On English Breakfast, “Needs” & Goals Redefined …

Some things take longer to learn than others. Like how to get my blog posts written before 12:30am the day it’s due. But hey, gotta leave something to work on later, eh?

EB_Audio250

In any case, I’m happy to announce that English Breakfast, the second in my tea-themed sweet romantic suspense series is now available in audiobook format! It’s a short story narrated by Wayne Messmer, so it’s only a little over an hour long, and perfect for a housecleaning session or a decent-sized commute.

You’ll find it available at AudibleAmazon and iTunes. Enjoy!

have been making some progress on paying more attention to what I *need* vs what I think I *should* do in certain situations, however. Like Sunday morning around 4am when I finally went to crawl in bed, and realized the electric blanket wasn’t on. I went through my little routine of turning it on and then standing there, freezing, trying to decide whether to crawl in or not, and then for once, I decided not to. Got my robe and my kindle and read in the living room for 20 minutes until the bed was at least warmer than it had been.

And I was very glad I’d waited – it was much easier to fall asleep with warm feet. Or maybe I was just 20 minutes more tired, and the warmer bed was a perk. I went to sleep in a better frame of mind than I would have otherwise, so it was worth it, either way. When I go to bed crabby, I wake up crabby. Go to bed happier, I wake up happier. Odd, but true.

The start of a bag...

The start of a bag…

Sunday night, I’d been wanting to crochet all day, but I got up really late (like 12:30pm late) so hadn’t found time with the household chores and prep for Monday, etc. I was trying to work on this post and a bunch of other things, and I kept thinking that I just wanted to work with yarn for a bit. My fingers were just itching for it. Finally I just put my laptop aside, got on the floor with the dogs and started a new project (that I won’t have enough yarn to finish, ironically). It’s all good though. It means I’m up incredibly late again trying to get this post done, but in a better frame of mind for the 45 minutes I spent playing with yarn.

I’ve also started keeping a journal (or two) again. Finding the time to write in them is a bit tricky, but as with everything, I’ll eventually find a way to work it into the regular schedule. It really does help though, getting things out of my head so they aren’t swirling around in there, distracting me from other things I need to be focusing on. Much healthier.

So basically, I’ve been listening more to what I *need*, and doing that instead of what I think I *should* do. Unfortunately, while it’s helping my attitude toward life on a day-to-day basis, it’s negatively affecting my sleeping habits. But that’s fixable…it just requires better planning. Story of my life…

DoorCalendar

I’m also redefining my goals at the moment as far as my writing/book business goes, and trying to figure out how to organize my schedule better both for the rest of this year, and next year as well. To that end, I’ve posted big calendars on my office door to keep track of important deadlines, as well as schedules to finish up drafts in progress. Whereas my main schedule/calendar is digital, the physical view of my schedule and goals is sometimes just more motivating. I expect that as I get my daily writing schedule pinned down better, and my long-term goals defined, a lot more things will pop up on those calendars as I plan ahead.

Except for November. The only thing in November is NaNoWriMo, and I’m keeping it that way.

Next year, I’m planning some serious changes to the way I approach my writing – and I think they’ll be for the better, both in terms of quantity and quality. So I’m kind of excited about it, but I need to get through the end of this year first, finishing everything I have outstanding so I can start with a clean slate in 2015.

And now I really need to get this posted and get some sleep. I hope if you’re an audio-book listener, you’ll check out English Breakfast – the narrator has done a truly fabulous job, and I’m very happy with the way this one turned out.

Either way, here’s to a great week!


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Serial Story: Under His Wing, Part 37

This story is presented weekly in draft
(unedited) form. Each installment is available for one week until the
next is posted. Miss one? Email me, and I’ll hook you up. Enjoy!


UHW_4

Dunning Manor, Book 1

Under His Wing
Part 37

Katie watched as Thomas shifted into gargoyle form, his entire body somehow growing bigger and stronger. It was a mesmerizing sight, watching the mineral-colored lines in his skin darken, his flesh taking on such a distinctive marble hue that it couldn’t possibly be flexible, but it rippled across a body most would find grotesque.

