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Friday, February 13, 2015

...Therefore, the Impossible Must Be Possible...

“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”  --- Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

I haven't blogged in a while and I'm mortified. Me, Talky McTalkerson, and I haven't blogged since Christmas. 

To blog, though, I pretty much have to have something to say. I pretty much have to be riled up about something or my  mind must be stuck on something and needs a release. And talking pretty much is that relief.

And it just so happens that today I AM sort of riled up about something. Not mad. Just frustrated. 

About what? 

About when a person---whether it's a reader or an author or an author/reader---who lays the law down about what a character can and cannot feel. 

In this particular case...this case that has me riled...it's relating specifically to feelings, to recognition of feelings, in historical settings. It's relating to the attempt to try to tag, to try to pin down as gospel, how characters in books are supposed to think and feel in strict adherence to a historical era. 

I've seen so many criticisms of books, of the characters in books, and how they could not possibly feel or do what they do because what they feel or do could not have been done in their time period. Did that make sense? I suppose my sentence makes as much sense as the reasoning of the folks who feel this way.

An example (and there are so many to choose from). A comment on a gay historical,
The simple acceptance of their own homosexuality that boys showed, living in **this era**, is mildly saying impossible

Okay, okay. Yes, by gosh, there are tons of things that---in fiction---would be impossible for certain eras. Yes, time frames are critical in many cases. Yes, there are many, many protocols to be acknowledged for historical accuracy. Please don't think, for even a moment, that I'm trying to say that to be authentic to the time frame is not critical. It is

But I'm not talking about authenticity in regards to day-to-day protocol, general beliefs during certain periods, machinery/inventions that have specific dates in history. 

I'm talking about hearts. I'm talking about feelings. I'm talking about something very, very personal. Something that nobody---reader, writer, philosopher, historian, nobody---could every truly say is impossible. 

I'm talking about feelings between people. Things of the soul that defy convention. Depth of heart that surpasses all logical thinking, that supersedes protocol. Love that transcends any and all philosophical reasoning. 

Impossible, no matter what your era, to say for dead certain that a heart can feel any damn way it wants to feel? No. What is impossible is to say it is impossible. 

Sugar, the heart defies fiction dictates. The heart has no rules. There are no boundaries, whether in past times or now, in human souls. 

I read a comment once that denounced a novel because the hero and the heroine---in a particular historical time frame---would never resort to some of the openness and erotic behavior as depicted in their story. 

Says who? 

If one wants to quibble over realism, then they can start by getting real. Get out some of your naughty classic erotic fiction. Oh, honey, yes, people---in the privacy of their own bedrooms---were no different than modern day folks. 

Sex, feelings, sexual feelings. All the things we think we modern people feel we have exclusive rights to. These things have been around since time began. 

Hearts can't be roped into a tight corral of historically accurate fiction. Nobody can lay claim to what people did or felt or what was possible for them to think once their souls felt that beautiful, too-deep-to-understand thing called...love. 

So if any of us authors get it 'wrong' historically about certain facts in our fiction? Yes, let us know. Eras are unique to themselves. 

Love is unique as well. But, unfortunately, it is unique to each individual. There is no guideline for what the human heart can grasp. 

 To feel guilt over it because of their historical climate with sexuality? To be tortured inside because they felt what they felt? Oh, yes, honey, I'll vouch for that one.

If, in historical fiction, you try to convince me that even the most naive, closeted, shy, religious person could not recognize their attraction to the opposite sex for what it was...if you try to tell me that they could not accept, even simply, what they were when they met someone like themselves...well...don't tell me that. 

It's just not true.


Monday, December 22, 2014

A Christmas Tail...

“I’m so glad you agreed to come!” Sincere gratitude warmed Nancy’s huge brown eyes. “I know this isn’t the most desirable place for an interview.” She glanced around the snow-covered surroundings, then lent me an apologetic smile. “But it’s the only place I could meet you.”

“On the contrary. It’s perfect,” I assured, my gaze following hers in a tour of the Central Park Zoo.

Snow, white and sparkling in the meager sun that struggled through thick gray clouds, turned every inch of the zoo into the proverbial winter wonderland. Gentle flurries swirled silent in the cold, damp wind.

