Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fantasy for February--The Silver Summoner's Bell

You may have read my story "The Smallest of the Summoner's Bells," which originally ran on the Dark Valentine website. There are seven of the Summoner's bells and they all have a story and a history and a past. Eventually, I will write all the stories and collect them in one place. Until then, here's the next story.

THE SILVER SUMMONER’S BELL
I felt my brother die.
Two days later a man collecting dung for fuel found Mac’s teeth in a pile of dragon scat. He cleaned and polished them and returned them to me with his condolences.
I sent him away with a fat reward and a knife of my father’s design that was worth much more than the money I’d given him.
No one ever found my brother’s gun.
That was no surprise. A custom-crafted Turnbull gun would be a prize for any collector and trade in such a weapon would have been conducted in the shadows and off the grid. I had passed the word that I would buy it, no questions asked, should it ever come on the market, but so far there had been no nibbles at my bait.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review of iBoy by Kevin Brooks


 This is a really smart take on a modern “origin” story for a 21st century superhero. The model is Spider Man (mentioned more than once) but the hero’s transformation is more like the film Lawnmower Man. It’s somewhat inward (as if he’s internalized the Matrix) but this is the rare story where what’s going on around the “superhero” story is probably stronger than the heroics. The writer does something really cool with point of view and it’s so subtle that it takes awhile to register. Gritty and human and scary, the book has an edge but it also has a heart.

The premise sounds a little … silly … at first. After surviving a brain injury caused by a falling cell phone, an ordinary teenager named Tom discovers he now has the capacity to do anything an iPhone can and more and uses those powers to exact a little vigilante justice. There is nothing silly about how this premise works itself out, or anything candy-coated about iBoy’s mission. He wants justice done and although he doesn’t like the consequences, he can live with the results. (He would fit right into the Watchmen’s pantheon of superheroes with damaged souls.)  

The characters are terrific. Tom is only 16 but as he integrates the iBoy powers, he’s forced to confront concepts like “situational ethics” and deal with criminal dynamics way over his head. Tom’s friend Lucy is equally as strong. She undergoes a horrific ordeal and emerges feeling dead and ruined. By the end, though, she has summoned reserves of courage and grace that will stand her in good stead.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review of Watch You Drown by Chris Rhatigan

Watch You Drown is the first fiction collection from writer Chris Rhatigan, fourteen stories that run the gamut from straight up crime fiction to noir-tinged sci fi.
There are whole novels distilled into some of these stories—hidden histories of loserdom that have brought the characters to one particular moment in time; but we sense that there have been many such moments in their lives and that Rhatigan could have extracted any of those moments and turned it into dark fiction. He has a reporter’s eye for selecting just the right details, and he understands the stresses that have formed and shaped—and in some cases warped—the people he writes about.
These characters are beaten down and fed up and sick to death of being excreted from the world’s asshole. And then one day, despair meets poor impulse control and a bad situation gets worse.
The collection’s opening story, “In the Hard Nowhere” is one such “out of the frying pan into the fire” story and so is “Service With a Smile.” These are stories that seem particularly relevant in today’s economic times, as does “Glug, Glug, Glug,” a tale of a man who did the best he could but failed anyway.
Comfortable writing at length, Rhatigan is equally adept at making a long story short. “Guy with a Barbed Wire Tattoo,” told in kinetic present tense, is a piece of flash fiction as potent as the venom from a cobra bite. “Administrative Segregation” reminds us that even hard men have their limits and the emotion it elicits is not contempt for the protagonist but pity.
Watch You Drown is more than a collection of short stories, it’s a gateway to a world of pulp fiction that Rhatigan rules.
For more about Chris Rhatigan, visit his blog, Death By Killing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Feminist Fiction Friday--Janet Evanovich


