The First Love is Now Available on Audible! :-)

If you enjoy a bit of an age gap lesfic romance with travels to France, and characters from the US, Ireland, France, and Amsterdam, you will enjoy the audio version of my first novel length book, The First Love! Narrator, Lucy Emerson, does a great job at bringing a range of characters to life.

When her mom enrolls Calli in an equestrian riding class with a bunch of boys nearly half her age, Calli is miserable…until she realizes there is something different about her instructor, Justine. While young Calli is learning what love is about, Justine goes after her ambitions with promises to return. 20 years after their initial meeting, Calli goes to France to write, knowing that is the last known location she has of Justine, even though she has no idea if she still lives there or how to even find her. Is anyone ever truly free of their first love?

Please click here to be taken to Audible to pick up your copy or here to find it on Amazon! 🙂

The Divine Order(Die göttliche Ordnung) (2017)(Foreign Film Review)

photo credit from Amazon.com

Even though I prefer to focus on foreign films depicting lesbians, this movie needs to be recognized for its credit to the suffragettes who stood up in the face of opposition, faced arrest, alienation, separation, abuse, mockery, and all else unimaginable so that woman today can enjoy the rights we do.

Nora ( Marie Leuenberger) is a housewife and mother of two boys in Switzerland in 1971. The story begins by explaining that while the world was changing, their town remained unaware. Nora’s life, along with every other woman in the small town, was to be a mother and a housewife, which included taking care of her husband’s narrow-minded father. Women were often not made aware of their home’s financial stability, so in some cases when their husbands passed away, the women were forced to sell their possessions and/or property.

On a visit to town, a suffragette hands her some information on women’s rights to vote and after first dismissing the idea, decides she’d like to know more about it. Meanwhile, a female elder in her town is raising money against the cause and vehemently opposes women’s rights, stating that it is against the bible and that the men should be the ones making all the decisions. Nora alone speaks up. She wants the right to vote.

One by one, other women join her. On the path to independence, some really fun and funny things take place, and of course some things that aren’t so great happen. I did find the movie to be more light and uplifting rather than difficult to watch.

The movie is not only about women wanting to vote, it is also about becoming independent in thought, becoming involved in one’s community, asking for value of opinion. It’s about having the courage to stand up when others, even your own spouse, opposes you.

These women did the dirty work so that we women today can enjoy the freedom and laws to demand equal pay, voting, working, living independently…

We are not yet there in all the ways we should be, but I think it’s important and also inspiring to remember what some women sacrificed in order to obtain the opportunities we now enjoy.

Even though this movie didn’t take place in the country I live in, I enjoyed watching progression for these women in their town. The story was not overly gut wrenching, but its points were clear.

I found the supporting actors rich in character and well developed. Each of them were important in making the audience aware of different viewpoints and to show the different hardships/difficulties women and their families faced for taking their stand.

I highly recommend watching The Divine Order not only for inspiration, but to remember to appreciate that it wasn’t that long ago that we were laughed at and flat out denied what is now easily taken for granted: the right to vote.

This movie was in Swiss German with English subtitles

I watched this movie on Amazon Prime

Liz in September(Liz en Septiembre) (2014) Foreign Lesbian Film Review

photo credit: IMDb

Eva, a young married woman (Eloísa Maturén), has gone ahead of her husband to their (I assume beach) vacation spot, when her car breaks down along the way. While she is waiting for repairs, she is referred to a small beautiful Caribbean beach hotel/resort where a woman named Liz (Patricia Velásquez) and her close friends have gathered for Liz’s birthday.

Liz appears to be a bit of a womanizer, and has really cool hobbies, like fishing, diving, and motorcycle riding. When Eva arrives, she finds Liz fishing and throws Liz’s freshly caught fish back into the water, asking Liz if she’d like to die slowly. Eva is invited to join Liz and her friends for dinner, where she learns all the other female guests are lesbians. A secret bet is made by Liz with her friends, that she will have Eva in her bed within three days.

The movie offered beautiful scenery – really beautiful scenery – and a series of twists that kept me needing to find out how it all ended. Even the supporting characters lent to the development and fullness of the story. I did not find the movie dull, but even if I had, I enjoyed the water and beach scenes so much it gave me a sense of peace and tranquility that was worth finishing the movie for.

