Christmas Shopping and the Carpal Tunnel Connection

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My husband asked me the other day for a Christmas list. I hemmed. I hawed. I wrote a total of:  two things. One, a good pair of silver hoops for everyday wear (read:  days when I’m too lazy to look at my earring “shirt” and find something color coordinated) and also a soft, comfy black cardigan. Oh, I may have mentioned “a ring” too. In that silly, girly, breathy I-want-sparkly-jewelry sort of way.

Are there other things I want? Sure there are. However, I’m the one who does the most Christmas shopping (I’m a control freak) and when I see something around Christmas time that I want, weeeeeellllll, pretty much I get it.

Case in point…ordering from Kohl’s online today. Got everything I needed for other people but WHAT’S THAT??? Pajama pants with penguins on them? Yes, please. Click!

I’m a procrastinator. I don’t do my Christmas shopping like a lot of people, which is to say that I do it much later. As of right now, I’m only about 50% done and instead of being out shopping right now…I’m writing. And thinking seriously about a glass of wine. But really, my kids are old enough now that they would rather have gift cards. And how long does it take to go get a gift card? They don’t run out, they’re always the right size, and the kids really, truly appreciate them.

I buy gift cards as opposed to the jeans or shirts I would get them once upon a time that would sit in their closets, tagged, until they were outgrown and given to Amvets, mostly because those ba$tards at Plato’s Closet buy everyone else’s stained, torn clothing but not my new stuff that has tags on it. People at Plato’s Closet, pay attention. Stop buying crap from your friends.

I buy gift cards for the kids because I don’t have a personal shopper. Because I am not very good at picking out things that my children would actually wear. The only things I’m pretty safe buying for them are camisoles (for the girls, and maybe one for me) and funny t shirts (for the boy, and maybe one for me). I don’t really have any sort of sense of style or color matching ability. What this means is I wear black pants a LOT. Why don’t they make Garanimals for grownups? WHY??

Popular gifts for the youngsters:  McDonalds gift cards. Victoria’s Secret gift cards.  Walmart, or Target, or Plato’s Closet gift cards (for those children who like Abercrombie jeans without the Abercrombie price). Gas station gift cards. A gift card at virtually any store that would actually prevent me from picking out actual clothes, thinking, “Oh, (fill in name of unfortunate child) would just love this. It would look so great on them. So smart. She/he could even start a fad.”*

*Note to my mother:  nothing that you said would start a fad actually STARTED a fad. 

And of course, in their Christmas stockings, it’s pretty standard:  candy, scratchoff cards, body wash, a Christmas Pez thingie.  An orange.  A candy cane.  Hope they’re not looking at this because then they’d know what’s in their stocking.  Again.  For the fifth year in a row.

(Actually, thinking about this, why the orange? Why, because my mother used to put one in my stocking. Sometimes we’d poke the candy cane IN THE ORANGE and suck out orange juice. We were hardcore like that. I also remember my sister and I getting Leggs.  Remember? pantyhose in the egg container? Good times.)

No matter what you gift your children with, or how soon or late you shop, it’s a wonderful time of year for sharing with friends and family. That’s my focus. In the hustle and bustle of baking, shopping, holiday parties, etc, it’s really easy to lose sight of that.

And that leads me to remember one more thing that is on my Christmas list, every single year…that my family stay happy and healthy. It is really the most important thing in the world to me. Every year I hug my family a little tighter. And this year, there are four grandies who are old enough to know EXACTLY what all the fuss is at Christmas time and will be literally quivering with joy. It will be EPIC.

Merry Christmas!

MIA: Emilia Mancini

I know. I know. It’s been a while since I’ve released an Emilia Mancini book. But that is all going to change!

I have a series out for consideration right now and, being as hopeful as I can be, I’m thinking you’ll see something in 2018. Yup. Definitely in 2018. Sometime. In the next 365 days…

Something like this…

Mrs king ad

All Mrs. King’s Men is an erotic romance trilogy that highlights the marriage of Garrett and Mara King, starting with Mara’s realization that she’s in over her head with her calculating husband. She has spent six years pretending she is immune to his manipulations, but when he uses her body as a token in a business deal, she can no longer deny she is just a pawn in his games.

Deciding she has to find a way out of her marriage without losing custody of her son, Mara gets in touch with her own scheming side—a side she didn’t know existed, but just might be even more cunning than her husband’s.

