Wednesday Words: Monsters

I recently came across a number of old essays and stories I wrote in college or shortly thereafter. This is an abridged version of an essay I wrote when I was 19, I believe. It is interesting how some things stay the same, some change, and some come full circle.

Reasoning with Monsters

When I was a child, I was sure a monster was going to get me, so I adopted a number of defense mechanisms. I’d hide under my Strawberry Shortcake bedspread or hug my Wrinkle Dog, Charmin. Sometimes I played a game where I’d envision a vampire, a werewolf, and Frankenstein having a conversation over my bed. They’d reason that they couldn’t possibly hurt me and therefore they couldn’t hurt anyone in the world because it might hurt me indirectly. The world was safe and I could go to sleep.

I have had lots of other safety icons throughout my life: a favorite pair of shoes, some apricot nectar when I was sick, a good imagination, a book. I always dealt with scary things by pretending. The shoes made me look better. The apricot nectar became the magic potion to heal my illness. I would imagine that my friends from school and my favorite cartoon characters were part of my team on elaborate spy missions. We all lived happily ever after.

Throughout my childhood, happy endings fell into place that easily, but as I grew it became harder to convince myself that happy endings existed. Imagining my friends around me didn’t stop my loneliness, so instead of pretending they were there, I pretended I didn’t need them. Around junior high books became my escape from reality. I pushed away everyone real until I truly was alone and realized my plan wasn’t getting me anywhere near happily ever after.

My disappointment compelled me to face the world of people again. Coming back, building new relationships, letting people in wasn’t easy. I don’t imagine it ever will be. For five years I’ve tried to break my habits of closing myself in, and I have changed. I know longer cringe when I look someone in the eyes, but my life remains a fragile balance of push and pull.

Tonight I look at my engagement ring and think about getting married and growing up. It seems to get married one has to grow up. Maybe I’d have to grow up anyway. Maybe I never will entirely. It doesn’t matter  because either way it looms over me and it’s scary. It involves responsibilities and burdens and worries. Sometimes I just want to escape–I want to be a child again whose biggest fear is the monsters under my bed. I want to hide under my bedspread with Charmin and feel OK again. I want to save the world by simply reasoning with the monsters, but I don’t know how anymore.

Somewhere I lost my ideals to my reals. I lost my innocence for what? To pursue the American Dream? To know if I’d ever be famous or own a new car? I don’t know.

But. There’s always a but, and it holds me to his world. So here I am growing up and living my life and making plans. Tomorrow I will wake up and go to class and pretend that everything is all right, that I know what I’m doing and where I’m going. Tonight I’ll hug Charmin and try to sleep.

I wonder if anyone has grown up or if we’re all just closing our eyes to our childish desire to love and learn and live. Maybe growing up means recognizing that fact and opening our eyes back up. Perhaps it means learning to remember how to see the beauty of life in each flower, sunset, and kiss we share with our lover. Maybe it means hugging Charmin for comfort and believing it will be all right.

 

Wednesday Words: Book Hook #MFRWhooks

MFRW Authors Blog

Today I’m participating in a new meme by Marketing for Romance Writers called Book Hook. It’s a great way to see short snippets from a bunch of romance authors.

Here’s a few sentences from my latest release To Growl or to Groan:

A shadow falls across me and I’m startled to realize a man stands right in front of me. He wears a robe that resembles tree bark, his face hidden under the hood.

A shiver dances down my spine. “Can I help you?”

A frail-looking hand closes my fingers around the pendulum. His fingers are frigid. “Beware, child. Power brings much temptation. Hold to your light, to your will…”

Blurb:

She’s unready to face her past, but she may have no choice.

It may be her best friend who gets surprisingly accurate hunches about the future, but Chloe just  knows something big –and bad—is about to happen. She telepathically communicates with animals and shape-shifters, but her growing psychic abilities are beginning to scare her. She suspects her mother also had abilities, and when those powers grew beyond her control, she left her daughter and husband when Chloe was only ten.