Nancy blinked at delicate snowflakes dropping onto her long lashes. “Where would you like to start?”

“When did you first meet him?”

Far-away dreaminess softened her eyes, and she looked away, her mind obviously lighting on a wonderful memory. “I remember it like it was yesterday!”

“Tell me.” I flipped open my tablet to a blank page, uncapped my pen and stood ready to write. I’d wanted to meet her, to hear her story, for such a long time. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I had to make the most of it. Excitement sent my pulse racing.

“Oh, my dear.” Pausing with a deep sigh. “When he came strutting into that room, you could have heard a pin drop! All eyes were on him!”

“So it is true. He was handsome!”

“Handsome! What an insignificant word to describe him! Beautiful! The most gorgeous creature any of us ever laid eyes on!”

“What did he look like?”

Again the brown gaze wandered. “Darker than the other men. Of course, being Italian and all. Deep, mysterious eyes. Lips that were invented for kissing! And, my dear. Dare I say it?”

“Yes!  Please!” My writing stopped, pen poised above the tablet with anticipation.

“He had the narrowest hips and the nicest ass I’d ever seen! When he ambled into that room, that handsome head held high, those exotic eyes searching the area. My, my! To this day, the thought of it still makes me shiver!”

“How did you meet him? I mean, if he was drawing so much attention, I would imagine all the girls set their sights on him.”

“Of course they did!”

“What did you do to get his attention?”

“It took a few days for him to notice me. He was surrounded by girls on a regular basis.” Pausing, her eyes narrowed with what seemed to be a delicious thought. “One night, at one of the holiday get-togethers, he approached me to dance.”


“Of course, by then word had already spread through town what a marvelous dancer he was. And the gossip was true! Like a professional, smooth on his feet. Romantic! Attentive! Why, he put the rest of the men to shame! They couldn’t hold a candle to him! He simply swept us girls off our feet!”

“Is that why the trouble started? Did the other fellows get jealous?”

“It certainly didn’t help! But, to tell you the truth, he was a trouble maker anyway.”

“How is that?”

“The other fellows went to the nightly events at town hall, expecting all the gals to show up as we always did.”


“But the new guy had other plans!”

“Such as?”

“He began to teach tango lessons while the activities went on in the town hall.”

Tango lessons?”

“Yes! And what a teacher! The line was long with girls waiting for lessons! They simply forgot about the other guys and stopped going to the town hall altogether. They wanted to go to his bungalow to take lessons.”

“So that was how he got his bad reputation?”

“That wasn’t all. His secret…” her eyes danced with mystery. “Was the main reason!”

“The secret that ended up making him so famous?”


Shaking with excitement, I begged, “Tell me!”

“It was my turn to take tango lessons. Oh, what a romantic experience! Those muscles, those dreamy eyes, those luscious lips! He began to get pretty amorous. Although I enjoyed it, I didn’t want to succumb to the charms of this Romeo. I told him I really shouldn’t be there, that I should leave. He pulled me closer, and those luscious muscles of his sent shivers through me! He murmured that I didn’t need to go to those events at town hall. He could show me much more excitement in his little bungalow.”


“Well …” A rosy blush crept to her cheeks, her eyes closing with embarrassment. “Then we started making out.”


“And that’s when I saw it!” Her lashes fluttered. “And then I knew why all the girls were so anxious to be with him.”

“Oh! Was it ..?”

“As much as you’ve heard.” She blushed again. “Probably much more so.”

“Oh, my goodness!”

“I’d never seen anything like it in my life! And never have since!”

“Why did he let you … see it?”

“He couldn’t control it. He was embarrassed and apologized.” She kicked her toe in the snow. “But I liked it! I wanted to see more!”

“So you ..?”

“Kissed him even more. That excited him. And it just got...well...”

“So how did your boss find out? Did someone snitch?”

“That, dear, was why I wanted to tell you the story. For you to tell the truth to the world.”

“Tell me.”

“The ridiculous story that everyone knows is simply not true. It wasn’t at all how it happened.”

