Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Story (not for the kiddies)

There are many tales told at this time of year; traditional ones around a fireplace or a tree and others new, intriguing and destined to become tomorrow's classics. I have ONE Christmas story I heard many years ago. It always makes me laugh and always will. It's not new so if you've heard it before, I apologize. But bear with me. Because I'm having enormous amounts of fun just telling it!!!

A long time ago at the North Pole...

It was Christmas Eve. And as you can imagine, an extremely busy time. For Santa, however, things weren't going so well. He managed to struggle into his pants, but he'd gained a few pounds and the rear seam split, revealing his cartoon underwear.

When asked to help, Mrs. Claus screeched like a banshee about his carelessness, his weight and the fact he kept her up with his snoring the night before. It was her time-of-the-month, and he swore if she'd had a gun, she'd have shot him dead for this minor little snag. Escaping with a safety-pinned ass and a (thankfully) whole skin, he hurried to his kitchen for a quick belt of courage. The bottle of courage was almost gone so he dispensed with a glass and raised it to his lips, only to have the window blow open at that very moment. He jumped, dropped the bottle, saw it shatter on the floor, then cut his foot as he rushed for the broom.

It just got better for Santa. An owl flew in through the open window with a note addressed to him. It was the renewal contract from the Elf Union (Local 001). Their terms had been renegotiated and where the hell he was supposed to get full health care benefits for so little, Santa didn't have a fucking clue. And if he didn't...they'd strike.

He limped to his boots, cursed his bleeding toe as he pulled them on and finally buttoned his jacket over his expanding tummy with difficulty. Making a note to cut down on the cookies this year, he stepped out to the stable, only to be greeted with sharp ugly snarls from Donner and Blitzen. Vixen had apparently chosen this of all nights to go into heat and the two males were about to butt antlers over the honor of doing her under the Christmas Eve stars.

Resisting the impulse to just call off the whole thing and have reindeer steaks for dinner, Santa managed to get his team under control and led them to the sleigh. Wisely, he put Vixen up front where the guys would scent her, thus ensuring record speeds as they traversed the globe. Unfortunately, his maintenance elf was out with the flu, so nobody had fixed the splinter on the seat of the sleigh, which promptly spiked Santa's ample butt next to the safety pins. A bit of the runner fell off and slithered through his open door into the hall, from whence a shrill scream emanated. Mrs. Claus peered out, face furious, waving a rolling pin and with the runner stuck up her skirt.

Santa sighed. He was about at the end of his tether.

At that moment, an adorable glowing angel trotted up to Santa's door, trailing a perfect fir tree behind her. "Hello Santa", said the lovely little thing. "I just knew you'd want to see this. Isn't it the most wonderful Christmas tree you've ever seen?" She waved her hand, scattering glowing particles over the tree and making Prancer sneeze. Santa gritted his teeth.

"Now," said the angel with a satisfied smile. "Where would you like me to put it?"

And that, my friends, is how the angel ended up on top of the Christmas Tree!

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday with family and friends. May your days be a lot less stressful than this particular Santa, and may NOBODY tell you where to put your Christmas tree. LOLLOL

Cheers to all,

Sahara


Pssst....look for exciting news just before Christmas! Subscribe to my newsletter and learn all about it!!! Click HERE to get a first look at something brand new!!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Have we forgotten what's funny?

A couple of nights ago, like so many of us after a long day, I plonked my butt down and grabbed the remote, hoping there was something entertaining on tv to help my mind relax. My current evening project involves beads, glue and a costume, so it's not so much that I need to actually watch something, it's more a desire to let my brain stand down.

Half an hour later, with a twitchy remote finger, I leaned back in frustration and realized that tv, mostly, sucks. There were "comedies" galore, and landing on any of them completely failed to produce more than a wince at the overloud sound track and the attempts at humor which would have embarrassed a sixth grader. In fact, I've heard better jokes FROM a sixth grader.

So I gave it one more shot, paying closer attention to the automated screen guide (whatever happened to that wonderful little magazine everyone threw across the living room at each other? The one that always had corners ripped off where someone had needed a toothpick in a hurry? Gone. Dead as a dodo I guess.) Sorry...I digress.

I finally ended up on a local public television station. No, it wasn't Masterpiece Theater, it was one of their fundraiser shows. This one caught my attention - it was featuring the work of a man who was a genius (IMHO) - Victor Borge. The Insane Dane. The Great Dane. Whatever you want to call him. For the next two hours, I howled with laughter.

And I wondered what was so funny about Mr. Borge's performances, why I was aching, bleary eyed and still giggling afterward. What had caught my funny bone and tickled the hell out of it, as opposed to the slick Hollywood sitcoms which left me stone faced and shrugging.


This man was technically brilliant, a pianist and maestro on a par with the best of the best. A musician who loved music and loved sharing it. Okay, all well and good. There are many who fit that description. But for some reason, his dramatic double take and stumble when his soprano launches into a High C that nearly shattered the chandelier...well, I cracked up along with his audience.

And there were so many more achingly funny moments. His way of talking to his audience, his use of the piano as a "straight man" or a sidekick in some way - it was amazingly funny, subtly brilliant and warmly affectionate, establishing a relationship between entertainer, instrument and audience. That takes talent. And it left me awed, even as I wiped away the lingering traces of tears of laughter.

Maybe, I thought later...maybe that's what it's all about. Talking TO an audience as if they are your friends. Not talking DOWN to them, trying to BE them, or telegraphing a joke five minutes before it's made. Not being silly, angsty, dirty or snarky. Not insulting your audience or treating them as if the only thing they have going for them is their desire to see YOU.