I’ve always thought that Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels were Nancy Drew adventures for big girls. Stephanie is smart, pretty and always solves her mysteries. Instead of just one boyfriend, she has two, and instead of chums like “George,” she hangs around with a former hooker, but she’s
I’m not sure when or why I picked up Janet Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum novel, One for the Money, but I laughed all the way through it. It was a mystery but it had large dollops of humor and romance, and Stephanie was a Jersey girl with money problems and curly hair that never seemed to want to stay in a pony tail.  I liked the character and I loved the book and from then on, I was hooked on the series. 
In fact, I always thought the books would make a great television series because Evanovich surrounded Stephanie with a great cast of characters. There are the people at the bail bonds office (including her cousin). Her parents (particularly her long-suffering dad) are always around to offer sympathy and pot roast. And then there’s her Grandma Mazur, whose idea of entertainment is heading over to the local funeral home for viewings. (That funeral home figures prominently in a couple of the books.) And then there are the two men who are both pursuing our heroine.
These are people we could actually know.
And while some of the hijinks in the stories get a little out there, her brand of contemporary romantic suspense set the bar for writers who followed.
She started out writing romance novels, turning to fiction in her 30s and publishing her first book in 1987 when she was 44 years old. One for the Money came out in 1994 and kickstarted a series that includes 18 “by the numbers” books and a couple “between the numbers” novels as well.
And in between she’s written a slew of other books, both alone and with other writers a la James Patterson. (According to Wikipedia, she and the late Stephen J. Cannell were supposed to have written a book together. That would have been one lively romp.) And Castle fans who remember Cannell from the poker playing scenes, wouldn't it be fun to see Rick Castle playing poker with Janet?
You can follow her on Twitter @janetevanovich; like her on Facebook; and sign up for the newsletter on her site.
And you can go to see the movie version of One for the Money today, with Katherine Heigl as Stephanie.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Excerpt Exchange--James Kellogg's E-Force


There's a dark conspiracy lurking beneath the facade of an eco-terrorist group. The fate of the world is in the balance!  
Thriller writer James Kellogg and I are doing an excerpt exchange this month thanks to the social networking on Facebook. The following is from chapter five of his book E-Force.  (One of the five-star reviews on Amazon states: The tension in the book builds from chapter to chapter. Kellogg does a wonderful job of developing the characters, holding your attention and delivering a delightful read that once you start you can't put it down.) Check it out for yourself:

      Tempers were flaring at the manager’s meeting. Colt was certain that the Salem Witch Trials couldn’t have been more chilling. With the suddenness of an ocean squall, the forum had degenerated into a hostile volley of accusations and defenses. The handwriting on the wall was plain for Colt to see. The days of EcoFriends were numbered.
      A female manager turned on the other five women. “I’m not paying the price for the bitch that ratted on us! Everybody knows I’ve put my heart and soul into this organization.”
      “You’d sell us out in a heartbeat if you could profit!”One fiery vixen charged at the haughty accuser. “How much is the FBI paying you?”
      “That’s right. Fight it out!” A man pumped his fist.
      “Let’s make them all take polygraph tests.” One board member stepped between the two potential combatants.
      “There’re better ways to get a confession than that,” another person said.
      “Enough of this!” Howard Anderson finally took control. “We’re tearing ourselves apart because of one traitor. If we’re going to survive, we’ve got to stick together. The truth is going to come out. Whoever is guilty has one last chance for redemption. I’ll give you until the end of the week to come to me and confess. Then we’ll figure out how to make things right again.”
      Adjournment was an armistice in an escalating war. At the reprieve, people scattered. Colt looked for Deb, but she was gone. The air in the building seemed poisoned. He hurried outside where he could breathe.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kattomic Fiction!! New stories

Over at A Twist of Noir, there's a story from my Misbegotten universe called "Sex Crime." Read it here.
I also have a story up at Shotgun Honey called "Dark-Adapted Eye." It is part of my upcoming Poisoned Teat collection of shorts, due out this summer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday Feminist Fiction--Connie Willis

