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Mystery, Anyone?

July 24, 2014

Greetings, All!

I’m certain you’re thinking it’s a mystery where I’ve been for the past eon of weeks, since we’re talking mystery! Yes, I’ve been away, but away for a healing cause. To remain at peace in the flow of my life, I go away to come again, better, I love to think, than I was before. Whenever I do this, slip off the scene and hover just under the radar, I attend to whatever I need to bow to on a spiritual level. We need to recognize when this is a necessity so that we may practice the art of taking time out for ourselves. When we do so, we can better show up in our lives and in the lives of others.

There now. At least that mystery is solved.

For the main event, I recently discovered blockbuster author Elizabeth Sims, who penned the mystery series, The Rita Farmer Mysteries! I will voluntarily admit it. I have ever been, since the beginning of time, a romance, some fantasy, a tad of paranormal, family sagas and historical fiction sort of girl. Although writers serve up a bit of mystery in romance, yes, I have rarely reached for mysteries, thrillers or detective novels, per se, unless I had to in literature courses.

Life is wonderfully fascinating!

Blessed to have been selected to be a 2014 Lambda Literary Foundation Writing Fellow in Elizabeth Sims’ workshop on “Genre Fiction,” I followed my curiosity to Sims’ second series, the Rita Farmer Mysteries, on Amazon. There, I discovered THE ACTRESS, THE EXTRA and ON LOCATION, respectively. (And no, they do not require reading in that order!) Before the arrival of the workshop’s pre-reading list, I devoured THE ACTRESS and could hardly stay away from its lit pages on my Kindle Fire, the read was captivating, gripping and deliriously satisfying from start to finish.

The Actress

Sims’ writing sparkles and snaps in a story that had me laughing out loud, as Rita, a wholly engaging protagonist, is beautifully sketched, thoughtful, fearless and hilarious. She’s immersed in the everyday of life, struggling to hold her own to survive in Los Angeles, a city that doesn’t appear exceedingly welcoming, yet is indifferent, beautiful, and basically unbiased to all, from the mogul to the homeless. Actually, the city felt, to me, like a compelling character, as real as Rita herself, and I loved that aspect of the story, among so many others. For instance, I adored Rita finding her way to a particular parking lot to speak with her beloved, gutsy Gramma Gladys, a spirit who speaks with the zeal of a fearless matriarch and with the intensity of the wind!

The mystery? Does Rita, an aspiring actress down-on-her-luck, have what it takes to earn a thousand dollars a day to help a celebrity defense attorney prepare a wealthy client for the most exacting role of her life. Has Miss Rita Farmer mastered her craft enough to transform the client’s body language, facial expression and vocal style to suffuse her testimony with credibility…and freedom? Will Rita remain one step ahead of other dangerous situations out of her controls when the stakes climb?

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The novel is a 412-page page-turner! Well paced, intelligent, fascinating and well crafted, THE ACTRESS had me ready to plunge into the second book, THE EXTRA, when I missed Rita, Petey, and Daniel before I reached the novel’s final page.

Sims’ characters are simply priceless! That Jeff, Rita’s ex, is a perennial pain, though my girl handles her own when he gets beyond himself in his efforts to see her squirm financially as she struggles to provide the best home possible for their adorable four-year-old, Petey, whose antics and wit inundated me in smiles and outright laughter as well. Eileen Tenaway and hubby shimmer in mystery. Eileen and sister are a study in opposites and humor. Daniel makes me want to hug him when Kwan dies, and Rita’s new beginning and promise of romance send me into a happy dance at the novel’s end.

When time permits, I will slip back into Sims’ fictional paradise and abide with not only Rita and a new cast of characters in Books 2 and 3, but also I intend to meet Miss Lillian Byrd in The Lillian Byrd Crime Novels.

Not to tell much more of the story, blunting your reading pleasure, I will simply say, “Go grab a Sims’ sizzler for yourself!” And when you do, traipse on over to visit Elizabeth’s website, http://www.elizabethsims.com. You will find up-to-date information about her, her books, and free excerpts and discussion guides. Don’t miss out! Oh, and not only that, readers and writers, you will want to read her nonfiction delight, YOU’VE GOT A BOOK IN YOU: A STRESS-FREE GUIDE OF YOUR DREAMS.

I am so excited…and inspired! Happy reading and writing, Beloveds!

