Saturday, February 22, 2014

When Life Gets in the Way

Lelia Taylor, at Buried Under Books, gave me this opportunity to blog about my favorite subject.

When Life Gets in the Way

Marta ChauseeMarta’s Chausée‘s first full-length novel,Murder’s Last Resort, was a winner in the 2011 Dark Oak Mystery contest and her creative non-fiction and poetry have won various awards. She has been published in Carnival Literary Magazine, Left Coast Literary Review, MoSaiC Literary Review and Rind Magazine.
A Southern California native, Marta has been many things– junk mail envelope stuffer, foreign language teaching assistant, boutique owner, forensic document examiner, corporate wife, mother, mental health therapist and life coach. Put those experiences in a blender and see what you get.
Thank you for inviting me to guest blog for you, Lelia.  It’s been far too long since I blogged for anyone, including myself.  Do I still know how?
I’m outing my self-absorbed and maudlin self, but I’m going to tell you how my life turned to !@$#* just about a year ago.
At the start of 2013, I moved out of my beautiful little cottage in an enchanted college town, and became a vagrant couch surfer.  On February 5, I broke up with my beau of ten years.  Three weeks later, my godfather Dennis called from Renton, WA, to tell me he had broken his pelvis; he and my godmother, Hella, who suffers from advanced dementia, needed my help.
Filled with affection and noble duty, I trotted right up and helped out for a week.  Hella already had full-time, live-in care, but Dennis wanted me to drive him on errands, fix the occasional meal, listen to his stories, and, between caregiver shifts, help out with Hella.  He never said it, but I knew it– he also wanted me to know their patterns and routines, in case things went south.
His attitude toward me was lousy. I heard him dissing me long-distance, over the phone, to his sister in England.  His sister, my lifelong friend.  “Oh yes,” he said, looking at me with a frown on his face, “she’s here now.  She tries to help. She’s fine.  She’s all lumpy, dumpy looking, but she’s fine.”  HUH?  After he hung up, I said, “I’m right here.  I can hear you, you know.”  He crafted a blank expression and asked for tea.
Hella, meanwhile, sat in one corner of the breakfast room, running her hands over her face, lolling her head in circles like a parrot on an endless grooming loop, and refused to speak to Dennis, though she spoke to and smiled at everyone else in the house.  I was in the middle of a Sartre nightmare.
Marta Chausee ClydesdaleOne morning he yelled at me when I cooked the bacon wrong. He snapped at me when I couldn’t find his tax papers.  I was too clumsy, being the Clydesdale that I am, as I tried to balance over and around the stacks of magazines en route to the garage, where he wanted me to practice opening his safe.  On the way to the drugstore to pick up a prescription for him, I called my mom and hissed into my cell phone, “I am never coming back here again, as long as Dennis is alive.”
And of course, that was all it took; Dennis promptly died.  Since then, I have been to Renton, WA, at least five times, my stays varying in length from a few days to a few weeks. I have hauled furniture, photographs, mementos, housewares, paintings, even “the old style” incandescent lightbulbs and three vehicles down Highway 5 from the pines of Issaquah to the 405 South to the beach at Playa del Rey.  Soon, I’ll fly back up to grab the ashes, then scatter them in Sherwood Forest, from where Dennis hailed. He and his life have taken over mine in ways too frightening to properly recount in 1200 words.
Though kind neighbors took over the executorship of the estate, and placed Hella in a memory care facility, the trust was and is in my care.  The house, the attic crawl space, the garden shed, the covered storage patio, the garage, its rafters and their contents were for me to either dispose of or keep.  Examples:  if Dennis had one of anything, he had at least three of that thing.  Electric generators, lawn mowers, power tools, sleeping bags, blowdryers, catalogues, magazines, papers, papers, papers.  We must have tossed out 3000 razor blades.  Suicide, anyone?
An early version of Dennis’s will had a moving truck fill up all their possessions, and dump them in the front yard of my home in Claremont.  “Do your best with it all, Marta dear,” was scribbled in Dennis’s handwriting in the margin. Gratefully, he changed his mind in 2009.
Marta Chausee GunsDennis, the pack rat survivalist.  His safe room, the garage, was loaded with enough hand-guns, antique guns, Lugers, AK-47s, and rounds of ammo to outfit every person in his little community of modest homes. Twenty-five gas masks, and 4 huge cartons of EMRs were in place to feed everyone.  Giant backpacks leaned in one corner, at the ready, filled with ratty old clothes, gas masks, mosquito repellant, and waterproof matches for Hella and himself. There would be no fashion statements after the nuclear holocaust.
Dennis was a ham radio nut, a master carpenter, an oil painter, and a model plane builder and collector.  Inside the house, his hobbies spilled into every room.  The task of sifting through all the detritus of a mad genius hoarder’s life seemed insurmountable, but giant dumpsters were rented and filled.  Bonfires blazed.  Many hands helped.
Marta Chausee Dumpster
And the year had started out so well!  My first full-length novel, Murder’s Last Resort, was released by Oak Tree Press on February 8, after two years of brutal scrutiny by Sunny Frazier, the acquisitions editor.  Back in 2011 when we first met, she all but looked into my mouth to check out my teeth and gums, impressing upon me that anyone hoping to be published had to be healthy, fit, and prepared to devote the first year after a book’s release to full-time marketing and promotion.  I also had to fill out an extensive marketing plan. I wanted my book picked up, so I got right on the stick.  It was clear to me that the best marketing plan wins.
Poor Oak Tree Press!  They got exactly 90 days of feverish marketing out of me, before my body was snatched by ailing and dead octogenarians.
Murder's Last ResortWhat is the answer?  Pick younger authors?  I mean, it’s not my poor health that tanked my big marketing schemes.  It was the health and demise of some of those close to me.
I thought my second novel would be completed and ready for edits last November during NaNoWriMo.  Not so.  I think I squeezed out maybe 1500 new words.  Whoo hoo, not the stuff  of which prize-winning works are made.
I couldn’t even produce the annual dreaded Christmas letter this past December.  It’s so bad, that friends are writing to me, asking, “What gives?”
Nothing.  Nothing gives.  Except me.  I keep giving.  St. Marta, the Non-Writer, Non-Promoter, Non-Marketer.  I brought Hella to a home in Eagle Rock, where we often visit, or I should say, I stroke her hair while her head lolls.  I look back in joy and gratitude that I had two book launches in March and April of last year.  Who knew they would be “it” for me?
And it’s really not just this.  My life is a mess. I’m depleted.  Moody and living in boxes in my new place– darling but tiny.  I hate my life and what is happening to it.  I see my Clydesdale future before me– poor, fat, old, and involuntarily celibate.  They shoot horses, don’t they?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why she writes HOT!

