Monday, 11 December 2017

When is it Okay to Hit a Girl? - A Guest Post by JL Peridot (@jlperidot)


Confession time: There’s a fight scene in my novel and, even though it made it past the editors and publisher, it still makes me nervous.

It’s my Meet Cute, but there’s nothing cute about it. She’s genuinely out to hurt him. So later, when she’s sizing up the damage, she doesn’t expect him to feel bad about the welt across her face or the bruises on her body.

Now, I don’t condone violence against women, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that women should be coddled either, because in our own ways, we can be violent too. Sure, a guy can live by the rule that he won’t hit a woman, but what happens if this woman threatens his life? What if she’s as capable a fighter as he is? Now how about if he can respond with reasonable force?

Does any of this make it okay to hit her?

Because the stakes are potentially so high, I’m uncertain about writing scenarios like this. And yet, here it is in the opening chapters of Chasing Sisyphus. I hope I handled it well enough for today’s readers. I want to believe that merely depicting a man hitting a woman isn’t going to hold up the feminist movement.

To the contrary, I hope that this fight scene exposes my readers to the multitude of questions that spring up around the concept of violence. In this day and age, where equality and womens’ rights are finally mainstream conversation, it seems useful to be asking about these nuances, so we can talk about what the right answers might be.

Big thank you to The Brit Babes for having me on your blog.

Chasing Sisyphus excerpt:

He couldn’t make out her face, but he sure noticed her tight silhouette as she walked by the Nova Legion statue. She seemed a little upmarket for the scene and, come to think of it, he didn’t remember seeing her leave. She was probably still there, waiting under the streetlamp like a femme fatale in those movies Keats kept on mute at his desk on a tiny TV.

Somewhere nearby, a door shut. At any other time, it would have been another pip of noise in a filthy district. But it was too quiet around here. Too few people to make a sound like that seem normal. Anywhere else, it would be the sound you shut out. Here, to Rhys, it was a dog whistle.

“Keats, I heard something,” he said. “Gonna go check it out.”

“Not a good idea, Carver. There’s a chase at the north end. Cap’s called the cars in. You got no backup.”

Don’t need it. If the kid’s still here, he’s alone.”

“You’ll be in deep shit if the boss finds out. How do you even know it’s him?”

We’ve been watching this guy for weeks. I got a feeling he’s onto us. Or, if not us, then someone else who wants him out of action.”

“C’mon, Carver—”

“Keats, I just know, all right? I’m going in. You got eyes on me or not?”

“Jeez! All right…where you heading?”

“Building two thirty-four on the corner. Going in via the south entrance.”

CCTV’s busted on the west side, but I got eyes on the north exit. Actually, building report says the east and west fire escapes are busted, too. You keep the south door covered and your boy ain’t going nowhere.”

Weapon in hand, Rhys crept inside and shut the door behind him. It was dark. The only light came in from the street through gap-tooth blinds and dusty windows. It took a second to adjust.

Broken floor tiles and peeling wallpaper lined the foyer. A lamp hung from a wall, still intact. This might have been a nice place once, before the city’s worst years. Now it stood waiting for the official condemnation that would put it out of its misery. Like the rest of this district.

The stairs creaked under his weight, the ceiling creaked above him.

“Keats, we got residents here?”

“Negative. Power and water were cut off twelve years ago. Why, you see something?”

Gunshots exploded above. No time to answer. Rhys popped the safety and legged it up the stairs.

* * * *

Adria hadn’t counted on the tripwire. This kid knew someone would follow him home one day. He’d strung a line of empty soup cans across the apartment hallway. When she kicked that out, a hefty serving of iced water came down squarely on her head. Gooseflesh prickled her neck and shoulders. The muscles in her jaw seized in the cold. Against the shock, she scrambled to her feet, fired up to catch the stomping and crashing in the other room before it got away.

A figure ran past the doorway.

“Stop!” she yelled.

It rounded the corner. Adria gave chase.

She scanned the room. It was dim at best, thanks to the streetlights from outside, but she saw enough. Computer equipment and various peripherals lay strewn across the floor, some still plugged into a transportable battery in the corner, emitting tiny lights and numbers.