The Lambda Literary Foundation’s Writers Retreat does make a difference…

May 27, 2014

Today I went in search of past LLF’s Emerging LGBT Voices writing fellows. My foray across the net landed me in Justin Torres’ weaved web of words. Having never ever met Torres, I viewed his vids and knew an immediate, tacit connection. The idea that he should apply to attend the retreat arrived on the lips of friends. It was the same for me, as one of my beloveds called me one morning, the final day of the application period, to share the glad tidings. Torres longed for direction on how to “make it” as a writer. I have, probably, more of an idea on how to do that, but I want my community of writers to share their insight with me on how to go about it from a number of different perspectives. Justin, upon receiving the opportunity, was broke and living in New York; I am temporarily financially challenged, although it feels as though the Divine and I need to chat in regards to quite how long “temporarily” is going to last.

Yet I get that last part; yes, I do.

You see, I have sat at the head of the table of life, have known plenty intimately, and so much so, until I starred in the “giving” role. My Academy Award is around here somewhere. :) Right now, I am seated at another place at the table. Now I ask, and say, “Thank you. I am ever grateful.” Although it has never squelched my spirit to ask, for asking is the ying to the yang of receiving, it has caused me to reflect, to remain steeped in gratitude, to remain connected, however many times I want to flee the stage, and to know, profoundly, that “and this, too, will pass.” This season is a drifting circumstance, like clouds, never holding the same formation.

At the song’s end, I am of my parents and grandparents’ ilk. When the storm rises, I am a tree. A graceful pine, I bend, sway, lean, tickled to shimmy in the breeze, limbo hop when my leaves and branches sweep the ground, and, no matter what, come what may, straighten again…anyway. Truth ever shines. Same as I cannot fight water, I cannot slay the wind. Quite frankly, I’m not here to fight or slay. I’m here to experience the shifting nuances of my journey on this plane. I am here to love and be loved. I am here to feel, encounter and change, as the song says, “Everything must change. Nothing stays the same.” I’m good with all that and the above. No complaints. Simply, I rise ecstatic, grateful for another day to walk water and live my dream, to write my stories the way I know to write them.

Like Justin Torres, I have determined that writing I will do this time around. And as Dorothy Allison, the lesbian novelist Justin Torres alludes to in another video I enjoyed today, says (and I paraphrase now): It’s alright for young writers to want to tell their truth; they just need to do it beautifully. That, Beloveds, is precisely what I stretch to do: tell my truth and tell it artfully. Kinda sorta makes me think of primping in the mirror, when I prepare for the day’s spotlight. I am my truth and I ready myself to live that truth, but, believe me, I do what I do in an effort to be as beautiful as I can, inside and out. {Hey, I’m a fem or femme, as some of you may know, despite the voice in which I typically sling ink. :) } But as for Beauty, she is the same with our stories or whatever art we create. If she could speak, I think she’d be of the mind: “If you’re slip shoddily doing whatever, then whatever you’re doing need not be done.”

And on that note, oh, oopsie! One more thing. Torres came away from his retreat experience, with his future, award-winning work, and made grand ripples in literature’s pool! Kudos! I, Beloveds, intend to do the same! Now…on that note, I take my leave, fading back into the sunshine of my day, with abundant gratitude for you, writing, the net, my pen and the Lambda Literary Foundation. Amen.

Besitos y Abracitos

10 Reasons Why I Want to Attend the LLF Writers Retreat! :)

May 26, 2014

Thank you for watching my wind-whipped video! The sound truly does get better. Just stay with me. If you’d like to see me immensely excited, keep watching. I shall aim for a calmer Claudia in my next video, as I shall change them out weekly…I hope. (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she!)

The Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging LGBT Voices Writers Retreat is a truly one-of-a-kind retreat. There is no other like it. I will be joining other writing fellows from across the country in Los Angeles this August for the intensive, week-long workshops. My workshop is the Genre Fiction workshop with Elizabeth Sims. Several of my Facebook writing friends have told me that Sims is a truly sensational workshop leader. I can hardly wait. And I’m the sort of student to read up on my teachers, so one of Elizabeth Sims’ novels in on my kindle. I’m so excited!

In another Vlog, I shall share my “Pretty Perks” of gratitude. At present, they are outlined on my Indiegogo campaign, “Send Claudia to the LLF Writing Retreat.” The link is posted on the blog before this one. No worries if you haven’t seen it. I duly intend to nauseate you with it before the curtains fall on my deadline! :)

Here’s wishing you a beautiful, serene evening!

