The ‘Wake Up in the Morning with a Smile’ Virus

Happiness and goals: these are gifts we give ourselves.


It’s been four years now and I’m still smitten with the happiness virus. Mine is fed by giving in to my love of writing. Such happiness is not to be cured but should be spread. Fortunate is she who has found her love and followed it. My advice to others: if you have something—a talent or maybe just a strong desire—that causes you to awaken with a grin, embrace it, cultivate it, and share it. It might be good for others, too.
Writing is my happiness. Sharing is my privilege. As of December 2012, I have composed four and a half novels (and published two of them), penned numerous novellas, spent a week in and about Greensboro, North Carolina for the sole purpose of research (it’s the home zone of most of my stories), purchased and/or downloaded dozens of research books, and cut and pasted countless rows into my Excel database of storylines for THE FAIRIES SAGA. I compulsively jot random plots, quotes, and themes into notebooks or tap them onto my smartphone, saving them for (possible) inclusion in future works. Writing is still my happiness.

November 12, 2012, after my return from Greensboro, NC

Goals are gifts we give ourselves and my next one is to travel to Australia in January 2014. Part of FAIRIES DOWN UNDER, the fifth in my series, transpires in January 1788 with the arrival of The First Fleet, the ships laden with prisoners transported from England to Australia. I want to endure the climate at the same time of year as did those hardy men and women, touch and smell the exotic flora, tread those historic sites, investigate the museums, and barefoot those seashores. It’s also a great time and place for research since I’ll be leaving Alaska in the icy gloom of winter to spend a couple of weeks in sunny, summertime Sydney.
Give yourself a gift, a small goal, not one of monetary gain, but of seeking happiness. Singing, sewing, serving others: do what truly makes you happy. A song written for the church choir, a cap crocheted for a new baby, a book of poems for your mother, mowing the lawn for the old couple next door. These are simple gifts; gifts to yourself, and also for others.
Happiness is ours to create, culture, and ultimately, to share.

I left room for my mega novel FAIRIES DOWN UNDER, still in process.

NOTE: I originally wrote this blog almost nine years ago. I think it still applies today. Well, except my ‘fifth’ novel is still not written. I skipped past that one for now, but I DID go to Australia for the research! There are thirteen in THE FAIRIES SAGA series now, and I’m at forty novels written and/or published. Do I still love to write? Absolutely!


Doctors in Love 2: Download to your KU Library or buy today for 99cents on a Countdown Deal!

Pleasure of Reading

Did you know that on the list of the most popular hobbies, reading is number one?Pleasures of Reading

Not surprising to me. I was one of those kids who started reading before I even got to kindergarten, and I haven’t stopped since.

As author George R.R. Martin said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before dying. One who never reads lives only one.”

Aside from the pleasure reading gives, apparently sharing in the lives of the characters in a book helps increase our ability to empathize with others and supports emotional development.

Reading is Good for the Brain

One study suggests a regular reading habit helps develop neural networks. Reading increases our ability for complex thinking. And it strengthens the brain against things like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

There is even a system of bibliotherapy where a psychologist recommends certain books for patients to read to help them work through certain life issues. I know they sure help me.

The news of the world can be harsh and upsetting. My favorite escape is to treat myself to a good book. A romance with a satisfying, swoon-worthy happily ever after!

If you are looking for a bundle of great reads to escape with as we head into autumn, check out Irresistible—Fall into Romance.

Fall Into Romance

Indiana Jones in Petra

I visited Petra almost ten years ago as part of a cruise that took us from Italy all the way to Singapore, sailing the Mediterranean, crossing the Suez Canal, and continuing through the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The blockbuster film Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade was partly filmed in the ancient city of Petra, a place unknown to much of the world before 1989. Indiana Jones was reviewed as “One of the best action-adventure films of all time,” and “One of the all-time greats. Harrison Ford is perfection-plus as Indiana Jones, so iconic a character that the AFI cited him as the second greatest movie hero of all time.”

“Archeology has never been so cool.”