Hi Friends!

It's been a while, eh?  I am bogged and buried in renovation, quite near the legless lizards in the dunes habitat of LAX.  B-o-r-i-n-g.

Let's move on to something sexy.

Have some Melodie Campbell!  She's one of my Canadian writing buddies. British subjects have such a way with words.  Has a man ever said to you what one of her suitors said to her?

WHY I WRITE HOT – and Why Others Read It
By Melodie Campbell
I write comedies – screwball, caper, fantasy, you name it.  The laugh gene is part of me and always will be.  But lately, I find my fiction has gotten hotter.  
Why?  Why now, after more than 20 years of writing fiction, would I be changing my style to incorporate breathless scenes of sexual passion along with the fast action I am known for?
The shocking answer came to me, when I posted this recently on my Facebook Author page:
Readers often ask if any parts of my novels are based on real life. Not really. But occasionally I will draw from the past. This dialogue, from my current work in progress ROWENA AND THE VIKING WARLORD, was once spoken to me by a man. Lars says it to Rowena:

     "It is odd,” he said. The look in his eyes was something almost religious. “Most times when I look at you, my body throbs to lust. But other times, you are so beautiful, it takes my breath away. I see you as a thing of splendour, too precious for any man to touch. It calms me just to feast my eyes on you.”
     My voice caught in my throat. This was the most stunning thing a man had ever said to me.
My shock: In writing that fiction passage, I was reliving the past.
Youth is gorgeous.  I can still remember times when I would walk into a room and all male eyes would turn to me. Times when the air around me was electric with attraction.
And even more excruciating – those few times when a man would do anything, say anything, lie, beg…to (how do I say this gracefully) satisfy his overwhelming want of me.
That doesn’t happen anymore, at least not with anything like that intensity.  But I remember it still.  Wistfully.

