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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday Reflection: I've Been Remiss


Alas, I've been remiss in posting anything to my blog in the month of November. Oops! To be honest, I didn't stop to think about what participating in NaNoWriMo would do to my blog, any other writing I have going on right now (Which is a ridiculous amount). I knew I absolutely had to finish Born of the Forbidden: Gargoyle Masters Book III, because I had promised myself I would get it out into the world by the end of 2020. After all, I need something positive to show for the hell this year has been.

So far, NaNo is going fairly well. It was a little slow going at the beginning because I was finishing BOTF also, but I completed that within the first week of November and it's the in the capable hands of my editor now. There's a sense of freedom that comes over me once I've sent a book off to my editor. I refuse to open that file again until edits are sent back to me, because I know I'll want to alter or add something. So, because I can't look at it anymore, I'm free to move on to something else. I really like that feeling. Right now I'm writing an erotic romance for NaNo. I've been saying it's the sequel to Lunchtime Sex, however, it may actually be book 3 in my Sophisticated Women series instead of book 2. I'd tentatively started book 2 a while back, and I think this current story will fit better in the timeline as the finale. We'll see.

Sophisticated Women book 2 is currently titled Breakfast in Bed, and book 3 is Dinner for Two. Both of them will follow the theme of an older woman with a younger man. Breakfast in Bed involves a hot pool boy, and in Dinner for Two the heroine falls for a college student after she poses nude for his art class. I'm having a blast writing this one, and I hope y'all will enjoy it once it comes out. Before it's release, however, Born of the Forbidden will be available. As soon as I have a release date I will let the world know. The first people to be told will be my newsletter subscribers. They're going to get the first peek at the cover as well as an excerpt from the book. Not a subscriber? Sign up here. I promise you won't be inundated with emails from me. I only send them out to announce new releases and personal appearances. So, most likely you'll get about four a year.

All righty, break time's over. Back to my NaNoWriMo WIP!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Sunday Reflection: Writing Again for NaNoWriMo

It's November! Feliz Día de los Muertos! Happy Diabetes Awareness month! And if you're participating, Happy NaNoWriMo! As you've probably guessed by the picture to the left, I am participating this year. It's been a while since I did so, but the words are finally flowing again so I decided why the hell not. I'm hoping to end 2020 with a completed book or two to add to my published page next year.

This year's NaNo offering will be a sequel to Lunchtime Sex, tentatively titled Dinner for Two. I actually already started another book in this series that I thought would be the sequel but I guess it's going to be book three now. We'll see which one gets finished, edited, and covered first. That one will most likely be titled Breakfast in Bed (see the theme there?) All three are part of my Sophisticated Women series, which is an older woman/younger man series of forty-something women getting their groove back and the twenty-something men who help them with that groove. They are erotic romances, and definitely have HEA endings.

Being Hispanic, Día de los Muertos is a holiday I've always been aware of but don't technically celebrate in the traditional way. My mother used to create an altar every year but I never have. My son expressed an interest this year but it was too late to make one. However, this is definitely on the list of to-dos for next year. To anyone who is celebrating with an altar, post pictures! I love to see the creativity that goes into celebrating our loved ones. Mine will probably be mostly about my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather. I also have two cousins I'd like to honor. Do people include their pets? This year I lost my beloved cat Cheetoh and years ago I lost my dog Baby who was seven years old. I think they both deserve a place on my altar.

November is also Diabetes Awareness month which is important to my family, too. My seventeen-year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age seven, and my husband and I have been diagnosed with type 2 in the years since. As a family we strive to do the things necessary to stay healthy and support the efforts of organizations like JDRF. We usually participate in their walk every November. It's going to be virtual this year and I'll admit we did not sign up for the first time since my son's diagnosis. With everything going on in 2020 I just didn't have the mental bandwidth to handle the fundraising efforts required for that endeavor. Though it makes me sad we won't have a sign with his smiling face this year, I knew it was too much to ask of my family, friends, and myself. Here's hoping 2021 will return to normal.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Sunday Reflection: Social Media After the U.S. Election

 I can't wait for November 4th. Actually, I should probably say January 21st. Whatever date when my social media feed isn't bombarded, rightly so, by the mess that is the political atmosphere in this country. I'm not naïve enough to think everything is going to get better immediately after the election, or even on Jan. 1, 2021. However, once the results are in there isn't a damn thing we can do about it one way or another. So whether my guy wins or not, I expect to be sharing and posting a LOT fewer political posts once it's done. I'm not saying we should ignore injustice and turn a blind eye to the racial disparity in the U.S., and world. I'm not saying I plan to stick my head in the sand. I just hope there will be fewer lies spewed as absolute truths soon.

So, what are we going to rage about once the election is over? Again, there will still be racial injustice to fight. There will still be a HUGE gap between our wealthiest and poorest. There will still be rampant homelessness in a country covered in empty housing. But can we take a break for a bit? Like, maybe just the first week of December can we all agree to just talk online about books, movies, TV shows, whatever entertains us? Let's talk about anime and manga, graphic novels and comic books, video games and puzzles. Let's talk about gardens and walks in the park, or whatever outings you're able to do in your part of the country. Let's celebrate the lives of those we've lost to Covid-19 by remembering the good times instead of railing at the gods that we've lost them. Just for a few days, or a few hours, or a few minutes.

Starting December 1st I'm going to make a conscious effort to put more positivity out in my social media world. If I see something negative that I feel others need to know about I will still share it, but I'm hoping things will quiet down a bit by then. December does mark the end of hurricane season after all. Hopefully it will also mark the end, or close to it, of political chaos season. Even if it doesn't, I'm really going to try to post more non-political positives rather than almost all political mostly negatives. Hopefully, I'll also have a new release by then. We shall see. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Thursday Review: Matthew McConaughey talks to Dwayne Johnson


When I read an announcement about another celebrity book being published, I usually roll my eyes and move on. Not so when I saw the news about Matthew McConaughey's new book Green Lights. As a Native Texan, I think I'm obligated to like MM, but even if I wasn't he's an easy celebrity to like.

