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Veering Wildly Off Topic...

In light of today’s column in the Financial Times by well-respected, establishment economist Martin Wolf, titled “Capitalism and democracy: the strain is showing,” I wrote my senators AGAIN to ask them to reconsider their ongoing, relentless support of TPP (Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership).

Here is a copy of my letter:

Hello Senator,
I’m writing to request you reconsider your support of the TPP, particularly in light of today’s column by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e46e8c00-6b72-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c.html)

As he is a well-respected, establishment economist, I won’t even try to summarize or elaborate the financial end of things. The concerns expressed about the current economic trajectory are legitimate, the likely outcome real.

I would, though, like to make mention of the historical validity of the argument being made: when money—de facto power–gets concentrated in the hands of too few, civilizations decay.

Throughout history, governments and entire civilizations have reached towering heights–culturally, economically, militarily–then fallen when the vast benefits of that ‘greatness’ became reserved to an elite few. The fall is always directly or indirectly engineered from within, like a dying cell. Time and time again, the death happens as corruption breeds among the elite, as more and more money is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer—and not just because they have the money, but because THEY THEN HAVE THE POLITICAL POWER. They control the political process, and engineer it to benefit themselves.

Then in equal, reverse direction (although not usually in tandem; it usually takes the disenfranchised populace a while to catch up) unrest builds within the majority who are being cut out of the benefits & losing political agency. We are seeing that right now.

The USA has always been an experiment. For awhile, it was a great one. Now, we’re spiraling down a well-trodden path to the devolution of a political structure & a culture. To be great, we must become an experiment again, change our trajectory. We’ve done it before, for instance the New Deal. We must do something different, if we want to end up different.

That means stopping the current trajectory of greater wealth and power being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

Historically, it doesn’t need to be rebellion or revolt that brings down the establishment–although it certainly has been. Often, it is a decay, disempowerment and, importantly, a loss of civic INVESTMENT of the very thing that made the nation great in the first place: its citizens. The culture rots from its core.

People stop caring. They stop believing the government is actually a valid solution for their problems; indeed, they start thinking the government IS the problem. They start getting scared. And extreme. And violent. They make poorer, more reactive, more extreme choices in the hopes SOMETHING will shake things up.

And the ones who don’t get more extreme, go the other direction; they become apathetic. Willfully ignorant. Disengaged. Which is great for continuing whatever the current trajectory is, but is not good for making a civilization great. If you disenfranchise enough people, the core of the civilization, it’s like a rotting tree; a strong breeze can blow it over.

The fall will LOOK as though it was caused by the wind. People will talk about the wind, get outraged about it, point at it, talk about how dangerous it is, how it must be stopped….but in reality, it was our own rotting core.

Whether by disruption from within or winds from without, a government that willfully disenfranchises its citizenry DOES fall. And it usually becomes some far more sinister, at least for awhile.

That is the process and reality Martin Wolf discusses on in his article, and it impinges directly on trade agreements like TPP.

A cell dies when its ceases to carry out its functions. The function of government in a democracy is, by definition, to benefit the majority. Of note, that benefit is to accrue to ITS OWN citizens, not the citizens of, say, Indonesia. While a laudable goal, and one I fully support, it should not be the aim of US gov’t policy.

Despite there being some benefits of these sorts of trade agreements–no one is saying there are not—there are far too many downsides, that affect so many, who have so little to lose to begin with.

Trade agreements like TPP—however much better it may be than previous trade agreements—do not give most of their benefit to the many.  In the main, over and over again, the benefits accrue to the few. The SAME few. And ‘trickle-down economics,’ by whatever name, NEVER HAPPEN. (As an aside, I do not understand why the citizenry was deemed worthy of receiving only ‘trickles’ in the first place.)

Yes, of course, some medium- and small-sized businesses benefit, in small ways. No one is saying they won’t. But the vast, overwhelming majority of goodness goes to corporations. And this ‘goodness’ is both economic and political. And these agreements, for all that they are called TRADE agreements, go far beyond trade in the form of the ISDS, special trade courts that can—and do—override US policy AND LAW.

That, Senator, is governance without representation, and it is unconstitutional.

Please, please, please reconsider your support of TPP.

The Contemporary World

I write sexy medieval romance adventures but, as some of you already know, I also write hot, dirty-sexy, fun contemporary romances.

Yep. Check out the link on my website to Bella Love Books for proof.

More proof: here’s an excerpt from the current work-in-progress, DARE, a continuation of Finn & Janey’s story in SPIN. → → →

Warning: If you’re not in the mood for hot and dirty, stop reading, now!  Otherwise, step into the parlor….   Or rather, the construction zone.

***

I stood back, shoulder against a beam, watching him beat a nail into submission in the hot rays of late afternoon sunlight.  When he was done, he stepped back and wiped the inside of his forearm across his face, wiping away sweat.

I grabbed a little hand towel from the work table and handed it over, along with the bottle of water.

