Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Holiday Treasures

MY HOLIDAY TREASURES
Spending time with my sons, Ethan (with his new recording software) and Adam (with his new Yamaha acoustic/electric guitar) in my basement.

Additional treasures: Supporting my honey in the kitchen (and by "supporting" I mean handing him beers as he cooked a fabulous holiday feast - hey, don't judge me - I baked chocolate chip cookies and a dark chocolate cake) and watching Carleigh Rebecca open her presents.

What were some of YOUR holiday treasures?

Chanukah/Christmas, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Short and Sweet

This is the shortest but possibly most important post I've ever written.

It's amazing what happens when you set the "shoulds" aside and simply revel in the moment.

Love those in your life with all your heart and all your soul.

Namaste, y'all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! From My Family to Yours

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, not just because of the delicious food and enticing adult beverages, but because I get to spend it with those I love most in this world: my family. I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and peaceful Thanksgiving. Remember to be grateful for your blessings, say "please" and "thank you," and let those you love know how much they mean to you.

Here is my family in all their wonderful glory:

Bobby, Me, Mom, Dad

My niece, Josea, & my son, Ethan
Step-granddaughter (to be), Carleigh Rebecca
My son, Ethan, my sister, Michelle, her son Nash, & my son, Adam

Adam
Me & Adam
My niece, Arissa & my nephew, Jalen (Twins!)
My niece, Devyn
Bobby, Adam, & Ethan
Ethan & his girlfriend, Morgan
Step-daughter (to be), Nicole
Bobby's Mom, Diane, & My Mom, Judy
Mom & Dad aka Judy & Fred

The Sisters: (Front) Laurie & Sharon (Back) Michelle & Debbie
Sisters & Honeys: Travis, Michelle, David, Sharon, Bobby, Debbie, Laurie, Peter

Monday, November 12, 2012

Steve Ogden - HEADSTONES AND MONUMENTS

Every once in a while I have the wonderful opportunity to promote a friend who is also an immensely talented writer. This is one of those times.

Steve Ogden ("Og") and I have been virtual friends for some time. He is an extremely talented artist and writer, and has written a new book I highly recommend. It's called, HEADSTONES AND MONUMENTS and is a collection of scary short stories. This book would be the perfect holiday gift for the person in your life who loves to be frightened. 

Here are a few of the short, spooky stories included in HEADSTONES AND MONUMENTS:
  • Three kids awaken a dark presence in an abandoned house and find themselves fighting for their lives as adults. 
  • A young girl faces off against a demon on an otherwise ordinary day in music class.
  • A skeptical historian is forced to confront Civil War ghosts at Gettysburg.
These are just a few of the tales in HEADSTONES AND MONUMENTS. These stories perfectly capture the fears of our current lives and the nightmares of our past. Mr. Ogden even includes some true ghost stories from his youth. Rather than cheap scares or grisly tales of man's inhumanity to man, this collection is comprised of sympathetic characters confronted by unsettling situations. Fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman will enjoy this creepy read. 

Og is also an extremely talented comic book artist and writer. His comic book, CROAKER'S GORGE can be viewed and purchased HERE.

Again, if being spooked is your thing or the thing of someone you love, I highly recommend HEADSTONES AND MONUMENTS. You can check it out and read some of the book HERE.

Steve Ogden has been drawing since he was three years old, and writing since he was six. Ogden has found a voice for his writing in the game industry, working for such luminaries as Cyan (Myst, Riven) and Firaxis Games (Civilization, X-COM). He is also the creative force behind the long running comic strip Croaker’s Gorge and the graphic novel Moon Town. Headstones and Monuments is his first volume of published prose. He lives just north of Baltimore in Maryland’s wine country with his wife and three sons. Visit him at steveogden.com.
 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

