Friday, December 31, 2010
I still can't believe she's gone. I just can't really comprehend it.
She fought a five year battle with an addiction to prescription medication and finally, ultimately lost.
People don't often talk about that. They brush it into a closet and firmly slam the door, locking it into place never to shine light upon it again.
But I can't do that. I won't do that. I've spent my life running from painful things. I refuse to do that anymore.
To be honest, I've been living in sort of a daze lately. My ten year old nephew was left behind. At the time, my only thought had been to drive to South Dakota and bring him back home, but the emotions I'd tried to bury hit me the moment we settled back in Minnesota.
I panicked. I'll admit it. I was afraid of everything. Afraid of trying to handle the responsibilities that come with living so far north, as well as trying to provide my nephew with everything that he might need, all without the support of our family. They live in Arizona and I thought...if we could only go back, we would have a support system. We could have help, if we needed it.
This morning, I woke up pissed. Angry with myself for even considering abandoning my first and only home.
Am I still afraid. Hell yeah, but my mother and I can handle it together. We have no choice, because that's what you do for family. We love my nephew and he loves us. The rest of it can come, one day, one minute, one second at a time.
My sister will live on through all of our hearts. Especially her son's. I know that she didn't mean for this to happen and that she loved my nephew so much. She never would have wanted to put him through this.
One thing I have learned, however, is that people who struggle with addiction aren't really thinking clearly. They are impaired, they only consider when and where they are getting their next high.
No matter how badly you might want that to change, the change has to come from within, which is the most difficult thing of all to accept because you can't fix their problem for them.
So, if you have a loved one or friend who suffers from addiction, my heart bleeds for you.
My advice. Tell them every chance you get that you love them. Try to face the issues head on, don't allow them a scapegoat. Be firm, even if it means that person might be angry with you for a while, though, never miss an opportunity to be there for them if they need you.
If only I could turn back time, I keep thinking to myself. Though, I know deep down inside, within my aching heart, my sister wouldn't have listened anyway because she was too twisted up in her own personal battle.
We were born three years apart, my little sister and I.
We celebrated every birthday together, though we were born nearly a month apart. Due to our families finances, we shared a cake every year, a party and usually received the same gifts. I even have a few horrible pictures of the two of us dressed like twins. Seventies garb no less.
Growing up, she was always there. Quiet and shy, keeping her emotions locked up tight. Three years behind me in school. We played together, we fought, we laughed and we cried. We went trick-or-treating, Easter egg hunting, and played with our matching twin Barbies on our front porch. We played softball together when we were teens and then life...happened.
Oh, she was stubborn, but so am I. I won't lie and say that we got along smashingly. No, we fought like cats and dogs, at times. The addiction pulled her in one direction and her family in another.
But, she was brave. She moved to South Dakota on her own, taking my nephew and blazing a trail. She travelled all the time, fearless in her enjoyment of going new places and seeing new things. She took on new projects all the time, teaching herself to crochet and sew, to do crafts with a precision that I would never attempt, and honestly don't care if I achieve because hey, that's five minutes I could be writing. :}
The phone rings and my heart breaks every time because I won't hear her voice at the other end of the line. All of those shared experiences, forty years worth, and now...I'm alone. Half of me is gone, ashes.
She was my little sister. I was supposed to be able to save her. It was my duty, my job description.
I didn't even get to say goodbye.
Maybe I'll see her again someday. I have a lot to tell her, and I'm angry with her for leaving such a mess. But, then, life is messy. I'll love her always, more than words could ever express.
So, December 31, 2010, I take my life back. No more running.
From here on out, I will live my life. I will enjoy myself. I will write.
Something I think I've been afraid to do for a long time. But I'll be brave, Nicie. I promise.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
I'm grateful for the friends I've met along the way. The ones I talk to everyday, as well as the friends that I share only occasional conversations. As I've grown older and the years pass, I realize just how much of a treasure those friendships are.
