Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jesus and love? Yes, THAT Jesus.

I invited fellow author Julie Lynn Hayes to drop. She's written a story I'm delighted to help introduce. Of course, it's a love story. Between Jesus and Judas Iscariot. Yes, that Jesus.

The Making of Revelations: How it came to be

The idea was born many years ago. Over forty, actually. When I was a teenager. Back then, it didn’t have a name, and it had no real shape. But I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to tell the story of Judas Iscariot. The trouble was I didn’t know how. 

What drew me to Judas, is probably what you’re asking yourself, and that’s a valid question. Ask anyone else who Judas is and you’ll get answers that are probably all variations on a theme of betrayal. I’m not sure exactly when I began to question that, but I do know that when I saw Jesus Christ Superstar performed live back in 1971 (or thereabouts), I had an epiphany regarding him. I saw him, not as the bad guy as often portrayed, but someone who not only believed in Jesus but was willing to do what he needed him to do. For without Judas’ “betrayal” of Jesus, the story would not have worked out the way it did. It needed to happen that way. And if you read the Gospel of Judas, he was the only apostle who trusted Jesus enough to do that for him. Gives one food for thought, doesn’t it?

Very interesting, but where’s the story, I wondered. Was I going to take an historical perspective, research the man and his life? Easier said than done, especially back then. We had no Internet. We didn’t even have computers. Research was all done through books. Libraries had card catalogs, a far cry from today when you can log onto your library website and browse their selection, then request what you want. So I looked and I found bupkus (nothing). I had the Bible, of course, but it tends to be limited on information, as well as a bit biased.

So nothing was written, and I let it go, as my thoughts formulated in the back of my head. In the meantime, I was reading, watching… and learning. King of Kings was my first Biblical movie, and I loved it. Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayal of Jesus is very moving, and I was very enamored of the film. Jesus Christ Superstar – I think I know all the words, I’ve listened so many times. I liked the stage version, but the first film not so much. 

Besides watching these things and others, I read. Christopher Moore’s Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. What a fabulous book! I loved it! So much I bought the special edition. And I read The Gospel of Judas! Forty years ago I’d never heard of such a thing. Of course I read the DaVinci Code, and watched the movie. And everything began to percolate inside my head…

Then one day it happened. Judas spoke to me, for the first time. And I simply began to write it down, not knowing what he might say, or where his story might lead. It turned out to be quite the story and took me on quite the journey, and led to places that I didn’t expect it to. If he’d have spoken forty years ago, I would not have been ready to receive his message. But my life up until the moment that I first heard him speak prepared me. And the result is Revelations.

The original title was Kyrie Eleison, a tribute to the Mister Mr. song, Kyrie. Kyrie eleison means Christ, have mercy on us. But then fellow author Marie Sexton, who was reading Kyrie for me at the time, suggested a simpler title. A better title. Revelations. So Revelations it became.

I know there are people who will not like Revelations, and by extension, me. People who will not see the message it carries, only that it does not follow what they believe. But ultimately, no matter what you believe, Revelations is a story of love. Love is the message, and love is something that binds us all together.

Revelations is love.

Thank you for having me here, enjoy your day!

Judas has never been very popular, not in any incarnation that he and Jesus and the others have lived through. But he doesn't care about that. All he cares about is following the instructions of God as set forth in the script that they follow. And Jesus. For Judas has secretly loved the son of God for over two thousand years.
But now he decides that enough is enough, and he's tired of watching Jesus die far too early, and for what? This time Judas is determined to see that Jesus lives a long and happy life, no matter what price he has to pay to accomplish matter if he has to make a deal with the devil himself.
Revelations is a story of what could be, told by those who play it out, time after time after time, unbeknownst to the rest of mankind.  They've come back again, for yet another round.  But this time is going to be different.  