She found it appealing in ways she really didn’t want to think about, and waited only until the monster went to Peter before she turned away.

There wasn’t any way his touch would be light – she’d felt the strength in his stone grip before. Perversely, she hoped most of Peter’s nerve endings were dead, so he could withstand being moved in such dramatic fashion.

A swoosh of air drafted over her, and she looked up in time to see Thomas fly away over the treetops with his – hers, really – burden. He’d disagreed, she knew, and that he was willing to do this for her…her chest grew tighter, and she wished for a moment that she could have made a different decision.

And knew in that same moment that she couldn’t have.

Dousing the fire with the gallon jugs of water, she covered the pit with dirt and made sure they’d left nothing else behind. Then she ran through the forest, stumbling often in the quickening dark until she finally reached her car.

Sliding behind the wheel, she drove as fast as she dared to the manor, noting the gathering clouds and lightening in the distance. She couldn’t help but think the weather was a direct result of their doings today. If druids could turn men…and women…into gargoyles and cast a spell that lasted hundreds of years on a castle, surely a little weather control wasn’t beyond their reach?

Though the spell had been cast ages ago, literally. There were probably no druids left now. She shook her head, worried that she was starting to confuse the possible with the impossible as she pulled into the gravel turnout closest to the manor and locked up the car. The sky was black now, with the moon playing hide and seek in the clouds and she struggled through tall grass and grabby tree branches, relieved when she finally saw the lights of the manor.

Which blinked out with the first long, loud clap of thunder directly overhead.

Gasping for breath, her heart pounded as she forced herself to run faster. Dread permeated her whole being, and she knew deep inside that she wasn’t going to make it.

Whispers drifted by on the wind, growing louder the closer she got to the porch. She felt fingers plucking at her clothes, trying to hold her back, but saw nothing when she looked down. Vines seemed to move into her path along the ground, though it surely must be some trick of light and shadows. She’d never been so scared in her life, and finally she fell, thick, gnarly bark cutting into the front of her ankle as she screamed.


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Serial Story: MacKenzie Saves the World, Part 26

This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) format. Each new installment will replace
the one before. If you get behind, email me and I’ll hook you up with the missing chapters!

*Note: This installment is more sensually graphic in nature.
If you are under 18 or easily offended by sexual content, please leave now. *


MSTW_4

MacKenzie Saves the World
Part 26

When she got home, MacKenzie put her cell phone and keys on the counter, ignoring the blinking light that told her messages were waiting. Knowing she should eat something even though she wasn’t really hungry, she downed an oatmeal bar with a glass of milk standing at the kitchen counter. After a quick shower, she crawled into bed, exhausted, depressed, and alone, she finally let the tears come.

She woke to loud, incessant knocking at the front door. A sharp pain dove through her head like a steel spike as she pulled her groggy self out of bed and stumbled to the living room. As she got closer to the door, she could hear someone calling her name from the other side. It took a few seconds for her fogged brain to process the voice as she pulled the door open.

“Josh?”

He didn’t say anything, just gathered her up in a tight hug and the next thing she knew, her feet weren’t touching the ground, her door slammed shut behind them and she was up against the wall with his warm body pressing against her everywhere, his lips devouring her as though she was his last meal.

On some level she knew she should object, should insist on talking things out, but she was tired of talking. Tired of fighting and trying to make everything make sense. She wanted this, wanted to quit thinking and just feel, just be with the man she loved and forget about everything else. It could fall into place or not, as it would, but this…this was good. This would never be wrong.

Sliding her hands around his neck and locking her ankles at his back, she returned his kisses, feeling his lips turn up in a smile at her acquiescence.

“I love you,” she breathed, needing to say it, needing him to hear the words, no matter what else happened. He kissed her again, and again, moving across her jawline and playfully nipping her earlobe.

