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Sunday, March 24, 2019


Here’s an oldie, but a goodie. Enjoy!

I love a good cliché. As soon as you hear one you know exactly what the writer or person is saying. So easy. Such an economy of words. As a writer it’s verboten to use clichés.

Here’s an ode to that which I must not use.

Every cloud has a silver lining.
Life’s not so bad, when you consider the alternative.
All’s fair in love and war.
There are plenty more fish in the sea. (Not so much anymore).
It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. (Is it?).
Beauty is only skin deep. (Tell that to the guys lusting after supermodels).
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (See above note).
You can’t tell a book by its cover. (Maybe not, but a good cover is essential).
I’m not ugly; I’m visually challenging. (Okay. I never heard this one but I like it).
It’s what’s on the inside that really matters. (See above re supermodels and lust).
If you can’t beat them, join them.
Nobody is perfect.
I’m only human.
The devil made me do it.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Tomorrow, no one will remember (Ya think?)
Avoid clichés like the plague. (There are many things you need to avoid like the plague).
There is truth in every cliché. (This is why I love them).
Clichés sound better in a foreign language. (Ah, that’s how I can get away with using them in my writing).
There is nothing to fear but fear itself. (Good one, but overused).
Life sucks and then you die.
When God gives you lemons, make lemonade (I prefer to wallow in self-pity).
Life is a bitch. (Ain’t that the truth). Also, Karma is a bitch.
When it rains, it pours.
No pain, no gain.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
I did it my way. (Or at least Sinatra did).
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Have a nice life.
Live and learn.
To be or not to be.
Live and let live.
Shit happens.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Same shit, different day.
Carpe diem. (See clichés, foreign language above)
What goes around comes around.
Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
Life is messy.
Que sera, sera. (Ditto clichés and foreign languages)
Time will tell.
No news is good news.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Haste makes waste.
Cleanliness is next to godliness.
Do it right the first time. (Easy to say, hard to do)

There, I’ve done it. I’ve gotten my need for clichés out of my system. I will never again write one in a book. I promise. If you believe that one, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Feel free to add your favorites.

Here’s something I hope is cliché-free. My newest release, available for pre-order for only 99 cents! Release date is April 1. (It’s not an April Fool’s joke).


 For all those who wanted Kate and Zach’s story, from A Groom for Christmas, this is for you!

When a struggling actress takes a role as the glamorous temporary wife of a wealthy playboy, she finds love doesn’t always come on cue.

Struggling actress Kate Carluccio showed up for her wedding but her groom bowed out without warning. He absconded not only with her heart, but also her parents’ life savings. Her confidence shaken, Kate’s determined to find a way to restore her parents’ money. Then she’s offered the role of a lifetime: step out of her colorful high-top sneakers and into the glammed-up role of socialite wife to a shallow, annoying playboy. If only Kate wasn’t also secretly attracted to him, the one-and-a-half million dollars he offers with his proposal of a marriage-of-convenience might be easier to accept.

Breathtakingly handsome, super rich, and sophisticated with a bad boy vibe, Zach Lyon is a tabloid favorite. He may be a vice-president at his father’s company, but up until now he’s just played a supporting role. But when he discovers two executives are conspiring to force his dad out and take over the company, Zach decides it’s time to step into the spotlight. What better way than to take a glamorous new wife to Las Vegas to spend the Christmas holiday at the home of one of the conspiring executives?

As the curtain rises on the eclectic house party, Kate and Zach play their roles against the backdrop of schemers and snobs, while hiding deep secrets of their own. Can Kate pretend to love Zach without revealing the true depth of her attraction? Can Zach prove to his father he has the stability to go from understudy to leading man? They may have wedded on a dare, but with the stage set for romance, their marriage-of-convenience might just turn into a marriage-to-last-a-lifetime.
Universal link:

And, for your convenience, both A Groom for Christmas and Wedded On a Dare are together in a box set, Love On a Dare Duet!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Bye Bye Winter!

We've all had enough, haven't we? I know that here in SoCal we can't begin to compare stories with most of the country, but we have had more rain than in recorded memory, thunder that shakes the house and sends the dog into the husband's lap in a fit of terror, 1500 recorded lightning strikes in one night. It's been fun! I hope you've all survived with minimal trauma and property damage. Note to self: get two more roofing estimates.

