Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spatulas and Song Lyrics

Why can't everything be as well made as this old spatula? Mom gave me a new one with each new husband and I've had this one almost thirty-five years. It has some melty spots on it, just like me, but overall it's in pretty good shape. At least it still does the job for which it was created...

Unlike all these old songs from my teenage years that are now becoming commercials. What the heck? Doesn't anyone care that these are my going-to-get-a-Coke, make-the-square-on-Friday-night protest songs? Doesn't anyone care that these songs, these artists, were going to change the world?

Guess not. Now they're used to advertise everything from jeans to cars and everything in between. Fortunate Son is the ultimate protest song. How could they use it to sell jeans? Don't they have souls?

I don't think I like this...on the other hand, I realize some artists don't have control of their material. Not that they sold out, they just probably signed a contract when they were starting out, or lost some of their rights somewhere along the way like CCR and The Beatles.

Oh well. Even if that isn't really the case and some of them really did sell out just for the cold hard cash, who am I to complain? Time to grow up, I suppose. Real world, all that jazz.

Then again, just listen to that sort-of-new Miranda Lambert song, "Automatic." What do you think? Are lyrics really "only words" like the song says?

And what does all this have to do with an old spatula? Not much, except I treasure that old utensil in much the same way I treasure those old songs and the old books I've read over the years. I guess, to be fair, one could simply lump all these things under the label of nostalgia.

Ach! The "N" word. Nostalgia. That seals it. I'm getting old. But still...Fortunate Son? To me, that borders on blasphemous.

Afterthought: Just for grins, here's a list of classic rock songs that are now used to sell things in commercials. If some titles are tear-smudged, you'll know those were my faves.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why is Friday for Lovers?

I write two genres -- love and  horror. In my world, love and horror are sometimes two sides of the same genre.

 Take this example from the beginning of The Fee ... my love/horror story in the Free Anthology, A World of Terror: Then scroll down to the next excerpt from my women's novel, All For Love. When she first read it, my author-daughter called it an anti-romance novel. I'll take that. It is very anti-romance in places, very real, quite horrific. Enjoy!

©Ann Swann

Irina scrubbed at the spot to no avail. “Why did I have to open my big mouth and volunteer for this?” She dropped her filthy rag in the bucket of soapy water just as her cell phone began to chime.
Glancing at the caller ID, she made certain her voice sounded cheery. “Hey there, handsome, you finished with those exams already?”

“Done with the lecture part,” her new husband, Jeb, replied. “But the labs are next. I’ve heard they’re killer.”

Irina didn’t let him off the hook. “Aw, come on. You know you’ll ace those. The labs are what you live for.”

He groaned. “You bet. I can hardly wait.”

They both laughed. He’d spent so much time at school studying for his labs; she felt as if she hadn’t seen him in weeks instead of just a couple of days.

“Tell me the truth,” he continued. “How’s it really going there? I still can’t believe you’re doing this . . . I mean they weren’t even your parents.”

“Shhh, don’t say that. You know how much I loved them, even if I didn’t get to know your mom before she got so sick, well, I’m . . .” she paused and looked around the bedroom, “I’m sort of getting to know her now.”

“Things are just like she left them, huh?”

Irina grimaced. “Yes. It’s almost as if they’re still alive. I mean, your dad’s been gone almost a year, but it’s only been a couple of weeks since your mom . . .” her voice trailed off. “Even her diary is still open on the nightstand. It’s like she was just here.”

“Oh, man” he groaned. “This is too much for you to do alone. Come on home, we’ll go back together after my exams.”

“No, no,” she replied. “Its fine. I shouldn’t have said anything. Besides, you know the realtor said it might be a tough sell.”

Jeb hesitated. “If you’re sure—"

“I’m positive,” she interrupted. “It’s just a little house cleaning. Now, go and be a good doctor-in-training and make me proud.”

“I love you,” he said. “Someday I’ll get the chance to repay you.”  

