Incarnation release….the inspiration

Isn’t it interesting to think about a world without plastic surgery, or at least one where no one would consider such a thing, because the natural face is…or was, so precious?

That was the initial concept behind this idea…years ago, thinking about the obsession to look better in all ways. I’d just finished watching a BBC series on all the things that had gone wrong and thought…what if? What if the US was a place affected by a virus that would wipe out the DNA structure for the face…and the government benevolently stepped in to help out. Then a few decades later, conspiracy theorists were put in jail for attempting to uncover the truth. Well, this coincided with visiting my husbands hometown of Ouray, just on the other side of Telluride. It’s all the is natural, sexy, rugged and remote, with the bonus of being home to one of the countries largest (and now defunct) gold mines. Ouray and the surrounding area is also famously known as “little Switzerland” because the town of @500 (goes up to 1K in the summer) literally sits in a bowl, surrounding by mountains going straight up. This territory has made it the #1 area of off-roading 4-wheel drives. What that really means is one gets is raised jeeps and tries no to puke going up and over car-sized boulders.

The concept merged with the town to form Incarnation. Really, who can make up a remote town with mine-riddled mountains; a place that has no lights or gas stations, where everyone knows (and dates) everyone, and the natural hot springs bubbling up from the ground pulls in tourists from around the world.

I based the story on a few still living towns-folks, and made up a few others. The bars, restaurants and yes, the Moose lodge, spa and mine all exist. The old miner referenced is actually a man my husband, Roger, worked with as a teenager. The two would ride the house-sized vehicles up the hill and stay in an old, wooden shack, resisting against the gail-force winds at night sucking down moonshine, and during the day, Rog would careen over deep crevases, stringing metal cables–the goal being to prevent the random skier or snowmobiler from meeting an early death.

Without giving too much more away, I will add this first book was a joy, and frankly, it was a bit painful to then transition to book 2 of the Chambers series–The Spirit Warrior. The style, flow and attitude of this book is uniquely its own. I loved it. I want to be Kyle. But then again, I want to be Billy! For a reader who hasn’t gotten in to my other books, the constant is fast-paced, no (or <5 swear words) and hot but clean. In other words, your grandma could read it and not blush, and you can leave it on the coffee table without fear that your six year old is going read something untowards. As an author, it’s a challenge to write within those parameters, but I enjoy it.

Personally, this cover ranks right up there with my fav covers…and probably because of the guy chosen and double helix, it might even edge out my other favorite covers as the best so far. (wow. do I like this one). This image in the back is actually Ouray, and I’ve uploaded a few other fav Ouray pics to the book listing just so those of you who have never been can take the virtual tour. It is about 5.5 hours drive from Denver, or a short flight into Montrose. In the winter, it’s all about ice climbing in the ravines in the center of town, and in the summer–the four-wheeling as I mentioned. (sorry for the poor quality but they were phone pics:)

Because the cover is so gorgeous, it actually comes out a bit purple in the print version.

Here are the links for all types of devices and purchased preferences.

Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, Scrbd, 24Symbols, Playster, Smashwords

The book is also available at all the major on-line bookstores in ebook version. You can request a library stock order if that’s your preference. I can’t wait to finish the 2nd book.

Porcupines are people too

Like all two-legged land-dwelling creatures, I have a softer side underneath. You wouldn’t always know this, particularly if we were sitting across the table from one another, negotiating a licensing agreement or if you were to hear me “discussing” my water will with the service manager. In fact, like the white under belly of a porcupine, my softer side is often disguised by layers of pricks, sharpened by financial tsunami’s, breakups with boyfriends and other humiliating experiences, each one of which lends itself to an increased potency of verbal barbs, that, when used, give the unsuspecting a severe, emotional

How to Hug a Porcupine: Dealing With Toxic & Difficult to Love Personalities

laceration.

“You need to read ‘How to Hug a Porcupine,” my mother casually suggested. I should have known better. She’s a therapist. Of course it had a double meaning. But I was being dense. I thought she was referring to improving my relationship with my husband, who I’ve always considered a bit…rough around the emotional edges. “You might really like it,” she said smoothly. “It helped with your dad.” That was it. Amazon confirmed my rush order later that night.

