Happy August! It’s a great time of year to listen to an audiobook

Hello fellow readers and writers.  It’s a great time of the year to listen to a novel. Learn and discover something new while working out, driving, passing time on a train or plane, or simply sitting on the couch and letting someone else read to you.  I’ve been a fan of audible.com since its inception.  First thing in the morning I go for a morning run while listening to a book.  I feed my mind and body, what a great way to start the day.  Hours of driving? No problem, time for a new story. Don’t get me wrong I love reading, but sometimes I just want to give my eyes a break.  Other times, I just don’t have time to read, but I can certainly listen.

Audible.com has a free listen for new members.  I encourage you to join and download my novel, Breakfast In Bimini, as your first listen. You won’t be disappointed with this fun, adventuresome story.  Simply click on a highlighted link to get started.  If you decide not to continue with membership, they make it easy to stop anytime with no further commitment.

 Breakfast In Bimini

If you’re already a member of audible and you’d like to listen and write a review of my novel then leave me your email address in the comments section and I’ll send you a code for a free review copy.

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Breakfast in Bimini part 2

I clicked my beer to his and said, “to our adventure.  There’s really nothing out here, is there?  I mean nothing between Bimini and Andros?”

He lit two cigarettes and handed me one.  He took a long draw and I mimicked his inhale.  “Just ocean creatures, submarines and pirates.” 

I burst out laughing.  “What Blackbeard, lost WWII German fighters and the Lockness monster?  Perhaps my statue came from Blackbeard’s ship.”

He looked at me and I could see his gaze through his sunglasses. “I’m serious.  AUTEC has a facility on Andros, they are part of the US Navy.  They do submarine testing in the Tongue of the Ocean.  And Andros is famous for harboring pirates, they steal boats from all over the Bahamas.”

He waited for my reaction, because I always had one.  I smirked.  “OK, perhaps that’s true.  So should I start looking for subs and pirate ships.  And what about the sea creatures?”

His seriousness continued as he put his cigarette butt into his empty beer bottle.  “The sea creatures I was referring to is just ocean life in general.  Fish, whales, dolphin, porpoises and all that.  And we probably don’t have to worry about subs or pirates until our trip tomorrow.  They are generally found south of where we’re going tonight.  Are you ready to press on?”

“Yes, let’s do it.”  I sat next to Luke on the center cushion as he stood navigating the waters.  I was a bit more attentive of the possibilities that existed in the deep blue sea.   I was searching for any signs of the life that existed below the surface.  The ocean floor was probably littered with artifacts from the 16th and 17th century when ships traversed the region trading goods from the new world to the old and vice versa.  If I had a submarine I would be searching for ancient ships and artifacts.  I would attach a blower or device to kick up the sand and unbury the past.  “How deep is it here?”  I asked loudly after much pondering.

“About twenty feet,” he shot back after a brief glance at his depth finder.  “It’s going drop to about 6000 feet here shortly and then shallow again as we approach Andros.”  He pointed straight ahead.  “There’s the northeast tip.”

I stood up and squinted.  “I see it.  Would you like another beer?”

“Yes. Please.”

I grabbed our two empties and carefully walked to the cooler on the back of the boat.  I pulled out two Klick lights and made my way back to Luke.  

“6000 feet.”  Luke called out.  “We’re in the Tongue of the Ocean briefly to get around some reefs.  And tomorrow we will be in the deep water until we get to Nassau.”

“Sweet.”  I hung over the side of the boat and peered into the sapphire sea, memorized by its depth and color as translucent and solid as the sapphire ring on my middle finger.  Unyielding at first glance but upon further examination I noticed the water’s diaphanous character.  Then without warning a dolphin shot into the air with a graceful flip back into the ocean.  “WOW.” I started clapping as Luke slowed down to a sailboat pace.  Two more leaped from the water and then started playing with the bow of our Intrepid.  I crawled up front admiring and cheering them on as they effortlessly shot back and forth in front of the boat. “Were not going to run them over, right?”

He smirked.  “No, they are very smart and know their relation to the boat.  They are just playful.”

