My Interview about The Kindred Spirit Mailbox with Time Warner Cable News

Sunset-Beach-Kindred-Spirit-Mailbox-on-Time Warner Cable NewsI did an interview for Time Warner Cable News about the Kindred Spirit Mailbox a few weeks ago. It will air on their news channel, times can be found by checking the “Viewer Guide” at twcnews.com.

The interview sheds light on the creator of the mailbox, Claudia Sailor, and what is being done to keep the legacy of the mailbox going after her passing.

You can also watch it online on their website. Click Here for the link to see the video.

 

Sunset Beach Kindred Spirit Mailbox Time Warner Cable News

 

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My Take on Fifty Shades—The Movie

50 Shades of Grey Movie ReviewOn a blustery cold Sunday afternoon I managed to talk my travel buddy, the Ethel to my Lucy, to go to the movies to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” with me—despite the fact that she really did not like the book—and only the first one at that. I thought it would be weird to go by myself; going in tandem takes the smarmy out of watching soft porn in a public arena.

Sandy’s a good sport, but as anticipated, she didn’t like the movie. In fact, she embarrassed me twice by guffawing (she calls it snorting) at the whiplash escalation of Ana going from naïve virgin to, shall we say, anal-retentive in less than a week.

Here’s my take: It’s fantasy; it’s a jumping off point. It’s a long string of ideas suitable for customizing and building on. Every woman fantasizes. Some have to get into their head and imagine all kinds of things before the physical pleasure can build and the ultimate release can take place. Maybe there’s some fodder for the novice here.

The world of sadomasochism, where Mr. Grey resides, is not commonplace. You’re going to have to search it out if you want a part in it, it’s unlikely it will come and find you as it did for Ana. For instance: I have lived in a close-knit community for nineteen years. During that time I often heard rumors of swingers anxious to find partners. To this day, I have no idea whom any of them are. I didn’t find them, because I wasn’t looking for them. Not that it would have mattered—I don’t share, and I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t either. I doubt he’d have been up for it. Heh, heh.

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie ReviewFor me, it’s all about the romance. I love a good love story, and in the end, Ana and Christian do find their happily-ever-after. For those who haven’t read the books, you have two more movies to go, unless they wrap it up in one. I think the books are better than the movie in that the sex scenes build gradually so it makes more sense. Also you get the absolute conviction that Christian desires more than anything to give pleasure to Ana. And he does. He just gets around to it a little differently. As an aside here, the spankings and floggings are designed to generate heat and pool blood in the erotic arenas, making flesh plump and become ultra sensitive. Orgasms achieved in this fashion are more powerful, last longer, and usually allow for repeat performances. When the body is tingly and the nerve endings alive, any touch is more profound. So a good spanking is not always a bad thing. And blindfolds enhance other senses. Being bound makes it all about you, as you are clearly not expected to do anything but take. But there are extremes in everything and everyone has their individual limits. What the mind can conceive . . .

Back to Ana and Christian. I never got the premise of his abusive childhood affecting his relationships in such an extreme manner. His desire to stay remote (which ultimately doesn’t happen) outside of the sexual encounters seems farfetched to me. His deriving pleasure from inflicting pain to the levels he was accustomed to dealing with doesn’t fit into any fantasy I’ve ever dreamed up. The idea of whippings and lashings is over the top for me.

So, vanilla’s not a bad thing, and spice is good, but if my husband came home with a studded belt or a bullwhip, I’d have to tell him our happily-ever-after was on the rocks. There are a lot of things women will try in their head (the ultimate sex organ). But when it comes down to the real deal, most will only allow minor enhancements to ramp things up. On the other end, a submissive that will allow a man to scar her body, has given up way too much control. Agreeing to all this in a matter of weeks? Insane.

That said: knowledge is power. Young women should be aware this behavior exists and make sexual intimacy decisions long before their heart enters the picture. We all do stupid things for the man we love. Ana was curious and overwhelmed. The movie did an excellent job showing Christian’s affluence, allowing Ana to believe in the fairytale—the prince is always rich and powerful, the princess . . . fair and innocent.