I Have Been Selected as a LLF Writing Fellow for the 2014 August Writers Retreat!

May 26, 2014

Greetings, Beloveds!

I’m fundraising to attend the 2014 LLF Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices! This initiative is an absolute dream-come-true for me, a writer serious about her craft. I will take part in the Genre Fiction Workshop with Elizabeth Sims as my workshop leader. The gala takes place in Los Angeles, at the American Jewish University, from August 3 to August 10th! While there, I will workshop my novel manuscript, NOT WITHOUT PASSION. To attend, I need your support. Please consider donating by following the link below. I’d greatly appreciate it! Forever and Ever…

Tonight I am learning how to work with the widgets to help me advertise the workshop. Somehow, it is uncooperative right now. :) I shall continue to work with it, as I rarely give up.

Hmmm.

I’m posting my video link to my Indiegogo campaign, where you can help me as well. One of these lovelies will work for me before the sun rises, and that I can guarantee. :)http://https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/send-claudia-to-the-llf-emerging-writers-retreat/x/2251857

Thank you so much for being here!

Author Interview with Stacey M Rice…

May 22, 2014

After I enjoyed reading and reviewing author Stacey M. Rice’s latest work, I invited her to my blog home for a sit-down chat. What follows is our exchange:

1. When did you first realize you were a writer?

I’ve always been a writer. Writing my thoughts and feelings has always come easier to me than speaking them out loud. I can remember writing stories as a little kid. The genre was a little different back then, but my imagination has always been vivid. I really didn’t start taking my writing seriously until the late 90′s, when I started sharing some of my work with strangers in an on-line group and a few close friends and received some encouragement and good feedback.

2. What is your writing process?

When I get an idea, I jot down a little blurb about the story line to help me stay focused. I make sure and spend time with my dog before I settle down to write or she’ll be up in my lap begging for time. Once I’m ready to start writing, I clean the area I’ll be working in; it’s hard for me to focus when I have a lot of clutter around me. The type of scene I’m working on dictates what I listen to. Sometimes I put on a particular genre of music or a specific playlist; other times it doesn’t matter. I just need to have background noise. I let the characters in my head lead the way and just write whatever comes to mind; sometimes it’s in order, sometimes not. I write as much as I can and type it out later. I try not to do too much editing in the beginning or over think the story line. If I do, it takes me forever to finish.

3. Where is your favorite place to write? Time?

My favorite place is on the couch in front of the fireplace or in bed. I usually write late at night or early mornings. I sleep with pen and paper by my bed because sometimes a thought will awaken me from my sleep, and I have to write it down right then for fear of forgetting it.

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4. Do you have a Writing Muse?

Art, Life, Music, and Water. I know water may sound strange, but I get a lot of ideas when I’m taking a shower or in the tub. Something about water stirs my thoughts.

5. Poetry or Fiction?

Which do I prefer? Depends on the emotion I’m trying to release or what I’m feeling at the time. I guess if I had to pick one it would probably be fiction because I can lose myself in it. Sometimes my Poetry is a little more personal to situations I may be going through or have gone through at some point in my life.

6. What are your writing goals for 2014?

I have a few projects of my own in the works. Currently I’m in the process of finishing up my first novel. Although I enjoy writing poetry and short stories, I wanted to push myself and try something different. Once the manuscript is finished and ready for print, I’ll focus on the next collection of Poetry and Short Stories.

We will wait zealously for that novel, Stacey! Thank you! Until it hits the shelves and our e-readers, we will reach for EROTIC TONES…SENSUAL MOANS. Oh, and I must confess, I owe a round of gratitude to my beloved Nik Nicholson for asking me the inimitable question: “Claudia, do you know Stacey Rice?” To the Universe, I, as Patty LaBelle sings, “Pass it on.” And I give you, Stacey M. Rice!

Stacey Rice

The novel can be purchased on http://www.Amazon.com.

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Stacey M. Rice fans sensual flames in “Erotic Tones…Sensual Moans”

May 17, 2014

STACEY M. RICE, a self-proclaimed author, has given voice, and a beautifully sensual voice, to the words of her heart in her premiere collection, Erotic Tones…Sensual Moans: A Mixture of Sensual Erotic Poetry & Short Stories.