Located between rugged desert canyons and mountains– in what is now the southwestern corner of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan– Petra was once a thriving trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106. The city sat empty and in near ruin for centuries. In the early 1800s, a European traveler disguised himself in Bedouin costume and infiltrated the mysterious site. In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in 2007 it was named one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Bab Al Siq’ is Arabic for gateway to the ‘siq’. Here we discovered squared monuments, the massive Djinn blocks, and the Obelisk Tomb, carved in the 1st century AD. Above the tomb are four pyramids as well as a niche with a statue in bas-relief that is a symbolic representation of the five people buried there. An inscription indicated that the tomb was used for Abdomanchos and his family, probably in 40- 70 AD.

The Siq, the main road that leads to the city, is a rock canal that measures 3 to 12 meters in width and reaches up to 80 meters in height. The main part of the Siq is created by natural rock formation and the rest was carved by the Nabataeans.

The siq opens up onto Petra’s most magnificent façade; the Treasury, or Al Khazna (in Arabic). It is almost 40 meters high and intricately decorated with Corinthian capitals, friezes, figures and more. The Treasury consists of two floors with a width of 25.30 meters and a height of 39.1 meters, and comprises three chambers. The most recent excavation has unearthed a graveyard beneath the Treasury. 

Almost three decades ago, George Lucas decided to use the monumental Treasury, the centerpiece of Jordan’s ancient city of Petra, as the exterior of The Temple of the Sun in his movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Cast and crew had to travel all the way to Jordan for just one day of shooting, because that’s all it took to make those scenes work.

The Treasury is crowned by a funerary urn, which according to local legend conceals a pharaoh’s treasure. Although the original function is still a mystery, The Treasury was probably constructed in the 1st century BC. However, in reality the urn represented a memorial for royalty.

While the filmmakers were allowed to have free access to the main entrance chamber, access is prohibited to most mortal visitors. The good news is that the most spectacular part of the location is its exterior – as well as the path you need to take to get there in the first place.

The 1.2 kilometer-long walk through a cleft called The Siq is the only way to access the Treasury and come back to the entrance.

Carved directly into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years.

Unfortunately with the pandemic going on for almost two years, I have stopped traveling. Instead I write non-stop and have finished writing a series of eight romance novels, LOVE PLANS. The five first books are on pre-order, and SAILING AWAY PLANS will be released tomorrow.

Love Plans Series:

Sailing Away Plans: The successful surgeon quits work to start a new life in the Caribbean, on his new boat and in a new clinic, but love strikes at the wrong time. [RELEASE DAY 9/2]

Dating Plans: Attraction sizzles between a divorced surgeon and a psychologist with a challenging daughter. Things get more difficult when the teenager’s father returns.

Rescue Plans: Arianna fought hard to escape the slums and become a flight nurse. Captain Lopez taught her to conquer fear. Can he help her forget the scum from the past and win her trust?

Wedding Plans: Will the doctor make the right decision between an angry fiancée and a medical emergency?

Baby Plans: They meet at the artificial insemination clinic. Zach is doing research for an article. Audrey is secretly getting a baby. But artificial insemination works in many ways…

The Case for BODICE RIPPER SEX ED by @TaylorLeeWrites

Bodice RipperWhen CNN featured the life of Jackie Collins whose books sold over 500 million copies worldwide and were translated into 40 different languages (and who some call the birthmother of the bodice ripper), I grinned at a quote from Collins’s fellow romantic writer Barbara Cartland. Calling Collin’s first book “nasty, filthy and disgusting,” Cartland added that Collins “was responsible for creating every pervert in Britain.” BTW, Collins’s novel The World Is Full of Married Men was banned in Australia and South Africa, but proved a hit with her British and US audiences.

The exchange reminded me of a great article in none other than the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times, titled: “Romance Novels Are The Best Sex-Ed.”

Seriously, this is news

The New York Times’ article, “We Need Bodice-Ripping Sex Ed” was written by contributing opinion writer Jennifer Weiner. In her clever, insightful article, Weiner claims that she got a smidgen of information about sex from her well-meaning parents. Another sliver came from junior high sex ed classes that named body parts and detailed all the bad things that can happen to you if you have sex. (Think hideous diseases and, of course, the ultimate curse, pregnancy.) Fortunately for Weiner, like a lot of us, she was a reader. And what did she read? Yep, you guessed it: Romance novels.

