Friday, March 30, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample - March 31

Our Sweet Saturday Sample for today is a little more serious than some we’ve posted in the past.

We sometimes wonder if women really remember how things were back in the 1960s. During that time, birth control pills were just becoming widely available for married women. In 1964 eight states still prohibited the sale of contraceptives, and laws in Massachusetts and Connecticut still prevented the dissemination of information about birth control.

Abortion was illegal in the United States until January 22, 1973, when Roe vs. Wade gave women a safe and legal choice. Up until that time the majority of abortions were performed by unqualified practitioners in back rooms using things like coat hangers instead of sterilized surgical instruments. This resulted in the untimely deaths of many young women.

Single motherhood was socially unacceptable among the majority of the middle class. Therefore, keeping a baby and raising it as a single mother was simply not done in most cases. It would stigmatize the child who was illegitimate and the mother who was the one committing the sin of sex without the benefit of marriage.

Regardless of your beliefs as to the rights or wrongs of these options, this was the reality in which June (from I.O.U. Sex) had to make decisions about her pregnancy in 1966.

June sat at her Aunt Betty's kitchen table, tears streaming down her cheeks, as she told about her pregnancy. "I just feel so stupid."
Betty patted her niece's hand and listened, not speaking until June had finished. Her first words gave June hope. "I'm glad you came to me, honey. I'll do anything I can to help."
Over hot chocolate and with a box of tissues nearby, the two women discussed June's situation. Throughout her teenaged years, June had heard whispers about girls who were "in a family way." The solution to their dilemma was either a hurried marriage or banishment until after the child had been delivered and given up for adoption. It was hard for her to believe she faced the same bleak choices. The thought of entering a home for unwed mothers depressed June. The only other option, a backstreet abortion, terrified and repulsed her.
Right away, June admitted she was not ready to raise a child, especially as a single woman without the support of a husband or her parents. "Mom and Dad would never forgive me," she said. "I would be miserable and so would the child. I can't bear to tell them I'm pregnant." Just the thought of having that conversation filled June with dread and fear.

Judgment of an unwed mother during this time in history was harsh indeed. “Dread and fear” are exactly what young women like June must have experienced in the 1960s. What did June decide? Next week we’ll talk about June’s eventual choice.

If you’d like more information about the history of  The Pill and about the legalization of abortion in the United States, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has aired documentaries on these subjects.
You'll find more delicious novel excerpts here: Sweet Saturday Samples

Our sources:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - The Third Son

The Third Son 
Today's Teaser Tuesday post is from The Third Son by Elise Marion. So far, I'm enjoying it.

"I am not afraid," she said, though her eyes told him otherwise. He took her in his arms and carried her to the bed.  
[At 49% on my Kindle]

Here's the synopsis from Amazon:

Prince Damien, the spoiled youngest son of the king of Cardenas, finds that his world will never quite be the same again when a fiery Gypsy girl, Esmeralda, comes dancing into his privileged life.

Rake. Rogue. Scoundrel. Each of these words has been used to describe Damien Largess, youngest prince of Cardenas, most frequently by his ridiculously somber eldest brother. Damien is perfectly content to spend his days drinking at the card tables, and his nights in the bed of his scheming mistress, especially since doing these things seems to vex his high-handed brother to no end. But when he steps into a glittering ballroom on the night of his twenty-fifth birthday, the roguish young prince’s life will be forever changed.

Beautiful. Graceful. Sensual. When Esmeralda steps into the center of the King’s ballroom to perform for his youngest son’s birthday, every eye in the room is glued to the tall, lithe Gypsy dancer. One pair of eyes seems to burn straight through her, and though she has worked endlessly to shield her heart, she finds her defenses slowly slipping away in the presence of the handsome prince. She cannot resist his devastating charm, nor is she immune to the earth shattering desire in his kiss. As she falls rapidly under his spell, Esmeralda dares to hope for a future she would never have thought possible.
With a deadly plot against the royal family surrounding him in danger and intrigue, Damien will face a decision he never thought he would have to make. Would he step up to claim a responsibility that should never have fallen to the third son? Or will he abandon it to risk all for love? 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sweet Saturday Samples - Mar 24

In last week’s Sweet Saturday Sample, our friend June (from I.O.U. SEXfound out she was pregnant. What is she going to do now? She still loves Denny, but she hasn’t heard from him since he told her to go to hell, ended their relationship, and returned to Texas. What will he say if she calls him? Uncertain of the right decision, she decides to stay in her dorm at UC Berkeley and go to school as long as possible while considering the possibilities. But before she can come to any concrete decision …