Sitcoms have their appeal, I'm sure. But if I had to choose between an hour of Ashton Kutcher and the MEN, or Victor Borge in black-and-white with greats like Perry Como and Dean Martin...I know which I would choose. I might just put his set of concert DVD's on my Christmas list for those times when I need a laugh to lift me back onto my feet after a long day. Because laughter does that. And sadly, today, it seems like a lot of tv producers have forgotten that making people laugh is a skill, and a gift. It doesn't come from a box or a piece of software that mixes up words and spits out "jokes". It comes from the heart and the brain of the performer.

Here's a vintage clip of Victor Borge and Dean Martin sharing that wonderful phenomenon "Phonetic Punctuation". In my mind, this is timeless, and still makes me laugh like hell. And there is some of the most subtle dirty joke insinuation in there that I've heard in a while. Take a few minutes, sit back and just relax into the moment. I hope you'll find it as delightful as I have.



Now go find some more Victor Borge clips. And spend the day with a smile on your face!!!

Cheers,
Sahara Kelly
~~~~~~~~~~~~

www.saharakelly.com
www.skprivatelabel.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Operation Shop and Wrap!

If you've already found yourself humming "It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas" or wondering if Grandma will get run over by a reindeer this year, you're not alone. In fact, there are those amongst us who begin their holiday shopping during the July 4th sales. I believe they should be publicly flogged and staked over fire ant nests outside Walmart, but that's just me. I'm more of a "it's cold. I need to start shopping" type gal.

So this year I'm sharing my preliminary campaign strategy with you all by telling you what I've found this year that WORKS and what might be worth adding to your list. The one you leave "accidentally" taped to the remote control so that hubby will find it and not look terrified come Christmas Eve because he's got no clue what you want. Gotta love 'em, but sheesh....

(PLEASE NOTE: I don't get a dime from any of these folks. That's a hint. If I'm plugging your product then dammit...send me a token of your appreciation, why doncha?)


SKIN CARE!!!  Should be top of everyone's list because we all know we need it to varying degrees. There are about three minutes in a woman's life when her skin is perfect. Before that it's acne, and after that it's menopause. So here's my recommendation. Anything from CLARISONIC. Especially this little darling... the MIA. It'll cleanse your face like you wouldn't believe. Yes, it's pricey, but this is the travel version, not as steep as the full-on Clarisonic triple-headed, rechargeable whatsit. And this one does the job. You will immediately notice the difference. Mine paid for itself when my lovely aesthetician looked at my skin and told me to cut back on my facials. Then she went out and bought one for herself. It makes a super gift, you can even find it with a 20% off coupon at some on-line distributors, and HE can't screw it up and get the wrong size. There isn't one. It comes with it's own magnetic charging unit (that's cool beans right there), and a couple of brush heads. You'll want to replace those every three or four months depending on your usage. Sephora has 'em.  This gets a HUGE thumbs up from me. I love it.


HAIR CARE!!! Yes, he can buy this stuff and wrap it. Why not? It's a little indulgence for us women who diligently try and wait until the fun products are on sale at the drugstore.  Here's my fave at the moment: AGADIR ARGAN OIL. (The whole family of products!) Available all over the place, this line works best for me of any of the ones touting the Argan oil component. The scent alone is orgasmic - it's an olfactory delight. The shampoo and conditioner are luxurious, the intense cream is a great weekly treatment, and the styling products all complement each other and you only need a little since it really does go a long way!  Indulge. This also makes a nice gift for a friend who has everything. A pretty basket, a bunch of these bottles and a romance novel with a handsome Sheik on the front. She'll love it.

GIFT CERTIFICATES?
Groan. Yeah, I know. But...consider this.  A gift certificate from an up market store will allow us to shop for products we wouldn't usually try. I discovered Laura Mercier thanks to my Sephora Beauty Insider card points. I offer thanks daily because anything from this line seems to work extremely well for me. So by all means cut out flyers from Nordstrom's, Nieman Marcus, Macy's, Dillard's, or whoever else you have in your neck of the woods. Leave them in other prominent places. The bathroom works well, I've found. Just not with the toilet paper stash, since we all know that's not a place men EVER check. A GC doesn't look quite so lovely as a large wrapped present, but the residual effects will be more worthwhile and longer lasting than that Veg-o-Matic in the box.


THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT:  Yes, there is. Especially for us beauties who have actually hit, survived, and moved on from, the big 4-0. MORE Magazine has a lot of useful recommendations and some surprisingly honest reviews of many things feminine...from exercise equipment, through beauty products, and even stocks, bonds and investment strategies. My newest fun toy is their App for my iPhone. (Siri isn't as much fun when it comes to shopping. All she wants for Christmas is the Steve Jobs biography and a new face protector.)

MORE has cleverly added a shopping list, so if I happen to see something I want to try (like Fekkai Glossing Sheer Shine Mist - it works great!!! ) all I have to do is tap the tiny list along the bottom and it automatically gets added. (I picked up the Caviar Seasilk line of hair products from Alterna this way. Sadly, didn't do much for me at all. So not all the recommendations are spot on.)  When I get to the stores I don't have to rummage for that piece of paper I left on the kitchen counter. You know how that goes! LOL So before heading out anywhere, check your app and update your list. This time of year, every little thing like that helps.