A window slammed shut. The glass shattered. Shards crunched and ground beneath Adria’s boots as she hurried in pursuit of her fleeing target.

When she stepped out onto the fire escape, two hands rammed her into the ladder. The whole balcony shuddered from the collision. Pain flared down her shoulder, but she kept her grip on the gun. She held it up with her good arm and fired.

Two shots.

Missed.

She stumbled backward, clutching her burning shoulder, but the railing crumbled under her weight. Adria grabbed what was left of it with both hands as her footing slipped away.

It looked like a four-storey drop. Maybe five if she’d miscounted. Her legs dangled over thin air while from below came the clatter of broken pieces of railing, along with her gun, as they hit the concrete.

Overhead, her target stomped away on the rungs and disappeared onto the roof.

Adria’s shoulder raged. She tried to pull herself up, but couldn’t take the weight with just one good arm. Her feet kicked out, searching for a foothold, but the grill beneath had long withered away to slivers of rust and sharp edges.

Water and sweat dripped into her eyes. She swiped them helplessly on her sleeves and winced as rough seams grazed the skin. The railing creaked in her clammy grip. She could always let go. If she timed her landing right, maybe she’d get away with a broken ankle and a tetanus shot. Surely it only looked like a long way down.

Then she heard a gunshot from inside the apartment.

Chasing Sisyphus blurb:

Bounty hunter Adria Yuan is hot on the trail of her final hit: a notorious hacker wanted by the city’s elite. With the reward, she can pay for her brother’s surgery and finally get out of Basilica City. Trouble is, her line of work’s not exactly legal, and she’s barely staying ahead of the cops who want her target, too.

Detective Rhys Carver may be a little unorthodox, but he’s a good cop. Born and bred in Basilica, he does his part to keep his city clean. As clean as it gets, at least. And with Adria suddenly in his sights, it’s going to take more than falling in love for him to let her go.

As the pair close in on their mark, they are unwittingly drawn into a high profile conspiracy that could thrust the whole of Basilica into chaos. Can Adria and Rhys set aside their differences, and their desires, to save the only home they know?


About JL Peridot

JL Peridot was told she stops being a girl the second she puts on a uniform and steps into the dojo. This was the most empowering thing anyone’s ever said to her. From her home in Perth, Western Australia, she writes erotic romance, and sometimes just erotica, while complaining about all manner of sporting injury.

     Blog: http://jlperidot.com
     Twitter: http://twitter.com/jlperidot
     Instagram: http://instagram.com/jlperidot
     Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jlperidot

*****

GIVEAWAY!
Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/jl-peridot/
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Happy Thanksgiving and a Bargain!


Hi everyone,

I'd just like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to those of you that celebrate this holiday. I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family.

Also, I wanted to let you all know about a bargain I have going on. You can currently get your hands on a copy of Fast Lust, my bad boy biker romance, for just 99c, but it's for a few days only - so be quick!


Blurb

When a straitlaced journalist and a fearless motorcycle racer are thrown into an interview together, will they find any common ground? Or are they destined to clash?

Gloria Heath loves her job as a lifestyle journalist. She also loves the perks—free meals, complimentary spa treatments, behind-the-scenes access and more. So when her boss sends her on an assignment to the British Superbikes tournament at Donington Park, she’s less than impressed. Sports are definitely not her thing, and her brief is to find a rider with an interesting back story and write about their journey. But how is she supposed to do that when she really doesn’t care one way or the other?

When she experiences the atmosphere and the racing, however, she starts to see the attraction. Soon after, she finds the perfect case study for her article. Rafe Donovan is fearless, ambitious, and the underdog of the tournament. He’s also drop dead gorgeous. She eagerly sets out to interview him, but soon discovers the bad boy biker is a tough nut to crack. The more she asks questions, the more he shuts down. Throw some chemistry into the mix and things go from bad to worse. Can she get the material she needs, or is her first foray into sports writing doomed to fail?