FOUR MORE YEARS! Sanity Prevails or Magical Goblins of the Universe

The Beautiful Obamas
Last night I watched the election returns from the comfort of my bedroom with my honey and my feline overlord, Emma. I was so nervous that my entire body shook from head to toe. Since I'd promised myself a thirty-day hiatus from alcohol only three days earlier (I know. Dumbest. Thing. Ever.), I had an epiphany: I was screwed. No wine to calm my jumpy nerves? What the hell was I going to do? Then I remembered I had a certain something left over from when my ex left me for another woman and nearly ruined my life a little over two years ago. Ativan, sweet, Ativan, you're the queen of my soul... Okay, that is a ridiculous exaggeration. No drug is the queen of my soul, merely a pawn in my inability to control my own emotions. However, as I'd done two years earlier, I placed a lot of faith in the powers of a small, white pill.
Magical Goblins of the Universe,  
Edward, Bella, and Jacob


Once the calming drug kicked in... Oh, wait! It never did! I shook just as much before taking the damn thing as after, so really, what was the point? There wasn't one. It was then that I realized I had to suck it up, watch the returns, and pray to the Magical Goblins of the Universe (MGU for short - don't mock me. They're real. That's them over there to the right. Edward, Bella, and Jacob Goblin.) that I wouldn't drop dead of a stress-induced heart attack before the night was over. 

Anyone who knows me either in "real" life or via the wonders of social media (shout out to Facebook and Twitter, yo!) knows I'm a political junkie. If I had a dollar for every RWNJ (Right Wing Nut Job) I argued with on Twitter regarding Obama's policies and how they are working, or how women's rights are vital to society, or how gays have just as much right to be miserable in marriage as straight people, or how climate change actually exists and isn't a message from God opposing gay marriage and abortion, or how women should be paid the same as men for the same work, or that who those in the military love is their own damn business, or that there is, in fact, no such thing as "legitimate rape", I'd be richer than Donald Trump, the egomaniac who kept trying, and failing, to inject himself into the campaign.

Adding to the insanity of the evening was the fact that I knew a certain talented and beautiful agent was planning on spending part of Election Day reading my YA manuscript**. That, combined with the prospect of Mittens in the White House, made me feel like the blood in my veins had been replaced with Mexican jumping beans. 

Thankfully, now the election is over and the best man has most definitely won. The jumping beans have retreated and I can type these words without the need of pharmaceutical assistance. I'm grateful to the MGU that sanity prevailed and that the bigots and religious zealots have lost to the open minded, inclusive, and forward thinkers among us.

President Obama is a blessing to us all - a blessing born from the goodness in our own hearts and the visions for a better future for our children. Hopefully, the Mitch McConnell's of the world who vowed Obama's failure from Day One have learned a useful lesson: working together always trumps (hah!) working against one another. 

Part of my version of The American Dream
Here's to four more years of continuing to revive our economy, to giving gay people the right to marry, to bringing our soldiers home, to keeping the health and destiny of women within their own control, to healing the climate of our precious planet, and to working together as Americans to be an example to our children and to the world of what is possible when liberty and justice are, indeed, the tenets we honor and uphold. Here's to what is possible when we believe ALL Americans are created equal and have the right to pursue their version of The American Dream.

(**Turns out said beautiful, talented agent didn't get to my book yesterday. She had editing and kids and an election to deal with, blah, blah, blah. She's reading it today, though. Damn, I wish I hadn't made myself that stupid not-drinking-alcohol-for-thirty-days promise! What was I thinking? I must have been drunk.)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the election, gay marriage, Mexican jumping beans, The Donald, or anything else you'd like to share. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Romney/Ryan: An American Horror Story

Okay, I have to chime in here on politics. Four years ago, I had more fun than should be legal, and I owed it all to the uninformed and multi-weaponed Sarah "Moosehead" Palin. Sarah not only packed a lot of heat, she also packed binders filled with women unintelligable comments that became fodder not only for late night comics, but for bloggers and tweeters worldwide.

Unfortunately, this election isn't nearly as funny. In fact, it's downright sobering. And I'm not a huge fan of sober. 

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would be a disaster for this country. 

