Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Birthday Wish

I hate to admit it, but my birthday is this week.


Birthdays and I have a rocky relationship at best. But that's a personal issue. ;)



Problems aside, I do have a wish for this birthday that puts me deeper into my thirty-somethings.






I wish that you read Imperfect.






Seriously. This isn't a joke, or even a sales gimick. I'm terrible with sales, remember?




The truth is, Imperfect is so near and dear to my heart. It is such a reflection of who I am as a person, and what I believe. My heart is deeply interwoven in that book. Imperfect isn't just a story. It is me.





It's available for PC, MAC, Kindle, Nook, Sony, and all the e-readers that I don't even know exist.



It's on amazon, barnesandnoble.com and pretty much anywhere you look for it. So, it's not as if you can tell me you couldn't find it or it wasn't formatted for your reader.



It's an e-book. Ergo, it is cheap. Thus, you cannot tell me it's a tremendous expense.



It's a simple wish; a simple request, really. I just want to know that YOU are reading or have read my book. This book that I clutch close to my heart. I want to know that you opened your mind to the possibilities that this book presents. I want to know that you allowed yourself to feel all of the emotions that the characters feel. I want to know that you allowed yourself to be challenged logically, emotionally and even spiritually. I want to know that this book has touched you in some way.


Purchase Imperfect


So, if you wouldn't mind, I'd greatly appreciate it if you took a moment to download your copy of Imperfect and began to read it. Feel free to tell me what you think or ask any questions. It would really make my birthday something special. ;)


Purchase Imperfect

Monday, September 27, 2010

VBT Author Spotlight: George Hudson



George Sherman Hudson was born and raised in Atlanta Ga.. After being continuously rejected by different publishers because of the subject matter contained in his books while serving time, this father of two did some research and started G Street Chronicles, the urban book publishing company that's ran by him with the help of his COO and fiancé Erica Jones . While George is continuously working hard to make G Street Chronicles a recognized name in the literary industry, he's also working hard on his highly anticipated REAL series. George has authored five books in all. His debut book Drama is in stores now. Having published more than 10 titles in the first year of business George is determined to make G Street Chronicles an urban lit powerhouse.



What is Urban Fiction?
Urban fiction, also known as Street lit, is a literary genre set, as the name implies, in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the race and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside. Profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit, with the writer not shying away from or watering-down the material.

It doesn't matter whether you call it urban fiction, hip-hop fiction, ghetto lit or gangster lit, this genre has had a profound impact on publishing similar to the way that rap music did in its early days. What is significant is that a new audience for books has evolved. The material may be a little crude or harsh sometimes, but many find it to be true to the experience that it depicts.

Urban fiction the once misunderstood and under estimated genre has solidified itself in the publishing industry. The old traditional major publishing houses that once turned their nose up at urban fiction is now making six and seven figure deals to be a part of the growing genre. Most people think urban fiction is all about drugs, violence, and poverty when its not. For example my first novel Drama is about three women going through life's ups and downs. Right now it's a best seller within the company that's now only a year old. One of my premiere authors book titled Married to His Lies is on the verge of making essence best seller list and it doesn't contain the stereo typical urban drama plot. We at G Street highly recommend our new line up of books for our spring release.




About Drama

The drama just doesn't stop in the lives of Deb, Tammy, and Lisa. Deb, the hard worker and savvy entrepreneur is blessed with a multimillion dollar contract, but has to enjoy the success without the comfort of her man whose fledging music career has him busy from state to state. Tammy has everything a diva could want, a multimillion dollar home, expensive cars, clothes, jewelry, and she thought love.

Drama is a book a lot like sex in the city with black characters, each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character. They take turns telling their side of the story. It has everything, humor, emotions, great characters, and a lot of drama.


website: http://www. gstreetchronicles.com

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Drama-George-Sherman-Hudson/dp/0615314082/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281797093&sr=8-3

Friday, September 24, 2010

VBT Author Spotlight: Diane Griffin





Author Bio: Diane Griffin, President and owner of Security First & Associates, says her motivation for writing Everything You Wanted to Know About the Security Clearance Process, But Are Afraid To Ask: Professional Guidance for Obtaining and Maintaining a Security Clearance came from the more than two decades of people she has assisted, both in her role as a private security contractor, and as the head of personnel or security within major governmental contractors, in finding their way through the complicated security clearance chain. Diane, is nationally recognized as an expert in the design and delivery of security throughout the intelligence community and has worked with a variety of clients throughout the US Government and industry. Diane is a past membership chairperson and current secretary of the National Classification Management Society (NCMS) and is active in several professional security organizations.





Diane received her B.S. degree in Human Resource Manager from Colorado Christian Univ. and MBA degree in Management from University of Phoenix. Author of several articles on Security and she volunteers with shelters, collecting used Cell phones for Women of Domestic Violence. In addition, volunteers with the foster care program, creating a program called Bags & Bears for Foster care, collecting pack backs and teddy bears for children in the foster care program. Diane is single again and has one child.