Shortly after the spring semester started, June heard a shout from the dorm hallway. "June! Hey, June. Phone call." She struggled out from under her quilt and walked down the hall to the pay phone.
"Hello? Oh, hi, Kiki. What's up?" Kiki rarely called unless she had something important to say, like she'd decided to change her major again or she'd met a new guy. June wasn't in the mood for her drama.
Kiki's voice came through the receiver. “Uh, June, I heard something at a party, and I wanted to be the one to tell you. Um, well, you see ...."
June sighed. "Kiki, just spit it out." She pushed her hair from her face and tucked it behind her ears with her free hand. It wasn't like Kiki to be so hesitant. Usually she blurted out whatever she had to say and to hell with the consequences.
"It's Denny. He ... he got married."
June felt a lurch deep inside, as if the baby had reached up and twisted her heart. She sank to the floor, stretching the phone's metallic cord to its full length. "What? Denny's married?" Surely she'd misunderstood.
"Junie, I'm so sorry, but I thought you would want to know. That bastard married Nita Crawford. They ran away to another state, I'm not sure where. You remember Nita. Black hair? Bad reputation? She was a year behind us at Rayburn. I heard she might be knocked up."
June's lips were too numb to form words. She shook so badly she had to grasp the receiver with both hands to keep from dropping it.
"June? June? Are you there?" Kiki's worried voice shrieked in June's ear.
"I'll ... I'll talk to you later. Bye."
"But June ...."
June hung up the phone and stumbled to her room. Back in bed she pulled the quilt over her head, shaking, freezing even under the heavy covers. She felt a flutter in her womb, a reminder of Denny's child. Her heart ached for the unborn infant and for herself.
Looks like I can scratch one item off my list. Marrying Denny is now an impossibility.

The sudden elimination of any possibility of marriage forces June to make some even tougher decisions about her predicament. She must now consider the only choices left to her—an illegal abortion, single motherhood, or adoption—and all three ideas almost break her heart. Yet she must decide, and soon!

You'll find links to lots more Sweet Saturday Samples here: 
Thank you, J. Gunnar Grey, for hosting this weekly get-together.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Plan On It


My Teaser Tuesday today is from Plan on It by Kathy Dunnehoff. The protagonist is biology professor Hattie McLean, whose doctor tells her she is beginning peri-menopause--and she's only 34 years old! So she starts a search for the perfect man to father her child before she runs out of time (and eggs). Hattie is speaking in the first sentence.

          "There's some evidence that women are attracted to the body odor of men who resemble, genetically, the woman's father because it helps us avoid someone too genetically different, which wouldn't be an optimal match either."
          Rose seemed to really consider that. She just may be coming around. "Kind of like love at first smell?"

I really enjoyed this book. Some parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny. Here's the synopsis from Amazon:
Six men in six months. It's a logical plan to Professor Hattie McLean. Date 6 men in 6 months and one will be the clear choice to father her child. But biology involves the heart as well... even if she didn't plan on it! 

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. 
You'll find more 2-sentence book excerpts here: Teasers 

PS: Hop over to Elise Marion's blog and enter her contest for a free eBook copy of I.O.U. SEX. Today is the last day!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interview and Contest

The Romance Writer's Reads 

Today Elise Marion is featuring us in an interview on her blog: 
She's also giving away a free copy of I.O.U. SEX. All you have to do it click on the Rafflecopter widget at the end of her interview.

Take a look and find out more about us and how I.O.U. Sex came to be.
Thanks a million, Elise, for featuring us on your blog.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample - Mar 17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

Did you ever notice how some people are unlucky in love? We take you back to just such a time for our friends June and Denny from I.O.U. Sex. It’s the mid-sixties, when attitudes and choices were very different from what they are today. You may remember that Denny’s tirade against June ended with him leaving California and the love of his life behind forever. What you might not know is what happened next.

Two months later June sat in the college clinic, her bare legs dangling over the edge of a cold examination table.
"No. It's not possible." June's voice quavered. Her grip on the table tightened, turning her knuckles white. In all her nineteen years, she'd never been so terrified. "There was just that one weekend. We never even went all the way." Her face felt warm, and she knew she must be blushing from the humiliation. A phrase from a junior high health-science film popped into her mind—it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg. But Denny's sperm couldn't have reached her egg—it was only on the outside of her.
The doctor sighed. "Your test is positive, Miss Landry. When you engage in certain foreplay, sometimes called outercourse or dry sex, ejaculate may be spilled on or near the vulva and pregnancy can occur. It's rare but definitely possible. Your last menstrual period was in late September?" The doctor looked at a gestation chart on the wall. "Then I'd say you are approximately eight weeks pregnant. Your due date is around the first of July."
Tears rolled down June's cheeks. She wiped them away with the back of her hand. "Oh, my God. What am I going to do?"
The doctor handed June a tissue. "I'll send in my nurse. She'll give you information about various options. I'll want to see you again in a month." He left the room.
June shivered as she removed the hospital gown and dressed to leave the clinic. Soon she would receive her next scholarship check. She had already signed up for the spring semester's courses—English Literature, Creative Writing, U. S. Government, Calculus, Geology. Even a psychology course. Now what would she do?
Then she thought about her mom and dad driving out to see her for Christmas, and their plans to stay with Aunt Betty during the holidays. How could she endure their visit? Should she tell them she was pregnant? She rejected that thought, knowing what their response would be—disgrace, banishment to some home for unwed mothers, and an abrupt end to her college days.
And what about Denny? She'd heard nothing from him since he'd stormed out of the motel room. There was no way she could expect his help.
June said nothing when the nurse gave her the brochures.
Oh, God. I can't believe I'm looking at homes for unwed mothers.