I watched and sought out a connection.  I wanted to see the face of one of them.  I wanted to swim with them but I was terrified of jumping into the deep sea.  They played in our wake then I got a joyful glance just prior to another 180 flip into the air.  She was smiling, I least I thought of this dolphin as a she, although I can’t tell the difference between the sexes in porpoises. I guess the grace of these creatures is more feminine than masculine.  I smiled back and naturally started clapping again. 

“You know, porpoises are the only mammals who stay with their partner for life,” Luke said out of nowhere then continued. “They will have other sexual partners, but they go back to their mate.”

I contemplated this thought.  OK, what is my lover telling me.  Another flip, a solid smile and clap from me.  “What’s that mean,” I finally answered.

“I’m just saying.  Just sharing information.”

I gave him a sideways glance.  He grinned.  “OK, good to know.”  It makes sense to me and I like the idea of having a partner for life.  But human relationships are so much more complicated.  We bring in complex emotions like fear, jealously, and anger to name a few.  It would be nice if relationships existed with pure pleasure and playfulness and without negative emotions.  I let the thought go as the dolphins disappeared into their lighthearted world.

singing the blues

I’ve read two autobiographies lately by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and the blues and soul singer Ray Charles.  Both are impressive books with characteristics highlighting their diverse experiences and unique backgrounds.  Although very different in content and voice, they have many similarities. 

Both the Rolling Stones and Ray have a background in playing the blues.  I expected it from Ray but not from the Stones.  As I listen closely to their music, I can see the blues influence.  I’ve always been a  fan of  jazz, folk and blues music when listening to it live at a small club or bar, but I’ve never really paid attention to the classics.  Both Keith and Ray mention Muddy Waters as being a great blues musician.  An icon, a person to emulate.  I know the name.  I even named our floatation device in our archaeology lab,  Muddy Waters.  The name for me was obvious.  We poured in dirt, the mud went to the bottom and the seeds floated.  It’s important in archaeology when studying ancient diets and agriculture.  Our Muddy Water machine was well used and famous in our department. But what about the blues star?  How much did I know about him? 

Muddy is considered the father of modern Chicago blues and he was a huge influence in the 1960’s British blues craze.  He inspired not only blues musicians but also those who play rock ‘n’ roll, hard rock, folk, jazz, and country.  He was notorious for his use of the bottleneck  on electric guitar.  His work from the 1950s and early 1960s are particularly influential. Songs such as:  “I’ve Got My Mojo Working,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “She’s Nineteen Years Old”, and “Rolling and Tumbling” have all become classic songs, often covered by bands from many genres.  Other songs he’s known for are “You Need Love” (which inspired “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin), “I’m Ready, “Long Distance Call” and “Rock Me.”

It’s a well know fact that Keith was a drug user, a junkie.  But I had no idea that Ray Charles used drugs, especially heroin.  I might have suspected marijuana and perhaps cocaine, but something as addicting as heroin.  I was quite surprised when he talked honestly about this in his book.  I give both of them kudos for their candor.  And for being able to quit such a destructive  powerful drug.  I’ve never tried it, and never will.  The reputation of this drug has always kept my curiosity at bay.

For me perhaps the most humorous part of  Ray’s life was his sexual exploits.  When he first mentioned how much he loved “pussy” I cringed.  I laughed.  Ray, really.  Who would have thought.  I’m not sure why I had this reaction, I certainly didn’t with Keith.  In fact I expected more sexual encounters with Richards but it seems like Charles got more action, at least in his book.  And that was prior to the sexual revolution of the 1960’s.

As I mentioned they are both excellent books allowing a glimpse into the lives of two very talented musicians.  However, given the choice between the two I would read Keith’s book “Life” before “Brother Ray.”  Of course if you have the time to read both, then do so.

reflections of 2010

As we are about to enter a new era, I’d like to reflect back on this past year and everything that has happened in 2010.