There is an old adage: Writers live twice. Whether unconsciously, as I did here, or with deliberation, writers sometimes pull from their pasts to move their imagined plots forward.  
I discovered today that when I write hot scenes, I am reliving the way a man wanted me.  The power of it.  The utter joy from it.  The feeling of life teetering to the point of no return, and nothing else being more important than that moment.
So I’ve come to this conclusion: Common thought is that women read hot romance/suspense books to experience the ideal romance or carnal encounter they never had.  Maybe so, but that isn’t all.  I think many women read them to relive the giddy sexual power they themselves once had over men. That power is fleeting, as we all know. 
Certainly, my books reflect this.  Rowena experiences many of the things I once did.  I write in first person, so I invite you to slip into her skin, and experience what she does.
Relive that sexual passion.
AUTHOR’S QUESTION: What about it, men?  Do male writers and readers see their past selves on the printed page?  Do you relive your sexual past in the books you write? 
Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best this year when Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich.  She has over 200 publications, including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories, and 5 novels. She has won 6 awards for fiction and is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada. 
ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL, book 1 in the Land’s End series, ON SALE for 99 cents until Sept 30!
ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD, book 2 in the Land’s End series, is NOW AVAILABLE

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sexy Amazon Promos

Billie Johnson said I should post on what it's been like to ramp up for my 50 online reviews.  But first-- don't you want to hear about my day?

It SUCKED!  First, I searched for kitchen cabinets in the OC.  Look at the guy who waited on me in the warehouse.

Then, I nearly got creamed on the #405 North.  There was an accident right in front of me. I braked till my foot went through the floorboard, and all those callouses got smoothed off my heel.  

An hour later, as I neared LAX, my front right tire blew.  Some heroes from AAA rescued me.  I thanked them, waved a jaunty good-bye, and went nowhere.  Over and over, the van fired up, but when I shifted into gear, the engine died.  Off to visit the Pep Boys on the back of a flat-bed truck.

My poor, noble Hobart.  My buddy, my road trip prairie schooner.  My schlepper of dogs, kids, au pairs, cats in crates, from Chicago to Omaha, to Gutenberg, to Denver, to Reno, to Vegas, to LA and back-- so many times.  Hobart has always been there for me.

Manny, Mo and Jack quoted $700+.  Holy Cow, that wasn't going to happen.  Got the bill down to $265 and felt smug.  Later, I discovered my Vuarnets gone from the glove box.  Fooey.


OK, so Billie Johnson told me at the PSWA Conference that 50 reviews on Amazon kick in a whole new alorithm.  Amazon promotes you more.

I'm at 46 reviews the book is bigger and it does a little curtsy.  Can't wait to see what it does at 50 reviews-- maybe a little Irish jig, a tip of the hat.  At 60 reviews, it might do a slow strip and a pole dance.  Who knows?

Before I started my push to get 50 reviews, I had  23.  Over the past six weeks, I have received 23 more reviews by being a pus-boil pain in the ass to anyone I know who has bought my book.  I've also been posting on FB in a fever, like a pigeon tapping a lever for a food pellet in a Maslow Box, 3X a day. Chris Swinney, my media coach, says this works.

I'm having fun on Facebook.  The happiest surprise is that some people buy the book just to review it for me.  Including people I never knew in high school.

Let's face it-- they weren't my friends back in the day.  They towered above timid, little, bookish Ugly Betty me.  But now-- they seem to like my book and me.  Who would have guessed, as I cowered at my locker in my undershirt, changing for gym in 7th grade.  Everyone had a training bra but me.  My no-nonsense, German mom was unswayed by my begging and tears.  "You vhill get a bra vhen you neet one."

Just goes to show-- you live long enough (you need a bra), everything ends up OK and you need only 4 more reviews.

Marta Chausée



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Naughty, Naughty!

     Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?

