And now for something completely different… a very unique paranormal romance novel

I’ve been getting into romance novels over the past year and ran across “Poisonous Whispers” by Canadian author Jana Begovic, released on Monday, December 5th by Roane Publishing. I didn’t even get a chance to put the novel into my Goodreads shelves, but you should because this unique and distinctive novel deserves wide play.

The first surprise was Begovic’s use of literary narrative style and the second, a soliloquy dialogue device I haven’t experienced before in a paranormal romance novel, both of which are very intelligent and sucked me into the much meatier story.

I’m not into past lives stuff and regression therapy has never proven out as a legitimate technique, but remember this is fiction here and the premise works so very smoothly.

The erotic scenes, dreams, past life experiences, the exchanged emails in Leandra Springfield’s illicit and ultimately destructive affair with Weylin, and in her past lives with Weylin’s own Kiernan? Yeah, they’re gonna leave your pulse up for a while after reading. Perhaps not as graphic or explicit as I prefer but, Begovic can leave you buzzing. I particularly found my eyes widening that Leandra, this stiff intellectual professional, is so deeply passionate and racy. The juxtaposition between her heart and head is very entertaining.

It’s the past life experience with Jilleen that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The narrative style shifts a little, into a very personal, intimate plot and character development that not only explains Leandra’s troubled present, but other characters in the present as well. The thing about Jilleen is her clarity, her presence, how she’s mindful, openly honest, and shows up in every aspect of her life and at the same time, hopelessly impassioned to a fault.

The poison is divinely induced, another literary device Begovic tucks into the background as “marionette strings” pushing and pulling the characters past and present alike. I actually like Weylin and Kiernan because of these provocative whispered Others. He’s the fire carrier and the drive across time that liberates, awakens and crushes hopeless Dr. Springfield.

The blurb from the publisher:

““Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

With its seamlessly interwoven sub-plots, “Poisonous Whispers” lures the reader from one continent to another, from past to present. The affair at the center of the story is an anatomy of the heart in which the heroine’s sorrow-laced journey reflects the universal themes of love and loss.”

So you get the “official” idea. Unofficially, the read is a skillful ebb and flow between the intellectual and the passioned heat across time and within the breadth of people. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but trust me, it’s a great open-ended release, the way good romance novels read. If you want “smart” and “hot,” Begovic has a good deal of compelling material to offer.

There are other venues you can grab print and digital editions of “Poisonous Whispers” (—Roane Publishing even has a $10 gift card available):

Print

Createspace:  https://www.createspace.com/6747738

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Poisonous-Whispers-Jana-Begovic/dp/1540641953

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poisonous-whispers-jana-begovic/1125257512

Digital

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Poisonous-Whispers-Jana-Begovic-ebook/dp/B01N0I1YPM

Amazon (UK):  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poisonous-Whispers-Jana-Begovic-ebook/dp/B01N0I1YPM

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poisonous-whispers-jana-begovic/1125257512

Kobo Books:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/poisonous-whispers

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/687152

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Time Dis-Mantlement

You know the awesome organizational thingy called “Time Management,” right? You setup your time in blocks, decide the flexibility of each block to get the must-dos, etc. Sometimes, however, even when we’re pretty good at it, there are intervening factors, chaos that dismantles even the best laid plans into ruin. I’ve been a SAHD/WAHD for the past sixteen years. And the best “Time Dis-Mantlement” I’ve experienced in my more organized and effective time managing moments has been: Kids.

Writers work a little differently than other occupations. It’s a rare writer who can sit down and bang out required content in 5-10 minute blocks separated by hour long blocks of meetings, interviews and other things. This is especially true amongst fiction storiers. Some non-fiction types and bloggers can accomplish things in this format a little easier due to the nature of non-fiction writing; less zen more zone. Fiction writing is mostly zen with a little zone during editing.

My own experience is that “gush drafting” (the first raw banging out pages) is that it takes me an average time of 45-90 minutes to emotionally and intellectually get “out” of real life and in to the universe of the project. From there I usually take 4-8 hours to slam out content onto the page. I need more uninterrupted blocks of time doing both parts than I do on the rewrite drafting pass (the draft I’ll take to workshops or my writer’s group after an edit pass). But the 45-90 minutes drop-in timeframe is critical and doesn’t change until I get to the “zone” stage of doing all my editorial passes (grammar/spelling/typo pass, emotional pass, continuity pass, plot pass, theme pass, etc.).

Enter The Offspring.

When they are lil boogers it is easier. Once they take a nap you have at least that drop-in time block available. Connecting the drop-in to the slam out content phase of a gush draft is tougher, but there is always nights after bedtime ensues. BTW, if you have Offpring who neither nap nor sleep at night—you’re a little more screwed.