Available from:

Happy Reading!
Lucy x

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Pain Pleasure and ... a Pole


I started a beginning pole dance class six months ago when Polerocks opened a studio just up the road from my gym – first lesson free. I wanted to give my workouts and my fitness routines another dimension. I’ve always thought pole dancing was incredibly beautiful and powerful. I knew that it would take my fitness to the next level. IF I could even do it at all.

It took me all of the first ten minutes of that free lesson to figure out that I was hooked. It took me way less time than that to discover that the pole is not a very forgiving dance partner. It has no consideration whatsoever for my delicate dainty body parts. It’s a rare class I’ve not come away from bruised and battered and sore as hell. I suppose it says something about the masochist in me that I love every minute of that cruel dance. I’ve never done anything that has made me feel more challenged, or more empowered.

On the pole I’m awkward and weak at the best of times. I consider any time I can get a grip on a new spins or holds, any time I find myself working with the pole rather than against it a huge step forward. But the results are beginning to show in my workouts and in my body. I’m stronger, more flexible and leaner than I’ve ever been. The other day I went into a dressing room in a High Street shop to try on a sparkly top for the Christmas season, and when I took off my shirt, the woman in the mirror actually had belly muscles. I had to look around to make sure it was really me I was seeing. I’m discovering muscles I didn’t know existed. They usually introduce themselves to me in some way that involves pain, and the pole is always happy to give me a new anatomy lesson in pain.

I’ve never denied being an introvert who could probably happily be a hermit given the opportunity.
Most writers have that tendency, I think. But we all still need people and community. One of the benefits of pole is the wonderful community of women I’ve discovered in class – women of all ages and all skill levels. And all of them are laughing and joking, and comparing bruises, all of them are encouraging and cheering each other on.

Me on the pole -- well it’s not a pretty sight. Add a photographer to that combo, and it’s quite possible that I’ve lost my mind. But regardless, I’ve signed up for a photo shoot. Oh the shoot is seven months away, so I have time to train and prepare. A good challenge often involves a bit of blood, sweat and flat out terror. I have to admit, I’m really excited about the wild ride ahead.

Above are a few of the earlier photos I have of me and my new BFF, bruises and all. It ain’t pretty, but it’s my journey, and it’s as much of a challenge being brave enough to share it as it is being brave enough to make that journey. I’ll be posting regular updates on my blog for the months ahead. Some may be so horrid that you’ll want to look at them from behind the sofa. But in seven months, one way or another, there will be a photo shoot.


I can see some of you scratching your heads and wondering what the hell pole training has to do with writing, but a lot of you won’t be surprised at all. You know that my fitness journey has gone hand in hand with my writing journey for the past five years. It not only helps inspire me, but I’m pretty sure it helps keep me sane. More than that though, it reminds me that I’m a whole person, and the body is as much a part of the mind as the mind is the body. We forget that fact at our own risk. And whether we spend our time sitting on our backsides in an office or spend our time inside our heads writing stories for other people to read, what we do will never be complete if mind and body aren’t working together toward the whole. But that’s another post for another time. Right now I’m just excited and really wanted to share my challenge and my journey with you.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Guest Post: Bringing Ancient Myths to Life in Contemporary Romance by Rebecca Buchanan (@daleclowry)

Gods, Goddesses, and mythology have always been a central focus in my writing. I love reimagining the myths of old, or working ancient Deities into the modern world. Only recently have I turned my attention to writing romance, but I quickly discovered that it was quite easy to mesh these two interests.

As such, when the call for submissions for Myths, Moons, and Mayhem appeared, I knew that I wanted to write something featuring an ancient Deity and a modern devotee of that Deity (who would, of course, also have awesome magical abilities). The question was: which God or Goddess? A well-known Deity, like Zeus (who would require less backstory for the reader); or a lesser-known Deity (thus introducing the reader to something new)? And which mythology should I use as the basis of the story? Etruscan or Lithuanian or Zoroastrian or Aztec or …? There were so many possible choices!



Maybe a fantastical tale about a first century warrior from central Africa who tracks an enemy to Rome, where he meets the loves of his life? Or a Finnish spiritworker who teams up with a secret Allied military force to stop the Nazi’s occult plans, and falls in love with two of the soldiers? Or maybe FEMA agents sent to New Orleans after Katrina to take care of an infestation of hungry ghosts, and who discover that they have more in common than they thought?