“I love you too.” His husky timbre sent shivers of desire through her body, and she held on tight as he carried her to her bedroom. He sat on the bed and she pulled his shirt over his head before pushing him down to his back, and then pulled her shirt off to, flinging it across the room.

She’d only worn panties and a t-shirt to bed, and with the shirt gone, she was bare for his gaze. He looked up at her, his hands caressing her ribs and moving to cup her breasts, his thumbs teasing her nipples into turgid peaks.

She rocked her hips, earning a groan and he reached up to grasp the back of her neck and pull her down for more kisses. Then she was on her back, kicking her panties off while he shucked his pants and donned a condom.

He settled between her legs and kissed her again, his eyes never leaving hers as he slid home in one smooth thrust.

Finally. MacKenzie reached up and cupped his face with one hand, feeling more whole, more complete than she ever had in her life. She wanted to tell him how she felt, tell him how much he meant, how she never wanted to be without him again, but words just seemed so…inadequate.

He nodded as though he understood, and then began to move within her. It was the most exquisite feeling, and she arched up, her hips catching the rhythm of his as the tension between them pulled tighter and tighter, until it finally snapped, the release sending waves of intense pleasure throughout her body, the incredible sensation fogging her mind.

It was several minutes before either of them moved, and when Josh finally did, she wanted to protest. Instead she lay there wondering what she should do. Get up? Stay in bed? Talk to him about…everything? Doubt and insecurity threatened to flood out the pleasure until he came back and crawled between the covers with her, tugging her back close to his front and wrapping her up in his warmth.

“Stop thinking,” he murmured in her ear. “Let’s just rest for awhile, and then we’ll figure everything else out, okay?”

She nodded. Smiled as a sense of calm settled over her. Snuggled in closer and closed her eyes, trusting that everything would be okay, now that he was with her.

“Okay.”


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Talkin’ Books: September 17, 2014

Books Finished: 

Kindle Books In Progress:
Death, The Devil and The Goldfish by Andrew Buckley
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Comic Books:
Batman Eternal #14
Batman Eternal #15
Black Widow #7

No books finished this week, but it’s been kind of a weird week for reading. I’m actively working on Death, The Devil and The Goldfish, which is hilariously crazy fun, but I screwed up the sync on my Kindle when I was reading on my cell while waiting somewhere else, and I can’t find my spot on my kindle now (and I really prefer to read on e-ink vs. a backlit screen, if I have a choice). I know, I know. Look up the location on my cell, go to it on my kindle, and all will be well. Except I never have my cell with me when I sit down with lunch on my lap and my kindle within reach.

I see you rolling your eyes over there. I *will* fix it this week. Maybe even tomorrow.

Tues. I ate lunch at the table for once, and read comic books instead. ;-) I’m catching up on the Batman Eternal series, and you know what? I finally figured out what’s bothering me about it. It’s the simple fact that there are so many different characters, and so many storylines that it’s not only somewhat schizophrenic to wade through, but there’s just not enough Batman for my taste. I mean, I’m reading a Batman comic, all the other characters should be ancillary – Batman should appear in ninety percent of the scenes. But it’s all about Batgirl and Batwoman and Nightwing and Robin and Daredevil(?!)…and I’m honestly just not all that interested in those characters (maybe Robin, but only as he’s helpful to Batman). Especially not in a weekly comic.

So, I think I’ll cancel my subscription to that…even though it’ll take a few weeks to go through, so I’ll still end up with a few more. I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, but it’s just not really doin’ it for me.

As for the Black Widow issue I finally got around to…it’s intriguing, and I found myself rather curious about what happens next, but not enough to catch up all the issues I’m behind. That is one problem with comic books. When you get behind, it’s more expensive to catch up than to just buy the collected graphic novels when/if they come out.

Speaking of which, I have the first graphic novel/collection of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac waiting to be read, on the recommendation of a friend. So I’ll be diving into that next, while I wait for the latest issues of my other comic subscriptions.