When I got it, I resolved to read it page by page with Roger, thereby saving the big reveal for the two of us. Secretly, I was hoping he’d make evident his emotional vulnerability as we read about his emotional issues. How little did I know.

The sub-title of this book is “Dealing with Toxic and Difficult to Love Personalities,” I might say, and the definition of a toxic personality is thus:
A toxic behavior is any word, deed, or action which detracts from you being your best self or hinders others from becoming their best selves.”

The next paragraph basically says many toxic personalities are well-meaning. They “sincerely believe that are acting in a loving way and that the end justifies the means.” The trite phrases of “I’m doing this for your own good,” or “you will thank me later,” are really demeaning, criticizing etc. The difference between toxic and nontoxic behavior is in the approach. How they deal with the negative is the issue. The manner in which they treat others defines them as toxic.

I waited until Rog and I were in the car for a four-hour drive to a weekend destination when I whipped out the book and started to read up to page 7. He laughed at the title, smirked at the definition of toxic, and became completely silent by the time the attitudes and behaviors of toxic people are listed. I read 58 characteristic descriptions. During the exercise, I marked those I felt he had, but was surprised when he wanted to join in the conversation.

“You have a number of these as well.” Me? What the…This wasn’t about me. How could I be toxic?

When it was over, we had 16 between us, almost evenly split. Generally speaking, he owned his characteristics while I was offended and immediately went in defense mode. I mean, he’s the one who has trained me to debate and play the devil’s advocate on everything, particularly household expenditures  that I believe are necessary and he believes are discretionary (working outdoor lights to keep away predators, as an example). “What?” he said, a bit surprised at my attitude. “You didn’t think you are a bit prickly on the outside?” This was akin to hearing his pot calling my kettle black, but I kept my mouth shut.

Needless to say, we both enjoyed the following chapters on the differences between a porcupine and a muskrat (how’s that for a visual. Honey, you being such a muskrat today)….the chapter on raising little porcupines (manipulating beasts), plucking quills on a porcupine (e.g. making the softer), putting on the armor (keeping yourself healthy with toxic personalities, entering the home of a porcupine (an relative or friend w/undesirable traits) and so forth.

In fact, each chapter is so laden with real life (e.g. true) examples, step by step how-to’s for dealing with difficult personalities, I found myself wanting to get or recommend the book to everyone I know. For the truth is we all come in to contact with toxic personalities, in the workplace, friendships, church or on the street. Being armed with the tips is like putting together a the perfect offense required to win the game as opposed to the stress of memorizing defensive plays.

Oh, and lest I forget, a very lengthy chapter is devoted to “what if I’m a porcupine.” The equivalent of joining AA. “I’m Sarah, and I”m a porcupine.” After all, recognition is the first step. Of course, I’ll follow that up with ‘but at least I’m not like that skunk over there. He stinks.” Oops. I guess I missed page 163, the section on ‘positive communication skills.’

West on West: a must read for type As

I don’t watch basketball. I don’t care about basketball. Yet, I found myself purchasing a book with basketball as its main theme last Saturday, and had completed the thing by Sunday before church. It is West by West, by Jerry West, a man I’d never heard of in my life (when I ask Rog what he thinks of Jerry West he says “one of the greatest hoop players of all time. The NBA logo is modeled after him.”) Indeed.

Reality is that I was getting my weekly dose of the publishing world by reading Publishers Weekly as I was sweating out the after effects of attending a new restuarant opening in Seattle the night before. Like all aspiring authors (aspiring denoted by the lack of a book that has reached any bestseller list), I read PW for hope and inspiration that one day, in my lifetime, I’ll see my name within it’s pages. In the front of the weekly, two sections capture my attention. The first is the deal section (who is getting paid how much for what), and the second is the review section.

