Alana Lorens

Domestic violence: not always what you think

As several of my Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers did, I worked for many years with survivors of domestic violence. It happens to women and men, to poor and rich, to unknowns and even the most famous. Mostly the question is, how much it costs to hide what’s happening and what’s at stake.

I feel like people have been trying to educate the general public for so long about DV and the reasons why it happens and the reasons why people stay in relationships that could threaten their lives. It baffles me that it’s not generally understood. Especially by the person affected.

From WebMD:

(The signs are) not always as obvious as you might think. That’s because domestic abuse is about controlling someone’s mind and emotions as much as hurting their body. Being abused can leave you scared and confused. It can be hard for you to see your partner’s actions for what they really are.

Usually, physical abuse isn’t what comes first. The abuse can creep up slowly. A putdown here or there. An odd excuse to keep you away from family or friends. The violence often ramps up once you’ve been cut off from other people. By then, you feel trapped.

Having been married more times than I’d like to confess, I admit there are lies one tells oneself to keep moving forward. It’s not so bad. At least he doesn’t (smoke, drink, stay out all night, hit me, stalk me). Sure, there are people who have it worse than you. But why shouldn’t you want better? Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. You don’t get a second take at this life if you wasted too much of it settling for second, third or fourth-best.

In the current political climate, when women’s rights are being threatened or at least disregarded, some abusers are trying to make the subjugation of women a new “normal.” DON’T LET THEM.

How do YOU feel about you, in your relationship?

Toby D. Goldsmith, MD, in an article for PsychCentral , describes a list of symptoms a victim may have:

Victims of an abusive relationship may experience some of the following emotions and behaviors:

  • Agitation, anxiety and chronic apprehension
  • Constant state of alertness that makes it difficult for them to relax or sleep
  • A sense of hopelessness, helplessness or despair because the victim believes they will never escape the control of their abuser
  • Fear that one cannot protect oneself or one’s children. This person will turn down the assistance offered by relatives, friends or professionals.
  • Feeling paralyzed by fear to make decisions or protect oneself
  • A belief that one deserves the abuse
  • A belief that one is responsible for the abuse
  • Flashbacks, recurrent thoughts and memories of the violence and nightmares of the violence
  • Emotional reactions to reminders of domestic violence

Physical Symptoms

Victims of domestic violence can also have physical symptoms that aren’t directly caused by physical abuse. These symptoms are instead caused by the constant stress and tension of living in an abusive relationship. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Chronic pain
  • Restless sleep or inability to sleep
  • Genital soreness
  • Pelvic pain
  • Back pain

Does any of this sound familiar? For you or someone you love? Help is available at every income level and social standing. Find a public computer, do some research and reach out for that help. Start at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at thehotline.org.   Start at your local shelter. START.

Photo by William Murphy

 

 

 

What’s on a bordello madam’s bucket list?

Photo by Frank Kovalchek

Lily Pearl Evans has run the Sassafras Social Club in Chaparral, New Mexico for 15 years, and she’s seen some things. But there are still some things she’d like to see. But not chickens.

See, Lily Pearl has been lucky enough to deal with a more affluent clientele–credit approved only.

Things don’t always run smoothly, but none so rocky as the night a dehydrated, dirty stranger shows up on her front steps. He’s not a client–doesn’t even look like he’d be applying for services. But he’ll change her life in ways she can’t even imagine.

Check out the featured blog on Romance Lives Forever!

Getting back on the dating horse again after 40

In CONVICTION OF THE HEART, attorney Suzanne Taylor is a single mother of teen girls who hasn’t really considered dating much–until she meets police sergeant Nick Sansone. It has been years since she’s gone on a date other than something super casual, so she’s anxious as hell over every detail. What to wear. Where to go. How sexy to look. She doesn’t know what Nick’s expectations are, and she’s not going to take her daughters’ advice (which was something along the lines of “woo woo momma’s got a boyfriend. Is he gonna see your tattoo?”

Here she is getting ready to go:

Her hair wasn’t right.