I haven’t gotten back to Innocent Blood yet, because I’ve been up late writing nearly every night. I’m going to do my best to start getting to bed a little earlier though, so I’ll have 45 minutes to an hour to read. My print TBR list is piling up, and I need to pay some serious attention to it…

And that’s it for this week. Not too shabby, really. If you care to share what you’re reading, feel free to give it a mention in the comments…


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On Personal Associations, Silent Reviews, & Intimacy…

IAmAWriter

I had a rather brutal realization this weekend, sparked by a couple of interactions on Facebook that really made me think about what people associate with me, in particular. 

To shorten up a lot of possibly boring philosophical rambling, I realized this: non-writers online tend to associate me with tea, crochet, and Halloween. Occasionally Smurfs. And I’m sure if you asked anyone who’s been reading my FB posts for any length of time, they could probably tell you I have a deep, abiding hatred of bindweed.

All of which makes perfect sense, because those are all things I talk about or post pictures of on a regular basis. They’re things I enjoy doing/experiencing, and I tend to share those freely because there’s no pressure for them to be any particular way – it’s all just for fun and my particular enjoyment. When I post about one of those subjects, I expect some people to be completely uninterested, some people to roll their eyes, and others to engage and be interested as well. My point being, I don’t expect everyone to like every topic I post about, or agree with my subjective assessments, or whatever, but I’m generally confident that at least a few of the people I associate with will be interested in that particular topic.

Given that oh-so-logical thinking, one would think my writing projects would be the same way. After all, it’s just another creative endeavor, right? Some people will ignore it, some will roll their eyes, and others will be interested. No big deal, because it’s all subjective to personal tastes, right? But non-writerly people rarely seem to associate me with writing and it’s my own fault, because I rarely talk about writing on social media, or my writing in particular.

It’s easy enough to share stories here on the blog, where I hardly ever look at visitor stats so I don’t know exactly how many people are reading along. And easy enough to publish a book, because even a bad review is from someone off in the ether somewhere – I don’t know them, so it’s easy to distance myself from their opinion (incidentally, one of my favorite reviews of all time is a negative one – so thoughtful and well-stated that I really just loved/appreciated it).

But with people I see in real life, even if just occasionally…it’s a whole ‘nuther story, so to speak. Friends and family *want* to be supportive. I’ll hear, “Oh, I’ll buy your book!” or “I just bought your book!” and then…nothing. Which generally means one of three things: they never actually bought it, they bought it and never read it, or they bought it and didn’t like it, so decided not to say anything.

That silence after someone says they’ve bought or are reading one of my books? Those are the worst reviews I’ve ever gotten. Even a simple, “well, it wasn’t really my thing” or “it was okay, but not something I’d normally read” is easier to take – I can respect that, and then have zero expectations that whoever said it will read more of my books. Because it wasn’t his/her thing, which is absolutely fine and expected, in the writing world.

But the silence – that’s harder, because I don’t want to ask and put the person on the spot (how rude), so I’m left to wonder which of the three options is the issue, and of course, being a writer with an overly touchy imagination, I always assume the worst. And then I have to act like they never said anything about my books at all whenever I’m with that person, because anything else would be unprofessional, and perhaps even antagonistic. It would certainly pressure them to be insincere, which is generally pretty transparent.

I actually prefer not to know when people I know in real life are either reading or have read my books. Because then there are no expectations, no waiting anxiously on my part to see if something, anything will be said…or not. No angst while I try to act normal when that all-to-telling silence follows a book mention. I can remain blissfully ignorant, and everyone is happy either reading along as I go, or tossing my books against the proverbial wall and laughing with friends about how terribly bad it was. As people do.