The best part of the books was the steady banter of emails and voice mail messages they left for each other. I realize this is hard to do in movie format, but in my mind, the best dialogue is missing—the dry wit, the biting humor, the frustration, the devoted caring. The film’s conference table contract-negotiating scene evokes some of this as Ana asserts herself and makes some demands herself. In the end, Christian’s no-compromise attitude evolves when he realizes he loves Ana and that he wants her forever.

My take? Dakota Johnson makes a very nice Ana; it’s how I saw her when I read the books. Jamie Dornan makes an okay Christian; I pictured him as older and more in command of himself. And E.L. James? She wrote a nice love story with a lot of interesting hash in the middle.

 

 

 

 

After New Year’s Blog

My New Year’s resolutions were pretty typical: get better organized, be more mindful, and lose ten pounds by Valentine’s Day. We’re in the last days of the January now so it’s time for a progress report.

Jacqueline DeGroot OrganizationAll the drawers in the house have been cleaned, even the catchall in the kitchen. Stuff in my walk-in closet has been sorted, folded, hung, or recycled. It was sad to say goodbye to favorite Nine West and Aigner pumps from my career days. Reminiscing about the days when I could fit into a size-6 Liz Claiborne or Calvin Klein outfit is probably why the task took two days to accomplish. Vanity cabinets have been shed of ten-year-old makeup tubes and eye shadow pods that were never my best colors, but were too new to throw out. The attic has been all but stripped and scrubbed clean. Although I am still not able to part with my wedding dress circa 1972, despite my only daughter having been married in a dress of her own choosing.

Jacqueline DeGroot MindfulnessOn the mindless front? I added some coffee to my cup of tea last week, so this focusing on one thing at a time is not settling in yet. I am still finding myself roaming from room to room, wondering what the motivation was for my getting up. I am meditating daily, trying to center my thoughts and forcing myself to slow down and think things through. I have five daily devotionals because they were all so inspiring I couldn’t decide on just one. Interestingly enough, they all advocate being in the moment and not letting life get ahead of you. You should know: to-do lists are out, smelling the flower of your choice is in (not everyone likes roses). I am paying attention to what I am eating and taking the time to enjoy it more. Which leads me to the last resolution.

Jacqueline DeGroot DietOn January 5th, my husband Bill and I went on the 11-Day Diet. We’ve done this particular, tailored-to-you regimen before and had great success with it. In the past, both of us steadily lost weight while eating healthier. It’s eleven days on and then three days off before starting over again. You eat four small meals every day, all very simple, easily portable, designed to provide the protein, fiber, carbs, and nutrients necessary—and all a bit odd. A computer generates the meals compiled from a list of foods you select from a master list. There is no limit to how much you can eat, you eat until you feel full—but only the foods designated for that day. One meal might be as simple as shrimp and walnuts, another might be frozen yogurt and prunes.

Jacqueline DeGroot Buffalo Chicken DipOne day is all vegetables; one day is three meals consisting of fruit, the fourth is any deli meat sandwich. As I write this we are on day nine of the second cycle (Tuesday). I had fresh oranges and a salad for breakfast, I will have tuna salad and cheese for lunch, a low-fat latte and a chicken leg quarter for a snack, and for dinner we’ll have mixed vegetables and fresh apple slices. Tomorrow, Day-10 is a favorite: bacon strips and walnuts; broiled orange roughy and “Delicious” shrimp; a bowl of mixed vegetables and a tasty banana shake, and roast beef slices and turkey slices. You can eat the meals in any order, which is why I often opt for Swiss cheese and cashew nuts for breakfast—it’s quick, there are no dishes, and it’s surprisingly filling. You get the picture—small meals, several times a day, no limits on quantity. It’s a bit pricey as everything has to be fresh, and we always chose a variety of nuts, which are expensive, even at Sam’s. But the meals are a snap to make and clean up after. You can even have a glass of wine every evening, but most nights we chose not to have any. I mean really . . . it’s like one potato chip; it sets you up for wanting more. Bill timed it so we’re off on the weekends every other week so this weekend we’re able to attend a Super Bowl party this Sunday without guilt. So far he’s lost fifteen pounds and I’ve lost eight. I think it’s a given that I’ll lose ten by Valentine’s Day.