My excitement rose to unspeakable levels. The familiar story that had been accepted for years and years was about to come crashing to smithereens. The truth was going to be revealed.

And now I must share the true account with you, as it was told to me by Nancy. So pay attention.  Are you listening? 

You recall that famous Christmas Eve so very long ago? The Christmas Eve when Santa Clause was fog-bound and his yearly toy delivery was nearly cancelled? And do you remember how you’ve been told the trip was saved by a reindeer with a shiny red nose?

You do? 

Well, what you don’t know is how Santa Clause came to discover that red nose. It wasn’t at all like you’ve been told. Oh, no.

Most of the story is true, mind you. But listen while I tell you the part of the story you DON’T know.

* * *

On that famous Christmas Eve, Santa turned from the window and, burying his face in his hands, slumped onto his gigantic velvet chair. He refused to cry in front of the elves or the reindeer. But crying was just what he wanted to do. 

Never had he seen fog the likes of this night. The trip was impossible. Not even an experienced team of reindeer such as his could pull off such a feat. It was unthinkable.

“Santa?” With nervous, choppy steps, Nancy approached him.

Looking up, a brave smile touched Santa’s lips. “Yes, Nancy?” He wanted to be left alone, but smiled anyway.

“Santa, I think I have an idea that will save your trip.”

“Oh, thank you, Nancy, dear, but there is simply no way. This fog is monstrous. I can’t risk my team.”

“But I think it can be done. In fact, I’m sure of it.”

“Yes?” Heaving a huge sigh, he cast another patient smile.

Nancy leaned closer, whispered in his ear.

His eyes widened like giant lollipops. He beamed and said, “This I’ve got to see!”

* * *

Well, friends, this is what happened. Oh, yes, Rudolph, the famous red-nosed reindeer, did indeed have a bright red light for a nose, and it was indeed the very thing that saved that historic Christmas Eve.  

But the fact historians have not told you, is that his nose would only shine so brightly when he was aroused. Then, oh then, it shone so bright it would put a lighthouse to shame. Needless to say, with a steady stream of love-struck does knocking on his bungalow door, the pretty red light glowed every night.

And the true reason all the other male reindeer laughed and called him names? Because they were jealous, plain and simple!

Oh, the girls called him names all right, too—Rudolph, the Valentino of reindeer! Which of course drove the other fellow reindeer even wilder with envy! 

So. Imagine the main reindeer team’s embarrassment when, instead of Dasher and Prancer and the rest of the usual names, Santa had to yell out:

“On Nancy, on Suzie, now Donna and Mitzi ..!” 

Because? Yes. This was the only way to keep our furry lothario Rudolph’s nose so bright all night. To be surrounded by the women, to keep his romantic fires burning. So, as long as a team of cute girl tails wriggles behind the red-nosed Sachem of Reindeer, toy deliveries will always be delivered on time, and the Christmas Eve sky will always be lit with that famous light.

And this, my friends, is the true story as told to me by Mrs. Rudolph.

So the next time you see that sleigh with the NINE tiny reindeer—think about what you’ve just heard.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Buy Me Or Not, But This is Who I Am...

You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, 'This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I'm doing the best I can - buy me or not - but this is who I am as a writer.  -- David Morrell 

This week on the internet, I ran across a blog post about book sales. Specifically about popularity of the authors and the popularity's effect on book sales. More specifically about the possibility that some author voices are subject the lonesome literary highway---better known as Reader Bypass---because the writing was too literary.

The post went deeper into the issue---readers' expectations being too low for them to be able to appreciate the literary-type authors. 

I kept thinking about this theory, though. About whether writing with a literary style can keep a book from selling well in the modern market. 

After reading the post and its comments, I looked---for about the trillionth time---into my own writing. Into my personal status of a not-so-popular-and-not-too-rolling-in-royalties-type writer. 

You see, I've been labeled many times as literary. My writing style, that is. My prose has been crucified for being too flowery and pretentious on one spectrum and, on the other end, it's been praised for that very flowery-ness. 

And I've been tempted from time to time to try to emulate a more...well...non-flowery voice. 