Ultimately, I settled on “The Secret of the Golden Cup,” a story set in the modern world, but with a mythology based on ancient Crete and its many Goddesses. It gave me the opportunity to explore one of my favorite ancient cultures (seriously, the art is gorgeous) and imagine what would happen if a thoroughly modern man discovered that everything he thought he knew about mythology and magic was completely wrong. It was a blast to write, and I hope to revisit those characters again some day.

About Rebecca Buchanan

Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. She has been published in a wide variety of venues, and has released two collections with Asphodel Press: A Witch Among Wolves, And Other Pagan Tales and The Serpent in the Throat, And Other Pagan Tales. She loves to spin stories about gods and goddesses and heroes doing heroic things. If she can't be a writer in her next life, she would like to reincarnate as a library cat.

In her story “The Secret of the Golden Cup” for Myths, Moons, and Mayhem, a classics professor is on the cusp of translating an ancient artifact when he finds himself at the center of a magical war. With an unfairly attractive student and a campus janitor as his only allies, can he stave off the forces of evil?

Find Rebecca on Facebook.

About Myths, Moons, and Mayhem

Myths, moons, and mayhem make the perfect threesome—and so do the men in this anthology.

Enjoy nine erotic stories of paranormal ménages a trois fueled by lust and magic, where mystical forces collide with the everyday world and even monsters have their own demons to conquer.

A werewolf gets a lust-fueled lesson on fitting in with the pack, a professor unlocks ancient secrets and two men’s hearts, and a pair of supernaturals find themselves at the erotic mercy of a remarkable human. Ghosts, fairies, aliens, and mere mortals test the boundaries of their desires, creating magic of their own.

Editor Dale Cameron Lowry brings you tales by favorite authors such as Rob Rosen and Clare London, as well as by newcomers to the genre. The paranormal lust and polymythic beings of Myths, Moons & Mayhem will spark your fantasies and fuel your bonfires.

·         Universal ebook Link: https://books2read.com/mythsmoons
·         Amazon universal link (paperback): http://getBook.at/mmm
·         More information: https://dalecameronlowry.com/books/myths-moons-mayhem/

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of the paranormal gay ménage anthology Myths, Moons & Mayhem, editor Dale Cameron Lowry and Sexy Little Pages are giving away trick-or-treat baskets filled with delectable paranormal, scif-fi, and ménage ebooks (epub or mobi) for your reading pleasure.

About Dale Cameron Lowry

Dale Cameron Lowry’s number one goal in life is getting the cat to stop eating dish towels; number two is to write things that bring people joy. Dale is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love and a contributor to more than a dozen anthologies. Find out more at dalecameronlowry.com. You can also find Dale on Facebook and Twitter. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Where the hell have you been woman?

Hello, it's Kay here!

It's wonderful to be blogging here again after such a long break from the world of erotica.

So, where the hell have I been?

Well, I haven't evaporated into the ether, I haven't been spirited off to some alien world, nor have I been indulging in months of sexual deviancy in the name of research (sadly).

My break from erotica came not long after the release of my, thankfully popular, novella, Wednesday on Thursday, back in January.


It came about for a number of reason- the first of which was that I hadn't had a single week without writing erotica in just over twelve years, and I was suddenly, with no warning, very tired. The sexy stuff just didn't work for me anymore. I was porn-ed out. I was turning on Facebook and thinking, "If I see one more naked person..." Not good for an erotica writer. It is very difficult to write sexy if you don't feel sexy- and I didn't- not even a tiny bit.

Disillusionment had also started to set in. The quality of writing in erotica was still in recovery after the massive dip in standards caused by the success of Fifty Shades, and I just didn't have the will to keep fighting to be noticed in the sea of poor copycat fiction, repetitive fiction, and tacky book covers.

Having said all that- I knew I didn't want to leave this wonderfully wacky, friendly, slightly eccentric world of sexy thinking and interesting wordage. I love it- I 100% love it. And how could I leave the Brit Babe's behind me? Impossible!