Now, take a look at this excerpt from ALL FOR LOVE, my anti-romance women's novel. Tell me which one is more horrific:
©Ann Swann and 5 Prince Publishing

            The sky was overcast and the air had that pre-winter dampness that seemed exciting with the promise of precipitation.  Maybe it will snow tonight, all the kids had been whispering, their eyes glittering with barely contained glee.  Maybe we’ll get a snow day tomorrow!  As teachers we’d shush and smile, but behind our backs, our fingers were crossed.  A snow day would mean sleeping in past six; hot chocolate by the fireplace; no runny noses to wipe; no petty arguments to curtail; no tears to soothe; freedom, for one day, stolen freedom to be a slug-a-bed as my mom used to say.
            I walked out of my classroom and headed toward the exit.  Quinn hadn’t left me any more notes, but he was still there every afternoon.  It was going on two weeks.  Get a job I thought at him as I walked out.  Or go home to your wife and child.  I stuck my nose in the air and pretended he wasn’t there.
            But he was there, leaning against the Barney-purple motorcycle, one long leg crossed over the other, grinning like always.  As if he had nothing more important going on in the whole world besides simply watching me walk the short distance across the parking lot to my car.  Several teachers had commented on the good-looking guy waiting across the street everyday.  One had hypothesized that he was a stalker, another said he might be a pedophile—but that was quickly shot down when Jenny Greg laughed and said, “Anyone can see he’s looking at Liz not at the children.”  Then she’d glanced at me with flashing eyes.  “What’d you do, Lizzie?  Break his heart or something?”
            I just ducked my head and said he was the friend of a friend who wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Then I’d scurried away, afraid I’d revealed too much.
            Yolanda Ramirez caught up to me just as I slipped my key into the car door.
            “Liz … ”
            I turned to look at her face.  Yolanda was a good teacher; she and I had collaborated on bulletin boards and lesson plans.  I felt I could trust her. 
            “Tell your friend to wait somewhere else.”  Her dark eyes were troubled.  “It’s not my business, but some of the other teachers are talking about calling the police.  They think it’s weird for him to be here every day … and you don’t go over and talk to him.”  She patted my back in sympathy.  Then she hurried past me to her own car a few slots away.  To anyone watching, she could have been saying, “See ya tomorrow,” or something just as inane.
            “Thanks,” I whispered.  I’d been expecting something like this.  Teachers are notorious busybodies.  They’d let it go on far longer than I expected.  Actually, every day when I came out, I expected him to not be there.  I had lost control of the situation. Yolanda was right; I would have to tell him.
            I tossed my book bag and purse onto the seat and drew in a deep breath before starting across the street.  I didn’t look at him directly.  I sort of let my eyes take in the essence of him, his shape, still leaning on the bike.
            As I neared the center of the now-quiet street, I sensed Quinn straighten up.  My intentions were obvious.  I was finally going to cross the invisible line. 
            That’s when Luke stepped out of his Impala.  He didn’t say a word.
            I stopped in the middle of the street, the irony of the situation too obvious to ignore. 
            Quinn must have seen the truth on my face but he didn’t flinch, he stepped forward, hand outstretched, and greeted me as if for the first time in years.  “Lizzie!  How’ve you been?”
            Luke’s confusion was short-lived.  He wasn’t stupid.  He’d observed me walk past Quinn a couple minutes earlier without speaking.
            “Liz?”  His voice was questioning.
            Quinn had reached me by then.  He took my hand and was pumping it like a politician. 
            I looked down at our hands and marveled at the calloused warmth I remembered so well.  “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your husband?” he asked cheerfully.
            If I’d had a weapon, I think I might have killed him.  Instead, I chattered like a kid at her first cotillion.  “Quinn this is Luke.  Luke, Quinn.”  Then the jig was up.  Luke turned on his heel and strode the few short steps back to his car.  His face was a livid, living mask.  Why did I think he wouldn’t know who Quinn was?  Everyone had known Quinn.  We’d all gone to college together … somehow, I kept forgetting that little fact.
            “What’re you doing?” I hissed.
            Quinn’s fake grin faltered.  “I’m here to get you back,” he said simply. 
            I shook my head.  “That man is my husband.  Go away, Quinn.  You made your choice now stick to it!”                                              continued

Afterthought: Next week, another Friday is for Lovers post from a very different type of love story. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday is For Lovers ~ Stutter Creek excerpt

Stutter Creek is a story about love lost and found. Or maybe found again would be a better description. Factor in a serial killer, a huge guard dog, and a needy child, and you have most of the story. In the following excerpt, you will meet Turk, the dog. Oh, you'll meet John, his owner, too. John, a recently retired private bodyguard, is actually the "old flame" for whom Beth was searching. 