He smiled and took the towel and wiped his face, then took the water and drank, then looked into my eyes for a second. “I’d kiss you, but I’m all sweaty,” he said in apology, holding up his dusty hands as proof.

“I don’t care,” I said, complaining.

“You would if I got your pretty shirt all sweaty.”

I looked away, definitely pouting now, and touched a few things on the work table while he drank the water. 

“What you want, baby?” he said, all common man, water dropping off his chin.

“A problem to fix, maybe a disaster.  Sex.  A good movie. Something.”

“Spreadsheets got you down?” he said, teasing softly.

I twirled a penny I found on the table.  “I’m think I’ve got them conquered but….”

He leaned a shoulder against the beam and waited.

The penny dropped and I looked up. “They’re boring.”

Our eyes met. “And so you want dirty sex to crack the boredom,” he summarized.

“Exactly.”

Slowly, he smiled, then wiped his inner forearm over his face again.

Having unloaded on him, I turned away, surrendering to the fact that I had spreadsheets in my immediate future, not Finn doing bad boy things to me. “Well, I better get back to it. Come in inside when you’re ready to rescue me with dirty sex, and if I’m not dead yet, I’ll be waiting,” I said glumly, moving toward the door.

His hand grabbed me from behind and turned me and slammed me, not very gently, up against one of the construction beams. I gave a gasp of shock and stared at him.

“What?”

He looked down at me, all hard male planes of jaw and chin. “How dirty?”

My body went electric. That’s all it took, a two-word question, with all the promise of Finn behind it, and my body ignited.  

“Well,” I said shakily. “I was pretty bored, so….”

“So really dirty?”

“I think maybe-”

My wrists were gripped in one of his hard hands before the words were out. He grabbed a rope and circled it around my wrist, then knotted it and threw the excess over a high beam. It fell down and he tied it off. My wrist was bound.

“Jesus, Finn,” I whisper-gasped.  “What are you doing?”

“Tying you up,” he said, real casual, then did the same thing to my other hand, until I was trussed up like a horse in a stable, ready for grooming. My arms dangled, elbows bent at shoulder height, my wrists wrapped in soft cotton rope. 

“Finn,” I said in a warning tone.

He crouched in front of me and took my calf in his hand. I went stock still, except for, well, my entire body, which began shaking. “Finn,” I whispered sternly, as if someone could hear us from a hundred and fifty acres away.

“Yeah?” he said, not looking up as he lashed another rope around my ankle.

“What are you doing?”

The rope tightened, just a little, around my ankle as he flung the end of it around the nearby post and snaked it back to him.  “I’m tying you up,” he said again, maybe a little impatient that we’d already had a similar conversation.

“And then what?”

“Then I’m going to fuck your brains out.”

“Oh shit,” I whispered as he got to his feet and, now that I was all neatly knotted and trussed, he…went inside.

“Um, Finn?” I called out.

I heard the sound of water running. “What?”

“What are you doing?”

“Washing my hands.”

Oh, good. Not that I had specific fears about running water, but with Finn, you just never knew what he might have in mind.

And I loved it all.

Which scared me a lot.  Everything I thought I couldn’t do, couldn’t handle, Finn kept showing me I could.  God knows where we were headed next, emotionally speaking. And every other way.

He came back out, drying his hands on a towel, looking me over somewhat coolly.  His face revealed nothing, he looked impassive and remote, but a huge erection was pushing at the front of his jeans. 

“You look pretty good,” he said distantly, his gaze raking down me.

“Finn—”

“You’d look better with that shirt off though.”

“Well, I’m tied up, so—”

“And your shorts pulled down.”

Electric threads of heat snapped through me as he came to me. His hand, hard and work-hardened, skimmed gently down the front of me, and my head went back a bit. “How much do you like this shirt?” he asked, real soft.

“I hate this shirt,” I panted.

He reached for a knife in his tool belt and slit it right the hell open, like I was some spoil of war, slit it open down the front of me, until it hung like a tattered flag of a distant past where I once cared about silk shirts.

I almost came right there. My body jerked with a hard gasp. “Oh God.”

He saw the jerk, heard the gasp,  and smiled.  “Like that, babe? You want it rough?”

“Oh, God.” I couldn’t do anything but take the Lord’s name in vain.

He snapped the blade shut and tossed it onto the work bench, then reached both hands to my shorts and unbuttoned them, then unzipped, then roughly shoved them down as far as they would go, to mid thigh.

And there I was, hanging with ripped open shirt and my denim shorts around my thighs, my ankles tied to post beams, waiting for Finn to fuck my brains out.

He smiled and unbuckled his tool belt, like he was in some strip show, and everything on me that was woman did its thing: my nipples got hard, my pussy got wet, my skin rippled with a wave of hot-cold chills that made my head jerk back.

“Take off your jeans,” I whispered, wanting more show.

“Nope.”

