Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Straight Outta The News

This weekend I watched the movie Straight Outta Compton. I'd been wanting to see this movie since it came out. I was NOT disappointed. I was glued to my screen. The acting was excellent. The story compelling. And it was real.

Straight Outta Compton chronicles the rise of rap, specifically the group N.W.A. and the music icons that came out of it, such as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Easy-E. It starts in the late eighties. Rap at that time was controversial on its own, but N.W.A. took it to new heights of performance and newsworthiness as their songs talked about life in the hood, poverty, and police brutality. It was dangerous music, in that it incited people to take a stand. And in this fat old white lady's opinion, it was poetry at its finest.

Yes, the music of N.W.A. was/is poetry. I went back and played some of the songs over after the movie ended.  The words and emotions are raw and real. It was the poetry of people living with injustice and surrounded by crime, and looking for a way out.

Up front, I'm not a big rap fan, although I do like and have bought some over the years. But I am a music bio-pic lover. I love knowing the stories behind the music and music makers, Hollywood-ized or not. Some of my favorites include:

Walk the Line (Johnny Cash)
What's Love Got To Do With It (Tina Turner)
8 Mile (Eminem)
Ray (Ray Charles)

These songwriters and musicians all faced their own demons and hardships as they struggled to do what they love. Just as many writers like myself do the same. Behind almost every artistic endeavor is a rawness and personal experience just waiting to bust out. When writers write words, whether books, poetry or songs, they are "bleeding on the page." Even a painting is someone's life on a canvas.

But back to Straight Outta Compton. I was in my late thirties when N.W.A was hitting big on the charts. I remember well the controversy over their music. It was a volatile time for Los Angeles that included the Rodney King beating and riots that followed. All over the nation, N.W.A. was demonized by main stream America for their music.

BTW - one of my favorite scenes/lines from the movie was when N.W.A. was watching a group of people destroying their albums.

Ice Cube: [watching a crowd destroy their records] Ain't that some shit? Speak a little truth and people lose their minds.

Eazy-E: See, the truth is, they can do whatever they want with them. They bought them motherfuckers.

Main stream America is pretty fickle and often far from open minded about things they don't understand or want to see. Often during the movie I was reminded of a big song from a monster hit musical. Here are the words from Do You Hear The People Sing, from Les Miserables, a musical that main stream America flocked to in record numbers, the same people who thirty years ago were burning and destroying N.W.A.'s records:

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes.

Those are pretty stirring words, but wrapping them in a big glitzy musical production about the French Revolution, sung predominately by white people, and charging a fortune for reserved orchestra seats made them acceptable. If N.W.A. had penned these words, they would have been condemned.

Finally, one of the most heartbreaking things for me about viewing Straight Outta Compton was realizing that while these events took place in the late eighties and early nineties, not much has changed in our society in thirty years.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Count Down To Wildness!

On February 1, 2016, I will finally be releasing WILDE WOMEN, the 2nd novella in my Winnie Wilde romance series written under the pen name of Meg Chambers.  I say finally because originally I had anticipated that this digital novella would be released late summer 2015. But, as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way.

I love writing this romantic series about a 50 year old divorcee exploring her new freedom and awakening appetites accompanied by lovely, sexy men. The novellas are filled with humor and sexy, steamy encounters.

In the first novella, RUNNING WILDE, Winnie, freshly divorced, meets Ben Church, a charming man twenty years her junior, who encourages her to follow her dreams. Through him, she meets new people who become incorporated into her life as friends, easily mixing with her existing friends. She also challenges her grown children to see and accept her in a new light other than that of mother and grandmother.

"Want to feel empowered, lusty and totally in charge?
Take a sexual romp of libidinous fun with Winnie Wilde.
I did and loved it."
Patrika Darbo, Emmy nominated actress and
"full-featured Bitch Goddess of Daytime"
from Days of Our Lives

In the second novella, WILDE WOMEN, Winnie, now a published romance author, heads for Florida to visit her widowed mother. On the flight she meets Gabriel Dunn, an educated, sophisticated doctor. Sparks fly between the two almost immediately. In spite of family issues involving Winnie's mother and her fiancĂ©, the two manage to date and embark upon a relationship that leaves them both wanting more.

To celebrate the release of WILDE WOMEN, I have initiated two events:

1. Currently there is a contest running to win a digital copy of WILDE WOMEN.  The contest ends January 24th and details can be found pinned to the top of the thread at the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook.

2. Secondly, beginning today for a week there is a Kindle Countdown Deal going on for RUNNING WILDE. For the next few days you can download a copy of RUNNING WILDE for just 99 cents. On January 25th thru the rest of the period, the price will be $1.99, then it will be back to its original low price of $2.99. 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Truly, Madly, Deeply Saddened

Today I slept in 2 extra hours. I needed it. I was exhausted from juggling two writing deadlines with a heavy work load at the law firm where I'm a paralegal. When I did finally crawl out of bed around 7, I was greeted with two sad bits of news:

1) I did not win the $1.5 billion Powerball.

2) Alan Rickman had died.

The first one I expected. The second cut me to my heart.

From Truly Madly Deeply
You see, since 1991, when I first saw the movie Truly Madly Deeply, I have been infatuated with British actor Alan Rickman. I'll bet I've seen almost every movie he's made from the blockbuster Harry Potter movies, to Sense and Sensibilities, Galaxy Quest, Love Actually, Robin Hood: Price of Thieves, Die Hard, Quigley Down Under, Something the Lord Made, just to name a few, and even dogs like Blow Dry.