But last night and tonight's super moon is ushering in spring! Longer days...warmer days, hopefully? What do you have planned for the upcoming season? A trip for spring break? Maybe planting a garden--I have that on the agenda as soon as it is a little less muddy! But mostly writing. In addition to writing as Kate, I am lucky enough to be part of an author trio writing as Lorelei M. Hart. We write mpreg, a genre that can be a lot of fun, especially the shifter styles.  Coming up on March 26th The Alpha's Lifeguard Kissed Omega will be released. Could be all the pools reflect my readiness to get back in the water and swim! Unlike our poor omega in this story:

Here's a taste:

I Never Learned How to Swim...

Fear had ruled over most of my life from fear of the water to my choice of alpha. Now that I’d left him, it was time to face all the facets of life. What I hadn’t expected was that my swimming teacher, the lifeguard at a local kids’ club would not only be the teacher I needed, but more. Harris might just prove to be the anchor I needed in life.

 When I saw Luca, knees wobbling by the pool, I knew something more than a fear of water plagued this omega. My protective instinct kicked in full-time. I needed to know him, keep him safe, share my life with him—and not just in the pool.

Have a wonderful start to spring!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Revenge IS Sweet! by Marianne Stephens

RAISE your hand if you've never considered a way to exact revenge and "get even" with someone. If your hand is up, you're either very forgetful, have a selective memory, going through a "senior moment". It's part of human nature to feel mad and want to even the score...even for a "saint" like me!

Dating, romance...and being dumped or used. All stuff we go through in the game of love. Initially, you feel hurt and are embarrassed by questions like "Where is ...?" asked by friends and family. You may make excuses, tell fibs, change the subject so you don't have to admit a breakup has occurred.

Most times, you go on and finally tell people
your version of the story. Doesn't matter if it's exactly true, but its something you'll stick to and feel better about yourself for saying. You can analyze and justify it in your head, and that's how you cope.

More power to you. Getting rid of a loser, even one you thought you loved, is better than being with one. I'll now tell you
my story of revenge against an ex-boyfriend, the first and only time I ever "got even".

If you believe that, I have a bridge in New York I'd like to sell to you!

I dated Ron in college for months. I knew he was on academic probation but he didn't seem to be able to pull up his grades. Ron finally got word that he'd flunk out if he didn't leave, so he quit school. We were to spend his last weekend at the college together before he headed home and either went into the military or found a job.

We had plans; lots of couples stuff to do starting on a Friday night. He called me an hour before coming over to my dorm to let me know that an "old ex-girlfriend" surprised him by coming from a nearby college to say goodbye so if I didn't mind, he'd see her that night and see me the next day.

What could I say? Annoyed but trying to be reasonable, I agreed. We'd have all day Saturday to spend together. And, we'd spend Sunday morning before his bus left since he had to vacate the dorm that day.

Saturday morning came. He called again. His "ex" was still there, and wouldn't leave until late that night. Would I mind waiting to see him until Sunday?

Hell, yes, I minded. I remained calm as wheels in my head started turning. Ron apparently was dumping me for his "ex" and I didn't matter to him. Crushed at first, anger swiftly took its place and the word "revenge" planted itself in my brain. I had to do something to "get even".

Once again...but this time through gritted teeth...I agreed to his suggestion. But I was already formulating a plan in my head, one that would get the message through to his "male-ego" brain. Maybe he'd take note and not pull this type of "dumping" act on another female.

His plan was to leave at 11:00am on Sunday. The bus only came twice on Sundays...11:00am and 11:00pm. We were to meet after church at 10:00am at a spot on campus we liked to go to for coffee. We'd then go back to his dorm and I'd help him carry his stuff up "the hill" and into town to the bus stop.

I never went to meet him. He called at 10:15 and I said I was on my way. He called again at 10:30 and I told him the same thing. His final call came at 10:45. It was too late for him to catch the morning bus, but now he'd spend the rest of Sunday with me and take the 11:00pm bus. Since he had to vacate the dorm at noon, he figured I'd let him leave his stuff in my dorm room and help him carry it to the bus stop that night.

Now was my turn
. I knew I'd delayed him from taking the earlier bus. I knew he'd have to wait 12 hours for the next bus. I knew he'd have nowhere to store his things. With a nonchalant tone in my voice, I told him I would be busy the rest of the day but wished him a happy life and promptly hung up. I had visions of him lugging his stuff to the bus stop and sitting there all day...and that was my act of revenge. I had to quell the curious streak urging me to go "peek" and see if he waited there hopefully full of regret.