She stood in front of the mirror in the frou-frou restroom that served the office and the rest of the tenants on the floor. She hadn’t decorated it. The ruffled pink curtains and wallpaper practically bleeding fuchsia butterflies were not to her taste at all.

She took her hair down again. Pinned it back up.

How is it her clients always managed to begin the dating life without difficulty or reservation whatsoever? For Suzanne, it was a major trauma.

She held her hair left, right, her eye critical. The Moody Blues were a sixties band. The Age of Aquarius. Hippies. Free love.

Photo by Linda Mea Meoni

Hair down.

She took her hair out of its band, brushed it, then fluffed it with her fingers.

She’d chosen a feminine silk blouse, black with turquoise medallions, and black dress slacks instead of jeans, since they were going to the Benedum. If the concert had been at Star Lake, they’d have lawn seats and a blanket, and more casual would have been appropriate.

Suzanne thought about Nick, and a blanket, listening to music under the stars…going from zero to sixty pretty fast along that imaginative track. A long time since she’d made love with a man.

She shook her head to clear her mind. Focus.

Shoes.

The overnight bag she’d brought to the office held a pair of black pumps with a mid-height, chunky heel. She slipped them on, then looked in the mirror again.

Satisfied with her clothing, she dabbed on a hint of makeup, nothing garish, and added small dangle earrings, blue gemstones wrapped in silver, and a spritz of Opium, her favorite perfume. A deep breath gave her a moment to examine her appearance. A little less than professional, a little more than Sunday church. It would do.

***

What do you thinking about dating after forty? Easier or harder than at twenty? What special considerations have you made or seen others make to present a good first impression on a date?

 

CONVICTION OF THE HEART, a novel of romantic suspense, and the first volume in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series –available at the Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and other booksellers.

Meet Inessa and her complicated life!

I’m on the Romance Lives Forever blog today with an introduction to Inessa Regan from SECOND CHANCES!!  Thank so much, Kayelle Allen! Come by, check it out, and get a copy for your Mother’s Day reading!!

If you’d like to learn more about the story, check out the book trailer, or the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers page!

Some writing advice…is less than perfect ‘good enough’?

 Today’s entry is from Randy Ingermanson, the ‘Snowflake Guy’.

IMG_20180720_165918081I’ve got to say that I’m of various opinions on this. Depends where my piece is going next.

If it’s a contest, where THIS IS IT, I tend to lean toward perfection. If it’s going to a beta reader or an editor, I want it to be good, of course, but I think it’s important to let go of perfection in favor of getting some other eyes on it and opening up.

Organization: Is “Done” Better Than “Perfect”?

by Randy Ingermanson

I realized recently that I’m a perfectionist.

That has an upside and a downside.

The upside is that when I finally finish something, it’s the best I can do. It’s something I can be proud of.

The downside is that it often takes me a very long time to finish things. And sometimes I don’t get them done at all. And that means there are a lot of unfinished things on my plate. Which is not something to be proud of.

So I’ve been asking myself lately whether it’s better to be “done” or “perfect.”

And I can’t see that either one is always the best answer.

The Argument to Just Get it Done

Some things simply don’t need to be perfect. (That’s very hard for me to say, but I have to admit it’s true.)

I own a couple of acres of land, in a state where there’s lots of rain and quite a bit of sunshine. Which means that weeds grow like crazy here. Short of a nuclear blast, I don’t think it’s actually possible to get the entire lot free of weeds at any given time.

But even if it was possible, they’d be back in a week. So it makes sense to just blaze through and knock out all the big weeds and leave the little guys alone. Painful as it is to let the little weeds live, there are just too many of them.

Now that summer is approaching, I’m facing that reality again. So there’s a case for getting the job mostly done, rather than perfectly done.

I had a manager once who used to say, “Make it good enough for now.” I never liked that idea, but often it was the only way to work.

When you have a hard deadline that absolutely must be met, usually the best you can do is “good enough for now.”

The Argument to Get it Perfect

But there are times when you really need perfection.

For example, when lives are at risk. Every airplane crash is a reminder that somebody, somewhere wasn’t perfect.