Which takes me to the next part…the finishing of the movie. I cried. Actually, I cried a few times throughout the movie. It’s hard to judge the performance of an actor sometimes when the movie is not in one’s native tongue. Because we are focusing on reading the dialogue, it’s natural to miss some of the actions or expressions being performed by the actors. But it is easy to judge the quality of the direction, editing, and budget. I felt like this movie delivered on every aspect, be it performance, visually, or emotionally. And while the first part of the movie may have begun by offering little substance, it clearly cultivated throughout, offering phenomenal and believable performances by all.

One thing I must comment on are the age gaps that are portrayed. I happen to be a huge fan of age gaps, so this was something I enjoyed seeing. It wasn’t until I did some research (just now) that I learned Patricia Velásquez is only a couple years younger than I am, which made me really impressed! I don’t want to insinuate her age is old by saying ‘wow she aged well,’ but damn! She did age well. (And no, she’s not old)

I also enjoyed the fact that while there is some nudity, there wasn’t a big love making scene. Not that those are bad – I do love them – but this movie gave us so much heart and emotion, it’s almost as though we didn’t need sex. There is intimacy of course, but you won’t find, and I bet you won’t miss it either, straight up sex.

I totally recommend this movie and would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!

**There are some twists in this story that I don’t wish to divulge, so if you are planning to watch this movie you can stop reading where it indicates below, otherwise feel free to read beyond the spoiler alert warning to find out how it all ends**

I watched this movie on Hulu. It was in Spanish with English subtitles.

Fun Facts: Patricia Velásquez was born in Venezuela but raised in France and Mexico, and is also a super model, philanthropist, and activist. Eloísa Maturén is also a ballet dancer, as well as a contributing journalist to a major Venezuelan newspaper, El Nacional.


SPOILER ALERT – STAY BEHIND THIS LINE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW THIS MOVIE ENDS 


On the surface this might seem like a shallow story-line, but as things unfold, one can’t help but be captivated by Liz’s mysteries of her past as well as her current predicament.

Meanwhile Eva also makes some discoveries that allow her the freedom to seek out Liz.

Once we learn that Liz’s cancer has returned, it is easy to find meaning in all of her actions. I truly began to feel for everything Liz did and witnessed her pain as a silent sufferer until finally her friends are made aware. Eva discovered Liz’s medication and was also quiet about her knowledge until she tells Liz that she knows because her son died from the same illness.

So now this fun, beachy, chance-at-romance movie becomes serious and meaningful.

There was a vulnerable moment for Liz when she shows up at a healer’s home, who had been asking her to come for a while, and allows her to perform a ritual in order to heal her. It was powerful to me because Liz was not normally one to believe in such things, but she had clearly reached a point that she was willing to do anything. And she was falling for Eva, so I think she remembered how powerful love was.

When it becomes clear that Liz does not want to go the length of the illness and prefers being given a lethal dose of (I assume) morphine when the time comes, she asks her ex lover and closest friend (also a Dr.) to be the one to administer it to her.

I hoped with all my might that something would give. That the healing ritual worked, or that Liz would opt for the chemo treatments, but when the time came, it was Eva who was the one to give her the dose.

Eva, btw, had lost her son to the same disease Liz had and felt extreme guilt for forcing him to suffer through all the treatments to save his life, just to have him die after the suffering. So she felt complete empathy and respect for Liz’s decision not to have treatment a second time. She did want to have another baby, but discovered that her husband was having an affair, so she slept with him one last time, his seed was planted, and it appears they left each other on amicable terms. She did this before returning to Liz, who had not yet taken a turn for the worse.

Liz passes on, which was done beautifully, and Eva maintains a friendship with the rest of Liz’s friends.

The movie ends with a scene, years later, when all of the friends have gathered together at the beach, and Eva’s daughter (named after Liz) is shown, appearing to have the same interests as the original Liz. This was pretty cool. I have one negative critique about this, and that was the age of little Liz. Because Eva is so young, and her deceased son’s picture made it appear as though she had him when she was 20, it was hard to believe five+ years had passed and Eva still looked 25 years old. I may not have raised my eyebrows if her daughter was two or three. It’s easy to overlook and to simply go with the flow, but it was something that did stand out to me.