Don’t know when. Don’t know how, but you little kittens will get this soon.

-Emilia

 

 

A Christmas Gift for YOU!

It’s Christmas time so I am giving books away.

Unconventional Beginnings-HighResAfter nearly a year, I have decided to provide Unconventional Beginnings to everyone. I have been giving it away to those who signed up for my newsletter, as a gift during several events, and often randomly. It is up on most retail sites permanently free. 

If you haven’t read it already, grab your free copy now. 

Blurb: 

He’s dead. But they can’t allow it to affect her. She’s too important.

Nine months into the pilot program for the top secret Joint All Female Special Operations School, Katlin Callahan–Malone’s husband is killed in action along with his entire SEAL team. The Pentagon brass wants to know how that happened, but the four highest ranking women in all the military services are more concerned about its influence on Katlin. She is pivotal to the success of their test project. Will the death of her husband change her mind about women being allowed in SpecOps?

Unconventional Beginnings sets the stage for the Black Swan series by giving you a glimpse into the lives of several main characters three years before Unrelenting Love, the first book in the series. Although Unconventional Beginnings is a cliffhanger, I have included the first three chapters of Unrelenting Love with this book.

Speaking of free, (hint, hint) I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter immediately.  Click HERE or cut and paste the link below….

http://www.kalyncooper.com/newsletter.html

I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

merry Christmas

Touch my Nook

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pic: tablet pc & book, adamr, freedigitalphotos.net

It was a Christmas present, my new Nook. I found out later that the very child I had made fun of for going out shopping on Black Friday had, in fact, waited in line for a very long, long time at a local store to buy a Nook for her mommy, at a very, very good price.

 

All that and a gift card to fill it! And didn’t I feel like a horse’s ass for teasing?

I immediately mess with it, in the process downloading what I found out later was a very naughty book veiled as a romance novel. It amounted to poorly written erotica. I read skimmed it and wished for a red pen the entire time. Don’t these people even edit? Or attend church?

I figured out how to find the good books, the really good books, and managed to blow through my gift card in under seven minutes. I also had several books pop up in my library that I didn’t order. In chatting with a friend later, I discovered that she too had a couple show up in her Nook, uninvited, right around the time she had gone into (rhymes with Smarms & Coble) where there is Wi-Fi, as opposed to her home, which is Wi-Fi-lacking.

She went back in to Smarms & Coble to find out why these books were downloaded into her library and wouldn’t you know it, those books were gone. Missing. She was unable to find them anywhere in her Nook and hadn’t pushed any buttons to remove them. Now, my friend is not a stupid person and has not begun seeing things that aren’t there. Yet.

However, the skeevy bookstore employee obviously decided to have a little fun with her.

Friend: Hi, I’ve only downloaded two books to my Nook, and I was just wondering why books I didn’t buy are being downloaded to my Nook? (hands over Nook)

Bookstore: (scrolls through her Nook library.) You must have downloaded them. Or someone lent them to you. But I only see two books in here.

Friend: (grabs Nook back, pages through) What the…They were just there!!!

Bookstore: (shrugs) Well, they’re not there now. Next customer in line?

Friend: Now, wait just a damn minute. I can barely download books I want. What makes you think I can lend books?

Bookstore: If they were ever even there (smirking) I’m thinking maybe that’s exactly what you did; you lent them to someone. You can do that, you know, lend your Nook library to someone. It’s in the directions. That’s probably what you did.

Friend: (voice is rising a little bit) I didn’t lend them to anyone! I just got this thing, and I can’t work it; what makes you think that I am so technologically gifted that suddenly I learned how to share my library with someone?

Bookstore: I’m just saying you probably touched your Nook to someone else’s. Did you touch Nooks?

Friend: (gasps) I’ve never, even seen another person’s Nook, much less touch them together or let someone touch mine! I’m not that kind of person!

Bookstore: You had to have touched Nooks with someone. It’s okay; we all are curious as to what other people’s Nooks look like. It’s human nature. Some people cover their Nooks with special decorations and some people just let them be au natural. (Giggles)

Friend: (quietly, defeated) Mine has a light on it so I can use it in bed.

Bookstore: Oh, a party girl, huh?

Because I was laughing so hard as she related that story to me, I hardly heard anything past “touching Nooks together.”

Wait…I think I already downloaded that book.