But you know what? The temptation part is as far as I've ever gotten. 

Why? Why didn't I try harder to have a different voice---for want of a better term---to my writing? When, possibly, my style is an albatross around the neck of my writing. When my overly-flowery voice might be keeping me from making more money? From being more popular?

But, then, hell. Is it even the writing that makes the popular...well...popular? Or is it personality that draws readers to writers? Can a flowery voice make one not popular? Does it snuff our odds of being 'in'? And so forth and so forth.

I don't really know. And I suppose I don't really care. 

Because my voice is my voice. Period. I could stuff my voice into another suit and it still would be me and---believe it or not---my readers would still recognize me. Changing a voice is much harder than you think. A writing voice, that is. 

The good news is that for every reader who loathes my type or writing, there is one who enjoys it. 

An example.

Take a gander at these snippets from reviews:

...effusive and excessively wordy or verbose prose...

…the words flowing across the page like exquisite brush strokes...

The author is clearly operating under the assumption that if you write with a thesaurus at your side and every now and again throw in a 'posh' word, your writing will look clever and literary. 

The imagery is gorgeous and I totally got lost in the writing.

All four of those samples are taken from four different reviews of a book of mine. One book, four different opinions on the style.

Go figure.

So what do I do?

Do I alter my style and my voice---the style and voice I love, the style and voice I've cultivated almost all my life?---for a handful of readers who don't like it? Or do I keep it and just roll around in the appreciation of the readers who do like it? That group---small in number but huge in my heart---of readers who gets my style? 

That is a tough, tough call for some authors. A lot of variables go into the decision. Too many to count. Too individual to name.

For me? Now don't laugh. There is a part of me that loves what I write so much that it's simply a matter of: I wrote a damn good book and I wish, wish, wish it could reach more eyes so that it could reach more hearts. 

Yes!  That literary floral overdose, for those of us who do write in literary floral overdoses, isn't contrived so that we'll sound...well...flowery. It's our souls poured out, pure and natural. Just like any author. Well, that's how we're supposed to write. From our souls. And if an author is not writing from the soul, driven by their passion for their characters, then they're just...writing. Without that beautiful impetus of loving to write. And for some of us, it just comes out...flowery.

Sometimes it's just got to be about the love of the craft itself. As much as I'd love to, I can't knock a reader upside the head and pound it into them that they would like my story if they would only read it. Like my story, damn you! Nah. This dame can't do that. Because my work is my very heart, it's too delicate to shovel down a literary throat.

I will promote my work in every way I can. Hell, I even bemoaned promotions for the longest time. But, finally, I did realize that more folks would see this work I love if they knew it was there. 

I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand the plight of the lesser known authors (like me) out there in the huge ocean of big names. I do. I'm in that ocean, trying to navigate in a blow-up raft while better known names---royalty they were once called---are cruising in massive ocean liners. I'm out of my league. I'm not popular. And the list of whys goes on and on. 

I honestly---maybe naively---believe that if I write more of what I do write, I could find my work in more Kindles and on more bookshelves.

That's the hard way. But...well...

Until I do get famous and before I do win that Pulitzer and before every person in every household breathes my name and my book titles in reverence...well, please just let me be...flowery. Please accept that it is not phony. I really am not trying to impress with prose. Please accept that this may really, really be this author's true voice. 

Please don't snub authors or condemn them if you do not like their voices. Just quietly put their books aside and let them be who they are. Because their voice is the one thing they cannot and should not change to please an audience. Sure, there may be legitimate issues with books---bad editing, under-developed characters, faulty plots. 

But voice. It should never be compromised for the sake of being trendy. Voice. The one thing, in my heart, that should never be challenged. 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Taboo: A social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

The issue has shown its ugly ol' face again--the tired argument that women can't or shouldn't write male/male fiction. And, again, authors are up in arms about it. 

And well they should be. Up in arms, that is. It's a silly notion, figuring that anybody who wants to write should not or can not write what they please. If the  interest is there, nobody should be able to dictate what anybody writes. More importantly, if the passion is there for a subject or a genre, then it's not even a question of just wanting to write it. It's a matter, for an author, that they must write it.