So what am I making for the Super Bowl feast? Louis Osteen’s Southern Pate, a fabulous pimento cheese spread served with flatbread, and Buffalo Chicken Dip with nachos. And of course, a bottomless bottle of champagne. Cheers ya’ll!

Holiday Traditions

Now that all of the holidays are over and a little bit of normalcy is coming back, I had a chance to reflect on how many of the things I love about this time of year (note: after Jan 2nd winter is awful). My family has so many traditions for Christmas and New Year’s that make it special. Here are a few snapshots from my Christmas in Northern Virginia:

Starting with the presents, this was actually taken in our home before we left. Poor Bill had to fit all of these in the car along with our other stuff. My children used to be quite the present snoops when they were young (they still are to some extent), so I would code the name tags with reindeer names so they wouldn’t know whose present was whose. I still make sure some of their gifts are addressed to Rudolph, Prancer, and Dasher.

Presents "Decking the Halls"

Presents “Decking the Halls”

Near my mother’s house in Northern Virgina there is a street in her community that always goes all out for Christmas lights. We like to pile in the car and cruise the neighborhood looking at the over the top displays. Here’s a few of the best:

Christmas Lights on Juniper Street

Christmas Lights on Juniper Street

Even The Simpsons had a Merry Christmas

Even The Simpsons had a Merry Christmas

The Grinch Stealing a Christmas Tree

The Grinch Stealing a Christmas Tree

Even though my kids are grown up now, they still leave cookies and milk (and carrots) out for Santa and his reindeer. Someone always sneaks down and munches on them.

Cookies for Santa

Cookies for Santa

We also spend Christmas Eve, after all the relatives have left, making Monkey Bread for Christmas morning. We snack on it while opening presents. Afterward, we make a big Christmas breakfast and spend the day lazing around in pajamas. This year we did a puzzle. The photo below is of an Amaryllis, known as the Christmas Flower, that bloomed on Christmas Day. My mother has a much greener thumb than I do.

Accomplished Puzzlers

Accomplished Puzzlers

Amaryllis that bloomed on Christmas

Amaryllis that bloomed on Christmas

And finally for New Year’s day, my favorite southern tradition, Hoppin’ John soup. It has black eyed peas and collards, meant to represent fortune that will come to you in the new year. The black eyed peas represent cents and the collards represent dollars.

Hoppin John

Hoppin’ John

I don’t know what the holidays would look like without these wonderful traditions. (Note: actually they look like sunny, warm days and a dead cat—see last year’s Holiday post). I’d love to hear some of your family’s special rituals for the holidays, feel free to share them below.

Cemetery Kids 2 is Out!

Cemetery Kids 2 The Ghosts of Bird Island Find a FamilyHope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I am lucky enough to still be enjoying a relaxing holiday with family and friends.

As much as I tried to have the second Cemetery Kids out before Christmas, life got in the way. However, I didn’t miss my deadline by muchmy latest book Cemetery Kids Ghosts of Bird Island Find a Family is out! It is only out as a Kindle E-book right now, but the printed version will be available next week on Amazon.com. The Pelican Bookstore in Sunset Beach will have it in stock next week and so will the local gift stores.

I truly enjoyed writing this book knowing how much everyone was looking forward to the sequel. Below is the blurb from the back cover, enjoy!

As Christmas approaches, Drew and Piper have their hands full with Kevin and eight bumbling ghosts. Connor, having become Kevin’s best friend, is now using his powers to protect Kevin from bullies at school. Piper is concerned that by him doing this, he could become a bully himself.