Weiner throws a bone to the likely readers of the NYT when she concedes:  “The literary establishment doesn’t have much love for women’s fiction, whether it’s romance, erotica or popular novels about love and marriage.”  She adds, “Romance novels come in for an extra helping of scorn. Critics sneer that they’re all heaving bosoms and throbbing manhoods, unrealistic, poorly written and politically incorrect.”

Not so, says Weiner. In the central theme of the article she insists, as an information-hungry teenager, the romance novels she read, “for all their soft core covers and happily-ever-afters, were quietly and not so quietly subversive. These books taught readers that sexual pleasure was something women could not just hope for but insist upon. They shaped my interactions with boys and men. And they helped make me a feminist.”

True Vindication for the Bodice Ripper

WOW! True vindication for those of us as teenagers hid in the closet, gobbling up everything from Gone with the Wind (you know the scene on the stairs when Rhett apparently has his way with a blushing Scarlet…) to Judith Krantz, to Erica Jong, etc., etc. Without understanding that we were being “brainwashed,” we romance readers came to believe that female pleasure was a must, something that we should insist upon.

Weiner explains, “Because these books were written for and consumed by women, female pleasure was an essential part of every story. Villains were easy to spot: they were the ones who left a woman “burning and unsatisfied.” She cites Shirley Conran’s “LACE” that features a heroine telling her feckless husband that she used an egg-timer to determine how long it took her to achieve orgasm on her own and that she’d be happy to teach him what to do.” Weiner adds with what I’m sure was a grin, “At 14, I never looked at hard- boiled eggs the same way again.”

Bring in the #MeToo Movement

Weiner takes her argument in favor of romance novels into the political issue of the day, the #MeToo Movement.  She quotes Bea Koch, the co-owner of the Ripped Bodice bookstore who says, “Romance novels teach readers that all partners are equal participants in a sexual relationship….In some instances it can be a literal roadmap for how to bring up difficult topics with a partner. They give a roadmap to people wanting to experiment with their sexuality, or even get in touch with what they want and need in a sexual relationship.”

Are romance novels “just porn” as so many reviewers sniff?  Given the rampant availability of porn, that is a worthwhile question to ask.  One recent study found that “79 percent of men and 76 percent of women look at a pornographic website at least every month, another that three out of 10 men in that age group were daily viewers.” In contrast, those of us who read and write about a range of intimacy know that while “sex might be easy, relationships are hard.” Comparing romance novels to porn, Weiner says, “The book has the ability to paint a deeper picture. A 400 page novel can teach you more about relationships that any X-rated clip.”

Equal Empowerment

In the current climate where so many people, men and women, are wrestling with crossed wires and mixed signals, Weiner concludes, “If we want men and women equally empowered to form real connection, to talk honestly and openly about who they are and what they want, there are worse places to start than curling up with a good book.”

Amen.

****

P.S. If you like your Bodice Ripper books with no holds barred, check out:  JAKE: The Justice Brothers Series. Trust me. These guys and gals don’t need egg-timers!

Jake Taylor Lee

It’s FREE August 27- 31!!!

  • The new Tribal Police Chief, determined to go-it-alone, is as brazen as she is beautiful
  • The sophisticated Commander of the DPD, is the acknowledged law enforcement leader in the state–and the one Justice Brother no woman has been able to snare
  • The murder of a young Native girl threatens their professional relationship and puts their passionate love affair in the crosshairs
  • Together they discover that Justice—like Love– isn’t always fair or

WARNING: Romance so HOT it singes the pages.  HOT, tough, explicit. Not for the faint at heart.  Definitely bring a fan!

And if you can’t get enough of sexy heroes and heroines grab a terrific collection by my author friends.:

Unforgettable Deceptions: Heartbreak and Revenge

Unforgettable Deceptions H and R

My book in the Box Set is: 

Betrayed Taylor Lee

BETRAYED 

A rising-star political hotshot wants Viviana’s expertise and to bask in her media aura. And not incidentally, he wants her. 

Viviana is hard enough to control. Now Jax has to fend off an interloper who is almost as sexy and arrogant as he is. And that’s saying something.

In the ultimate betrayal, Viviana is forced to acknowledge that her infamous go-it-alone MO has not served her well. In fact, she almost loses everything important to her, including the man she loves above all else.