Just a few ideas for things you might ask Santa for, or perhaps even consider giving to your nearest and dearest. The whole Holiday Shopping thing isn't always a snow covered scene from an old-time Bing Crosby movie. Sometimes it reminds me more of "300", complete with the blood and vicious weaponry. Anything that makes it easier gets my vote - so I'm always ready for more shopping/survival tips. I'm done with Malls now...it'll be all on-line. At least I don't have to do the "stalking someone for their parking space" bit. That's always struck me as particularly disturbing...at night...being slowly followed by a silent Hummer...with tinted windows... EEEEEK!!!

And yes, moving to Aruba for the duration, thus skipping the entire tinsel-bedecked season, has already been suggested, btw. But thanks...I'll keep it in mind. LMAO

Happy consumerism,
Sahara Kelly
__________

NEW IN PRINT: Dragons, Dames and Video Games - three whimsical erotic comedies just for fun...

NEW IN eBOOK: Andrew Cleese and Ms Lyon - a cautionary tale about taking fairies
literally!

www.saharakelly.com
www.skprivatelabel.com
www.partnersinpassion.net

_________

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where have you gone, Guy de Maupassant?

Recognize this guy? His name is Samuel Clemens, but you probably know him better as Mark Twain. A writer and humorist, Twain is well-known for creating novels about Tom Sawyer and his buddy Huckleberry Finn. It's less well known that he wrote short stories. Some estimates say nearly 50 of them.

Is this important? For the purposes of this blog, yes.  Read on and see why.

In the course of my writing career, I've had my share of rejections. One which hurt a lot involved a series of short stories - turned down with the comment that "short stories don't sell well". While reminiscing about that event from a while ago, I recently got into a discussion on short stories with several readers and writers. I was surprised to hear the same song. Short stories? Nah. They're not much use to anyone. Who wants to read something anyone can knock out in ten minutes?

Jeez, guys. I'm about to point out how freakin' WRONG that is, in every way!!!

Try explaining that viewpoint to Stephen King. He's written 35 of 'em...Stand By Me being the most notable! I ventured the opinion that WRITING a short story is an art, and went on to point out that when an author elects to pen a short tale, they have to squeeze every ounce of meaning out of each word and ditch the unnecessary ones. Washington Irving could do it...see Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Did those little gems suck? Er, I think not! Of course Guy de Maupassant is one of the most classically acknowledged talents in this unique category. The man was a master at using few words to express many ideas. But not many read him these days, sadly. Especially not in his native French. He's tucked up on the dusty shelves with Flaubert and the Dumas boys, but if you have chance, try one or two of 'em. English is okay. LOL.

Today of course, we're more savvy. We read...hmm... Isaac Asimov!!! Oh wait! There's a little story called "I, Robot" and it's a - dare I say it - SHORT story!!! In fact, he wrote 19 short story collections. And you science fiction fans are probably also familiar with a chap named Ray Bradbury. As luck would have it, this prolific genius has over 400 short stories and novellas to his credit.

Need I go on? No, probably not, but I'm going to anyway, because this is something I'm passionate about.  Let's see... hmm...you might recognize J.D. Salinger's name. Many consider him one of the 20th century's greatest writers. Should I mention that he has three short story collections and a couple of dozen separate ones?  O'Henry is another author you probably know - in fact, there's even a short story award named after him. Most of us have run across John Updike at one time or another, and he published over 150 short stories in his lifetime.  F. Scott Fitzgerald? Yep. Dozens of those little jewels.

And that brings us to the granddaddy of 'em all - arguably the most famous short story writer of all time. A troubled lad by the name of Edgar Allen Poe. He only wrote ONE complete novel in his lifetime and if you know the title you're smarter than I am because I'd never heard of it. I HAD heard of The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell Tale Heart and The Masque of the Red Death - some of his most famous works, each short and demonstrating perfection in paragraph form. He wrote over 65 of them and they still have the power to terrify.

Interesting stuff, huh? I will confess I was astonished when I looked into this topic and found the range of writers who had begun or flourished within the short story environment. Talented, creative and imaginative, these are some of the best wordsmiths we know - and yet apparently "short stories don't sell".

Hah. That, in the words of me...crappy wordsmith that I am... is utter bullshit. A good short story is a small work of art, every bit as inventive and challenging to produce as a 100,000 word opus. Even more difficult, some may say, since it takes extraordinary vision to condense a tale into its smallest possible enclosure. I decry the prevailing attitude on the part of publishers (both print and electronic) toward the tiny tale. C'mon guys. Get your s**t together and learn to appreciate all forms of literature. Not all of us want to read War and Peace-length books, let alone write 'em. Give these writers a chance to shine and let them prove you wrong with their success. I know I'll be at the head of the line, downloading them, buying the collections and enjoying every perfect word. Rock on, short story writers. If it's not here yet, your time is on the way!!!

Sahara
~~~~~~~~~~~

