Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Eat the Ice Cream

Long life. We pursue it with a vengeance. We diet, exercise, don't smoke, don't drink, blah, blah, blah. And what do we get? Pretty much the same thing we'd get otherwise living a life of moderation.

Moderation is the key. When I was in my forties, I climbed a mountain every weekend. It was an eight mile round trip, much of it straight up or straight down. I'm glad I did that when I could because now a flight of eight steps comes close to defeating me. Then I enjoyed and gloried in the view of the Hudson River Valley from atop a mountain. Now I enjoy the view from my second floor window. Life evens out.

My ancestors worked hard all their lives and lived into their eighties, only to face disabilities and pain. For every man or woman like Jack LaLane, there are a hundred wondering why they fought so hard to reach old age. We've all forgotten the simplest truth. However we live, we will still die.

Some like my mother who died at 31 in a car accident will have a short life. Others, like my lovely stepmother will work hard, walk, eat right and live long, only to find themselves confined to wheelchairs. She'll be 87 in a couple weeks and I'll enjoy every moment of her presence, but I wonder...I wonder about all the times she sacrificed an experience so she would stay healthier.

The destination is not the end game. The journey is. All my life I've struggled to do the 'right' thing so I'd be healthy. Instead of listening to my inner wisdom, I followed all the latest recommendations for the right foods, the right exercise, the right amount of sleep. Then I was diagnosed with diabetes. The first thing the nutritionist said was, 'get rid of all the diet junk.' Wow, what a revelation! No more diet candy or soda or any of that other crap. Eat healthy. Real milk. Real ice cream. Real food without preservatives and chemicals. And the only rule?

Everything in moderation.

Everything. No need to binge on a bowl of ice cream when you can have a small scoop anytime. No need to hike ten miles when you can enjoy a stroll around the block every day. We will all reach the end exactly when our time comes.

I did everything right. I ate what I was supposed to eat, exercised when I was supposed to exercise, didn't smoke or drink, and yet I require meds for diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, GERDS, have arthritis in my spine and hips and I'm about 150 pounds overweight. When I complained to my doctor, she admitted what doctors have always known. Sometimes, you can't fight your genes. All you can do is keep battling a rear guard action.

So that's what I do. And somedays I eat ice cream.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Changing Stories

Literature is an endless sea with waves rolling onto shore, each bringing something new, sometimes treasure and other times trash. Whatever the result, readers decide the final disposition and value. From Shakespeare to Victorian Erotica, readers are the ones who keep the printed words alive--or buried in a midden heap.

When I was first published, erotic romance was just gaining a foothold in the literary market. Readers secretly read their books behind closed doors or hidden in the safety of the newfangled e-readers slowly finding popularity with the public. Then in a flash, it seems, erotic romance exploded like Fourth of July sparklers and the new genre was everywhere. The final salvo (Fifty Shade of Gray) ensured it would stay around for a year of two, at least.

By then, the authors who'd struggled for recognition moved on to other interests. Some found publishers of more conservative romances to work for. Others moved to the new YA or NA genres. And in that weird way these things work, suddenly erotic romance with the emphasis on romance turned into erotic romance with the emphasis on erotic. The lines blurred between erotica and erotic romance to the point one could never be certain which was which--just as the lines between romance (with a capital R) and erotic romance changed. More and more ROMANCE opened the bedroom door. What was once considered erotic romance just dwindled into that no-man's land of maybe, maybe.

Now there seems to be a surge of writers who are revising their books for self-publishing and in that process, they're removing ALL the sex, lengthening the stories, and then offering them as sweet romances. It's a head-scratching moment for me. I can understand lengthening the stories as many of them were short. It's the sex part that puzzles me. If they can remove the love scenes while maintaining the integrity of the story, then why were the love scenes there to begin with? If they weren't an integral part of the story, why include them? Or were they gratuitous as so many readers thought, just so they could be included in the erotic romance category?

I have the rights back to most of my books so I've been in the process of evaluating each of them, trying to decide what the final disposition will be. To that end, I've also considered whether to leave them as is, sex and all, or revise them. And this is what I've realized. For MY books, written in the past, there is no possibility of removing the love scenes without totally changing the stories. My sex scenes were integral parts of the stories. The books were explorations of that particular aspect of human relationships. It's a part we don't really talk about, you know. We skirt around the edges with dirty jokes and sly innuendoes, but the truth is sex is still private. And secret. In my stories, I dare to shine a small dim light on the rainbow of emotions and feelings possible in this most secret, private part of life. And so...there will be no changes, except perhaps some corrections of spelling or grammar errors. What is, is. If I change as an author, it will be in future work.

I'm not ashamed of my past work or where I came from. As I've said for years, it's fortunate that there's a story out there for every reader. If my stories make a reader uncomfortable, it won't bother me for them to not read them. After all, there are so many books and so little time.