Most people my age think of MM as he was in Dazed and Confused, which came out the year I graduated High School. To be honest, I've never watched the entire movie and remember very little about it that isn't regularly shared on social media. What I do remember when it comes to MM, is his awesome portrayal of lawyer Jake Brigance in A Time to Kill. That is a movie I will never forget, though I think I've only seen it once.

So, his acting chops in that movie are usually the first thing I think of whenever his name runs across my social media. But, being a Texan, I've seen various tales of him just generally being a great, down to earth guy at various times. The talk aired online by B&N this past Tuesday only reiterated my opinion. From the advertisement I expected it to be Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) interviewing Matthew McConaughey about his new book. However, it was actually more like MM interviewing DJ. They spoke about the book and it's premise of there being green lights in our life, basically good things that come along, or opportunities we're given. They also spoke about yellow and red lights and how they've dealt with them.

One of the more serious parts of the talk happened when MM brought up that both of them have lost their fathers (which I didn't know). DJ spoke about being evicted from his home at age 14 and the effect that had on him. Seeing his mother cry was a driving force in him striving to be the successful man he is now. MM spoke a lot about his father and how much he misses him, which was very obvious in his voice. It was such a real, human moment to witness between these two men that can seem to far above us. 

Probably my absolute favorite part, was when MM talked about knowing at age 8 what he wanted to be when he grew up. You'd think actor or artist, right? Someone famous and/or important. Actually, he said a father. That just melted my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and the Q&A MM held afterward, answering questions that had been sent in before the event. Though I haven't received my copy of the book yet, I expect Green Lights to be just as satisfying as hearing that talk.

Now that virtual events are our new normal, I look forward to attending more author events such as this. A few weeks ago, I attended one hosted by Fresh Fiction in which they interviewed Lorraine Heath. If you follow me on Goodreads it's pretty obvious I've recently become addicted to her books. I plan to also host some virtual readings of my Gargoyle Masters series. Hopefully, book three will be ready soon. Once that date is set I'll plan three events where I read from each of the books and discuss their world. I hope you'll join me.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sunday Reflection: Suburbs and Subdivisions

Growing up, until my Freshman year of high school, we lived within Houston city limits. It wasn't like living "downtown" exactly, but it wasn't the suburbs either. If you're not familiar with Houston, a glance at the map to the left shows it's HUGE. Over the past thirty years, since I lived within city limits, the suburban areas outside of Houston have exploded and expanded. Recently on Twitter I came across a post about suburbs being started as a segregation tactic. There were other posts, all negatively referring to suburbs as basically things of evil. I find this funny because back when I was in high school, I would've agreed.

At the time of our move out of city limits I was a lonely teenager with zero friends or acquaintances in the school district I was moved into as a Freshman. We moved into a "subdivision", which honestly freaked me out a little bit. The only things I knew about subdivisions at the time were from Rush lyrics, and none of it was flattering. That put a definite damper on my expectations of my new school and classmates. It actually turned out really well for me. I graduated with good friends, many I'm still in touch with, and tons of great memories. Did I conform? Yeah probably. At the time I didn't think much of it, but I realize now how much of my Mexican culture I sacrificed during my teen years. However, all teens go through the transition of identity phase and that was mine.

Years later, after many more moves, I talked my husband into moving back into the general area of my high school years because of those fond memories. We wound up, and still live, in a subdivision in the suburbs. But let me tell you about the suburbs where we live. It's quite diverse. I'm not surrounded by white housewives when I go to the grocery store. I don't see a plethora of Trump for President signs as I drive down the street. There's a feeling of community here, even though most of us stay to ourselves and only smile and wave to each other in passing. Once when walking into the local grocery store, a lady was struggling to push her cart and pull a carpet cleaning machine behind her. I immediately headed her way, but before I could help her two other people got to her and aided her to her car.  

Another time, my husband and I were walking into the same store on a rainy day and a lady slipped and fell in front of us. The manager rushed out and a few other people stopped with us to help her. The store manager, who I knew well, talked her into letting me drive her home while my husband followed. No one thought anything of it because we're all neighbors. We're all a community. Sure, we have our problems like anywhere. I see Ring and Nextdoor alerts of stolen packages and car break-ins, but luckily it's not a daily occurrence. As mentioned, there are Trump supporters just like there are Biden supporters, but I've yet to see any public arguments. Everyone walking into the local grocery store wears a mask. When lost pet notices are posted people respond to help. I like living in my subdivision in the suburbs.

That being said, I DO NOT find Mike Pence in any way sexy or attractive. In fact, I laughed out loud when I saw that making the rounds on Twitter. I think a big part of the problem with the negative view of suburbs right now is the misconception that only one type of person lives in them. Well, that's certainly not true where I live and I have a feeling it's not true for a lot of suburbs around the U.S.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Thursday Review: Metallica's S&M2

High school marching band was a savior for me. As a Freshman I moved not only to a new school, but a whole new district. I knew absolutely no one and, having gone from the city to a suburb, had no idea how to fit in. Then I was put into band class and suddenly had something in common with about 300 other students. It was a game changer. The very first show, where I just kind of stood on the sidelines, was also a huge eye-opener. Up until then I had listened to very little Classical music. I knew who Beethoven and Mozart were, but that about summed it up. Hearing that first show created a love for Classical music that has expanded over the years. 
I've never been a big fan of recorded live shows. Too often, live music doesn't live up to my expectations either because the songs sound too different, or the band just doesn't sound as good live. However, Metallica has never had those problems. I've seen them live a few times and each time has been a great experience that stayed with me for weeks, if not months, after. They are one of my top five all-time favorite bands, so getting not one, but two CDs that mix Metallica and Classical music rates in my top favorite all time things of 2020. 
Live music is what I miss most in these Covid times, so I really enjoyed listening to this 2 CD set of live Metallica. It starts out with my favorite of their instrumentals, The Call of Ktulu, and the symphony slips so seamlessly into the song that it's as if they've always been there. Disc one hits on at least four different albums, with an enthusiastic crowd singing along with James throughout. 
Disc 2 starts out with Lars thanking and welcoming Metallica Club members. He thanks San Francisco and points out the many countries represented in the audience. Then he introduces the musical director, who thanks the symphony and Metallica. Then the symphony (alone) plays the Scythian Suite, a short tribal sounding piece that's very drum heavy, which I like. After that Metallica joined them for The Iron Foundry. The rest of the disc includes more classics, including my favorites Wherever I May Roam and Master of Puppets. Hearing James sing an almost acoustic Unforgiven III is a reminder that the man has an awesome voice.
But, the absolute highlight of the whole thing was the tribute to Cliff Burton with the symphony's take on (Anesthesia)-Pulling Teeth. It began with a slow standing bass solo that I could honestly listen to for hours. Then Robert Trujillo joined in to add the electric bass sound. Not gonna lie, it gave me goosebumps.
Overall, it was money well spent and I honestly enjoyed it more than S&M 1, which I think I only listened to all the way through once. If you're a Metallica fan who has been missing live music you'll like the Metallica songs on this 2-disc set. If you're a Classical music fan who's favorite section of the symphony is the percussion section, you'll like disc 2 for certain. If you're like me, both a Metallica and a Classical music fan, you'll enjoy both discs even as they make you yearn to attend a live show again. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sunday Reflection: Getting Older


