It’s Earth Day every day!

I was in Hawaii for a brief vacation a couple months ago, and various cafes, acai bowl shops, and juice bars proudly proclaimed on their travel mugs and tote bags: Earth Day Every Day. Which is easy to remember when you live in paradise, with plumeria trees and coconut palms swaying in the tropical breeze. The rest of us often need more frequent reminders to love and care for this planet we all share.

Everything we do – our mere existence – has an impact on the environment. The trick is to make choices to minimize our impact, or help alleviate it. Species (including our own) are threatened daily by loss of habitat and natural resources. So thoughtful individuals ask themselves, “What can I do?”

One of my all-time favorite erotica authors, Patient Lee, was inspired by that question. Monarch butterflies, much admired for their beauty and incredible migration, are at risk. This article from 2014 gives a good overview of the monarch problem: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/01/29/the-monarch-butterfly-population-just-hit-a-record-low-heres-why/?utm_term=.8b3c6e59c01e

Patient Lee says: “Depletion of milkweed is only one of the factors contributing to the decline in the monarch population, but it is the one factor individual people can do something about. If we plant milkweed in our gardens, we can replace some of the plants lost to farming.” And if we CAN do something, then we SHOULD. And must.

milkweedIf you wonder how diminishing butterfly population could possibly be made into a sexy story, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. Milkweed & Gossamer is one of the most extraordinary, romantic stories I have read in a while. It’s a page-turner, but also thoughtful, bringing up questions we’ve all considered when grappling with the pressures of family, work, school, and a new relationship. There’s also a fun little surprise… but I won’t give everything away!

Whether you’re looking to laugh, cry, or fall in love, this story will deliver. Here’s just a little peek of what you’re gonna get:

Excerpt from Milkweed & Gossamer

During the second week, Carlos and Josh strung the white lights over the party pavilion in preparation for the outdoor party season.

“Yeah, this place is, like, number one for parties for little girls now. They all wear their fairy wings and come party with the butterflies,” Carlos said. “It’s more popular than the bowling alley and the roller-skating rink.”

“What are the lights for? They have these kids’ parties at night?” Josh asked.

“No. It’s a whole different crowd at night. The butterfly house closes at four, but they’ve turned it into a place for all kinds of parties—wine tastings, pig roasts, weddings. You’ll see.”

Josh was climbing the step ladder when the blonde who had given him the hard-on the other day walked into the pavilion. He stumbled a bit when he realized it was the same girl. “Who is that?” He asked in a low tone.

“Hey, Milkweed,” Carlos called. “Come over here. Josh wants to meet you.”

“No! Hey! You didn’t have to call her over,” Josh stage-whispered as she approached.

“Josh, I guess you don’t remember Scott’s little sister, Jaime,” Carlos said. “Jaime, this is Josh. He used to work here when you were still in a training bra.”

“Thanks, Carlos,” she said dryly. “Thanks for pointing that out.”

“Jaime. Holy shit,” Josh said. “You grew up.”

“Yeah. I did,” she said. Josh could tell by the look on her face that she thought he was a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

“I’m sorry. I just . . . Wow,” he said.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said. “Sorry, guys. I gotta go shop for a dress for my party next week.”

She turned and left, once again causing Josh’s cock to stiffen a bit as he watched her ass moving away from him.

“You heard the boss,” Carlos said. “She’s off-limits.”

“Yeah,” Josh said, shaking his head. “Off-limits.” He reached for the lights and then stopped. “Why did you call her Milkweed?”

“Everybody calls her that,” Carlos said. “She’s obsessed with saving the monarchs.”

“Saving the monarchs . . . you mean the butterflies? Aren’t there, like, tons of them?”

“Not as many as there used to be, I guess. That whole greenhouse in the back is milkweed she planted to give away.”

“Why would anyone want to plant weeds?” Josh said.

“The monarchs need the milkweed. It’s her graduation project. Just watch yourself. If she gets an opportunity, you’ll get the whole lecture,” Carlos said. “Twice if you’re alone.”

“I’m not sure she’d want to be alone with me. I didn’t make a very good first impression.”

“Well, it’s probably better that way. Mr. Yaple would fire your ass if he found the two of you alone and your pants were sticking out like that.” He gestured toward Josh’s fly. “And Scott would kick your ass after Mr. Y fired it.”

“Scott is hyper-protective of her.” Josh shook his head. “I don’t get it. Did something happen before?”

“Personally, I think he can’t get a date, so he doesn’t want his little sister dating.”

“He always had girlfriends in high school.”

“Yeah. He was actually engaged for a couple months, too. I think the girl got sick of his ‘waiting until marriage’ philosophy, though.” Carlos grinned. Josh couldn’t tell whether or not he was kidding. “Now c’mon. Back on the fuckin’ ladder. We gotta finish this.”

**

I know, it’s SO good! And the rest is even better.