Prologue: God
            It's not always easy to sit on the sidelines and watch what is happening, to resist the urge to intervene in his best interest.  My son's that is. Jesus. But I do so, because I know it's for his own good.  As well as for the good of mankind. I can't let my concerns as his father override my vested interest in the fate of man. But sometimes that is easier said than done.
            This morning I am not alone. Someone else is with me, someone with his own agenda, although we are not as diametrically opposed as some would imagine us to be. Good and evil aren't the simplistic concepts some would portray them as being—there are more grey areas there than you might think. And rightly so.
            He smirks. Too much for my taste, I have to admit, but sometimes he does have his moments, and he too has a part to play in what is happening in the world of men. Someone needs to fill the role of the villain, after all.
            The stage is being set for the third act, the scripts have been handed round, and the actors are taking their places. Will this time end any differently than the others? That depends on my son, on Jesus. I'm thinking this will be the time when he'll make the change.
            "He'll change nothing," Lucifer interjects, although I've asked him nothing, certainly not inquired as to his opinion. 
            I glance at him. He's dressed to within an inch of his life, and wears the most ridiculous sunglasses I've ever seen. I decide not to comment on his fashion sense. "I think he might, this time. I think he's ready for change."
            Lucifer snorts. "It's been two thousand years, and neither one has exactly caught on yet. Why should this time be any different?"
            "Care to put your money where your mouth is?"
            He eyes me carefully. "I would, but you see you have this whole mystic omnipotent God thing going on. Personally, I don't care for those odds."
            I arch an eyebrow. "I may be omnipotent, but Jesus does have free will  and he does possess the ability to make his own decisions. You think I'd stack the deck in my son's favor? Just to win a bet with you?"
            "Let's say I'm taking no chances." He smiles. "Tell you what, though—give me free rein.  Let me do what I want, and you not say anything or do anything to interfere with me? As far as they're concerned, that is."
            I open my mouth to object, he hastily interjects. "No killing, I swear to it."
            That's better. I still have some measure of control over the serpent.
            "So be it." I agree, turning my attention back to where it had been, to my son.  I'm smirking now. Openly.
            O ye of little faith, watch and learn.

Julie Lynn Hayes was reading at the age of two and writing by the age of nine and always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Two marriages, five children, and more than forty years later, that is still her dream. She blames her younger daughters for introducing her to yaoi and the world of M/M love, a world which has captured her imagination and her heart and fueled her writing in ways she'd never dreamed of before. She especially loves stories of two men finding true love and happiness in one another's arms and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and two cats, loves books and movies, and hopes to be a world traveler some day. While working a temporary day job, she continues to write her books and stories and reviews, which she posts in various places on the internet. Her family thinks she is a bit off, but she doesn't mind. Marching to the beat of one's own drummer is a good thing, after all.  Her published works can be found at Dreamspinner Press, and MuseitUp Publishing, and she has also begun to self-publish at various places on the Internet.  
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Hot Man and a Quickie

 The hot man:

Romance cover model John Quinlan  generously shared his latest round of cover shots with me. This one is gorgeous, isn't it? 

Contact links for John:

The quickie:
(unedited excerpt from Carmine Club No. 1)