Book Synopsis: If you have plenty of time to click around through myriad government websites and the patience to cut through red tape and make sense of confusing bureaucratic talk, you may be able to find some of the answers to your questions about the security clearance process,” Griffin says. “Chances are, however, that you will still be left with some of your questions unanswered, because there are some questions that the government just doesn’t address. So, unless you know someone who is well acquainted with the process from a first-hand perspective, good luck.
“What I sought to do was compile all of these answers into one easy-to-read compendium of advice and guidance, giving my readers signposts along the way to assist them in navigating through the clearance process. I believe I’ve come up with a volume that will greatly help its users, and being able to assist folks in working through this process is extremely gratifying to me.” GROUNDBREAKING SECURITY CLEARANCE EBOOK A ONE-STOP KNOWLEDGEBASE FOR THOSE CONFUSED BY THE SECURITY CLEARANCE PROCESS







Business owners are smart to want to protect their sensitive, propriety information, yet are not exactly sure how to protect it. Applicant pre screening is one way you can find out who a person is, before they become a part of your team. Why is that important? Ask yourself, what do e-mail lists, proprietary information, customer contact lists, employee records and financial information all have in common?


The Answer: They are the Top 5 things stolen by freelancers, bookkeepers, even employees after leaving a job or when the job is completed - according to a recent survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, a Tucson, Arizona-based research group whose survey was reported on by The Washington Post.


Having everyone that you do business with sign a NDA, (Non-Disclosure Agreement), is more important than ever. With economic agents putting emphasis on business secrecy, you must strive to protect your information through a series of tools. One such tool is the non disclosure agreement, generally understood as an agreement signed by company employees, prospective employees, business partners, freelancers and so on, in which they agree not to disclose company-related information.


Also, you may want to start with the standard pre-screening process. This includes checking references. You will want to thoroughly check with all of the references, as well as verify your applicant’s education. You may also want to check personal references. You will gain valuable information that can tell you a lot about a person. A more intense pre screening process may be in order for your type of business. There are great security firms out there that will help you define what your needs are and help you establish a plan for athe dequate screening of any applicant. You may need to do a background check to ensure that they do not have a criminal record. You may find that this disqualifies many applicants and save yourself from a great loss in the future.


Applicant pre screening and NDA’s are tools that any business owner should use to ensure they choose the most trusted people to do business with. Much of the pre screening process is not as intense as you may think. If putting these processes in place prevents problems before they occur, you will have a business that will stay secure. Present in a multitude of business relationships, non disclosure agreements are highly common in outsourcing operations. It’s simply smart business for even smalles to ask their business partners and freelancers to sign NDA agreements.







Everything You Need to Know About the Security Clearance Process, But Are Afraid to Ask is now available for $19.95, from my website, amazon & lulu.





Reviews:
5.0 out of 5 stars Actionable guidance in 65 pages, June 14, 2010
By L. Evans "collaborative-action" (Pacific NW) -
This review is from: Everything You Need To Know About The Security Clearance Process But Are Afraid To Ask (Kindle Edition)
When I read an instructional book, I'm looking for help. That means it needs to be easy to understand and formatted in a way to quickly find what I'm looking for.

Diane Griffin's book, "Everything you need to know about the security clearance process, but are afraid to ask" does this and more.

She even adds a bit of humor that may address some people's real fears about the security clearance process.

... all in a fully-packed 65 pages of actionable instruction. Well done!

-Lori Leavitt Evans, Performance & Risk Management Expert
Abrige Corp. ([...]) & C-Secure Systems ([...])


5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Guide On The Security Clearance Process- Highly Recommended!,June 12, 2010
By CFH "chillnhill" (Blue Ridge Summit, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)

This review is from: Everything You Need To Know About The Security Clearance Process But Are Afraid To Ask (Kindle Edition)
"Everything You Need To Know About The Security Clearance Process But Are Afraid To Ask" is an excellent resource for individuals and companies that need to understand the often intimidating process of obtaining a security clearance. Back in the early 1990s I went through the Security Clearance process to get access to DoE and FAA facilities in order to work on Data Networks and truly wish that Diane Griffin's comprehensive book was availible to me at that time!

The book is easy to read, leaving out unnecessary jargon, and covers all of the questions that an applicant will have and many that I didn't think of on my own. The inclusion of sample forms was very helpful but most importantly, the chapter containing the "odd" questions Diane has been asked will likely put a few minds to rest about what will and won't be a considered an impediment to obtaining a clearance.

Highly Recommended!

CFH

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Main Reason You NEED to Read Imperfect



Last night, I posted the following blurb on Facebook, Twitter, etc. :"This is the main reason you NEED to read Imperfect: It will touch your heart and change your mind!"



It's true. It's absolutely true. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm honest. I'm a city girl. I call it like I see it and I don't hold back. I'm not an ego-maniac and I am a terrible sales-person.




So, you can rest assured that when I tell you Imperfect will touch your heart and change your mind, it's true! :)



Let's be honest, Imperfect is tragic. BUT, when paired with Impeccable, it will actually raise your spirit. Individually and as a set, it will reach you on every emotional level. It will make you think. It will make you feel. It will make you stop and take a look at the world around you. It will cause you to challenge your current thoughts and values. That's not necessarily a bad thing. A good book is supposed to make you think and feel and challenge yourself.