It's October, which for me means something a little more than Halloween. Time is chugging on. On October 1st my mom turned seventy, on October 3rd my third child turned twenty. Where has the time gone?! If they're getting older then I am too. I'm no longer the toddler covered in chocolate with way too much curly hair as pictured to the left. I'm a mom, a wife, a daughter, an aunt, a sister, an author, a professional, and a woman who can look back on my life (even during this horrifically crazy year) and be satisfied that I've accomplished much and had many moments of true happiness.

When I was in high school I was an aunt to four rambunctious boys and one rambunctious girl. I loved all of them dearly but swore I wouldn't be having any of my own anytime soon. My plan was to become a photographer for either Sports Illustrated or National Geographic, hopefully both, and travel the world indulging in my passion of photography. I graduated. Started college, then life happened. By the time my second child made herself known I realized my plans had been forever altered. I don't remember ever mourning the life I thought I'd live. I remember nothing but happiness when I first became a mom, even if it hadn't been in my plans. Plans change and people change, and I think it all worked out.

So, now I'm forty-five and indulging in writing, something that wasn't even on my radar back in high school. I've always loved to read and write. As a child I'd make up stories all the time but not write them down. I was the kid sitting on the playground reading a book instead of running around with everyone else. Though I'd never expected to become an author, when I think back to various times in my life I realize I probably should have considered it. The spark was always there, I just hadn't noticed it.

I know a lot of people hate getting older. They hate having their birthdays acknowledged and fussed over. I'm the complete opposite, not only about my own birthday but about those of my loved ones, too. Since we couldn't throw the big bash I wanted to give my mom for her milestone birthday, we hired mariachis to play at her house. My sister made signs for her yard and her sister baked a cake, covered in seventy individual candles (she's the youngest and had to rub it in mama's face). For my daughter, we drove up to Denton for the day to have a small celebration at her apartment. It wasn't all I'd hoped to do, but it was enough. 

Getting older isn't a bad thing if you can look at what you've accomplished in the years you've lived. If you're happy with the person you are today, then all of the hardships have been worth it. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Thursday Review: Mulan


The Disney animated movie Mulan is one of those that sticks with you long after you've watched it. If your family is like mine, you trade quotes at random times (usually from Mushu), sing the songs together, and recount the funniest parts over and over. It's one we've loved and watched many times since it's release onto VHS. So, it was with great excitement that my family looked forward to the release of a live-action Mulan. Understandably, my kids were skeptical about this one being as good or better than the original but we decided to watch it anyway.

Shortly after the movie became available word got out online that the main actress and at least one actor had some troublesome political views. To be completely honest, in a good year I might not know what's going on in other countries, especially on other continents, that is causing unrest among their citizens. Everyone knows this has not been a good year, however, my son explained some of it to me so I wasn't completely unaware when we chose to rent the movie. My son decided to stay in his room while the rest of us watched the movie.

*Spoilers ahead*

It started out well. I liked seeing a glimpse of Mulan as a child that wasn't given in the original. It was odd seeing her have a sister instead of her wise and amusing grandmother, who had seemed to be the only one to cut her a little slack. But then the plot twisted into something far different from the cartoon. This wasn't a smart only child who was trying to make her father proud of her because of her love for him. This Mulan has inner power that she must keep secret because she's female living in a male-dominated world. Her parents are exasperated by her. Her father offended rather than the loving animated character who, while full of pride, still loves his daughter deeply enough to look past her flaws. This isn't necessarily a Mulan little girls could or would look up to when what they see in the mirror isn't who they hope to be.

The movie follows the events of the original for the most part, but then a different villain is thrust upon us. We meet a witch who is very powerful, but for some reason acts as a minion for the true bad guy, Böri Khan. Why? The entire characterization of Xianniang makes no sense whatsoever. She is the one sent in first to clear the way for Böri Khan and his elite group of baddies. He talks down to her and basically treats her like shit, but she follows him anyway. Why? What hold does he have on her, a magical witch who can turn into a bird and fly away at any time? What makes even less sense is the ending when she sacrifices herself to save Mulan based on little more than one meeting where she admits they have a lot in common (which Mulan disagrees with BTW). Xianniang was a very unsatisfactory addition to the movie. Without fleshing out her character, she shouldn't have been added at all.

Then there's the Big Reveal. In the cartoon, Mulan is injured saving Li Shang, a character that sadly didn't make the cut into the live-action version. Now, she fights the witch, loses, then I guess has an epiphany? The witch basically dares her to reveal herself so she strips off (and throws away!) her father's armor (probably a family heirloom BTW) and rides back into battle sans armor and with her hair down. This is the part that doesn't make a lot of sense to my American mind. Her hair had been up, but the guys still had to know it was long, right? I mean, I can fit a lot of hair into a bun, but her bun wasn't exactly small and discreet. Anyway, she rides in and saves the day. They appreciate it but immediately recognize she is a woman and must be banished. This is the part of the movie I liked the least (because I didn't really hate any of it). It makes no sense to throw away her dad's armor before heading into a battle. It makes no sense to reveal herself at that point in time. The animated version played this out much better.