Lexie, Kd, Tabitha and Kay
So, without even realising I'd done so at first, I made the decision to take some time out.

Although the erotic words have been lacking, plenty of other words have been escaping from the nib of my pen. I've written two novels - one as Jenny Kane (details soon) and one as Jennifer Ash (The Winter Outlaw- to be released before Christmas). I have also written a script (also details soon), and taught over 30 workshops as part of, Imagine, the creative writing company I run with fellow author Alison Knight. (So, if you want an erotica writing class- just contact me and I'll see what I can do!)


There have been many changes in my writing life over the last few months. The biggest change is that I have taken the rights of nearly all of my erotica back from my various publishers, and have embarked on a mass re-editing and re-publishing enterprise. So although there isn't much Kay Jaybee work available at the moment, there will be again very soon...you should just see my new book covers...

For more Kay Jaybee book news watch this space, or take a peep at my blog www.kayjaybee.me.uk


Thank you for dropping by today - I've missed you!
Happy reading,
Kay xx

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Charity Anthology Featuring Two Brit Babes Out Now!

United in Love, a charity anthology edited by Lucy Felthouse and featuring stories from Lucy and Lily Harlem is out now!

Blurb:

The world could use a lot more love, which is why being united in love is the theme of this short story collection. Each of the characters are dealing with horrific and heartbreaking situations—loss, grief, war, divorce, dementia, disputes over land and more, but what they all have in common is that, with the help of love, of unity, they come through. It may not be all happily-ever-after—since life just doesn’t work that way—but positivity and solidarity shine through in each of the tales and will warm your heart.

So enjoy these stories of unexpected companionship, old lovers reuniting, second chances and creative problem-solving, with the knowledge that the proceeds from your purchase will also have a deeply positive effect—with every penny going to the British Red Cross’s UK Solidarity Fund.

Featuring stories from Gina Wynn, Lily Harlem, Rebecca Chase, Rosie Jamieson, Skye MacKinnon, M H Heyer, Alyssa Drake, Arizona Tape and Lucy Felthouse.

Available from:
Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/unitedinlove
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2wq8dqe
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2hbrLrN