Andrew Cleese and Ms Lyon - a cautionary tale about wizards, fairies and okra
     Available now at Amazon and Smashwords

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting to the Bottom of Things

Recently, my ass has been on my mind. (Okay, I've heard the joke about the fly and the windshield, so let's not go there. LOL) The reason I've been contemplating my rear end has more to do with how uncomfortable it is on my current desk chair than any off-color humor. At least this time around.

It may well be new chair time, which has led me inexorably to Google. Everything seems to lead me to Google these days, but that's another blog for another time. Searching "desk chairs" produced the usual plethora of totally boring, nondescript chairs that sit in front of all our desks at one time or another. Pah, I thought. Not for me the mundane cubicle sit-upon. No sir. My butt is worth more than Staples special clearance.

And so it began. The Viking woman in me that loves iron breastplates and voluptuous curves rather fancied this one.
It has certainly got personality, style, and might well inspire me to write some amazingly realistic erotic romances featuring Thor, a bunch of shaggy oarsmen, lots of drums, a massive horn or two of mead and a few women who should know better than to mess with any of 'em.  But...ouch. My butt wouldn't be able to tolerate the lack of padding for long enough to whip off a novella. So it was onward.






Now this one has its merits, for sure. Cuddly, comfy and certainly not lacking in padding, what could possibly be wrong with it? As long as it didn't baaaaa at me I figured I was looking at something that whispered my name. Then it hit me. Yeah, it might whisper my name...just as I was dozing off, cradled in all that lovely wool. Sigh. Pass on the barnyard bottom warmer. (Hold that one in reserve for the winter though. Some of those Nor'easter blizzards...)



Here's one, I thought. Interesting, not run-of-the-mill, for sure. The color was a tad ...intrusive? But what the heck. I'm a bright and cheerful kind of gal and this one would certainly remind my butt to be happy. Even bouncy now and again. Of course...nothing in my entire house is blue...not even the water in the toilet bowl. (Freaks me out.) So bye-bye to this one.


My search continued; I haunted office supply houses, elegant furniture showrooms, foreign design locations and places I didn't even know had furniture, let alone used it.  This one caught my eye, since I figured it was about as strange a chair as I'd ever seen. The problem was that no matter what these darn things looked like, I couldn't create a virtual bottom to plonk down on the cyber image and see if it "fit". You know that feeling...the rare bliss of finding a chair that cradles your buttocks like you wish a lover's hands would. Or might, if the diet ever manages to knock a few pounds of cellulite off 'em the way you want. On reflection, nope. This one doesn't qualify under lover's hands in any way, shape or form.


Well, it's functional. Freaky, probably as uncomfortable as sitting on a concrete launch pad for hours on end (pity the Shuttle) and costs more than the gross national product of several small nations. It would fit better in a glass and steel high rise office building full of hedge-fund advisors (or empty offices where there used to be hedge-fund advisors) than it would in my living room and oh...I do have a laptop, but I work more on my desktop. Sorry. Bye bye to you too.



And so...at long last... love!!!! Can't you just feel the comfort? The soft caressing cushions soothing my spine? My butt wouldn't even know it's on a chair and my legs would be as comfortable as they are in my recliner. It rocks, too, although how that helps with typing, I'm not so sure. I could put my monitor on the stand and since I have a remote keyboard, that could rest on my thighs. I could nap, write and possibly meditate - all without leaving this amazing piece of art masquerading as a functional furnishing.  Um...drawback? It's a "concept" piece. Sigh. Once again I've tumbled head over heels for something that isn't real.  Sort of like the time I decided I wanted glass slippers when I grew up. I never took into account arches, ingrown toenails or the fact that glass is slippery. Once again the cruel cold hand of reality has bitch slapped me - this time on the ass. The one that's a bit sore after sitting here and writing this blog, not to mention surfing around Google for a couple of entertaining hours.  Oh well. Somewhere out there is the right chair for me. Until then I'll go to fallback plan A.

Large cushions!!!

Happy sitting,
Sahara

~~~~~~
www.saharakelly.com

WHISPERS IN THE DARK - with S.L. Carpenter - Decadent Publishing, October 28th
ANDREW CLEESE AND MS. LYON - coming soon from SK Private Label Publishing

Thursday, October 6, 2011

i-SAD

Sometimes I see life as a road map. I see my road, and it's grown from a footpath to a multi-lane highway as my family's roads joined mine.

Then there are the roads of friends - intersecting, crossing, partnering - sometimes staying alongside my road for many years, other times veering off toward directions of their own and away from me.

But twice in my life there have been roads that profoundly affected mine - without any interaction whatsoever. One was John Lennon's road - the other belonged to Steve Jobs.  So many parts of my life were orchestrated by John Lennon's music. My first date; my first kiss; my initial introduction to a new home in a new country. Lennon sang the songs that I danced to as I traveled down my road. When he passed away, the road closed. Other highways came close to mine after that, but none hit that perfect bit of asphalt which ran smoothly alongside me for many years.

Yesterday, the other road closed.

I didn't know Steve Jobs; his road never intersected with mine. But the amazing vision and consequent technologies that he developed while streaking down his own interstate - those changed me and the way I think. I moved to Apple products a few years ago...a holdout and (in my son's view) a bit of a dinosaur about the 'net and my computational abilities. Finally getting lured into an iMac, the world expanded for me and shortly thereafter I realized I was now part of Apple's iWorld, with my iPod and iPhone, which were quickly followed by my MacBook Air and my iPad. 

I grew to realize I'd sipped from the legendary cup containing Apple Koolaid; that I was now enveloped in the warm embrace of the Cult of Jobs and loving every fascinating twist and turn and new concept that flowed from that amazing man's brain with stunning regularity. I added links to my home page - to Macworld, to  the App store, to all kinds of other bits and bobs that attract us members of the Apple congregation. And I came to rely on those wondrous conferences streamed from Cupertino. I drank up the statistics and waited - with a gazillion other people - for those magic words "Oh, and one more thing..."

Steve Jobs' passing was not unexpected, but it was accompanied with a tremendous sense of loss for all of us who shared his "Apple Experience". No matter what your opinion of him, his visionary brilliance was undeniable. He's one of the few men who leaves a legacy involving the words "changed the world", because the revolutionary iPhone truly did just that. It was recently chosen as the one device that has has the most impact on our world in the last one hundred years. Even if you don't use one, the cell phone you DO use owes a lot to Steve Jobs and Apple.

So now my road is moving on, past the "ROAD CLOSED" sign over Steve Jobs' highway. I'm feeling very moved at the tributes I'm seeing, and I mourn his loss with everyone. His family has my heartfelt and profound sympathies, because certainly their loss surpasses anything we could imagine. I doubt we'll see anyone quite like him for many years. He defined one-of-a-kind.

Which is why, today, I am unashamed to admit I'm i-SAD. And I'm also unashamed to admit I shall be pre-ordering the 4S tomorrow. Thanks Steve. I'll miss the sound of your wheels on that road near mine.

Sahara

www.saharakelly.com
www.skprivatelabel.com

~~~~~

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Five Reasons to be Happy Summer's Over

Last night the Harvest Moon billowed hugely in the sky, reminding me that yes, it is going to be officially autumn very shortly. And I, for one, am rather glad. So - because that's what blogs are for - I figured I'd bore you nice people with my reasons for happily waving farewell to summer. Ain't I kind?