Photo by Kyle Cassidy from http://www.sftv.org/cw/
The first time I attended San Diego Comic Con (2008), Connie Willis was one of the guests. She showed up for her seminar looking like a statuesque suburban granny and totally rocked the hour to a packed house of admirers. She told a story about how she met her husband (a retired physicist and how she might not have in response to a question about faith and fate. She talked about her unsentimental treatment of death and how her mother's death when she was a child shaped her world view.
She had brought along her lovely, equally statuesque, daughter and everyone in the room went away feeling like they'd shared some quality time with the woman who has just been named a "Grand Master" (for lifetime achiement) by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
I (heart) Connie Willis.
She has won 11 Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards and a ton of other awards too. She has won for both novels and short stories. Connie Willis can write anything!
Lincoln's Dreams was the first of Connie's novels I read, a wonderful love story that slipped gracefully between genres. I followed that up with To Say Nothing of the Dog, which delighted me in the way it looped back and forth over itself and is one of her Hugo Award-winning works.
She has talked about the long spaces between books (and pointed to her friend George R. R. Martin as another writer who teastes his fans this way), but while we're waiting for the next novel, there are plenty of her short stories to keep us reading.
Her official website is here.
You can "like" Connie Willis on Facebook.

Friday, January 20, 2012

FRIDAY FEMINIST FICTION--Coming Saturday

Subject will be Connie Willis. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Christine Pope

Celebrate writer Christine Pope's birthday Friday by checking out her new collection of stories, Voices From an Empty Room. The eclectic collection includes fiction originally published in Astonishing Adventures Magazine and Dark Valentine Magazine.  One of the stories, "The King of Elfland," was a Pushcart Prize Nominee. The cover was designed by Joy Sillesen of indie author services. (Find her here.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Separated at birth--Oscar Wilde and Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be the "it" boy of the moment and we certainly approve.  We have to ask, though, has anyone noticed his striking resemblance to Oscar Wilde?  Cumberbatch famously played Stephen Hawking, but what about a biopic of Wilde?  What do you think?









Luck Premieres January 29

And I'll be there.  I'm not a fan of horse racing at all, but the trailer is so chock-full of great actors and style to burn that I just have to give it one watch just because.  I haven't seen Dustin Hoffman play this kind of role ever; and Nick Nolte's southern accent is spot on. And it's Michael Mann directing from a David Milch script. 

Excerpt Exchange--Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes

One of the nice things about being part of online communities like Facebook is that you meet a lot of people you'd never meet otherwise and they enrich your life. Novelist Dellani Oakes has a new book out in what will be a series of sci fi adventures featuring "Lone Wolf" Wil VanLipsig.  He's a bit of a rogue, our Wil and when he shows up, we know trouble is at hand. Her five-star reviews on Amazon give you a taste of what this genre-blending story has to offer. "This book is more than a sci fi novel, it's also a mystery with a love triangle. The settings are unique and so are some of the alien species that populate the story."

Dellani and I are participaing in an "excerpt" exchange. Here's a scene from the book, which can be purchased on Amazon and directly from her publisher, Second Wind:


       Rubee woke them at 0630 when the Merchant Marine hailed them.
       Once he was up and dressed, Marc was all business. It seemed odd for him to be so professional when they had just been so intimate, but she knew something was bothering him.
       As Matilda followed Marc to the docking bay where the ship was locking on, she noticed he was armed. The energy weapon he wore was hardly standard Guild issue. On the maximum setting, it could take down a 300 pound man, putting a sizable hole in him.
       "Expecting an army? You can kill a xar beast with one of those."
       "I wish I had something bigger. If I order you to fire, Commander, you fire. No questions. Is that clear?"
       "Yes, sir."
       Marc opened the door to the docking bay. The other ship had attached and the airlock was pressurizing. As the door spiraled open, Matilda sensed a shudder pass through Marc. He raised his weapon, covering the entrance.
       Slowly, with a casual air, a man entered the airlock. Nearly as tall as Marc, he was leaner of build. His curly, dark brown hair fell to his shoulders. He stood still while Rubee scanned his identification tag before releasing the force shield in front of him.
       He wore a black eye patch over his left eye and a scar ran from his left temple to the corner of his lips. It was an old scar, worn and somewhat sunken. A slight stubble of beard shaded the lower half of his face, all but the scar line, leaving a pale crescent in the dark. His uncovered eye glittered, black and dangerous in his ruggedly handsome face. Holding his arms from his sides, he waited as Rubee scanned him for weapons. Finding none, she gave clearance for him to pass.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review of The Killing of Emma Gross