Over the years I have watched this man, this brilliant actor, play comedy, action, drama, bad guys, and good guys. I watched him age and never once lost my attraction to him as both a man and an actor.  His voice alone could make me weak in the knees.

I even wrote him into my Odelia Grey mystery series, giving Odelia the same star crush:

 I was sitting on my sofa, knee deep into the bucket-o-puddin’, watching the movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. It’s one of my all time favorites. Not because it stars Kevin Costner, but because it boasts the British actor Alan Rickman cast as the Sheriff of Nottingham. I have a thing for Rickman. In my eyes, he is right up there with My-T-Fine chocolate pudding. (from The Curse Of The Holy Pail)

I was ... I am ... an Alan Rickman SUPER FAN!

I'm in my 60's now and it seems at least once a week, celebrities, TV and movie stars, musicians, athletes, and news makers I've grown up with are passing away. They are aging just as I am. It's a slap in the face, a brutal reminder of my own mortality.

But this lost ... this passing ... cut my heart out with a spoon...

From Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fat Woman Walking

Yep that's me this year. When a few of my Facebook friends took up the challenge of walking/running/biking 2016 miles in the year 2016, I decided to join them.

2016 in 2016!

Do the math and that works out to just over 5.5 miles a day (2016 is a leap year).

As of the writing of this blog, I have chalked up 17.34 miles. Yeah. Yeah. I know, I'm already behind 37.66 miles. I got a late start on this by a few days and I'm so out of shape that I haven't been able to get close to 5 miles a day yet.

BUT (and please notice this is not BUTT, as in my big ole butt), I have faith in myself that I can chalk up 2016 miles in 2016.

Walking is easy. It's free. Biking on my stationary bike is easy (hell, it's in front of the TV), and it's also free. Running, well, that ain't happening, not with my bad knee. The goal here is to log 2016 miles this year, not to become crippled. And it will be so good for me in so many ways!

I'm tackling this challenge with the same determination I mustered when I took on the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in 2009. You can read about that HERE.

When I first let people know that I was going to do the Mud Run, a lot of them laughed and said I'd never be able to finish. WELL, BITE ME! I did finish, and I finished within the qualifying time! When I first started talking about doing 2016 in 2016, again people said I'd never be able to do it.
Finish Line at Camp Pendleton

Ye of little to no faith, 
you have no idea with whom you're dealing!
I mean, I'm a woman who writes 2-3 novels a year, and manages to hold down a busy day job!

In training for the Mud Run, I started slow and gradually built up my workouts until I was walking 3-6 miles a day, often on hilly terrain. And that was just walking for training. For the 2016 in 2016 challenge, we're adding up every step taken, even those in our day-to-day lives, such as walking from the car to the house, from our desks to the bathroom, from the couch to the fridge. (Hopefully, in a few weeks, there will be less of this last one.) Most of us are wearing devices such as FitBits.

To encourage those participating, I've started a Facebook group called 2016 in 2016. It's a group of people from all walks of life, all ages, and all levels of fitness, who have one common purpose: to move themselves by their own physical power 2016 miles in the year 2016.

It's only day 11 and we're having a good time cheering each other on. Some of the members are hardcore exercisers and are throwing down big numbers. Most, though, are like me, building up to the miles but determined to git 'er done!  

If you're interested in joining us in this challenge, just come HERE and ask to join.

Note, this is a closed group with a specific purpose.  No whining, and no politics or other off topic comments will be tolerated. SPAMMERS WILL BE BEATEN TO A PULP.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with my FitBit (who I named George).

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Only Sexy Vegan Doctors Need Apply

It was just a matter of time before my half-assed veganism leaked into my writing.

On February 1, 2016, WILDE WOMEN, my second steamy romance novella featuring Winnie Wilde, will be released. Winnie's love interest in this e-book is Dr. Gabriel Dunn, a Jamaican E.R. doctor with a dynamite bod and a charming smile.

And he's a vegan.

Or as Winnie says when she first meets him:

“You have a body like that eating only fruits and vegetables?”

For their first breakfast together, he makes her a tofu scramble.

If I'm lying, I'm dying.

I write several series, each with their own large cast of characters. When developing characters in fiction, you have to decide even the most common quirks and habits fairly early on and weave them into the fabric of the character:

Do they smoke?
Do they have an alcohol problem, active or recovering?
Did they grow up in a big family?
Do they pick their nose? Chew gum? Suck on lollypops?
Do they grind their teeth or whistle when they're nervous?
Do they collect frogs?
Swear like a sailor?
What do they like to eat?

It's all part of what makes a fictional character believable.

In my Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series, lead protagonist Emma Whitecastle is a pescetarian (no meat, but does eat seafood). Odelia Grey of my Odelia Grey mystery series will eat anything but okra and has a penchant for Thin Mints and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Winnie Wilde eats fairly healthy, eating meat only on occasion. They all drink iced tea most of the time and enjoy their booze, but not to excess. The booze, that is.

Like I said, it was just a matter of time before a vegan character showed up somewhere in my work, and, trust me, Dr. Gabe is as yummy and as exotic as a fragrant curry.

And boy is he SEXY! (Think Morris Chestnut with a Jamaican accent.)

WILDE WOMEN and the first book in the series, RUNNING WILDE, are both available in digital format on Amazon for $2.99 each.

 *And, yes, I am Meg Chambers. That's my pen name for the Winnie Wilde series, in case you haven't heard.