Tragic stories are not horrible stories. They're not bad books. This is not a bad book. It's real. It's honest, it's raw. The story and characters stay with you. It's true. It's true to itself, true to reality and it's even true to you.





Go. Be bold. Buy a book not because the cover has some pretty picture on it, but because you know this book will reach you on a deeper level. Use a gift card for an e-book to download your copy and read it at your leisure from the privacy of your own home (or wherever you take your electronic reader). Go and read Imperfect because you know it will touch your heart and change your mind.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sweet, sweet romance

I am a hopeless romantic. And this, well, it's endearing. It's sweet. It makes you say, "awe!" It's lovely. And it's from Imperfect! Does it get any better than that? ;)

Happy reading, y'all! :)








Carol had anticipated this day for years. Just like so many college students, the day she could legally drink was a great rite of passage in her life.

Marlene, Carol’s roommate, along with other friends and fellow students, had planned a wild night for their typically reclusive friend. Carol knew it would be a long, unpredictable night despite her early class. Carol didn’t care, though. She never went out and never partied. Her social life typically consisted of long nights with her textbooks. She deserved this one night to live it up.

At around seven, there was a thunderous pounding on Carol’s dorm room door. Wearing makeup and nice clothes for a change, Carol opened the door. A herd of people stood in front of her, some of whom Carol didn’t even recognize. She didn’t mind. This was her night. Tonight was her night to live, to laugh, and to enjoy.





“Surprise!” Everyone shouted, but the surprise was on them. Marlene was floored to find Carol wearing an uncharacteristically soft, delicate, slightly ruffled black blouse and a cute asymmetrical black skirt. This was Marlene’s first time in four years seeing Carol in anything other than a tee-shirt and jeans. Her outfit confirmed her ownership of this night. Carol grabbed her winter coat and purse and the crowd left to go paint the town.

Marlene had decided on the evening’s venue. Since her roommie was openly gay, Marlene led the crowd to the best lesbian bar in town: City Girls.

Carol’s troops wasted no time in splurging on shots, beer and a variety of hard alcoholic beverages.



Carol, normally introverted, drank the shots and other intoxicating spirits; it didn’t take long for her to become inebriated.

Alexandria, a 24-year old local, watched the loud, raucous group and quietly chuckled to herself. She went to City Girls tonight to people watch and she certainly got an eye-full.

Suddenly, Carol got off her bar stool to go to the ladies’ room. Carol tripped over her own two drunken feet and began to fall forward. She saved herself by slamming her hand on the table in front of Alex. Embarrassed, Carol slowly pulled herself up to find the dark beauty smiling back at her. With skin like rich, dark chocolate, eyes that were beautiful, tranquil, bottomless pools, and neatly braided jet black hair, Alexandria took Carol’s breath away. The two paused and the world around them melted away as they intensely stared at each other.





“Sorry,” Carol weakly whispered. Mortified that she had made such a fool of herself in front of this stunning woman, Carol hastily stumbled to the ladies’ room.

Carol leaned onto the sink and held on to it with all her might in fear she might fall over again. She took in a few deep breaths as she stared at herself in the mirror. Carol’s beauty was her simplicity. She had brown hair to her shoulder in a simple style, but there was a special charm to it. Her skin was fair and delicately painted with tiny freckles. Her face seemed plain, but it was brilliantly symmetrical. The very tip of her nose turned upward in a playful manner. Her deep brown eyes sparkled like jewels. She had a slight gap in between her front teeth; Carol was embarrassed by it, but her father had always compared her to model Lauren Hutton. He told his beloved daughter that the imperfection made her unique and beautiful. Carol sighed thinking of her father’s words. She pushed the faucet on for cold water and took a few handfuls to sip with the unrealistic hope she would miraculously sober up. She really wanted to go back and talk to that gorgeous mahogany queen. Focusing on her father’s words telling her that she was pretty, Carol mustered up the courage to go back out and speak to the woman who currently occupied every thought in her mind.

Carol took a step slowly and then stepped again. She focused on each step and she walked back out to the bar, this time with a bit more grace.

As she turned the corner, she saw the beautiful black woman still sitting at the table. Carol’s crowd hadn’t even noticed her absence.
Alexandria happened to look up at just the right moment, and saw Carol carefully approaching her. Alex’s dark eyes lit up and she smiled a big, beautiful, wide smile at the birthday girl.

Carol carefully sat across from the intriguing woman. “Hi,” she said feebly. “I’m so sorry about before. I normally never drink, but today’s my twenty first birthday.”

Alex began to laugh lightly. “It’s ok. I understand.” Her voice was smooth and rich. Carol was becoming more intoxicated on this woman than she was on the alcohol. “I’m Alexandria. My friends call me Alex.” The dark beauty extended her hand to Carol.

Carol grasped her hand. Alex’s skin was soft and as smooth as silk. “I’m Carol,” she replied. “My friends call me Carol,” she joked as she gently shook Alex’s hand. Alex couldn’t help chuckling at Carol’s wisecrack.