The Killing of Emma Gross by Damien Seaman


March, 1929…a prostitute named Emma Gross is killed in a Dusseldorf hotel room and her body mutilated so the wounds mimic those borne by two other murder victims. Johann Stausberg confesses to all three crimes and is sent to Grafenberg Asylum for the criminally insane. That should have been that, but a year later, the arrest of serienm├Ârder (serial killer) Peter K├╝rten brings to light certain discrepancies that investigating officer Thomas Klein simply can’t ignore. And it doesn’t hurt that proving Johann Stausberg didn’t kill Emma Gross will humiliate his ex-partner Michael Ritter who has hated him ever since learning of Thomas’ affair with his wife Gisela.

Damien Seaman’s debut novel, The Killing of Emma Gross stuns the reader like a blow from the claw-hammer wielded by one of its characters. The novel is equal parts police procedural, psychological thriller and dramatic deconstruction of a love affair gone very, very wrong. This is a plot that involves secrets and lies buried so deep inside that winkling them out involves blood and pain on an epic scale.

For everyone but Thomas, the question of “Who killed Emma Gross?” is less important than “Who cares who killed Emma Gross?” and the closer Thomas gets to answers, the more questions surface. This is not a simple book and Thomas is not a simple character. A veteran of the Great War, he is scarred inside and out from the experience, but traumatized even more by the death of “Lilli” and his wretched love affair with Ritter’s wife.  He is capable of mistreating people in his search for the truth, but he’s also susceptible to moments of what he calls “softness.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Feminist Fiction Friday: Judith Viorst


Judith Viorst is a writer who can’t be confined to a genre.
She’s a journalist, a poet, a playwright. She could probably sell her grocery lists if someone drew pictures on them.
As a writer, Judith Viorst has a split personality. She writes wonderful books for children—her most famous are probably Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, NoGood, Very Bad Day and The Tenth GoodThing About Barney (my favorite)—but she also writes non-fiction for adults, her titles ranging from breezy books of poetry about aging (It’s Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty and I’m Too Young to Be Seventy and Other Delusions) as well as thoughtful, scholarly works informed by her studies in psychology. I read her book Necessary Losses after my mother’s death and it helped.
Viorst’s versatility—from serious to silly—is awe-inspiring. Sometimes all she wants to do is entertain, as with her four-line poem “And Then the Prince Knelt Down and Tried to Put the Glass Slipper on Cinderella’s Foot,” a hilarious take on fairy tale endings. (You can find it in Don’t Bet on the Prince. Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England, but you can also find it here.) But sometimes there’s more going on than kidjinks. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is the story of a kid whose beloved cat has died and it’s one of the best “circle of life” stories you’ll ever read. I am not ashamed to say that I cried when I read it.
She doesn’t tweet—at least not under @judithviorst—but she does have a fan page on Facebook here
Her 81st birthday is coming up next month. Celebrate it!





Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Naff--my new favorite word

Mark Satchwill, my arty other half at NoHo Noir, introduced me to this word, British slang (I learned from Urban Dictionary) for "lame." 
Naff. It's my new favorite word. I don't understand why it never caught on here in the US, where sillier words have become common currency.
I've been thinking about words a lot lately, specifically slang, because late last year I tried something I'd never done before--writing a story set in swinging 60s London.
I would have felt more comfortable if it were set in 1860s London because there's more of a margin for error and it's not like someone is going to pop in and say, "That's not what we said!" (Well, there are sharp-eyed people who know the 1860s inside and out who would probably let me know if I got it wrong, but you know what I mean.)
It's really  hard to be persuasive writing about another time and another culture, and I have a horror of making a misstep especially since I tend to get snarky about writers who don't do their research and get things wrong.  (You know the kind of thing I mean--novelists who describe the fields of white marble crosses in Arlington Cemetery not realizing they're describing Flanders Fields and not the garden of stone that is the nation's most-storied national cemetery where all the tombstones are tombstone-shaped.) And language is the trickiest thing.
I have several friends from France whose English is superb--nuanced and slangy and grammatically perfect. The only thing that marks them as non-native speakers, besides their accents, is that instead of saying "last night," they say "yesterday night."
Which reminds me (yes, I know this is a NAFF segue) of a story I once read, probably in EQMM. Set in WWII it was about a German spy who was caught because when he spoke (in English) about the moon, he referred to its gender as male.  That's the kind of thing I mean.
Naff.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When Less is More

I like flash fiction. I like writing it; I like reading it. I really admire writers who can pack a story into a small space and let it uncoil like a jack in the box.  The famous one, of course, is Hemingway's six-word story:  For sale, baby shoes, never worn.
As I was posting my entry on ShortStory365 today, I was thinking about writers who can pull off the really, really short story. Chris Rhatigan showcased Thomas Pluck's "Faggot" a couple of days ago on SS365 and if you haven't read it, you need to. In fewer than 100 words, he'll take your breath away. Here's the link to the story on Shotgun Honey.
Thinking about short-shorts sent me searching for Somerset Maugham's "The Appointment in Samarra," which I remembered being short. I'd forgotten how short. It's 198 indelible words. Find it here.

I'm in awe.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

When you can't even give it away...

My first fiction collection, Just Another Day in Paradise, has been free on Amazon and Smashwords for a couple of months now.  Downloads were extremely brisk at the beginning, and have taken an uptick in the last two weeks for some reason.  It's gratifying. Not as gratifying as it would be if all those people were paying for the book, but gratifying nonetheless.
But then...every once in awhile, someone returns one of the downloads of the book.
That's right, they send it back!
Who does that?  Seriously?  Why not simply delete it from your kindle?  Because it's not as if the customer is going to get a refund.
Maybe it's a perceived value issue? Maybe I need to raise the price?
It's a mystery.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Feminist (Non) Fiction Friday--Renny Darling

