Category Archives: Eden’s Guest Bloggers

Pride, Prejudice and Diana Ross ~ Read a guest blog by @dailygrime

I’m delighted to welcome English writer, Michael Grimes to my blog. I first started reading Mike’s writing about six months ago and found him to be humorous and witty.

His observations on politics, sex, music, world issues, and a host of other subjects are delivered with flair and intelligence. At times, his words are biting, but there is always that underlying truth. His honest writing is something I greatly admire.

I am happy to kick off April with his post. It’s one that fits well with my own sensibilities about tolerance and acceptance, especially where sexuality is concerned.

Please welcome Michael Grimes.

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Pride And Prejudice – How Diana Ross Helped Me Become Comfortable With Everyone’s Sexuality

~ by Michael Grimes

diana ross

The World’s Best Babysitter As Seen In His Bathroom Mirror In 1977

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all gay men, regardless of race colour or creed, wish they were Diana Ross. Actually, I have no idea how universal that truth is nowadays, but back in 1977, it was pretty much gospel. And it was in 1977 that I was first introduced to homosexuality by my deeply gay babysitter, Gary.

I can hear a little bit of clenching and tensing going on out there, but don’t worry. This isn’t the earnest beginning of my misery memoir. If the cry-ography is your chosen reading genre, I shouldn’t bother reading any further. This bit is an unalloyed tale of unspoilt childhood innocence I’m afraid.

Gary was the second brother of three brothers. Their dad was a close childhood friend of my dad. Their mum was my mum’s best mate. The oldest brother was a career criminal, as was the youngest. Gary was the gay one in the middle, which made parts of my young life a little like a Martin Scorsese movie. Later in life, Gary became a Catholic priest, which made it really like a Martin Scorsese movie. But back in 1977, he was just my babysitter.

I absolutely adored Gary. Gary babysitting me on a Friday night was the highlight of my week. We sat and made fun of television programs. We indulged in experimental cookery. (Our greatest triumph was something that Gary christened “Pecule”, because of how peculiar it looked. Neither of us plucked up the courage to actually taste it.) But above all, we played games.

Admittedly, most of these games involved Gary being Diana Ross and me being The Supremes. Gary always brought along his record collection. He had a lot of Motown. In fact, I don’t think Gary owned a single record that wasn’t Motown. Many gay men have an affinity for tragic female figures. I was almost certainly the only little boy in my school who knew all the words to the classic 1972 movie soundtrack album Lady Sings The Blues.

After all the fun and games, Gary would plonk us both on the sofa and I’d be allowed to watch whatever horror film was on until Mum and Dad came back from the pub. Bear in mind this was the 70s. Kids weren’t handled like the hothouse flowers they are regarded as today. It was perfectly acceptable for an eight year old to stay up watching an old Dracula movie as long as there was no school the following day.

I knew there was something different about Gary, but I had no idea what it was. What I did know was that whatever that difference was, it made him more fun than anyone else I had ever met.

As I grew up, I began to realise what was different about Gary, or at least what ballpark that difference was in. Human sexuality is a very, very complicated thing after all. Facebook has recently introduced 50 different gender options for its members, rather than the traditional binary “male or female”. There are those who feel this is modernistic noodling of the worst kind, but it isn’t really anything new. There are many older and wiser cultures which have recognised multiple shades of gender for millennia.

All of this deeply upsets the deeply religious Christians of course. (Not all Christians by any means though. Some of them ring it off the hook and actually follow the teachings of Jesus.) “God hates homosexuality” they say. By which they mean that they hate homosexuality. By which they mean they don’t understand homosexuality and are fucking terrified of it.

There are many things I don’t understand. I don’t understand why gay men go “cottaging” or why heterosexual couples go “dogging”. Then again I don’t understand why people spend their chilly British weekends going camping. Just because I personally don’t get a thing doesn’t make it automatically wrong or invalid. My understanding of French is ropey at best, but I wouldn’t advocate the eradication of the works of Voltaire or Balzac just because I can’t read them in their original intended form.

Leviticus tat

The sad fact is that many deeply Christian folk are also deeply hypocritical. When it comes to homosexuality, they love to quote Leviticus. They don’t adhere to many of the other pronouncements in Leviticus of course. They do not eschew “eating blood” or “eating fat” (Lev. 3:17). That would be black pudding and most of the American diet prohibited. They have a bit of a lapse of conscience when it comes to “finding lost property and lying about it” (Lev. 6:3), presumably because “finders keepers” trumps the Bible on that particular point. And “thou shalt not touch the carcass of an animal which does not both chew the cud and have a divided hoof” does kind of make it impossible to play American football, the ball itself being made of pigskin.

Some Christians seem to think that even talking about homosexuality is a danger to their children. There are many things which actually are a danger to their children of course (cars, guns, lack of affordable healthcare) but, strangely, they seldom raise much of a fuss about these issues.

The only danger to their children as regards talking about sexuality is that these children might learn to embrace what they are and there is a chance that what they are is gay. In which case these parents would have to disown their children because their own upbringing has covered them with so many layers of bigotry that they can’t move themselves to do what any thinking, feeling human being should do. Give their child a big hug and tell them how proud their very existence has made them since the moment they were born.

The fact is that, whatever the Bible says, we are all unique individuals, and really there are as many different genders and sexualities as there are human beings on the planet. The thing that made my babysitter such fun was not that he was gay, but that he was Gary and he was true to himself

Whenever a girl dresses as a boy or vice versa, or someone erases all clues via androgeny, they are not doing it to be outrageous or annoying. They are doing it to feel like who they are inside. For some people, walking around looking as society expects them to look makes them feel uncomfortable. In fact, it makes them feel as uncomfortable as I would feel walking down my High Street dressed in a frock. It’s a big wide world and there is room in it for every expression of sexuality. The sooner that becomes a truth universally accepted, the better.

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Connect to Michael 

michael grimes

Website | Twitter: @dailygrime

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Please show Michael some love. Read, comment, and share. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, connect with me and let’s talk. ~ eden

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Canadian Rhapsody ~ Read a guest blog by @nchardenet

Please welcome American turned Canadian, author Nicole Chardenet. I asked her to write about her experience of becoming a Canadian citizen, then I braced myself. You see, Nicole was interviewed in my author series last year, and her answers had me in stitches, as does her post here.

She pokes fun at everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE—Republicans, Canadians, the Irish, and more … so please … pour yourself a vodka or a beer and enjoy the musings of this very funny lady.

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CANADIAN RHAPSODY

~by Nicole Chardenet

Nicole Chardenet Pravda

Nicole at Pravda Vodka House, Toronto

When Canadians ask me why I moved from the US to Canada nine years ago, I tell them, “Better beer.”

If they’re Republicans I tell them, “Better healthcare and all the damn socialism.”

And then I tell them what we do all day is smoke pot and have gay sex.  I love messing with Republicans! They’re so naïve.

“Why would you move to Canada from the US?” asked one early Canadian friend. “I’d move there in a heartbeat if I could, that’s where all the money is!”

Well, yeah, back in 2005 that might have been true…but nine years later I’m making a lot more money than I was in Connecticut and I’ve moved up the food chain professionally. And, the US has gone to @#$% since I left.

Truth is, I can no longer remember anymore why I moved. All I can tell you is it seemed like a good idea at the time.

zombie best

Zombie American Tea Partier, Toronto Zombie Walk

While I watched the US banking system crash and burn like Charlie Sheen on a three-day coke bender, as I lived and worked in the country with the most stable banking system in the world (who knew?) it seemed one of the all-time greatest decisions ever made in the history of the world.

Now, when people ask me if I’ll ever go back I think, “Only if the US government outlaws the Republican Party and makes it legal for decent, intelligent Americans to feed them to rabid orcas.”

The whole thing really started when I read on a news site about a dozen years ago that Ireland wanted to become the Silicon Valley of Europe. They encouraged immigration by techies and investors, and since I was in a very bad place in my life personally, I decided to apply. Unfortunately, Ireland had extremely high standards for immigrants and also favoured EU members, so I never even filled out the application. My skills were too generalized for their high-and-mighty selves. I was so mad I didn’t speak to Ireland for years, until their whole economy went belly-up.

