Monday, January 8, 2018

The Great Camper Kidnapping Caper of 2017

I don't generally enjoy calling people out. If you read these blogs, you'll see that while I'm hefty on self-criticism and making fun of myself, for the most part, (except in the blog post Why I WILL Be Seeing the Shack) I leave others out of my drama. But, when the stupidity of someone or something invades my life and then so blatantly leaves its self open... well, I can't resist. Especially when my family is involved. (Don't mess with my mama... or my dad, for that matter...)

My parents are senior citizens. A fact I don't like facing, but a fact, never-the-less. They worked hard their entire lives so they could go and do fun things during their retirement. In hopes of this, they bought a camper a few years ago. A really nice one, at that. They use it for trips, like the one we took to the Arkansas Diamond Mines together but they also use it to come down here to visit me, their granddaughter and now their great grandson. The camp site where they stay is close to my house. The camper affords them the luxury of being able to have their privacy and a little bit of peace from the chaos that sometimes is my home. It also gets used as a little guest house for when we have large family gatherings at their farm.

During one of our trips together, we noticed some warranty items which were beginning to fail. Once home, they took it to their local Camping World in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where it was originally purchased. A few weeks went by, my mom decided to call to check on the status. She was told they were waiting on the warranty department to approve the repairs. She called the warranty department, which told her they'd approved the repairs just a few days after it'd been dropped off. A week after that, it was waiting for the parts. A week after that, it was that the parts were in and they were fixing it "as we speak".

I won't go into the entire three month debacle of back and forth, but suffice it to say, as of last Thursday, no one (including corporate) could even give a status update on the camper or even if it was still located at the Fayetteville lot. At this point, I'd have been happy for a photo of one of the service guys standing by the camper with a daily newspaper to prove it was even still on the premises. Man, I wish I'd had suggested that earlier....  >_>

So here we have a unit that my parents are paying $360 per month on, which is basically being held hostage and no one can tell us why. When my mom reached the end of her rope in dealing with the Fayetteville location, I got involved. I figured maybe contacting the corporate office would help shed some light on this issue because let's face it... Who wants to pay $400 a month for something they can't use and no one will let you know what the hold-up is in repairing? Just seemed fishy to me. Never mind that the camper was awful new to be having these issues to begin with, but shoddy craftsmanship is another matter entirely.

So, I twittered Camping World corporate and I received an immediate response to which I was pretty impressed because you know, the Fayetteville location was no longer taking calls from my parents (thanks for nothing, Steve....). I spoke with a lovely guy at corporate named Mark, who at the time, agreed with me that (at the two month mark by this time) it was concerning to still not have the camper and more so, no communication regarding its status. He assured me he'd contact my parents first thing as well as get to the bottom of whatever was going on. Mark gave us his direct number and said we could call him anytime. 24 hours passed, he didn't contact my parents, so my mom contacted him instead, using the number he supplied. Someone else picked up and said Mark was not in. The next day he did call her back saying he'd had car troubles and hadn't been into the office the previous day when he was originally going to call her. My mom and Mark discussed at length the issues with the Fayetteville location and Mark genuinely appeared to want to help.

My mom was impressed with him as well which was pretty surprising because she isn't easily taken with anyone. Mark assured her and my father that the camper was indeed in repairs and should be ready within a matter of days. So another weeks goes by. This puts us into December. Mind you, they've had the camper now since the first week of October. Mark stops communicating suddenly as well as returning my parents phone calls. So I twitter Camping World again and get a response from someone named Ella, saying she was looking into the matter. No word ever comes back, so I twitter again and get a different person who tells me the same thing. My parents get a call that day from the service department of the Fayetteville location, telling them the parts were being delivered (after they'd already said the parts were delivered weeks ago) and they were making it a priority to get the repairs done.

That was three weeks ago. When my mom asked if they could just come pick the camper up, there was a lot of stuttering and stumbling before excuses were made and a promise of a "Let me call you back on that", was made. No call back happened. (I need a job with this company because apparently an unwillingness to do one's job is what it takes to succeed. I could work them all under the table...)

So I took to twitter again and launched a public campaign against Camping World, tagging not only the corporate office but also it's CEO, Marcus Lemonis, whose previous tweets to those complaining about this company was to tell said people that he would speak with them privately to resolve the issues. I guess I'm too much of a peon to warrant Mr. Lemonis's attention and that's OK.  In my tweets, I asked for transparency and not to have any more private messages that included the platitudes of "we're looking into this matter," etc.... Because the time for platitudes had long passed. (I'm nice until I'm not)

Camping World blocked me. Why? Because I refused to be placated with the pats on the head they were giving my parents and I? Because I demanded finally after three months and four days to know what was going on with a camper that was NOT their property but located ON their property? Or because I demanded transparency? I demanded public answers since private correspondance hadn't yielded any? Because they're crybabies and couldn't handle a little public criticism? I don't know why. The reason doesn't matter, I guess, but I do think corporate was aware that something less than stellar was happening at the other location and rather than be honest about it, decided to try and shut me up by blocking me. Jokes on them... my parents have tried to shut me up for years. They'll tell you what an impossible task it is.

But, I don't mind being blocked (because I'm not a crybaby) from tagging them on Twitter because social media is as vast as the universe and between all the consumer complaint sites, facebook, blog sites.... the list goes on... Twitter is just a drop in the bucket. While they might be able to block me from tagging them in my tweets, they can't stop me from hashtagging them. #idowhatiwant #paymyinternetbill #thenwecantalk

On day 95 of what I dubbed The Great Camper Kidnapping Caper of 2017, after some thought, I decided to email the local sheriff's department regarding this matter because I'd begun to suspect (yes, suspect) that perhaps someone at the Fayetteville location made an error after the camper was repaired and maybe it had been accidentally sold (shit happens and things get moved to the wrong side of the lot), or even perchance it was stolen or vandalized while on their lot (because this also happens) and corporate was stalling in an attempt to give the local place time to either recover the camper or repair any damage it sustained. It wouldn't have been Camping World's fault if someone had done damage to that camper while it sat on their lot, that's what insurance is for. If it'd been accidently sold, that would have been human error too and no one is perfect, just admit the mistake and move on. Any time you've got human hands involved, errors happen.
But I think the important thing to note here is, to mega corporations like Camping World, consumers like my parents are disposable, insignificant and apparently not entitled to explanations. Camping World is more concerned with covering up mistakes than owning them. A smaller business that depends on its good name for its continued success might have (I hope) treated a senior couple with a little more care and honesty. I think Camping World fails to realize honesty goes a long way with most people. Admitting your mistakes does, also. My parents made mistakes, too. The most recent being buying a camper from such a dishonest company who fails completely at consumer satisfaction.