I have friends who are for the most part other writers. People whom I look up to, people who show me everyday how to handle the ups and downs of life with their own grace and finesse, with their own strengths and weaknesses. Writer's are always the first to point out their own weaknesses, but even those aren't meant to be excuses or downfalls, but traits that inspire greater effort and skills.
These are strong, capable women who make me proud to call them friends and confidants.
So, in a time of great sorrow, I tip my hat to the ladies of the word.
You're friendships have carried me through one of the most painful times in my life.
I've been lucky enough to find an old friend as well. My dearest friend from high school, Tracy Leigh. She's been my rock, my comfort and sometimes, more often then not, my voice of reason. I know I've been so lucky to find you again, so incredibly blessed to share my triumphs and sadness, the joy and the sorrow, the good and the bad. Writing with you has inspired me again. I can't tell you what that means to me.
So, ladies, I love you all.
May you enjoy the blessing of family and friends. Let them all know how you feel, cherish every moment, and love to your heart's fullest.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Win an ebook copy of Closer by Charlotte Stein.
Leave a question or comment for Charlotte, as well as contact info, and you will be entered to win.
Taylor1. How did you begin your writing journey?
I copied the entirety of a Ladybird edition of Sleeping Beauty when I was about eight, into an exercise book. And I just remember being gripped by that feeling of putting words on a page, and of how much I wanted the story of Sleeping Beauty to be different. I didn’t want her to be asleep all the time – I wanted her to be awake. Which is a theme that has pretty much informed all of my writing today.
The heroine has to be wi-i-i-de awake. And she’s never just waiting for some Prince to come and kiss her.
2. What’s your writing schedule? Night Owl or early bird?
Oh, definitely night owl. I’m practically nocturnal, in fact. I’d like to credit insomnia with making me so, but really I think it’s just that once I get going, I don’t want to stop. And it gets later and later and later until suddenly it’s tomorrow and I’m calling today yesterday.
3. Do you listen to music while you write or do you require silence? Any ritual like candles or candy, a certain food or drink?
Music, always music. I make playlists for every story, and certain songs become themes for each one. So for my upcoming femdom novella, Giving, it was Kiss Is Not A Contract by the Flight of the Conchords fellas. For obvious reasons. Love a bit of gender subversion!
As for rituals–I have to have jelly beans or midget gems. Something small and with few calories, to chew on. And purple juice. Always purple juice. Something on the telly, too–a stupid sitcom or something inspirational, like Sharlto Copley’s ass freeze framed forever.
4. Are you a member of any writing groups or do you participate in any online critique groups?
I’ve taught creative writing classes, and I’ve mentored another writer over at Romance Divas. But I’ve never really been a part of any critique groups or the like. I’ve never even had a critique partner, which definitely suggests there’s something wrong with me. Come on. You can say it. I drove them all away with my continued insistence that Sharlto Copley is hot.
5. You live in Great Brittan, right? What’s the writing climate like for writing erotica on the other side of the pond? Do you find erotica to be more vigorously embraced in the United States or does the UK have a much more relaxed acceptance of sex in all of its forms?
I do indeed! And I think both the US and the UK have their ups and downs with regards to accepting erotica. I’ve found that the UK is more accepting of straightforward erotica, with more emphasis on sex and not so much on romance and HEAs. I think the imprint Black Lace really led the way for us on that score, in a way that Harlequin Spice is only just sort of beginning to. The US market seems to be more about romance, but in turn that’s paving the way for us Brits, because erotic romance is kind of a newish concept to our market, I reckon. And it gives a lot of scope that we didn’t have before, in terms of allowing more cross-genres like paranormal erotic romance, for example. One of my British publishers wouldn’t even consider paranormal/sci-fi/historical/fantasy erotic romance, where as the US market seems to welcome them with open arms!
Have no clue why I’m waffling on about markets, BTW. What do I know? I’ve put both socks on one foot, before now.
6. You are quite prolific, how many books have you had published so far in your career?
Do I really seem prolific? Ooooh, I like that! Maybe I do know things, after all!