Mom, Dad & me

Nicole w/ her mom and dad at Centre Island, Toronto

Meanwhile, a longtime email friend near Toronto kept urging me to move here, enticing me with an offer to share his house if we split the bills. That sounded like an awesome deal, except for the part where I’d have to move to – Canada? Really? The True North strong and sleep-inducing? Whose flag was – what, I don’t know, a pot leaf or something? Whose history was – well, did they even have one? I mean, who knew anything about Canada? I’d visited relatives in Montreal when I was a kid but my buddy lived near Toronto. I’d been there once before, on a day trip with my family when I was in university. I remembered Toronto as clean, with a beer factory and decent-looking subsidized housing.

anniversary pic 3

Nicole’s 1st year anniversary in Canada

I scheduled a reconnaissance trip, then had to reschedule because of the SARS crisis. When I became reasonably certain Toronto wouldn’t kill me, I discovered I liked it. Around this time, things started to get ugly in US politics with the American invasion of Iraq and then later the Iraqi prison scandals, and I began to feel uncomfortably like I’d better get the hell out of Dodge before the Republicans passed a law herding all liberals, homos, and evolution supporters into Jesus camps where we’d be subjected to Mao-style “re-education” efforts, except with more crosses and bigger guns and hair.

Nicole - Day 1

At Fan Expo pushing her 1st book, Young Republican, Yuppie Princess, 2011

Long story short, I filled out an application longer than a Rob Ford police report as Canada wanted to know absolutely everything about me including every single address at which I’d lived, ever, some information about my ex even though I’d made it clear he would NOT be joining me, and, of course, the requisite four rolled-up Tim Horton’s cups to prove that I did intend to become a Real True Loyal Canadian. (Fortunately we had Tim’s in Connecticut).

After that I had to visit the police station to get fingerprinted so I could schlep my grubby mitts off to the FBI so they could run a check on me to make sure I wasn’t a terrorist, fugitive, international jewel thief or close personal friend of Robert Mugabe. Later, I had to visit a special Canadian-approved doctor to make sure I wasn’t trying to sneak any expensive diseases into the country. Then I crossed my fingers and fervently hoped that Canada had way lower standards than Ireland.
It did, and my temporary visa arrived a little under a year and a half later. I stuffed everything in a U-Haul and crossed the border, which wasn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as I’d thought it would be, as they praised me on the penmanship of the most anal-retentive list of personal goods they’d ever seen, and I think I scored some extra points for having a French name. They didn’t even ask about the sword I brought nor did they want to see proof that my cat’s rabies shots were up-to-date. (Which just goes to show you the Glenn Beck-head and Faux Newsie critics of Canada’s spongey border are right – any old terrorist can cross with a tetanus-laden rusty weapon and a foaming, frothing housepet anytime they want! Fear us, O Canada!)

Nicole - zombie drummer

We’re proud to have you as one of our own, Nicole!

Once I was officially over and stamped I heaved a sigh of relief. The Republicans couldn’t get me anymore and I was turning my life around.

It hasn’t been a complete bed of poppies, of course, but I can honestly say the last nine years of my life have been the most stress-free since I was pre-school.

Thank you Canada, for being so good to me. And for Nanaimo bars. Canada’s greatest gift to Western civilization!

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Connect to Nicole 

Tongue of Dog’s Breakfast Blog | Nicole’s Novels

Website | Twitter: @nchardenet | Facebook | Google+

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If you would like to be a guest blogger, please comment below and let me know. The goal is to highlight YOUR writing. Connect to me via any of my networks. Twitter and email are best.

While you’re at it, show Nicole some love in the comments, will ya? Isn’t she adorable? 

Many thanks, 

~ eden

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Madeira ~ Paradise in Portugal by guest blogger @junying007

Happy Chinese New Year! What better way to celebrate than to have a terrific guest blogger on this auspicious day.

Good friend and author, Junying Kirk and I share a love of food and travel, so she’s penned a wonderful post about her recent trip to Madeira, Portugal.

Enjoy the warmth of Madeira and Junying’s writing , and then hop over to her website to celebrate the year of the horse!

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Who is Junying?

Junying Kirk was born and grew up in China. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University in 1988, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant. Currently working as a professional interpreter and translator, she loves reading and writing books. Her Journey to the West trilogy, ‘The Same Moon’, ‘Trials of Life’ and ‘Land of Hope’ have been published on Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace, and Smashwords. She regularly blogs on books world travels, food and photography, in fact, anything interesting and worth sharing at http://www.junyingkirk.com.

She lives in Birmingham UK with her English husband.

Learn more about Junying in an interview we did here.

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Madeira, a Garden Paradise & Seafood Lover’s Retreat

To escape from the freezing chills of British winter, we head south, either to one of the Spanish Canary Islands, Gran Canaria or Tenerife, or as we do more often, Madeira.

We do not go to Madeira to languish on a sandy beach under blistering sun, hoping for a marvellous tan.

No, though no beaches, this Portuguese “Pearl of the Atlantic” has plenty of other attractions to offer.

madeira - scene

Madeira, closer to the coast of Northern Africa than that of Southern Europe, means ‘wood’, and its capital city Funchal is ‘fennel’ in Portuguese. It is covered with a wide variety of trees, plants and flowers which have inhabited this island from ancient times. Little has changed with 90% of the island since its ‘official’ discovery in the early 15th century by Portuguese navigators.

My ‘discovery’ of Madeira came much later.

madeira-orchids

At the end of 2006, following the recommendation of a dear friend, my husband, John and I, jetted off to this tropical garden paradise for the first time. We celebrated a warm Christmas in style and watched an amazing fireworks display, indulging our senses with a fabulous selection of gourmet Portuguese food, in fine, tropical weather surrounded by amazing flora and fauna.

JK at garden

We took a cable car up Monte, which boasts a couple of the most beautiful botanic gardens on earth, where we were greeted by the spectacular open amphitheatre of Funchal and the mighty, endless ocean as far as our eyes could see, it was like, WOW.

On our descent, we sauntered into a “tourist information centre”, or so we thought!

We booked a Levadaa mountain walk. It’s a must-do for all tourists.

Even though I was no longer as fit and energetic as my younger self, my desire to experience first-hand, anything adventurous and action-orientated made me tingle with anticipation.

Emerging two hours later, we had been sold a one week time share by a friendly, chatty American saleswoman—an unexpected New Year gift to ourselves.

madeira - JK in red

And here we are in 2014, on our fifth visit. As I leaned on our balcony looking out on the shimmering Atlantic in the sun, listening to the soothing sounds of huge waves crashing against the volcanic rocks just beyond the green palm trees and blue swimming pools below, I felt an incredible sense of calm and peace, a trickle of deep satisfaction about my life – I am a happy and blessed woman on holiday, and Woo Hoo, it’s paradise on earth Madeira!

During my travels I always try sampling local cuisine, and I am especially fond of seafood and exotic fruits. Madeira, as it turns out, promises a most delectable choice of cuisine, both local and international.

Madeira - JK in market

Our various visits have brought us in contact with a number of delicious dishes, from celebrated restaurants from Trip Advispr to side street small bars and grills, which offer a great variety. I especially love the local home-made bread, the “balo-do-caco”, made on a hot stone. As soon as you made your order, the waiter would bring you a basket where the bread is warm with garlic and herbs butter – Damn delicious!

madeira-oysters

Another of my favourites is seafood. The Madeirans do the most mouthwatering fish soups! Believe me, you would want more once you tried them. As a matter of fact, I have made it myself – a great bonus for having a luxurious apartment, where I can actually dirty my hands in a small but adequate kitchen, enough to pan-fry an occasional scabbard fish.

madeira - fish

Oh yes, you can buy the freshest black scabbard fish, Espada, which again is speciality of Madeira, as this kind of deep sea fish can be found in that part of the world. And, I simply adore the Workers‘ Market (Mercedo dos Lavradores) in Funchal, where you can get your hands on every kind of tropical fruit and vegetables, as well as a variety of fish brought in from the ocean surrounding this evergreen island. I have found several unusual fruits, including one strange fruit called monstera, a hybrid of pineapple and banana – it’s kind of difficult not to have naughty thoughts when you see one :)!

madeira - strange fruit

Apart from the wide choice of seafood, you could try another of the local specialities “espetada”, a skewer with seasoned meat grilled on charcoal, often served on an iron spit hanging from an iron hook.