I'm sure Camping World is aware of the horribly awful reviews of their company that have been posted nationwide. I'm sure good ol' Marcus is aware of the meme circulating Facebook regarding his wish that Trump supporters not shop in his stores. I guess negative publicity is still publicity when you're as big as he and his brand are, but to him I say this... I don't care about political views. Not yours, not the people who shop in your stores, and certainly not the people who work there. I do, however care about the way you conduct your business. When 98 percent of the comments on a political post about you aren't about you at all, but rather Camping World's inability to produce a quality product at a reasonable price and provide polite, informative, educated employees to serve its customer base, along with a repair staff who seem to be rather inept and incapable of doing the tasks to which they're paid to do, in a timely manner, maybe (I'm just putting this out here) it's time for restructuring. Starting at the top with your lack of leadership. After all, leaders should lead by example. It worries me what example you've set for your employees for them to be so cavalier in their treatment of others.
You literally hold the hopes and dreams of a lot of senior citizens (not to mention other people that have invested their family vacations in your product) who have been looking forward to their "golden years" and the days when they can jump in their campers or RV's to go explore a nation they spent their youth building. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as well as to have every single employee in that company treat them as if they were dealing with their very own parents or grandparents. Instead, you allow them to be taken advantage of. You allow them to be lied to. Given the run around and left ever-questioning what's being done with property some of them have spent their lives saving to buy. That makes you a shitty human being, Marcus. It also makes Camping World, which is a reflection of the person leading it and vice versa- a shitty corporation.

Marcus posted a Tweet yesterday, criticizing Sears for its loss of 100 more stores. He says, "
Of course they are. Poor leadership destroyed a great brand and solid employees. Kill morale, assort bad product and extract every last dime and there you have it. “It’s a real estate play” yeah we see that."

Well, Marky Mark, maybe you should step back and take a look at your own business practices because that's where you and your Funky bunch are heading, too.

Incidentally, a miracle occurred a mere four or five hours after contacting Cumberland County Sheriff's Department with my questions, which included whether or not there had been any reported incidents of theft or destruction of property from that business.... My mom received a phone call from Camping World informing her the camper had been repaired and was available for pick-up.

Coincidence? Maybe... Probably. Maybe they were just super sick of me blowing up their Twitter feeds and of hearing from my family or maybe they actually decided 95 days was long enough and they needed room on their lot for another sucker's property. Whatever the reason, Camping World and I broke up. I can't say I'm sorry or that I'll miss them, though I'd love to cash in on some alimony from this dysfunctional relationship.
And to Mark, who is head of the CST up there in Corporate Colorado, I just want to say, "I ain't mad atcha... Play on, Playa."

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Victim of the Game

I haven't been writing over the last few weeks because I've had some issues outside my immediate family. Not my issues, but issues that affect someone I love very much, therefore, affecting me. It's kinda hard to write a love story when you're watching someone else's fall apart.
As I've struggled over the past few days to wrap my brain around other people's behaviors, (remember, I study people as a hobby) I find that the deeper I delve into this, the more sick at heart I've become. For her. For any woman after her who falls for the game she's found herself an unwilling participant to.

I wish I could help. I wish I could make her understand that bad relationships and toxic people are a waste of time and effort. I wish I could make her see she deserves so much better than what she's signed herself up for. I wish I could give her the strength to hold her head up and walk away knowing she's making the right decision for herself and her children. But these are revelations she'll have to uncover on her own.

While I do believe that all human beings to some extent share some narcissistic as well as some sociopathic tendencies (we call them quirks), I also believe that the vast majority of us balance those things out with healthy, functional behavior, or even unhealthy, dysfunctional coping mechanisms for that matter, that keep us from preying on others who are just looking to live a normal existence as we ourselves are. In the words of the Mad Hatter, "We're all a little mad here." But there's a difference between a little bit of quirky, fun, ego-driven madness and a Sam's Club sized container of nuts.
Unfortunately, she fell for that bulk item and is getting drowned in his sea of crazy saltiness.

Normally, I try really hard not to judge anyone. I've done my own share of dirt. I am FAR from perfect. My moral compass does not point due North at all times. Because I know myself as well as I do, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt before I decide (for myself, regardless of anyone else's opinion) if I want to associate with someone in any way, shape or form. Because like I said... there's fun crazy and then there's 'someday I'm going to seriously snap and cause everyone around me bodily harm' crazy. Sadly, I believe the person my family member loves falls into that second category and those people are the hardest ones in the world to love as well as to get over because their naturally charismatic aura keeps those red flags hidden until suddenly they're not. When that happens, you find yourself wearing your heart out on someone who will never appreciate or reciprocate your efforts and you're left wondering what's so wrong with you that they can't love you back.

A few things I've learned over my 42 years on this planet is...
1. You can't fix crazy
2. You can't make someone love you
3. Sometimes, you can't help who you love.

I can't fault her for the times she's held out hope the man she loves is going to change because we always want to look for the best in those we give our hearts to. Especially when kids are involved. But I do wish she could see that she can't fix him. That he's the one who's unlovable, rather than her. And that this image she has of herself these days isn't a true one. It's one he's put in her head to keep her contained, compliant and afraid.

He's a predator. He's an expert at baiting and trapping. He doesn't care about the emotional condition or even the physical condition of those he leaves in his wake. She's beautiful. She's sweet. She's good hearted and she's kind. She's no match for him because likely he's been this way since he realized he could and has experience at building someone up just to tear them down. She doesn't see it because her brain isn't twisted like his. She doesn't understand that it makes him feel powerful to know he can inspire such abiding love in a woman before he destroys her life. He can cast her out and draw her back time and time again because he hooked her so well in the beginning so that all she wants is him. She can't see that he also thrives on her fear. Fear of him, of what he could do to her- physically, mentally, emotionally- and fear of what her future might be like without him, because if he's right (and she always wonders in the back of her mind if he is), then maybe the best she'll ever be able to do is him. But he's not right and she's so much more worthy of love than he.