Here's why:

Not only would they deceive the American people by pulling bullshit stunts like showing up at a soup kitchen to clean a few dishes for a photo op, but they would deceive us by pretending to be for women, for the middle class, and for the environment, all the while formulating policy to the contrary.

FOR EXAMPLE: They would incorporate anti-woman policies (Romney is committed to overturning Roe v Wade, and Ryan is against abortion EVEN in cases of rape, incest, and harm to the mother. They also want to cut ALL federal funding for Planned Parenthood [see graph below]), tax cuts for the wealthy, disdain for nearly half of all Americans (Yes, 47% is nearly half, Mittens, and THAT mother-fucking math DOES add up!), and a total lack of regard for the environment. (DRILL BABY DRILL! And, global warming? Nonsense! The globe's not warming and coal's not dirty. Silly scientists!)

Then there's Romney's peculiar ability to offend foreign leaders, even on the most benign of trips. Like, England, for example. Mitt managed to insult the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister of England over his accusation they weren't prepared for the Olympics. Really, Mitt? That takes a special kind of stupid. Or is it nothing more than arrogance? And, on foreign policy, denouncing the administration about Libya before you even knew what was going on shows a complete lack of common sense and leadership. In fact, speaking out before you know what's going on regarding issues as delicate as those, can be deadly. 

It seems Romney's belief about being "above" others began early on. In high school, he was a bully, and in college a borderline criminal. Then again, maybe you think tackling someone to the ground and cutting their hair or setting lights on top of your car, pretending to be a cop, and pulling people over is batshit crazy normal. If so, I'd like to suggest ongoing psychological therapy.

And, Mitt, do you honestly think the American people don't want to see your magic underwear tax returns? Well, we do. If we have to show two years of tax returns to qualify for a mortgage, shouldn't you have to show a decade's worth when running for the office of MOST POWERFUL PERSON ON EARTH? Of course, you should, but you'd hate for us peasants to see how many hundreds of millions you've got stashed away in overseas accounts. And while we're on the subject of money, your take on the meaning of "middle class" leaves much (tens of thousands) to be desired. To you, middle class is, "Anyone making $250,000 and less." Do you have any idea how many middle class people dream of making $250,000? Approximately 100%. Again, you do the math.  (FACT: Median income for American families is $50,054). Click here for "class" breakdown.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are not in favor of marriage equality. They want to stop funding for Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting. (Poor Big Bird!) Regarding equal pay for women, Romney  says he was against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but won't repeal it. What a douchebag tool chauvinist pig guy. How can you not believe women deserve equal pay for equal work? Great question! Maybe we should ask Paul Ryan. He stood up in congress and proudly voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

In a nutshell, Mitt Romney is a wildly wealthy businessman who will magically pull twelve million jobs out of his ass, and Paul Ryan is a career politician who is "as pro life as a person gets." They are, in no way, shape, or form, advocates for anyone besides the wealthiest of Americans, and, they are not qualified, nor do they deserve, to occupy the White House.

And, for those of you who think Obama hasn't accomplished anything in the past four years, here's a partial list of his administration's achievements: (Of course, if you're anti-gay or anti-woman, you won't appreciate some of these accomplishments. And, you are the exact racist idiots people Romney and Ryan are banking on to help them win the election.)
  • Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (first act as President)
  • Reversed Don't Ask Don't Tell (allowing ALL soldiers to serve openly)
  • Brought troops home from Iraq
  • Saved the American Auto Industry
  • Signed the Affordable Health Care Act into law (allowing millions access to health care, millions more with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied health care, and those twenty-six and under may remain on their parent's health insurance)
  • Killed Osama bin laden (Cue Tea Partyiers chanting, "USA! USA!")
  • Passed Wall Street Reform (so we never have a collapse like we did during Bush's administration)
  • Tightened sanctions on Iraq
  • Passed Credit Card Reform
  • Expanded Stem Cell Research
If that's not enough, here's a bigger list.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: 
The Supreme Court currently has four justices in their 70's. The next president will, more than likely, have the opportunity to appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court. If that happens, Roe v Wade could be overturned. For those of you who are against abortion due to your religious beliefs, remember what Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic who does not personally believe in abortion, said in the Vice Presidential Debate:

"I don't believe that we have a right to tell other people that women, they -- they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court — I’m not going to interfere with that.”