*****

Excerpt from What’s Past is Present by Gina Wynn

Connie always believed she’d know it was summer when the rain got warmer. And that meant summer was today.
She ran along the pavement, trying to dodge the drops as they fell in big splats on her bare arms like sloppy kisses, hunching as she attempted to shield the package of fish and chips she carried. The aroma of the hot food and warm paper tickled her nose, and she could almost taste the contents. Declan would be lucky if she arrived back with anything more than soggy, empty wrappings at this rate.
Picking up her pace as the smell of rain-splashed tarmac filled the air, she hurried the rest of the way back to the house. His house. She shook her head. It would take a while to see the house as anything but Mr Pearce’s place—an adjustment it felt like she’d only just made. Now, it was Dec’s. Just Dec’s. In her head, it’d only just stopped being his place where he lived with his dad. Glancing at the windows in hopes of glimpsing him inside as she walked past had been a habit for a very long time.
When her doorbell had rung the previous night, she hadn’t expected to find a very crumpled, travel-weary Dec in the dingy entryway to her bedsit. In fact, he was probably the last person she hoped to ever find gracing the stoop of what she not-quite-laughingly referred to as her hovel.
She’d barely had chance to move, or slam the door in his definitely unwelcome face, before he wrapped his arms around her, folding her into a perfect bear hug of long-ago familiarity. Caught off-guard and unprepared to see him, she rested her cheek against the soft brushed cotton of his shirt, listening to his heartbeat, as his fingers splayed over her cheek, and she pretended not to notice the rough gasps of air he drew or the silent tears landing in her hair. Her chest hollowed, her heart breaking both for him and over him anew, and a lone teardrop of her own slid noiselessly down her nose.
Of course, she’d promised to help him today because she could never deny him anything, even though she’d spent the past five years regretting him. Getting over him. The bastard. She’d never stopped loving him.
Five years had crept by in a lazy blink of his beautiful brown eyes. And now, in the place where she’d spent so many of her stolen days and illicit nights, she could almost imagine the clocks had rolled back and he’d never left. She’d certainly wished for it enough times.
Short of pressing the doorbell with her nose she had no way to attract his attention, so she pushed on the door handle with her elbow and shouldered her way through the unlocked door into the narrow hall. The same worn carpet, lending a musty smell to the house these days, ran straight ahead to the kitchen and up the stairs. She walked towards the kitchen, ignoring the grime of a house where the owner hadn’t cared as much for the fabric of the building over the years as he did the family members within it. Framed portraits and holiday snapshots of Dec and his dad lined the walls, but she brushed past each of them. She could describe the position and content of each—perhaps accurately pinpoint the date of a few if she appeared on Mastermind with ‘The early life of Declan Pearce’ as her specialist subject.
But as she turned to push through the door into the next room, she caught sight of some new pictures and swallowed down a mixture of envy and bitterness at the juxtaposition of Declan’s life before and after—the part where he’d moved on without her. Even after Dec left, his dad must have continued to hang pictures of him because there he was, framed with as much care as anything that gone before.
Dec in an office of black leather and gleaming chrome—a vista of New York spread like a map through the huge picture window behind him; Dec beside an aeroplane bearing his name—sunglasses on, wide grin in place, and a suit that must have been expensive but one he wore without effort and made it look good.
Dec behind a podium.
Dec in an apartment so swish she’d have believed someone had Photoshopped him into it if she didn’t know better.
Dec… Dec… Dec. Just him.
Her gaze skimmed the remainder of the newest frames, and her thoughts stalled. She leant closer. No. They weren’t photographs. They were pictures that had been cut with great care from glossy magazines and newspaper articles, as if someone was reduced to simply scrapbooking a loved one’s life rather than being part of it.
Regret flashed through her. It didn’t show the future—the life together— she and Dec had planned in all those late nights that somehow turned into seeing the dawn. If she was honest, it didn’t show any sort of life she’d ever imagined for anyone she knew, let alone someone she loved. And especially not for Dec. She’d always believed they were the same type of person. But maybe not now she could see his life through someone else’s eyes.
She shrugged, trying to throw off her sudden melancholy. The fish and chips wouldn’t eat themselves.




Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Filtering Our Lives




I’ve been thinking about filters lately, going through one of my periodic stages of resenting smart
phones, social networking and all things techno. That may well be in part because I’ve only ever managed to master what it takes to survive in that online world. I’m a klutz on my best days. But sometimes I’m an angry luddite wannabe, who grumbles incessantly while I bury my nose in my kindle to lose myself in a good book … Oh the neuroses of my life!

When I’m lost in the world of navel gazing and trying to connect to what matters without losing myself in the detritus and the trivia of a world online, I often find myself thinking about the filters we live our lives through, and what being once removed from everything, while at the same time up close and personal with the whole world and all the information in it means to us as a civilization – to me as an individual.

I can go online and hear the background microwaves that are the remnants of the Big Bang, the beginning of the universe. I have done, have listened over and over with goose bumps crawling up my arms.

I can go to FaceBook or Twitter and have meaningful conversations with friends all over the world, people I’ve never met physically and yet I’ve connected with  and feel somehow a kin to.

I can keep up on films and stars and gossip, I can join any group, be a fan girl, talk trash, be a part of any organisation with any cause imaginable – political, religious, medical, physical, magical, practical, any hobby, any sport, any obsession. It’s all there. All I have to do is log on. Easy.  

When we were in Dubrovnik over Christmas a couple of years, we found ourselves in a random café for lunch one day. The cafes that were open in the dead of winter were happy for customers, and when we arrived, we were the only ones there. About halfway through the meal a young man came in, eyes glued to his smart phone. He asked us if we’d read the reviews for this particular café. We said no, we’d just dropped in. The food was lovely. We had a local beer, local specialties, and the owners of the restaurant were friendly, and patient with us as we practiced our rusty Croatian on them. Meanwhile the man ordered without looking at the waitress, ate without looking at the food, all the time lost in communion with his phone. We left him that way.