When they go off to elementary school you might anticipate, ‘Yeah, total bonus awarded, I have time on my hands, rippee!’ Well, no. In my case it turns out because my Offspring weren’t wired “normal,” they needed a magnet school where substantial parent volunteer time several blocks thereof every week was required for enrollment. Okay, so no slam out the content time, but I still stole a few drop-in blocks here and there. *exhale deeply* But then I experienced the drop-in time as primarily scrivenus interruptus. I’d drop-in only to have to stop and go do my volunteer time or have a meeting with so and so preparing outside school for the actual in-class volunteering, meet with the Principal trying to suspend The Boy for various nonsense boys do because they’re male and my Boy has Asperger’s and ADHD-Impulsivity which meant all the dumb boy stuff had a higher shock and awe value to it. Plus, not one male teacher in the magnet school. Even with my hyper-organization OCD benders stuff didn’t happen nearly as often as I expected. For other writers with “normal” Offspring, YMMV.

Finishing a undergrad degree 15 years after a first 4-year aborted undergrad attempt ensures even fewer time blocks available for drop-in and slam out content sessions. Even trying to blog back during Offspringal Elementary schoolage is nigh on impossible. Cue frustration and disappointment and not getting much done— “I have time on my hands” turns into four to six years of ‘aw hell.’

Oh, and don’t forget all the domestic household management and chores that need doing, Mate management (or relationship stuff if she’s not exhausted from working the primary income, which means, yeah, no),  food prep, and eating.

Then there is middle school. Well, if you have normals, maybe you get the, ‘Yeah, total bonus awarded, I have time on my hands, rippee!’ If you don’t you get lots of parent-teacher-counselor-principal conferences fighting over 504 plans and IEPs, doctor’s appointments, orthodonture, finding special middle schools for the Asperger Offspring, dress code violation b.s., I forgot my homework can you bring it, I don’t have lunch, my stomach hurts come get me, Mr. Writer this is the principal, I regret to inform you, texts & emails and so on. Okay well, at least you sneak in some zone oriented editing blocks here and there. But you’re not generating content.

But there are nights still…. yeah, no. Dance or a sport that consumes up to 4 hours a night right after school, onerous homework—despite of all the studies and data that says otherwise—that goes from when they get home from said extra-curricular (or substitute for PE) to 2 or 3 a.m. Perhaps 4 am because the Aspergers Offspring has a meltdown and the school won’t honor the 504 plan affording extra time, yada yada and because the OCD Offspring tears up the entire nights work because all the letter “i”s written on the pages of homework have incorrect spacing between the stem and the dot.

Middle school teachers are a bizarre creature because your kid won’t get into college if they have the wrong color 3-ring binder and use a blue pen instead of pen using pink dye #4 for editing—it’s okay a lot of them are our friends since The Mate is a high school teacher, but even she (don’t tell her I told you) admits her stint in middle school one year was hell because of the “oddball colleagues” and their obsession with unimportant stuff. So from 6th to 8th grade homework and bizarro totalitarian regulation ensures you won’t get much done and you’ll spend your days while they’re in school waging guerilla warfare with their teachers and the school admins. Your time management skills are finely honed but don’t do you much good for your writing career, except blogging and short lil freelance bits here and there between slaying the dragonmaster school principal and the dean of discipline.

Oh, and don’t forget all the domestic household management and chores that need doing, Mate management (or relationship stuff if she’s not exhausted from working the primary income, which means, yeah, no),  food prep, and eating.

Then there’s high school. Awesome! NOW we really get to say, ‘Yeah, total bonus awarded, I have time on my hands, rippee!’

Um, no. High school means The Offspring’s pre-adolescent hormonal hoohah has kicked into full on overdrive. That means stress about college because in 9th grade the school buries your kid under a deluge of ‘every single decision you make now determines your college options and potential. Screw up here and your life is over.’ Plus high schools totally suck at providing vital necessary details and information about rules, regs, and other requirements that are sprung on you at 6 pm the night before something is happening. Add more time blocks devoted to spycraft and intel gathering, learning how to game the attendance lady, the counseling center, the 504 hell all over again. Oh, and retooling your war chest and your fighting skills because high school goes to war on your kid in a whole new way. They’re dirty, they’re mean and they use moles. Forget drop-in time blocks let alone zone-oriented blocks. And that happens right when you need more money from nowhere on demand, not announced in advanced especially when their firewalls are super hard to crack during your spycraft efforts.

Well, at least you still have those night…. yeah, no. Now you’re working a night shift job or doing the non-fiction writing gig at night because of the funding need has just gone up and oh yeah, The Offspring are going to need to pay for college and as a writer, you spent your life under paid under employed and living check to check so, no college fund like the surgeon next door has. If you’re doing zone friendly non-fict at night, yey at least your writing. But it sure won’t be fiction, will it? Uh-uh.