In a democracy, leaders should not impose their personal beliefs upon the masses. We elect our leaders with the assumption they will respect the beliefs, religious and otherwise, of all. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have stated unequivacably they will not respect the fact that there are millions of women who believe they have the right to decide what to do with their own health and their own bodies. Add one more pro-birth* justice to the Supreme Court, and Roe v Wade could indeed be overturned. WE CAN NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!

*Pro-life is a farce. If people were pro-life, they would care about what happens to the children after they're born. They don't. That's not their problem. That's God's problem. All they care about is the child being born. And pro-birth politicians are more than willing to vote against programs that help single moms and low income families, like welfare, Planned Parenthood, and Obamacare.

Read More at: http://hollywoodlife.com/2012/10/12/paul-ryan-joe-biden-abortion-stance-vice-president-debate-2012-vp/#utm_source=copypaste&utm_campaign=referral
I don’t believe that we have a right to tell other people that women, they — they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court — I’m not going to interfere with that,”

Read More at: http://hollywoodlife.com/2012/10/12/paul-ryan-joe-biden-abortion-stance-vice-president-debate-2012-vp/#utm_source=copypaste&utm_campaign=referral
I don’t believe that we have a right to tell other people that women, they — they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court — I’m not going to interfere with that,”

Read More at: http://hollywoodlife.com/2012/10/12/paul-ryan-joe-biden-abortion-stance-vice-president-debate-2012-vp/#utm_source=copypaste&utm_campaign=referral

So, there you have it. My rant opinion on this most important election. Whatever your take is on the candidates, make sure you get out and vote on November 6th. As Americans, this is our single greatest freedom. DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview on YAStands!

The lovely Julie Duck at YAStands was kind enough to interview me on her blog. Click HERE for the link. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave comments!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Reinvention


Life is an ongoing process of reinvention. Certain artists, like Madonna, manifest this more transparently than others. Throughout my life, I've tried to keep things fresh and interesting. Part of the process of reinvention involves my physical look (changing hair styles, clothing, make-up, etc) and part of it involves my art.

Writing new books and songs are ways in which I artistically reinvent myself, and another fun and creative way is through my blog. 

I started this blog four years ago after attending my first writer's conference in NYC. At the conference, I received savvy advice from a few writers I met there (shout out to Sarah and Wendy!), and when I returned home, I dove headfirst into the blogosphere. Even though I posted far more often then (2-3 x/wk) than I do now (2-3 x/mo), I still love my blog. 

I decided early on that my blog would be an expression, not only of my writing life, but of my entire life. Along with funny and political posts, I've written some pretty personal stuff. My hope is that, by sharing deeply personal things, others have been inspired along their paths. 

Over the years, I've changed the overall look of my blog several times. Once again, I felt it was time. These days, there are many choices on how your blog looks. In blogger, backgrounds, fonts, layouts, colors, and gadgets are ways to transform the look of your blog. I took a lot of time and tried out many different things before deciding on this particular look. I also, got rid of a lot of "stuff" (gadgets) on my sidebar.

I'm curious to know what you do to reinvent yourself? Do you take up a new sport? Try something you've never tried before? Travel? Read? Do something creative? Listen to new music? I'd love to know. (I'd also love to know what you think about my new blog "do"!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Inspiring Images

Being a musician, I can't listen to music while I write. For me, it's not inspiring, it's distracting. I get utterly lost in the music and can't concentrate on writing. However, images inspire my writing.

Here are a few pictures that have inspired me lately. I hope they bring a smile to your face, joy to your heart, and inspiration to your soul.

Maybe one will even spark a story.

 

 



Darling Buds of Spring

Leanne Mahanke, Photographer






I took this one.


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