I’m about to turn the page because I see what I instantly categorize as ‘yet another boring biography by a former athlete I’ve never heard of,’ when I read the snippet from PW. It’s beyond glowing. I think the reviewer nearly had a personal moment when writing the review. Since I rarely read reviews from PW infused with this type of love, I go to the amazon kindle store, see the hard cover price is nearly $30, and the kindle price is about half. Sold.

The book didn’t disappoint. The writing style is raw, like the man himself apparently is in real life. The subtitle includes the word tormented for a reason, for West was a product of an unemotional, abusive home full of children his parents could barely afford or properly love. Already sensitive and withdrawn, West becomes moreso when his older brother is killed in Vietnam. Turning inward, West devotes his attention to an object: in this case, a round ball, and it becomes his life and his means out of a home he wants to leave but then can’t stand to stay away (for long). His cracked psyche manifests itself in perfectionism, a man who can’t appreciate the good because it is foreever overshadowed by the bad. This hurts himself, his wife, even the women who he slept with outside his marriage, but as he himself writes, was unable to be okay with who he was.

This alone is not what makes the book interesting, (nor was it the basketball stories, though the ones he includes had a nice balance of factoids mixed with interesting human sidenotes. Even the men I didn’t know about came alive in the scenes described). I recommend this book because it gives light to the fragility of elite players at any level–high school, college, and the pros. Elite players– lets call them life competitors, share unique traits. To understand and nurture an individual blessed with the talent, drive and ego (or lack thereof) is hard a hard task to accomplish. As West graduated from player to basketball executive, his understanding of the personalities in this arena served him (and the LA Lakers well).

I recommend West by West as a cannon for anyone person who works with, for, is married to, or is in fact, in the category of a competitive, Type A personality. The ego, drive, insecurities and challenges don’t end with the clock. That’s just the beginning. West knows that now, five kids, two marriages, umpteen decades after he started his journey. Reading about it is worth the $15.

Exercise without Pain- – Chi Running

It’s book review Tuesday, and appropriate time to talk about a recent read. My sis recommended this to me when I confided I was going to the dark side and starting to run on the treadmill vs walking. “What are the yogi’s going to say?” she asked, her sarcasm nice and thick, like Vermont maple syrup in February. She was, of course, referring to my martial arts instructors (or who knows, maybe even the yoga instructors, those these two classes of bend-it-backwards professionals are often at odds with one another).

“Who cares?” was my retort, my personal desperation clear as a Maria singing The Hills are Alive through a megaphone. When I want to think, concentrate and sweat like a racehorse and be englightened all at the time, I’ll do the martial arts practicing. When I want mindless, lateral movement where I can zone, running is where it’s at.

“Get Chi Running. Now,” said my younger, yet wiser sibling. To her great suprise, I did. Within two hours, I was running away on the indoor mat of pain, reading Chi running on my Kindle.

I’ll cut to the chase. It’s about how to run without injury, and I confess, I’ve never actually had a running injury. I ran distance all through middle and high school, stopping my 2nd year in college. Even then, I figured it was easier to meet guys at a gym while I was in some class wearing little nothings than on a solitary track that was oh-so-boring. My reasoning was flawed but it probably saved me serious knee, hip and angle injuries. 20 yrs later, as I take it up on an as-needed basis to preserve my sanity (and to the chagrin of my teachers who can always tell when I run since my joints lock up and I’m not as limber), I am ready to embrace a different way of running.

The skinny– running heal to toe is bad. Running along the side, middle first is good. The front matter of the book (e.g. the first 50 pages) are really boring. I don’t want theory. I have not time for that. Give me some pictures (the author says to skip to the pics if the text is boring–love an honest author!). I do. Great pics. Then I went back and read the text.

Chi Walking is also available, and I subsquently purchased this book, as I walk my dog several times a day. Liked them both. If you walk or run for exercise, I definitely recommend both. In one session of altering my running style (and the following week of testing it again) it was easy, more comfortable (I had doubts at first) and have absolutely no pain or joint aches at all. Amazing.

I love it when my sibs give me great advice. Now how about the career essentials I’ve been waiting for??