It was this time last year when I found out that Black Rose Writing would publish my first book Intimate Encounters. Excitement and nerves consumed me.  As they were formatting my novel, self-doubt set in and then acceptance.  I quickly started researching the publishing industry, as well as social media and marketing sites for authors, something that I should have done months prior.  But better late than never.  I went full force self promoting and making connections with other authors.  One of me was not enough.  It became a full-time job with what seemed like very little return.  I decided I would give it my undivided attention and time for six months, then go back to what I love to do—write.

In the mean time I continued to follow my second love, traveling.  My husband and I along with some good friends explored the outer islands of the Bahamas.  For several weeks we flew our single engine airplanes from Florida to this tropical paradise, where our friend’s boat was waiting.  We spent lazy days fishing, drinking and laughing in the sun. Time stood still.  Stress was non-existent.

The traveling continued into the summer when we weren’t busy with work.  We headed up the east coast to Ohio, Delaware, Maryland and New York.  We had family obligations but also some much-needed quality time together.  The flying was amazing when the weather cooperated.  We stayed in the countryside and the big apple.  I unwillingly overcame my fear of bridges and tunnels. I learned to silence my mind through yoga. 

Old friends and new circled in and out of our lives.  A best friend I hadn’t seen in eight years visited for an emotional break from her husband. Death and divorce seemed to dominate the year.  At least the first half of 2010.  Let’s hope 2011 is better in that respect.

Fall brought many changes, mostly for the good.  I continued to promote Intimate Encounters with interviews and book signings.  I also took on another job as office manager for our company.  I kept busy while still managing to visit Los Angeles and the United Kingdom for a bit of culture.  I learned new skills such as Quickbooks, blogging and web design.  Quickbooks is still a challenge for me, but I have the basics down.  I’m not much of an accounting person, I just go through the motions and enter data.  I adopted new hobbies, one of the most rewarding being my yoga practice.    I haven’t had much time to dedicate to my second book.  I have the outline and plot and a few pages.  I’m playing with different points of view. For the new year this will be my biggest commitment.

As for the rest of the world in 2010?  Earthquakes, floods, war, bad economy, politics, riots.  So I stopped watching the news.  Nobody really covers unbiased world news anyway.

My new favorite songs of the year is Back to December by Taylor Swift and Breathe (2 am) by Anna Nalick.  It maybe an old one, but I connected to it this year. 

~ But you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on the cable and life’s like an hourglass glued to the table. No one can find the rewind, but girl… so cradle your head in your hands. And breathe, just breathe.~

Favorite books of the year are Stieg Larsson’s trilogy starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.

The best moments of the year.  Laughing with friends over silly things, giggling at myself, laughing with my husband to the point where I spit out my wine.

Happy New Year…and remember to breathe!  Life is a journey, so enjoy it!

book two excerpt. Bimini

I have a question for readers and writers alike.  I’m beginning my second book which spans several time periods and locations.  It starts in first person, but most of the book will be in the third person.  I’m thinking about putting it all into third person.  Any thoughts about the two?  Below is an excerpt in first person of my second book, unedited.  I’m sure it will change by the time I’m finished.  Any feedback is appreciated.

 

I ordered big fluffy pancakes and Luke opted for an omelet with cheese, a side of bacon and hash browns. Luke is over six feet tall with a muscular frame so he can afford a large meal.  On the other hand, I have a small frame and the pancakes would just sit in my belly for the rest of the day.  I would probably only make it through one of the pancakes, especially since I didn’t run this morning.

“Service in the Bahamas is slow,” he said gazing into my eyes.

“Can we walk along the beach while waiting,” I implored. 

“Sure.”  He signaled the waitress to let her know of our plans to return in a half hour.

We strolled hand in hand around the marina admiring the crystal clear turquoise water.  Jellyfish pulsated in unison as they clustered in small groups.  They were transparent pink with design similar to a four-leaf clover in the center, except more rounded than clover-like.  Some floated upside down exposing their tentacles while taking in salt water to the rhythm of a heartbeat.  So gracious.  A long Barracuda swam through the jellies.  Completely opposite the jellyfish’s grace, the Barracuda was clumsy and vicious looking.  His smile exposed his big teeth as he seemed to stare at me.

