. If they would taunt some one for being atheist, or black, or different when they are 10 or 15, you know what sort of person they are? Future Hitler Camp Guards. They suck and their opinion DOES NOT MATTER. So don't give them any power over you, rather give them the finger and know your tribe is out there waiting for you. Or your peaceable hut in the woods. Whatever works for you. But if you stop looking you sure as hell won't find it.

Please, oh please, all you hurt little children, know that it does get better. Or rather it gets better, it gets bad, it gets better, and you learn that the bad is never forever, and the good out weights it in the end.

Don't get me wrong, my heart bleeds for those people who kill themselves, who are so drowning in pain that they can't imagine a way out. But, live, damn you live. Sometimes it hurts, but sometimes avoiding the pain is the dumbest thing. And don't waste your chances in an instant.


PS: And to all my dear gay friends, I love that you are reaching out so vocally to all those gay children telling them it does get better. But may I please ask you to reach out a hand to the misfit, bullied straight children? Just as I would ask my misfit had-been-bullied straight friends to reach out a hand to the gay children. Remember, it's the bulling that hurts not the being gay. (Dear gay kids, being gay can turn out to be a lot fun. Give it practice.) The bullied are being bullied for being different, and gay is just a flavor of different. Between 10 and 30% of teen suicides are committed by gay kids, which means that 70-90% are committed by bullied straight kids. Every hurt child needs to know that better is out there, that fitting in- or not caring about fitting in- is out there.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tina's Review of CAPTIVE SPIRIT by Liz Fichera

We make it a practice here at the Mojito Literary Society to appreciate good drinks, good food, good friends and good writing. And by “good,” I don’t mean “okay.“ I mean good in its heartiest sense — honest, pleasing, well-crafted and authentic.

Hopefully, our book reviews reflect this ideal. I have been lucky enough in my life to have been blessed with librarians and bookstore owners and voracious reader friends, and as a member of the Society, I want to continue this tradition of sharing the treasures that come my way.

Therefore, I am very very excited to tell you about Captive Spirit, a debut romance from Liz Fichera, published this summer by Carina Press. You may have had the pleasure of reading an interview with the author a few weeks ago in which she told us a little about the history that sparked this novel — the story of a Native American tribe known as the Hohokam, which translates as “the ones who left.” From this factual framework, Captive Spirit was created.

It’s the story of Aiyana, a teenager living in the Sonoran Desert at the dawn of the sixteenth century. When her father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she flees, only to be captured by mercenary Spanish raiders who consider her just another trade good. Her village — and her best friend Honovi — far behind, Aiyana must find a way to return home, to the people she loves, but also to a culture that has no neat category for her. But first, she must survive.

Fichera’s attention to craft is obvious and exemplary; she deftly pulls off the intricate balance of setting, action and characterization needed to move this narrative forward. Aiyana’s story is achingly familiar to anyone who has ever stretched against the confines of their culture, and yet it is utterly foreign at the same time. The Hohokam no longer exist; they are a footnote in history. And yet we as readers must identify with this young woman even though the choices and obstacles in her path may seem alien to us. Her people are quite literally ghosts now, walking and talking on the page, but otherwise vanished. And yet we must care about them, and Aiyana, as if they were our own people.

This is where Captive Spirit shines, with this deft interplay of explication and action. The narrative keeps the reader engrossed by presenting situations that still resonate even today — familial obligations, cultural demands, necessary capitulations — and it pulls off this trick by evoking the emotions that all humans share — faith, hope, grief, and love. In this book, the universal is personal, deeply felt and honestly rendered.

The characters are complicated. No one is a caricature, not even the fierce Apache chieftain or the calculating Spaniard who each holds her life in his hands. Each character, no matter how treacherous, no matter how decent, is a complex identity. Villains act with compassion and tenderness in certain contexts, while good people erupt in brutal violence in others.

But at its heart, Captive Spirit is a romance, a surprisingly delicate love story playing out against the hardscrabble landscapes of desert and mountain. Aiyana is no delicate maiden — she gets blood on her hands, literally, as she hunts and fishes and endures hardships beyond her previous experience. Her love is no adolescent crush, and she is no hothouse flower.

Some books tell one person’s story with such precise detail and honest attention that the story can be read again and again, for as the reader changes, so do the understandings that unfold with the narrative. Captive Spirit is that kind of book. I am grateful it came my way.

Suggested beverage pairing — I’d choose a unfiltered wheat beer for this story. Nothing heavy, but something honest and unpretentious, something rich with the land and the sun and the rain that produced it.


You can read an excerpt of Captive Spirit at Liz's website: or buy it at Carina Press and other booksellers.

About Liz:

Liz is an author from the American Southwest by way of Chicago. She likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends. Her debut historical romance novel was published in June 2010 by Carina Press. Don’t hesitate to connect with her around the web and especially at her web site because it can get real lonely in the desert.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Virtual Visiting

I'm honored and excited to be guest blogging over at Amy Corwin's Fiction Writing and Other Oddities. Please join me there for my guest post on tarot and writing. You can find it at:

It's a very nice virtual veranda she offers, with lots of shady places to sit and talk words and wordsmithing.