Then you’re in for a treat if you have a sweet tooth. Have I already mentioned the massive choice of locally grown fruits? How can you resist the temptation of a passion fruit or a papaya pudding with caramel topping? How about a slice of Madeira cake – the island used to be an important producer of sugar, so they boast a number of sweet recipes. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw the selection of colourful cakes on sale during Christmas time. I started drooling there and then!

John Kirk

During our dining at a restaurant in Funchal, the kind waiter brought us a bottle of Madeira wine (5 year old at least) and a basket of home-made ginger biscuits. A perfect way to round off a superb gastronomic treat!

After relaxing by the pool, devouring my favourite books one after another, I loved dipping in the cool waters for a leisurely swim. If you are a good swimmer and fancy a more adventurous pursuit, go diving, or surfing. There is also horse riding, or a thrilling ride on the Toboggan, racing downhill in a massive wicker basket – that was fun and adrenaline-pumping, to say the least.

Finally I’d like to share with you a short video on Youtube, which I made after our previous visit in 2012. Hope you’ve enjoyed the virtual tour with me :).

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Connect with Junying

Website | Twitter @junying007 | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads

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Thank you Junying for taking us on a virtual holiday with you to Madeira!

If you would like to be a guest blogger, please comment below and let me know. The goal is to highlight YOUR writing. Connect to me via any of my networks. Twitter and email are best.

Don’t forget to visit Junying at her site and wish her a Happy New Year too!

Many thanks, 

~ eden

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Dads and Daughters ~ Read a guest blog by @HefferonJoe

Over the next months, I’m encouraging guest bloggers to share about themselves. As we all know, writers, like other professions are multi-dimensional beings. Authors have lives and interests outside of writing.

Given that, I’m opening up my blog to writers to showcase their style, their loves and passions, their humour, and their knowledge on various subjects.

The goal is to allow the author’s own voice to create an interest in who they are.

So … let’s get started.

Remember Joe Hefferon? I interviewed him in December. He complained vehemently that he was one of my last interviews of the year.

He was joking … maybe.

Regardless, I’m making him my FIRST guest blogger of 2014. See Joe? I was listening. ;)

If you missed his revealing Q and A, please go here. It’s a good one, and I’ll wait for you.

There are many sides to Joe as you can see, and one of them is a soft side. He might not want to admit it, but it’s there, and you don’t even have to scratch far beneath the surface to find it.

Read his humorous, heart-warming post about dads and daughters.

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Who is Joe?

Joe was in law enforcement for 25 years before he retired as captain, and is a single dad and father of two. He keeps his hand in law enforcement, teaching classes in Personal Safety and Recognizing Signs of Danger for corporate clients.

He writes a terrific column for About.com called the Inspiring Women Series.

He is the author of the noir crime novel, The Sixth Session and a personal development book inspired by the principles of architecture called The Seventh Level. Joe’s books are available on Amazon.

Joe is currently working on a noir crime novel set in L.A. in 1965.

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Dads, Daughters and “Honey, Where’s My Blue Shirt?”

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men.” – Charles de Gaulle

I can explain all my unfortunate lapses in common sense to any woman who has had the infuriating luxury of living with me.

I have a daughter.

Look, I love her to pieces and would slay dragons for her, but I’ve also had entirely too many awkward conversations in my life, way more than my friends who just have boys. They’re easy-shmeasy compared to these complicated girl creatures. My daughter is 27, so I’ve already experienced the following brain-seizing moments:

  • Hey, guess what? I got my period.
  • I’m in love with this boy at school. Yes, the one with the blue hair.
  • No daddy; it doesn’t wash off.
  • Do you want to talk about sex? I’m sixteen now and…

Most of the time, when our little girls say these things – out loud because they’re tiny sadists – we get instantaneously non-functional. Our mammalian brain takes over and our breathing becomes shallow; the room dims and our synapses misfire at will. We can only hear voices in a slow-motion, distorted garble. We can’t think or speak; our eyes twitch spasmodically; the hives make an audible popping sound as they pierce the epidermis and finally, just before our lungs collapse, we hear a progressively louder banshee wailing in our brains, “no-No-NO-NOOO!!!!”

But we recover, ’cause we’re guys. We are born with a dump switch in our brains that helps us forget most horrible things. It’s what makes it seem like a great idea to call an ex-girlfriend up for a dinner, even though she’s now a hermitic, raging, venom-spitting alcoholic because we dumped her. But that was like two years ago.

Now pay attention guys – I’ve figured something out about these dastardly damsels that might help, or not. Those girl-becomes-woman moments are designed to torture men. It’s like live-fire girl-school training day. They’re instantly good at it, and damn proud of their rite of passage. The worst part is; daughters tell you these dreadful things in a relaxed, detached tone that only tightens the straps on the jacket. “Here’s a crayon, daddy. Why don’t you draw your feelings.”

They have kept their desire for these moments cleverly hidden under hugs, tea parties and wounded teddy bears, but they’ve been waiting patiently, even adorably. Sometimes they smile in that “Oh and senator… love your suit” kind of way as they deliver the shiv. (For the cinematically challenged, that was a Silence of the Lambs reference. Try to keep up.)

Women get mad at guys for sprinkled toilet seats and selective deafness, but hey, we’ve been under a lot of stress. We have daughters. But here’s what else I’ve figured out. Now relax and focus because I’m going all multiverse on you.

Women have a way of communicating through an intricate system of parallel universes and even though they can inexplicably hate each other for wearing the same shoes to a party, when it comes to guys, they army up.

Whenever any of us do something unimportant like say, put an empty milk carton back in the fridge or check out her mom’s rack (not bad for 56), they send out a message through the ethers. Their scouts retrieve the messages from right under our hairy noses on Pinterest and Skinny-Girl margarita bottles and pass along the fire-when-ready orders to pre-pubescent daughters. Get it now? It’s actually brilliant but I’ll never admit it.

Knowing this only adds to my paranoia and my frustration. I saw two heavy-set Nigerian women whispering in the mall yesterday and I know they were talking about me. (add accent) “That’s him right there, holding in his stomach for the sales girl. He said he loved her, but he lied. Kill that one slowly.”

I get frustrated because I know that every guy who reads this will forget it as soon as Sports Center starts, and will thus be horrified during football season when his teen-angel bends over for a tostido chip and flashes a whale-tail in front of his buddies. He won’t know what else to do but sit wide-eyed as the lager runs from his mouth. “Maybe they didn’t notice,” he’ll growl in his empty head. But someone did just a few months ago – a woman, a mother.

In early July at a neighborhood cookout, his friend’s teenaged daughter climbed out of the pool like a scene from Wild Things and well, he noticed – so did the girl’s mother. She observed the ‘notice’. The message went out. His own daughter received it through an Amanda Gomez song. Within days she was wearing underwear you could fit in a shot glass.

So what’s the lesson here, relationship-wise? I don’t know. I have a daughter.

We could try putting out the garbage before they ask, noticing their hair and only looking at our own feet when we’re in public. It might ease the stress a little, might make a few days more congenial, but long term it’s a lose/lose.

Guys can’t be blamed for this vicious cycle of stupid acts paid for with insidious revenge tactics. The problem is; the attacks of the girl army only make us more inept. Or maybe we just don’t care. I forget. Stay connected…

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Connect to Joe

Joe Hefferon

Blog | Website | About.com Inspiring Women series 

 LinkedIn | Twitter: @hefferonjoe | Amazon Author Page

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If you would like to be a guest blogger, please comment below and let me know. The goal is to highlight YOUR writing. Connect to me via any of my networks. Twitter and email are best.