A Wreath On A Grave

This morning, I dropped my daughter off at school and then headed out to the cemetery to place a wreath at my son’s grave. Last year, our first Christmas without him, I hadn’t thought to do this, but to be fair, we were still reeling from the shock of his death, still struggling through all those firsts that one must go through those initial twelve months after an unexpected and tragic death. Luckily, my mother-in-law came to the rescue (as she so often does) and placed a wreath at his grave, even adding a blue ribbon instead of the traditional red, because that was his favorite color.

I admit, that hadn’t occurred to me as something we had to do after a loved one died. Probably because until last year, my husband and I were blessed with not having had to manage the death of a close loved one. Now we’ve discovered not only are we supposed to put a wreath at his gravesite each December, but we’re also supposed to maintain the area in the summer, too.

Okay, “supposed to” is a strong way to say it. You see, we chose to bury his ashes in a natural (aka green) cemetery. This means they don’t cut the grass, they don’t use pesticides to make it look perfect and pristine. The grave markers are boulders dug up from that very site, and you can either let the natural landscape (aka weeds) take over or you can plant your own flowers, so long as they’re native to Michigan.

I’ve had intentions since last spring to plant flowers: Bulbs for spring color and perennials from my own yard, selecting varietals that would ensure something was blooming for the entirety of the growing season. And it seems terribly appropriate that the flowers would come from my own yard, the one he played in, the one he grew up in.

Those intentions haven’t yet turned into reality because, well, I’m good at coming up with excuses to avoid doing things I don’t want to do. And kneeling in the dirt, digging into my son’s gravesite ranks damn high on the I Don’t Want To list. One of these years I’m sure that perspective will change. Hopefully, eventually, I’ll find some sort of comfort in doing that. If I keep telling myself that, it’ll come true, right?

And then there was the drive home. Taking my daughter to school has become routine, a new one created after my son died. She’s at a different school from the one he attended (on purpose), although we do have to drive past his old school every single day to get to hers. Today, because I dropped her off and then went to visit him, as I headed back to the house, my mind suddenly delved into territory I don’t often go into.

If he were still alive…

If today was just another day, and I’d dropped them both at school instead of have them take the bus. He would be in high school now, a freshman, so he’d get dropped off first, since high school has an earlier start than middle school. I would have made a giant circle, as the high school is further away from home than the middle school, and there are a couple lakes in between. The kids would have argued over who got to sit in the front seat. He probably would have won because he’d use the argument that he would get out of the car first, and then she could get into the front seat for the ride to her school. She would have acquiesced because she always deferred to him. He was the big brother, after all; larger than life, her idol.

Until he wasn’t.

That’s as far as I could get into that particular daydream. Not surprising. First, I’d just come from his gravesite, which is a guaranteed cry. Then, I’m thinking about things that simply cannot be, no matter how hard I wish for them. And when I think about it like that, it gets reeeeaaallly depressing, so I have to deliberately cut myself off and mentally change the channel to avoid that scary, dark path.

I sure wish he’d had that ability. Then I wouldn’t need it today.

 

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is an author trying to juggle the various aspects of real life, some of which are damned depressing. That’s probably why she insists upon writing happily ever afters. Because everyone deserves them, and since life isn’t always so accommodating, she ensures her books are. Check out her website at: www.tamilund.com.

Fifty Shades of Play

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photo Robert Zunikoff

 

Bondage. Spanking. Whips. Doms. Subs. Naughty yet fascinating words that generally have no place in my coffee-drinking, husband-hand-holding, go-to-bed-early life.

Certain authors have glamorized the whole kinky sex thing and made millions in the process. With the advent of e-readers, there are no incriminating book covers for the public to see, so no one knows what you’re reading. It makes erotica available for the masses to enjoy.

It’s everywhere.

And I’m curious because it appears spanking is not just a punishment anymore, but apparently something people enjoy as a prelude to, or in place of, sex.

I approach my husband about it. I tell him I’m looking to write some erotica that contains some spanking scenes. Would he be a willing participant in this experiment so I know whereof I speak when I put pen to paper?

We’ve been married ten years and I know him well enough to recognize an interested gleam in his eye when I see one. If we hadn’t been standing in the kitchen at 5:30 p.m. with my son sitting not 20 feet from us, his pants would already have been on the floor.

The agreed upon night arrives—at our age, we plan these things—and we’re both giggling like naughty teenagers and swilling coffee to stay awake for the festivities. Right before bed, one quick shot of whiskey for courage. It is pain, after all.