I'm not going to go into the ending too much other than to say I understand now why Jet Li didn't want to be in the movie. Apparently his daughter talked him into it, but really, they could've had a carboard cutout play the emperor for all the life they gave him in this movie.

Overall, it wasn't the worst remake I've ever seen. It wasn't the worst movie by a long shot. But I did miss the comedy and the music of the animated version. I do prefer that movies about other cultures stick closely to the truth of those cultures though, so I'm going on the advice of others to look for the 2009 version of Mulan, which some believe more closely follows the original poem.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday Reflection: A Decision About My Writing

 I signed my first publishing contract in the summer of 2008. Before that acceptance email that completely changed the way I viewed myself when it came to writing, I basically just wrote as stories came to me. I wrote because I wanted to know the rest of the story that was playing through my mind. I wrote for myself. The first time someone told me they liked what I had written I was shocked. These crazy stories I make up in my mind weren't supposed to actually go anywhere or do anything for anyone. Not even me.

Now it's been over ten years since my first book landed on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and I'm completely indie-published. I don't have a company to help me edit, publish, cover, and promote my stories. I'll be completely honest, there are days where it doesn't feel as if all the work is worth it. Does anyone care if I ever publish another book? Is anyone actually waiting for my 3rd Gargoyle book, 4th Archangel book, 2nd Shapeshifter book, or any of the erotic stories I have yet to republish? Maybe, maybe not. I've had to really think about this over the past few months because independent publishing is not cheap. I promised my husband at the very beginning of this journey that I would only spend money I make on my books on book-related things. I lied. Luckily, he's a wonderful man with a great job, and I work fulltime as well. However, I've had to take things very slowly with anything new that requires not only a book cover (of which I am barely capable), but also a real editor rather than a free Beta reader. This, my dear readers, is only one of the reasons I don't have more books available for purchase right now.

At the beginning of the year I had great hopes of having the third Gargoyle book out by the summer. Then Covid-19 happened and I've found it very hard to concentrate on writing. The plethora of blog posts over this past months are my way of getting back into the swing of things. I'm hoping oiling my writing muscles in this way will bring my mojo back. I think it's working. I certainly am not having any trouble writing the blog posts. But even once I get the book done I still have to pay for an editor. A couple of months ago I invested in another beautiful cover from the very talented Kanaxa. I can't wait to share it with y'all, but that's not happening until I have a release date. I have to finish the book first.

So, what was my great epiphany about my writing? What is the decision I've come to as mentioned in the blog title? I've decided to stop worrying about trying to keep up with the expectations other authors have for themselves and to be more realistic in the expectations I set for myself. I've decided to start writing for ME again. I still want to keep my readers happy. I love y'all and am completely humbled every time I sell a book. However, I can't live under that pressure right now. I'm going to once again look at each book as a story I want to tell rather than a possible source of income. Luckily, I have the ability to do that because as mentioned above my husband and I both work. I'm going to stop looking at my author brand as a business (at least for the moment) and consider it an expression of myself I want to share with the world. I hope you will join me on my journey.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunday Reflection: Nonredeemable Heroes/Heroines

 There was a recent blowup online about a romance book that supposedly had a Nazi soldier as the hero. Once the dust cleared the publisher apologized for the confusing cover, which is full of swastika flags, and said the hero is actually a British soldier. I don't know whose bright idea it was to cover that book in swastikas, but in today's climate of hate from white supremacists, especially in the US, it was a terrible idea. But let's dig a little deeper into why there was such a swift, harsh reaction from #Romancelandia. If you're on Twitter at all you will notice there a few topics that get a large collection of romance readers, authors, and bloggers up in arms. The one this hit upon is a terrible choice in "hero". If you're reading a romance book, there is going to be a heroine and/or hero. So, let's look at the ones that shouldn't ever, ever, ever make the cut.

Racists: it's always been a struggle for minorities in the US to get a fair shake at literally anything at all. Some things have gotten easier, some things have gotten harder, and some things have stayed the same. So, let's look at why using a Nazi soldier, or any flavor of white supremacist is not ever okay. Racism is a learned trait that usually takes some time. The average romance book only has so many pages, and usually sticks to a tight timeframe. If a person learned their racist traits from their parents then that's at least eighteen years of indoctrination the love interest would have to muddle through. I'm not saying it can't be done, but should it? The hero/heroine can start off on the wrong foot (see enemies to lovers trope) but it can't be so bad that we absolutely hate them from page one. The reader has to believe they are savable, that there are redeeming qualities to the character to make it worth our time to want them to become a better person. Sorry, but racists just don't fall into that category for me.

Murderers: I've had to have this talk with my teenage son who has a ton of great story ideas pouring out of him. If it's going to be a romance book the hero/heroine CAN NOT kill anyone in cold blood. Self-defense? Sure. But it has to be the absolute last resort. Odd accident? Maybe. It would really depend on the circumstances and the character must be left emotionally devastated to know they've taken a life. Adding a murder to a romance book can be tricky, because it has to have a Happily Ever After Ending to be romance. If it's the hero/heroine holding the smoking gun, then they better have a very good reason.

Adulterers: This is my personal hot button topic. It's very hard for me to read a book where any cheating is going on, so I tend not to write them. There may be some past history mentioned, but nothing in the readers face, especially form the hero or heroine. My opinion is that cheaters will always cheat, no matter who they're with at the moment. So, there is no way a story with a cheater will end in a HEA if that cheater is a main character. In the book shown above the heroine starts off with the cheating boyfriend of the heroine from the previous book. I really struggled with whether or not to give Heather her own book, but quickly realized the story told in book one wasn't her whole story. It was the cheater's story. I was able to give Heather her redemption because she had been tricked by the cheater too, and then kicked him to the curb.

Sociopaths: The essence of a romance story is that two people come to care for each other deeply and fall in love. A sociopath by definition doesn't care about others. No matter what sub-genre of romance book you have the couple (or polyamorous group) will care deeply for each other by the end and show it in various ways. Though any one of them could show a lack of empathy at times, they can't be completely without it to the end.