Passion, release, adoration, love and longing lace her hypnotic words like a thick, rich honey. I was drawn into her powerfully satisfying poetry from the first page. Her writing voice is as soft as that of the persona in “When She Speaks,” and I, her willing reader, savored the soothing, dripping eroticism in each stanza. I loved the mixture, the caliente gumbo, of the arrangement of poetry and short fiction, the entire work resonating in my head and my heart. Rice has penned a collection that bears the soul. If I were without the gift of words, and longed to paint the colors of my heart to a beloved, I would present her with Stacey Rice’s collection.

There were so many delights as I read.

Readers will recognize the issues that lovers encounter, exposed like petals of a blossoming flower, artfully displayed and arranged. In “Is It So Wrong?” she writes of the longing in wanting that one night of passion with a beloved. In “Timeless,” she sets her pen to breathing life into what it means to possess a timeless love, to appreciate it when it shows up in your life, and cultivate it with a passion. I inhaled “Soft.” A lover has accused the poem’s persona of being “soft,” and by the nature of its tone on the page and in lesbian life, especially in reference to a butch or stud, its intent is meant as a slight. But the prowess of Rice’s confident, poetic pen leaves this affront spinning on its head:

“Whatever you say
I’ll be soft for you, baby
But only for today
See, I have no problem
Surrendering my reins
Just not forever, baby
’cause, shit, I’m still
Running thangs.”

Getting the situation straight while yet caressing the fem who uttered such sass, the persona unleashes the power in allowing to get what she wants or keep what she has. Shared power can be intoxicating, and it takes confidence to maintain the throne’s grace. Yes, Rice gets it in!

“All She Wants Is…” brought a smile and a nod. Rice’s artistry in articulating, with meter and rhythm, what the persona desires in her lover is priceless.

I so enjoyed and loved the poetry in this collection. “You Wouldn’t Say” is a reticent gem. Sometimes we don’t say what we hope another gleans in our eyes, in our touch, or in the things we do for a lover. In the poem, Stacey invites me to stop and be in this stanza for a while, its beauty simple, eloquent and intoxicating:

“You wouldn’t say
But you wanted me
To touch you
You wouldn’t say
But you wanted me
To hold you
You wouldn’t say
But you wanted me
To control you

I listened to everything
You wouldn’t say”

Reading this work made me seek a quiet corner in a serene night, sink back into a comfortable chair and loose myself in each poem. Stacey brought me to a state of surrender, the music of her stanzas and diction piercing, beautiful and plump with all the colors of the rainbow, soft yet hard, a true sensual treat.

And if Rice’s poetry is a caress, her short fiction is a rendezvous of sensuality. The stories were vibrant with life, immersing me immediately into the mix of characters and their situation. Goodness, I loved “OOOH BOI.” It reminds me that studs or butches can fall in love, too, that we are women underneath the labels, which Sam and Gina discovered, after a workout at the gym. Instead of throwing up weights, the lovers find themselves entwined in passionate matches of control and its release, both caught up in looking past friendship and opening to the beauty of the moment.

I understand the opening of the story “She Makes Me.” Something told me, too, that I was probably playing with fire, as I sat to imbibe Stacey’s words, but, as her unnamed character says in the story, “…sometimes you just have to touch the flame anyway.” I touched the flame, like she touched Wanda in the story, and oh boy, am I ever glad I did!

“Thrill of the Chase” is the story of a charming, bookshop owner, whose mystery lady, the one she frequently sees in the park, walks into her shop, and their romance ensues. The twists were melodic sound bytes of extemporaneous heat. Sheila and Nicole are magic together. Like these protagonists, other lovers, in distinctly different situations, open to covert passion that ever breathes just beneath the skin, waiting knowingly on the right time to blossom.

Poetry is embedded in the fiction, which makes reading Rice even more of a wonderful experience.

In short, Stacey M. Rice writes eloquently of the multitudinous ways to love a woman! A retired Air Force veteran, Rice can never retire from love and crafting its wonder for our pleasure. You would do well, readers, to brave the flame!

EROTIC TONES…SENSUAL MOANS: A MIXTURE OF SENSUAL EROTIC POETRY & SHORT STORIES can be found on Amazon as a paperback book.