She goes back time after time, not because she's stupid, either, but because he preys on her capacity to love and her's is deep, as well as wide when it comes to him. It's all forgiving and it's all consuming. He looks for that, exploits it and he devours it. He chips away at her soul in the meantime, letting her know she's not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough for a guy like him. He preys on every insecurity she has, knowing them well because he's lived with her long enough to see them all. He tells her she's weak and worthless without him. He accuses her and belittles her in front of their friends and family because his narcissistic tendencies need to feel the pity of others, to be seen as the victim in all of this madness. He needs them to see that his wife (in his opinion) fell short of what he expected her to be. Putting her "flaws" on display for all to see gives him the liberty to act out while feeling justified in his behavior through violent alcoholic rages, infidelities, and deprivation of things she might need as simple as food or diapers for their children. In his circle of family and friends, you'll find those who are staunch believers in what he says because he's that charming, that convincing. They believe what he says and they also take it upon themselves to criticize and beat down the woman he put on trial for them. You might read what I'm saying and think I'm doing the same thing on her behalf, but I'm not. I saw first-hand what he's like and I wish I could unsee it for the benefit of my own heart and mind.

He's a classic, textbook abuser. You know the kind... They're the ones who say, "Why do you make me hurt you?" before they commence to beating your ass. And what's bad about this, aside from the obvious, is he's already dragged her so far down in her self esteem and self worth that she begins to believe that backhand to the nose really was her fault. It becomes justified because after years of hearing every minute detail of who she is and how she is, being picked apart time and again, is it any wonder why he hits her? She wants to hurt herself too, because he's made her believe that she deserves pain. Self inflicted or otherwise.

I pray for her. Every night when I go to bed and every morning when I get up. I pray for her strength and for her to receive clarity. She's out and she's safe but the battle isn't over, Now comes the attorneys and the accusations and she's going to need every ounce of will power not to cave into his threats or the fear of a future without him. She's going to have to be strong not only for herself, but for her kids. I'm proud of her. I believe in her but more than that, I want her to believe in herself. I want her to honestly believe that while it might not feel like it right now, she's going to be OK.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Songs in the Key of Life

A while ago, I wrote a blog talking about inspiration and where it comes from and how for me, sometimes it develops from the strangest places. While that's definitely true and it can come from nothing more than a simple overheard conversation between two people, I receive some of my book ideas from music.

Diesel is out and it's doing really well, for which I'm happy but that doesn't mean momentum has slowed or stopped on my other projects. (And let's face it, it usually does cause I can be L-A-Z-Y.) An upcoming, nearly finished manuscript is awaiting edits, while I'm halfway through the rough draft on a new one. For the moment this halfway project is called "Songs in the Key of Life" and I'll tell you why.

There's a few reasons why that title keeps circling my brain in regards to this particular soon to be book. The first is Stevie Wonder. His album Songs In the Key of Life was released in September 1975 on the actual day I was born. Pretty cool, but what makes it even cooler is the songs on that album were some of my all time favorites BEFORE I even knew when it hit the market. There was just something about it that called to me in the lyrics and of course, anyone who knows me, knows I'm also a sucker for funk and piano music.

That said, the second is Eric Church. I wasn't much of a Church fan when he debuted however long ago it was. I don't remember the year but  I can remember watching the CMA's with my parents and family the night he gave a performance of "Drink in My Hand." Between the ball cap, the aviators and the red solo cup, it just seemed a little too in keeping with the other country music circulating out there, like Luke Bryan, who I also wasn't originally a fan of either because of the same CMA awards where he performed "Shake it for Me", with all those scantily clad women dancing back up. Before you think I'm throwing down on either of these guys, or the women in LB's performance that night, you need to know I'm not. That's not where I'm going with this; not even close. I might be straight, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a nice booty on a chick.... Anyway-

Music has always been a key part of my life and at one time, it was more important than writing ever was or could have been. For as long as I can remember, before I was writing stories, I wrote songs. In high school I sang with a girl in her father's band and we had a chance to go somewhere with it, but she chose a guy over the music and that was that. Back then, I didn't have the confidence in myself to go it alone and then well, a guy happened to me, too. Later on, after my daughter was born, maybe a year or so, I had the opportunity to sing with another band who seemed to be on the up and coming. But after a few practices, I quickly realized they were more interested in trashing their wives and their livers (guilty of abusing my own liver, so totally not judging them for that) than they were seriously playing music. Throughout the years, I had other opportunities with other bands that fell through and eventually, I decided maybe the music path wasn't one I was meant to travel. But that doesn't mean I quit loving it, appreciating it or taking it seriously, which brings me back to Eric Church.

In my opinion back then, when I watched him perform for the very first time, my initial thought was, "Here we go, another guy writing for a niche market just to get radio play." So I rolled my eyes and changed the station any time his music came on. I'll be fair in admitting, after watching him that one and only time on the CMA's, I never gave him a chance again until a few years ago.

I was riding in my then (now scrapped) old truck when I heard Record Year for the first time. I had no idea who sang it, but I'm a lyrics person and the words of that song grabbed a hold of me the way none have in a long time. Since it was on the radio, I couldn't rewind it, so I spent the majority of the rest of my drive scanning radio stations to find it again. A few days later, I was cleaning, had my phone hooked up to Pandora and I heard it again. I dropped the mop I was holding before running to look at the display to see who the artist was. I gave a sorta groan when I realized it was Eric Church, but the song once again grabbed me, so I kept listening. And listening... and listening... and listening. Soon, I decided I had to check out some of his other music just to see if by some chance, Record Year was a fluke hit. I mean, it's happened. There's maybe one Taylor Swift song I like, but she lost me before and after it, so I'm just sayin'. It wasn't like that with Record Year. Because of this particular song, I discovered a whole other world of song writing with his music; a world I've since come to love and appreciate the genius that is wholly Church.

While Kill A Word might make me weepy and there are plenty others I love, too, Record Year remained my favorite of his because not only did it reference Stevie's Songs in the Key of life album (you had me at hello, with that one, Eric), but it also referenced other artists as well. Ones I'd loved my entire life, like New Grass Revival.

