Monday, May 30, 2011

My First Story

As a writer you create worlds-- entire new worlds with crack monkeys, pitchfork twins, and sprawling landscapes of filth intertwined with bliss. Your first story is one of those that you don't imagine will ever see the light of day. By first story of course, I mean that one you wrote as a small child. The one that made you think for a brief moment that you would be a writer when you grew up, enchanting the minds of thousands of helpless people with your imagination.

Today's post is about my first story. Technically this story was a short story, which I am going to gladly post as a homage to National Short Story Month. In the first grade we were given a blank book, with about 15 blank pages inside. The hard cover had an line drawing, mine was a Unicorn. Not only were we required to fill the book with poems and stories, we also had to color this creation's cover as well. My talent's of color and coordination as a 6 year-old were not so great. Meh!

Now my formidable, extremely intelligent, 1st grade teacher Mrs. Wolf helped us by formatting the content of our book. Certain pages were saved for poetry, and she would provide the outline of the poem. Then 5 pages were set aside for a short story, which had to include illustrations.

I'll admit I was at a loss until my father said, "You should write about duck food."

So began the creative process and hence my delightful children's tale 'Duck Food':

The Duck woke up by the barn. He was hungry. He saw animals eating. So he went by the horse and he said, "This is not duck food."
He went by the cow and he said, "This is not duck food."
He went by the dog and he said, "This is not duck food."
He was sad and he was hungry. He walked with his head down. He ran in to a board. He looked up. He saw ducks eating.
"This is duck food!" He said and he was not hungry.

By:  6 year-old Landra Graf

My question: What was your first story about? Did you have horrible hand drawn pictures? What inspiration caused this story?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A bathroom emergency

We're all guilty of excuses when we're running late. I don't care who you are, there is a reason why you are 30 minutes late to work, a party, dinner reservations, and all those other places you either didn't want to be at or just simply forgot about. In this particular instance I was not late, but my children were.

Now a little about mwah! I hate mornings. Absolutely cannot stand the idea of waking up prior to 8am, for any reason whatsoever, and if you ask me to get up before the sun peeks it's head over the horizon well, let me tell you that you are in for it.  Even the DH knows that I am liable to spout nasty, profanity laced diatribe in his direction for waking me from my slap happy slumber.

Which brings us to this morning:
I got up. I didn't want to. Got the kids cereal, climbed back in bed and then arose at my usual time of 7:20am. This means I have 20 minutes to get the kids to school, a feat that I have accomplished in the past. The kids are not ready though, instead both go running for the bathrooms. I mean both of those fire breathing dragons go into the bathroom. My daughter in one and my son in the other. Of course by now it's 7:25 am, I'm slightly freaking. To the timeline.

7:30 am- I'm finally like 'What in the H-E double hockey sticks is taking so long!!!??'
7:32 am- Go to the bathroom door occupied by daughter. Knock and turn door handle, it's locked (the audacity)! Your 8 years-old, you don't get to lock doors in our house until you hit puberty. 'Open Up'. Door unlocks, daughter's on toilet and innocently says 'I'm going number 2'.
'Hurry' I reply and shut the door. 
7:34 am- Knock on my bathroom door and open door. My son is naked from the waist down, and says 'Going number 2 Mom.' First off this is fine, but why for the sake of all that is green, blue, and purple does my son feel it necessary to strip from the waist down to use the toilet. Makes no sense to me and he can't even explain it.
7:36 am- Daughter walks out of bathroom. I realize somethings fishy, 'Did you wipe?' Daughter just turns around and heads back into the bathroom shutting the door. I love how I can receive non-verbal answers to questions.
7:38 am- Son walks out of bathroom, finally fully clothed. Again, something fishy thought/moment. 'Did you wash your hands?' Son let's out sigh of exasperation, turns, and heads back into the bathroom.
Really my children are that predictable.
7:40 am- Walking out the front door and into the car.

