Fifty Shades of Suck.

I’ve got three *species* of vampires, ranging from sexy to, well, gross. In history, each culture has their own version, and it’s here that I found my playground from which to draw ideas for how I’d approach the beasties. Vampires, like Christian Grey, might be considered predators, but to what extent?

There’s something visceral about a sexual predator– and vampires are, make no mistake– that dances on the edge of cultural conscience between fascination and disgust. Vampires scare the hell out of some people because their abilities remove control, and thus, agency. Yet, many of us think of vampires as elegant criminals rather than hideous beasts. Why?

I chose to give one of my vampires a single, thin fang that slips into an artery, draining away life as the victim is mounted in a tangle of sexual heat and confusion. Sure, two fangs seem balanced, but in biological terms, wouldn’t one do the trick? For me, it worked. For others, there’s an appeal to the symmetry of a beast with two fangs, eyes flashing with promise of things that are illicit and dangerous.

Does this mean we’re all, in a way, adrenaline junkies? Is this the ultimate risk, in terms of sexuality? You give in to the monster: you die.

Or worse.

I wonder how we let the violation of vampires slip through our collective mind, shifting from the ultimate predator into something to be desired, even sought out. It’s a long trip between those two states of being, or is it? Is this a question of domination and submission, or is it something even more simple: the fulfillment of sexual pleasure through fantasy?

I ask these questions because of erotica in general, and the film Fifty Shades Darker hits theaters. As a casual observer, the phenomenon of women– adult, independent, educated– embracing the concept of submission is nothing short of fascinating. Is it because we fear asking for what we want, and it takes a monster to give it to us? For that matter, how often is anyone truly honest with their partner? There’s a fine line between thrill and disgust, a vague demarcation that lovers may never cross in their hunt for the thing they want most.

Is it also tied to the appearance of the monster, so to speak? I’ve always thought that we tolerate far more brutal behavior from beautiful people. Is this true? Are we conditioned to forgive, based on an expectation of cruelty from that which is deemed perfect and beautiful?

In a sense, I think we are. That’s why vampires (and Christian Grey) aren’t shunned. They’re embraced. Desired.

I think it’s as good a time as any to ask yourself, “What do I really want?”. If you can be honest, then you’re with the right person.

 

Pushups are the Devil

I’m on this stupid health and exercise kick, and it means giving up things like pie and cake for a while. As a man of a certain age, I have certain fears, which include (but are not limited to):

  1. Pleated khakis.
  2. Losing my hair.
  3. Belly.
  4. A larger belly.
  5. Chewing food like I’m a beetle.
  6. A compulsion to use coupons at dinner.
  7. Socks and sandals together.

Thus far, I’ve avoided most of that. Teeth are still good. Mind still feels sharp, unless it’s car keys and then I act as if every day is an archaeological hunt. I’m writing more emotional, lurid scenes that ever before, so I feel that (professionally), I’m better than ever. Writing is a muscle, but you know what else is a muscle?

Muscles.

I totaled last month’s pushup total from my Exercise Log of Doom, and the number was 2805.

That’s a lot of pushups for a middle-aged guy, or at least it is for me. It’s having an effect. I feel like my mind is slightly clearer, with less tendency to be dreamy when I’m writing. Does that make sense?

It’s also vanquishing fear number nine from the above list, which I saved for here: Moobs

I don’t want to have the chest of an American Buddha, so this whole nightmare of pushupageddon is actually working out rather well.

I still hate it, though. It’s like work, but with your face on the floor and lots of wheezing.

The goal for this month is 3000. Oh, and no bra. Ever.

New book is at 60,000 words. Done in a week. you’re going to love it. I’m over the moon for Livvy and a new character, Danila. She’s amazing.

Cheers.

 

How To Write a Love Scene

I’ve cracked the code, people. I have the power. Sexy time? I own it. Lovemaking? Booty Call?

Drive By Quickie?

Check, check, and mate.

Fellow writers, pay attention. This is my gift to you. Dear readers, use this information as you see fit.

*Cracks Knuckles*

Writing the perfect love scene:

  1. List everything you would do with your partner if you didn’t have kids, pets, or a job.
  2. Cut the speed of all those things in half.
  3. Add candles and chocolate.

 

You’re welcome, people.

Life Without Cookies

Or cake.

Or pie.