I have decidedly eclectic taste in music to put it mildly and when I say that, I mean it. Like I said, I'm a lyrics person. Tupac's Dear Mama will sit right next to Bill Wither's Ain't No Sunshine, which sits next to Garth Brooks' When There's No One Around before falling right into Jackson Browne or Jim Croce. And Lord help me, how I love some Jerry Lee Lewis. Especially when he does gospel and since I'm a Pagan, that should say something about how much I love Jerry. The point is, I could sit here all day and name off those people who turned my head with their song writing ability, but I'll spare you. Suffice it to say the genius in Record Year's lyrics had my head turning around like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. Yeah, for me, it was that good.

I think we can all relate to finding a coping mechanism when our hearts get broken and that's what this song is all about. Falling back on music when you feel like you've lost everything and rediscovering those parts of yourself, which fell to the wayside before said heartbreak occurred. For me, music is where I've always gone for consolation. It's never failed me; even if it was nothing more than standing in the kitchen belting out Sam Cooke because shit just went awry and I needed to release some pent up frustration. Because music is my method of madness when I'm hurt or angry (that'll get you an earful of NWA at my house) and I have found myself in the position more than once where alcohol went hand in hand with listening to it, Record Year rang true for me. Probably more true than any other song I can think of.

As I continued to listen to those lyrics though, a story began to play out in my head. Unlike Diesel which just kind of organically wrote itself from some unknown place, this new project, "Songs in the Key of Life" was inspired completely by Eric Church's writing ability. I'm not positive I'll keep the title but for now, that's what I'm calling it. I'm pretty excited about it and I hope (fingers crossed) it keeps developing the way it's been so I can eventually share it with you readers. Until then, check out Record Year's Lyrics.

As always, thanks for reading my brain vomit. <3
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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dude, You Have No Idea...

I was having a conversation with my guy the other day and he asked how Diesel was doing on the market.
"Pretty well, actually."
"That's good. You working on anything else?"
I cut my eyes at him and think, "No, motherfucker... I'm just hanging out at the computer all day long, typing random shit onto blank pages. I have 481 pages of alphabetic squabble. Would you like to read it?" 
"Yes. I've got one completed manuscript I'm currently editing and then three others in various forms of progress," I answered instead.
He shakes his head and laughs before saying, "That's kind of scary, Lori."
"What is?" I ask.
"That you have that much shit in your head."
I laughed, but just kinda looked off, not meeting his eyes. "Dude, you have no idea."

And he doesn't. Most people don't.

I can't speak for all writers because I know some who have the whole outline and formatting the pre-story down to a science. They can't really write without plotting every detail out until the end. Only when they've done that, do they actually start the writing process and begin the character development.
I admit, it's a nicer, neater way to do things. It keeps their brains organized and reminds them to stay on track when it comes to development of scenes, etc. I get it.

I get it, but I can't do it. I've tried. My method of madness, because of all the shit in my head, is to just get it out and get it down. It might take two years to wade through 350 pages of rambling, removing or adding relevant content, tweaking characters or scenes, but for me, it's the only way to work. I don't even know how the story is going to end until suddenly it does. Mentally, as I'm writing, I'm turning pages, just like a reader does, to see where the story goes. The closest comparison I can make in terms of what I do to anything else is by saying I'm constantly ad libbing when it comes to story-lines. I never know from one day to the next the direction whatever I'm writing might take.

Often, my characters are completely developed long before the story is. So it's like having a person living in your brain, who's just kinda hanging out, waiting for you decide what to do with them or decide where you're going to put them. And then you have to decide who to put them with, because you've got this whole other crowd of characters also hanging out, waiting on you to pick them also. It's a little bit like choosing a team for dodgeball. The weakest characters get chosen last or sometimes not at all because you're waiting to see if they'll grow or develop further on down the road, becoming stronger players in their own right.

I've said before that writers are bipolar in nature because of the amount of dialog that runs rampant through our heads, along with the fact that we can actually see the description of the person who's speaking said dialog (hence a character is born). But what happens when, like me, you've got three separate books in the works and a dialog of characters for each one?
I'll tell you what happens. It gets loud and it gets crowded.
Real people wonder why I space out while they're talking... It's not because I don't validate your existence or think what you have to say is important. It's because at the moment you're talking to me, 10 other imaginary people usually are too and they're shouting at me to give them their individuality even down to a tiny birthmark on their foot. 

I realize this makes me sound a little crazy, (because I am... you have to be nuts to choose to do this profession full time. Nuts and ok with being poor), but the plain truth is, sometimes the character's voices in my head are way louder than the voice of the person standing directly in front of me. Depending on what the real conversation is, sometimes those fake voices are way more interesting and fun, too.

As always, thank you for reading and venturing a little bit into my head with me. <3

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Twitter: @LucyMagilicutt2

Friday, September 15, 2017

I need a nap...

Indie publishing is no joke and it's not for the faint of heart. Several years ago I decided to go the Independent Publishing route because when it comes to my writing, I'm a little bit of a control freak.

I'm also a 'seek no absolution' type of person. If I fail, I want it to be on my terms and no one else's. Because I'm human like anyone else, I don't want to give myself the opportunity to blame anyone for said failure. Not a publisher, not a marketing
agent, no one. Succeed or horribly fail, it's all on me. It keeps me honest and I need that reality check sometimes.

All that said, Indie publishing is exhausting. It's countless hours of writing, re-writing, editing, re-writing again, in a cycle that takes someone like me *cough- procrastinator -cough* about a year if all goes well. Sometimes five, if life gets in the way.

Diesel is by far my most favorite project to date and while, yeah, it did write itself, it wasn't all a cake walk. You can love something like crazy but after months and months of looking at that one thing... you start to hate it.

I can't tell you how many times my hand has hovered over the 'delete' key because I was just over it. I was tired of looking at it, tired of thinking about it, and just tired period. The writing and the editing is only half of it, though.

Once all that is done, then you've got cover design, which includes HOURS of searching for just the right thing or at least something semi-perfect that will work with the old ass design program you're working off of because you're broke and can't afford the upgrades. After that, if you haven't already torn your hair out, the formatting might finish the year long journey into madness for you. Oh, and my least favorite part... the wait. Waiting for the uploads, waiting for the downloads... waiting for approvals and then waiting to see which way your sales rank is going to go after the product goes live.

For the last two weeks, I've worked almost non-stop wrapping up Diesel. Up at 6:45-7 a.m. and not stopping until the words are blurry and my brain is on fire. But, today, all of that work was suddenly finished on that project and I found it hard to turn my babies (the characters in Diesel) over to the reader. It's a little like sending your children out in the world for the first time. You're terrified people are going to be cruel and hate them. You're hoping that you've made them likable, caring, independent and funny, but what if you haven't? What if everyone else thinks your kid is an asshole?