“That Barracuda is staring at me,” I said as I gawked back.

“It’s harmless.  The locals here eat them.”

“Yuck.”

We crossed over to the beach and I immediately started looking for shells, a collection hobby of mine.  Most of them were just pieces of shells, but I still rummaged through hoping to find a nice souvenir from our morning stop in Bimini.  The wind was lightly blowing from the southwest. As I was searching I stumbled upon a wooden statue.  It stood about two feet tall and was very primitive looking.  It was in good shape with only a few small barnacles clinging to the crevices in the statue.  It obviously had landed in Bimini from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

I ran over to Luke standing near the rocks jetting into the sea.

“Look what I found,” I said, keyed up and slightly out of breath as I held up the statue.

His eyes widened. “Wow.  That’s quite the find.”

I handed him the statue.  “Where do you think it came from?”  I asked, curious about his reply.

“Well it’s a southwest wind.  So perhaps Cuba.”

I took the statue back to examine.  “It doesn’t look Cuban.  Look at the eyes and nose.  The features are more African.”  I tilted the statue forward towards Luke.  “And there’s a large hole at the base of his head.  Like it was attached to something.”

He glanced at the top of the statue.  “Perhaps it was part of a ship or something.”  He smiled.  “You’re the archaeologist.  Research it.”

I lightly kissed him on the lips. “Do you think breakfast is ready yet?”

“Let’s find out,” He grabbed my hand and I proudly carried the statue back to the restaurant.

My first public reading

I had my first public reading at the 33rd Street Wine Bar in Fort Lauderdale. The wine bar is decorated classy modern style with excellent lighting.  A large wine showcase artfully blankets the east wall and it’s filled with some of my favorite wines.  Wrapping around the showcase is a beautifully cut granite counter lined with black bar stools.  A few couches and a coffee table provide a comfortable entryway and small round tables and stools hug the west wall. 

For my book event,  platters of cheese were strategically placed around the room and Sade played overhead.  The staff obviously had a sense of humor and had read my book.  They are some of the best in the business.  Knowledgeable, fun and welcoming they quickly made me feel like a friend. That’s true for any customer who enters their wine bar.  The owner, Candace, greeted everyone as they entered.  Amanda and Paul suggested wines to order and gave a generous pour.  Rob helped me set up the mic and stool on the stage for the reading,  giving comic relief in the process. 

Over the course of the evening I had three readings, starting with a somewhat normal scene, escalating for the second reading and a full on sex scene as my last reading.  Little did I know that the mic was hooked up to the speaker system projecting outside.  I’m sure that was interesting for someone just passing-by.

It was an excellent evening with old friends and new ones.  I got to meet another writer who’s completing his first novel.  It’s always a joy to share my writing and publishing experience, both the good and bad. I think all wine bars should have book readings.  We can start a new movement like the Beat Generation of the 1950’s and 60’s.  Anybody in?

sierra michaels events

I haven’t posted an excerpt from the book for a while so here’s one from chapter 12.  I have two book events coming up.  The first one is September 24th at 33rd Street Wine Bar in Fort Lauderdale, between 6:30 and 8:30.  The second is at Books and Books in Coral Gables on October 4th at 6pm.  Check out my website for more information at www.sierramichaels.com    
  
Chapter 12 excerpt:
  
Sandy winked and answered the phone. “No, this is her roommate, Cali. Would you like to see me? How about now?” She flirted, with a description of me that I would not have used. She giggled and glanced at me, took some notes, and hung up the phone. As she was hanging up I heard a knock at the door. Niccki answered as Sandy, and I remained silent.  
  
“You have a guy coming in twenty minutes or so,” Sandy said softly. “Angel worked earlier and left just before you got here. She saw four guys today.”     
 
“And what about the new girl, Samantha?”      

“She’s on her second.”      

 Niccki briefly came down to get some water, followed by someone I assumed was Samantha. She looked like a surfer, with a cute blond bob and a petite athletic body. She was barefoot and wearing pink undies and a tight white t-shirt that barely covered her B-sized breasts. She was carrying blue rubber gloves in her hand, and she threw them into the trash. She hurried out of the kitchen and reappeared wearing a white sundress covered in sunflowers.                        

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said to Sandy, not even acknowledging my presence.                       

“I guess that was Samantha,” I said as I looked in the trash to confirm my glove sighting. “And what’s up with the gloves?”     

 

Sandy laughed. “Yeah, she’s a strange one. I’ve seen all kinds of people in this business…none like her. She wears rubber gloves so no sperm touches her.” Sandy twirled her pen as she talked. “Guys request her based on her picture, but she has no regulars yet.”        
 
“I guess not. Rubber gloves! That can’t feel good.” I snickered and ran upstairs to get dressed and set up the room.              

What is Fiction?

What is fiction?

a. An imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented.

b. The act of inventing such a creation or pretense.

One of the beauties of being a novel writer is the freedom to create characters and ultimately a story.  A piece of work that is entertaining as it takes the reader into a different world, a previously unknown world.  A good writer will have the reader believing that the novel is true and actually happened.  And this becomes one of the dangers as an author.

Many writers, myself included, look at the world around us to create characters, scenes and actions.  We may mix truth with fiction, real characters and situations with false actions to produce a novel.  Writing fiction is an extension of what naturally happens in the world around us, unless you’re writing science fiction.  Events, actions and dialogue must achieve the same effect as non-fiction.  The end result is readers get blurred and the fictional piece becomes part of their reality.

We also use research to dive deep into a subject.  We have to know that subject extensively to convince the reader that the story is actually happening.  You don’t want your audience thinking, well that could never happen.  The story no longer becomes desirable and the book is never finished.  Readers will only “suspend disbelief” for a limited time.

Good fiction writing draws the reader into the novel because the characters and story seems interesting and believable.  The characters will be likable, detested, annoying and loved.  The story will have conflicts and resolutions as it moves forward.

Fiction makes life interesting.  My first novel, Intimate Encounters, and the one I’m working on now are both fiction.  My blog includes excerpts from my first novel, as well as my second.  It also includes random thoughts and travel both fiction and non-fiction.  In any writing, the truth depends more on the writer than the facts.

For my fellow writers, do you agree or disagree?

breakfast in bimini

My lover awoke me at sunrise for our three-week Bahamas vacation.  Our newly acquired 38 foot center console was packed with water, beer and munchies.  I was still half asleep and hung over from our late night lovemaking session. 

“Wake up,” he demanded as he stood over our bed.  “Let’s go. We can have breakfast in Bimini.”

I jumped out of bed excited about the trip and thoughts of having breakfast in a foreign country. 

“Good boat name,” I mumbled as I slipped into a bikini and shorts.

We only owned the boat for a week, and we were actively thinking about naming the boat the night before, prior to our unplanned raw sexual encounter.    Romantic thoughts of the movie and song “Breakfast at Tiffney’s” went through my mind as we pulled away from the dock. 

I helped with the dock lines and organized the boat for the two-hour crossing, all the while thinking about having breakfast in the Bahamas.  How often can you wake up and spend a few hours on the ocean and arrive in another country while most people are just going to work, I thought.  I was intrigued and fascinated by the journey.

The ocean was flat calm, like glass.  The rising sun bounced off the water and played with the sunlight. Flying fish teased the boat.  I saw Miami disappear on the horizon. We played a Jimmy Buffett CD loud as we drank our coffee.  I smelled the fresh salt air.  I admired the dinosaur-like pelican’s.  I looked forward to having Bahamian pancakes and the rest of our expedition.  I was beginning a new adventure…  A journey into the unknown, a voyage I welcomed and needed, as did my sweetheart.

In no time we arrived at Bimini Sands, a resort and restaurant  fifty miles from Miami, a two-hour boat ride.  I was refreshed and eager about breakfast.  I was someplace foreign and I loved it.  It was still early in my current world and things were just  brewing in Bimini.  I was awake and ready to explore.