Unless you're one of those unfortunates like me who has trillions of characters bumping elbows in your head, it's hard to understand that drive---the drive to write what's in that silly ol' head, no matter what it is.

So, for the record, I'm here to shout that I, too, think it's ridiculous to pigeonhole talent into genres. We write what's in our noggins, whether we're men or women. 

History would be a teencie bit altered if that concept---the one where certain sexes should only do certain things---hadn't been ignored through the years. Many famous dames who did things that, until their time, only men had done wouldn't be icons in the history of the world. That alone ought to open one's eyes to the fact that you can't put passion and talent into one little box. Cannot be done. Should not be done.


That being said...

As a writer, I've experienced another kind of prohibition of sorts when it comes to genres. 

No, I've never had anyone tell me that I wasn't qualified to write in the m/m genre. I've seen those who have claimed it so, but it's never personally been directed at me. Not to my face, anyway.

What I have encountered was just the opposite.

The stigma of a woman who writes m/m who also likes to write hetero romance. 

That's an area of the fiction world that kind of gets brushed under the old carpet. But it is real, and it's just as silly as the outlandish claim that women ought to keep their literary noses out of writing about gay men.

I've had it from both sides. Those who try to convince me that, because I like to write hetero fiction, I'm only in m/m for money. Not true. Oh, so not true. Let me tell you, kiddos. If I were in this writing gig for money? Well, I'd have had to quit long ago. 

The other side: I'm somehow disloyal to my genre (m/m) because I venture over into the 'other' side---the hetero side of romance. 

Oh, hell, I've met the most comical reactions when I post photos----beautiful photos---of men and women on my Facebook page. Men and women together, that is. I've had some cruel comments about them. I've had to delete some of them, they were so critical and judgmental. One said, in reference to a photo of a young couple embracing, Next thing you know, they'll want to be getting married. I knew where the person was coming from. And I could not blame him for his aggravation as to the freedom that straight couples have as opposed to the struggle for same sex couples to do the same. I seek and fight for equality in marriage as well. 

I've been told by many authors who write both genres that they've received a lot of flack for it. For daring to write both.

So are we who write supposed to snuff out parts of our creative minds and hearts just to stick to one genre? Because somehow it means we're traitors to a genre to feel the same passion for another genre?

If so, why? I've yet to hear a valid answer to that question. 

What I found really strange was some feedback from women authors of m/m to photos of straight couples. One even said, ewwwww. A straight women looking at a photo of another straight women---who happened to be with a man---and being disgusted. One straight married gal---married to a man---said Ugh! Girlie parts

And before you tell me that photos of same sex couples is taboo in many romance groups, I'll be quick to tell you that I think that is wrong, too.

My bottom line is this: love really is love, no matter a gender. It's a really glorious thing, no matter who it is. No matter the gender. 

But that's not my issue in this post.

My concern in this post is that aura of taboo that seems to surround women who want to write both genres. It's rigid. It's judgmental. It's wrong. 

And my biggest concern is this: that this rigidity, this rabid devotion to a genre, can be dangerous. 


Because, for me, one of the most beautiful things about this genre (m/m) is the chance to expose the rest of the world to something that's been hidden far too long. The more of us who write it, the more readers will find it. It is a quickly growing genre, which is wonderful. That means the love between two men can be shared with more and more readers. Embraced. 

But my fear? That this extreme intolerance for some of us to go outside the borders to also write hetero romance could so easily turn a beautiful, passionate, powerful genre into a sort of cult-like thing. Because the reaction I have gotten---the denunciations of my hetero photos and mentions of hetero couples in my writing---is almost cult-like. It's a little frightening. 

It's hollering about equality yet stomping it out in the next breath. Equality means for everyone. Equality is a bigger battle for many than for others. I'll be the first to say that I don't realize how good I have it, my freedom to marry. My freedom to have children, to adopt, to do many things that are taken for granted by straight couples. But I also have to acknowledge that tolerance, still, is not designated for some only. It is for everyone. 

The genres I am driven to write (notice I said driven, not have chosen) aren't causes for me. I don't write m/m as a cause. Even though I hope it aids in a voice for equality, my writing is driven strictly from passion. 