Ahh, don't you just love a man who loves his dog?

Excerpt from Stutter Creek:

     The last time, when the government liaison had said it was time to vacate, John and his crew had made a last minute sweep through the complex to make sure everyone was out. That’s when a stray bullet came through the window and took out most of Turk’s right shoulder.
     Turk was always with them, he took his job as protector very seriously. Just like any good law enforcement K-9, he had been trained to take down suspects, and search through buildings.
There were a few differences between Turk and regular German police dogs, however. For starters, his breed originated in Turkey. They were originally bred for guarding livestock and they loved their jobs. In fact, if they didn’t have something to guard, they could become aggressive and hard to handle.
     But that wasn’t the only difference between Anatolian Shepherds and most other guard dogs. Size was their most defining feature. That’s what made them so intimidating. Standing nearly thirty inches at the shoulder, Turk weighed just shy of one hundred fifty pounds. His short, thick fur was the color of buckskin, his ears and muzzle were black, and his lively brown eyes bespoke an intelligence far superior to that of the average dog, police or otherwise. When happy or standing at attention, his long fuzzy tail curled over his back like a question mark, as if to say, “Okay, I’m ready. What next?” Turk was always game for anything. If unregistered dogs had middle names, Courage would have been his.
     Back in Kazakhstan, in the chaos of the battle that had sprung up outside the office complex, the smart thing would have been to leave the injured dog and run for the chopper. Smart, however, didn’t factor in the pleading brown eyes that fastened on John’s as the dog began dragging itself toward the landing pad. Turk knew the drill, when the shooting starts, it’s time to bug out, just like they’d done so many times before.
     With only a split second to decide, John had scooped up the bloody mass of bone and fur on the run. He’d then grabbed a coworker’s hand and would have pulled him from the open chopper door if he hadn’t helped to hoist the big Shepherd inside first. John jumped in when the bird was already two or three feet off the ground. Fortunately, there was a private doctor at the company headquarters who owed John a huge favor—John had been his bodyguard on several occasions. He took care of the wound and made sure the dog was comfortable on the company’s private jet. Then he gave John a giant-size bottle of canine antibiotics and wished him luck.
     Now (at home in New Mexico), John let Turk down gently, making sure not to jar the still-stiff shoulder. It would probably always require cortisone shots to keep from freezing up; but John thought it was a small price to pay for such a remarkably close call.

Stutter Creek           
Ann Swann
5 Prince Publishing
She went looking for an old flame and found a serial killer instead.
Following her father’s death and the collapse of her marriage, Beth retreats to the family cabin at Stutter Creek where she stumbles across the path of a serial killer and winds up fighting to stay alive.

Book 2 ~ Lilac Lane ~ coming in July! Watch for excerpt next week.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday is For Lovers

Excerpt from ALL FOR LOVE ~ 
realistic romance

5 Prince Publishing

Five Star Reviews
"The drama was off the charts . . ."
"You'll be hard pressed to put this book down until you turn the last page . . ."
"I started and finished this book in one day."

All For Love
© Ann Swann 
The moonlight was seductive. It lay across 
            The moonlight was seductive.  It lay across the water like a transparent veil across a woman’s hair.  We walked in and out of the foam at the edge of the water, splashing each other and dashing about like children; we shared one more glass of sangria at the cabana on the opposite end of Playa Caracol.  And we danced, slowly, just outside the pool of light emanating from the open patio of the hotel’s cantina—the strolling trio of mariachis outdoing themselves on love songs, or so it seemed.
            “I don’t—” I whispered into his shirt collar when he brought me up suddenly against him.
            “Shhh,” he held me even closer as we swayed in the breeze and the moonlight, the waves tickling our ankles when we strayed toward the surf.  “Let’s just be,” he said, burying his face in my hair.  “For a few moments, let’s just be.”
            For three days I lived in José’s fantasy world of sun, sand, and surf.  We drank too much, laughed too much, and met on the beach each night when the kids had gone to sleep.  I threw caution to the wind and let him lead me back to his manager’s suite.  I lived for the day just as Quinn had always done.  And I told myself it wasn’t really cheating since we were separated—especially since the separation was not my idea.

All For Love is also on Audio!