Author D.E. Vice says: “This story […] managed to be sweet while also showing just the smallest bit of teeth, like a quick, teasing kiss, sandwiched in the middle of a grinding day. The characters were likeable, almost adorable, and your dialogue was exceptional. Unpredictability is a trait I admire as well, and your tale provided that. It was a pleasure to read and left me with a warm, fed but still hungry feeling—satisfied but never sated. Sexy and succulent.

Yeah, I can’t add anything to that. You’re going to want to buy this one, plain and simple!

 

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Somewhere in the Sahel…

The two years I spent in West Africa remain forever imprinted on my mind. Nothing in my life to date can compare to the intensity of my experience there. Though I’ve had many adventures since then (and no doubt will continue to!), nothing, perhaps, will ever equal it.

Whether that had to do with my age (a tender 22), my naivete, my cultural isolation, or any combination thereof, the Sahel has marked me. That strip of arid land, tenuously holding back the Sahara desert, is a place where people understand the value of water. More than anywhere else, perhaps, they rely on the vagaries of Nature to provide. This is especially true in the small, rural village where I lived. No road; no electricity; no plumbing. Most people there are subsistence farmers, and farming is only possible during the rainy season, a mere three months of the year. The rest of the time, water comes from one place only: the village well.

And who’s in charge of getting water? The women.

How many times I went to the well with them, worked the pulleys, filled our buckets? How many times did I carry home the full bucket on my head, cushioned by a roll of old scrap fabric? How many hours were spent collecting water, storing water, using water, conserving it? (And I was only one person – most women were in charge of getting water for their whole family.) In short, village life revolved around the well. Water is life.

Which led me to think about Timbuktu. Legend has it, that great city began as merely a well in the desert. A place of refreshment; a woman’s place. How could I resist a story about that? Get it for free on Amazon (January 16-19): Buktu’s Well.

And read more about this fascinating city: The Legendary Origins of Timbuktu

City of Trees

There is a ravine near my house, so deep and steep even the most bloodthirsty developers shied away. In the early 1900’s it was gifted to the city and has been a park ever since. Walking there is like stepping back in time. Though no longer an old-growth forest, filled with mossy megaliths of interminable age, as it once was, the park still has the feeling of primeval nature. Towering sworn ferns compete with ancient horsetails, fighting for dominance in the swampy creek bed between the trees. Salmonberry canes sprout up here and there, as well as skunk cabbage, dandelions, weeds. The street roars above on a sculpted metal bridge, but in the ravine it is nearly silent. Nature quietly asserting her eternal dominance.

In the center of the ravine a tiny creek flows. Free to the sky for only for a little while before spilling once more into the underground pipes beneath the city, yet it burbles quick and clear, full of life, in the same track carved by its ancestral waters generations ago. Here and there wooden plank bridges cross it, so people and their dogs can walk across instead of dirtying their shoes in the viscous mud along the banks. It is rich mud, fragrant mud, the mud of life.

Once, my husband and I saw an owl, just sitting there on a branch above the creek. So amazing, to see such a wild bird in the heart of the city.

Hiking back up the ravine, I strode on the carcasses of trees dead so many years ago, their great-grandchildren have long since become lumber. Life and death mingle in every aspect of the forest, as seedlings rise from fallen trunks, mushrooms nibble away at stumps, and rain beats it all into a mush. It is beautiful, and ancient, and pure. It could be any time and any moment.

In the forest, I would not be surprised to find a herd of Diplodocus dinosaurs just around the bend. Likewise, it would not amaze me to come upon a futuristic city in the treetops.

If ever there was a portal to another world, it would be there.

Good Reasons Not To Be Writing

I admit, the past several days I haven’t written a word. Haven’t even checked my email, in fact, or even opened my computer. My husband and I took a long weekend and drove over to the Peninsula for some much-needed time out of the city. It reminded me – once again – how incredibly fortunate I am to live in this beautiful part of the world.

We started on the northern shore, looked out over the water to the green hills of Vancouver island, so close we could practically spit and hit Canada. Then to the very tip of the continental United States, Cape flattery, with its lighthouse on a tiny sea island pointing the way toward the boundless Pacific. Seabirds flew into saves in the rock, crying and screeching as waves roared, whitecapped, deep within the earth. Later we went hiking down through thick, mossy forest, gathering wild salmonberries as we went, bending the canes to reach the ripest ones, stuffing the sweet-tart fruits into my mouth as we stroll, laughing, down to the shore. And there was the Pacific again, just a strip of sand between it and the dense forest. How amazing, to hear the sound of the waves and the wind in the trees, all at the same time; to walk through a wall of conifers so thick you can’t see more than three trees in, yet know the ocean is just a few yard away. Amazing.

As I walk, my mind is always turning. Even as I gather salmonberries, or dodge mud puddles, I’m thinking. Stories bloom in my mind. Characters form and begin to grow into personalities. Scenes take shape, slowly building together into a tale. So I suppose I actually was writing, after all; I just wasn’t typing it out. But without these breaks from everything, the imagination stagnates. Now, back at home, I feel fresh and excited, ready to release these pent-up stories. Nature, once again, has brought inspiration and energy, as well as peace.