Back out on the streets, after a wonderful walk in the sunshine around the medieval city wall, we stopped for coffee and once again were astounded by the number of tourists gripped by their phones even as they walked, obliviously, down the main street of the Jewel of the Adriatic, the sea the colour of sapphire and the sky a shade darker still, contrasting with the red tile roofs.

Not long ago we went out for lunch and observed three very lovely young women who came in and sat down at a near-by table, again completely caught up in whatever was happening on their phones. They barely spoke to each other during the course of their meal and never put their devices down.

I recently received an email from a friend of mine in the States, and I was saddened when the rather extensive epistle was all about what series she was binge-watching. I know for a fact this woman used to be a librarian. We used to spend our time talking about books.

All of these events, and lots of others leave me slightly queasy, even as I sit here writing this blog post, hoping that a lot of people will go online and read it. It’s the filters that leave me feeling this way. They leave me wondering about our connection with the real world, about MY connections with the real world. I wonder if we’re now more connected, and I just don’t ‘get it’, or are we less connected because we’re joined at the hip to our devices. I’m guessing it’s probably a combination of the two.

The world I live in is totally dominated by the technology my profession depends upon. The first thing I do in the morning is get up my laptop and see what I missed over night. I do what I need to do for PR on twitter and facebook, I see what I need to do for the rest of the day, and some days that involves a good deal of being online and interacting with social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I have some control over the promotion and sales of my books, no matter how little that may be. The feel that I’m at least doing something is worth a lot, even if it is at times only the placebo affect. In a time when publishing is entering the strange new world of self-pub, when the gatekeepers are no longer the guardians of all things literary, when the gates are quite literally wide open, I see how important it is to be present online. But I fear very much that being present online often costs me the simple pleasure of just being present.

I remember one night several years ago, I went into the darkened kitchen and discovered something truly amazing. Through the kitchen window, I had the most exquisite view of the thinnest sliver of a new moon in conjunction with brilliant Venus, and for a few minutes there was the added pleasure of red Mars just about to sink below the rooftops of the neighboring houses. I was stunned. I couldn’t take my eyes off what I saw. I reached for the binoculars for a closer look

The moon was illuminated with earthshine and, through the binoculars, the darkened areas were visible with the brilliance of the sunlit crescent making the whole look almost dark purple, huge and 3D. As I tried to focus on the bright smudge of Venus, my heart beat kept jarring the binoculars, so I couldn’t resolve the phase, but I’m sure it was as close to full as Venus ever gets.

Venus is always in phase. How amazing is that! We never see the full face of Venus because it’s in between us and the sun, and it’s only full when it’s on the far side of the sun from us – something that’s only true with the inner two planets. Mars dipped quickly and was gone, but I stood for ages, trying to hold my breath and brace my elbows so I could look. But no matter how hard I tried, Venus constantly quivered through the binoculars with the steady beat, beat, beat of my pulse. I shifted back and forth between the shiver of Venus and the pock marked darkened surface of the moon with its crescent of brilliance at the bottom edge. When my arms got tired of holding the binoculars, still I stood.

It was one of those rare moments of being in focus, of standing with nothing in between me and my little sliver of the universe; experiencing a moment, one raw, naked, aching moment without anything in between me and my heart. That tiny shred of time felt like skin freshly formed over an abrasion.  And I wanted to stay there forever in that little sliver of the present with nothing in between.

I couldn’t, of course. I had work to do. Later, it occurred to me that even that incredible few minutes of focus were filtered, brought closer through the lens of my binoculars. We’ve been filtering our world for probably as long as we’ve walked upright. Perhaps we can only be safe in – and from our
little slice of the universe when we filter it, analyze it, look at it through eyes – and heart -- well protected.


 The next morning, online, there were more images of Venus and the New Moon in conjunction than I had time to look at. I was far from the only one bringing that moment into myself through filters that helped make sense of it, helped make it personal and, clearly, I was far from the only person needing to share it. Somehow that makes the world community seem just a little bit smaller, just a little bit closer. Somehow that makes the filtering of my universe and all the contradictions that involves set just a little bit easier in my mind. That and the knowing at least for a little while that earthshine, that sliver of moonlight, that conjunction with bright Venus was mine. All mine.