Erotic Tones...Sensual Moans: A Mixture of Sensual Erotic Poetry & Short Stories

Erotic Tones…Sensual Moans: A Mixture of Sensual Erotic Poetry & Short Stories

Buy from Amazon

Sexual Exploitation Couched in Gender Roles…

May 16, 2014

As a society, we must move beyond the crippling practice of raising girls differently from the way we raise boys. We must stop telling our boys that “Boys will be boys” and allowing them to walk away from chores and other responsibilities, because, as some parents proclaim, “They simply will not do what they don’t want to do. So I do it for them.” Or worse yet, some mothers placate their sons by doing everything but eating for them, and either doing the same for the husband or nothing at all for him, only for her son. This practice sends an absolutely unacceptable message to boys. Then there are parents who assign their daughters to their sons as something akin to handmaidens. They clean up after the boys, prepare their meals, and wash their clothes. Why? It’s good practice for a girl learning how to “take care of her husband” later. Now, this isn’t the situation in all American households, of course, but it is probably true in far more homes than not.

When boys are given curfews and girls are required to be in before dark, the message sent is boys will be on the prowl and girls are the prey, so they should come in before the shadows fall. If girls are caught outside, some risk strict punishment or, many times, a foul reputation from the neighborhood and larger society. The underlying notion is Girls should be at home, learning how to be acceptable in society and in school. A girl’s reputation, after all, is ever at stake. If girls are head strong, opinionated, free thinkers, and independent, they chance being dubbed one of a string of tasteless names: hoe, fast, wild girl, wild child, whore, floozy, Jezebel, heifer, skank, skeezer, and bitch. If I gave myself more time, I’m certain I could brainstorm more.

When we, as a society, assign hard-and-fast gender roles to boys and girls, socializing boys to think that they are superior to girls, that they are privileged and girls need to accept this belief as fact, and that boys deserve more of anything material, pay and otherwise, because boys become men who will be the breadwinners for their families, we continue to safeguard sexual exploitation and violence against girls and women.

And we must not tolerate religious leaders and others in the public spotlight who tell us that a woman needs a man to control her or else she will go astray. Leaders who propose rigid rules for females and fail to uphold any rules for males propagate the crippling message: Inherently, women require men to guide them and help conduct their lives.

Gender roles and misogynistic socialization send the message that if girls and women fail to behave as Society dictates then it is admissible to wield the strong arm of masculine superiority. After all, girls and women shouldn’t dress suggestively or else they deserve rape. If they aren’t in the company of men, they’re more likely to be targets for assault. If they smile flirtatiously, they were begging for whatever happened. An opinionated wife warrants a husband’s bad behavior. Like children, they refused to do as they were told. Bodacious female behavior constitutes grounds for punishment. So Society, having already socialized boys in the way it does, sets the stage for boys and men to justify doing what they must to demand girls and women “walk a chalk line.”

I’m on a RANT! We’ve got to do better, worldwide!

Today, I was walking down a major street, passing a gas station, and a car pulled up near me. Like a fist, a voice
smashed the serenity of the bird songs and the hum of traffic and articulated: “GET YO’ FINE AZZ OUT OF THE WAY!”

Thank the Divine it wasn’t a blow. Thank the Divine it wasn’t dusk. Thank the Divine I wasn’t hit or forced into the vehicle. Blessings abound in every moment.

Ours is a “Culture of Rape.” To many men, girls and women are here to sexually satisfy, to brutalize, to
support them financially, and to be ride-or-die bitches. To these abusive men, a girl or a woman doesn’t have to dress in any particular way to warrant abuse.

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This is how I was dressed today as I walked. So no, what stimulates abuse is an abusive mind, a violent intent.

Some might say there are women who might have found the comment today’s “sexy” street talk. If so, those women need to rethink self respect. I found the hurled comment disrespectful, verbally violent, in poor taste, rude, nasty, and ugly. As I continued to walk, my eyes remained straight ahead, although I was keenly aware of the voice and the car’s proximity to me. I didn’t give the man the satisfaction of a gaze, and he eventually pulled the car out of the gas station’s entrance and into thin traffic.

We must stop seeing this behavior as attractive. It isn’t. This is not the kind of man a self-respecting woman should want to come for her. If she should come across one like this, KIP. Keep it popping. He will be the bane of her existence, if she bows to this sledgehammer lunacy. A lesbian, I wouldn’t want a woman who behaved like this man.

All I can do is put my finger to my chin and ponder, when will Society begin taking responsibility for its gender woes?

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Love & Light

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