While you’re at it, show Joe some love in the comments, will ya?

Many thanks, 

~ eden

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Award-winning YA author @PattiLarsen talks S-E-X

The incredibly talented Patti Larsen and I have been on each other’s blogs many times over the past two years, and I marvel at her success. No, let me rephrase, I am in complete A-W-E of her.

She has a few books out, yeah, a few—try over twenty-five and counting! Find them all here.

Today, I’m thrilled to help Patti with her Family Magic Bestseller Adventure.

She is working very hard this month to coax Family Magic onto the best seller lists of Amazon, the New York Times, and USA Today.

Help her by purchasing a copy of Family Magic!

Now, let’s read her excellent guest post penned just for my readers.

FMKobo

Find Family Magic and the Hayle Coven Novels on Amazon

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To S-E-X or not to S-E-X:

A  YA Writer’s Conundrum

I admire authors like the lovely and talented Eden who can write about S-E-X without blushing, beautifully and with passion tied to incredible story.

I’m not one of them. I’m happy to read erotica, enjoy it immensely, but the writing of it… makes my inner teen girl turn mushy with embarrassment.

I think that’s part of the reason I write young adult. When I started the Hayle Coven Novels with Family Magic , the lead character, Sydlynn Hayle, was sixteen and, for the most part, pretty innocent about boys. As a witch hiding among normals, forced to move from town to town thanks to magic “issues” forcing her coven to uproot in the middle of the night more often than not, Syd struggled with making friends, let alone finding someone to fall in love with.

Over the course of the twenty book series, Syd has grown up, gone to college and developed love interests. Forcing me to (gulp) address certain “situations” of an adult nature. While keeping in mind I’m a young adult writer.

It’s a tough line to walk. Making sure the content is accurate, real and reflects what would happen to an eighteen-year-old on her own for the first time, in love and wanting to explore her sexuality. All while keeping it PG rated enough my younger readers won’t be exposed to something I worry is inappropriate for their age group. Considering I have pre-teens reading the series, not to mention certain expectations of wholesomeness (Syd’s favorite curse is Oh. My. Swearword.) created throughout the Hayle Coven Novels, it took me some arguing with my amazing editor, Annetta Ribken to finally just go ahead and let Syd have sex.

No, the world didn’t fall apart. And she’s continued to explore her options. I’ve been careful to increase the heat level just enough to tempt, but without full exposure. Am I being a prude? I don’t know. It’s honestly something I fight with every time I write one of her books. After all, sex and sexuality are normal and healthy. But I can’t get past the idea young teens are exposed to far too much and in unhealthy ways. Not something I want to perpetuate.

Maybe that’s an argument for me to add sex to my books. To show the reality of relationships. For instance, Syd’s first sexual experience ends with her heart broken. She loves him, but learns love isn’t always enough. It’s not all sunshine and butterflies. And just because she slept with him doesn’t guarantee a happy ending.

I have a new series coming out in July, based on the same Universe, but with new characters. Targeted at New Adult, or college aged readers. And they will be more grown up, with more sexual content, swearing, adult situations. I’m curious about exploring such topics, with an eye for reality, not the perfect bubble of “if I love him and give him everything, he’ll be mine forever.” But I’m also nervous. First, I seriously flush every time I think about writing a real sex scene (you should see my cheeks). But I’m also a little worried about my young readers. Will they graduate from Syd to Zoe with the same expectations and stumble into work they might not be ready for? I know there are a great number of books out there targeting teens with more explicit scenes than I’ve written—or will write—but I feel responsible.

I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever fully resolve. Instead, my plan is to simply forge ahead with as much compassion and caring added to this part of my writing as I can. Like the friend who hands her bestie tissues and agrees he’s an asshole, I’ll be here to nurse my characters through their broken hearts.

And blushing.

[eden] Thanks so much Patti for a fabulous post. Writing sex is never easy, and I’ll let you in on a secret. ( I blush too. ;) )

Here’s wishing you every success to crack all the best seller lists! Readers, go and grab your copy of Family Magic now! 

****

Connect to Patti

patti larsen

About the Author: You’re not looking for my polished bio, huh? You sure you want more? The real dirty, down deep, nitty gritty? Fair enough. Here goes: I’m a card-carrying nerd. It’s taken years to admit it. I’m also a hermit in a writing basement who prefers solitude to people (cats always welcome). I’m a writing fiend who hears the voices of teenagers and blushes at the S-E-X parts. I don’t sleep very well. Ever. My mind is too busy. I am a feline loving married woman who could easily end up a crazy cat lady if my husband would let me. I am a paradigm shifter, a believer in self and my own personal power. I see everything in black and white until the gray is explained to me. I am a fiercely loyal friend, a confidant and a Tarot card reader and intuitive. I am a proud geek fangirl, a total dweeb and can’t dance to save my soul. I am terrified of heights and challenge that fear every chance I get. Oh, and I’m the Creator. The Queen of my own Destiny. I love that.

You can find me all over the Internet

Website | Facebook | Twitter @pattilarsen | Goodreads | Amazon Author page

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Filed under Author Promotions, Eden's Guest Bloggers

Guest Blog by Kadin Seton

I first met Kadin when we did  R.B. Wood’s Wordcount podcast back in April 2011. As a former corporate woman myself, I related to her immediately and thought she’d be interesting to know. It’s great we’ve stayed in touch, and I’m thrilled to have her as my guest blogger.

Please welcome the lovely, Kadin Seton, as she gives her interpretation of “new beginnings.”

* * * *

When Eden proposed that I fill a guest spot on her site, my first thought was that I’m not much of a blogger. Then she mentioned her January theme: New Beginnings. I thought about my life and realized those two words perfectly described the direction I was headed in this year. Eden is very wise!

My writing history is filled with years of scripting long dry training documents… and for fun, several dozen short stories.  Like everyone, I dreamed of writing a novel… you know, something really great.

As the years whizzed by (as a side note, I find it totally unfair that time accelerates exponentially as you get older), I hit a huge valley in my life. Three people close to me were diagnosed with cancer and one didn’t make it. Yet for some reason, during those emotionally nightmarish days, I was finally able to put on paper the book I longed to write. Admittedly it wasn’t great, but after years of dreaming about it, I finally did it! Yay! I even hired an editor and received some incredibly useful feedback. Yet it all came to a halt as I slammed into a brick wall.

What happened you ask? Well, the literary demons showed up. No one had warned me about the little gremlins who tell you that your work sucks and you should just throw it out. Tiny evil voices that whisper things like… don’t embarrass yourself by letting anyone actually read this junk! I soon realized the demons were right (stupid me!), so my novel sat on a shelf and collected dust. I felt stuck and permanently stalled-out.

I should also mention that losing people you love and/or seeing them suffer through illness, puts a whole new perspective on your priorities. In the past, I worked in the fast paced business world. It was a world that wasn’t always pretty, but it paid well and as an extra bonus, provided a steady stream of stress that jeopardized my own health. After some serious consideration, at the end of 2011, I reorganized my priorities and accepted a new job. I decided to walk away from the high stress environment, take a BIG pay cut, and work for a non-profit company. I was excited by the concept of giving back, rather than taking.

Learning a totally new industry, and a complicated one at that, was much harder than I expected. Yet, as difficult as the change was, I immediately noticed that I wasn’t stressed out. Coincidently, as 2012 rolled around, it suddenly occurred to me that the literary demons had moved out. No more creepy voices telling me I sucked.  Where did they go? I had no idea, but they were gone. Furthermore, I didn’t feel pessimistic about my novel any longer and I couldn’t wait to dive back into the process of rewriting. Words, ideas, character arcs… seemed to fall into place without the usual self recrimination.

As 2012 unfolds, an interesting sensation of being at peace with myself has emerged. It occurred to me that finding ‘new beginnings’ wasn’t about making an annual new year’s resolution. It’s not about losing weight, exercising more or promising to walk the dog daily. It’s bigger than the short term resolutions we make, and then break, each year. It’s about pointing your life in a direction that gives you balance and satisfies your soul.  I guess the literary demons are abhorrently repelled by notions like that.