Suddenly, a large wave of cheers and shouts sounded from the bar. Both Alex and Carol looked over. Carol’s group was intently engaged in a drinking game. The team of people who had come with her were busy celebrating, having completely forgotten the cause of the celebration. They did’nt appear to be slowing down either. It didn’t matter though, Carol was enjoying this quiet time with Alex more than anything. Alexandria’s company was an exceptional birthday present for Carol.

Alex stole a glance at her watch. “Well, it was nice meeting you.”

Carol looked up at Alex, startled.

“It’s 11:30 already. I need to go.”

“I should go too. I have an 8 o’clock class,” Carol replied.

“Do you want a ride home?” The question was unexpected. Carol wasn’t sure if she should trust this woman she had just met. Whether alcohol induced, or caused by infatuation, she accepted the offer.

The two ladies quietly left City Girls and walked to Alex’s white Camry. Alex opened the door for Carol. Even in her drunken state, Carol thought about A Bronx Tale, and quickly unlocked the door for Alex.
“Thanks,” Alex winked as she got in. “So, where to, birthday girl?”

Carol blushed. “I live at the Martin-Haagen dorm at the University.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Alex enthusiastically answered. “What are you studying?”

“I’m a computer science major with a history minor.”

“That’s an unusual pairing.”

“I know. I’d love to be an historian,” Carol admitted, “but I know I’d have a better career in computers.”

“Smart plan. I’m impressed.”

“Thanks.” Carol blushed again. “What about you?”

“I’m a paralegal.”

“That’s really interesting,” Carol said sincerely.

“It’s ok. It’s a living.” Alex pulled up to the front of Carol’s dorm. “Well, I guess we’re here.”





“Oh,” Carol said, surprised that the trip had seemed so quick – too quick. “Thanks.” She began to open the door.

“Wait,” implored Alex. Carol turned to look at the striking woman again. “Did you get what you wanted for your birthday?”

Carol paused for a moment. “Yeah – I spent my birthday with great company,” she answered flirtatiously.

“How about something sweet for your special day?” Carol looked at Alex, puzzled. Alex slowly leaned in and gently kissed Carol. Her lips were warm, soft, and inviting. It was the sweetest birthday present Carol ever had. Slowly, Alex pulled away and the two women just smiled at each other. Alex took Carol’s hand and placed something in it. “Here’s my card,” she said tantalizingly. “Feel free to call me – any time.”




Carol sat in the car staring at this amazing woman. “Thanks,” she quietly replied. Reluctantly, she opened the door and slowly stepped out.

“Happy birthday,” Alex called through the open door. Her smile seemed endless now. Carol gleamed back as the car door closed.

Carol watched Alex pull away. This was definitely Carol’s best birthday ever. She looked forward to seeing Alex again.






A week passed by since Carol met Alex. Carol desperately wanted to call her, but her inhibitions held her back. Now it was Valentine’s Day and Carol was spending it alone, studying as usual.




Carol looked over the words in her textbook about servers, hardware, CPU’s, and other endless computer terminology when she was startled by a knock on her door. All of her floor-mates knew she’d be studying.

Carol wondered who was at her door.

She opened the door hesitantly. Before her stood Alex, radiant as ever in a beautiful red dress that contrasted nicely against her dark skin. Alex held a dozen roses and handed them to a dumbstruck Carol. Slowly, Carol’s face began to reflect the bright, beautiful smile and glow from Alex’s face.





“It’s a good thing your friends like to talk,” Alexandria said.

Carol just stood there silently for several minutes. Finally she said softly, “I’ve wanted to call…”

“I heard,” Alex laughed. “Now, are you ready to go?”

“But – I’m – you...”
“Oh, just put those books away, and come with me already.” Alex jokingly commanded Carol.

Carol simply laughed and walked out of her dorm room with her stunning companion.

Alex drove them to her apartment. It was the ground level of a house and she had her own driveway. It seemed to be a nice, quiet place to live. As they entered, Carol was greeted by candles lit all over the apartment. The dining room table had two tall pink taper candles glowing beautifully. Rose petals surrounded the two places settings on the table. It was the most beautiful, romantic picture Carol had ever seen.





Alex grabbed Carol’s hand. “C’mon, it’s ok.” Alex led Carol into the cozy apartment. Carol heard smooth jazz music playing in the background. Alex had tended to even the most minute of details. “Sit,” Alex quietly said.

Carol sat herself at one of the elegant place settings at the long, rectangular, wooden dining room table without saying a word.

“Ever have Riesling wine?” Alex asked.

Carol shook her head no.

“It’s my favorite. I have a major sweet tooth so I even like my wine sweet. It’s very light and fruity. I think you’ll like it.” Alex sounded like a wine expert as she poured the two glasses. “So,” she said setting the glasses down and sitting across from Carol. “Tell me about yourself. Not that your friends haven’t already told me a lot. You have them to thank for this by the way.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I had this all planned out, but all I had to go on was your first name. I drove back to your dorm in the hopes that I would somehow find you. Thankfully a group of people were just heading out of your dorm as I pulled up.”