Years ago, I attended my first American Book Association convention representing my then-employer, Los Angeles Magazine. At the table to my right was a vivacious, dark-haired woman named Renny Darling who was there to promote her first cookbook, The Joy of Eating. It was oversized and paperbound, and the pages were decorated with little drawings that gave the whole thing a very “cozy” feel that reminded me of looking through my mother’s recipes, which were often adorned with her doodles. (She’d gone to art school and worked as a commercial artist before I was born.)
Renny was one of the friendliest, most upbeat people I have ever met and my one real memory of that convention was when she returned to her table after a short break wearing a pyramid hat because two kids were selling them and a book about pyramid power and the whole thing tickled her.
I loved Renny. She was one of those people you sometimes meet that you just fall in love with and want to befriend. I was too shy to follow up on that so I did the next-best thing, I bought the cookbook.
Even at the time, I had a lot of cookbooks, so I figured I’d read through it and probably never really cook anything from it.
And then I stopped on her recipe for chocolate chip banana bread.
I don’t really like banana bread but I do like chocolate and the recipe was dead easy—one of Renny’s abiding principles is “simple is better”—so I whipped up a batch.
The word “orgasmic” comes to mind.
Right out of the oven, the bread tastes like heaven, with little melty bits of chocolate oozing out of it in lovely little dark specks.
Cold, the bread changes texture into something more like a dense bread pudding.
Men who have eaten this bread have proposed to me.
I always make a few loaves at Christmas and give them to deserving friends.
You want to be one of those friends.
The next recipe I tried was Renny’s pumpkin bread with orange juice and golden raisins. You only think you’ve had pumpkin bread until you have had Renny’s pumpkin bread. Her pumpkin bread kicks your pumpkin bread’s ass.
So I bought her next cookbook and her next and a couple more after that.
I have made soups and quiches and a rice with fruit and nuts side dish that was so sinfully good I had the leftovers for breakfast by themselves.
Once you’ve had one of her cheesecakes (she loves cheesecake and all her books seem to have half a dozen great recipes for cheesecake) you will never again be satisfied by those dry concoctions delis try to pass off as cheesecake.
Every single one of the recipes she shares is unbelievably tasty. I mean…Every. Single. One.
In addition to the books, Renny also had a recipe club with a newsletter offering recipes and cooking tips. (We’re not talking about a wimpy little newsletter either, this mailings ran for some 20 pages.) Rising postal costs shut the newsletter down but then she went online, where she has continued to enhance and expand her brand. Find her site here.
Read her brief memoir on the site and you’ll get an inkling of her warm and chatty style, which is the way she writes her cookbooks.
When you leaf through one of her books, it feels like you’re visiting a good friend who has just printed up the recipe for that amazing muffin you just ate; giving you the secret of the deliciousness because she loves you and wants you to be able to whip up that deliciousness for yourself.
This is a woman who took her love of cooking and turned it into a business and a brand while raising a family and holding a marriage together.
Renny Darling is my heroine.
And she’s written a lot more cookbooks since I last checked in on her.
So I have some catching up to do. And meanwhile, I have the pleasure of browsing through the descriptions of her newest books.
Renny Darling offers free recipes on her site. Here's one.
Renny Darling is on Facebook! Friend her here.
Renny Darling is on Twitter! Follow her @RennyDarling.
Then go buy one of her books.
Any one of her books.
Your life will taste better for it.


Want Some Freebie Publicity?

Over the holidays, I took advantage of a SuperEReads offer to create some free catalogue pages for two of my ebooks. Response to their offer was tremendous (who doesn't like free publicity?).  Now, to thank everyone who took advantage of their offer, Karen Dionne and Christopher Graham, the site's founders, are offering the "early adopters" a deal--another free catalogue page for one of our own books or someone else's. 

Would you like to have my catalogue page?

The pages look great and you can add as much info as you want, reviews, book trailers, dancing girls, whatever. Ordinarily, there's a charge for this, but I have a freebie I will give away to the next person who joins this site.  Just join and comment here and I will give you the secret password. (Don't dilly-dally, though--the offer expires on January 15th.)

Salt of the Earth

Okay foodies--you think you're stylin' because your salt shaker contains Hawaiian pink salt?  Check out this place. Wholesale gourmet salt that goes way beyond pink, gray and black. (And by black, we mean shiny, coal black lava salt.) And on top of that, this place offers blends that will make you forget you ever heard of lemon pepper salt:  wild porcine salt; ghost pepper salt; espresso salt; or our favorite, vintage Merlot salt (pictured).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The TBR pile--to read or not to read?