Oh, and don’t forget all the domestic household management and chores that need doing, Mate management (or relationship stuff if she’s not exhausted from working the primary income, which means, yeah, no),  food prep, and eating.

So by their junior year, you’re future-foward and thinking, ‘okay so The Offspring will go off to college and NOW FINALLY yeah, total bonus awarded, I have time on my hands, rippee!’

Um yeah no. Because you have a lower class income, your kid will be going to community college, working (hopefully) and living in your place. Still.

And now you’re working two non-writing paycheck jobs because you need to cover their tuition because a kid working PT minimum wage and taking classes CANNOT pay for tuition, contrary to my Gen-X generation’s experiences 20+ years back when it was a different economy.

Oh, and don’t forget all the domestic household management and chores that need doing, Mate management (or relationship stuff if she’s not exhausted from working the primary income, which means, yeah, no),  food prep, and eating.

I have a buddy my age who was and still is banging out content, selling it, blogs (free and paid), now has a real agent that does what agents are actually supposed to do that nearly all of them don’t (get you work and paid), has a full time talented editor, does book tours, teaches as a guest lecturer at universities, does a speaking circuit, participates as faculty at fancy writers’ conferences and has been making 100% of his income from writing. He has an even longer drop-in time than I do. I wanna be like him.

The difference between my buddy and me? He has no kids.

MFA Programs… the luxury, the sacrifice, and the big question

Ran across this the other day and the following excerpt prompted some questions, good ones.

George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year

By JOEL LOVELL
Published: January 3, 2013, NYT Magazine
In an interview several years ago with Ben Marcus for The Believer, Saunders defended the time spent in an M.F.A. program by saying, “The chances of a person breaking through their own habits and sloth and limited mind to actually write something that gets out there and matters to people are slim.” But it’s a mistake, he added, to think of writing programs in terms that are “too narrowly careerist. . . . Even for those thousands of young people who don’t get something out there, the process is still a noble one — the process of trying to say something, of working through craft issues and the worldview issues and the ego issues — all of this is character-building, and, God forbid, everything we do should have concrete career results. I’ve seen time and time again the way that the process of trying to say something dignifies and improves a person.”

I’ve always thought of an MFA in Creative Writing as a luxury I’d love to indulge in once my offspring are out of my house. Of course as the economy is what it is and our class position is considerably low, it’s not likely my offspring are going to be on their own anytime soon.

So, what if an MFA program is what actually what I need? I can see the value in the process, and “grinding” craft-intensive experience of an MFA program to bust through my bad habits and what feels to me like far-too-substantial sloth.

I have former undergrad pals who are finishing up their MFAs and I can see the benefits in their work. Compared to mine, their development and self-confidence seems much accelerated. But I also see their financial sacrifice and their debt load, both things I’m loathe to take on for myself, as I already struggle in a day-job that pays precious little for the professional requirements and expenses (licensing, re-certifications, assessments, uniforms, travel, fitness and skill training, etc). When I can barely pay the rent and juggle between insurance one month and utilities the next, an MFA financial commitment seems completely irresponsible.

So the BIG question is, how to find the work-around? What things can I do to come close to the process while I wait for that luxurious day when I can get myself to Iowa or some place relevant?

I’ve been here before. I moved to LA back in the early 1990’s to pursue an education in commercial music. While I was working in the woods of NH to earn the money to move, the school I was enrolled in went under after almost 50 years in the industry. There was and still is another program, The Musician’s Institute, but I was so emotionally devastated, along with other dispositional issues, I abandoned the dream, the path and the plan outright.

Back then I was a pretty committed religious person, a holdover from my family of origin. Everything I did was cloaked and enmeshed with “G-d’s will” and other bondage and baggage. When I encountered the obstacle I bailed and figured G-d was either punishing me for a lifetime thus far of poor decisions or pointing out that I was indeed nothing special and not worth my needs being provided. In retrospect, this was the worst possible decision and outcome for me. There must have been workarounds. I had no idea what they were but I never really investigated what they might be.

Since those days, I’ve watched many a young musician cut through the crap and find ways to do what they love and are: musicians. Sure LA is full of frauds and counterfeits, full of wannabes who never make it for the sheer force of compression and limited opportunities. With the advent of the Internet, however, the work-arounds seem to have gotten a shot in the arm. So here I am again, facing a work-around or fail situation.

This time, older and presumably wiser, I’ve got a book of scribbled work-around possibilities, not the least of which are some local summer workshop and conferences. Funny thing about these opportunities, my undergrad advisor told me outright, “get thee to a workshop, two a year minimum.” She also pointed out as a parent I should be very diligent to choose based on scholarship opps and genre specifics.

Sounds like a plan for this year, part of the answer to the BIG question.