As I feel myself grow happier with my chosen direction, I can see my writing loosening up as well. My words are more candid and ‘from the heart.’ With a little luck and some elbow grease, I hope to have my book, Descent Into Darkness, published later this year.  If you’re curious, the tale is a post-apocalyptic science fiction adventure which takes place in the not-too-distant future. The story centers around a young girl who comes of age during very dark times. No literary demons allowed!

May 2012 be a year of new beginnings for you too… and good health.  From the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone a year of good health!

Connect with Kadin

Kadin Seton is a professional trainer who teaches management and leadership skills.  She loves her new job working for a large non-profit company and is proud to be giving back to society.

Kadin also enjoys reading and writing science fiction and can periodically be found on The Word Count Podcast at www.rbwood.com.

Look for her book Descent Into Darkness, later this year.
Follow Kadin on Twitter at: @kadinseton

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Guest Blog by Maxwell Cynn

October’s been an incredible month for one of my favorite authors, Maxwell Cynn. 10-22-11 was the official release date of  his novel, The Collective, which I reviewed and loved, and he’s been all over the place promoting his book. Additionally, he celebrated a milestone birthday (5o), and he looks more handsome now than ever, damn!

I’m honored to have Max as my guest blogger for his birthday month. Please read more about this fascinating man, and don’t miss the free stuff he’s giving away! 

* * * *

Eden does a great series of author profiles called Inside The Author’s Mind.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for that series awhile back. When she invited me to guest post as promotion for my latest novel THE COLLECTIVE I was thrilled. The story involves a computer virus that uses flashes of light on the monitor to brainwash users. In keeping with the theme of Inside The Author’s Mind I thought I would explore what was in my mind and the psychology behind THE COLLECTIVE.

I was born in October of 1961, the year C.G. Jung died. His writings, in the Collected Works, have influenced me immeasurably, along with other great visionaries such as C.S. Lewis and author/philosopher Richard Bach. In Jung’s essay THE UNDISCOVERED SELF, written shortly before his death, he warned of the oppressive nature of collectivism on individuality, which he considered essential to the healthy expression of the human spirit. Throughout his writings he spoke of Individuation as the path to wholeness. The essay is as timely and important today as it was then.

In THE COLLECTIVE I took as my premise that battle between collectivism and individuality — between tyranny and freedom. In Jung’s day, Nationalism, Communism, and a host of other political ideologies were the enemies of Individuation. Today we face peer-pressure, political correctness, and the growing socialization of the internet. We are being brainwashed into the ideal of collective thought, group think, which is anathema to individual thought and free expression. We stand at a crossroads, as Jung warned over fifty years ago, between sociological collectivism and individualism.

Social networks are, of course, all the rage today. I’m connected to more networks than I care to count. The idea of the internet bringing us together, pooling our resources, our knowledge, our insight, is the bright and shining future — or is it? Jung warned that, as part of the group, “…the individual is nothing but a unit which repeats itself ad infinitum and could just as well be designated with a letter of the alphabet.” The internet has worked to connect us, but it also serves to reduce us to statistical norms — usernames and profiles. In the amorphous “Cloud” we become less real, less individual.

Countless authors have explored this idea — Orwell in 1984, Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, among many other greats. Their dark heroes had as their redeeming quality the simple act of maintaining their individuality in a world which accepted only homogenous drones. In their dark worlds, political correctness was defined by the state and enforced with an iron fist. In our modern world the drive toward collective thought and statistical norms are defined by the “mob” and enforced through sociological peer-pressure. Individualism is counterpoised to the ideals of modern progressive thought.

In THE COLLECTIVE I posit a group who use the internet, and a computer virus known as Nemesis, to brainwash the masses into collective thought. The goal is an homogenous, peaceful society, but the outcome is the suppression of individuality. The champions of individuality are not often the most respected individuals in our modern society — hackers, criminals, punks, anarchists — but they are individuals. My protagonist, Dr. John Peterson, is a decidedly Freudian criminal psychologist who reluctantly becomes the voice of Jungian Individuation.

Romance is a strong element in the story, as it is in everything I write. The two female leads represent what Jung would call the protagonist’s Anima — the one demure, compliant, and safe, representing the need to belong and to enjoy peace and normality while the other is strong, rebellious, and dangerous, representing the souls need to assert individuality. Throughout, John is torn between these opposites, stumbling forward toward his own Individuation. He and ArchAngel (the program designed to battle Nemesis) represent the singular Man, while The Collective and Nemesis represent the plural Man or societal group.

I hope you enjoy THE COLLECTIVE, and I hope it gives occasion for thought and debate over the future of our social development. I strongly recommend reading Jung’s Collected Works, and at the very least THE UNDISCOVERED SELF. As a free society we have the choice of nurturing individuality or accepting a Borg-like collective unity. It will not be governments who subjugate us, we bring the chains of oppression willingly on ourselves in order to fit-in. To paraphrase Franklin, “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

The Collective Blurb:

Imagine… You have a virus on your computer. It’s tracking everything you do and sending that information to the Collective. It can’t be detected by any virus scan or blocked by any firewall. If you have a microphone, they are listening. If you have a webcam, they are watching you. But they aren’t just watching. Flashes of light from your monitor are communicating with your subconscious. You are being brainwashed.

Dr. John Peterson discovers the virus and embarks on a mind altering search for the origins of the infection driving his patients mad. He discovers the Collective, and they discover him. A battle rages between the Nemesis virus and the ArchAngel network with the fate of mankind in the balance. Will man succumb to Nemesis and become drones of the Collective or rise as billions of individual archangels to light the world with freedom? One man, one woman, and a network of hackers hold the key.

* * * *

Thanks again, Eden, for allowing me to mount my soapbox on your blog. And thank you, readers, for your interest in my work — and hopefully buying my books. You can find me on social networks everywhere through links on my website, I would love to connect with you.

FREEBIES from Max!

Keep reading to find out more….

I also encourage you to post your comments below. If you include an email address I’ll send you a little eSwag I developed for the release of THE COLLECTIVE. Specify if you want the Windows7 version or non-windows7. And if you would like a FREE copy of my previously released cyber-erotic novel CybrGrrl you can download it at Smashwords FREE during October.

Use coupon code ER56K at the checkout.

* * * *

Thank you so much for the giveaways, Max, and congratulations on all the well-deserved success of THE COLLECTIVE!

Maxwell Cynn is a novelist, freelance writer, amateur coder, webmaster, and Indie publisher who writes deliciously romantic speculative fiction and blogs book reviews on a wide range of genres. His website, with links to all of his social media connections, can be found at:  MaxwellCynn.com

BUY LINKS for The Collective:  

Amazon        Barnes & Noble       Smashwords

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Guest Blogger – Tim Queeney

This month’s guest blogger is Tim Queeney. His new book, George in London was featured recently on my blog, and he’s been kind enough to return and write something as part of my  September Humour Month.

Of course, he’s an expert in the field of humor. I’ve been a fan of  Tim’s satirical news site, Height of Eye for some time now and encourage you to check it out.

Please welcome the wily and witty, Tim Queeney.

*  *  *  *

What makes someone attractive? The obvious answer is looks — the hot bod and the pretty face (or the hunky bod and the handsome face). But there is another type of attraction, too. Sometimes we are captured by another person’s wit, charm and charisma. They are just so damn fun, funny or engaging, we don’t care so much what they look like. Remember that guy or girl in school who was no beauty but had the opposite sex hanging on their every word?

The idea of differing physical and verbal attractiveness is perhaps most famously played out in the story of the 16th century French soldier Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano is witty and charming but has an enormous nose that limits his visual appeal. He must woo the beautiful Roxanne for a man who’s a hunk, but also a dolt. Cyrano remains hidden, feeding wonderful lines to the hunk, who repeats them as if they are his own. Cyrano burns with desire even as he crafts his lovely language. He wishes that Roxanne could only see the beauty of his words and choose him over the hunk, no matter that he has a prodigious proboscis (of course, if Cyrano’s nose is that big it does raise the question of the sizing of his other body parts – perhaps Roxanne is missing out on something good here).