I'm sure I've missed a slew of characters that you would never want to read as the hero/heroine of a love story. Feel free to comment below with others, or if you disagree with any of the ones above, tell me why.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thursday Review: Bill and Ted Face the Music

In February of 1989 I was thirteen years old and suffering through the Spring semester of my eighth grade year. All I cared about was heavy metal music and learning how to play guitar. All I wore was black concert t-shirts and real denim jeans (yeah we had those back then) with holes in the knees, plus the requisite Converse, or as we called them "Chucks". I don't remember how I watched the first B&T movie, but I remember wanting everything I could get my hands on. The photo to the left came out of a box of Bill & Ted cereal. I don't even remember what it tasted like. I also have a Bill & Ted comic book in my collection. Maybe someday I'll even read it. 

To say I was excited at the prospect of a new Bill & Ted movie is a bit of an understatement. I was ecstatic and fully prepared to head to the theater for opening night. Thanks to the pandemic (haha, yeah 'thanks') I didn't even have to leave my livingroom. In preparation for watching Bill and Ted Face the Music, my family watched Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. I think it's safe to say the first one is still my favorite. 

If you've never seen B&T 2, the third movie might have you scratching your head at some of the characters and the role they play. In the 2nd movie Bill and Ted meet Death, who at the end of the movie joins Wyld Stallyns. He plays a big role in that movie so I wasn't surprised to see him in the new one. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a majority of the actors from the first two movies reprised their roles for number three. It was great to see familiar faces, but a little sad to know that George Carlin could only be shown as a hologram since we lost him in 2008.

*Spoilers Ahead*

This movie was as ridiculous as I expected it to be, but better. I love that they went back to the format of the first movie in going through time to find historical figures. That it was Bill and Ted's daughters made it even better. I got goosebumps when Jimmie Hendrix started playing against Mozart. That was the best scene in my opinion and something I would've loved to see expanded on. Could you imagine being able to get legendary musicians from all through time together to jam? That absolutely made the movie for me. I also loved the couples therapy scene. It was exactly as I would've expected Bill & Ted to act with their wives even after twenty-five years. Absolutely hilarious.

The whole movie has a lot of throw-back to the first two movies. I like that they didn't act as if the second one never happened, or try to change any major plot points. I've seen some people on Twitter upset that a fat suit was used. I do understand those who are upset over it, and honestly it could've been left out. I believe the point was to show that Ted was drinking so much he gained weight, but other things pointed to him drinking too much so it could've been left out. That's really my only complaint about this movie.

This one won't win any awards or hit any Best of lists. However, considering the chaos all around us in the year 2020 I think it was just the type of refreshing mindless entertainment we need. It had great music, ridiculous jokes, and Keanu and Alex stepping right back into their characters as if they were slipping on well-worn jackets. I loved it and will definitely be watching it again.

If you decide to watch it take note, there is a final scene after all of the credits that's worth the wait.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Hispanic Heritage Month 2020

 Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! September 15th through October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month. Why doesn't it start on the first? I have no idea. To be honest, this is the first year I've publicly acknowledged it because I usually don't know it's coming and forget about it once it's here. I have an odd relationship with my heritage, but the fact is I'm proud to say I'm Mexican American, born and raised in Texas. 

I wasn't always proud of my heritage. In fact, I spent my entire childhood and adolescence wishing I was white. This is a fact that I've only come to realize, and come to terms with, in the past few years and I feel like I've missed out on so much of my rich culture.

The photo to the left is of my mama at an art installation I took her to for Mother's Day a few years back. It featured the Virgin de Guadalupe, a symbol that holds a special place in my mama's heart. As a teenager, I wouldn't have wanted to attend such an event. I rebelled against learning conversational Spanish. I never dressed or spoke in a way that would reflect my Mexican heritage. Looking back I can't say exactly why I felt that way, but being Mexican always felt like a stigma. I saw various things in my youth that led me to that, but there were a lot of wonderful things too, and I can only blame my perception of what was beautiful and accepted for missing out on that part of my culture.

I was raised on the north side of Houston in a diverse area, but mainly Hispanic. For middle school I was sent to a magnet school in a predominantly African American area but there were still different cultures around me. However, my closest friends were white. Once I hit high school we moved north to the suburbs and I was in a predominantly white school. It was a completely different social, economic, and cultural climate. I wanted to fit in like any teenager. I wished daily that I'd been born white, but that idea was never so simple in my head. I wished I was blond. I wished I was tall and thin. I wished I could wear the same clothes as my white female classmates and look the same way they did. But still I didn't realize I wanted to be white. I begrudgingly took Spanish class because I knew I could ace it, and I did. I was a member of the Spanish National Honor Society without being able to hold a conversation with my grandma in Spanish. I was a fraud. I felt like an impostor. 

It's been a few years since I've embraced being Hispanic, but eleven or so years ago when deciding on a pen name I didn't think twice about using Missy Jane. My real name is Melissa and Missy is a nickname. My real middle name is Jane. I joked that it would be easier for me to remember, but was that all? I can't help but wonder if I was subconsciously suppressing my roots. Was I trying to hide my brown skin with an Anglo-sounding name? Perhaps. If so, it wasn't something I thought about until the past few months when more and more Latinx authors have become known to me. They're all over Twitter proudly proclaiming their heritage. They put it in their books and on their beautiful book covers. Once again I feel like a fraud. I almost never write a blond character, but they do tend to have pale skin. I've started to make them darker. I've started to add a kink to their hair. I've started to hear Spanglish as I write and yearn to include it whenever a conversation happens that I know could happen in my own family. 

I can't promise that I will always get it right. I can't promise that I will be a good representative of my Mexican heritage. But I'm going to make more of an effort. I'm proud to say I'm Latina, Mexicana, Hispanic, Chicana, any one of the numerous words that means my skin is naturally brown, my black hair is naturally curly, and in the summer I wear chanclas.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sunday Reflection: Food Insecurity

I don't remember there ever being a time that I had to go without eating because of a lack of food. If you follow my Instagram, you know I get to eat some pretty good looking dishes. Growing up, there were some lean times and we certainly didn't have steak and lobster on the menu that I ever remember, but we did eat. My husband and I were young parents and there was a lot of Hamburger Helper in the early years of our marriage, but again, food was available for every meal. However, recent online posts of college students being given hardly anything during quarantine has created such an unexpected anxiety within me that I've had to really stop and think of why I seem to suffer from food insecurity at times. I don't go without. My family doesn't go without. But while kid #2 was in college I constantly worried about her having enough to eat. Kids #1 and #3 now live on their own and it's still something I worry over. 