And I will say that the writing of this genre is a gift to me because it has given me a rare insight that I wish the rest of the world could see. Insight into the beauty and nature of love between same sexes. I'm happy I was inspired to write it. It's opened my eyes, it's been a joyful experience, this finding peace in the passion between men. 

Inspired. Inspired. Inspired

That is the whole thing for me, in a lovely nutshell. 

My writing is inspired. Whether it's good or not is another thing. It is, at least, inspired. It's just meant to be. 

So how can anyone out there dare to try and snuff out the beautiful flame of anyone's inspiration? Anyone's?

Is there anyone out there who should be able to condemn another for inspiration? And if a writer is inspired to write about love---m/m love, hetero love, love between two women---it's not up for discussion. 

Because let me tell you something. There's bad writing in all genres. In mainstream, too. But whether it's good or bad or whether the author really gets their subject, has nothing to do with the gender of the writer. Nobody ever looked at the classics authors and said they didn't get it from both sides of their characters, men or women. Nothing's changed over the years. Anybody can write about anybody as long as they are inspired and they really are in the hearts and souls of all their characters. 

Because it's the hearts and the souls of the characters that are the stories. 

And, hey.

Plain and simple: if an author is not inspired, if they cannot get into the hearts and souls of their characters, then they should not be writing. Then a reader can complain all they want because that is what it's all about anyway. If the deepest guts of a character are present, then that writer knows their stuff. They know the souls they're writing about. 

And if you go into the reading of a book with preconceived notions in your head about which gender wrote the damn thing, then you're reading for all the wrong reasons anyway. 

Read a dictionary or encyclopedia instead. Just facts there, nothing to judge. 


Serina Hartwell said, If you're struggling to fit me into a box...then build a bigger box!

I've said all that to say this: don't put so  many stigmas on genres, on who writes what. If we want to be who we are and write men with women and men with men or women with women? Please. Open your minds. Let us do it. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” --- Maya Angelou, "Letter to My Daughter"

It's awfully easy to wallow in self-pity and it's even easier to cry out loud---Facebook, anywhere one could talk out loud---about it

With a spell of set-back, in my writing career that is, I nearly took the easy road out and whined about it. I'm a natural born whiner, believe me. So what surprised me was that I did not whine.  Publicly, that is.

There comes a time in life when you realize whining is self-defeating. Its benefits? None. Absolutely none. And, hey, if I had not found peace about the issue I'm chatting about, I'd keep my trap shut; however, I did find peace. And, because of that peace, I felt like passing on encouragement to new writers like me---established writers, too, who might feel the same from time to time.

This writing gig is a wonderful thing. Which is good, because for most writers, we could no more not write than we could hold Niagara Falls in a teacup. 

If you're like me, you felt the magic the second your fingers typed those first words to that first story. Somehow, you knew. It was right for you.

And, if you're like me, you plunged into this new adventure with the most magnificent expectations. Me? I imagined myself right up there with Mario Puzo and Dan Brown. It was going to be that easy. I felt like I had the talent, after all. 

Like the Zampster said in her blog post about writing needing to be a balance between a job and the wonderful ceremony, this wonderful literary life trip is a job. And, since it is a job, it puts you in a new limbo between dreamland and reality. 


This new job, just like any other job, can be an exhilarating  journey. Or,just like the office place, it can place you---because now you're mingling with a world of authors just like yourself as well as a staff of management---it can ram you right into a brick wall of self-doubt and fear. No, no, it's not a scary place, this writing world. It sure doesn't have to be, anyway.

But, plain and simple, once you're work is out there and you begin dealing with the world outside your writing nook, you...well...you are dealing with a world outside your writing nook. Which means, just like in school or work, you're exposed to elements that, whether you like it or not, will affect you.

You know that thick skin they always tell you about? The thick skin writers must have? Well, that thick skin applies to more than just handling bad reviews and negative junk regarding your work.