In my novel, George in London, I have fun using this idea for a nighttime scene where one man woos a woman for another and a double case of mistaken identity occurs.

One night during his adventure in London, the 19-year-old George Washington believes he has been summoned to a moonlit meeting with the beautiful French countess Sophie. She waits for him inside her coach, parked next to the somewhat suggestively named Marybone Basin. But Washington is too  nervous to speak for himself, fearing he will say the wrong thing and drive her away forever. Darius Attucks, an African American mariner, is George’s companion on their trip to London and it is Darius who hits upon a scheme to woo Sophie. Darius will speak for George — who he calls “Geo” — until the countess eagerly invites George into her coach for an amorous encounter.

In his playful exchanges with the woman in the coach, Darius uses the language of war as a metaphor for sexual conquest. He likens sex to the siege of an 18th century Vauban fort. During such a siege, the attacker digs a series of steadily closer trenches that bring the attackers nearer to the very heart of the fort. The defenders attempt to defend the fort with cannon fire, but they must be relentlessly accurate in their cannonades. Because as the trenches get closer, the attackers set up their own cannon that can destroy the cannon inside the fort. If the defenders’ cannon is knocked out of action, the fate of the fort is sealed. The attackers can dig their covering trenches right up to the walls and then rush the fort’s defenses and overwhelm it.

But enough military history already! Below is the excerpt from George in London with Darius playing Cyrano.

“The dark of night approaches and soon we will hide in the folds of its cloak. Since I carry none of the emotion that burdens you, let me speak for you. She will stay within the coach while I converse with her. Given the quality of my education, my facility for English rhetoric is excellent — certainly better than your own. She need never know that it is me who speaks to her. You will wait and when she bids you enter, so you shall.”

“It does have a certain genius,” Geo admitted. “Though I must protest the assertion that you speak the King’s English better than me.”

“How could the son of a pig farmer from the swamps of Virginia have better speech than a man educated at the finest school in New York City? The idea is preposterous on its face.”

Geo grudgingly conceded my point and soon we were in place near the lady’s coach. The coach lanterns were weak and the footmen who attended the countess were happy to see the tall, young figure of Geo step into the light. They had been told of his arrival, so they quickly repaired to the far side of the coach to commence games of dice and to drink gin. Geo then stepped back into the shadows and I stepped forward.

A female voice called out through the yellow curtains that masked the coach windows. “Who is that without?” The timbre of the voice was rather different than what I had expected from the countess, but there was no time to delay.

“’Tis I, my lady,” I replied.

“Ah,” she gurgled contentedly. “I am most pleased you have come.”

“How could I do otherwise? To gaze once again at your beauty would draw me from the farthest reaches of Araby or even from darkest Africa.” Geo frowned at my mention of Africa, supposing perhaps that I might give myself away, but I waved him off. He could be such a dolt.

“When I saw you today, I was taken with your manly prospect,” she said. “Little did I realize you also had a tongue of silver.”

“As you say, my lady. I possess a tongue of silver to sing your praises, ears of diamond to hear your wishes, a heart of gold to treasure your love and a root of the firmest British oak with which to be of service.”

She laughed and her hand started to open the curtain.

“Pray, my lady, wait further before drawing back the cloth,” I said quickly. “I am sensible of great delight in prolonging the moment of first entry.”

She was not adverse to my suggestion, though she pretended to be so. “Shall we banter like this all night? I grow warm here in my coach.”

“It would be a pleasure unsurpassed simply to continue this intercourse ’twixt us ’til old Sol peeked over the world’s edge,” I said.

“Would be pleasant, true, but I’d be consumed by the heat of my blood, which rises apace. You must climb aboard and make bodily plain the sweet ecstasy of your words. Do you so mercilessly tease the girls of America?”

“In matters of Venus, as in matters of Mars, there can be no quarter given. First must the citadel be besieged and made ready for the final thrust. When the wall is breached, then the attack can be consummated.”

“Oh, indeed,” she sighed. “You have most assuredly effected a breach, sir, and my inner keep lies open for your triumphal entry.”

I smiled in the dark at her eagerness. “Even now my forces strain forward, tight against their constraining trenches. The trumpet is up, ready for the final signal.”

A sigh of frustration came from within the coach. “Damn it! You must rush forward into the breach now! I will brook no further delay!” With this, she flung open the door and leaned forward with her arms outstretched.

I had expected to see the pretty young face and comely figure of the Countess d’ Abbeville. I was instead confronted with another woman entirely. She was older and rather more shopworn than the countess. Leaning forward with an attitude of lustful abandon, a position underlined by her loosened clothes, bare skin and flushed complexion, was none other than Fanny Chase. My surprise was so great I found myself momentarily struck dumb.

And to be fair, the surprise for Lady Chase must have been equally great. Instead of a tall, dashing young white gentleman, she was confronted, instead, with a shorter, somewhat more weathered (though I like to think still dashing in my own way), African man. Though she knew me as well as she knew Geo, Lady Chase reacted as if she had seen Beelzebub himself. She screamed wildly as she attempted to quickly tighten all the items of her clothing that she had loosened.

* * * *

George in London available for Kindle at Amazon

Website 

Twitter

Goodreads


Thanks Tim for sharing your humorous excerpt!  To my readers, have you had any funny encounters with mistaken identity? Please comment and let us know!

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Guest Blogger – Les Floyd

This month’s guest blogger is Les Floyd, a writer from Carlisle, England whom I first mentioned on my blog last month with my story “Taxi to India.” Les inspired the tale. Why? Because I’m inspired by people who have a unique voice, and there’s definitely something unique about Les.

He describes himself in the following way:  After decades of sleepwalking through life, I’ve finally woken up and realised the greatest dreams are achieved with open eyes and a conscious mind…

Les is a writer of unwavering eloquence, and his words have touched people all over the world, including me.

“Lesism,” the name of his blog, contains writing that is incredibly personal, honest, and devoid of judgement.  After reading a post he wrote last month called The Norway Atrocities, Amy Winehouse, Judgement & Compassion,” I came up with August’s theme of “Passion and Compassion” and invited Les to be my guest blogger.

There are very few people who can elicit the full spectrum of emotions from me merely with words—Les can.

I’m honoured to host Les on my blog, and the timing could not be more fitting given the topic of his post—the riots going on right now in England.

You’ll no doubt feel the compassion and the power behind his words.

*  *  *  *

London’s Burning

“It is sad to think that these people are thinking of only the next moment, and the moment they have created is a nightmare.”

—Catherine Holmes, Hackney, London

There is a heaving, psychic tsunami of negativity churning through the streets of England and further across the United Kingdom… in the metropolises and smaller cities, as well as in the towns, villages and hamlets of these lands.

Far away from the flashpoints of rioting, there’s anger, hate and seething outrage directed towards the perpetrators of these crimes… to the point of calls for martial law and the summary execution of rioters and looters.

Representatives from the 2012 Olympics have been bemoaning the damage being done to the image of London, just a year before the games begin.

Undoubtedly, there will be people from other countries who are cancelling their flights and holidays to the UK, this year, in fear they’ll get caught up in the chaos.

But let’s put this into perspective..?

London is a colossal metropolis of 7,825,000 souls, sprawling over 607 square miles (1,572 sq km) of South East England, yet from news reports – both nationally and internationally – you’d think the whole city was burning and that everyone who lives there was either rioting and looting or in deep peril.

There are just a few thousand people, amongst a current population of 61,838,154 in the UK, who are actively involved in these disturbances.

As dramatic as the footage may be, the proportion of buildings that have been burned down or damaged is very, very, very small in the grand scheme of things. As a gauge, there are 2018 schools in London – at the heart of communities with thousands of other buildings in their areas.

Although, of course and absolutely, I have huge, heart-felt sympathy for those people directly affected – particularly business owners who, most likely, have been struggling just to stay afloat in the aftermath of the recession, and have seen all their hard work reduced to ashes – this is most definitely a media storm in a teacup.