Reason One:  BAD HAIR DAYS.

This may seem trivial to some, but for those of us afflicted with that dread condition known as FRIZZ, summer is mostly a nightmare. No matter how much hard-earned cash we drop at the drugstore, none of the products really work. We graduate to Internet suppliers, and max out our credit cards trying to get some mysterious lotion from the petals of a flower that only grows in the depths of the Amazon river basin and flowers once every forty-five years. At night. When it's raining. And that stuff ain't cheap. Does it work? NO!!!!  So autumn is more than welcome, since the dryer days require very little in the way of "product" and we don't get asked where we buried our nuts!

Reason Two: MEN IN BLACK SOCKS

Yeah, maybe it's me, but my teeth hurt when I see guys with pale legs wearing shorts, white sneakers and black freakin' socks. I found this shot of one of my favorite people, the unarguably brilliant Jon Stewart, committing this fashion faux pas. And he's got decent legs. I know black socks are probably comfortable. They don't need much attention in the morning...grab two and put one on each foot. I'm good with that, since mornings aren't really my best time of the day either. But guys? Please? Not with white sneakers? Or really pale legs? The socks make your legs look like vanilla popsicles. And even the best legs aren't going to come off looking like anything I'd want to go dancing with tomorrow night.



Reason Three: BUGS!


Do I need to add anything here? Probably not. Other than I'm sure they serve a purpose on this earth, but damned if I can figure out what the hell it is.


Reason Four: FASHION INSANITY

God knows why, but the fact that it's hot and we want to wear the least amount of clothing possible makes some of us put on things that we really shouldn't. And I mean REALLY shouldn't.  So if either of these are you, please...don't do this again?


Reason Five: FALL IN NEW ENGLAND

The tiny little bite of frost creeping in to the morning air; the scent of chrysanthemums and that first fire in the fireplace...the one blissful day when I can wear a sweatshirt, and go for a walk to see this...

 Yes, it really is this gorgeous. If you've not had the chance to experience it yourself, then make a plan to come visit. You won't regret it, I promise.

And someday, I'll figure out how to get this damned blog to look the way I want it to. Sigh

Happy Autumn, everyone!!

Sahara

~~~~~~~~~~

www.saharakelly.com
www.skprivatelabel.com

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's about TIME...or the lack thereof!

The old Byrds song says "To everything there is a time..." Clearly, it was written long before social networking emerged as THE thing to do with every spare waking moment. Now I have nothing against Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or whatever. Nor Goodreads, Shelfari, Yahoo groups, other groups and MeetMeAtTheWaterCooler.com. (I made that up, don't look for it!) All these things serve a need, and that's fine. We have an Internet, we might as well use it for some fun.

However, I find myself asking something more and more often these days...how the HELL do you folks find the time for all this??? There are those weeks when I realize I've lost a Tuesday somewhere. Others when I can't remember how many cups of coffee I had that morning. And I don't have several kids who need mothering, or extensive family responsibilities. Between my regular life, my writing life and the occasional trip out for necessities (milk and shoes), my day is busy. I budget time for getting my car serviced or visiting my MD to get my own oil levels checked. I squeeze in hair appointments and the occasional facial. I figure I'm an average woman, who probably has a lighter than usual load because I work at home. And I find it hard to get over to Twitter or Facebook and check what everyone's saying. I haven't made it to Goodreads at all in a while, other than to add a new book.

So am I doing something wrong? I manage a comment or two, usually in the mornings before my day gets into gear. (Sort of warming up my engine if we stick with the automotive theme here.) Why is it that there are people out there who post every four and a half minutes (on Twitter) or at least ten times a day (on Facebook)? Should I be one of them? Would that endear me to readers or just piss 'em off? I will admit to being a tad irked at those Tweeters who seem to think that an hour without a Tweet from them is an hour without sunshine. Here's a clue. It AIN'T. And you know who you are....

For those folks who are, apparently, glued to their keyboards, I'd like to offer today's suggestion. LET GO.

And for myself, I probably need to organize life a little better and find time to post on both Facebook AND Twitter on the same day. But then again, if I allow for some free time, I might well do something outrageous like take a walk. Or worse - read a book. Who knows? The possibilities are endless. (God, I need to do my nails! Tweeze nose hair. Vacuum behind the piano.)

Yes, Twitter and Facebook and all the others have earned a place in our cyber-filled lives. I love catching up and looking at Kitty photos. Really. Even ugly cats are cute and make me smile. I've found videos I might have otherwise missed and they made me laugh for ages. And I've kept in touch with family during earthquakes and hurricanes. The social networks WORK.

But should they grow like a weed in our internet gardens? IMHO NO!!! A small part of my day goes to "checking in". I worry about those who seem to be there all day long. And here's an image I'd like you to think about... Any questions?

















Happy Labor Day,
Sahara

~~~~~~~~~
One Knight Only - available now from Amazon and Smashwords
Suite 69 - with S.L. Carpenter - available now from Samhain and Amazon
Showing Off - with S.L. Carpenter - available now from Amazon and Smashwords



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Coming Full Circle

One Writer's Ten-Year Journey Back to Her Roots

In the silent pre-dawn hours, just before the first bird wakes up and thinks it would be neat to chirp his blasted head off, the world is unusually quiet and you can hear yourself think. Last night I did just that, after walking through my equally silent house and realizing going back to sleep wasn't going to happen. I made a cup of coffee and watched the sky lighten. And had my quiet little epiphany.