Her stomach tightened while she watched the bastard stroll up to her window like he had all day. Mac still walked with the same arrogant strut he'd had in his days as their high school quarterback. If he’d gone bald or gotten fat, Willa wouldn't mind the lecture she was about to get, but if possible, Mac looked better at forty-two than he had at eighteen. She wished she hadn't lowered the convertible top, so she could have the petty pleasure of making him have to ask her to roll down her window.
At least the prick had gone grey around his temples. Those glints of silver do not make him hotter. She caught herself raking her fingers through her hair and promptly squelched the classic signal of sexual attraction. 
“Where’s the damn fire?” Mac glared over mirrored sunglasses.  Of course the bastard's blue uniform shirt made his damn eyes look like two large drops of the Mediterranean. "I see you've still got a lead foot, Willa. Now you've got a rocket ship on wheels to go with it. That's a dangerous combination."
Turning to stare straight ahead, Willa flipped a hand over the side of the car, her license and insurance card held between two fingers. He made no move to take them. A minute ticked by. Then another. Her cheeks started to feel like they were the fire. Finally, he took her ID and proof of insurance. Gritting her teeth, she watched him from the corner of her eye. He slid them into the breast pocket of his shirt without a glance. The crackling voices from the small radio mounted on his shoulder unnerved her, adding to the static in her head.
“Step out of the car.”
Willa clenched her jaw, but refused to look at him. “I’ll do no such thing. I was speedin'. Write me a ticket. But I’m in a hurry, so if you could manage to do that efficiently, I’d appreciate it. In fact, why don’t you mail it? You have the address, don’t you? Carmine House, just up the road.”
 “Woman, you were doing more than twice the legal speed limit. Now you wanna add a charge of refusin' to comply with a lawful order? I can arrest you for both violations. Step out of the car, Willa.” Mac's voice had the metallic quality of a man used to being obeyed.
Infuriated, Willa clawed at the door handle, shoving the heavy door open with all her might. Mac sidestepped her petty gesture neatly, the way he'd avoided many a linebacker half their lifetimes ago.
“This is an abuse of authority.” Willa huffed, shoving her sunglasses to the top of her head so he couldn't miss her haughty look. Her temperature went up ten degrees when he smiled, slow as molasses. Her body reacted to the wayward image in her head—of Mac, his handcuffs, and a dim jail cell—adding to her ire.
“Willa, I just saved you from assaultin' an officer. That charge carries mandatory jail time.” His brows raised a notch, as if to ask why she was stalling.
The road's edge had a downhill grade of at least twenty degrees, turning the simple act of getting out of the low-slung car in her heels into a challenge to her dignity. Her skirt rode high on her thighs while she struggled. He stood there like a knot on a log, not offering her a hand. Grinning. Like a baboon.
Not that she wanted him to touch her. Hell, no. Finally pulling herself erect, looking anywhere except at Mac, she seethed at the way she’d fallen into his hands. Athens was home to the University of Georgia, the oldest state university in the nation. Despite the way the students swelled the population, this city was still a small place. She'd worked her ass off to avoid him since her return, only to end up standing so close she could smell his cheap aftershave. Willa drove her teeth into her tongue to keep from promising him she wouldn’t miss the next time, but he barked again, derailing her train of thought.
“Step to the rear of the vehicle and put your hands on the car.”
Shocked, Willa studied his eyes, peering at her over his gold rims. Mac was stubborn as a mule, a trait she doubted had softened with time. He'd been elected county sheriff two years ago, running on a platform promising to shut down adult bookstores and lock up more drunk drivers, winning by a landslide. Making him a danger to her and her club. Mac would never take a bribe.
 Her club was for consenting adults, but what she did wasn't legal, in the strictest terms. She auctioned women's sex fantasies to her male members for satisfaction. She took money from the winning bidder, making her guilty of pandering. Willa believed in the club's purpose enough to risk jail or public scorn, but she was in no hurry to explain to twelve god-fearing citizens of this town why their former homecoming queen, Georgia's one-time  representative in the Miss America pageant, and the ex-wife of one of the wealthiest men in the country had become a pimp. She could afford the ticket. She couldn't afford to give Mac an excuse to start nosing around. She absolutely couldn't risk inflaming the intent look in the sheriff's eyes. The heated examination he gave her, starting at her face, traveling to her shoes and back to her face, let her know what she'd suspected all along.  
Mac thought they had unfinished business.
Despite her cool reasoning, it was the ghost of eighteen-year old Willa who raised her chin and snapped. “I’ll do no such thing. You’re not gonna cop a cheap feel by pretendin' I need to be frisked, Andrew Mackenzie Rinehart.”

Thanks for dropping in. Have a great weekend!  

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Crack Effect

Ever known anyone addicted to crack? 

I have. My son. I'd like to apologize to him in advance for using him in this example. He's since turned his life around, gotten married and has a child on the way. He won't appreciate this reminder, I'm certain.

Yet the seven years of hell I endured when my son was a crack addict has been on my mind a good deal recently, for reasons unrelated to my child. I've been thinking about what I call 'the crack effect'. See, crack doesn’t just rip open the life of the addict. It reaches out to grab everyone who loves that addict by the throat.

The crack effect, more than the crack addiction itself, tears families apart in some ways I found shocking.
My son stole my debit card. He used it to buy his birthday gift from me. Without permission. I discovered he'd stolen my card when I went to buy his gift. Unwittingly, I gave my kid a seven-hundred dollar cocaine birthday party. Hell hath no fury like a mother at the end of her rope. I confronted him. Thanks to him, I'm pretty good at confrontation. He cried. He said he planned to repay me. Payday came. Payday went. No moolah was forthcoming from the munchkin. He had reasons. By this time, what he did best was make up hard luck stories.