I dragged my head back down. “‘Nope’?” I repeated, because that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

“I’m dressed, you’re not.”

“Right,” I said in an exhale. “I noticed that.”

“That’s not an observation, it’s information. That’s how it’s gonna go. You’re vulnerable, I’m not. You’re screaming and coming, I’m watching, making it happen.”

“Oh God,” I whispered. I was doomed. And loving it.

***

Soon, my lovelies, soon…..

If you have yet to read SPIN, you can get it here:

AmazoniBooks  |  Nook  | Kobo

 

Research Madness

As I switch over to a WordPress site, I was looking back on the old blog, hosted on Blogger, & I realized I haven’t shared any of my research madness with you for awhile.   What the heck…

Here’s a cool research tidbit from the writing of THE KING’S OUTLAW, in my USA Today® bestselling anthology CAPTURED BY A CELTIC WARRIOR.

There’s a jeweled dagger running though all four of the stories in the anthology, and since my story was appearing first, I wanted to set up a compelling, exciting tale for the dagger all the girls would be using.

I knew I wanted to set THE KING’S OUTLAW during the Second Crusade–you know, King Richard the Lion-Heart, THE LION IN WINTER period? (Tangent: Who else loves that movie??)

Anyhow, as I started my research, seeking an exciting dagger story, I came across the Hashashin, the real, original Assassins.

The Assassins were part of a Nizari sect of Islam that formed in 11th century, lead by the “Old Man of the Mountain,” whose headquarters was Alamut Castle (“Eagle’s Nest”) near what is now modern-day Tehran.

View from Alamut Castle

 

They were a military order, but conducted high-level espionage and political murders through one class of their order, the “fida’i.” These young men were highly trained in many arts and skills, from combat to linguistics to all manner of espionage techniques.

Although they did conduct highly public murders of high-ranking figures, they often worked covertly, in secret and quiet. They would assimilate into the towns and worlds around their targets, sometimes for months on end, and were immensely fond of daggers, sometimes poisoned, both as weapon and as threat.

Assassination of Nizamal-Mulk by a Hashshashin

 

One of many stories of their exploits: In 1092, the new sultan of the Seljuk empire, upon coronation, rebuffed a Hashashin (Assassin) ambassador.

Oops. Bad idea.

The sultan woke up one morning soon after with a dagger thrust into the ground beside his bed. He didn’t say anything about it–who wants to announce a weakness like that??– but a little while later, a messenger from the Assassins arrived, saying, “Did I not wish the sultan well that the dagger which was struck in the hard ground would have been planted on your soft breast.”

Oky-doky then. Interestingly, decades of a ceasefire ensued after this incident.

Saladin, the Christian Crusaders most worthy opponent, was repeatedly targeted by the Assassins, and finally came to terms with them. Crusader leaders did the same. And Prince Edward, later to become King Edward I of England, was wounded by an Assassin’s poisoned dagger in 1271 while crusading.

You can see why I started getting excited. What an amazing, dramatic real-life dagger story.

But wait, there’s more!

In 1192, the period of THE KING’S OUTLAW, the Assassins attacked and killed the crusader prince Conrad of Montferrat, in a public garden, when surrounded by his guards, three days before his coronation as the King of Jerusalem.

Whoa. Story-time.

But wait…there’s more! Rumors swirled that King Richard the Lionheart of England was the one who hired them to do the deed.

What??

Sold. I’ll buy the knife. This was exactly what I needed for THE KING’S OUTLAW.

A perfect, organic, dramatic background for the dagger in the Captured by a Celtic Warrior anthology.  I seized it.

Or rather, Tadhg O’Malley, my hard-core warrior, rather questionable hero seized it.  Took it and ran.  Now powerful, dangerous men are hunting him down, and he’ll do anything to complete his mission.  Anything at all.

Kidnap an innocent merchant.  Use her.  Play her for a fool.  Ignite a raging passion.  Take her against a wall, with her begging for more.  Run away with her.  Then be forced to decide, in the end, if he has what it takes to protect her, against all the odds, at the cost of his mission,  his life, and the very throne of England.

The other stories in the anthology are by Eliza Knight, Vonda Sinclair, & Jennifer Haymore. 

Want to read more about the dagger and Tadhg, and all the other hard heroes and the women they fall for??  Check it out all on vendors now!

Amazon     iBooks      Kobo      Barnes & Noble/Nook

 

 

New Blog...Again

Moving my blog and restarting it, but it’ll stay what it was before: a very loose blog. “Loose” as in “Will show up intermittently, when writing stories leaves me time to write blogs.” “Loose” as in “Topics will range over whatever story-ness is on the radar,” be it research tidbits to musings on what makes a hero, to exclusive excerpts to…whatever else. :)

So pull up a chair, pop the blog in your RSS feed, and listen to the silence, occasionally interspersed with blogginess. :) And whenever you have something to say, please let your voice be heard!