I was having this discussion with the family over breakfast and brought up my confusion over how emotional I get. Daughter #2 brought up something I had told them about my maternal grandma. Nana had lived through The Great Depression and knew what it was like to really go without. So she had some habits that confused me as a child but I understood as I got older. For one thing, she saved everything. She wasn't a hoarder, but more like the ultimate recycler back before it was cool. If Nana could find an alternate use for anything it never saw the trashcan. One thing I clearly remembered was her always scraping the bits of leftover food from our plates into a bucket for the neighbors livestock. It grossed me out, but she said it helped the neighbor. Anything that helped the neighbors was expected to be done without complaint.

Maybe it was knowing how Nana felt about food, and other things, that has the anxiety over a lack at the back of my mind? I have no idea. As I stated above there has never been a meal I missed because we couldn't afford to eat. Sure we've had to survive on ramen and rice and beans a few times, but even that was plentiful for our family. The thought that any child (yes I still consider college students children) is having to go without because of the greed or incompetence of the institution they've given money to absolutely infuriates me. Luckily, some enterprising students created an Instagram page for food donations. But this came to light because of a viral video. What about the kids we haven't yet heard about? Many campuses started classes two weeks ago. I can't wrap my mind around the thought of anyone's child going without food for a single day, much less two weeks.

If you would like to donate to a worthy cause, find your local food bank, and if  you don't have extra funds donate your time. Volunteering at the Houston Food Bank is something I've done a couple of times and plan to do again. We should all endeavor to help those around us who need access to food.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Thursday Review: Taylor Swift's Folklore

I don't usually refer to myself as a Taylor Swift fan, nor do I shun her and her music. If one of her songs happens on the radio I'll likely start singing along. However, I will admit to a little bit of excitement when I found out she had a new album out. I was even more excited to find out one of the local record stores (Cactus Music) had been sent a few of her autographed copies of the CDs. So, of course I had to run down there at the first opportunity to buy it. 

First, let me say that I prefer her more upbeat songs. If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be Blank Space, though I have to admit I might prefer the I Prevail version best. This new CD doesn't really have any songs of that caliber, but given today's climate that's not necessarily a bad thing. I listened to the whole CD over the past couple of days while driving to work. It has a nice mellow, slow-paced feel to it that really helped while I was sitting in traffic. I think Cardigan might be my favorite song, but The 1 is firmly in second place for now.

Hearing the deep voice of Justin Vernon, lead singer of Bon Iver, was unexpected and did throw me off a bit. Exile isn't a bad song, but I think because it wasn't what I expected to hear it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. However, Betty has a cute country feel to it that I liked, while Epiphany and Peace both put me in a slower, sadder frame of mind. Not necessarily a bad thing. 

Overall the whole album felt like a step to the side, out of the busy humdrum of my usual day (Yes, I do have to go into work everyday M-F). It's a great CD to listen to for relaxation and to just slow things down a bit. It also brought home to me that Taylor Swift has a really beautiful voice.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sunday Reflection: Social Media


It's Sunday, a day I've trying more and more to stay off social media to attend to other things. Though I consider myself "Christian" I'm not a church-goer, but everyone deserves a day of rest and social media can be downright exhausting.

I'm most active on Twitter these days, I think because of the faster pace. I tend to log on while I'm at work during the week because I have a lot of down time and I can take a peek at what the online world is talking about fairly quickly. But being on Twitter is a double-edged sword. It's a great way to let people know about my books, talk to bibliophiles of all genres, and get great writing advice. However, it can also be a pitfall of hate and negativity. Politics aside, there can be some really unpleasant people on Twitter which is why they allow you to block and mute accounts that you don't want to engage with or read posts from. So, what do you do when someone you want to engage with blocks you? The short answer is, absolutely nothing. Trying to engage with someone who doesn't want to engage with you will only lead to trouble no matter how you look at it. This isn't something I usually worry about, but I have to admit that finding out I'm blocked by someone I want to engage with is unpleasant. 

So what happens when someone you've never engaged with, or even knew of before, blocks you? Again, nothing really. Twitter is just an online platform not an arena full of people that you can touch and see. Most people don't have a real photo of themselves or use their real names. It's all superficial and shouldn't be an emotional thing at all. However, it can be. Not long ago the Romance Community was talking about an author that many people engage with and learn from but it wasn't anyone I had ever heard of. I clicked on the link to learn more about them and instead realized they had blocked me from seeing anything at all. I have to admit, I was really taken aback. If this person is so highly regarded and doesn't want to even know I exist, what does that say about me?! In essence, nothing at all. It could be that at some point I Tweeted, Retweeted, or even just liked a post that this person disagreed with enough to warrant them never wanting to engage with me. And that's perfectly fine. That's exactly what Block and Mute are meant to do. But it honestly took a couple of days for me to get past it because of how highly regarded this person is in our Romance Community. The worst part to me is not being able to make amends or explain myself because I have no clue why I've been blocked. But the truth is it really doesn't matter. I had never heard of this person before which means we probably have nothing in common other than being in the Romance Community. And that's fine because as individuals, there's no way all of us are going to get along.

For a lot of creators impostor syndrome is a very real, very harsh malady that we fight against every time we attempt to create. Social media can be both a hindrance and a life preserver. If you get positive feedback online it helps to realize that yes, maybe you can do this creative thing you've set out to do. But negative feedback (including being blocked, muted or ignored) feeds into that doubt that nags at the backs of all our minds when we have the audacity to try creating art. If this ever hits you just remember that social media is completely voluntary and not necessarily reflective of reality many times. It's okay if some people don't want to engage with you because there are others who do. No matter what you put out there, someone wants and maybe even needs to see it. Be your own best audience and keep creating.

