Monday, September 19, 2011

The Summer I was Twelve

Two Life Lessons I Learned the Summer I Was Twelve.

1) Don't ride your pony on the boardwalk.

I grew up in the Ozark Mountains, back when that was a remote place to live, similar in some ways to how the Alaska bush country is now. The nearest neighbors to our tiny house were down a fair distance down a narrow dirt road: two miles in one direction, and four miles the other way.

When I was twelve, I rode my bareback pony to the nearest town called Morrow, which was ten miles away. We went at a gallop most of the way, and when I arrived, sticky horsehair clung to my tan legs. My long hair was so tangled, my fingers got stuck when I shoved it back. I threw my shoulders back and let my bare feet swing in time with my pony's strides. I was proud of myself, ten miles was a long way to ride by myself!

The store had a marvelous boardwalk that ran the entire front it. I couldn't resist forcing my pony to climb up on it. Clompty-clomp. Back and forth. Hop off the boardwalk. Hop back on the boardwalk. Pete's hoof beats echoed with joyful magic--until Mr. Reed sprang out of his store and thumped my pony in the butt with a broom.

I stayed on Pete's back through his amazing circus pony sideways leap off the boardwalk into the middle of the street. A slow-moving car stopped short of running into us and honked, which didn't help Pete's mood. He charged into town yards, head tucked to his chest to evade the bit.

"Whoa Pete! Whoa!" He pinned his ears back and tore through grass and flowers, throwing hoof-shaped dirt clods behind him.

People yelled and shook fists at us, "Who are you! I'll call your mother!" Like I'd answer that while clinging for dear life to the back of a pissed-off pony. (Not that I'd answer at any other time, either.) It took a mile, stampeding back the way we'd come, for me to get Pete under control.

I never rode my pony on the boardwalk again, but did we ever return to town? Let's just say you can't trust a twelve-year-old girl and her pony to stay out of trouble.

2) Take care of your shoes, because your feet need them.

The summer I was twelve, I had no shoes at all. My mother, peeved at me for destroying the cheap canvas sneakers she always bought me, the only pair of shoes I owned, told me I could do without shoes that summer and learn to appreciate what her hard-earned money purchased.

This didn't seem fair. I was a country girl. I fed livestock, chased escaping pigs, rode my pony and went hunting. These activities can be hard on any kind of shoes, but three-dollar sneakers don't stand a chance.

Okay, so shoeless that summer, one day I chased a baby rabbit out into a small field that'd been brush hogged, which is how Arkansas farmers clear fields of weeds and bushes so grass can grow between the rocks.

When I was out in the middle of the field, I stopped to notice two things: the baby rabbit had disappeared and the bottoms of my feet were on fire. Dry and splintered brambles lay so thick on the ground no grass had managed to grow, to push up through the graveyard of briars. Some of the branch-sized stems were studded with barbs nearly as big as my little finger. How I'd managed to run into the middle of this field of dead thorns without excruciating pain is a mystery to this day.

The only way out was the way I'd come in.

Thorns impaled the bottoms of my feet with every step. I had new revelations concerning the suffering of Jesus Christ and his crown of thorns.

I moaned, squealed, and wept as every step reaped thorns piercing and sticking to the soles of my feet. I stood on one foot and lifted the other high to remove a harvest of briars. I must have resembled a wading crane--that cried.

After I got out, I sat for a while on the edge of the field and cradled my screaming, bleeding feet. Then walked a mile back home on bleeding feet through the woods and down the gravel road.

I learned to take off my shoes while running through mud puddles or feeding farm animals in the rain. They lasted forever, that next pair of shoes, until my big toe ate its way out the dirty canvas tip. Even my thrifty mother could see I needed a new pair before the condition of them fatally embarrassed her.

Today, I will sometimes look in my closet and count the pairs of shoes in there. And every one cost more than three dollars.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Is Romance Writing Hazardous to Your Romance?

We all know the guy is the romantic genius in any romance worth its HEA. Our Hero, however alpha, knows his way around a florist’s shop, reads minds, and may not clean bathrooms but sure can scrub his girl’s back (among other things). But, I’m here to talk about real life. C’mon, no guy can read minds. Very few pick up flowers anywhere but Wal-Mart, if they remember the flowers at all. And if there’s a card to be had in the house, it’s been purchased by the girl.

Real women lament all the time a lack of (consistent) romance in their lives.