Once I got the OK to post the live links, I had a minute of panic as all these thoughts ran through my head.
What if people hate this book?
What if it sucks?
What if it sells zero copies beyond what my family and a few friends buy?
I didn't have these worries with either of the Bimini Books or with Texan. I got the projects done, uploaded and didn't stress one way or the other.
Taking a time out today to think about it, I realized my anxiety was based more on the fact that because this is in my opinion, the best book I've ever written, it became important for me that others think the same. I gave myself a pep-talk and also the reminder that I don't write to get rich and I don't write for success. I write because all of my life, I've had these stories in my head and I'm twisted enough to want to share them with the world.
After I calmed down, I realized I'm probably just tired and should take a nap.

As always, thanks for reading!
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Twitter: @LucyMagilicutt2

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where is the Love?

I have a natural born tendency to get a little militant at times but I'm really more of a lover than a fighter. I've never been afraid of a fight and I won't back down if I think I'm right, no matter how big or how "important" a person might be. I've never been one to take "one for the team" either if that taking isn't going to work for the greater good and is taken just to assuage someone's ego. I don't give two shits about an ego, yours or mine.

I'm known for having a dualistic view point on a lot of things also. I'm a Libra and my very nature is gray areas and balance. It takes a lot to piss me off and it takes even more than that to make me lose sleep because I do honestly believe that for the most part, all things will work themselves out in the manner they're meant to.
But lately... man. I've spent the better part of this year in a state of "WHAT THE FUCK"...
More than I actually like people, I understand them, even the ones I don't agree with or identify with. I'm pretty good at picking through the reasons a person does one thing or another and sometimes I'm wrong, but a lot of times, I'm not.
I cannot for the life of me, wrap my head around the shit that is going on in the world today; things that are so senseless, so pointless, especially over the past few weeks, and it makes me literally want to collectively pimp slap the majority of humanity.
I don't consider myself all that intelligent so I kinda expect if I'm able to see through the bullshit, most anyone else should be able to, also. But apparently not.
So let's break it down in "Lori Terms" which translates to the easiest way possible and I hope no one has to pee, because we're gonna be here for a while.

1. Your political affiliation does not give you license to be a dick... whether you're right wing, left wing, or middle feather on the back of the bird.

Right-Wingers: You don't get to treat gays, blacks, Mexicans, the lower class or anyone else with disrespect just because you're a Conservative and/or Christian. Every form of life deserves respect and compassion. The baby you don't want that left-winger to abort is gonna need food and a place to live once it's born. To get said food, left-winger needs a livable wage. You can't be against abortions AND birth control at the same time because humans are sexual creatures with the need to procreate hardwired into their DNA. Waiting until marriage to have sex doesn't make a person any more financially able to care for a child given that today's wages barely allow for rent, let alone food. I'm not saying hand out freebies like it's an all-you-can-eat buffet at a wedding reception, but you can't cut the arms off a person and then tell them they have to tie their shoelaces.
Left-Wingers: You don't get to treat Conservative Christians like they're a threat to life as we all know it, just because you're on the left side of things. You aren't entitled to shit (none of us are) and I don't care what race you are, what orientation you are or what gender you used to be, are now or are planning to become... not every white person or Christian is your enemy and it's a goddamn sad day when a Pagan (yeah, me) has to explain this shit to grown ass adults. Also, not every Conservative Republican is rich or white.
You should NOT be entitled to welfare unless you're willing to put in the work to help yourself while others are helping you. And by work, I mean... get jobs... get TWO jobs, if you have to. People are more inclined to give when they see you're making an effort on your own behalf. Having children (and I have family who have done this) in order to increase your welfare amount is NOT A CAREER and it's not ok. Abortion isn't a viable method of birth control and free bleeding should NEVER be a thing. Even the ancient humans stuffed moss up there to stem the flow. You DO have to pay those student loans just like the rest of the population and if you'd stop taking courses like Gender Studies or Wicca, you might actually find a job that pays over minimum wage. Get your shit together.
If you're here as a LEGAL immigrant, you have my FULL support and I will back you to the "nth" degree on whatever you need to make your life here better as long as you're also willing to put in the work like everyone else has to.
If you're here ILLEGALLY... start your process. As long as you're working toward legality, I have no beef with you at all, but get it done because no man can ever claim loyalty to two countries. Pick one and stay there. As long as you're refusing to commit to this country because you don't want to let the old one go, I refuse to believe I'm obligated to commit to you as well. Pay cash for your doctors visits like people such as myself have to do because I can't afford insurance either. Make it work like I've had to make shit work for the last 23 years.

To the respective sides: All either of your sides are doing is impeding progress and a peaceful coexistence in a world that doesn't have to really give a monkey's left testicle what your opinions are or what offends you. Instead of whining about one another, how about you agree to disagree and work to find a middle ground for compromise? After all, that's what the hell we elect officials for. We've spent the last 60 years letting said officials sit on their collective asses in government offices collecting tax dollars for doing jobs they're failing at. Why are they failing? Because WE STOPPED MAKING SURE THE WORK WAS GETTING DONE. We got too wrapped up in debt and television to bother looking over their shoulders. We stopped holding our Sheriffs, our City and County officials, our Representatives, our Senators, our Governors and Congressmen accountable. Everyone wants to throw shade on whatever President is in office, but what have any of us done to ensure the work has been done correctly before it reaches that level? Have we communicated effectively, respectively to our own local and state leaders? I doubt it. What happened to town hall meetings and watchdog committees? We elect these people and then turn them loose because we're too lazy to maintain an open forum of communication with them. Grow the fuck up. All of you. What's happening in the world today isn't any President's problem. It's OUR problem. WE created it by turning our heads the other way and letting our "leaders" run amuck.  It's OUR fault. It's the fault of the person who can't see beyond the next episode of the latest hit television show. It's the fault of the person who says, "That's what I elected so and so for." No. See... that person is an EMPLOYEE.  Sometimes employees need micromanaged and if ever there was a time for that, the time is now. This is OUR GOVERNMENT. This is OUR COUNTRY. It's supposed to work FOR US and it would if we got our thumbs out of our asses, put down the Starbucks, stop looking for things we find offensive and start working together to get into the real issues.