Again, I do recommend watching this movie if you enjoy age gap romances, love stories, soothing scenery, Spanish movies, great actors.

Please click like if you enjoyed this review and/or leave a message in the comment section on your thoughts if you have seen it or plan to!

A Dessert For At-Home Sushi Makers…

I love rolling my own sushi at home! It’s fun and a great way to entertain if you are having guests over for dinner. And while we are quarantining (and even when not), it’s also just as perfect with family or simply solo.

I want to share a dessert I would make at the end of a sushi dinner which also involved using the rice and seaweed. Until now, I hadn’t thought of naming this dessert, so I guess I’ll just call it ‘Dessert Roll.’

Here’s what you do:

You’ll need a banana, mango, grapes, dark brown sugar (firmly packed), rum, and butter.

Any fruit variation can be substituted, but I found these three worked great. Mango and banana are key for the taste, but I sometimes substituted blueberries for the grapes if they were sweet enough. I strongly recommend using a fresh mango over buying the pre-sliced mango in the store. I don’t recommend orange slices (or apples), but the canned tangerines that were already sweetened are also nice.

In a pan, melt 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, then add about 1/3 cup rum. Stir and heat with the rum added, but don’t boil. The rum is not necessary, just adds a nice kick. You can add less if you wish. Substitution for the rum is banana liqueur or I bet the rum extract might work, but I haven’t tried it myself. If desired, you can also add a tiny pinch of ground cinnamon. Basically you are making a version of banana’s foster sauce.

Once the sauce is to your taste, set it aside and prepare a sheet of seaweed on your roller and add a thin layer of rice. Slice the banana into long thin slices about 1/2 inch wide. I cut mine the way green beans are cut. Slice your mango the same, and cut your grapes in half.

Lay your banana, mango, and grapes on the rice (stacking them works best) and roll it just like you would your regular sushi roll, then slice. Use your rum-buttered-brown sugar sauce for dipping and enjoy!! If your guests weren’t already full before hand, they will be after these.

Make sure to use your chopsticks!

Just Like That! (How I went from being bored with my MC to can’t stop writing)

At nearly fifteen thousand words in, and at the cusp of the first big turning point for my story, I lost my will to move forward.

Often when I am writing I struggle not to rush right into the first big revelation or turning point, where things start to unfold, make sense, and get juicy. I can feel myself breathing into the turns, gripping the wheel (er, pen…ok, keyboard) to maintain a smooth transition from introduction of key characters to revealing the belly of the story.

I could not wait to get from “this is Sue” to “see Sue run”. I even gave myself permission to cut some of the background stuff out, figuring I could add it later in dialogue, etc. But dammit if I didn’t start bringing in the good stuff and find myself hating the content!

I’ve experienced writer’s block before, but this was more along the lines of a lack of interest in my main character. I was writing too many words without feeling and it was crippling my normal urges to keep going. This bummed me out because I had been waiting for several months to even begin this story…

So here is what I’ve done, and it has been like a new fire in my spirit: I changed the p.o.v. of my story. From conception, I was determined the story needed to be told in 3rd person. I hadn’t been able to imagine it in any other way. But this morning I saved a copy of my original story then did a “find & replace” of all the times I used the MC’s name and replaced it with “I”. And so, first person it is!

I now have the task of changing all the pronouns to match my new first person modification, but while doing so I am hearing the story in a completely new light. And since I like to do revisions every ten pages or so, it gives me the chance to make them with a fresh pair of eyes.

I now feel more in tune with my MC. I’m also not worrying about head hopping, as I am tempted to do when I write in 3rd person.

I hope this provides a tip for you to try the next time you find yourself suddenly without interest in your main character. Since this particular story entails yucky things, I will enjoy the challenge of working through them as I write from “I” and not “she”. I don’t know about you but it’s played tricks on me in the past when I find it difficult to make my characters do things I wouldn’t personally do.

What do you do to fall in love with your characters again?