Holly, Nicholas and Victoria earn their form through very different rescues—one of which has Drew and Piper making long range plans. But Drew’s ex-girlfriend Marin has plans of her own. She wants Drew back and will go to any lengths to make that happen. The cemetery kids, through their misguided shenanigans, manage to convince Marin that Piper is an evil witch, when she’s really the evil one.

Kevin shows the stuff he’s made of when danger confronts his enemy; and one timely rescue due to the cemetery kids’ premonitions, becomes a game changer for the whole family. Christmas is a time of comfort, joy, and peace. For Piper, Drew, and their new family, the peace they seek is hard fought. But they’re working as a team now, so they’re worthy opponents for anything that could come their way.

Buy Cemetery Kids The Ghosts of Bird Island Find a Family on Amazon.com

Free Audio Book Contest Winners!

WinnersThank you all for entering the contest! I appreciate all of your support! I will be having another contest which ends December 24th for 5 more codes. (If you didn’t win this time you’re entered in the next drawing too!)

Here are the winners this time: Robin Gaskins, Jennifer Kingston, Betty LaFlame, Joanne Maly, and Rececca Hurd!

You will all receive an email with a free download code shortly!

Click Here to Enter Contest for Dec. 24th Drawing

The Secret of the Kindred Spirit Available on Audio Book!

The Secret of the Kindred Spirit available on Audio BookFor years I have wondered what it would be like to have one of my books available in an audio version. I often hear my characters in voice while writing, and knowing that writing witty dialogue is one of my strong points, I hoped that my readers could hear their voices, too. Now, with the advent of The Secret of the Kindred Spirit becoming an Audible book, I know that they can.

In June of this year, Alex Hyde-White of Punch Audio contacted me after he saw a CBS interview I was in about the Kindred Spirit Mailbox at Bird Island in Sunset Beach. He said he was intrigued by the story of the mailbox and thought others would be too. Had I ever considered doing an audio book?

I was surprised by how reasonable it was. I’d always thought producing an audio book would cost thousands. I was convinced to give it a try using one of my best selling books. I had once heard that in the world of self-publishing (one I’ve been in for fifteen years), that if you sold five thousand books, you were a best seller. With The Secret of the Kindred Spirit, I am a best seller three times over. Maybe it was time to hear my character’s voices come alive and to allow others to hear their stories as well.

Jacqueline DeGroot AuthorAlex sent me a link to the ACX website and within minutes I was able to audition narrators for the part. How cool was that? It was so much fun listening to the voices and imagining them as Cassie and Michael. But it was also a bit of work as there were so many that I liked. I was able to narrow my choices to five, and then Alex helped me narrow them further. My book is an erotic mystery. A murder is solved by clues left in the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. The hero is a police officer and the heroine is a bridge builder. As they work to solve the case, a torrid romance develops. Betsy Baker was chosen because Alex had confidence in her ability to read the “fun bits”—the parts that make a steamy romance such a good beach read. And since my book does take place on one of the best beaches in the Carolinas, having a trashy beach book that is already popular with both tourists and locals seemed a good way to start my foray into audio books.

I cannot wait to see how my book appeals to those living further away. As a workingwoman, mother and wife, I have not been able to market outside of my area. With my book being available on Audible, and with such a well-established company that will promote it worldwide, my story will be available to more readers. And Betsy, having done such a magnificent job of bringing my characters to life, will transport readers into some pretty spicy scenes. Living vicariously is what reading is all about—and getting to experience the best parts of people’s lives is a real bonus. As a romance writer, I give my characters a happily-ever-after that my readers can share in. Whether it’s one of my contemporary or historical novels, you can count on being wrapped up in good romance. And spice, lots of spice.

I am thrilled to have my first audio book on the market, and over the moon about Betsy making my story come alive. So if you’re snowed in this winter, come to the beach, via The Secret of the Kindred Spirit.

Click Here to Purchase my Audio Book on Amazon.com