Officially my children were 10 minutes late today. The crazy part was that this late arrival could not be avoided. I told both children if questioned about being late to simply reply 'We had an emergency'. My daughter said 'Yeah! A number 2 emergency'. I kindly informed them that the words poop, crap, and number 2 needed to be left out at all costs.
Then I signed 'em in at the office, left, and vowed that if I got a phone call this entire story would be told in all it's inane, 'I can't believe this is happening to me' glory. Never got the call, so I thought I would share it with you.

Bottom Line: If I was a teacher listening to this as an excuse for being late, I would probably tell the poor student that it was the biggest hoke of baloney I ever heard and it would have been better to say the dog ate your homework and you were fighting him for the last few scraps.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Carolyn Jewel's My Dangerous Pleasure Review

Greetings readers, for today I bring you a review for the upcoming novel from Carolyn Jewel, My Dangerous Pleasure.

I have to say that this was my first paranormal romance from Carolyn Jewel and I got a little excited. Hope everyone gets a chance to read this and definitely check out the release. Plus Carolyn is running a contest over at her blog and you can read the first couple chapters. Check it out here:

Now for the review:
Rating: 9

Carolyn Jewel’s latest paranormal romance is a wild ride right from the start; filled with action, steamy encounters, and a story that screams ‘More! Please, more!’

Iskander Philippikos, a demon sworn to fealty to the Warlord Nikodemus, is still recovering from his near deadly breakup with a fellow demon, Fen. He dispels sorrow with a different woman each night, until Paisley. Iskander thought his hot and sexy tenant was just a plain human. When he finds Paisley writhing on the floor of her apartment, magic radiating from her, he feels obligated to save her. The attacks on Paisley continue and Iskander is drawn to protect her and bed her if possible.

Paisley Nichols is an independent, southern woman, bound to a 5-year financial success plan for her bakery store. Dedicated to the job and with little time for anything else, she is suddenly thrown into a world of demons (the kin) and magic, by a single touch from an insane mage. Her smokin’ hot, tattooed landlord, Iskander, comes to the rescue and with it the knowledge that Paisley can no longer live the normal life. The magic gives Paisley the power to release demon souls trapped by mages, making her desirable to the kin and a threat to mages.

Neither Paisley nor Iskander really understand the full depth of their attraction to each other, and both seem hesitant to admit publicly that it exists. Their respectful and distant nature toward one another is erased when Paisley is finally immersed in the magic world; the boiling desire between them too hard to deny.

Paisley is a beautiful, tough woman, which fits Iskander’s needs and wants. She has no trouble accepting Iskander for who he is, in and out of the bed. While most women would probably be turned off at intimate relations with a demon, Carolyn Jewel weaves the characters and story in such a way that acceptance is natural.

Iskander is not only heartbreakingly attractive, but a dangerous assassin not afraid to take someone out. You cannot help but fall in love with Iskander’s bad boy nature and attitude, even if he kills few demons here and there. His loyalty to Paisley and desire to show her his love ultimately win over any reader’s devotion.

Both hero and heroine find themselves in precarious situations with witches and mages alike, that bring them closer to each other than what is safe, and ultimately face to face with the villain that drove them together. Can Iskander protect Paisley from the threat? And how will they stop the attacks from mages and witches alike? These questions, coupled with passionate encounters, keep the pages turning.

My Dangerous Pleasure is the fourth book in Jewel’s series, and contains a scrumptious story of love and intimacy blossoming from unexpected places. The additional story lines provide readers with only a guess at which character’s story will be told next. Ultimately this book is magic action, unbridled desire, and a taste for the wild side packaged up tight and delicious.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Excerpt... Just awards!

It's official, this blog of Slush is an award winner, Yeah!

While the awards do not include trophies, chocolate covered fruit, or (my personal favorite) a 12-pk. of Dr. Pepper. These awards do make me feel humble because I am humbled anytime someone pays me attention. Love it! Love it!

Do I seem a little hyper-active to you?? It's the Sudafed I swear and no, I do not condone the use of OTC Medications for other than what the labels and boxes and stuff say.

So the first award I received for my uplifting, goal setting sell is:

Wow! Now I had to pick this out myself and seeing as how I am the Queen of Procrastination and screwing off in the workplace, it seemed like me. Just to confirm how I fit this title, I am at work writing this blog post. What a jack monkey am I!