“Marlene,” Carol whispered.

“Is that your roommate?”
Carol nodded.

“Well, thank God. She saw me and came right up to me. She asked me if I was the ‘incredible Alexandria’ that you met at City Girls last week. I told her I was anything but incredible, but my name is Alexandria.”

Carol giggled quietly.

“Anyway,” Alex continued to ramble. “She asked me if I was there to get you. I said yes, but only if you didn’t have other plans. So then she laughed and said your plans were a hot date with your books. She told me all this stuff about how quiet you are, you take classes every term, even during school breaks, you rarely date, blah blah blah. So please explain to me how a cute and obviously very intelligent girl like you isn’t living it up during your college years.”

Carol silently stared back at her companion. How on Earth would she even begin to explain everything? “It’s – uh – complicated,” she said softly in the hopes that it would satisfy Alex.

“Well, that’s ok. We’ll start with the simple stuff. And we’ll do that over dinner.” Alex stood up and walked into the kitchen. She returned with two heaping salad bowls. “Caesar salad ok?”

“Oh yeah – great. Thanks,” Carol sheepishly answered. Carol felt so awkward next to this beautiful, elegant, graceful, articulate, boisterous woman. Her ambitious attitude and her positive personality was all too irresistible for Carol. Alex was so intriguing and inviting to Carol. She wanted to be wrapped up in the light and beauty of this woman. She wondered what she had to offer Alexandria. What did Alex see in her? She felt lacking compared to Alex, yet there was an incredible comfort and safety she felt with her. Carol had never felt so at ease before – not even with her own family.

“Ok,” Alex started in again. “So, explain the computers and history thing to me.”

“Well, like I said, technology is constantly changing, improving and becoming more and more of a cornerstone to all businesses. There’s steady work there, but I love history, always have.”
“Really?” Alex cocked her head to the side; she was intrigued.

“My dad was really into history. Since I’m an only child, I spent a lot of time with him when he wasn’t working. He loved me like a daughter, but treated me like a son. He’d read me historical stories and books. We watched a lot of historical movies together. He taught me a lot.”

“That is so sweet,” Alex soothingly commented. “Is he proud that his little girl is a history minor?”

Carol looked down at her salad. She pushed a few pieces of lettuce around the bowl before answering. “My father died almost four years ago now.” Her bottom lip began to quiver.

Alex reached out and placed her hand over Carol’s. “Oh, I am so sorry.”

Carol heard the sincerity and compassion in Alex’s voice. Slowly, she looked up and her eyes locked with Alex. “Thanks,” her voice was shaky.

After a few quiet, awkward moments, the conversation started up again and the two made small talk during the rest of Alex’s delightful dinner.




Carol found herself laying on Alex's couch with her head resting in Alex's lap as Alex continually ran her fingers through Carol's soft brown hair. Carol felt as if she was in heaven. It felt perfect. Carol couldn’t feel more comfortable or content.

“By the time I had graduated high school, I had kissed and briefly dated three girls. I just kind of knew,” Carol began. “I decided it was important that I told my folks before I went off to college. So, one night – just a few weeks before I left for school, I decided to tell them.”

“Uh oh,” Alex mumbled.

Carol sighed heavily. “I don't know what I expected, but it didn't go well. It got nasty pretty quick. Dad, as usual, was trying to keep the peace between my mother and me. We never had a great relationship, and my coming out just made it worse.”
“So, anyway, mom started screaming. I was crying, and Dad couldn't fix any of it. He tried. He tried so hard to understand me and to keep my mom cool.”

“I wasn't trying to piss my mom off any more, but it seemed that she refused to accept that her one and only daughter was gay. I refused to take it back, to deny who I really was – am. My mother's inability to accept me and my refusal to pretend to be something I'm not just escalated everything to an all out shouting match.

“My poor dad tried so hard to let me be me and to comfort my mom at the same time, but it just wasn’t working. Mom was calling me all kinds of horrid names. He told her to stop, but she wouldn't. I was just crying so hard – I was inconsolable and you could just see how much that broke his heart. It all became way too much for him. So he said he was gonna go for a ride on his motorcycle to clear his head.”

“Was that normal for him?” Alex's voice was soothing and reassuring to Carol.

“When things got out of control, yeah. Mom's so overbearing and bitter. Dad's bike was his sanity.

“He was going to leave,” Carol's voice cracked. “I begged him not to go – not to leave me. My dad was my best friend – my savior. I didn't want to be left alone with my mother.” Tears began racing down her face. “He told me he wasn't leaving me. He said he'd be gone for just a few minutes. He looked at me and said, 'it's gonna be ok, kiddo.' Those were the last words he ever said. We got a call a few hours later. Dad was killed in an accident while he was riding. Some asshole who was driving a big SUV wasn't paying attention...” Carol began to sob so much that she could not speak.

“Oh honey,” Alex tried to comfort her by rubbing her shoulders. “I'm so sorry,” she whispered.