Despite her worries, she won’t let anything interrupt her trip to Scotland to meet her shape-shifter boyfriend’s family. Meeting Jorge’s close-knit family and spending the Holidays with them is worry enough!

When his sister goes missing, her disappearance is linked to a shadowy organization that knows exactly how to hide her from her shape-shifting relatives’ tracking ability. What they don’t count on is Chloe’s psychic gift.

In the rush to find Jorge’s sister, Chloe loses control of her ability and accidentally harms an animal’s psyche. Ridden with guilt, she’s afraid her ability just might destroy her relationship with Jorge. She isn’t ready to find her mother and face her past, but she may not have a choice if she wants to ensure she never harms anyone again.

What readers are saying about To Growl or to Groan:

4* from Sizzling Hot Books: “If you like shapeshifters, some sexy romance, and a good mystery as well then I would definitely recommend To Growl Or To Groan.”

“I enjoyed reading more in this book about Chloe’s exploration of her abilities and past as well as her HOT relationship with Jorge. I will be looking for more from this author for sure. This book is a light and fun read with adventure, passion and a few unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommend reading this book.”

“This book definitely kept my interest through the entire read.”

Check out the book trailer for To Growl or to Groan

Like the music in this video? Here’s the track:

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Click here to see more participating authors!

Wednesday Words: Blast Off

Happy New Year! I’m starting off 2014 by participating with more than 40 other authors in a giant party on Facebook. Great prizes (including two Kindle Fires!). Each author will have one to four games throughout the party, so there will always be something going on for the whole week. I’ll have four games, each with a $5 Amazon GC up for grabs!

I hope you’ll start your New Year with all of us.

Wednesday Words: Pfeffernusse #recipe

Pfeffernusse (literally translated from the German as pepper nut) is a holiday favorite in my family. While the most traditional recipes include both pepper and nuts, in modern times the recipe often consists instead of a blend of spices akin to what you’d find in pumpkin pie. My family’s recipe is in the latter category. Do a quick Internet search though and you’ll find a lot of variations.

It is often made into a flat-ish round biscuit cookie but my family roll them into balls to cook. In addition, we don’t serve them right away. Instead my mom hid them away in a cupboard to let the spices settle and the cookies harden for a week or two before eating. 

I have eaten the cookies both fresh and after some weeks of resting, and I can’t honestly tell you if they really taste better a bit more stale and crunchy or if it is simply the gemütlichkeit of childhood memories that make me prefer them that way.

Pfeffernusse

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. lemon peel

Beat eggs and sugar until thick. Add dry ingredients and blend. Chill overnight. Roll into 1 1/4 inch balls. Bakes on a greased cookie sheet at 350º F for 25 minutes. Best stored for one to two weeks.

Wednesday Words: Sour Cream

Since this is the week of Thanksgiving in the U.S. and this holiday is centered around food, I thought I’d share one of my favorite cookie recipes. This is a classic that my family has made for a long time. According to my search on the Internet, this recipe first appeared in Family Circle some 40 years ago. I found the exact recipe my mom gave me on Food.com.

The key ingredient is sour cream. I often have sour cream left over from Mexican dinners at my house, and it’s actually a wonderful ingredient for baked good to make them soft.

Sour Cream Softies

  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream (8 ounce carton)
  • cinnamon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Measure flour, salt, baking powder, and soda into a sifter.
  2. Cream butter or margarine with sugar until well blended in a large bowl: beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Sift in flour mixture, adding alternately with sour cream to make a thick batter.
  4. Drop by by rounded Tablespoonfuls, 4 inches apart, on greased cookie sheets; spread into 2 inch rounds; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. [I generally don’t bother to flatten them and they come out just fine as a regular drop cookie does.]
  5. Bake in hot oven (400°F) 12 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. [Although I find 10 minutes is good enough for me, as I like them not very browned on the bottom.]
  6. Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks.