Pucker Up! #NationalKissingDay

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A little birdie told me that today is National Kissing Day! As if we need a special day just for kissing, eh? But considering this whole pandemic going on, it’s nice to have a little distraction. If anything, maybe we’ll learn something new about kissing!

  • Kissing moves as many as 34 muscles in the face and 112 postural muscles!
  • A passionate kiss burns 6.4 calories per minute
  • The longest kiss clocked at 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds in 2013
  • According to neuroscientist Onur Güntürkün who people-watched people kissing for two-and-a-half years, he determined that twice as many people turn their head to the right than to the left when they kiss
  • An average kiss lasts more than 12 seconds
  • With the exchange of saliva during kissing, there go exchange of bacteria – which can help strengthen the immune system!
  • Speaking of exchanging spit – men’s saliva contains the sex hormone testosterone which triggers libido!
  • In ancient Rome, a public kiss pretty much sealed the legal contract between couples during the marriage ceremony
  • Kissing is practiced in 90% of the world population

Pretty interesting, huh?

Before I go and hit my daily goal of writing 1500 words today, here’s one of my favorite kissing scenes from one of my favorite movies!

 

A Saturday Update #authorlife

I’ve lost count of how long it’s been since we started lockdown. The vegetables we planted when this all began are now ready to be harvested, like the tomatoes I used for this morning’s breakfast omelet. I still have to figure out when to harvest the Japanese eggplant because I have no clue. Looks like they’re ready. Looks like they’re not.

This is why I am a writer and not a gardener.

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Our second sunflower. The squirrel got the first one the moment it opened up and ate half of it.

Speaking of writing, I need to hunker down and write 60,000 words in the next four weeks for one book. And then the next book after that. After all this time, I should have had a book done but nope, I have outlines instead. Outline after outline after outline, all because I can’t quite get the beginning right. And for me, the beginning of a story is whaat counts. If I don’t get my footing right from the start, I won’t be able to sustain the conflict. And this morning, I think I finally got it. It only took six tries, six scenarios, and I finally have the beginning I want.

Between my kid’s online schooling and writing on my laptop for hours (those outlines don’t write themselves, ya know!), computer glare finally got to me. Last night, I switched off my laptops before 9pm and wrote on my Freewrite. I did the same today as well and it now has its spot on my desk.

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My roses bloomed at the same time and so I had to commemorate the event with a photo shoot together with my Astrohaus Freewrite.

Many people have asked me whether it’s a good investment (it costs about $400 – $500) considering it’s basically a WiFi-connected typewriter. Here’s what I think: It is a good investment IF you use it. If you write with it and are getting the words in, it is worth its weight in gold. If not, then it’s a hell of an expensive paperweight or a good Instagram-worthy picture.

It’s great for writing your first drafts, the kind where you just type and go. Then you click a button and have the file emailed to you or to your Google Drive or Dropbox. I do this for every chapter or section I write because I then transfer it to my Ulysses app for further writing and editing.

Speaking of editing, I have moved on from Hemingway, Grammarly, and ProWritingAid to Autocrit. These four are computer-based editing programs that help your writing before you send your manuscript to an editor. I actually don’t send all my work to an editor, just the long ones. The shorter ones (between 5k – 30k) are all edited with these online editors. EDITED TO ADD: I do have a proofreader for all my works, long and short!

I held out on Autocrit forever but three weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and bought a lifetime license and proceeded to edit a few of my already-published books. You see, I have this bad habit of adding new stuff after I get my manuscript from the editor. And then I don’t submit the updated chapters to her for another pass. Instead, I hit publish and readers end up finding the mistakes.

Another author tool I just purchased recently is BookBrush. It’s an online graphic editing website for authors and after I get the hang of its many features (mockups, box set creator, and even a cover creator), I’ll be able to stop my subscription to Photoshop. I’ve been holding off on Bookbrush for the last year because I already have lifetime licenses to similar apps like Stencil and Promorepublic which can create social media images and post them for me, as well as a monthly subscription to Canva. But Bookbrush does everything I need in one app like my social media ads and headers (minus the actual posting to social media) and I like that, even box sets with different color spine that you create right in the app!