2. If you're not going to eat it, don't KILL it.
I grew up in a hunting and fishing family. My mother's childhood food source was venison, rabbit, squirrel, and whatever else they could trap or shoot. She's the best hunter/tracker I know and my dad comes in a close second after her. One thing both of my parents instilled in all three of their children was if you're not going to eat it, don't shoot it. It's sad that I find this relevant to society today.
I like guns. I grew up with them, I own them, I can shoot them. I'm a fan of the 2nd Amendment and I do believe guns serve many purposes; that said, unless you're target shooting, find yourself in a life or death situation, or bringing home food to feed your family, keep that hooker in its holster. Shooting someone isn't a quick solution to any problem. In fact, I'm sure most people would agree that whatever satisfaction a person might have felt when they maliciously pulled that trigger to shoot another human being was quickly stamped out once the orange jumpsuits, trials and seeing the disappointment on your mother's face becomes a reality. I'm sure every parent wants to believe their child is intelligent, whether they truly are or not. You just made your mother look like a liar to the world because you just proved you're stupid, not to mention took someone else's child from them.
Same goes for cars, which suddenly people have decided, "fuck a gun, I'm gonna run this entire crowd over..." Not sure where this thought process originated from...
I remember riding with my uncle when he hit and killed a deer. He got out of the truck, saw it was dead and loaded it into the bed saying something about not letting the meat go to waste. As sad as I was about that deer, I respected him for not letting it die in vain.
Sometimes you can't help but hit an animal with your vehicle, but if you're deliberately turning said car into a crowd with the intention of harming or ending life, you can't eat that body... Well, I mean you could but that would be another matter entirely as far as mental issues go.... the point is, why bother? What have you gained?
I don't know exactly what state of mind a person has to be in to decide that running people over is a GREAT idea, but I'm pretty sure the repercussions are about the same as shooting someone to death. No one thinks you're a hero and you've disappointed your mother because you've just proved what a fucking moron you are, also.

3. Hitler is NOT a hero.
Look, I have a fascination with the historical era of WWII. I watch documentaries on it, read books about it but never, not one time have I been like, "you know... that Hitler guy... man, he was great."
No. No, he wasn't. You can spin it six ways to Sunday about what a brilliant military strategist he was and how yes, he did bring Germany out of bankruptcy before he went ten shades of crazy, but once you start identifying with the rationale that killing 6 million men, women and children was actually a win for the white race and not the atrocity it was; you're the one who needs to be eradicated because never has the death of SIX MILLION people been a good idea. If you think it is, the problem is you and sometimes you can't fix stupid or crazy.
Walking around with Arian tattoos or swastikas doesn't make you look cool. You look like moron. You're not celebrating your heritage because Hitler's dislike for Jews had nothing to do with heritage or pure lineage. He was actually more of a follower than a leader. (
And those swastikas? Stolen from other cultures. (  )

4. Anthropology...
Whether you're a creationist or an evolutionist, you can't deny that God or Science or even Aliens, created the first humans in Africa. This has been proven. We all retain micro-remanants of that ancient DNA. ( here's where anthropology comes in... When the first humans were created, evolved or plunked down on earth in South-Central Africa, we began to migrate. Some of us stayed in that hot, toasty region with the sun burning like the fires of ten thousand hells and developed a large quantity of melanin in our skins to combat the damaging effects of the arid climate. Others went farther south and became darker still.
Some of us went north and our melanin decreased, turning a sandy brown. Others went east, their skin lightening to a yellower tone. The further from our origin land we traveled the more our skin tone changed. (
It's why today when you have a DNA test done by Ancestry or another venue, you'll find surprising indicators for Asia, Africa, etc; though you might have thought you were as pure as driven snow in your race. News flash pumpkin... none of us are pure. Just because you have blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes, doesn't mean somewhere down the line you aren't mixed with another race. Regardless of how we came to be on this planet, we all started out as a common race. So for every race you hate, you're hating an aspect of self, which is not only dumb, it's counterproductive to your cause because you can no longer view yourself as superior if you're just as muddled as the rest of us.

5. The Right to Peaceful Assembly...
I don't believe in infringing on anyone's rights. Not their First Amendment, Second Amendment, or any other number pertaining to that document but I do believe that when grown ups can't act like grown ups and instead start acting like overgrown children who have the legal right to bear arms, there might be a problem and it's time to take the toys away because clearly we can't play nice. We always have to resort to some bullshit and one group or another always falls for the tricks of the other. Every. Single. Time.
What does rioting get you? Nothing. What does standing around hoisting tiki torches get you? Nothing. You invalidate your causes by your own idiotic idea that the only way to get a point across is to do it with violence.
I marched against Monsanto in one of the largest protests the state has ever seen. I'm proud of that. Before people think I'm putting GMO foods above racial issues, I'm not, but that day, I saw some overly passionate (and that's putting it nicely) people who seemed to be just kinda waiting to get a little rowdy. Fortunately, there were enough sane protestors that kept the ones teetering on the brink, in line. It was peaceful protest and at the end of the day, everyone got to go home to their families and our point was made.
I don't understand why this is so hard for any group to understand. You get so much more with reason and rationality than you do with screaming and violence. So the fuck what if an opposing group shows up and protests on the other side of the street. Let them. They have the same right as you do. Stay on your side of the fence unless you're going to meet to discuss a productive non-violent way to over come the issues. Clearly the other way hasn't solved anything, has it? And for the love of whatever God you worship... leave the fucking weapons at home. Everyone deserves to be heard and everyone deserves to go home. It's not rocket science.

6. Leave the Gay Community Alone, Already...
The word "faggot" is about as outdated as my shoe collection. Jesus Christ on a piece of toast.. stop using it already. It's cool if you don't approve of the gay lifestyle, but guess what? Your approval isn't necessary. Why? Because this is America. Calling other people "faggot" doesn't do anything but show your ignorance. Spouting religious scripture at them isn't a mind-changer either. Gays have been around since the beginning of humanity and they're here to stay. Let me say this one more time.... Gay is here to stay. Personally, I'm happy about that. I'm not gay, but if my gay friends or their gay friends want to beautify downtown ATL with bright primary colors and take better care of the parks and neighborhoods than any community before them ever has, I'm all for it. I love my city and my city has become better because of the Gay Community.
As far as gay marriage goes, I support anyone's right to legally tie themselves to a person who will potentially make them miserable or unbelievably happy for the rest of their lives. Life is a crap shoot and you can't help who you love. If you're lucky enough to find a person whose socks and underwear you don't mind picking up from the floor... BESIDE the laundry basket on a permanent basis... more power to you. I do weddings, call me.