“Hot and hilarious!”
“A fantastical tour de force”
“The Princess Bride with Sex” 

     My guest today is fellow Posse member, Melodie Campbell.  Let me tell you about The Posse.  We belong to Sunny Frazier, acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press.  Sunny told us she was putting us together to be of support to one another.  
     Like all great manipulators, Sunny told us she had positive intentions for us-- we'd have each others' backs, we'd learn online blog etiquette, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Only NOW does she tell us, she organized us as part of her vast fan base.  I feel so used.
     But enough about Sunny and me-- here's a hot little number, Melodie Campbell, and her hot new little number, Rowena and the Sexual Revolution.  No wait... that's not right... Rowena and the Dark Lord.

Why do I want to read Rowena and the Dark Lord?
Can I whet your appetite with this?  Welcome to Land’s End, where the men are real men, the women are scarce, and the sex is…well…pistol hot. But that’s only part of the book. Honest. 

Lordy, lordy, did someone turn up the heat in this room?  What made you go there?
I’m a former comedy writer, so I set out to write a rollicking adventure series with lots of funny moments based on the premise of “Girl out of Time.” Take a modern woman, put her back with medieval warriors, and see how she manages to survive in a primitive world using modern wiles.
Even though I write comic fantasy, I try to make it as realistic as possible. So what happens when a medieval earl sells his soul to become the most powerful mage in the land? The woman he wants is powerless to resist him, of course, and dammit, he isn’t going to settle for dot dot dot…
And you know what? A girl from modern day Scottsdale, Arizona may just not mind that kind of attention. You gotta admit, it beats endless E-Harmony first dates.

Don't even mention E-Harmony to me.  A friend of mine went on, and they could not match her with one single person!  This is an attractive blonde, with a reed slender frame-- a writer and a commercial artist. Perhaps the creative types are intimidating.  I'm liking Rowena and her world better than dating in 2013.
Rowena Through the Wall, first in the series, was the # 1 time travel on in Feb. 2013. Reviewers have called this series “Game of Thrones Lite.” It's pretty darn hot, too, if I say so myself...

Why don't you lay an excerpt from book 2, just released, ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD on us?  Isn't that what you came for?
Well, yes!  Filled with brutal, sword-swinging danger, yet sexy and funny, I hope you’ll like the Land’s End series.

Cedric moved to the window with startling speed, eyes sweeping the land for riders. “I don’t blame you for this. I hardly blame him. You are too much a temptation. I need to get you back to Huel.”
He spun back, eyes on me again. I cried out from the pain of it and I felt his answering howl, as the draw shook him where he stood.
“Damn the gods! How can I hold my powers at bay with you so close—“
He was across the room in a second, down on the floor over me, gathering me to him. The pain gave way to unbelievable release—not joy, oh no, never joy—but like a cage of pain being ripped away. I didn’t try to resist it. No, I didn’t resist his hand in my hair, his lips on my throat moving down and down. Already, my legs were moving apart, betraying the thoughtless, helpless creature I was becoming.
His mouth moved down further and I let him, dear God, I welcomed it, his mouth on my skin, knowing me, claiming me, and then…
I jerked and cried out when he entered me. He roared like a lion, pulled back, then burst forward again, and I grabbed his tunic hard and pulled. The cloth ripped in my hands, and I heard him laugh like a demon. His face came down on mine, and we were drowning, fighting for air, and I let go—gave in to the madness, and the waves roared, the room pitched, and I was one with something greater than human—
The room was still now. I opened my eyes. Cedric was sitting cross-legged beside me on the floor with concern on his face. Concern?
“I lost you for a time there,” he said. “How are you feeling?”
This was an old Cedric—a Cedric from before the magic had ruled him. I saw an anxious boy there for a moment, and it confused me. I swallowed hard. The last thing I remembered was being lifted into the night sky. What happened just before that?

Whoa, Nelly!  Somebody hand me my smelling salts... that was too good, Melodie, too deliciously good!  But I liked it.  ;)
I'm so glad.