I'm back where I began, ten years ago.

In 2001 I had discovered the world of eBooks. I'd reviewed some and finished writing one, a hot and sexy tale about a couple of genies and the woman they pleasure. It was waaaay out there, totally fun and written for no one but myself and a couple of friends. Just for laughs. That was how it all began. With laughter, with fun, and with no rules or demands to write anything other than what entertained readers and made us all smile.

Over the next few years, I found myself diving in head-first to the world of erotic romance. No genre was off-limits, no idea too crazy, and no book was rejected because it lacked sufficient sex. Back then, in the "good old days", a solid plot mattered most, characters mattered more, and attention to detail was right up there on my 'things to care about' list. The sex, while important within the relationship, was not the story. It was simply an essential part of it. There is a difference, as most writers will tell you. Ideas flowed from my keyboard like manna from some literary heaven. It was a joy to rush to my desktop each day and rejoin my work in progress. I tore into vampires with two off-the-wall near-parodies. I time-traveled to Ancient Sumer, ripped into every dragon story ever written and revealed the world behind video games. I even became a whore (literarily speaking, of course.) I was definitely experiencing my bliss.

However, things began to change. As the market and the publishers grew in importance, stature and bottom line, the emphasis shifted. Subtly at first, then more overtly. New companies sprang up, some growing into mighty perennial flowers in the field of ePublishing, others less hardy weeds destined to die out in the first cyber-autumn of their lives. For the first time, ePublishers took greater control of the eBook industry, removing it from the hands of authors like me. Rules crept in on nasty silent feet, dictating more and more what "content" meant - and didn't mean. Many of us began to feel suffocated by them. And others began to channel their efforts into smaller and smaller niches in an attempt to regain some of their dwindling sales numbers; a reflection of the increased volume of releases poured out in ever greater quantities onto a finite readership. The result? I felt diminished, reduced to the level of a number, a revenue unit. My creativity, my writing...all were controlled, not my me, but by editors and publishers. Most of whom apparently knew better than I what my book was supposed to look like when finished.


Ten years ago, there were probably no more than fifty erotic romance eBooks releasing each month. Tops. There weren't that many in other genres, since the entire field had yet to germinate into validity. Back then, I could write the story my heart and my head wanted to tell. If I had to have a less-than-happy ending, I wrote it. If I wanted a wicked twist at the end, I could write that too. I could write a murder mystery one month and a Regency the next without anyone telling me either genre wasn't selling well. I didn't care...I was writing for myself and my readers, not the bottom line. I even killed off a character in one story. I cried for a week and that book got the most awesome reviews to date as you folks cried along with me.

Ten years ago, I touched some of you with my stories. But recently I have been treading water in an ocean of ebooks, drowning more often than catching my breath. I'm told which genres are "hot" (not always correct) and now regularly deal with those who believe that they know much better than authors what should be released and what shouldn't. The pioneering spirit which offered nurturing freedom to such amazing talents as Angela Knight, Kate Douglas, Diane Whiteside and Lora Leigh...well, that seems to have disappeared. And I haven't been happy with what's replaced it.


But now? Now I am once again writing for myself. I have learned that self-publishing allows me to return to the joy of a great heroine and a wonderful hero. I have rediscovered that simple, lighthearted love stories are welcomed by readers, in contrast to what I've been told. I've learned there's not a damn thing wrong with a short story versus a full length novel, and readers haven't gone away, they're still there. I was the one who went away, following the dictates of an industry which, IMHO, has fallen into the bottom line trap and left authors out in the cold, little more than nameless ciphers on their bookkeeping spreadsheets. I'm about to finish another novella, the third in a series of contemporary erotic romances. They're all set in Boston and have heroines touched by Steampunk in one way or another. They're light and easy reads, hopefully containing a chuckle or two (this is me, after all), inexpensive and sexy without going overboard. I hope. I also rediscovered the joys of doing my own cover art. I've always been very happy with the work so many amazing artists have done on my behalf, don't get me wrong. No complaints there at all. However, ten years ago I did my own. They weren't great by today's standards, but they were mine. I've learned a lot since then. Doing the ones you see here...I suddenly remembered how much a part of my writing process they were. And yet another little piece of the puzzle fell into place.

I wondered why I was tearing through these novellas, watching the words fill my screen and eager to read what happened next. Just like the old days. This morning, over that first cup of coffee, it hit me. I'm back where I was when I wrote Inside Lady Miranda and the rest of the Tales of the Beau Monde. Those little tales are still my best sellers. So it would seem that I've rediscovered the joy of telling MY stories the way I want to.


I've rediscovered the joy of being a writer in the truest sense of the word. I've reclaimed control over my work and now the only person I listen to is myself. And my writing partner, who deserves an award for standing by my side for nine of these past ten years. The next ten will be much easier, Partner!!! (grin)

In the overall scheme of things, none of this matters very much. As a friend said to me years ago "We're writing romance novels, not donating ovaries." She was right. But when they're OUR romance novels...well, the analogy is damn close.

So I'm off to wrap up my last little story in this series and think about the next one. I'll be doing the Facebook/Twitter thing when it's out. I'll go to some conferences, meet and greet, schmooze and smile. I will stand a little taller now, though. Because the book in my hand is one hundred percent mine. And if something dreadful happens (an asteroid beans me in the mall parking lot) and I never write again, at least I will have the comfort of knowing I went out the same way I came in!!!