**Featured image photo credit to Bongkarn Thanyakij**

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Killing Eve, Fleabag, Crashing…

I’m just going to say it here…I frigging love her work! Tonight, season 3 of Killing Eve started (don’t worry, no spoilers here), and I am beyond excited.

After watching S.3-E1, all I can say is, “Holy sh@t, I didn’t see that coming!”

As a writer, I can’t help but to obsessively watch, re-watch, break down, over analyse, and then desperately try to find someone to discuss characters with. And I’m not one who reads or watches a broad range of books/movies – well…I might be able to say I watch a broad range of movies, but I definitely don’t read as much as I wish I was read. Like, I wish I was really well read, but sadly, I’m not... I am working on it though.

With that said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed attempting to break down the many faces of Villanelle. And by faces, I mean literally. Jody Comer is masterful at expressions. Between heartless and hopeful lies a rainbow of moods that switch in a blink by a simple movement of her eyebrow, the tiniest flinch of her mouth, the sudden watering of her eyes. And speaking of eyes, Sandra Oh would never have to speak another word and could still get her message across.

I’m not here to review Killing Eve. I’m simply here to express how brilliant the show is and to exclaim my super happiness to have season 3 with us! And to express my love for Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterful mind!! You are my writing shero. Rock on, sis!

Q-Day 15: What’s Changed?

I’ve officially been holed up for fifteen days and decided to make an assessment of my accomplishments (if any) as far as goals I set out for myself. And my current state of mind.

As I write this, the lights are literally blinking as a howling wind calls from outside my window: There’s a new storm in town. I have now plugged my computer in to make sure I am fully juiced in case I lose power for a spell. Coffee sure tastes better when there’s a good storm out. Hmm, I like that line. I’ll have to use it sometime…

The first thing I did when I learned I wouldn’t be returning to the barber shop where I cut hair for the next 20, then 40 days, was buy five books. I also began to outline a story that I’ve been waiting to begin while I was finishing up my novel, The First Love. I told myself that I would read these five books and by doing so would learn more about how to structure my own stories.

Structuring things like when to indent after someone speaks. If one person says something, then a second person does an action, is the second person’s actions given a new paragraph? Is it added just after the first person’s comments? Does it go on a new line but not indented? I used to know these things so well, but after a bazillion years of being out of school–and a touch of menopause–I no longer remember. (sigh)

Ok, so back to my goals (and does anyone care?)… I read three of the five books, began my story, and yet I feel no better off than when I started.

What I am beginning to fear is how I will respond to going back to my life of waking and working by an alarm clock and only writing during a blocked off time. And what about the eight pounds — EIGHT FRIGGIN POUNDS — I put on already? How embarrassing is that? I ate so much ice cream in the first week/ten days that my stomach hurt for three days after. Talk about comfort eating…

Assuming we get off of quarantine at the end of April, I have 20 more days to prepare myself for returning to work, living once again in a structured time controlled money obsessive lifestyle. Seriously, how many of you are trying to figure out how to make your current situation work out long term?

If only I could come out on the other side of this thirty pounds lighter, my arms and legs toned, and a beautiful tan. Oh and a letter of acceptance from a literary agent who adores my new book…

The First Love

Is anyone ever truly free from their first love?

Seventeen and a half year old Calli spent her free time in a banyan tree with her favorite pen and a journal. She barely cared for much outside of the world she created on paper. When her mother accidentally enrolls her in a riding lesson with a bunch of twelve year old boys, Calli is miserable. But when the riding instructor appears, something happens inside of Calli that she is unfamiliar with. At first she isn’t sure why she feels such fantastic butterflies in her stomach and has this urge to be near her.

While young Calli is learning what love is all about, Justine is driven to go after her dreams. As the years pass between them, can they ever rejoin the path they once began?

I hope you will enjoy my first novel, The First Love, and follow one girl’s journey of being in love.

UPDATE: The First Love is now available on Audible & iTunes with narrator Lucy Emerson!

The First Love is in Audio Book Production!

I am super excited to announce I have found a wonderful narrator to produce The First Love!!

Narrator Lucy Emerson has teamed up with me to be the voices of Calli, Justine, Fenne, and all the characters that made The First Love unforgettable.

Subscribe to this blog site to be first to know when The First Love goes live on Audible!