Book review: The enduring attraction of Zane Grey

About 2 weeks ago, I found myself in a dark room, sitting in a massively plush chair, a director to my left, a producer to my right, watching a big screen of a soon-to-be released movie as the two of them and a third digital technician color corrected the film. This time-consuming process is fasincating, clicking back and forth between stills to correct bad lighting. It’s set in the 1920’s and the props were old, authentic and specific to the time. In a corner of the screen, I noticed a familiar red and tan cover, and asked the director if it were a Zane Grey novel. She was impressed. She thought I was too young and frankly, her tone indicated her opinion of my level of literary sophistication. But yes, she acknowledged, it was a Zane Grey. Her attitude jolted me to the wonderful memories of the books. That night, I pulled one of my favorite’s off the shelf and began reading.

Before the era of the undead, non-fornicating human-mystical creature trend took hold, author Zane Grey pioneered the art of the build up between regular men and women. Grey wrote an anthology of westerns and 110 of his books have been adapted to films. Grey’s life was as interesting as his books, as he was a minor league baseball player, dentist and unrepentant ladies man before (and after) he decided to devote his attention to writing.

When his wife’s inheritence provided a cushion for Grey to write full time, he did, turning out dozens of western’s, starting a craze in the early 20th century. His most famous novel is Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), but I have my own favorites. I’ll share 2, and the reasons why they are timeless classics.

As a youth, my summers were spent on a relatively remote California lake. In between fishing, waterskiing and generally making noise w/my siblings, I’d sunbath, reading one of the forty Zane Grey books on my mother’s bookshelf. The books were were already faded and worn from her many read-throughs, and my Grandmother’s before her. The unique, red linen covers with their tan spines frayed, in some instances, the spine had separated.

I was not immediately captivated by the slow start–few have plotlines that jump from the first page–more like page 50, but the writing hooked me enough to keep me going. In West of the Pecos, one of my favorites, a young girl from the South goes West with her father after he loses his fortune (and his wife) in the war. Needing the help of a boy on his journey, and fearful for his daughter’s safety in the wild west, the father dresses the girl like a boy. This charade works for for a few years after her father’s death, about until the time she hits late teens, hires (and reforms) a handsome cowboy and gets herself kidnapped. (Robert Mitchum starred in the movie).

When I was thirteen, the story was all the adventure, excitement, pent-up romantic tension and fulfilling ending I could have wanted. When I finally succumbed to peer pressure and read a few of the recently popular series (Twilight, Hunger Games etc) along with my standard James Patterson and Ludlum reprises, I realized an odd thing: the Zane Grey was equally exciting, free of bad language (I may use bad language but honestly, I don’t want to read it. Swearing in general, brings me down, and on the page it somehow shouts at me which I find distracting) and as cool in its own way as anything modern.

Another simliarity is the absence of sex. The romantic build up is as much a part of the story as some of the aforementioned popular books, and let’s face it. Romantic plotlines are always more rewarding when the lead-up is long, interesting and fraught with the push and pull of ‘will they or won’t they get together.’ Zane acquired the technique of flowing dialogue and rich, well-written antagonists (bad guys and gals). Apparentlly much of the credit goes to his long-suffering wife Dolly, who traded a monogamous relationship for a huge mansion and lots of cash. But whatever. We all make choices in this life, and hers had a hugely positive effect on Grey’s writing.

Light of the Western Stars.

“She was tired of fashionable society. She was tired of polished, imperturbable men who sought only to please her. She was tired of being feted, admired, loved, followed, and importuned; tired of people; tired of houses, noise, ostentation, luxury. She was so tired of herself! &quote;

A rich girl goes west, gets a clue, falls in love, never goes back to the East. It’s awesome. The book is so old it’s also in the public domain, so it can be had for cheap on the Kindle. I could only spirit a couple of the books from the cabin, leaving the other 38 on the shelf for the next generation to read. In fact, my mother may flip when she realizes I have 2, but I couldn’t help it. Grey is a classic. If you have Austen, Tolkien or even dare I add contemporary authors to that list, you must have a few Zane Grey’s.