Baby, that thick skin also applies to you, to how your self-confidence has to stay intact. You walked into this gig with the confidence of a soaring eagle, my friend, and you have to keep it

That thick skin has to stay thick when you sometimes feel like you're not really a part of the big adventure. When you feel you're invisible. When elements come onto the scene that not only seem not to encourage but to actively DIScourage. When you feel like the pesky kid in the W.C. Fields movie and the world snarls, Go away, kid, you bother me

And it ain't about being somebody. Whoa! If that's your goal, get in another line, doll. That line is the one where your personal goal as primo celibrita is more important than your original passion---your writing

Me? I just suffered one of those bouts of self-doubt. When it felt like, not only did I not feel like I mattered----me or my writing---but it even seemed there were those who confirmed it for me. 

I wallowed in that for a while. I doubted my writing. I doubted my writing?  Oh, hell, no. 

Then came my mental, hold your horses, buck-o!

Then came my mental look here, toots.  

I worked hard at this writing. My heart bled into every single word. Along my way, I had a bevy of wonderful, wonderful folk who believed in me. Friends who mentored me. Friends who read my work. Friends who taught me everything they knew about writing, about editing, about everything. Folks who embraced this new writing dame. They gave me their time, their care, their knowledge. 


I'm going to chunk all that priceless input, all that beautiful care and support...because a couple of incidents happened? I'm going to regress, even for one split second, and stop believing in myself because I ran smack-dab into a few who discourage me?

And, wait. I'm not saying it's the world's job to boost me, to support me. And that's just it! I see that now. The confidence has to come from within. It can't rely on external elements to make it or break it. Just because you run into a barrier of discouragement, you can't just stand there at the roadblock, staring at it all helpless and heartbroken. You just go around it, and keep heading straight on to where you started out to begin with. 

Here's a scary thought: you do stop at the obstacles on your path. You let it halt your dreams right in the middle of the damn road. 

When, instead, Steve Maraboli says, How would your life be different if…You stopped validating your victim mentality? Let today be the day…You shake off your self-defeating drama and embrace your innate ability to recover and achieve.

Are you going to let yourself be a victim and let your dream halt---even for one second---every time someone throws a kink into your confidence?

I'm not. 

Do you know, I was so discouraged I'd decided not to write sequels to books I loved? I actually allowed a tint of disinterest from someone else to set me back, to send me over the self-pity cliff?

Then, just at the brink, I remember all those fabulous people who did care.

And I stepped away from the edge. And I'm going to keep writing. And I'm going to keep loving what I write. 

This gal is going to hang on to that ol' self-confidence a bit longer. And so are you!

Friday, October 24, 2014


A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me. --- Khalil Gibran

It could be anyone. A movie star, past or present. A guy standing in a crowd on a street in a photo in an article. The pizza delivery guy. Your hairdresser. A gal behind the counter at the department store or in the line at the grocery store. A stranger passing you on the street. 

The moment you see them, you know them. You know them. Maybe even intimately. Maybe you knelt with them in the trenches during a war. Maybe you went to school with them back in the 1940's. You might have even passed them on the street---never even meeting them---only it was a hundred years ago, and you thought how handsome they were.

Yes, sugars, I'm talking about...past lives. Reincarnation.

Many believe it, many call it hogwash.

All my life, in spite of being taught in church that it wasn't possible, that it was sacrilegious, I still felt it was possible. It made so much sense to me, this idea of our souls being infinite and existing inside various forms throughout the universe. I love the thought of this.

Oddly, though, the concept never made as much sense to me as it did when I started writing. 

And here is why.

When I did start writing, my very first character was this thin, rather pale, dark-haired man. Very broody, very intense. Beautiful like one of those saints in a stained glass window in a cathedral. Hey, don't start laughing just yet. There's reasoning behind this madness. Just wait.

Now, here's something else about this man. Whenever he came to my mind---which was pretty cotton-picking often---I kept seeing the Catholic church. When I'd write him, he either was a priest or had been a priest or was somehow associated with Catholicism. Strongly, he always appeared in my mind this way.