June basically had four choices when she found herself in a family way in 1965:
1)      She could marry the father and raise the child.
2)      She could get an illegal abortion.
3)      She could give birth, keep the baby, and raise it as a single mother.
4)      She could give birth and then give the baby up for adoption.

Given these alternatives, what do you think June chose to do?

Sweet Saturday Samples is hosted by J. Gunnar Grey. You'll find more posts here: Sweets

St. Patrick's Day illustration source:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writing Wisdom from Mark Twain

"Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream."
Mark Twain wrote this over 100 years ago, and it's still true today. This is Writing 101: show, don't tell.
~ Sandy N.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sweet Saturday Samples - Mar 10

Hi! Welcome back! Have you been wondering what happened when Denny woke up in the motel and saw June sitting across the room, fully dressed? Let’s join them back in 1965 and find out.

When Denny opened his eyes, he smiled at June and stretched. He patted the bed beside him. "Come here, Junie."
She shook her head and crossed her arms over her stomach. He looked so sexy, his hair tousled, his chest barely covered by the rumpled sheets. She knew if she went closer and he kissed her, even once, she'd be lost.
Denny frowned. "What's wrong? I love you, Junie. What we did was beautiful."
June bowed her head but didn't speak.
Denny sat up in bed. "I want you to come back to Dallas with me. I want you to marry me."
Shocked by his statement, June shook her head. "I love you, too, but—"
"You could go to a college closer to home."
"You don't understand. My scholarship ...."
Denny pushed the sheet aside and sat on the edge of the bed, looking across at June. "If you really loved me, you'd find a way to be with me. Or maybe you agree with your mother. Maybe I'm not good enough for you. Is that it?" He stood, stepped into his jeans, and tugged them over his hips, the rasp of his zipper the only sound in the room.
"You know it isn't that. Why can't you understand?" June turned away, tears spilling down her cheeks. It seemed futile to repeat what she'd tried to explain so many times before.
"Coming here was a mistake. I thought maybe you'd come back with me." He shook his head. "I guess I've got my answer." Denny grabbed his shirt and shoved his feet into his shoes.
"Please listen. I know it seems like a long time till I finish school, but I'm taking as many classes as I can and—."
Denny ran his fingers through his hair. "I've heard it all before. I don't come first in your life, and it seems like I never will." He paused and stared at the floor, then looked up, his eyes angry and full of sorrow at the same time. "Damn it, June, I can't take this any more. You can just go to hell for all I care!" He stormed out of the motel room and slammed the door behind him.
June never heard from him again.

    With such a heartbreaking ending to their encounter back then, it’s no wonder June is worried about telling Denny her past secret now—just when they’ve reconnected after decades apart. What really happened all those years ago that would cause such angst for June now?

Sweet Saturday Samples is hosted by J. Gunnar Grey. You'll find more here: Sweet Samples

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tuesday Teaser - Gilead

Today's Tuesday Teaser comes from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead by Marilynn Robinson.

We were very pious children from very pious households in a fairly pious town, and this affected our behavior considerably. Once we baptized a litter of cats.
(Page 23)

I'll admit I'm having a hard time getting into this one, but then I'm not very far into it. Here's a synopsis from Amazon:

Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.

Read more Teaser Tuesday posts here: Teasers

Friday, March 2, 2012

Two Old Women

I like to read a variety of books--romance, women's fiction, general fiction, western, mystery, humor, and so on. But I've never read a book quite like Two Old Women. It's the legend of two native American women who were abandoned by their tribe and forced to fend for themselves during a harsh Alaska winter. It's a great story with lots of important lessons -- for children as well as adults.

Here's my review of the book on the Boomers & Books blog.

By the way, just because our picture is to the left of this post, doesn't mean the book's title in any way refers to us!!
~ Sandy N.