Monday, October 20, 2014

She Ain't Your Typical Snow White

Because who hasn't wanted to read the story of Snow White, retold where she's an amazing badass? Who hunts vampires?

Pleased to welcome to Writing in Flow bestselling author Rebekah R. Ganiere, and her book, Snow The Vampire Slayer.
Lady Snow Gwyn is tired of playing "mother" to her seven Vampire Slaying brothers. For the past two years, she's yearned to be out there fighting at their side as they hunt for bloodsuckers in the black of night. Snow is as good a fighter as any man, but she wasn't called to be a Slayer. A mere formality in her book.

 Prince Sageren, Son of Lothar has spent the last fifty years in exile, awaiting the day when he can finally avenge his family and take back his throne. Barely existing, he's forced to face his inner demons and the monster he once was, compelling him to vow to never drink from humans again. A simple enough task--until he crosses paths with a human who makes his fangs ache to drain her.
When Snow runs into Prince Sage on a late night trip to the woods, she's torn between the urge to kill him and the desire to succumb to the feeling he stirs within her. And when Snow's life is threatened by the same evil that murdered his family, Prince Sage must enlist the aid of Snow's brothers to not only help him save her life, but to also regain his rightful place as King of the Vampires.
 If Sage can keep the Slayers from killing him first.

Sounds delish, amirite? Here's an excerpt:

Run away. Run now. He wanted to scream. But he couldn’t. Drink her dry. Make her your own and you’ll never be alone again. He pounded on his skull. His gaze met hers and he suddenly lost all reserve.

One moment he was inches away, the next he grabbed her braid and forced her body against his, crushing her lips with his own. His tongue plunged deep into her mouth. She stiffened at his touch initially, but then relaxed against him. He needed this.

Her supple body pressed against his, her curves sparking every inch of his skin to wake up and pay attention. Out of sheer will, he forced his fangs at bay. He wanted her all to himself at that moment. Just her. The feel of her lips on his lips. Her tongue danced and licked his with a palpable need. Her apparent lack of experience made Sage savor her all the more.

He was dangerously close to losing control. She pushed against him roughly and he let go. Her eyes widened before hardening. Quick as light, she swung to slap him, but he caught her wrist.

“You don’t want to do that, love. You’ll split your palm open again.”

“You had no right to kiss me.”

Need pounded through him, making his body quake. He let go of her wrist. “I didn’t see you protesting too much.”

“I…I…” Her mouth opened and closed several times, but no words formed.

His gaze trained on her throat. The pulsing vein and the thundering of her heartbeat called to him. He licked his lips.

He stepped forward, gripped her arms and locked his eyes with hers. Her pupils contracted and then flooded open.

“You will go straight to the cabin. You will get your things and you will run. Run ‘til you get safe in your bed. And when you wake up in the morning, you will remember nothing.”

Her eyes glazed over and he eased his grasp on her. She picked up her sword and ran. A minute later, the light in the cabin flickered out and the door slammed. Sage didn’t dare let himself even breathe until he knew she’d gone, for fear that he would chase her down and ravish her.

When he no longer heard her footsteps, he fell to his knees and clutched the bloodied gauze she’d left behind. So long he had been in exile, underground. So long he’d denied himself the companionship of a woman. And here, in the middle of a glade, he’d found her. His heart’s desire was a human. What the hell was he going to do now?


Rebekah R. Ganiere is an award winning author. Her novel Dead Awakenings, debuted in January 2014. Red the Were Hunter, the first in her Farielle Series, released in May. The second book Snow the Vampire Slayer was released in September 22, 2014. And her trilogy The Society will be released Nov. 17th 2014 by Kensington's Lyrical Press.

Rebekah is the VP of Communications of the RWA FFP Chapter as well as a member of her local Los Angeles and Orange County chapters. In her spare time when she isn't writing you can find her moderating on or hanging out with her husband, four children and her English Bulldog, rabbit, two bearded dragons, and two tortoises. 

The escaped snake has yet to be found.

Stalk Find Rebekah:

Or, ask Rebekah a question here.
I'll be guesting on her blog next Monday, yeah, me!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Slut of the Month: Coco Chanel

Abandoned orphan. Cocotte (kept woman) and Couturière. Nazi-lover?