After several minutes of uncontrolled weeping, Carol was able to compose herself enough to continue. “My mother blamed me for Dad's death. She blamed me for a lot of things and she just added dad's death to the list. I guess I was just too evil in her eyes. In a way, she was right. Had I not come out, he wouldn't have left - or gotten killed. So, she kicked me out of the house that night and hasn't spoken to me since. I can't say I blame her.” Her crying started up again.


“Sssshhhh. Don't say that. It's not your fault.” Alex paused. “You do know it's not your fault, right Carol?”

“I don't know,” Carol blurted out between tears.

“It's not. What happened is horrible and I am sorry for that. But, it's not your fault, Carol. I promise you that.”

Carol wept uncontrollably for the next few minutes until she couldn’t cry any more. “So,” she blubbered, “I went to school and I've just buried myself in my studies. I took classes even during school breaks like Marlene said. I had nowhere else to go. So I stayed on campus all day, every day. I took classes I didn't need just to stay busy. Studying and working so hard also helped me to not think of the pain of Dad's death, or the cruelty of mom's words. It helped and I'm graduating Magna Cum Laude so the work's been worth it.” Carol took a deep breath.

Unsure what to say, Alexandria decided the conversation needed to change direction to ease Carol's pain. “So, how did last week happen, then?”

Carol chuckled through her sniffles. “Marlene and I met at Freshman orientation. We've actually been roommates since day one. She and her boyfriend, Brad, are always out. It's one reason we get along so well. She's never home and I'm always home. Kinda funny how that worked out.”

“She insisted that I go out for my birthday. She said 21 was way too important to miss. I figured one night out wouldn't kill me. Marlene knew about City Girls and she's straight. She decided that was the best place for me to spend my big day and the rest is history.”

Alex laughed as Carol wiggled in to cuddle with her.

“Hey, what time is it?”

Alex looked over her shoulder to see the big digital clock on the oven behind her. “2:38.”

“Oh shit,” Carol mumbled. “I should go.” As she sat up, she noticed a snow storm had started some time earlier. The snow was falling heavily. “If it keeps up like this, classes might be canceled,” Carol thought to herself. She looked up to Alex for an answer.





“You want me to bring you back? I will if you want.”

Carol sighed. Not once in four years had she ever played hooky from school and classes might be canceled anyway. “No,” she finally decided. “But I promise I won't be a burden.”

“You're no burden. Girl, I'd love it if you stayed.”

Carol turned to the beautiful Alex, confused. Alex saw the confusion in Carol’s eyes. She slowly leaned over and tenderly kissed her.

“You have got to get over this,” Alex said. “I invited you here for a reason. You're beautiful, intelligent, sensitive – you're different, Carol. In a good way. I really want to know you better.”

Carol still looked puzzled. Alex placed her hand on Carol's face as she leaned in to kiss her again. This was a longer, softer kiss. There was emotion in this kiss. It was passionate, yet tender. Finally after several moments of pure bliss, Alex slowly pulled away. Carol finally opened her eyes. They sat in silence, visually studying each other.

Finally, Carol broke the silence. “I, we, should get some rest.”

“Ok. I'm sorry to say, this couch isn’t comfortable to sleep on.”

“Actually,” Carol stammered, “I was wondering – ummm, can I sleep next to you?”

Alex's eyes grew wide and bright. “Of course!” She stood up and held out her hand. Carol placed her hand in Alexandria's and stood up. They walked hand-in-hand to Alex's bedroom.

Alex pulled back the thick, warm duvet and bed sheets. Carol crawled in underneath all the warmth and soaked it in. Alex followed suit. She pulled herself right behind Carol and placed her arms around her. Carol had never felt so safe, or so wonderful, as to just lay in Alex's arms. Quickly and comfortably, the two slipped into sweet sleep.






Page 69 Trial for Imperfect

Good Football Sunday morning, readers!




Today, I am posting the page 69 trial for Imperfect.




Now, I have to be honest. Page 69 on Smashwords kind of cuts into two different sections, so this is more than just page 69, but you get the idea. ;) Enjoy!












“So, how are you holding up, Carol?” Will asked. A month had passed since Ed's death. Although Carol saw Will every day at work, she never spoke of her loss. This was the first time in a month that Carol felt up to hosting Will and Robyn again as they had previously done every Tuesday night.

“I don't know,” Carol sighed. “It's very surreal. I just can't believe it – it still doesn't make any sense.”

“I know this is hard. But sometimes life doesn't make any sense, sweetie.” He replied.

“Thank you again for taking care of Sugar.” Alex interjected, hoping it might temporarily alleviate her woman's pain.

“No problem.” Robyn answered kindly. “She's such a great dog. We love her. We're always happy to help.”

“Thanks,” Carol mumbled. Although time had passed, she was clearly still very depressed.

Will also wanted to get Carol out of this rut. “Hey, Carol, didn't you say you had a question about that new Windows application?”

“Yeah,” she muttered.

“Want to go look at it?”

“Sure.” They left the dinner table and went into Carol's office to fiddle around with her computer.

“Boy, she's taking it hard,” Robyn whispered to Alex.

“I know. Ed was her only real friend in high school and his family took her in after her father died. I think there was a stronger tie there than any of us could imagine. She's closer to them than she ever was with her own mother. It's just a lot for her to take in.”