7. Be the Change You Want to See...
I'm not a peace, love and light type of person, but I do believe in the power of kindness, compassion and thinking before you speak. I do believe that every human deserves respect and to be treated how we'd like ourselves to be treated. Hate is a learned behavior and like any skill that you gain through practice, you can lose it if you stop using it. We should probably work hard to lose hate. It's done us no good thus far.
We've all done shit we're not proud of but the difference between growth and stagnation in a human is recognizing our flaws and failures and doing the best we can to be better than we were the day before. Kinder. Not just to others, but ourselves as well.
I will literally talk to anyone. I don't care if they're white, black, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, trans, pans... what the fuck ever... because I'm no better than anyone else and I love a good conversation.
I'm not better than the Mexican guy who I stood beside me on the boat a few weeks ago. We spoke, we drank a few beers together, we understood one another. I was honored that he wanted to hang out with our group; that he saw beyond those barriers too and decided flip them the bird. To that guy and his beautiful wife and two kids, y'all were one of the best parts of my vacation.
To the absolutely gorgeous same sex couple we hung out with, listening to great music and drinking shitty Bud Light; I smile every single time I think of you both and I am so glad I met you.
To the old white homeless guy who walked around emptying overflowing garbage cans and picking up trash, who also sat with me for a few hours and didn't ask for anything but my time and attention; every time I think of you, I think of your generosity, your caring demeanor and the way you didn't wait for others to step forward before making the choice to clean up a dirty area.

To the bigot at the hotel  in Tennessee a few years ago who wouldn't let his daughter swim in the same pool as the two black children; karma is a bitch and I hope it comes in the form of a daughter who grows up to realize love has no color or gender, you racist jackass.

Be kind. Be nice. Be good. Do good things. It's pretty simple.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Guys vs. Romance: Horror, Ignore or Abhor

There are few things in my opinion sexier than a well-read, educated man, specifically if it's Dolph Lundgren doing the reading, shirtless... next to me. I couldn't find a picture of that so I chose the next best one. (It's my blog... I do what I want...)

You'd be surprised how many men scrunch up their faces in alternating expressions of disgust or horror when they find out I write romance novels. Most automatically assume I write "smut" or "porn" and just about all consider that genre "trashy". I could and probably should argue their point in defense of the months (years, if you count the first Bimini book) that go into writing those pages but I'm not much for trying to beat my opinion into anyone's head (I'm lazy that way), so I  let it go and have accepted the average man appears to rather have a hot iron laid on his penis than read a romance novel or at the very least, admit to reading one. Sounds extreme but those facial expressions I spoke about in the sentence above are also pretty in keeping with such torture...
If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that I must have a filthy mind in order to write what I do, I could probably afford to solely write for a living. Sadly, neither my writing nor predicting what someone's husband or significant other is going to say about said writing, pays well. Story of my life.

At a family event a few weeks ago, one of my cousins and I were having a book discussion. She was interested in what inspired me to write Bimini: The Romance and Bimini: Blood on the Sand, as well as Texan. The conversation progressed onward as to why men seem to have an aversion to romance novels. She'd been trying to get her long-time boyfriend to read a few and was a little frustrated that he refused. I responded with, "Meh, guys don't like to read romance. They think it emasculates them."
Her counter-response got me thinking. She said, "But why though? Men are always saying they have no idea what women want and here you have novels like Fifty Shades of Grey that have pretty much laid it out in detail. Pick up a book and learn something!"

Right on, cousin... right on.

Most of my friends are guys and I've spent my life primarily around men. Some are readers, most are not. Of those ones who do read, they generally gravitate towards Science Fiction, Horror, or Crime genres and I'm not knocking any of those categories- I like them myself. I own three copies of Lonesome Dove because I love the book so much. If one copy goes missing, I want to have a back up and then of course, in the event that it's a serial issue of Lonesome Dove going M.I.A., I've got a back up for the back up. 
On my shelves, you'll find every type of book from Herbalism to Andy Rooney's autobiography. I don't throw books away, I've never met one I hated, though I've liked some less than others, and I'll literally read just about anything, including tech manuals. For the most part though, on my shelves, you'll find a large collection of romance because though I'm a fan of Clive Cussler, Robin Cook, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz; sometimes, nothing feeds the soul like a love story. As much of a tomboy as I might be, I can readily admit that I love LOVE. It's been a source of hilarity to a lot of my guy friends over the years and I'm not ashamed that I like romance novels. But apparently, if you're a guy, it's category of literature you should stay far, far away from and I wonder why?

Is it the stereo-typical idea that men aren't supposed like anything romantic openly or publicly and at same time maintain their masculinity? Or the idea that they might just have to revise their idea that women really aren't so complicated after all? Well, no more complicated than any other human. I bring that up because after all, we're talking about point of views written from a woman's perspective and it's a little hard for a writer not to project his or her preferences into certain POVs or character traits, correct?  Or is it really that "Women's Fiction" makes their guts feel all squirmy and points out a few places where they might be able to make some improvements or changes in the way they conduct or maintain their connections with their chosen partner? No one likes to hear "you're doing it wrong... read Chapter 20, page 198 for instruction..." Talk about a mood killer. But if men did take upon themselves to do as my cousin suggested and research these books; maybe he could teach his woman a thing or three also? And there's also a difference between a guy who just hasn't thought to read 'chick lit' and a guy who thinks it's below him to investigate.
The world is cruel enough already and for someone like me who has seen far too often just how cruel it can be, I think we'd all benefit from a little softness; male and female alike. So, yeah, the idea that men shouldn't or 'won't' read romance novels, does sorta annoy me because of it being so very stereo-typical. I also think perpetuates the notion that a romantic or attentive man is somehow less of a man. FALSE.

Romance is about time and attention. It's about recognizing a need in the other person and working hard to meet it. Some of the authors of these books do a fantastic job in conveying how important it is to touch, to listen and to really see the person you're not with. Not just look at them, but see them; beyond their face and the things they show the rest of the world because when you do, that's where the love is. When there's nothing left to hide and all the ego is gone out of the picture, love lives there. Those same authors also work hard to send a message that it's not all about the male doing the work and will happily put the responsibility of the relationship on the female as well. You know, 'cause life is that way. So for me, it makes for more realistic reading.