As another example, sometimes there are outsized rewards for being the best. If you’re IMGP0717.JPGan Olympic athlete in an event that gets a lot of media attention, there can be a huge financial difference between a gold medal and a silver. Even if the performance difference is only a hundredth of a second.

When you’re in a high-risk situation or a high-reward situation, “good enough for now” really isn’t good enough.

What About That Book You’re Writing?

Let’s bring this home for writers. What about that book you’re writing? Is it better to get it done, or get it perfect?

I’d say that depends.

It depends on what your goals are for the book. It depends on your strategic vision for your writing career.

It may very well make sense for you to write books quickly, doing the best you can in a set amount of time, producing good quality books on a regular schedule. That works for many writers. We might call this the James Patterson model. Mr. Patterson does very well by writing about a dozen books per year.

But it may also make sense for you to write the best book you possibly can, no matter how long it takes. You might take years between books, while your fans loyally wait, knowing that you’re going to give them an amazing experience every time. That also works well for some writers. We might call this the J.K. Rowling model. The last three Harry Potter books were spaced two to three years apart. And Ms. Rowling has done very well by that model.

You Get To Decide

You are in charge of your own life, so you get to decide how you’ll run your writing career.

Remember, it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have a binary choice between “fast and good enough” or “slow and perfect.” There’s a spectrum of options, and you get to choose where you’ll fit on that spectrum.

IMGP0748Here are a few questions to guide you:

  • Does your personality lean more towards “get it done” or “get it perfect”?
  • Does your target audience value high speed in writing or high quality?
  • Are there outsized rewards for being the fastest writer in your category?
  • Are there outsized rewards for being the best writer in your category?
  • Where do the writers you admire most land on the spectrum of “fast” versus “amazing”?

Every project is different. You don’t have to put all your books at the same point on the spectrum. You can bend some of them toward the “fast” end and some toward the “amazing” end.

I make only one recommendation here: make the decision on where you want your book to be on the spectrum at the beginning of the project.

And then live by that decision.

******

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Lawyers are human, too

Businesspeople Meeting in Sitting AreaI write about lawyers a lot. I mean, they say, write what you know, right? After 30 years practicing family law, I know a little bit about them.

I don’t always like them, mind you–so I understand why some people really dislike them.

The same thing can happen inside a law firm. Lawyers have different ways of doing things, and sometimes those ways can lead to outright discord.  Wise senior partners do what they can to minimize these fractures, because that protects the bottom line.

Encounter_ebook_FinalIn ENCOUNTER, one such law firm with offices in Chicago, Washington DC, and Denver, finds itself in distress. Annike Lorant and Mitchell Kadeen, the law firm’s senior partners, have divorced, now working in separate offices, but their bitter split is poisoning the daily work of the firm. Cattrin Odeon works with Mitch in the D.C. area, a sniping little birdlike woman determined to make others as miserable as she is. New partner in the Denver office John Kirk Nicholas is still living his college football hero days, at least in his mind. Judy Norell is the worker bee who’s trying to bandaid things together despite the odds. Chicago partner Teo Haroun has just been given a deadly diagnosis that he’s struggling to keep from his law partners. Mitch and Judy decide a retreat in New Mexico is just the thing to get his firm back on track.

They hire a team-building group to lead them through the retreat, and venture to the Sherman Ranch, outside Santa Fe. The Ranch is managed by Jake Patrin, a recovering addict (and probably the favorite character of all I’ve written), who has his own issues.

What they don’t know is that they are about to collide with a truckload of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico who get caught in a freak March snowstorm. With 3214318748_2ff744f887_mnowhere else to go, the survivors make their painful way to the Ranch, dropping in on the lawyers, who must find a way to co-exist until the snow melts. As you might expect, some of the lawyers do better than others at this.

Here’s an excerpt:

The screaming from inside yanked Jake Patrin’s attention from the successful start-up of the generator where he worked in the shed. His head swiveled back toward the house. What in sweet Jesus’ name…

It was the women, he could tell from the pitch. Hell, maybe someone’d found a dead mouse in the kitchen closet, in amongst the merlot he couldn’t get out of his mind. Muttering a curse under his breath, he pulled his pea coat closed to trudge to the house through the knee-deep snow.