 

 

But I haven’t just been writing those outlines! I’ve also been watching SEAL Team on CBS. Love that show and love that over a hundred military personnel have worked on the series. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a drama starring David Boreanaz, Max Theriot, and AJ Jackson. I like the family stuff they include in the show, the private struggles Navy SEALs go through once their gear is off and they return to regular life.

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How about you? How’s your weekend/month/year going?

What happens if you fall in love with a writer?

While going through my Tumblr feed today, I found this and so many other jewels about writers and writing. It made me realize (again and again) how the men who made such an impact in my life are all found in my books.

Ashe Hunter most especially who to this day does not have a “face” inside my head even though I’ve had to translate his features for book covers. As a writer, the best ones never do.

Have a wonderful weekend! Stay safe out there!

Elvis Has Left the Building

Today, I surrendered my key to my massage room and said good-bye to a career that has spanned a total of 23 years. Located in a major thoroughfare in Manhattan Beach, it’s one of the best locations I’ve ever set up a practice and it was sad to let it go. There was nothing to take pictures of this time for the couch was gone and so were the armchairs and the side tables. Even the foyer table where we had a bowl of candy mints and flowers was gone. The Keurig machine and water dispenser would have to go, too, because there can no longer be common-use equipment on site.

It was bittersweet knowing that my roommate/landlady had just renewed the three-year lease a few months ago and even re-tiled the countertops of the bathrooms at the beginning of the lockdown when it looked like we’d be back open in no time. Of course, that’s not what happened. Instead, with California opening up in phases, massage therapy services are included in Phase 3 which may be around mid June or July. But with the new protocols for practice that will include having the therapist change clothes after every client besides wiping everything down including the chairs and tables in the waiting area, it no longer looks feasible to continue. And since I normally take the summer off to be with my son, there was no point for me to keep my room.

So I surrendered my key and picked up whatever I had left in the office. In this case, a set of sheets, an herbal eye pillow, and a statue of Kuan Yin that two clients (a married couple) gave me as their parting present when they retired out of state about three to four years ago. As I looked at the bag, it hit me that it pretty much represented the end of 23 years of massage therapy.

And while I felt a sense of loss, I also felt a sense of relief. It was my official retirement party sans the balloons and cake. But it’s okay. I had a good run and in life, we have to keep moving. I’ll have cake and balloons tomorrow for my birthday.

I also have books to write!

Movie Review: The Painter and the Thief

I first heard about The Painter and the Thief a few months ago when it earned rave reviews at Sundance Film Festival. The trailer was pretty compelling that I made a mental note to see it when it released on May 22.

A few words come to mind in summarizing this documentary – and I had to remind myself many times that it was a documentary because sometimes it didn’t feel like one. It’s just that good. And I hope down the line I don’t find out that this was all staged because I’d really be bummed… but I digress. 

In The Painter and the Thief, we watch as the thief “Karl Bertil” is made vulnerable through the eyes of the Czeck painter, Barbora Kysilkova, whose paintings he and a partner stole in broad daylight. After asking to paint him, she does so in a way no one has ever seen him and you can see the shock and awe on his face. It’s devastating and beautiful and you just can’t look away.

But as the documentary progresses, flitting back in time a few months here and there, it’s not just Nordland who is exposed, we also see Kysilkova’s traumatic past laid bare through his eyes. To him, it’s why she paints such unflinching pieces that’s not exactly perfect to hang on someone’s walls.