Before we set off for the sexual playground that is our bedroom, we set up the coffeemaker for the next day and set out work clothes. I toss in a load of laundry. He brushes his teeth and skips to the bedroom. I take my turn in the bathroom and head down the hall to join him.

The lights are off. My husband is lying face down on our bed, undressed except for a pair of red boxers with pink lips all over them. It’s a sign, I think. I hop into bed and give him a playful smack on his rear.

He leans up. “Did you put the dog in his room?”

“No talking,” I order, with a much harder, less playful smack. I wait for a reaction. “Feel anything?”

“Ouch.” He laughs. “Not really.”

I feel something, though. I think I have popped a blood vessel in my ring finger; it’s burning like fire.

“Maybe do it harder?” He sounds hopeful.

This is not going as I had envisioned. “I can’t smack any harder. I think I broke a blood vessel in my poor finger. It’s probably turning blue.”

“Speaking of blue, did you take my blue pants to the cleaners?”

“No talking, slave.” Forgetting my severe hand damage for a moment, I deliver a palm-stinging blow. Oh, the pain. I turn on the bedroom light to examine the heinous injury. Sure enough, my ring finger has a broken blood vessel and the entire digit is a lovely indigo color.

“Dammit. Yes, I took your stupid pants.” I’m the only one in pain here and it is definitely not conducive to romance.

I turn back to him. His head’s back on the pillow and he yawns. “You probably have enough material now, right?” I do? After two swats? I suddenly understand why the gag is used.

I give up on erotica research for the night. I sigh and pull my spa socks back on while he turns the bedroom light back off, then pulls me closer til we’re in our normal, snug, vanilla nighttime position—warm tummies together, legs intertwined just so, arms across each other. We’re both drowsy from the whiskey shot despite the coffee.

Right before I fall asleep he gives me a slow, warm, bone-melting kiss and I am reminded once again why I married him. “Let me know when you need to do more research. That was fun!” Seconds later, I hear the sound of his even sleep breathing.

I have always heard people who fall asleep quickly have a clear conscience. Perhaps he doesn’t need a spanking after all.

(originally written for Prompt Club, then published in “Not Your Mother’s Book on Sex” on 8/1/16)

Dear Santa: A Letter from the Dog

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Dear Santa,

I have penned several letters to you this year, all of them unanswered. This time, I waited until my human went to bed to use the laptop. Although you can’t read dog, I’m pretty sure you can read Times New Roman.

I have been a very good boy this year. I know this because my humans have told me so, over and over, especially when I’m outside using the potty.

Do you remember that present I asked for last year? A new playmate? And instead of a canine playmate, you bought the kitten they named Miss Whiskers? The one that showed up with a red bow on her tiny little kitten head?

It turns out that kittens are all cute and fluffy at first. Harmless. Tiny. Adorable. And then, before you know it, they turn on you.

Santa, I don’t want bones or chew toys this year. What I would really like this year is this: When you come to drop off the presents under the tree for my people, take that cat back with you. Please. That cat is a total beach. I know this because I heard my human say, “She never comes when I call. That cat is a little beach.”

And she is so mean! She hisses at me constantly, tricking my owners into thinking I’m the one being naughty. If I try to make friends and wag my tail at her, she tries to bite it. Once I bowed to her (yes, I’ll admit I was being sarcastic) and barked, and she whapped me across the nose. What other choice did I have but to chase her throughout the house?

It got me nowhere but chained up outside for an hour. Don’t get me wrong … I like outside, Santa, but the cat lay on the windowsill the entire time mocking me. It stung. I was humiliated. She was smug.

She frames me for household crimes, too. She unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper and left some by me while I napped. I got blamed. She got up on the counter and knocked down the box of dog treats. I know that mice can be a problem in the neighborhood so, Santa, I was merely keeping our home rodent free when I ate them all up. But did they thank me? No. I got a newspaper swat on the rear.

The worst thing, though, is that Miss Whiskers hides. All the time. And when I least expect it, she springs up from her hiding spot behind a door or whatnot and scares me half to death. Twice now, the fright has been enough to make me piddle a little bit on the floor. I bet you can guess who they blamed for that one, too.

As you can see, she has to go.

Sincerely,

Cooper the dog

PS: Sorry about the Christmas tree. The beach knocked it over.