FYI: I am such a procrastinator I have been working on this post for 3 flipping days. Jack monkey? Yes! 
Second award of the week was bestowed to me by the ever lovely Phoenix Sullivan, who I am still indebted to and need to purchase her latest book release. Yes, I said Phoenix's latest release... Spoil of War. If you haven't bought this book yet or heard of it then please visit Amazon and search for it. Or visit her blog here and catch a link.  Now to the award.

The Versatile Blogger award must first be bestowed onward and outward to 5 fairly interesting people. Therefore I say unto:

Rita Jett
Jen Luit
Writ Rams
Chad Johnston

Enjoy the award and random people hunting down your blog space for interesting facts that they can blackmail you with. Now for my seven titillating tidbits.

1. I love musicals. Yes, I'm a freak, but I used to parade around listening to Hello Dolly (and singing it) at the age of two. I know all the songs in the Phantom of the Opera, King and I, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, Cats, and more! I am honestly a huge Rogers and Hammerstein fan, a classics kind of gal vs. modern day musical. I am always open to horizon expansion though if someone has a good recommendation.

2. The quickest way to my good graces is to feed me. I am the cheapest date/person you will ever meet. Show up with food, especially yummy food (Taco Bell, McDonald's, Chick Fila, Sonic, or anything) and I'm your new best friend willing to die on the field of battle for you.

3.  I play the violin. Have since the 5th grade and my affinity is for Bach, Vivaldi, and good ol' Irish folk tunes. I can play a jig like no other and love to get a little fancy with butterflies and a May Pole. In recent years I haven't got to play as much as I would like but every now and again I break out the fiddle.

4. Getting lost is not part of my internal structure. That's right, you heard correctly. I don't get lost. Even when I try to get lost on back roads or around the neighborhood, I ultimately find a new way home or discover a road, landmark or something I recognize from a previous visit. This only leads to my destination and pissing myself off. Because let's face every once and while you want to get lost.

5. A firm believer in 'Do unto others as they do unto you'. So you like being snooty, rude, and just a general tight wad. That's fine I can be the same right back at ya. 'Killing with kindness' is a phrase designed for people who are naturally liked. I am generally scorned. Therefore, I will be more than happy to dish out whatever you want to serve.

6. My ocd complex is limited to cleanliness. I cannot stand dirt in my fingernails, lint in my belly button, or dead skin on my feet. TMI, I know. But to be clean is compared to holy so naturally I must be clean, exfoliating and plenty of alcohol based cleansing included.

7. Some of my happiest moments have been spent with a book in my hand. I love reading almost more than I love writing. Lock me in a library with food, in door plumbing, and infinite amounts of time and I would be the happiest person you know. Companionship is wonderful but people tend to drive you crazy after a while. Most of the time you couldn't get rid 'em if you tried, without hit up an 8x8 barred cell. Remember the phrase 'Can't live with 'em...'
Anyways, books and the characters within change. If you don't like 'em, you don't have to read the next installment. You can always change generes if you want something a little more comedic or with a spark more romance. Bottom Line: I like people, but I love books. It gives me a chance to pretend I'm someone else (a new person each day) and still have the choice to come back to reality or not.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fears! Do you have them?

Ever walk into a room, everyone turns to look at you, silence hangs in the air, and suddenly you feel like you just entered a conversation that secretly had you at the butt end of a joke. No?

How about this one? You stand in a group of 3-4 people. You are talking and enjoying a conversation about random, senseless llama troddle. Then Epiphany strikes and you blurt out the phrase aching to release from your lips. No one in your little group says anything, crickets chirp, and you're left feeling a bigger idgit then you thought you were back when Susie Loosey pulled your hair, and gave you a swirly during Truth or Dare at that sleepover 20-some years ago. No?

Let's just say that those particular situations are usual for me; an everyday occurrence one might say. If they only happened once in a great while then maybe I would believe it to be just a coincidence. But the fact that these situations happen to me all the time leaves only one explanation. I'm odd!