(Cue the baby lion and sound please...Elton John's the Circle of Life!!! LOL)

Sahara Kelly

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Barbie, Princesses and WTF?

It's going to seem strange that since the last few days have seen a wedding that tops them all for splendor and then the long-awaited elimination of a global terrorist, I'm not blogging about either of those things, headlining events though they are. I haven't ignored them, but enough has been said at length elsewhere. For reference, the wedding was perfect and I offer my praise and thanks to the Intelligence Community for the ultimate accomplishment - ridding the planet of a mass-murderer. 'Nuf said.

This particular blog germinated when I got a release date for my latest book, co-written with S.L. Carpenter. It's titled "PRINCESSES GONE WILD" and it'll be available in a couple of weeks from Decadent Publishing. Naturally, while writing the book, Scott and I ran amok amongst a variety of Princesses and our research led us to Disney (where else?) and the original blonde princess herself - Barbie. We managed to write this book without offending anyone. We hope. That's another issue. But when it came to Barbie...well, I took a long hard look at her. And so, apparently, did other people.


This wonderful photo appeared - and according to the caption, shows a proportionally correct, life-sized Barbie, built as part of National Eating Disorder Awareness week. While the image itself tells the tale, it bears repeating that this "creature" is 5'9" tall and weighs 110 lbs. This is in the anorexic range and she most likely does not have a period. She would be unable to walk upright, due to her proportions. And she has no hands...

This, folks, is what we're giving our girl-children to play with. If we labeled her "Doll from Venus" and treated her as an alien life form, I could see it. But we don't. Little girls are getting a mental image of life as a woman from this doll. I really hope parents are helping them balance the complete and utter unreality of that image. Sure it's fun to dress her up and let her go party with Skipper and the crew. Imaginations are wonderful things and a child's imagination is the greatest thing of all. BUT...please let's keep Barbie in her place. She's a TOY. Her life, complete with airplane, hot tub and whatevers...it's not REAL.

Our daughters are the princesses in our lives, just as our sons are the princes. We cherish them and do our best to raise them to be happy and productive people. Let's not tarnish that by unconsciously instilling an unrealistic image of womanhood into the minds of our girls. (And dad...have that chat with the lads about the women in Playboy. Another fantasy that needs to be deflated. No pun intended. LOL)

Life changes in our world, and these days it changes faster than we realize. Kids are growing up into a life filled with techno-wonders we - their parents - thought belonged on the bridge of the Enterprise. Now they're in our pockets. (Communicators, anyone? Who hasn't flipped open their cell-phone and paged Scotty?) Our kids take a lot of things for granted since they're part of today's existence. I'd like to think that in spite of the pods, phones, laptops and 3D tv's, children will still become people who have some sort of grounding in reality not cyberspace. And THAT is up to US.

We all struggle to be the best that we can, but it's not always an easy battle. Let's not complicate that fight for our kids by presenting them with unrealistic examples of womanhood. If we're going to offer a princess as an example to our daughters, at least we can pick a real one. Princess Catherine - nee Kate Middleton - slender and beautiful though she is, exemplifies a REAL "fairy tale princess". She will live in a world we can't begin to imagine and is certainly not anyone our daughters can grow up to be, but at least she walks on two feet and holds hands with her handsome prince. She probably gets her bitch on every month, too, just like the rest of us.

So please keep Barbie where she belongs...in the toybox next to the Monopoly game, the Fisher Price carousel, the He-Man sword that makes scary noises when you knock it over, and Optimus Prime. And whatever happened to Teddy Ruxpin - and the Power Rangers, btw? Is G.I. Joe still out there? Having a grown kid removes one from the checkout line at Toys-R-Us and renders parents a bit out of touch with the current crop of giggling Elmos.(Actually I miss those trips at Christmas. Used to be able to shop for a couple of hundred bucks and have a massive pile of packages under the tree. Those days are LONG gone. LOL)

Let's play with our toys but maintain perspective. A toy is a fun thing. A life should be fun as well, not burdened with goals no human can ever achieve. Lord knows finding jeans that REALLY fit is hard enough... LOLLOL

Cheers,
Sahara

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Yeah, this bookcover is near to my heart so I'm putting it up here. Remember the title... PRINCESSES GONE WILD. Coming the week of May 16th from DECADENT PUBLISHING

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Romance Novelist's March Madness

Don't pull out your brackets, folks. (Lord, that sounds obscene, doesn't it?). This blog isn't about hoopsters or college coaches. This is about the RT Booklovers Convention, which causes its own version of March Madness in those who are attending.

The convention itself is usually held in April. And yes, it's a time of glorious insanity, seminars, panels and parties. Books are everywhere, and so are writers, readers, publishers, agents, editors and the occasional cover model dude to up the testosterone component to at least point oh-oh-yum.

But it's the month prior to the event that gives rise to this blog. My March madness is prepping for RT. Now bear in mind that I'm a costume freak. I love thinking about costumes, designing them, making them, tweaking them, tweaking them some more and then putting them away to start over because they haven't worked. Yes, I have had to create a closet in my basement and line it with cedar to hold the fantasy elements of my apparel. I can cover most time periods from the Dark Ages to Victorian. I'll be adding something definitely Steampunk-ish this year. So the first wave of madness hit last year...as the designs for THIS year's costumes took shape.