Why does it bother me more with people I know than people I don’t know? Because writing is actually a very intimate thing for me, and I feel very vulnerable when people I know personally are reading my writing (or say they are).  I try to infuse the stories with as much tension and emotion as I possibly can (whether I succeed or not is subjective, of course). The irony there is that I tend not to be very emotionally expressive, personally. I screw up here and there, which is usually rather mortifying, but on the whole, I try to keep my “public/acquaintance persona” on an even, perhaps even boring, emotional plane – something I’ve worked on since I was a teen.  But I feel what the characters are feeling as I’m writing, and it’s an extremely vulnerable headspace to be in trying to translate that emotion to the page – emotions I’m perfectly capable of feeling and contend with regularly, but rarely show in public. And when you know that people don’t normally see you as an emotional person, but they’re reading these books that you’ve poured your heart into…it’s an uncomfortable, oddly intimate thing. And I hate being that insecure about anything – it bothers me in a big way, but I can’t seem to shake it (although admittedly, I haven’t tried very hard).

In any case, it’s something I need to work on, despite the risk of being vulnerable. I need to be able to talk about my writing just like any other fun thing in my life, because it’s important to me, and whether or not people like my stories, they should at least be able to associate me with writing as much as crochet and tea. Perhaps I’ll put that on next year’s resolution list.


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Talkin’ Books: September 10, 2014

Books Finished:
It’s In His Kiss by Jill Shalvis

Kindle Books In Progress:
Death, The Devil and The Goldfish by Andrew Buckley
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Comic Books:
Batman Eternal #12
Batman Eternal #13

A quick update this week, since I’m cutting into writing time to get it done, and I need to get back to the serial scene I’m working on…

Telling you that I’m fond of Jill Shalvis’s books would be redundant, so I won’t. Just…if you’re looking for a good, funny romance, go read It’s In His Kiss, and then you’ll probably want to set aside some cash for the rest of the Lucky Harbor novels. They’re fun, funny and a great stress-reliever.

After I finished that, I got quite a bit more progress done on Innocent Blood, which is, of course, superb and seriously action-packed. A few more good long nights, and I’ll be finished and wondering when the next one will be out.

I’m also back to Andrew Buckley’s book, and have made a lot of progress on that one. It’s so funny…and absurd in spots, but all around an insanely fun book to read. I highly recommend you check it out for yourself

Finally, I squeezed in a little time to start catching up on the Batman Eternal series (I’m way behind). There was more actual Batman in these, it seemed, but there’s still just something “off” – though I’ll freely admit it might be me, as I keep leaving them to sit, so the story isn’t fresh in my mind anymore when I get to the next one. It shouldn’t matter though…with a good story, I should remember enough so it’s easy to pick up later.

That’s it for this week (told you it would be short). Until next Weds, happy reading!


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Tuesday Musings: On Chaos, Project Distraction & Tea Pictures….

The Sweater Project - half done.

The Sweater Project – half done.

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. Monday was…well, chaos, from the time I got up (20 minutes late), to the time I remembered that I’d forgotten to fill the supplement boxes for hubby, Lucy-dog and I, moving forward to when I realized that writing a post, but not getting it scheduled the night before was a serious tactical error on my part due to extenuating circumstances, and on into a work project that suddenly had to be done *right that morning*, and then on to working on something ongoing that is…well, we’ll just call it challenging on a good day. And yesterday was not.

Here’s the thing about my whole stress-ridden Monday: sure, there were a few annoyances out of my control, but most of it could have been avoided had I just stayed organized *before* Monday hit. I could have scheduled my post the night before, like normal. I could have filled the supplement boxes Sunday night. I could have gotten to bed on time, so I didn’t sleep through that extra 20 minutes, and the work project that was all of a sudden due yesterday morning? I knew about it/had the information I needed and could have gotten it done a couple weeks ago so it was ready and waiting (which was the initial plan). I just let it get pushed aside for other things one too many times.

All too often, personal chaos is avoidable with a little forward thinking and discipline. And when I learn how to be consistent with that, I’ll write a book about it and make a million bucks. Until then, well, I’ll occasionally have majorly chaotic days. Though I did modify my schedule somewhat to account for a few of the things I missed last weekend, and this post will be neatly scheduled before I go to bed Monday night.