Barbora Kysilkova, L’amour est mort, vive l’amour, 2011. Oil on canvas. Barbora Kysilkova

I stayed up till 2:30 am to watch this (rented through iTunes) and that final frame was such a twist for me that it brought an audible gasp in the room and I lay there until the end of the credits, just transfixed. The editing, I thought. The editing is amazing*. But that would be my writer mind talking. As much as the director’s choices, the subjects make the documentary as riveting as it is, resulting in a gorgeously edited documentary of two people who end up, through one’s drug-fueled act of theft, seeing each other for who they really are.

And I still can’t look away.

*One of the reasons I watched this film with a writer’s mind is because as a writer, I see the story like a movie playing inside my head. The “camera” has to be arranged just right, at the right place and the right time, much like a documentary because I usually let my characters do their thing (as much as I keep declaring I write thousands of words in outlines) and allow me in their space to document everything. But like a good documentary filmmaker, I also need to know how to edit the scenes right – which ones to keep and which ones to toss aside to tell the perfect story.

“That’s what I love about documentary filming,” Ree said. “It’s difficult to do something similar in a fictional film. To be there is to be present and observe with a camera. When in the crucial moments an amazing cinematographer is filming, it’s like dancing with the subjects. You have one shot at knowing where to position yourself. It’s intuitive work. If you fuck up the positioning and focus, you won’t get the same subtext and complexity of a scene.”

Source: Why ‘The Painter and the Thief’ Is Neon’s Latest Oscar Contender | IndieWire

“Hearts are fragile like that.”

I was tagged today by @rsaachit on Instagram and saw this beautiful painting she posted together with a quote from Loving Ashe.

 

 

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“Hearts are fragile like that. They need a bit more care, a bit more thought, before rushing back to the same person who hurt them the first time. And sometimes that’s all it takes–just one time–and the heart will never forget.” –Loving Ashe, Celebrity Series, Book 1

 

For a moment, I forgot all about distance learning for a ten-year-old and how they’re going to manage the next school year, giving my final notice at my massage office and making an appointment to drop off my key tomorrow and pick up my things, and how to help the Navajo Nation that is suffering the highest rates of infection per capita in the United States, according to CNN. If you’d like to help, here’s one organization that needs it – Protect Native Elders.

Still, this beautiful painting made my day today.

What about you? How’s your day been?

Guess Who’s Joining Wattpad Paid Stories?

When 2020 rolled around, one of my goals was to diversify my stories. Some books would be exclusive to Amazon through Kindle Unlimited while others would be available “wide,” meaning they would be available everywhere where books were sold (Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, etc.). Some of those wide stories would also be available to read in their entirety on Wattpad like Finding Sam, Loving Ashe, and most recently, Collateral Attraction.

I first wrote Loving Ashe as a short story titled Elevator on my Morrighansmuse blog in the summer of 2013. When I posted it on Wattpad, readers were intrigued. What happened next? Did they end up together? They asked. We want to know more!

And so for NaNoWriMo 2014, I turned the 5k-word short story into the first two chapters. I called it Loving Ashe and finished it in 60 days with 110k words total. I would self-publish Loving Ashe in June 2015 and release the audiobook three years later.

Well, this year (tomorrow, May 13, to be exact!), Loving Ashe will also be part of Wattpad Paid Stories. While there are millions of free stories on Wattpad, they also have Paid Stories where readers pay with “coins.” You can pay per chapter or pay for the whole book outright (about the same cost of an ebook). Coins are available in packages of 15 to up 533 coins and you can also earn 3 free coins per day by watching ads.

It will have a new cover starting tomorrow, different from what you see above. But while Wattpad will have the exclusive rights to the digital ebook version which allows them to change the cover and have the ability to market, Loving Ashe will still remain available as a paperback and audiobook.

It’s a new adventure for me and one I’m very excited to be part of. I should have made this announcement a few months ago but in true ditzy Liz fashion, I got my dates wrong and tomorrow, it becomes reality! I hope you’ll support me and my stories on Wattpad and discover other new authors and stories along the way.