“Poor girl. She hasn't had an easy go of it.”

“No, she hasn't. I wish there was something I could do to ease things for her.”

“I know, Alex. It's never easy. Just know that both Will and I are always here if either of you ever need.”

“Thanks, Robyn.” The two women hugged. Their silence brought Alex some comfort. At least Alex knew she wasn't alone in her love and concern for Carol.




Dave, John, Alex and Carol slowly wandered through the aisles of a gay bookstore in town.

“See, isn't this place great?” Dave asked Carol.

“It is nice. I just hate the fact that we have to have separate bookstores. Know what I mean? It's as if we're hiding from the rest of society,” she retorted.

“I don't disagree, but at least we're safe to be out in the open here. Besides the fact that some of the books in here are great works of literature.”

“You mean books like, The Art of Cunnilingus?” Carol asked holding the book up for Dave to see.

John rounded the corner laughing. “Ssshhh. Not so loud. That is funny, honey. You have to admit she has a point.”

“Well, that may be true, but there are some fine works of literature in here as well,” Dave argued his point.

“I don't doubt it,” Carol said. “I just wish we didn't have to be defined by our sexuality.”

John placed a hand on Carol's shoulder. “I know, Carol. But let's at least enjoy what the gay community has to offer.”

“Hey, you guys, do you want to grab some coffee? There's a great coffee shop right around the corner.” Alex asked the group as she returned from one of the aisles.
“That sounds like a great idea, baby,” Carol responded.

The four walked out into the spring air. Time was ticking away. Slowly, Carol was recovering from Ed's death. The flowers were in full bloom and the trees were filled out with lush green leaves. The signs of new life were easing the pain in Carol's heart.

They sat at a small table right in the window. A young woman came up to take their order.

“I'll have a Chai tea,” Dave ordered.

“Decaf mocha cappuccino,” John requested next.

“I'll have a regular mocha,” Alex said.

“I'll just have regular house coffee, light and sweet, please,” Carol ordered. “I feel so bland next to all of you,” she said to the group.

“No worries. We love you 'bland,'” Dave joked.

“I've been coming to this place for years,” Alexandria said. “All the coffees and teas are to die for. Even the bland ones, babe.” She nudged Carol.

“Well, I would like to thank you guys for a nice day out.” Carol said. “It's great to be with people who understand what it's like to be gay in Missouri. You guys are fun company and I really appreciate your understanding.”

“We know. We appreciate yours as well. It's nice having you ladies around. You get it. That means a lot. And hey, if nothing else, it's just pleasant to get away from all the crap from work.” John agreed.

Ironically, Carol's cell phone rang at that moment. She looked at it. It was a client. “Speaking of work,” Carol said before she answered. “Hello?”



Purchase your copy of Imperfect today!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Every Character has a Backstory

With Imperfect out and Impeccable nearing completion, I thought it was time to talk about characters.





Now, it's obvious that writers focus on the lives of their main characters. What brought them to this point in the book? What were their lives like before this particular conflict? If you're gonna have a lead character, you need to have those questions answered. If you don't, your character will fall flat and you will lose your reader. A writer's worst nightmare.




But, what about those guys in the background? They're people too. How did they get here?




Perhaps one of the most famous stories about background characters is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. He took two minor characters from Hamlet and wrote out their stories. It's actually an incredible idea. Here are two characters who die in Hamlet, but why? Who were they? What brought them to their fated end?




Imperfect and Impeccable both have a large cast of characters. Who are all of these people whose lives somehow intertwine with those of Carol and Alex? How did they get there? What are their stories?




It's not always easy to answer those questions, especially when you have several characters to develop. Personally, I think it's important to acknowledge these background folk. They do have their own lives, those lives are just found in another book. I have straight people, gay people, haters, lovers, addicts and recovered addicts. Each and every one of them deserved to have their stories mentioned.





So, I did. There aren't huge backstories to all of these people, but you get the most important parts. You understand WHY these people are here and what their relationships are to Carol and Alex. You don't just get an announcement that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead like Shakespeare does in Hamlet. Even minor players, you still connect to my secondary or even tertiary characters. Should one experience joy, you will smile. Should one experience sorrow, a tear will escape your eye.





EVERY character deserves our time and attention. They are all people, all pieces to the greater puzzle of life. Each and every one of them has a life, and deserves to have their voice be heard. Every character has a backstory.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Paid by the Hour

You walk into a book store. Big or small, it doesn't matter. The shelves just reek of potential and excitement. You're consumed by that new book smell. Ah yes, you have indeed discovered Paradise.





I think it's a fair estimation that purchasing a new book costs around $20. Some books are less, some books are much more. But let's use $20 as our median. It's a good number to work with.




Ok, so you have the most tantilizing, epic, amazing book in your hands. You walk away from the cashier with a giant smile on your face. You can't wait to get home, curl up under the blankies and have a cup of hot tea as you emerse yourself in this new story.




Let's pause it right there, shall we? Twenty bucks. Twenty dollars for a book. This book. Any book. How exactly does that translate for the author?