That's my version...and I'm sticking to it! So, what's your tale of revenge or "getting even"?

photo: Flickr: mohammedazix's photostream

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

To be or not to be romantic: favorite and least favorite

I have issue when it comes to favorite romantic movies, books and plays. So many of the classic "love stories" end miserably. I do not care for those. I'm sticking with movies today and giving a few of my favorite and least favorite big-screen romantic fiction.

Favorites (in no particular order):
  1. Much Ado About Nothing (Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh)
  2. The African Queen (Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn)
  3. Key Largo (Bogart and Lauren Bacall)
  4. White Christmas (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Cyd Charisse and Rosemary Clooney)
  5.  Gross Pointe Blank (John Cusack and Minnie Driver)
  6. The Mummy (Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weiss)
  7. 50 First Dates (Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore)
  8. An American in Paris (Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron)
  9. The Scarlet Pimpernel (Anthony Edwards and Jane Seymour)
  10. Leap Year (Amy Adams and Matthew Goode)
Ones I Hate (also in no particular order):
  1. Romeo and Juliet (any version)
  2. West Side Story
  3. Love Story
  4. Dr. Zhivago
  5. Casa Blanca
  6. Gone with the Wind
  7. A River Runs Through It
  8. Somewhere in Time
  9. Wuthering Heights
  10. Roman Holiday
So do you agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think. Since March is my birthday month, I'll give a free download of my recent re-release, SEA CHANGE to one random commenter.

In other news: The first 4 books of the Gaslight Chronicles are on sale this month at all e-tailers. Get Steam and Sorcery for 99 cents, Photographs and Phantoms free (It's always free!) Kilts and Kraken for $1.99 and Moonlight and Mechanicals for $2.99.

Finally,I have another old title being released Supernova Indie Publishing on March 19! I co-wrote this book almost ten years ago with the fabulous Lacey Thorn. We're both delighted to see it get a second life.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Don't Get Your Bloomers In A Wad

Posted by R. Ann Siracusa

March is Woman’s History Month, a time dedicated to highlighting “the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.” The names and accomplishments of many women such as Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, are well recorded in history and studied in school. While these women deserve the legacies they have earned, it’s important to shed some light on the many women whose names you might not know but who also helped shape the future of our nation and our society. 
Not everyone – man or woman – with noteworthy accomplishments gets credit for those achievements, however remarkable they may be. Therefore, I’ve chosen to blog periodically about lesser-known women who have made a mark on history.
Amelia Jenks Bloomer was a noted Women’s Rights advocate, but that isn’t the only aspect of her life worthy of note.

She was born in 1818 in Homer, New York, and grew up in a family of modest means, attended a local school, and lived an average somewhat unremarkable childhood. In her later teens she taught school for a short time. At seventeen, she decided to move in with her recently-wed sister in Waterloo, New York. A year later she took a position as live-in-governess for the Oren Chamberlain family in Seneca Fall, NY.
Like I said, nothing remarkable.
In 1840, at the age of twenty-two, she married Dexter Bloomer, the owner of a local newspaper, The Seneca Falls County Courier. Her husband not only encouraged her to write for his newspaper, but gave up drinking as part of the Temperance Movement because she was such an avid supporter.

At thirty, Amelia attended the first women’s right convention held in Seneca Falls in 1848. Although she didn’t actively participate in the conference, a few months later founded her own newspaper, The Lily, for women by women.
The Lily started out as a vehicle for the 300 women of the Seneca Falls Temperance Society, but in a few years had it expanded to a circulation of 4,000 readers and had a broad mix of contents ranging from cooking to social issues and advocating women’s rights. Thus, Amelia Jenks Bloomer became a well-known women’s rights advocate and the first woman in the US to found, own, operate, and edit a publication for women: her claim to fame and her mark on history. So far, so good.

The manner in which a name becomes attached to an idea or physical product it often not clear cut and can be misleading. Amelia Bloomer is no different. She did not invent the idea of women wearing pants or split skirts. That goes way back, and I’m not going there, but Amelia did advocate the idea that women should wear more comfortable clothes for everyday activities.