Odd is nice... sometimes. Being odd has provided me with the chance to meet some great people a la Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress, and so on. Though I find that not everyone will stick around after they meet me, the real me. I am naturally a strange creature with different tastes, and moods that swing quickly through the jungle branches.

I'm not making any sense?

I know.

Bottom Line: This year is about learning to love myself, love my writing, and stop letting little pesky emotions like rejection, self conscientious and the overwhelming fear that I am secretly scorned by everyone get me down! I'm gonna learn better grammar. <--- How's that for the first lesson?
I'm devoted to becoming happy with myself.
My new motto: Don't banshee howl about it unless you plan on changing it!
Even then, you should only howl for 10 minutes max because you could lose your voice.
Finally, I'm gonna stop being swayed to act a certain way just to impress others. I'm Landra! You either like me or you don't. Regardless I ain't am not going nowhere anywhere. <--- See? I'm learning something.

Question: What are your inner fears? As a writer? As a person? How do you overcome them?

Friday, May 13, 2011


I'm sure most of you remember the years when the internet was first getting started. I still remember my first Yahoo! Mail account and the old version of Hotmail. I can recall the droning of dialup as you would connect to the WorldWideWeb and slowly wind your way through Netscape (the preferred choice of web browsing for a short time, at least in my neck of the woods).

Now things move at the speed of light. I can watch just about anything on the Internet. I don't need television anymore or the local news channels. The news, weather, and current events are at my fingertips. These strange occurrences that make couch lounging take on a whole new meaning go beyond the simple extended pleasures of the Internet.

Land lines are almost non-existent and good luck finding a phone booth. Everyone has cell phones and if you don't have one a pre-paid version is available for $30 or less at the local Wal-Mart. Laptops are the new way to use computers. We need instantaneous pleasure for our fingertips. Real letters and cards, gasp! Who has ever heard of such things?

Physical writing is sooo overrated. I mean when have you, an author, written an entire book by hand I ask. I take notes by hand, copy character outlines in the fine cursive I learned from Mrs. Mullins in the 3rd grade (FYI: her neck was covered in moles and we used to call her Mole-ins. I know, not nice).

The idea that you could communicate with editors, agents, and authors without having to be invited to some special dinner or visit New York has all but disappeared. Thank you Twitter! Not to say I don't appreciate this new twist to events. I am having more fun then I would have if I had been more serious about writing 10 years ago.

Bottom line: The depravity of this posts exists in my personal amazement of how far technology and worldwide communication has evolved in 10 years. I am thankful for it and at the same time mystified. The changes we see now will only be eclipsed in the next 5 years, with new websites and inventions to take our imaginations and relationships beyond their current sphere. We may not be transporting ourselves in hover cars or time traveling in Deloreans, but we are engaging with others in ways that no one would have imagined in the days of horse drawn buggy.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I've been absent...

I've been absent for the last couple of weeks. No excuses, just life rearing it's ugly head, as you all know. Well I say 'Screw That'! Time to get back on track.

To lead in to that I bring you my reading list for April.

-Secrets of a Proper Countess by Lecia Cornwall
-Midnights Wild Passion by Anna Campbell **
-What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss
-Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage by Kieran Kramer
-School for Brides by Cheryl Ann Smith
-Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter
-Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean
-Bonded By Blood by Laurie London
-My Dangerous Pleasure by Carolyn Jewel*
-Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell
-Provacative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter
-Then Comes Seduction by Mary Balogh
-Scandal of the Year by Olivia Drake
-The Secret of Cypriere Bayou by Jana Deleon

Can't say that this is a bad list. 14 books in a month. That's pretty good seeing that I spend way too much money as it is. That instant purchase clicker on the B&N Nook site is killer. Unfortunately it was hard to locate some fantasy that weren't in the high genre. Right now I cannot seem to bring myself to get lost or dug in deep with a high fantasy.
Although, I have a David Eddings book that has been sitting on my nightstand for 2 years that I should probably read at some point.

*A review for Carolyn Jewel's next release will be posted on my blog in the next week.
** Midnight's Wild Passion is my Historical Romance pick of the month. For me this book was beyond expectations. I love Anna Campbell anyway, but her tortured hero Ranelaw is just about too much!