Part of the reason I was distracted this weekend was that last week, I broke down and splurged on some hand-dyed/handspun wool yarn from a friend in Wyoming. It came in the mail last Friday, and as soon as I saw/felt it, I knew I wanted to work with it right away – no stash time for this yarn. Long story short, I decided to make a sweater (my first – progress pictured above), and spent most of my weekend modifying a pattern to work with the amount of yarn I bought and then crocheting one entire side and part of the other (chunky yarn + a big hook = quick project). Sunday night, I was faced with a dilemma. I could finish the sweater and push back all the prep work for Monday, or set the sweater aside and get my less interesting household & book/blog tasks done.

I begrudgingly put the sweater aside, and decided to get to work. But I didn’t actually get anything done. I tried to start my blog post several times, but had no idea what to write. Tried to find a book sample to send to a narrator, couldn’t, gave up. Thought about starting some promo art or a cover for the draft I just finished, and just…didn’t.

I should have just finished the dang sweater. My mind is like that. When I know I’m close to finishing a project, I just want to focus on that and get it done, to the exclusion of all else. It’s like that with drafts, work projects, crochet projects, household projects…you name it, if I’m near the end, I want it done and over with, yesterday. And I can’t really focus on anything else until I get that particular project done. I know this…and yet, I still persist in working against my natural inclinations…and it never ends well.

Can I say definitively that if I’d finished the sweater, I might have been more focused in doing the other tasks afterward, for less chaos on Monday? No, I can’t…but I suspect that would have been the outcome. Someday maybe I’ll remember I wanted to test that theory and actually find out…

Now for something completely unrelated, but interesting nonetheless, in my opinion.

I’ve finally jumped into the Instagram web space (just JamieDeBree if you want to look me up there – because I’m original like that), now that I have a cell, and that makes taking/uploading photos incredibly easy. As a text-loving geek, I’m doing my level best to find my way in an increasingly image-ridden world, and as a tea-snob/lover, I’m also trying to work my way through a bunch of monthly subscription teas that have been piling up on my counter. So I started posting a tea break photo in the evenings when I make tea before I come back to my office to work.

Odd though it may be, the tea photos actually seem to be the most popular pictures I post. Isn’t that crazy, especially given the number of people who seem to truly hate food photos of any kind? Apparently, a lot of people like the looks of a good cuppa, and I can’t say I blame ‘em. Still, kinda weird. But cool.

2014-09-08 22.49.58-1

And on that note, here’s to a far less chaotic Tuesday all around, eh?


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Talkin’ Books: September 3, 2014

Books Finished:
Red, White, & Blue: The Complete Firefighter Collection by Jill Shalvis

Kindle Books In Progress:
It’s In His Kiss by Jill Shalvis
Death, The Devil and The Goldfish by Andrew Buckley
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Comic Books:
Harley Quinn #9
The Amazing Spider-Man #2
Afterlife with Archie #1

Jill Shalvis’s book are like crack to me, but you already knew that. So it should come as no surprise that I finished the collection I was working on and immediately opened up the latest of hers (It’s In His Kiss). Yes, I know. It’s a sickness. I can’t help it. I do tend to plow through them fairly quickly though, so I’ll be back to Andrew Buckley’s novel very soon.

I’m now pretty much exactly half-way through Innocent Blood, and if it wasn’t a print copy, I’d probably be plowing through that one pretty quick too. I only read print when I manage to get to bed before my husband turns out the light, which isn’t all that often, especially when I’m writing late as I’ve been doing more of these days.

As for comic books, I finally read the 2nd issue of the new Amazing Spider-Man reboot, and dang it, I like it more than I thought I would. So now I’m like 5 issues behind (because I was sure I wouldn’t like it after Superior ended, so I didn’t rush to read it).  I hate having to catch up, but next time I’m at the comic shop, I’ll add Spidey to my pull list and try to find the issues I missed. *sigh*

I also caught up with Harley Quinn, which was just cute and too funny. And I checked out the first Afterlife with Archie comic, because…Archie & zombies?! It was actually pretty darn fun, and the illustrations are pulpish, which adds to the noir feel of the whole thing. I might pick up the collected series someday when I’m feeling flush, just for fun.