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel did not live an easy nor uncontroversial life. Her parents: mother Jeanne, a landrywoman, and father Albert Chanel, a traveling street vendor, were unmarried at the time of her birth, though persuaded (shotgun marriage?) to formally wed, several children later. When Gabrielle was 12, her mother died; she and her two surviving sisters were sent to the convent of Aubazine in Central France, while the two boys were sent to work as farm laborers.

Later, when Gabrielle "aged out" of the convent at age 18, she (and her sisters?) found work as seamstresses (having been trained in sewing by the nuns) during the day, and sang and danced in La Rotonde, as a poseuse, one of the performers who entertained between star turns. As shown in the clip, below, from the movie Coco Before Chanel, the pavilions were dark, crowded, noisy venues.

It is thought to be here that Chanel picked up the nickname Coco, perhaps from one of the popular songs she frequently performed.

To advance, the girls had to present considerable talent, to move up to a star position. Another option was to attract a protector.

Coco did not have the singing or dancing talent to move to a star position.

She did, however, succeed in attracting the interest of ex-calvalry officer, textile heir Étienne Balsan, and lived with him in  his chateau, Royallieu for the next three years.

A Child is Born

Julia-Berthe, Coco's older sister, is supposed to have married, given birth, and committed suicide when the boy, André Palasse, was six. Whereupon Coco adopted the boy, and promptly shipped him off to boarding school in England.

But there were persistent rumors that the boy belonged not to Julia, but to Coco, probably by Balsan. In any event, Coco did not bear any (other) children, so Palasse would become her sole heir, and perhaps, her most important emotional connection, outside of "Boy" Capel.

Enter Boy Capel - Lover, Sponsor, Muse

While living with Balsan, Coco would fall in love with and "run away with" his friend Captain Arthur "Boy" Capel, a member of the English aristocracy. He established Coco in a Paris apartment, and would finance the fashion boutiques Coco opened in Paris, Deauville, and Biarritz.

At a time when women's fashions imprisoned, even distorted women's bodies in tight corsets and many yards of stiff, fussy fabric, Chanel's designs were revolutionary and boasted simple, clean lines. They used fabric like jersey that breathed, and moved, and allowed women to breathe, and move.  They were modeled upon men's fashions, in large part, those seen and admired by Coco upon her lover, Boy Capel.

It didn't hurt that these styles were also most flattering to Chanel's own lean, athletic, boyish figure.

Fashionable women couldn't get enough. To Capel's surprise, Chanel repaid all the amounts he had "loaned' her (most men at that time considered such loans to a mistress to be a gift) in a short period of time.

And then Capel was killed, in an auto accident in 1919. Never mind that he had married, elsewhere; never mind that Chanel herself had taken other lovers. twenty-five years later Chanel would refer to his loss as "losing everything."


The Parfum That Launched a Thousand Affairs

en: Chanel No.5 parfume
en: Chanel No.5 parfume
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having launched a successful clothing brand, Chanel branched out into scents.

Traditionally, women's fragrances around 1920 were either single floral notes (for respectable women) or heavy, musky aromas. Working with parfumier Ernest Beaux, who for the first time used aldehydes in the process, Chanel is said to have selected the fifth vial (of ten) as the mix she sought.

In 1921, Chanel launched her signature fragrance, Chanel No 5, which included oils of jasmine and tuberose. Depending on who told the story, the "invisible" flask would be based upon either the men's toiletry bottles Boy used, or perhaps his alcohol decanters.

In any event, the sales of Chanel No. 5 would make Chanel a very, very rich woman, even if it would make her partners in the endeavor even richer. Pierre and Paul Wertheimer would finance, produce, market and distribute Chanel No. 5, for 70%, and Theophile Bader, founder of the Galeries Lafayette department store, would receive 20%. During WWII, Chanel would become unhappy with her 10% (especially as the Wertheimers had moved its manufacturing to America, and were not originally sharing the worldwide sales) and she would try to seize greater control of the company.

The Only Thing She Sewed Up Was Her Designs

via Buzzfeed
Even though Boy Capel was the great love of her life, Coco did not stop being a sexually active women involved with other men, even before his death, let alone afterwards.  Many lovers were famous, such as Igor Stravinsky, the Duke of Westminster (English), Grand Duke Dmitri Romanov (Russian), poet Pierre Reverdy, illustrator Paul Iribe. Some say she had more than a close friendship with the Prince of Wales (later to abdicate his throne for American divorcee Wallis Simpson). She maintained a lifelong friendship with Winston Churchill, as well. Some claim her friendship with Misia Sert, wife of Spanish painter Jose-Maria Sert, included a sexual element.