I’ve also heard from multiple reliable sources that men whose wives read romance reap many additional benefits and are much happier in, well, all areas than the average guy. In other words, if the wife does the research, the man wins again.

Men=Mars/Women=Venus stuff aside, it’s all good. Women may whine but, secretly, we like being the keepers of the keys to perfect romance.

But (there’s always a ‘but’) notice I said the happy men belong to women who read romance. I’ve come to believe the husband/partner/SO of someone who writes romance is in a different kettle of rosebuds altogether. For him, his woman might keep all the keys to romance, but she’s using them to open some other door – usually a door on page 147 or so.

I and, by some reciprocal property, DH, had that truth driven home this week when we celebrated our 37th anniversary. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us has ever forgotten the date, but back in the days before I was a real writer I was big time into special placemats for dinner, a steak or his fave meal on the table, and always a card and a gift on the plate. I unlocked the romance door and threw it open all the way.

Now I write romance. And along came September 7, 2011. DH worked overnight on the 6th and I was happily getting my H/h cozy. At 12:02 a.m. my phone beeped and there it was—The Romantic Text: “Happy Anniversary. I love you.” Awwwww. I didn’t feel too guilty until I woke up the next morning, DH sound asleep after his graveyard shift, and I found a card on my computer keyboard. “You are the love of my life,” he’d written. And my second thought (after a double “awwwwww”) was, “Dang, dang, dang, I KNEW I forgot something.”


I’ll jump ahead here and tell you I did get a card (a very perfect card—seriously), and I managed to disguise the fact that I’d forgotten. But that isn’t the point. The point is – writing romance is becoming hazardous to my romance health. I don’t know if that’s true for any of you. Maybe writing romance is hazardous to some other aspect of your life. I wish I had a solution for myself – and for you. I don’t – this is just my newest epiphany. I’m thinking it’ll all come down to some great truth I already know in my heart-of-hearts like: learn to prioritize or practice self-discipline. Until I figure it out the only piece of advice I have is this: find someone who, after 37 years, has seen you in so many stages he couldn’t care less whether it’s you or he who opens the romance door. After all –I guess that’s the real definition of Happily Ever After.

How ‘bout you? Does writing throw any aspect of your life outta whack? If so, what do you do? If not, I’m coming to breathe the air at your house.

Liz Selvig

Friday, September 2, 2011

GO DEEP Release

When the first book in my Wild, Alaska series came out, quite a few people wanted to know if such a place existed. A town whose cure for cabin fever is a mid-winter festival called Wild Nights, during which “anything goes, nothing counts?” Where is it? they asked. Show me on the map.

Well, sad to say, Wild is a fictional town. Wild Nights does not exist, although it’s probably similar to Mardi Gras or any given night in Las Vegas. But my version of this concept has an extra punch. After a few months of winter, trapped inside by snowdrifts, your typical Alaska resident needs a break. If the cold doesn’t get to you, the darkness probably does. Where my husband and I live it gets dark at 4:30 in the dead of winter, and light again around 10:30.

So how does one deal with the cold, the dark, the endless snow? For some it might be a trip to Hawaii. For others, a weekend of letting off steam does the trick. That’s where Wild Nights comes in.

My Wild stories always involve a turning point in someone’s life. It’s not just a wild and crazy night—there’s an emotional element to the story as well. In GO DEEP, Beth and Gavin Thomason are a married couple who love each other, but are virtual strangers sexually speaking. Here’s the blurb, and if you’d like to read an excerpt you can click here.

Go Deep comes out on September 7 from Ellora's Cave. And here in Alaska, winter’s already breathing down our necks ...

Go Deep
Juniper Bell

A standalone sequel to Go Wild.

Beth is the shy, dreamy type. No one guesses at the wild sexual thoughts she hides behind that quiet fa├žade. She doesn’t even share her secret longings with her husband.

Gavin loves his wife, but he’s tired of living in a marriage in which neither he nor Beth reveal their true desires. When Gavin sees Beth’s response to an erotic bondage photo in her framing shop, he jumps at the opportunity to break through her barriers.

He accepts an invitation to a showcase match for the amateur hockey team he coaches during Wild Nights, the infamous winter festival during which “anything goes, nothing counts.” But he’s opened a sensual Pandora’s box—Beth has some surprises of her own. When she meets Eagle, a free-spirited Wild resident, she knows he’s the perfect man to help enact her erotic fantasies. And once they go deep, there’s no going back.

Thanks for reading!