Lay some bragging on us, Melodie.  When it comes the things you write, you wear more hats than my Aunt Hildie.  
I achieved a personal best this year when Library Journal compared me to Janet Evanovich.  I have over 200 publications, including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories, and 4 novels. I have won 6 awards for fiction.  
Enter for a $50 Amazon gift certificate and 15 book Giveaway!  Free!  Deadline May 10
ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD, book 2 in the Land’s End series, is NOW AVAILABLE! Buy Link: 
And the one that started it all: ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL, book 1 in the Land’s End series

Melodie Campbell
"Impossible not to laugh" Library Journal review of THE GODDAUGHTER

Thanks for dropping in, Melodie. You have a lot to brag about-- but I have to think about that later.  Right now I need a cold shower.
Thanks for having Rowena and me, in a manner of speaking.  Bye!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The problem with Vegas is...

... what happens there stays there.  I have nothing to write.

blurry but beautiful
I went there with a 40-year old Vegas virgin.  It's always fun to see everything through the eyes of a newbie.

When I was twenty-two, my German great auntie, Anni, came to visit my parents.  She had superhuman energy and wore my parents ragged.  They begged me to step in and DO SOMETHING with Tante Anni.  OK, so on my days off, I took Tante Anni to Knott's Berry Farm and to Disneyland.

OMG-- that wiry little Kraut had more energy than a barrel of meth addicts.  She joined me on every roller coaster, flume ride, rocket ship and teacup ride.  I was ready to puke, and she was ready to do it all again.  It was almost like that this past week, when I was the dowager chaperone to my lovely friend, Katie.
again, blurry but beautiful
First off, never go anywhere with someone eleven years younger, six inches taller and forty pounds lighter than yourself, especially if she has a sparkling, white-toothed smile, green-blue eyes and gorgeous red hair. If you want to feel invisible, Katie's your gal.

Katie made me do things outside of myself.  She wanted to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe and Burgr and schlepp all four floors of the M&m shop.  She knew all about Hell's Kitchen and Gordon Ramsay.  She knew all about which chef won which series of shows and which chef now ruled over Steak, Gordon Ramsay's high-end restaurant in Paris, Paris.

the only guy who got near me all week and that's cause I got near him     
That's okay.  I knew all about dancing waters, the Andy Warhol exhibit in the tiny Bellagio gallery, French pastries at La Belle Madeleine and where to find the cushiest chairs at the best Starbucks (in the Planet Hollywood casino, next to the Heart Bar, in case you want to eat an internal organ as your protein energy snack).

Together we discovered the many post-modernist, ultra hip and cool pleasures of Aria.  That's where the hootchie mamas and young studs go to play.  From the top of the escalators, the basement level looks like a rat hole of Band-Aid clad, stiletto-heeled whores and muscle-bound young felons.

We were too shy to sweat to industrial techno at Chateau on Wednesday night, but we did hazard a photo with Thor and the boys on the corner of Harmon and Las Vegas Boulevard.

I demand ass cheeks like this in my next life

See?  --->

We spent the last night with Nine Fine Irishmen and, as a fun capper, I pitched my cell phone into the toilet.  If you thought I was kinda goofy and  meshuga before, you should see me without my Blackberry.  Totally insane.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Russell Brand offered to WHAT?

That's what friends have asked me.  Also, where have I been, bloggigly speaking?  I guess they actually read my blog and enjoy it.  Imagine!

So many things have happened.  I got so buried in Murder's Last Resort that I didn't post about the Hitchhiker's Guide to Starbucks.  See this guy pictured below?  He was wandering around Culver City in his burgundy colored robe with nothing underneath (I can testicle to that), checking out the scene.  I watched people watching him.  NOT.  Only in La La Land would a guy like him go completely unnoticed.

On the scene in historic Culver City

Then there was the January 28 visit to Judge Judy with my friends, the two Sues.

Sue and Sue

JJ has changed

They were both excited to visit the set, but the one Sue was out of her mind with joy.  She said it was the best day of her life.  It outstripped her wedding day and the birth of her two children (sorry, hubby and kids).  And that was even before we ran into Russell Brand, who cuddled her tight and then offered to play with her boobies.

After the first cuddle
She declined his offer (twice), but she was sorely tested. After we said our good-byes to Russell, I could have kicked myself for not giving him my business card.  One never knows when one's boobies could use a little play date.

Sue and Russell forever