And this has become entertainment for the masses. People are watching television tonight, hoping that the rioting continues, so they can continue to mete out their judgement and share their sense of outrage and moral superiority with friends and on social networks.

I heard on the bus today, from a young woman and mother: “Shoot the fuckers. Fuck ‘em. Seriously. Disrespectful little bastards. Shoot them.” As she was saying these words to her friend on the seat behind, her little boy was sitting beside her, and he didn’t bat an eyelid to her language. He was obviously quite used to it.

My brother said basically the same thing, though his preferred method of dispersal was baton round, or rubber bullets, which were used extensively in ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland; dark times that we don’t want to see a return to.

And a few messages I saw on Twitter:

“Get the army out, do the country a favour and just shoot them.”

“If you break the law, you should automatically forfeit your human rights.”

“Greenwich Council will seek eviction of any tenant proven criminally guilty of involvement in #LondonRiots”

This is the collective ego at work, on two fronts, both in the ‘pack mentality’ we see in the groups of rioters, and in the wider general public – the vast majority of whom are not affected by these events at all… but they have chosen to take this drama onboard as their own.

What purpose could indignation, anger and judgement serve for someone living in, say, my home city of Carlisle, which is just about as far from London as you could possibly get in England?

Is there anything these people can do to change the events that have happened, or are perhaps happening right now?

No.

Millions of people across the UK have adopted this problem and have amplified the negative energy of the riots a thousand-fold.

You can’t fight fire with fire.

You can’t fight negativity with negativity.

A very wise friend wrote to me on Twitter, earlier:

“The youngsters are depraved. And there is adult thuggery there too. How do we fix that?”

This is a statement of fact, rather than judgement. And a question that is difficult to answer.

How can we fix this right now? To be honest, I don’t think we can… right now.

This is an open wound that will close, in time, and in the aftermath of this chaos, we simply have to – as a nation – look at why it happened at all, then enact positive and productive measures that offer opportunities that bring about real change to the fortunes of the sort of people who are out on the streets, causing so much damage and disruption.

Locking them all away for a few years is not going to help, in the long term. It doesn’t help that we are in a global financial crisis, but these events aren’t part of any true class war. Even when the UK was going through its boom period, there were still sections of society that were marginalised.

If, twenty years ago, the nation had invested in these communities – in training and education and jobs – the events of the past few days simply wouldn’t have happened.

You have to remember these people are human beings. It’s perhaps true that a  leopard can’t change its spots, but we are not leopards. We’re an adaptable, brilliant species and inside all of us is the ability to achieve great things, on a grand and humble scale and everywhere in between.

Help people realise their potential and you’ll change their families for generations.

The Small Business Consultancy, in London – founded by Amar Lodhia – works with young people from ‘hard to reach’ backgrounds to help them set up in business – people just like those you see rioting in London.

TSBC has had huge success inspiring, encouraging and supporting them to work towards achieving their dreams; towards a better future for themselves, their families and their communities, which in turn benefits their local economy and the nation as a whole.

Give the right backing to one of these ‘feral scum’ (as I read them termed today) and a few years later, they’ll be a shining light in their community, leading others, through example, to set about bringing their own dreams to reality.

I hope the ethos of TSBC stretches all across this country and then on to other nations, because it will drive a cascade effect of immense positivity right around the globe, and that would go such a long way towards solving both the social and economic problems of our world.

In the meantime, practice compassion. Let go of your judgement of these people and remember that the flame of the human spirit in you is also burning in them. There are no greater or lesser souls in this world and there is no true evil… just the fog of circumstance, environment and upbringing, and the corruption of the dysfunctional mind.

I was in prison in my very early 20s – a story to be written up in my blog very soon – and perhaps if you’d known me then, some of you would have classed me as feral scum, too… but now? Well, I hope I can count myself as an example that there is always a chance for a person to make great changes to their lives, despite earlier failures.

Guaranteed, there will be faces in the crowds of those rioters who will go on to do great things with their own lives, too.

So, please… find it in your true selves to look beyond their actions and see the heart and soul of these people, who are just like you…

… they are far from beyond redemption.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – The Dalai Lama 

Connect with Les

Blog 

Twitter

Facebook

Email: LesFloyd [at] Gmail [dot] com



Thank you Les for an incredible piece of writing. To my readers, I’d highly recommend you follow Les in his journey. He is currently hard at work finishing his book, and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on it.  

Please leave Les a comment in appreciation of his post here.

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Guest Blogger – Wren Emerson

This month’s guest blogger is Wren Emerson, an author whom I met while drinking at the Twitter bar for writers, also known as #pubwrite. It’s a wonderful place for authors to converge and chat, drink, and surprisingly, not get drunk. How fabulous is that?

I talked with Wren about writing which eventually led to this guest blog. Knowing Wren has a quirky sense of humor, I was really looking forward to her take on this month’s theme of “night.”  It’s a great post and I hope you enjoy it.

Please welcome the delightful Wren Emerson.

*  *  *  *

For as long as I can remember I’ve had two minds about night.

On the one hand, there’s always been something so comforting and welcoming about a summer’s night. When I was little we spent a lot of time with my father’s mother. She enjoyed things like camping and fishing and she could usually be counted on to fall asleep early with cable on and I spent many nights as a child sitting in front of her open screen door while a puff of cool breeze brought a slightly rusty, slightly dusty sent through the old wire mesh. I’d watch cheesy horror flicks with commentary from whatever the theme was of that particular “Up All Night” show. All very positive and cherished memories that I still love to recall twenty years later.

But once the warm summer air gets a bite and it’s too cold to enjoy sitting in front of a breezy door, the darkness becomes a lot more sinister to me. Suddenly those movies I loved so much all summer long started to seem a lot scarier to me and staying up all night taking well meaning advantage of my grandma wasn’t nearly as fun because I was really too cold to enjoy it. All the fun summer activities I looked forward to all summer were off the table and winter just meant that it got dark hours earlier.

I’m in my early thirties now. I’m well past the point where I should still be scared of the dark. I’ll admit it, I used to flip the light switch beside my bedroom door and all but leap across the room and under the covers. And this until I was in my twenties. I haven’t done that trick in years, but I still have my own special quirks.

I won’t look in a mirror after dark if I’m alone in the bathroom. I know that as soon as the sun goes down, all bets are off. That’s when you see the spooky dead person in the mirror behind you or accidently summon a vengeful spirit who will kill you and everyone you love.

I don’t sleep without a blanket or sheet across my hips and butt. I have no idea why. I assume because I must think on a subconscious level that monsters dig the taste of girl-butt.

I try not to look around in the dark. I read once that there is a phenomena in which people wake up to a pressure on their chest and open their eyes to see an old woman sitting on them. It’s called Hag Syndrome or something like that. Since I’m pretty sure that would drive me completely bug crap insane, I don’t risk it.

I also haven’t outgrown the things I loved so much about summer nights. I still feel like I could walk for limitless miles as long as I have the hum of evening bugs as my soundtrack. The first hot nights of summer make me long for an adventure so fiercely that my chest actually aches from the yearning. I write less fiction, but I fill more journal pages with my hopes for the future and memories of the past.

After all this time I have to believe that my contradictory views of night are a fundamental part of who I am as a person. I assume that I’ll probably always cower under a pile of blankets all winter long or feel like I want to cry myself to sleep as I examine all the ways my life went wrong. But I’ve also been blessed to have my summer nights where I lay awake for hours just enjoying my life and remembering what it is that makes my life so very wonderful.

Thank you Eden for having me. I think it’s fitting that I wrote this post at night, during the summer, and that while I was writing I was grinning like a maniac as I thought about all the things that summer nights used to mean to me as a kid and all the things they mean to me now as an adult. I’m so glad to have had the chance to share that glimpse of me with your readers. Nothing makes me feel more blessed than to think about all the things I have in my life that are unique and wonderful and totally worth the sharing.

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All she ever wanted was a chance to settle down in one place.