Stepping around the mounds of costumes/accessories/shoes/hats, the madness moved to regular clothes. Sadly, there are times at RT when ordinary clothing is required. Why is this so? Doesn't everyone love flouncing around swanky hotels in a gown? Or in pirate breeches? Come on people! What's the matter with you???? Grow DOWN! Find your inner child and slap wings on her. I always do. See? This photo is me last year. LOL (Okay, it's not really me at the convention. This was while I was shopping for frozen sprouts at the supermarket.)

First question has to be where is the convention this year and what's the weather like? Will I need flannel jammies or a silk teddy? (No, I don't sleep in silk teddies. They creep into places that are damned uncomfortable. I'm simply going for an analogy here. Stay with me.) Will it be cool (Columbus; Pittsburgh) or am I going to fry my ass if I step outside? (Daytona; Orlando) This year it's LA. Am I going to get my brains rattled by an earthquake? Hell, I don't know. That's something I simply can't do anything about, so I'll stick that in the "don't even go there" mental file.

It looks like snow is unlikely (that may sound silly, but I live in New England. Snow is NEVER an impossibility). I think I can safely put the fleece back in the drawer. But heavy humidity isn't high on the 'average weather data' for Southern California either. It's apparently a desert, judging from the numbers. With occasional downpours.

(Shrug. It's LA. One expects weirdness, and it would seem the weather obliges.)

So layers, silk and lightweight stuff. Good. That's half my closet. Now all I have to do is whittle it down to the handful of perfect outfits - one for each day I'm there. The ones that make me look most like Angelina Jolie and least like Mrs. Doubtfire.

No sweat, huh? Piece of cake. NOT.

By now, the Madness has increased to an all-consuming insanity that hits me at dawn, follows me around the house and persists into my dreams, turning them into nightmares where I stand naked in the foyer of a fancy hotel being stared at by enormous numbers of perfect blondes who all look like Gwyneth Paltrow. Then they point and giggle. No wonder I'm not sleeping well. I have a portable clothing rack which holds the final sixteen and a small mogul of shoes next to it. Over the next two weeks they will be winnowed down to the "final four" or, in my case, the final eight outfits.

And then they'll be ironed, folded in tissue and packed into my two new suitcases - the ones that weigh less than a butterfly's wing thanks to 21st century technology. Yes, I'll have to pay to get 'em to LA, but it'll be easier in the long run than shipping stuff. And then - finally - this year's March Madness will be over and I'll be winging my way across this magnificent country of ours to the "other" coast.

That's when the REAL mania will begin. I hope. You know the one...no sleep, eat when you remember to, IV drips of coffee as the sun rises and more hugs from friends old and new than you can imagine squeezing into a week. We do this because it has to last us eleven months and twenty one days or so...until the next convention and the next attack of March Madness.

Long may it reign,

Cheers - see you in LA!!!

Sahara Kelly

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The Facilitator - releasing March 22, Samhain Publishing
Princesses Gone Wild - with S.L. Carpenter - coming soon from Decadent Publishing

Friday, January 7, 2011

Steampunk. An inside look at the mechanisms...

I'm breaking a rule with this particular blog entry. One of my own rules - don't go on about books here. This isn't the place to bore readers with endless book promotion. However, the bare bones of the matter dictate that I can't totally ignore them, since it's what I do, not only for a living, but for the sheer joy of writing.

Recently I had my first Steampunk novel released, and I realized to my astonishment that many folks were either unaware of, or confused by, the word STEAMPUNK. So...it's definitely time to rectify that situation and give you folks a look at what Steampunk is - and isn't.

Wikipedia (and where would we be without that amazing institution, I ask you?)...states that Steampunk is "a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain — that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy." A delightfully concise and accurate definition. But somewhat lacking in...passion?

For me, Steampunk is incredibly visual. I tend to "see" my books in my head, and the Steampunk tales leap to life without a blink. I love the mid-Victorian settings - that's the Brit in me, I think - and am very happy to have my characters involved in a world of quiet elegance and loud explosions! LOL Yes, they're historical novels on one level. Publishers tend to be leery of putting them in other genres and few offer actual "Steampunk" sections or "Speculative Fiction" categories. So if you're seeking a Steampunk tale, check out your favorite publisher's historical listings. Ditto the bricks and mortar stores.

So we're in Victorian England, draped, laced and corseted, watching our hero...do what? Well, he's probably tinkering with some amazing machine. One that will either destroy the heinous villain, save the world, or fly upside down. That's the sheer ecstasy of Steampunk - anything goes!

Here's a fabulous bit of machinery that embodies Steampunk for me. All that elegant decorative metalwork, the shining copper and gleaming valves/knobs/other thingies. This is a coffee urn from a delightful hotel on the Maine coast. I don't know if they use it or if it's just for aesthetic purposes now...either way, it's GORGEOUS. And about three feet tall too!

You've probably seen plenty of similar wonders; Steampunk is starting to make its way into our world. My favorite tv show, CASTLE, recently ran an episode featuring a Steampunk club in New York. (Oh!!! Wanna go wanna go!!) The world of Steampunk costumes is heating up dramatically and STEAMCON sold out last November. Attendance at this convention devoted to all things Steampunk has skyrocketed.

So don't be surprised if you see more Steampunk books/clothes/objets d'art around as 2011 progresses. It's deserving of a place in the genre categories, that's for sure. And I haven't even touched on the "alternate Steampunk" worlds - that's for another time and another day.

For right now, let me just end by hoping this has helped you understand Steampunk a bit more. Go rent Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" for a good example. (Or "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" for a BAD one. I'm thinking Sean Connery had a few outstanding bills to pay otherwise why, oh why, Sean???) Are you intrigued? Good. Then go buy MISS MINNE AND THE BRASS PLUGGIT and have some fun with STEAMPUNK!!!

Cheers,
Sahara Kelly
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