This 'character' began to trouble me. After a while, after I'd had a chance to get to know him better, I began to feel---with overwhelming certainty---that I knew him, really knew him from somewhere. No longer was he this figment of my imagination, a character trying to be fleshed out, but he was somebody real

There were times I almost saw him, saw exactly who he was and where I knew him from. Kind of like staring at a faint reflection of a face that hid deep, deep in a dreamy pond. Almost, but not quite, I could touch him. 

Okay, you'll maybe find this silly. I even checked around to study past-life regression. Yep, he'd gotten that much under my skin. 

I was wildly attracted to him, horribly sad about him for some reason. Talk about feeling like you're crazy! I dared tell only a handful of open-minded friends about him. Anybody else, I was pretty damn sure, would say I was off my nut. 

And then it happened. 

I was watching a film on Telemundo, the Hispanic television station. What was funny was that it was an Italian film with Spanish captions on a Spanish station. It was, if I remember correctly, The Holy Family. The guy who played Joseph on the film! Lordy, I found him so damn attractive. Something so familiar about him. Maybe he looked like an old boyfriend or something. Couldn't quite place why he seemed familiar, he just did. 

Of course, the next day, I googled him. 

There he was. It was him. Him! The man who'd taken over my mind and had this weird place in my heart. I can't tell you know I knew it was him, I just knew. 

He was the Italian actor, Alessandro Gassman.

Holy shitsky. In all his dark, brooding glory. No, I'm not saying I knew the actor intimately, from some other life.  But he was the face of the creature who'd invaded my mind.

Well, anybody who knows me knows that I fell in love, head over heels, for this actor. But what most have never known was why. And there it is, darlings. Most of my friends have surely just figured it was part of my fascination---no, call it obsession---with dark haired Mediterranean and Latino men. Sure, I like them. But this man was different. 

Wait! No, no, no, no! Before you go and start hollering that ol' Vastine thinks she had an affair with an actor in a past life...that's not what I'm saying. 

What I am saying is that his face, his persona, his everything reminded me very much of something---gods only knows what or who---of something, someone from some time that was not in this life. I don't know what this is. I only know how it feels, and how certain it feels. I wish it was explainable. It's not. 

And the Catholic element? Here's where it's kind of funny. 

So by now, I had a face to my faceless man. Whoever he had been in my life, I felt very surely that he had been Catholic. 

One day, after this 'epiphany', a guy from church came up to me when services were letting out. He said My mother said to tell you that she dreamed about you last night. I don't know if the ambrosia she'd eaten was bad, or what made her dream this. But---and he chuckled---she dreamed that you had a son. And she said he was a priest or something. She thought he might have even been the pope.

Of course I laughed, as it was funny. But, deep down inside, I was a mix of elated and scared. This woman had no way to know about this imaginary connection I felt to the Catholic church. And, hey, maybe it was just one of those nifty telepathic wave lengths that folks share sometimes. 
Whatever it was, I had to---just had to----put a add a bit of weight to its meaning.
By now, you're chalking Ms. Vastine up to being a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Maybe I am.

Maybe, too, there's something deeper in all of us writers than we give credit to. Maybe sometimes our muses aren't simply imaginary characters conjuring themselves out of nowhere to put themselves into our stories. 
Maybe they go deeper than that. I truly believe that, sometimes---who knows, maybe all the time?---our muses are people our hearts really do know. Maybe we write them at times so vividly because they are not strangers to us. 

Come on. So many authors claim that they know their characters intimately. Couldn't that just more than just imagination? Maybe there is a logical although ethereal truth to this because they might just really know them? Perhaps not from this life but from another. I mean, how do we get into their souls so easy at times? How do they get into ours? 

I love the thought of this. I choose to embrace it. Not only from an artistic standpoint but from a realistic one. A theory that makes very much sense to me, this idea of souls being infinite. 

After all this being said, you can only imagine my delight when I stumbled on this photo of my movie star-turned-muse...

Maybe one day the mystery of the man in my head will be clear. I sure would like to know who he is. And if I never do have that revelation, I'll just be content to write him and write him and write him. Until maybe, through the writing of him, his true persona will manifest.

Call it just a muse. Call it experiences from a past life. Whatever you do call it, it's still the same inexplicable, exquisite experience. 

You see that face. And you smile.

I know you.