In 1851, a temperance activist Elizabeth Smith Miller started sporting an outfit that she considered more rational for the day: loose trousers gathered at the ankles, like women’s trousers worn in the Middle East and Central Asia, topped by a short dress or tunic. Miller showed off her new duds to her cousin Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another women’s rights activist and a friend of Amelia Bloomer.
Stanton found the new fashion sensible and becoming, and started wearing it. She talked it up to her friend Amelia Bloomer whose publication had actively promoted the idea of a change in women’s dress standards that would be more comfortable and less restrictive for regular activities.
Amelia Bloomer in the Bloomer Costume - Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesPhoto source:          

Amelia believed women’s clothing should accommodate the individual wants and needs and promote health, comfort, and usefulness, making personal adornment a secondary factor. She not only adopted the new fashion, but made design modifications and promoted it enthusiastically in her magazine which, by now, had wide readership among women.
Articles on the clothing trend were picked up in The New York Tribune. The fashion was immediately dubbed "The Bloomer Costume" or “Bloomers” and proved to be quite popular with women.
But not so popular with men. Much of the male population found much to disparage about the entire women’s rights movement and condemned anything connected. Over the next ten years the design concept took so much criticism in the press and harassment on the streets, that the suffragettes and Women’s Rights advocates, including Bloomer, stopped wearing it.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton wearing the Bloomer costumePhoto source:
The following is a link to a cartoon typical of those published (by men, no doubt) making fun of the style:
Amelia Bloomer didn’t come up with the idea, but her designs and promotion of the outfit in her magazine brought it to the attention of American women and the press, and I, for one, believe we owe her a debt of gratitude and recognition for popularizing the concept that women deserved to be more comfortable in their clothing.

By 1850 women’s fashions were relatively conservative compared to the overdone fashions seen in the Victorian era. Simple day dresses and bosom-flattening corsets were the order of the day. Amelia Bloomer and her friends wore such fashions.

This is what a woman went through to just get dressed in the morning. Don’t forget, not everyone had maids and servants, and many women had the same kinds of responsibilities as women do today such as washing clothes, caring for children, cooking dinner, and cleaning house. Doing all that in full skirts and corset couldn’t have been comfortable even in an everyday working dress. Source of photos: 
◄1. Dressing consisted of donning various layers of apparel. First she put on leg coverings called pantalettes. After all, the legs needed to be covered should the skirt rise enough to expose the legs. On top of that went a light but long shirt called a chemise.
► 2.  Over that went the tight corset stiffened with wood, ivory, bone or whale baleen to create an hourglass figure (even when one wasn’t there to start with). Often corsets were pulled so tight the woman had trouble breathing. The corsets were also responsible for back problems, curvature of the spine, and headaches.
3.  That still wasn’t enough! Over that women wore petticoats to fill out their skirts until the “crinoline” or “caged petticoat became the French fashion in the 1850s.
◄4.  With a caged petticoat Instead of several cloth petticoats, the ampleness of the skirt resulted from a stiff frame with hoops made of cane, rope, spring steel and whale baleen sewn into a petticoat or over one or two petticoats. Try bending over in that if you want to show some leg and your behind.
5. Over the hoop the woman would put on

another couple of
petticoats, and finally the dress with wide enough skirts to present a fire danger. Not joking. That was a
real problem.
No wonder Amelia Bloomer advocated for changes in women’s fashion. It is not hard to intuit, however, where the idea came from (besides other cultures). Take another look at the first layers: pantalettes and chemise. Women in the 1850s, at some time or other, must have walked around the room in the first layer of undies and felt the difference.
Here's all you have to do. Using fabric for outer garments for the chemise and pantalettes, belt the waist of the chemise (but not so tightly), fluff out the skirt and add a petticoat or two, and take in the ankles of the pantalettes (so they can’t push up on the leg) and -- Ta Da! You have the Bloomer outfit.Photo source:
The Basic concept is not that different from styles still popular in the 21st century, although some of the designer fashions would probably send Amelia Bloomer leaping out of her grave screaming … along with some of the rest of us.
Amelia Jenks Bloomer is recognized as an eminent figure in the US suffrage movement, a forward thinker and advocate of change – both political and sartorial – some decades before Women’s Rights movement gained its drive. She encouraged women to think for themselves, but her name will always be remembered in relation to introducing the American public to the idea of women’s trousers.   

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