If you'd like to engage with me online, I can be found here:

Twitter the quickest way to get my attention

Facebook feel free to send me a friend request, or to just know about my books/events like my Page

Instagram mostly pictures of my cats & food I've cooked or am about to eat, but occasionally books too

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Thursday Review: Project Power


If you follow me on any social media platform you've probably read me say that I don't watch TV. This changes during football season (and right now for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. #GoStars) but for the most part, I almost never watch TV. However, my husband is a non-stop TV watcher so every now and again I'll catch whatever he has on.

Days ago (what is time?!) I was relaxing on the sofa when he started watching Project Power. I didn't have high expectations because of some negative feedback I'd seen on Twitter, but I'll watch Jamie Foxx in anything so I went ahead and set my phone down.

In this sci-fi type thriller, Jamie Foxx is a man looking for his daughter who was kidnapped by a crazy woman who is trying to create super humans. Crazy woman created a drug that gives people an unknown superpower for exactly five minutes. The drawback is no one knows what power they will get the first time, if at all. Some people simply blow up. One of the opening scenes will be the most-memorable. In it Machine Gun Kelly (didn't know who he was until Megan Fox dumped Brian Austin Green for him) erupts into flames as his superpower and starts fighting Jamie Foxx. it's actually a really cool scene.

But, I think my favorite part of the whole movie is when Andrene Ward-Hammond is confronted by fake cops and Joseph Gordon-Levitt comes to her rescue. That whole scene is hilarious and the play-by-play between them was great. I loved it. My second favorite is probably when Foxx tries to trip Dominique Fishback up by giving her a long word to create a wrap off of and she nails it (sorry if this action has a name, I don't know what it is). They had great father-daughter chemistry in this move though she doesn't play his daughter.

There is a happy ending after some explosions and weird violence, a cool fight scene in a private club and Jamie Foxx kicking everyone's asses. Overall, I liked it. I love action movies and I love paranormal stories. And I LOVE Jamie Foxx. So this one hit a few of my buttons. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Independent Book Store Day

Today is Independent Bookstore Day, something I have looked forward to every year for the past few years. Usually I visit all my favorite indy bookstores close to home, but this weekend we had to drive to Denton to give daughter #3 her washer after my husband fixed it. So, after a quick search of Google Maps I found three stores in Denton to visit instead.
Ruth's Room, Too is a hidden gem in a little shopping strip parallel to University Ave. We almost couldn't find it and walked in with only 20 minutes of shopping time before closing, but I still found a couple of paperbacks. They have a very cute Children's section room, and sheet music.
Books & More is on University Dr. but tucked into a corner of an L-shaped shopping strip besides a Dollar General. This one was an unexpected paradise for any lover of Romance. I posted a video on my Instagram page of their Romance room, but the front room also holds a good selection of Romance paperbacks. This store also has movie and concert posters, comic books, vinyls, and LASERDISCS! I highly recommend a visit to this store if you're ever in Denton. 
Our last stop was a familiar one. My family tries to step into Recycled Books on as many Denton visits as we can. They're right on the square in an old opera house and boast three floors of rooms with books, CDs, vinyl, and cassette tapes. They also sell games and memorabilia. 
Overall I think it was a successful outing. Not only did we honor #IndependentBookstoreDay but #RecordStoreDay as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

On Life in General

This has been a challenging summer. In June I turned 45, during a pandemic, where celebrating with extended family wasn't possible. My immediate family and I went to the beach and had a great day staying away from everyone. One kid officially became a High School Senior, while another kid officially became a college graduate with a Bachelor's degree. And finally, Hurricane Season officially began.

In July I lost one of my furbabies (pictured above). Cheetoh adopted us in 2015. She just showed up one day as a scrawny stray meowing in the hopes we'd feed her. I fed her and loved her and fed her some more. If you follow me on Instagram you're probably very familiar with her antics. I loved her so very much, but she developed Diabetes without us realizing it until it was too late to reverse the effects.

 Along the way I also returned to working in the office instead of at home. Unfortunately, I have no real choice in the matter even though I disagree with it since I can completely do my job from home (except checking the mail on Mondays). However, it keeps me active when working from home definitely didn't. I also republished an erotic short story originally released by Ellora's Cave called Educating Macey. It's always been one of my favorites because no matter how many times I read it, that opening scene always makes me laugh. I have it available indefinitely for free.

 At the beginning of August I went ahead and commissioned the artwork for the third book in my Gargoyle Masters series. The book is only about halfway done, but having the cover makes it more real to me and inspires me to write more. Writing has been a grueling process lately. I need all the inspiration I can get. 

This past week was spent preparing for Hurricane Laura. It was a sobering experience that I've been through too many times, and it never gets easier. Luckily, Houston was spared a direct hit and we've only seen a bit of rain so far. I hate to even count my blessings knowing our neighbors in Louisiana were put through the wringer. I just hope once the clean-up begins it goes quickly and there is minimal loss of life. 

September will be upon us very soon and with it comes a three day weekend right off the bat. I've also joined an accountability group that begins in September. My goal is to get back to daily writing. If all goes well, Born of the Forbidden will be out before Christmas. 

I hope all of you are doing well in these crazy, uncertain, and harrowing times. Please vote, wear a mask, and treat others as you would wish to be treated. Remember that Black Lives Matter now more than ever as we see so much hate being spewed across the country. And support all marginalized voices in the arts.

My son and husband were kind enough to hang my hummingbird feeder outside my (dirty) office window.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Virtual Craft Fair

Ready to buy signed print books?
The weekend of August 14th is BookRhythm's Virtual craft fair and I'm selling my books. I also have t-shirts available in four sizes. Plus, if you purchase at least two items you will receive a free handmade mask (limited to the first six customers).

I currently have print copies of the following:
Born of Stone

Born of Magic 

Trusting an Angel, Desiring a Demon, and Saving Her Angel 

Love Beyond Barriers (in limited supply). I don't have copies of Lunchtime Sex yet, but they're on order

Also pictured above is the t-shirt and the masks.
Please visit the Facebook event to see all of the participating vendors. The Craft Fair begins on Friday, August 14th and ends on Sunday, August 16th.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Getting Back To It

This Friday afternoon will mark my first day back in the office at my regular job (the one that pays the bills) since Friday, March 20th. For ten weeks I've been able to work from home, something I've considered a privilege. My office is unique in that there are only six people in a lot of space. Technically, we could've stayed working there, but the boss gave us the capability and the option to work from home. I am very lucky to work where I do.