He came through the mud room, doffed his coat and boots, slipped on softer- soled shoes as the rumpus continued. The door between the mud room and the kitchen area was closed, but he could hear a babel of voices, some of which he recognized, others…

He frowned.

Someone was yelling and cursing in Spanish, male voices he didn’t recognize at all. It didn’t sound like a performance, one of his guests playing a role for effect. Jake didn’t speak Spanish well – hell, it had been nearly twenty years since his time in Central America – but he knew enough to understand it was a threat.

Christ on a rutting Harley.

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A quick look around the mud room showed him more than he’d noticed at first. Twice as many clothes as there should have been. Much more snow melting in piles than two men would have brought back. Something was seriously not right.

 

He scanned the room, but found nothing he could use as a credible weapon. Jake picked up a rough-handled shovel; it was the best he had. He leaned close against the door, listening a moment more to see if he could get any clue what might be going on, but there was only more yelling. The young kid from the team urged people to be calm, something about the fire. No help. He took a deep breath and swung the door open.

He was unprepared for the scene that faced him. He came in behind several huge dirty men in the kitchen, along with the kid, Will. The big boss, Kadeen, was pinned in a chair with something shiny at his throat, a wild-eyed wetback holding his shoulder. Everyone else cowered on the far side of the pass-through, watching with horrified expressions, eyes he was sure were as wide as his.

There wasn’t much time to think. It seemed to him to unfold in a jerky slo-mo. As the door opened, the two men closest to him turned, saw the shovel. The younger guy holding Kadeen yelled and made a movement with the shiny object as women screamed. It clicked in his mind that the men weren’t fat, they were bundled in layers of wet clothing. The kitchen floor was slick with water and mud. He went to raise the shovel, but Will Starlin jumped across the space between him and the others.

“No, wait!” Will grabbed the handle of the shovel, his gaze intense. “They don’t mean to hurt anyone. They need help. They’re half frozen! Please.”

There was a scream in the other room, and Judy’s anxious face appeared in the pass-through. “Will—they’ve passed out, the two women. Something’s wrong with them.”

The older blonde made some comment to the other fancy woman, sotto voce, looking down on the fallen. Judy, standing behind her, shot her a look, then turned back to Will.

A spurt of angry Spanish burst from the man holding Kadeen. Jake looked at the two men closest to him, both of whom looked worse for wear. Will pushed Jake forward.

“This man…uh,  el hombre es….um… medico. Ayuda. Doctor. Um…”

“Son, I ain’t no doc—“

“Shut up!” Will hissed, leaning close in to the older man. “You’re the closest we got. These people need help and fast. They’ve been out in the snow for hours, I think. Please, Mr. Patrin. They’re not thinking right, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Jake took a deep breath. “Fine.”

 

ENCOUNTER, from Three Fates Press. Now on sale at Amazon—$2.65 for paperback! 

 

 

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Yes, it’s nearly Mardi Gras, that holiday that transforms the city of New Orleans (and

nola-pcola-013
Jackson Square

 many others in the South) into a major party town. My daughters and I stayed with an old newspaper friend and his wife one year for the event, and had a wonderful time. While those who venture downtown and out to Bourbon Street encounter a lot of drunk, happy people, out in the Garden District, where Hank lived, it was much more a family atmosphere. The whole neighborhood came out into the green area between the street car tracks along St. Charles Avenue, called the neutral ground, set up tall ladders for the smallest kids, and spent the day catching beads, and getting happy. nola pcola 003

 

The French Quarter, is of course picturesque and a must-see. I loved the balconies that stretched for blocks, overlooking the packed streets.

We stayed nearly a week, ate the obligatory beignets and drank chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, visited the Voodoo Museum. The trip was wonderful, and research done then formed the basis for my novel VOODOO DREAMS. This is the third book in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series.

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to VoodooDreams_w7507_medthreaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

Visiting this book, for me, is like re-visiting the city. Check it out at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com  or at the publisher’s site, The Wild Rose Press.  Enjoy this read with your favorite coffee and king cake. Happy Mardi Gras!