So…a good reading week, to be sure. What are you reading lately? Anything fun/interesting/enlightening?


 

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Monday Musings: On Cold Sheets, Warm Bodies & “Knowing” People…

I hate cold sheets.

While I pull the bed sort of together in the mornings before work, it’s by no means “made”. My husband and I do that at night, generally when  he’s ready for bed (he normally goes to bed earlier than I do). We straighten the sheets, pull up and straighten the blankets, and then before I leave, I turn on my side of the electric blanket to preheat my side of the bed (the blanket actually has a preheat function – I adore that thing).

On the weekends though, I sometimes forget to hit that preheat button – most often on Saturday nights when I’m getting ready to do my nails for the week. When I finally get into the bedroom around 3 or 4am and realize that the light for my side of the electric blanket isn’t on, I have a serious quandary on my hands: do I hit the preheat button and go read for half an hour, or slide into those freezing cold sheets and wait miserably for the blanket to warm me up?

I’m generally so tired at that point that I end up crawling in…and regretting every second of the decision for the next half hour while I lay there shivering and waiting for the blanket to heat up. No, I’m not mean enough to wake my husband up with my cold self, though the thought has definitely crossed my mind. Every time, I swear that next time I’ll just hit the preheat button and go read for awhile. And every time, I make the same stupid decision to crawl into those cold sheets anyways. Apparently I’ve got a bit of a masochistic streak, eh?

And yes, this is one of the things I hate about traveling too. No heater blanket = cold sheets every freakin’ night. It’s like punishment for being away from home!

In any case, this past weekend I was also pondering warm bodies vs. the sort of “mind melding” we do on social media with people we are unlikely to ever meet in real life. There are two people I “know” that my mind sort of melds into one “character”, if you will. One person I know only through online conversations, and the other I know only in real life. The online friend is like most online friends in that I know how they think, how they reason, how they feel about things, because online, that’s how you connect. I feel close to them because I know what’s going on in their head, even though I may not know their mannerisms or what they look like or even what their real name is. I feel connected because of an intellectual bond that is based solely on our shared philosophies and perspectives.

In contrast, I know a lot of people in real life that I don’t “know” well at all, as far as how they feel about certain subjects, though I generally have some idea of how they think and reason in general (I wouldn’t feel as though I “know” them otherwise). But I feel like I “know” them just as well as those I know online due to the physical connection to them – I’ve been around them long enough to know their voice, their expressions, their mannerisms, their moods just based on body language. It gives me a certain perspective that makes me feel like I know how they think and feel, even though we haven’t shared that sort of “mind meld” that online friendships are built around.

When I was thinking about this, and wondering why my mind automatically melded these two people together into one in my head, I realized that with both of these people I only have half the equation to draw from. I have the “mind meld” with one that allows me to know what’s going on inside without any knowledge of the outside, and with the other, I have all the outward, physical pieces that give me clues to what’s on the inside, but I don’t have enough of a mental connection to know what’s actually going on behind the elaborate window-display, so to speak.

My brain, being the helpful (?) thing it is, for some reason has decided that there are enough apparent similarities between these two people that they might as well make one whole person in my head. It’s an odd thing, because there are just enough apparent contrasts between the two people that it strikes a bit of cognitive dissonance now when I’m interacting with either one of them, especially when one does or says something that the mashed-up character in my head is at odds with.

It’s a weird problem to have. I’ve always thought that getting to know someone online was a better way to get to know the “real person”, because you’re getting to know the inside, and that’s the most important part, right? Now I’m not so sure though – increasingly I’m thinking that you can’t really know someone as a whole unless you have that whole picture of not only what they’re thinking/feeling, but the body language and physical/visual connection that goes with it.