Or waffles, milk, flour, cheese, and joy, yes, there will be no joy, not in this house.

Bride is doing a really interesting thing known as the Whole Life Challenge. It’s kind of cool– focusing on better food, plenty of sleep ( a must!), stretching, meditation, and overall health.

In short, all the things we tend to ignore because of life, kids, spouses, bounty hunters, outstanding warrants, and existential crises. You know, the usual.

It has a lot of things to like in it– case in point, here’s a drink I would have never tried, but I did, and OH BOY is it good: Golden Latte Super Fancy Drink!

So here I am, day three without my usual inundation of junk food. I’m intensely curious to see what happens. I’m almost fifty— things start to break down. I’m no longer under warranty, so to speak, and one of the things that I hope to preserve is my mind. You know, no more ten minute search parties looking for my keys, or wallet, or sock, or shoes. Stuff like that.

I’ve written fifty thousand words in my current book, and this dietary change makes me ask the question: will I write better or more efficiently if I’m not standing at the sink, mindlessly chewing cookies like a very tall cow that wears underwear and a contented smile?

We shall see. I’m going to go two full weeks (also time to recover from the Man Flu, of course) and see what happens.

Between this, the pushups, and wearing a FitBit, I might not survive.

I have a cold. I will die soon.

There’s no getting around it.

My son, the World’s Largest Eight Year Old, has infected me with a virulent form of the rhinovirus, which may or may not be a combination of the following diseases:

The Bubonic Plague

Cooties

Ebola

A Random Tropical Fever

Boogers.

These have combined for the following symptoms:

Sneezing.

Producing more snot than my current body weight.

Headache.

More snot.

Snot.

Snot.

I write this as a farewell to you all, and only ask that you eat pie, waffles, and Oreo thins at my funeral.

Good day.

Terry

Virginia. So Much More Than Ham.

I’ll be in one of my favorite cities next week, Roanoke, Virginia. I’m speaking at the Roanoke Regional Writer’s Conference. It’s on the beautiful campus of Hollins University.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Virginia is incredible. It’s just so American, and Roanoke is a shining example of a great town. If you haven’t been– go. See the star. See the town. See the people. They’re Virginians, so they’re steeped in history with the friendliness of the South, and the sights of the North.

Roanoke Writer’s Conference.

I can’t say enough good things about this event. It’s a wide spectrum of thinkers, writers, and writing styles wrapped up in an atmosphere of sharing– and there is an unmistakable joy for the written word. It’s my second year, and an absolute highlight for me.

In case you’re still not sold on Roanoke, let’s recap some things: The star!

Rivers, nature, and bridges that are statistically likely to terrify nearly one third of all humans!

And, of course– the city itself. Lovely.

So, to sum up: Books, fun, ham, Roanoke, coffee, friends, and nature. Can’t wait.

Carrots. Fuel for adulting.

Where I’m at in life today:

I plan on writing in the car at the pickup line. I arrive about an hour early to get Optimum Line Placement, assuring that my son gets in and we take off with near military precision.

Side note: If you told me to invade a country and gave me whatever resources I’d need, I would select the teachers who supervise the pickup line. I could have my forces in Moscow by noon. They do not play around when it comes to getting the kids on their way.

Ok, so I’ll write a chapter today– around 1500 words. The fuel I’m choosing is white carrots, purchased from the Hendersonville Produce Stand. It’s the kind of place that has fruits and vegetables that look real, rather than the polished, waxy approximations of food in some stores. I like the irregularity– it’s the same in people, I think. It’s the cracks that make us good, to quote Dozer from the book Heartborn.

Why white carrots, Terry? Welllll, glad you asked. I really dig parsnips, and these are rather like them. Add a touch of butter, salt, pepper, thyme. Roast until tender. Add protein of your choice. Boom. Writing fuel, or fuel for whatever you’re doing.

In my case, it’s writing. I’ll report back on the efficiency of carrots as Fictional Fuel.

2017: The Bells of Wonder

Let’s talk about our goals.

I have a few. Some are likely, some are certain, and some are an outright challenge to myself. I like those. They assure me of taking my craft seriously, as well as continued growth.

They are, in no particular order:

  1. Write three books.
  2. Write three short stories for anthologies.
  3. Produce three audiobooks.
  4. Drink a lot of coffee.
  5. Whiten my teeth.
  6. Repeat as needed.