Thistle Nettlebottom knows her life isn’t exactly normal. She travels the country with her secretive mother and bestselling author grandmother in a pink RV going from book signings to crazy research trips. She’s never been to public school or had a boyfriend, but she can pick a lock and hotwire a car. One day the phone rings and they set a course to a tiny town that’s not on any maps. Suddenly, Thistle finds her whole life changing.

She’s finally found the home she’s been searching for.

Thistle soon realizes that Desire isn’t like other towns and she’s not like other girls. The family she trusted has lied to her about everything her entire life and the things she doesn’t know about herself could cost her everything. Her legacy as one of the most powerful witches the town has ever seen has made her enemies that have been waiting patiently for a chance to destroy her. Thistle needs to learn to use her powers to protect herself before they succeed.

Be careful what you wish for.

Thistle has a power unique even among the magic wielding witches of Desire. She can wish things into existence. At first she enjoys the freedom of having everything her heart desires, but she soon realizes that her power comes at a terrible price. She’s losing her grip on her sanity at a time when she can’t afford any weakness. Her enemies are closing in quickly, but she might not have the strength to save herself.

I Wish… (The Witches of Desire) is available from:  

Amazon        Barnes and Noble

Wren Emerson was born on the mean streets of small town Kansas 30*mumble* years ago. She first put pen to paper at the tender age of 12 and wrote an epicly awful story. She then became publisher and editor in chief of a family newspaper which included articles written by indentured servants/siblings. It got rave reviews from all 8 members of her family.

Now in adulthood, Wren still enjoys bossing people around so she became overlord to a small army of minions; her true love, kids, a cat, and a dog. When she’s not plotting to form a dictatorship she writes. When she’s not writing, she plays video games, reads books, practices her iphoneography skills, and spends way too much time hanging out in #pubwrite on Twitter.

Connect with Wren on her blog and twitter. 

Thanks Wren for a wonderful post!  To my readers, please comment and share your thoughts about night.  What are some of your strongest memories about it?  Do you have any fears or rituals?

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Guest Blogger – Draven Ames

Draven Ames is an author who writes in the horror genre. We’ve crossed paths over the blogosphere and social networks, and I’ve grown very fond of his support, kind words of encouragement, and writing style. Earlier this month, he invited me to write a horror story for his blog, and today, I’m happy to return the favor and ask him to write something for mine.

Please welcome the talented, Draven Ames, and enjoy his heartwarming post about summer—on this first day of summer.

Eden

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I love summertime with my children. They get to have friends over and go swimming nearly every single day. All the neighborhood children like to hang out, playing games with them as the parents ask how we deal with so many. The answer is simple.

We get to create memories with our kids.

Everyone tells their friends about the great time they had at the lake, or the time they had a big birthday party. Everyone remembers their best summer ever. We just try to make sure that their favorite summer happens every year. Each new spring comes just before a new chance to one-up ourselves from the previous year.

The kids love it. They are down at the pool like fish. They create friendships that will last them until they are our age. They are building their lives right now and we, as authors, have a chance to co-write those chapters.

And with all these new friendships, they aren’t trying so hard at school to create popularity. We are hoping all this playing, having their friends over a lot, will help keep them away from the drugs that are so rampant in Portland. There is an 80% poverty rate at their school, and we have met our share of druggy parents. A lot of kids have it pretty bad and can use the fun in their summer, away from the drama they have at home.

Children are our legacy. They are so much more than the books we write for immortality.

So that is what our summer is like here. Needless to say, there is a lot less writing going on.

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Draven Ames is a full-time Dad and ex-paratrooper.

His yet to be published, supernatural, horror novel, Bullets ‘Til Midnight received an excellent advance review from HorrorNews.net. Look for more from this incredible author in the near future.

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Draven would love to hear from you!

What do you do for summer? What are your plans? Do you fish, camp or go to concerts? What is your favorite time of the year and why? What is your legacy?

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Guest Blogger – Liz Borino

Each month, I hope to have a guest author write something for my blog. It will give my readers a chance to learn about other writers’ styles, while introducing new readers to my blog— a win-win situation.

Liz Borino was my very first guest on “Inside the Author’s Mind”  December 10, 2010 when her debut novel, Expectations, was released. It seems only fitting that she should be my first guest blogger as her newest book, What Money Can’t Buy, is moving up the Amazon charts. Congratulations Liz!

In keeping with the theme for this month, May Moves Me in Many Ways, please give a very warm welcome to Liz as she writes about what moves her.

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When Eden asked me to write about what moves me, I immediately knew the answer: words. It’s safe to say, as a writer, I’m definitely a logophile, a lover of words. I’m a writer. I better love words, right? The truth is, I find words to be magical. They have the ability to lift me up or tear me down very quickly. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Writers, you know when a reader messages you to tell you they loved your book? When they tell you, you touched on something they always felt, but couldn’t express? Parents, how did it feel when your child said your name for the first time? How about that subject you struggled with all semester in school and finally, you get a “Good Job!” on a paper. Those are some very powerful words.

I’d love to share some of my favorite words/phrases and why they affect me as much as they do.

1.   Love:  Love makes everything beautiful. It’s what makes us see life in brilliant Technicolor. Think about it, without love, what are we doing? What’s our lasting impression on the world? That’s right, there would be none.

2.  Passion:  Passion goes hand in hand with love. It lights our fire, gets us excited, and gets things done.  Passion is wild, sexy, and exciting. It’s the feeling of reckless abandon, when you just know you need to be doing what you’re doing. Any other options are inconceivable. They don’t make sense. Why? Your whole heart is involved. Nothing else is important.

3.  Thank You:  Gratitude changes everything. It lets the other person know not only do you appreciate them, but they’re doing a good job. You’re a good friend, boss, employee, lover, whatever, you are delivering.

4.  I’m Sorry:  Sorry is probably the hardest thing to say, especially when you’re unsure if you’re in the wrong. Sometimes, though, even if you’re not, it fixes many situations when one person takes responsibility. And if you don’t? You could be losing someone very important to you. Worth two words to prevent that, no?

5.  Courage:  “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s the tiny voice at the end of the day saying, I’ll try again tomorrow.” For some people, waking up and trying again takes courage. Rejoice when you can lift yourself up from your falls.

6.  Hope:  Hope is linked with courage. Hope is everything when it comes to living your dreams. You have to believe your passion will take you somewhere, or else why pursue it?

7.  Dreams:  Dreams are the picture you hold in your head of your ideal life. Your dreams give an end result to those passions. They make you smile no matter what.

8.  Heaven:  Odd word for a non-believer to be moved by, isn’t it? No, actually, I define Heaven as the space of love and peace. Something I strive to create for myself and people around me everyday.

9.  Success:  To me, success is feeling loved in the morning, safe at night, and warm and content in between. What more can you desire?

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Expectations depicts the struggle between what we desire for ourselves and our familial obligations. The struggle is personified by Chris and Matt Taylor, identical twins, who are trying to win their overbearing father’s approval and acquire their trust funds. Love, money, and desire collide as Matt and Chris decide what’s really important to them.

Amazon     Barnes and Noble



What Money Can’t Buy, the sequel to Expectations, finds the two couples, Chris and Aiden and Matt and Carley, eagerly anticipating parenthood. However, their personal struggles continue. Though Matt overcame his dependency on alcohol, new temptations present themselves. And with Carley on bed rest, these temptations put a greater strain on their relationship. Chris continues to deal with issues regarding his father. These issues increase with greater proximity.  When tragedy strikes, the best and worst in everyone is revealed. Can they stick together, or will their reactions tear them apart?

Amazon     Barnes and Noble

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Liz Borino is the debut author of Expectations and its sequel, What Money Can’t Buy published by Lazy Day. Throughout her education, including a Bachelor’s Degree from Hofstra University, she’s kept her stories to herself, but this only child is all grown up and wants to share them with the world. Her roots are in Bethlehem, Pa, but she loves to experience new cultures. As fun as that is, Liz likes nothing better than curling up at home with a good book or her work in progress.

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So, what about you, readers? What words affect you and why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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