 Still though, I was curious about why men tend to genuinely abhor or at the very least ignore the romance genre. And because my particular brand of curiosity will nag the bejeezus out of me once it latches on to something, I decided to ask a long-time male friend what his thoughts were on the subject. While I won't publish his name because he works in a public service job, I'm grateful that he was willing to fill out the mini-questionnaire I sent him. I chose him because of his openly affectionate disposition and his attention to the females in his life. He's a romantic, but he's also pretty masculine, which I think makes for a perfect balance. 

1. When you have time to read, what genre do you generally gravitate
towards and why?  History...I find history so interesting, and understanding history helps me make solid decisions in my everyday life.

2. Have you ever read anything in the romance genre? If yes, what? If no, why not?  Does Penthouse Forum count?  JK.  I guess the answer is no.  As a guy, I've never considered reading a romance novel.

3. Would you ever consider reading anything in the romance genre
without prompting from your spouse/partner/SO?  Yes.  I think as I get older and more mature, I can see myself diving into a romance novel.

4. In YOUR opinion, why is that genre so popular among females?  I think most males fail when it comes to satisfying women (on all fronts).  Through romance novels, females can live vicariously through the words.

5. Do you feel that by reading this genre that men in general could
gain a better understanding of what females want out of
relationships/sex?  Absolutely!!!

6. Do you feel that the standards set in romance novels for the male
counterpart are out of reach or impossible for the average guy to
achieve?  No.  A little work never killed anyone.

7. As a male, if you were to read a romance novel, what would you choose (I gave options of categories):  I would pick Military and Second Chance.
8. If asked by your spouse/partner/SO, would you read a romance novel?  Yes

9.. Would you be open to trying anything specific she pointed out in said book?  Hell Yeah

10. Why do you feel that men tend to stigmatize the romance genre?  Peer pressure from their dumbass Bros.

I think my buddy makes some good points, especially his answers for questions 3, 4, and 6.

At a certain point we all stop looking for lust and start to focus on love. We want to explore the avenue more, rather than just run down it at a breakneck speed, getting to other side as quickly as possible like we did when we were younger. As we mature and grow, it becomes more about taking a leisurely stroll and seeing what you discover, not just about yourself, but about your partner.
In my own opinion, well-written romance novels showcase the complexities that make up the vital relationships we humans are hardwired through DNA to develop with one another. It's less about appearance and really more about chemistry on a molecular level. It's taking the science of human behavior and biology and layering it with the little every day things that cause a relationship to move from a chemical reaction (lust) into love.

As writers of this genre, we want to connect with our audience. We want you to experience those first flutterings of chemistry between our leading lady and her chosen guy, but we also want you to see them as ordinary, every day people. Fallible, imperfect, human. It's not just men falling short when it comes to holding up their end of the relationship. Woman can and are guilty of that, as well. It takes two to make it and often times, it takes two to break it. Partner relationships do take work.  It's one of the hardest jobs you'll ever have, even beyond parenting. It's not like parental love. You know, you have these kids, and even on bad days when they're being assholes, you still love them. With a partner, every morning when you wake up, you have to make a choice to stay with that person; to be present and to do what it takes to make things work if you love them enough. Taking the good with the bad is a choice. And even still, sometimes, no matter how much you love a person, no matter how much work you do, it still fails- especially when the other partner isn't as invested in the relationship. But for sure, it won't work if you just let it sit idle while you're both respectively doing other things rather than paying attention to each other.

Romance writers in particular, study love and relationships as well as the people who are involved in them. We're often real-life experts on unrequited love stories, second chance love stories and the angsty "I love so-and-so but it'd never work out" stories, which of course as writers, we make it work anyway because what's the point of reading romance if there's no 'happily ever after'?
Most of us attempt to write our characters from a realistic standpoint these days. We write about characters struggling with PTSD or child abuse issues. We write about relevant issues that affect us or people we know; cancer, sex trafficking, drug addiction, poverty...  Not just because we want to call attention to these things and the struggle they contain, but because in today's society, these are things that regular people encounter and relate to. It also adds to character or storyline depth.
Once upon a time, in the romance world, if you wanted your work published, it had to fit a certain standard and that standard didn't include social issues. The women had to be kind, in distress, petite or tall, but never overweight. The men had to be brusque, overly masculine, with bulging body parts and "piercing eyes". That old format also dictated that the couple fall in love immediately with minimal complications except for a villain or two thrown in the mix. Those lead characters were a little hard for some of us to relate to. I mean... I'm not "tall and willowy with sweeping chestnut curls..." I'm 4'll. My lanky, board-straight hair gives mute testament to the fact that there is literally no ethnicity in my genetic makeup and I'm shaped like the Goddess I worship (round). I fall horribly short- no pun intended- when compared to the old format for romantic heroines. So for me, a lot of the lead females weren't remotely relatable. It's not that those books don't have merit. I cut my proverbial teeth on them in seventh grade and still own some of the ones that were my favorites back then.
And if you're looking at romance novels from the aspect of what they used to be even twenty years ago, rather than what they've evolved into today, then yeah, I can see why men would be turned off by that genre. I have a hard time going back and reading those old books because now the characters seem pithy and a little impossible to connect with.
But like anything else, things have changed. In today's market, the formats have changed and there are some ladies who are shaped just like me as the leading character. The writing styles have also changed and so have a lot of the points of views. The female characters aren't so helpless or so easily won over. We also like our book boyfriends to be something akin to what you'd find today. Slightly insecure, a little dysfunctional... you know, like the rest of us. Just a guy trying to cope with his own baggage while helping his girl juggle hers.

To be fair, however, I have to point out that while male readers of romance might be few and far between, male authors have begun to jump on the romance train. Writers such as Lucian Bane and Chance Carter are paving the way in making it OK for males to take the genre leap, both as storytellers and readers. I'm hoping it's a trend that continues because in a genre that has been traditionally all women since women were allowed to publish books, the storylines have gone a little pat. It's pretty cool to pick up my favorite kind of book and have the POV be from a legit male's perspective. Perhaps if the male romance market becomes successful, we can really begin to learn what both respective sexes want from a relationship instead of expecting one gender or the other to do all the work.

Sometimes you really DO need to read the directions and some romance authors give damn good ones.

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