Specific characters: what’s next?

The sequel to Heartborn will arrive in March. Livvy is going to learn a lot more about her new world, and more to the point, what happened to her old world. Angels aren’t always agents of good, and their presence walks the line between war and wonder. Sometimes, their world might seem too brutal for someone like Livvy, but I think the angels should worry about how they fit into her plans.

She’s tough, and smart, and her heart is pure. That goes a long way, even in a world filled with war and lies.

What about Carlie?

Excellent question!

Carlie has a big year planned. I started wondering about her next challenges. Are they internal? External?

How about both.

Carlie needs pressure to grow, and I’ve found the perfect way to let her explore her magic, love Wulfric, and grow into the witch who will ultimately cradle Halfway in her protective grasp. Halfway Drowned will arrive in late summer, and the villains are fantastic. One of them even wears gym socks with rings, so you know he’s a terrible person.*

*If you really like gym socks with rings, and do it in a retro way, that’s cool.

Ring. Wally. Risa. It’s time.

I’ve thought long and hard about The Fearless and their path.

And now, I have it. I will be repackaging the entire series to introduce a project I’ve wanted to write for three years– book five of The Fearless is well underway, but the side project is near and dear to my heart.

It’s no secret that I love Delphine, but her backstory hasn’t been explained enough to match the depth of her intellect, will, and sexuality. I’ll fix that in 2017. I’ve got a stack of research and a keyboard, and Delphine will have her own story. Soon.

Yes Terry but pie.

Naturally, I’ll be heavily engaged in the following activities as well:

  1. Eating
  2. Eating pie.
  3. Eating cake, pie, and other bakes things.
  4. Running.
  5. Pushups.
  6. Wondering why my weight stays relatively level.

New Team Members

I’d like to introduce Jessica Herring as my web designer. She’ll be bringing the site up to speed in a clean, friendly format. I hope to interact with a lot more readers this year– my calendar is full, but still growing. Hope to see you at an event!

Najla, Amalia, and my Bookish Circle of Trust (You know who you are!) will continue to produce the cover art I love, with a special shout out to Staci Hart for her brilliant imagery on Heartborn.

More to come. I’d love to hear from you about great books, food, events, or whatever. Let’s chat.

Here’s to your best year ever. Thanks for reading.

Cheers,

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2017 Vlog: Now with more Bad Guys and Hooligans!

I haven’t been very active with my vlog and Youtube channel. That changes this year. Thanks to a suggestion from Jess at The Audiobookworm, I’m going to start uploading videos that talk about where I find my villains.

Rather, where I find such terrible villains.

The answer is history. I teach college history, so this seems like a Super Duper Win, and it’s a great excuse to chat about the people and things I’ve seen that either gave me nightmares or inspired me to write books. Sometimes, the two are one in the same. If you have a favorite story from history, let me know! I’m always curious about what’s out there, lurking in the shadows of time.

Who knows—you may give me my next baddie. Or hero. Let’s discuss, shall we?

Cheers for now, Bookfriends.

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New For 2017: Books, Travel, and Mild Exercise.

So many shiny things to look forward to.

I hope your holidays are warm and bright. Mine have been filled with an embarrassment of riches, which will lead me to overeat, undersleep, and caffeinate like I’m going to swim to Mars.

After this period of eating and eating and then napping, I’m entering what I call the “Winter of My Discontent”. This is when I begin various exercise challenges followed by pulled muscles, mild anger, and wheezing.

Oh, there will be wheezing.

There are now word counters on my website, so you can see the progress of each book. At current rates, 2017 looks to be busy. I’ll have three titles, two short stories (more on those later) and two audiobooks. I also have new art, graphics, bookmarks, and other various goodies that I’ll be giving away at author events. I think you’ll love the new look of everything; it was time to freshen the place up, so to speak.

My travel calendar is full, and getting fuller. Or fullerer. Regardless, you know what I mean—I start the year off in beautiful Roanoke, Virginia, on January 28th. It’s a fantastic city, and I’ll be there twice during the year. If you haven’t been—go. They have all the things I love crammed into an old city filed with new life and American charm.

I’ll send out mailings as events are added; I hope to schedule signings in the Carolinas, Midwest, and California. Do you have a suggestion for a signing? Let me know—I love small events in interesting places.

See you this year, Bookfriends. Cheers!