Am I saying that appearance matters, then? Yes, I think I am. Not so much in an attractive vs. unattractive way, but more in an eye contact, expressions, mannerisms and just “movement” sort of way. I’m starting to think that unless we know both the the inside and outside of a person, we can’t truly ever know them as a “whole self”, because it all works together to make us who we are. What we look like even changes how we act sometimes – how we do our hair, whether we wear makeup or not, how we choose to dress, etc. And I think one could make the argument that it can change who we are inside, even if just a temporary change.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the partial relationships we develop online and off are going to be the majority in life, and there’s nothing really wrong with that. We can’t possibly get to know everyone we meet on that “complete” inside/outside as a whole level. I just think we get sort of deluded into thinking we “know” people online on a level that we really can’t, because we aren’t around them physically to pick up on the body language that rounds out the experience of who they actually are as a whole. And I think sometimes we think we know people in real life that we really don’t, because we’re so familiar with their physical presence and we extrapolate deeper meaning from that filtered through our own perspective.

The moral of the “story”, then? I don’t know if there really is one, aside from being cautious not to assume we know people online or off better than we actually do. Because odds are good we don’t have the whole story either way, except for those rare individuals that we connect with and really get to “know” on both the physical and mental levels.

Deep thoughts for a holiday Monday, eh?  And they all started with me thinking about cold sheets. The mind is a fascinating place…


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Talkin’ Books: August 27, 2014

Books Finished:
White Heat (?) by Jill Shalvis

Kindle Books In Progress:
Red, White, & Blue: The Complete Firefighter Collection by Jill Shalvis
Death, The Devil and The Goldfish by Andrew Buckley
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Comic Books:
The Sandman Overture #3
Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International
Harley Quinn #8
Batman Eternal #11

Oh look! I got caught up on a few comic books this week, finally!

I have to say, as odd as The Sandman Overture series is, it’s definitely growing on me. Gaiman pretty much defies genre, but I suppose literary fantasy would probably define it best. Three books in, I’m finally feeling less disoriented and more comfortable in the world he’s created, and more like I have at least as much inkling of what’s going on as the characters do (which is to say…sort of, but not much). It’s pretty fascinating, really, and the artwork is amazing as well.

Harley Quinn is, as always, an adorably violent imp and I get entirely too much pleasure out of watching her smash people with that huge mallet of hers. Yes, I realize that says more about me than her. And yes, hers is another comic book I really enjoy for the artwork just as much as the stories. The comic-con issue was sort of…meh – I think it made her look more scatterbrained than normal, but the regular issue was fun. I have another waiting, and there’s yet another one out this week, so better keep up!

I only had time for one Batman Eternal, which is bad because I’m really behind on that weekly series, but thankfully even after so much time away I was still able to jump right back into the story. And there was still a conspicuous lack of…Batman in the issue. I mean, he was there, but he just doesn’t seem all that prominent for a comic in which he’s supposed to be the lead character, you know? I kind of want to rush through the rest just to see if it persists. I have a lot of writing to do over the long holiday weekend, but maybe I can spare a few hours to get caught up on his story…

I also finished the second book in the Shalvis collection, which I think was White Heat (and is available singularly if you want to look it up). So I’m working on the third, Blue Flame – so far, so fun, as all Jill’s books are. Her latest Lucky Harbor book came out yesterday (It’s In His Kiss), and shameless addict that I am, I grabbed a copy for my kindle right away. So that’s waiting for me to inhale as well.

I also bought a few more books this week by Lia London (who I’ve been meaning to read for awhile now), Minnie Lahongrais, and Glenn Starkey, my two housemates at Black Wolf Print. So those are all on the TBR list now as well, and they all sound really good. Plenty to keep me busy for awhile!

Obviously I need to finish Innocent Blood as well. I’m getting my late night writing habit reset, but once I get that done I should be able to head to bed a little earlier so I have more time with the print books on my nightstand. I have a huge stack of them…just as well hubby’s actually been reading books on his kindle for awhile now (I know! Shocking!)…gives me a little time to catch up with the print pile.

I may need a reading vacation one of these days though. You know. Strictly in the interest of not letting the TBR piles get *too* out of hand…


 

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