God, what am I saying? I don’t. I really don’t. I’ve published around twenty short stories, eight novellas, one collection of short stories and one novel, and I’m none the wiser about anything. I’m just fumbling and bumbling around in the dark, amazed that this ever happened to me at all.
7. Do you find it difficult to write for multiple publishers?
Naahhh. And even if I did, can you imagine me complaining about it? Oh it’s so hard being so published. I can’t bear the fact that these three publishers like my work and make me write for them.
If I ever become that kind of insufferable person, paste me on toast and eat me for breakfast.
8. Did you choose your genre or did your genre choose you?
It chose me. I didn’t even know how much I loved writing the sex bit of stories. I didn’t get it. I thought I was meant to be a horror writer, until I realized I was writing everything in my stories to get two people together and force them to have sex.
Which makes me sound like some kind of mad sadist, but it’s the truth! And it just occurred to me one day, after I’d made a deal with a friend that I’d send something off to a publisher. I saw a call for submissions from my beloved Black Lace towers–a publisher I’d always been a huge fan of, even as I pretended to like horror more–and just went for it.
And since I got accepted almost immediately, I’d definitely say my genre chose me.
9. Can you tell us a little about your new release Closer ?
I honestly don’t know where Closer came from. One minute I was writing about a dude who liked women’s underwear, the next I was writing this warped little tale about some very public, very dirty things. About Alexander Skarsgard’s double. And a girl who enjoys the heated press of expensive-cologne-scented men on packed trains.
So it came out of three things, really. My love of men who smell like expensive cologne, my love for Alexander Skarsgard–the horny hero of the story–and my fear of writing femdom.
10. What writing project are you working on now?
Nothing femdom. Nobody wants to read it! So instead I’m writing about my other love: the zombie apocalypse. And my other, other love: The A-Team. Which sounds weird but I swear it’s not! Really it’s just about two hot guys who look a bit like Sharlto Copley and Bradley Cooper, providing some even hotter sexual healing for my heroine. Who’s just witnessed the entire human race being brutally slaughtered by a bunch of raving psychotic cannibals, and really, really needs it. Before writing this, I had no idea how much I enjoyed writing about heroines who not only want sex, or desire sex- but need it and find it life affirming and valuable. It’s been so much fun writing it! I started out thinking it was going to be 30k, but it’s now heading towards 70k and it’s not slowing down.
11. Do you like to read and if so, what are you currently reading?
Oh God, I love to read! Just finished the entire Hunger Games trilogy in about two days, and now I’m on a bit of a zombie kick. The Reapers Are The Angels, Breathers, The Walking Dead, etc. Erotic romance wise, I’ve just finished Selena Kitt’s latest (because she’s my Goddess), and I’m onto Megan Hart’s Christmas story, Unwrapped. Am getting a Kindle for Christmas, and have already planned out my Christmas reading marathon. Stieg Larsson, every Spice book ever, a bunch of Ellora’s Cave titles by some of the wonderful new authors they have there. Am really loving the titles and authors they’re taking on, at the moment.
12. What’s your favorite indulgence, non-writing related of course?
Man-lusting. I was going to say chocolate, but I can’t claim I spend 28 hours a day, nineteen days a week eating chocolate. Whereas man-lusting…yeah. I man-lust while asleep. I man-lust while awake. I man-lust when I slip it another dimension where time doesn’t exist. I have lists, okay? Extensive lists. I have a laminated five-people-I’m-allowed-to-sleep-with card. I have folders that contain my objects of lust, and each folder is labeled based on their hotness and what they’re wearing and whether or not their ass is showing.
I can’t believe I ever thought I’d be a horror writer.
13. By the way, I was mesmerized by your blog…mancandy abound! Can you tell readers where they can find your work online? Website address, blog, links, etc.
Awww, fanks! And you can get at my mancandy-alicious blog at: www.themightycharlottestein.blogspot.com There you can find hunks, rambling, links to all my work, a free read, more rambling, more hunks…you name it. My blog’s got it. And if you’re after my latest work from Ellora’s Cave, you can find it here:
Judy has a bad habit, one that gets worse during the busy Christmas season. She likes to rub against strangers on trains. And with all the hot businessmen on her route, she’s not kicking the habit anytime soon. After all, she’s not really hurting anyone. But she definitely feels dirty when a gorgeous stranger catches her in the act—until it’s clear he wants to join in, and he’s not the type to take no for an answer. In fact, he isn’t taking no for an answer on a lot of things.