Almost all of her lovers remained friends and admirers for the rest of their lives. In cases where they were or became indigent, she would often support them (and their families) in their declining years.

Chanel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Somehow, Chanel also found time to continue her work as a designer, clothing that not only bore her elegantly simple and distinctive logo, but a very distinctive "look" that women all over the world wanted to wear. Unlike other designers, Coco was happy to let her designs be copied by others, correctly understanding that this only created a greater desire for the real items.  She also designed jewelry, and a handbag that is still famous today,

But What About the Nazi Years?

What has come to light in recent years is Chanel's early involvement with the Nazi party. While she was called before French investigators to answer allegations more than once, she was always freed - due to Winston Churchill's influence, is one rumor, due to lack of evidence was the reason given.

What is undeniable is that:

  • Chanel spent six of her formative years in a Catholic convent at a time when the Catholic Church was virulently anti-Semitic.
  • Her lover and fiance Paul Iribe wrote and published (with Chanel's funding) a magazine that quite frequently ran articles about how France was being destroyed from within by the Jews.
  • Her lover the Duke of Westminster also made frequent anti-Semitic statements.
  • She was able to continue to live at The Hotel Ritz when most Parisian tenants were evicted from it to make room for German officers (although she did have to change apartments).
  • She took as her (younger) lover during those years a professional German spy, Baron von Dincklage.
  • Her nephew (son?), André Palasse, was a prisoner in a German POW camp, later released.
  • She engaged in a bizarre attempt to end the war that was called Operation Modelhut and involved her and her connection Vera Bate Lombardi, and a trip to Madrid, Spain.
  • The chief of SS intelligence, General Walter Schellenberg, was convicted at Nuremberg of war crimes, but released in 1951 with incurable liver disease. Chanel paid for his and his family's living expenses and medical care, and for his funeral.

via Buzzfeed
An interesting statement, especially paired with this picture.
To me, she looks very cold and hard here.
This has been one of the hardest "Slut" pieces to write, because the idea of anyone willingly, knowingly, cooperating with the Nazi's and/or Hitler's "Final Solution" makes me want to puke.

However... I have learned that history is flexible, and historians and biographers bring their own baggage into their view of a subject. They can prove that Chanel cooperated with the Nazis, and had a Nazi officer as her lover. They can - and do - explain WHY they think she did that, but neither they - nor we - can see into her mind to really know.

My book club has been reading a number of WWII-themed books in the last few years, from The Book Thief to The Girl You Left Behind, plus several more, and I have come to understand better that sometimes people do what seems like horrible things on the outside, for what are internally admirable motives, like the French woman in Girl who pairs up with a German officer and acts as a double agent, sneaking in supplies and news, even though she is despised and spit upon by the people in her village.

My own opinion is that Chanel admired the Nazi Party and disliked Jews, except for her own particular friends, just as people can be racist and have black friends. She felt that the Nazi system of government was better than the communism/Bolshevik revolution in Russia, for France, and bore a grudge against the Westheimers (more Jews!) for what she perceived as cheating her.

However, It is also possible that Chanel was biting her tongue till it bled when her lovers made anti-Semitic comments. That she did what she did during the occupation and war to safeguard the life of her nephew, André Palasse.

Or, it is possible, she was simply determined to survive, and always "went" with what she perceived to be the winning team, without having any personal philosophy at all. Can any of us say, for sure, what Chanel felt, and why she did what she did?

Last March Down the Runway

In 1954, after a 15 year absence, Chanel returned to couture with a new collection. Paris felt it was the same old, same old... and while to a certain extent England and America did too, they also loved classic Chanel, and made it a financial success.

Coco Chanel lived to be 87, dying at The Hotel Ritz in 1971. Despite her early life of poverty and struggle, despite living through two World Wars, a long-standing morphine addiction, death of lovers and friends, and so much more, she achieved some amazing gains for women through her work. Even as I despise what I believe to be her Nazi-loving activities, I cannot help but concede and admire the way her bold and innovative fashion creations helped women stride into more freedom, of body and thought.  Would the women's liberation movement have happened when it did, if women had still been encased in corsets and acres of ruffles in the 1950's and 60's?