I tidied up my office today--always an excellent procrastination technique because you're actually accomplishing something while avoiding some other task--and was forced to confront the reality of my To Be Read pile.  Well, my TBR bookcase to be more precise.
I can't keep up.
That's right, it's a case of "too many books, too little time."
It's not that I read slowly; I'm actually a natural-born speed reader, which comes in handy as I make my living reading.
It's not that I lack the will--reading is my absolute favorite leisure time activity.
"Leisure time."  A concept I'm familiar with in theory but not so much in reality.
I am in AWE of my GoodReads friends, particularly Kat Laurange, who juggles   motherhood, a career, a marriage, charity work and what seems to be a reading rate of several books a day. Every time I look, I'm getting an update on her reading list. I am convinced she never sleeps. (That was probably literally true when her son was just born.)
How do you guys do it?  I know I'm not busier than you are...
And you're writing more than I am too.  So basically, I envy you your productivity and your ability to keep up with everything. (I'd hate you but I like you too much.)
I consolidated my pile of recent acquisitions and it's taller than I am. (This is true, which tells you how much I REALLY don't want to do the thing I'm putting off.)  So clearly, some decisions need to be made. Am I really going to catch up on that series of fat historical fantasies that now numbers three when I haven't read any of them?
Really?
No.  I'm not.  At least not now or in the near future.
It kills me to admit it. It pains me to say it.
Some of those books have got to go.
They'll go to good homes. But I will always regret having to give them up for adoption.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Judging a Book By Its Cover...

I am surrounded by talented people who create wonderful book covers and one of my favorites, Joy Sillesen, is offering New Year's discounts for indie authors who need covers (and overall book design too). This is her latest creation, the cover for the debut fiction collection of writer Berkeley Hunt, whose work was first published by Dark Valentine.
If you'd like to talk to Joy about doing a cover for you, contact her here at indie author services.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Long story short

If you haven't already, you must head over to Brian Lindenmuth's short story challenge. I guarantee you'll find something new to read.
One of the things I'm finding as I search out stories for my own posts is how many writers wrote short stories I new knew about. Virginia Woolf, for example. I knew her as an essayist but not a writer of short fiction. Ditto Mary Shelley. (To be honest, almost the only thing I know about Mary Shelley is that she wrote Frankenstein.)Then there was L. Frank Baum who, in addition to all those Oz novels, wrote short stories and more than 200 poems. Tennessee Williams wrote short stories too. Who knew?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sparkling Cider Wishes, Down-to-earth dreams

Photo by PerfumeLa.com
One of my clients gave me a basket of extremely high-end bath products for Christmas, and I broke them out New Year's Eve. They smell fabulous...a sensual "oriental" fragrance that reminds me of some of my favorite perfumes, including Halston Night, which they no longer make. (You can buy used bottles of it on eBay if you want to spend $100 plus.) I used to wear perfume a lot, but now I work at home and it seems kind of silly to fragrance myself up when I'm wearing bike shorts and oversized t-shirts belonging to any number of my friends and family.  (I hate shopping for clothes.) 
The shampoo lathered up creamy but not bubbly, like the generic brand of shampoo I usually use. And as mentioned, it smelled terrific. As I soaped up with a washcloth I bought at the 99 Cent store (three for 99 cents), I couldn't help but laugh.
The conditioner smelled good too, but left my hair incredibly tangled, so it took me about an hour just to comb it out.  That made me cranky, because the conditioner I buy in quart-sized bottles makes my hair soft and extremely comb-able.
What amazed me was that when my hair was blown dry, it looked like spun silk. I'm not kidding. I didn't have hair that beautiful when I was a baby.
So the rich are different from you and me--they have nicer hair products.
I'm not a vain person, usually, but I found myself staring at my hair throughout the day. (I know what you're thinking--good God woman, get a life.)
But here's my point...I can't imagine a level of personal income high enough to make me feel comfortable spending that much money on shampoo.  I wash my hair every day--I'd be going through the bottles at a rate of two a month. And there's another problem. A lot of the stories I write are about class warfare--the kind of "us against them" mentality that seems to have infected American politics in the last decade. I'm not sure I could wash my hair in the morning and then come to the computer to write if I used shampoo like that every day.
It was a lovely gift and appreciated but I'll be happy when it's all used up because it's way too easy for luxuries to become necessities. And you know, I don't need shampoo that costs more than a meal for two at a decent restaurant.