Judy may think she’s only willing to go so far, or get so close. But Holt thinks differently…
Giving (if you’re one of the three people in the world who loves femdom!)
Clarissa Levinson’s boyfriend has asked for a very unusual birthday present this year. He wants her to fulfill three wishes, and all of them require Clarissa to push her own personal boundaries and become the boss not just at work, but in the bedroom as well.
His kinky demands initially make her nervous, but the more she gives him what he wants, the weaker her inhibitions become. In fact, she’s starting to really like being the one in charge. Who knew domination could be so much fun?
Charlotte, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions and letting readers get to know you better.
Thanks so, so much for having me, Taylor. It was a blast!
Friday, December 10, 2010
It's release day for my dear friend Amber Skyze at Aspen Mountain Press.
Follow the link below and read an excerpt of her naughty Christmas tale.
Nick has fought his attraction to Emily since the summer. Work and other commitments have kept him from pursuing a relationship. Christmas is upon them and Nick finds he has free time on his hands. He devices a little plan to get her sexy body prepared for what he hopes will be a night of passion she’ll never forget.
Someone is sending Emily erotic toys. The naughty notes attached are charging her dormant body to life with promises of red hot sex. She’s not sure who her secret Santa is, but if he’s truly following the Twelve Days of Christmas she’s about to find out.
Will Emily succumb to this Naughty St. Nick?
Visit Aspen Mountain Press to read an excerpt of Naughty St. Nick
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Minnesota Sunset, 2009
My cousin passed away yesterday, and honestly, I'm still in a daze. He was too young to die, leaving behind a wonderfully kind and loving wife and two beautiful daughters. I have so many fond memories of him.
You see, my biological father wasn't around when I was growing up. I didn't have any brothers, but my cousins, Mark and Michael, they gave me the opportunity to experience both the frustration and the happiness that runs hand in hand with having boys around.
We spent every holiday with their family, and I remember Mark and Michael would do things like steal and crack my Easter eggs, snatch the best of my Halloween candy, always making my sister, myself, and their younger sister cry.
But, they played tag with us, they spun me around in the air by my legs, and I remember laughing so much that my belly ached. They let me ride their awesome, cool bikes, and spent hours with us during holidays, which all had to be very annoying to two teenage boys.
I remember them both being there when my grandfather died. I'd come home from school that day and my entire family was there, everyone but my grandfather. I was only about four and a half, but it's a vivid memory. I remember finding out that my grandfather had died, and going out on the front steps alone to cry.
The only other thing I remember about that day is that it was Mark who'd come out to sit with me.
I don't remember what was said, I don't remember anything but that he'd made me feel better about my grandfather not being there. He'd given me that tiny bit of comfort.
It's something that hit me today, that I don't think I'd ever remembered to thank him for that. I wish I had. I wish I could be there for his daughters, to provide some measure of comfort, though I wouldn't know what to say, because their loss is so personal, so profound.
Maybe it's not even about the words, but more about sitting quietly there beside them while they grieve.
I wish I could be there, but I'm so far north and they'd moved from Arizona to Missouri several years ago, as families are known to do, growing, spreading, branching out and creating families of their own.
I spoke to Mark shortly after his heart attack a few months ago. We talked about his health, and he'd told me that he'd always thought about writing a mystery. Of course, there's a mystery book inside me as well. If only each of us had the time.
After I pen a letter to his family, I'll finish my vampire book, write a contracted story, and finally make the time for the mystery book of my heart.
Time is a gift we've all been given, the trick is to figure out how to use it wisely.
Though in showing someone, even a four and a half year old girl, a measure of kindness and understanding, we can allow our spirits to live on in a legacy anyone would be proud of having.