THE IMMIGRANT QUANDARY
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The Boston Marathon tragedy has prompted knee jerk responses as well as thoughtful, nuanced discussions of immigration policy. When confronted with unspeakable evil, rational thought is often the first casualty. It’s tempting and even comforting to cocoon ourselves in familiar things and spout Nativist sentiments—Until we pause, take a breath, and look around us.

 Today’s Boston Globe recounted the events leading up to the capture of the miscreants. (I refuse to say alleged since the survivor has already confessed.) I was stunned by the surnames of first responders, police officers, and others who exhibited exceptional bravery in time of crisis. Irish, Italian, Polish, Hispanic—a veritable league of nations and races that reflects the strength and vitality of our great nation. Ironically, it was an immigrant from China who eluded the terrorists when they hijacked his vehicle, and sounded the final alarm.

 My point: they are the true face of immigration, normal Americans with shared values who seek to help not hurt their community, to build, not to destroy. We have escaped the stagnation and decline faced by other nations in part because of them. The influx of talents, ideas and zeal from other cultures continually revitalizes America. We are better because of them, and our values are a constant rebuke to extremists everywhere.

BANISH THE NICE GIRLS
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All their lives, women are urged to play fair and be “nice”. Often that is code for ‘don’t rock the boat’, or ‘know your place.’ Today with the passing of Margaret Thatcher the world lost a trailblazing feminist who showed us all that while niceness and popularity have their place, they are often irrelevant obstacles for women seeking to make their mark.

Lady Thatcher might well recoil from being labeled a feminist, but in the truest sense of that word, she embodied the triumph of courage and ability over gender stereotypes. She showed class conscious Brits that leadership was not the preserve of the monied elite, and forever laid to rest the belief that women were too timid, and weak to chart their nation’s destiny.

While the debate still rages in America over ‘having it all’, and ‘leaning in’, Mrs. Thatcher showed us how to do both. Wife, Oxford grad, mother of twins, chemist, barrister and awesome competitor, she neither asked for nor expected special consideration. She faced a barrage of fierce sometimes-vicious criticism, and soldiered on.

Women (and men) of all political stripes should identify with and learn from this iconic figure who embodied qualities not often seen on the public stage. How refreshing in an age of plastic politicos who rule by opinion polls and regurgitate meaningless pabulum to find someone willing to state her views and stand by them, despite the blowback. As the current debates over gun control and the budget illustrate, few of our current elected officials display that type of courage.

It is tempting to dismiss Margaret Thatcher as an irrelevant relic of the Cold War best consigned to the dustbin of history. I submit however, that her courage, grit and patriotism transcend time and provide important lessons to us all.

Was the ‘iron lady’ a nice girl? Heavens no! She was a role model in the best sense of the word.

Godspeed, Mrs. Thatcher. RIP

Mirror Mirror
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MIRROR, MIRROR

 Are all observations about appearance off the table in our politically correct society? President Obama recently stepped into a buzz saw by noting what was clear to anyone with eyes: California’s Attorney General is one beautiful woman. Immediately the chorus of protest arose (mostly from women’s groups), about objectifying females and devaluing their professional attainments.

As a card-carrying feminist and author who has fought and won those battles, I have a different view. Appreciating beauty is a gender-neutral trait that is also a fact of life. Gorgeous women and sizzling men raise our thermostats to boiling and make even the monogamous among us sit up and take notice. We experienced that phenomenon in Massachusetts recently with the senatorial candidacy of Scott Brown, a respected attorney, legislator and astoundingly handsome guy who once posed for Cosmo. People noticed and that’s not wrong.

My novels are categorized as romantic suspense and I happily subscribe to the formula that the protagonists will ALWAYS include an attractive woman and an especially hot guy. Naturally, the hero is also brilliant, successful and fabulously wealthy, just like the men one meets every day. In speaking with readers of all ages, I find that my mostly female audience expects and appreciates male beauty. After all, reading transports us into a land where fantasy becomes reality for at least a short while. We all need a chance to dream. Reality pummels you every time you stand in line or use public transportation, and very often it’s not pretty.

To those who lament the tendency of men (and women), to celebrate physical perfection, I say this: Get over it! It’s normal to acknowledge everything a person brings to the table in both form and substance. Let’s keep that in perspective and discuss the things that really count.

“Empty-Nest Nuttiness”
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I try not to overreact. Truly, I do. But when I see yet another publication lament about “bereft empty-nesters” (always women, may I add), I go CRAZY! Today’s Boston GLobe waxes on about women, “even those who worked full-time” who feel desolate when in the natural course of events, their children strike out on their own. It implies–hell, it outright states–that these unfortunate females have no more purpose in life now that their maternal duties have waned. I recognize that PARENTS may indeed long for and miss having their children close at hand.That’s a good thing, and not exclusively the domain of a female. But stable families forge bonds between parent and child that will never be eroded. I’ve heard far more grumbling about the “boom-erang” generation that returns to the nest.
Face facts: life has stages. That means change, growth and evolution. Don’t fight it–embrace it. And don’t consign all mothers to the group of aimless souls who bemoan the “Empty nest”. While you’re at it, please pledge never to use that absurd, essentially sexist phrase ever again.