Date Night: A Mother’s Day Steamy Story

It was probably six or seven Christmases ago when my sister-in-law lamented the lack of books featuring older couples – you know, couples with kids who have are about to leave or have left home.

“Why are all the heroines in their early twenties and the men all in their thirties and forties? What about women in their thirties, forties… and older?” She asked.

Well, she did have a point because back then, there weren’t a lot of stories featuring older couples like there are now. In fact, Harlow James, my heroine in Everything She Ever Wanted emerged from that conversation three years later..

But before Harlow, there were Esme and Evan, my couple in Date Night, a short story I wrote for my SIL the following Mother’s Day after our conversation. You can read the story on my story site by clicking on the image below.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Blast From the Past: Dance for Hope (Lord of the Dance 1996 Troupe Reunion)

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my writing blog but hang in there and I’ll tell you. First of all, I can’t believe it’s been 25 years since I first saw Lord of the Dance and fell in love with the character of the temptress played by Gillian Norris. I loved the way she brought Morrighan to life and OMG her hair! And then there’s Michael Flatley’s story of being let go from Riverdance and then coming up with Lord of the Dance, not knowing what would come out of the first show.

Talk about the perfect redemption story!

And this morning, seeing this pop up on my Facebook feed brought a happy tear to my eyes and made me wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t seen this show and loved it so much I had to write about it?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Shiny and New… Well, Almost

My late-2011 MacBook Pro has been acting up lately – it’s been too slow to do anything that I normally do (Photoshop, Ulysses, 50 tabs open on my browser, etc) until I finally decided yesterday to bite the bullet and buy a new one.

I didn’t want the basic model at all. I didn’t want a Macbook Air either – I guess once you go Pro, it’s hard to go with a MacBook Air, especially if you already have iPads to work with. It’s really just an iPad with a keyboard. And so I did some shopping – brand new versus refurbished? Groupon deals versus Best Buy?

An hour later, I made my choice, but before I could press that Buy button and put a dent on my bank account, I figured maybe it wouldn’t hurt to talk to an Apple rep and see what he recommends. After all, I do have some apps that need to run in a 32-bit environment – will it work on the new OS?

By the time the rep talked about Parallels and upgrading to 16GB memory and 2.8 processor blah blah blah, I realized that no way was he taking in consideration my stated budget of $1400 at the beginning of the conversation. Instead, he kept talking about financing, financing, financing because hey, it will cost less monthly. I don’t know what Koolaid he’s drinking but when I said $1400, I didn’t mean $3780.

I mean, sure, I could pay that but do I have to? In the middle of a pandemic?

And so it was back to the drawing board and I finally posted my dilemma in one of my favorite forums to see what they’d suggest. One of the writers suggested that if my only complaint was that my MacBook was slow, then maybe I should upgrade the memory. Turns out I only have 4GB and this model can take up to 16GB. “You can even do it yourself in minutes,” he said and when I Googled it, he was right.

I could install it myself – as long as I touch this piece of metal to ground myself… or something like that. 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a pair of 8GB to buy nearby ($99 plus tax and shipping) and the fastest one would be shipped next week. But after all that work researching and almost buying, I wanted it now.

So this morning, I called my computer guy and he said he had the 16GB in stock and he could pop it in there in less than 10 minutes.

“How much?” I asked.

“$120,” he replied.

“Installed?”

“Yup,” he replied, “while you wait.”

I tell you, if there’s one thing that can get me out of the house in the middle of a pandemic, mask and all, it’s because my MacBook is about to get an upgrade. Half an hour later, I was back home and updating my MacBook before really putting it to its paces. Hey, it’s not brand new but when Photoshop popped up in one second instead of the usual ten, I almost cried tears of joy.

And like that Madonna song from time gone by (you know what song I’m talking about), my Macbook Pro sure felt shiny and new.

Now I have no excuse for not writing.

None at all.

So how’s your day been so far?

Daily finds during our walks around the neighborhood