I went to my bank and reported the theft. I took their form to the sheriff's department. I signed my name to the statement taken by the detective. The same officer came to my house to take my child in for questioning. He was charged and booked for felony theft by false pretense.

He called me to bail him out. My words? I'll never forget them. "I put you in jail for stealing seven hundred dollars from me, and you think I'm going to hand out thirty-five hundred more to bail you out? Reality check, kid. Time to grow up and accept responsibility for your choices."

I cried. Bitter tears. Tears of anger and frustration, and through it all, I held on to one hope. That at the end of his jail time, he'd be clean. Free of crack.

Then, the crack effect kicked in. He called every relative he could get to accept a collect call. And those relatives in turn called me. Not with sympathy about the tough choice I'd had to make. Oh, hell no.
They called to tell me they thought I was a horrible mother for putting my son in jail. My mother-in-law spoke the words I feel best illustrate the crack effect. "Why did you leave your debit card out where he could get to it?"

Did you catch that? That's the crack effect. It's a shift in perspective. The crack addict and thief wasn't to blame for his choices. I was. The entire mess became my fault because I didn't prevent my kid from stealing from me.

The crack effect tapped my mother, too. She was also being called, and she also didn't have the heart to deny the collect call from her only grandson. Her comment is equally etched in my memory. "But you could afford the seven hundred dollars. Did you have to put him in jail?"

In other words, I could afford for my son to steal from me, so why make a fuss?

Why does the crack effect happen? Glad you asked. After pondering the question for five or six years, I've decided the person exhibiting the crack effect has a need that has to be met, much like the addict. My son was begging his grandmothers to bail him out because I would not. Unable to refuse his collect calls and disturbed by his insistent bids to have his need met, these good Christian women developed a need. They needed the calls to stop. The easiest way to make that happen was to shame me into coughing up the bail money.

They both failed.

The rest of the story I'll save for another day. I've related the important part.

To this day, the crack effect lives on. I'm still the villain in this scenario. I'm wrong for believing I should be able to leave my debit card in the middle of my kitchen table, with the PIN number written on a sticky note if I choose, and have a reasonable expectation it will be there, unmolested, when I elect to pick it up again. I'm wrong for putting my son in jail and causing a disturbance in the family.

What does this mean? What's the point? Why am I blogging about a story I won’t finish for you?

Because the point here isn’t the perils of drug addiction.

The crack effect will wear you down, turn you inside out, and make you question the validity of every belief you ever had. And in the process, you will become lost in a fog of gray so thick, you might never see daylight again.

If you stand around long enough, listening to what a person suffering from the crack effect says, you will start to believe you're the fucking villain.  The real villain had no choice, see? He was compelled, for whatever reason, to make a bad choice. But you, you should choose to do what benefits—or causes the least amount of discomfort for— those suffering from the crack effect.

Even if the choice is to leave you crack addict out o the streets to steal from someone else. Even if you know, without a doubt, he will steal again.

I will tell you what I said then, and still say today. I did not cause my son's life to go to hell because of any choice I made. He made one choice. I made another. I made the best call in a tough situation. Don't dare think this was his first act of thievery. It happened to be his first act as an adult. Yeah, that's right, it was his seventeenth birthday. The minute my son was legally able to be charged as an adult in the state of South Carolina, he was standing at a teller machine with my debit card in his hand, committing a felony. The bank statement showed two withdrawals. One two minutes before midnight. One a minute after. (To get around the three hundred and fifty dollar per day withdrawal limit for my card, see?)

According to the law, one bad act.

Here's the question I want you to ponder.

What if some other mother's kid has stolen money? Assume there is a large pool of people suffering from the crack effect as well as from the original theft. Assume those people are insisting a felony and an egregious and ongoing breach of trust should be dipped in fog and called a 'private contractual matter', best left in silence. You know, waiting for payday, so the thief can hand some moolah back to those stolen from.  

Been there. Done that.

Ask my son what I'm going to do. He already knows.

On that note, I'd like to announce that the much-anticipated release of Incidental Contact, the third book in my De Marco Men series, will be delayed indefinitely.