This isn't the first time I've worked from home, but the past couple of times were by choice not necessity. Once was an attempt at advertising sales, the other was an attempt to make money solely as an author. Neither worked out in the long run. Whether it be from age or the different type of work, this time I enjoyed being stuck at home a lot more. Of everyone in my family I'm the only one not suffering cabin fever. I have gone grocery shopping every week the past month (as soon as the store opens on Sunday morning only). Plus we've picked up to-go orders and such, so I haven't been stuck completely at home the entire time.

Since my life will be getting back to a semblance of normal by the weekend, I'm hoping to get back into a writing groove. I've received an order of bags with my logo on them and am considering some other promo items. I really miss going to book events and meeting readers. One of the items I'm considering is a credit card sized magnifier that can be used as a bookmark. I might do a FB or Twitter poll, but feel free to comment below on whether that's something you would pick up (for free) at a book sale or if there are other items you like to see as giveaways on authors' tables.

It's going to take a while for everything to feel "normal" again, or for us to get used to our new normal. I hope all of you have stayed healthy and safe during this pandemic, and I sincerely hope we're on the homestretch. Keep reading and take care.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Thoughts on Hoarding and Other Things

Calico cat named Jessie
It's Thursday afternoon and I'm in my office trying to ignore the television in the living room, just on the other side of the wall. Kid #3 is home from college and is watching Hoarders with kid #4. I've told them my grandmother might have had hoarding tendencies, but there was a very distinct reason. 

I grew up visiting my Nana in El Paso every summer and Christmas break. I clearly remember her saving food scraps to feed the neighbor's livestock. I remember her making every meal from scratch. So many memories of pennies pinched and things that I didn't understand at the time are much clearer now. Nana grew up during the Great Depression. She became the single mother of four children when my mom was eleven, and worked as a nurse at a hospital near her home for as long as I can remember. 

There are so many things we take for granted when we're children. My kids want for nothing that my husband and I can provide and I've always told them so long as there is breath in my body they will never be homeless and never go hungry. In these uncertain times there are so many people without that family safety net that my kids have always known. It's something I was blessed with myself, and I don't know what I would've done without it. So, I'm sitting here thinking about that and how such things, lack of family and security and/or growing up as a child during a depression, might have effected the hoarders on the show.

I'm not a TV watcher myself. I leave that for my husband and drown myself in books instead. This year I've been more determined than ever to record every book I read in order to keep track. I use Goodreads and am always happy to add a friend to my roll if you're interested. Unfortunately, I haven't been adding to any bookstores myself. I'm almost halfway to my desired word-count for the third installment of my Gargoyle Masters series. Kid #2 (a great artist in my opinion) is working on a new cover for Day Shift. I want it to have more of a comicbook feel to it this time. The sequel is done but needs to be edited and covered as well. Hopefully, by the summer I'll have at least one new release. 

On June 15th I will turn 45. My goal is to release Born of the Forbidden: Gargoyle Masters Book III by that week. Technically it will be my twenty-third manuscript to be published since I started this journey in 2008. The first couple of years were very productive, but the knocks from a thieving publisher, the closing of my favorite publisher, and then be completely ignored by my final publisher, really took its toll on my muse. I'm trying to find it again one sentence at a time. So you may be seeing more blog posts as I work out my writing muscles over the next few weeks. I hope you'll join me on this leg of my journey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

New Release: Erotic Images

Erotic Images
Erotic Arts Book 1

Love creeps up when you least expect it.

Lynn Graves is desperate for money to pay off the debt left behind after her divorce. So, when she comes across an ad from an erotic photographer looking for a model, the answer is easy. However, being shy and slightly inexperienced aren’t exactly traits needed for her to take off all her clothes for the world to see.
A photographer with years of experience under his belt, Weston Myers is pretty sure he’s seen it all. However, he’s never encountered a woman with the natural beauty and grace that Lynn exhibits. He knows his camera’s going to love her from the first moment he sees her but convincing her of it won’t be easy. Once her clothes come off attraction hits hard, but it’s the quiet moments between them that are the real kicker. With a stalking ex-husband and Lynn’s insecurities, Wes has his work cut out for him. He’ll do whatever it takes to make Lynn believe he wants more between them than her erotic images.

Get the ebook here:

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Thrill Me - New Release from Tina Donahue

Thrill Me:
Wanna Be Bad Book 2 

by Tina Donahue
Genre: Contemporary MFM Menage Romance 

I'm happy to announce that my friend and fellow Romance author Tina Donahue has a new release!

Do you like hot, sexy books? Do you like menage storylines? Do you like sexy characters? Great! This book is for you!

Longing to be bad…

For too many months, Shelby’s craved bad boys Ben and Dominic, cousins and celebrated chefs at the opulent Caribbean resort where she works. Their heated gazes prove they hunger for her as much as she does for them, but they’ve yet to make a move on her.

That won’t do. Yearning for their potent masculinity, killer smiles, and effortless charm, she sets into motion a decadent plan to be with them … at least for a little while. Her ideas include nude photos, a locale where anything goes 24/7, plus BDSM and other kink.

Fun-loving Dominic’s fully onboard. He’s had his eye on Shelby from the start. Ben has too, but he’s reluctant to mix business with pleasure. Since a previous work relationship screwed him big time, he doesn’t want to repeat the experience and won’t … as long as he keeps this strictly about sex, no strings or expectations.

Yeah, right. In an erotic journey that will surprise this threesome, all bets are off, resistance impossible, surrender assured.

Buy Links

(Bookstrand and Kobo coming soon!)


$55 in GCs and ebooks from bestselling authors to one winner

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Tina is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist who writes romance for every taste – ‘heat with heart’ – for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic novels were Readers' Choice Award winners. Another three were named finalists in the EPIC competition. One of her erotic contemporary romances was chosen Book of the Year at the French review site Blue Moon reviews. The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for one of her erotic romances. Two of her titles received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition. Another two won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.

Author Links