Middle-Age Crazy
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What makes men of a certain age lose control of their senses and behave like callow youths? Since 60 is the new 40, I’m covering a lot of territory here. At the risk of sounding sexist, I contend that women are far too sensible to engage in pathetic, mirth-inducing attempts to recapture their youthwith a far younger partner. Leering, flirting and fantasizing may be fine in fiction or in private, but when exposed to the merciless light of day it is sad and potentially dangerous. Some not so innocent young women, from the Zumba instructor to the liquor clerk, draw a bead on vulnerable men with everything to lose.What follows may lead to humiliation, ruination, & occasionally, tragedy. Here’s my advice for guys seeking to recapture their lost youth. FORGET IT!

Tedium and Triumph-A Mixed Bag
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2.0 out of 5 stars, February 15, 2013
ByArlene Kay (Cape Cod Massachusetts)

 

This review is from: Gone Girl: A Novel (Hardcover)

I was eager to read GONE GIRL, the fabulously successful novel by Gillian FLynn. Frankly, as a writer myself, I find there is much to learn from most best sellers, even ones outside my own genre. The verdict on GONE GIRL is decidedly mixed. Flynn’s descriptive powers and character building are excellent as is her dialogue. She infused both Nick and Amy (the POV stars) with strong voices and provides enough details about their proclivities and flaws to hook the reader. Initially. Midway through this novel (not really a mystery, folks), I felt restless and wanted it to end already. GONE GIRL is at best a psychological study, an intense and overlong look at the implosion of a marriage.
Although neither character was perfect (who is?), my sympathies resided with Amy. Nick is the type of smug bounder who populates both fiction and true crime accounts. There’s a very Scott Peterson-ish tinge to this superficial, essential stupid fellow who has been indulged by women all his life. I also found Amy’s passivity unconvincing in a woman who spent her life on the upper fringes of Manhattan society. Move to MISSOURI? Come on, no man is worth that. Better to do hard time in an east coast prison.
For the reader who enjoys wallowing in the mind of a protagonist, GONE GIRL should be a satisfying read. I fail to see how any mystery reader could be satisfied with a plot that is so trite you can see it coming early on in the book.

Social Media
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Is using Social Media optional or obligatory for authors? Check out the NYTimes article 2/13/12 for some sobering facts. Like it or not, Twitter, FB, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. are permanent guests for anyone trying to market books. Naturally, a website and blog are also de rigour. I liken it to granite countertops–once only seen in high-end properties, now an expectation even in the most humble homes. Most publishers now demand that you have and ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in social media.They are considered to be sales vehicles even though the metrics lag far behind. I say get with the program. If the Renaissance greats had access to our communication devices, just consider what Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Machiavelli and their peers would have produced!

Pride And Prejudice
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Today marks 200 years since one of the truly great literary romances was published. I re-read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE every year, just to remind myself what inspired writing sounds like. N.B.–All your frustrated novelists–several publishers turned Jane Austen down when she submitted this masterpiece. There’s hope for us all!

Die Laughing – Guest Post For Laurence O’Brien – Crime and Mystery Writer
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This is all about, DIE LAUGHING, a cape cod mystery. 

Die Laughing cover

I’ve been a mystery buff since birth. I cut my teeth on Christie, sashayed through Sayres and worshipped at the well-shod boots of The Great Detective.

Small wonder that I’m a mystery writer! My first published novel (INTRUSION) combined romantic suspense with a medical mystery.

I switched to a third person cozy for my latest, DIE LAUGHING, and back again to first person for my next two. Odd as it may seem, my characters dictate which point of view best fits them.

As a reader, I adore unearthing clues, evaluating motives and finding the murderer. Any author who deprives me of that pleasure is guilty of foul play! Each of my novels allows  astute readers to unmask the culprit. In the process, I want them to enjoy the ride while keeping their tongues firmly in cheek. Droll observations and wry humor are my weaknesses and strength.

In the Christie tradition, I set DIE LAUGHING in a small Cape Cod town. It’s not St. Mary Mead but passion, greed and jealousy still abound. Now picture this:

A Cape Cod village, a grisly murder, and a priceless comic book collection. Mix these ingredients, stir in a side of romance, and serve a cozy mystery that thriller author C.E. Lawrence calls, “a rollicking good story.”

Die Laughing presents a cast of intriguing characters with secrets to hide and motives for murder.

Author Kevin Symmons had this to say about Die Laughing, “Agatha Christie meets Susan Isaacs … on steroids!”

I hope you enjoy it. A visit to Cape Cod is always interesting.

Author web site & blog: http://arlenekay.com

Author blog site: http://www.mysteryminx.com

Author twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AKMysteries

View video  Die Laughing – YouTube
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh-YgdzxBW0

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Thanks Arlene for being our second guest post writer. Your story is very interesting. I want to visit Cape Cod, but they only way that will happen in the near future will be by reading one of your books!

This guest post is the second in a regular series in 2013 where I will be showcasing emerging writers on this blog.

You can help by clicking through to their sites, buying their books, sharing this site on Twitter or Facebook and coming back, or by Following this site (click the button above right), to see who is next in a few days.

And  if you are a writer and want to be featured send me an email lob@yourasms.com and I will send you the submission guidelines.

Discretion Before Profit
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I’m not a complainer–not really. But MUST advertisers fill the airways with pitches for erectile dysfunction (trendily repackaged as ED), female sanitary products, catheters, canes and the like? And must these canny purveyors of merchandise always do so at DINNER time? I’ve learned to accept ads for funerals (final expenses, if you please), even though they typically suggest that the inconsiderate sod (usually a husband) saddled his poor family with disposing of him when the GOVERNMENT should pay. I mourn the demise of propriety and mystique–too much candor may be damaging to my health.