Curious about past sluts, from Russian Empresses to South African "curiosities" to Biblical villainesses? Listing of past Slut posts is here.

Do you wear any Chanel fragrances or clothing?
Do you think you would like to?
Your thoughts?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Because Kittens

I haven't posted in a while, because life.

And kittens.

As I've been adjusting to the loss of my beloved brother-in-law, and looking for ways to support and re-invent my relationship with my sister, her sons, and my own son, I've been busy. Busy at work, busy with family "events," and busy with therapy.

I am happy to report, my sister is currently in remission and doing... okay. Losing someone who's been your life partner since you were 18 ain't something you shrug and get over in a hurry.

The weekend she moved home (june) to the small community on the shores of Lake Isabella, she almost had to evacuate, because of a nearby fire. Then again, last month (August), same deal. Another fire that came within 1/2 mile of her house, as if having serious cancer and losing her husband wasn't bad enough.

I am torn between sticking close to my sis to give her comfort and staying the hell away because it sometimes seems like she is a lightning rod for drama.

The drought is hitting California terribly hard, hence, the fires. I know, I know, #firstworldproblems. It's not like we have to give up showering (yet), or, stars forbid, miss a few meals like people in Africa or other parts of the world, where global climate change = regional starvation.

But then again, maybe that's in our future. Who knows where this will lead, in another 20 years?

Earlier this month, some of the family went to my sister's house to ?celebrate? ?acknowledge? what would have been my BIL's birthday, because that's what my sis wanted. Among other things, we watched Jim's favorite movie, Tommy. Which is also one of my all-time favorites.

Cover of
Cover of Tommy

Here's one of my favorite scenes, where Tommy's mother Nora, played by Ann-Margret, has a nervous breakdown (what we currently call a psychotic break).

I love how, in the end, the only pure, white, unbesmirched thing left in the room is the carnations... and then they, too, are beaned and chocolated up.

An Object in Motion Tends to Stay in Motion

Because my life is in transition, and I am having to make a shift in all the relationships in my life, to adjust to the loss of my beloved Jim, I've been seeing a therapist once a week. Got plenty of emotional homework I've been working on. I feel like I am making good progress.

I personally recommend therapy in times of grief, or transition. If we pay attention to something that's not - quite - working right, whether that's a car, a faucet, or our emotional life, it's much easier to fix than waiting till the engine is "froze up" on the overpass from the 134 to the 2. (Which is NOT where you want to be stuck, trust me.)

via wikipedia at at the half-way point
Yes, it IS a billion miles high, give or take a few

My personal engine is not stalled, but over the last few months, it's been laboring. So, fewer blog posts, more massages, and counseling to get through the tough parts.

And, I've been transitioning a kitten,

See, my cat, 12 1/2 year-old Metaphor, aka Stinky, is just a smidge overweight.

Maybe more than a smidge.

What do you mean, I'm not just fluffy?

I have tried every brand of diet cat for the last 8 years. Stinky only gets MEASURED amounts of it. Endless vet consultations. And still... *sighing*  I've bought so many cat toys and tried to interest her in them, my living room looks like Cat Disneyland. [Note: I'm sure I am supposed to post some kind of disclaimer here that Disneyland is trademarked yada yada, but you all know that I don't really have Disneyland in my living room, right?]

Enter Motivation, aka, Mojo

So, a hot young stud (neutered or not) would certainly get ME up and moving around. I consulted the staff at the East Valley Animal Shelter, and brought home Mojo, who's about 4 months old, and less than 4 pounds, to Metaphor's 22-23.

He is sweet and affectionate and I have been spending most mornings and evenings working to give each kitty individual attention and love and exercise space, before securing Motivation and heading off to the day job.

Two weeks in... Metaphor has let the kitten touch noses with her twice, but she's still pretty hissy.

Mojo has been in the Cone of Shame, following his neutering...

And out of it...

Yes, he does have the cutest, little white tip to his tail.

And... back in it again. (WHY can't males leave their danglies ALONE?!?)

*I* am well. Both kitties are spending a fair amount of time purring and being happy, and are on nutritional supplements recommended by my vet to boost their immune systems in these stressful times.

According to the label, it's tasty, so I almost took a lick, but it's rather fishy-smelling, so, no.

How are YOU?
What have YOU been up to, doing my hiatus from blogging and posting and visiting 'round?
Are you ready for the next Slut of the Month, coming next Monday?