This is the one downfall to being a writer. We don't get paid...much. Now, this is NOT an anti-publisher rant. Not in the least. God knows that publishing costs are insane. Our publishers do the best they can for us. It's just what the market will bear. That's where it gets tough.




Writing a book takes time. A lot of time. Some authors can pump out a book every few months. Other books literally take years to compose. Years of their lives dedicated to one project. It's crazy when you think about it.




So, let's assume that this fantastic new book took the author six months to write. I'm just trying to assume another average here, folks.



Ok. So we have twenty American dollars as our average cost and six months of work time as our average project length. Hmmmm. Something starting to seem off-kilter to you?



Now, some days, a writer will write endlessly. Other days, they're busy (we do have lives, ya know) or inspiration simply eludes them. Let's go a little crazy here and assume that a writer works 40 hours a week just like any other job.



40 hours per week for six months and the book still costs $20. You're starting to do the math, aren't you?



Six months is 26 weeks.



26 times 40 hours per week = 1040 hours. 1040 hours.



Divide those hours by that twenty bucks and you have 0.019. What does that mean? That's what we average per hour of work. Now, I don't know about you, but that's way less than I make at my "regular job." I do believe it's also below minimum wage. I could be wrong, but I think it is. ;)




So many people think of writing as an illustrious profession. It is, in its own right. However, writers are NOT rich people sipping brandy from their cryatal snifter. WRONG! We're regular folks just like you working to pay our bills.




So, next time you're in a book store, please give that $20 generously. We have an electric bill that needs to be paid! ;)


In all seriousness, I LOVE writing. It has been my passion since childhood. I wouldn't give it up for anything. I'm obviously not doing it for the money, either. I think it's just important for people to understand all of the time and cost that goes into printing every book on those book shelves. It's astronomical, really. Writing is a labor of love. And that love far surpasses any paycheck I have ever received! ;)



Happy reading!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Weekend Reading

Hello, internet world! :)

It is Labor Day weekend. What does that mean? Another day off from work. Yes, that's true. But it means it's a GREAT time to READ!!!!! Fall is coming, so it's time to break out your TBR list and start curling up with good books!


Need some ideas? I'll gladly share! ;)


Imperfect


This is my new one, guys. This book is the first part in a set of two. This story is unlike ANYTHING you have ever read before!

Carol Mathers, born a sickly child, in a home fraught with undercurrents that threaten to sweep away any chance she might have for a ‘normal’ life. Now in her mid-thirties, she's a highly sought-after IT guru in St. Louis. She has built a great life for herself with her partner, Alexandria, even though the two face prejudice as lesbians, and as an interracial couple -fighting tragedy and sometimes, finding triumph.


Carol discovers that she has acquired AIDS as a result of a childhood transfusion from the dark period of time before AIDS was widely known… or understood, not even by the medical profession. Now, the two women face even more obstacles, prejudice, and a strange, new life as AIDS patients and it all causes her to wonder about the meaning of and purpose of her own life… or if there is any purpose at all…


You can download it from smashwords.com
allromanceebooks.com
omnilit.com
amazon.com and
barnesandnoble.com It is available for iPad, Kindle, Nook, and more! If you want to read and HEAR an excerpt from it before you buy it, check this out:
http://vhpreadersandlisteners.blogspot.com/2010/08/listen-imperfect.html

This is one book you MUST read!!!!!


Unbreakable Hostage



My suspense novel. This book is sure to grab you right from the beginning. It's a fun, intense, fast read.

Lareina Oliveira; high school math teacher, she wants to share her passion for math. So it is back to school for Lareina…a tough Ph. D. program. A classmate is captivated by Lareina’s beauty and intelligence, and despite her repeated refusals to his attentions, he kidnaps her! Only her determination and wits can save her… Will her family, roommate, and a wily detective from Missing Persons get to her before it is too late?

You can download it from smashwords.com
allromanceebooks.com
omnilit.com
amazon.com and
barnesandnoble.com It is available for iPad, Kindle, Nook, and more! If you want to read and HEAR an excerpt from it before you buy it, check this out:
http://vhpreadersandlisteners.blogspot.com/2010/08/listen-unbreakable-hostage.html


If you love a good, gripping story, this is the book for you!!!




Loving Her



This was the book that launched my fiction writing career. It's a series of intertwined short stories about a group of women battling everything from the mundane to the insane. These women teach us about the true meanings of friendship, love, devotion and family.


Loving Her is a collection of short stories celebrating love and life between women; each story tells a story, and together, they create a depth and understanding of women's love for each other and for life. Loving Her shares the stories of remarkable and ordinary women- women learning to love and women making a difference, all while managing the world around them...as all lovers do.

You can download it from smashwords.com
allromanceebooks.com
omnilit.com
amazon.com and
barnesandnoble.com It is available for iPad, Kindle, Nook, and more! If you want to read and HEAR an excerpt from it before you buy it, check this out:
http://vhpreadersandlisteners.blogspot.com/2010/08/listen-loving-her.html

Touching, true, and real, this is one book that appeals to all readers!!!


Happy Labor Day reading!!! :)