I'm from South Carolina and it's a football rivalry state.  Here, you're either a Gamecock or a Tiger.  You may not have attended either school, but you're still one or the other. (I attended law school at the University of South Carolina, so it's a legit alma mater for me. And BTW, like Darius Rucker says, our USC was a school before California was a state.) In SC, team loyalty is a matter of tradition, heritage and culture.  Both teams have had good years and bad years, but fans stay loyal.  Clemson has had many more good years and by far holds the edge in the rivalry football game - especially lately - but forget that whole National Championship thing.  You know what matters?  It matters who wins the Carolina-Clemson game.

The Gamecocks have been in a rebuilding period since Steve Spurrier walked away from the team mid-season several years ago.  But they hired Coach Will Muschamp and he's done an amazing job.  It's Year 2 of the Muschamp era and the Gamecocks are #2 in the SEC East - instead of dead last as was predicted pre-season, and they'll end with a winning record and go bowling.  They're 7-3 now, Wofford is ahead which will have the Cocks 8-3 going into the last game of the season -- the "Palmetto Bowl" - the BIG one - the Carolina-Clemson game.  No one outside of the state thinks we can beat Clemson this year, but Gamecock fans believe.  And win or lose, the Gamecocks will proceed with the motto that Muschamp brought -- "So what?  Now what?"

I read a blog  from "The State" newspaper, and it's the first time I'd heard of the motto.  It seems the team has adopted it and the players live it now.  I've just decided to adopt it too.  What better saying to guide your life?  Whether you won or lost, yesterday is in the past. We can't change yesterday.  We can relive it, and allow the mistakes of the past to define the future or we can say, "so what."  If it was, then it was and no amount of self-torture will change it.  It happened.  So what?

The thing we can change is what we'll do today, and how we'll approach tomorrow.  We can choose to recognize that today is ours to conquer and tomorrow is ours to prepare for.  We can wake up saying, "now what?"

On a writing level, this means that I can look at Amazon and see that my books haven't taken off yet.  Kindle Unlimited folks - love y'all - have been reading, but not enough customers have been buying.  I could wallow in that, and cry over that.  I could toss up my hands and stop writing altogether, or I can say, "So What? Now What?" I chose the latter.  I've dropped the price of a few of my books to .99 cents, hoping that it will spur some folks to join a duck lady in the journey over the top of forever.  The books that are currently .99 cents are:  Brotherly Love, Seducing The Billionaire, and Tempting Duty.

Maybe you haven't read one of my books before.  So What?  Now what - you can do is pick up one of my .99 cent specials and give crazy love a try.  And here in Casa de Duck my youngest son and I (the football fans in the family) will await the Carolina-Clemson game, saying So What if Carolina lost last year. It's Now What time!

Somehow, somewhere SOMETHING gave birth to the myth that the far left of the political spectrum is the cool place. If you’re in the middle or on the right, then you’re either stupid or evil. It’s a nonsensical, vapid myth, but the far left has preached it so long that many are as indoctrinated as Scientologists. They don’t associate with or listen to non-lefties. If you’re caught being reasonable, you’ll be disconnected. And that’s the true evil.

Hollywood has long disconnected moderates and conservatives. Actors who dare hold views similar to most Americans hide them to blend in so that they can continue to work. It’s a whopper-sized hypocrisy to profess to be open and giving and yet be closed to listening, sharing or considering other opinions. The rabid left exists in a hyperbaric echo-chamber. Thank God, I thought, that writers are stronger and freer than the actors imprisoned in their own make-believe world.

At least, I believed that until recently. I saw General John Kelly’s amazingly brave appearance at yesterday’s press conference.  A father whose career was sending other young people into harm’s way, who saw too many of them return in caskets, watched his own son choose that path.  Then he got the sad news he’d had to deliver to other parents. Yet, he was courageous enough to speak about his experience to explain why a soldier’s comfort, like a soldier’s world, is very different from the lives and realities of those of us who have never served.  I cried a little as I watched, and listened and I saw how much respect General Kelly has earned on so many levels.

I logged onto Twitter (@quackingalone) and saw that #JohnKelly was trending.  I wandered over and was shocked to see the rabid left there having a contest to see who could do the best job at denigrating a man brave enough to share his personal tragedy, and courageous enough to admit that he’d had to personally lead other American heroes to their deaths. Who could watch and not be moved as he shared his own tragedy to explain a soldier’s comfort to America?  I posted this Tweet:  “#GeneralJohnKelly – today you proved that patriot doesn’t mean pushover and that courage takes many forms. #JohnKelly”

Yesterday I logged onto my Twitter account to see that I’d been unfollowed by a huge number of OTHER AUTHORS.  So, I learned that I was, sadly, wrong. Like actors, those authors take the money of mainstream America, but they disconnect anyone who has another view, who sees another reality. These writers want you to enter the worlds they create, to fall in love or laugh or cry while their characters do – but they don’t want mainstreamers to know that secretly, they’re laughing at us and looking down at us. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be secret any longer. Anyone can check out an author on Twitter BEFORE clicking the buy button.

If you’re a reader who is tired of being shown that you matter less and are less deserving of respect because you don’t drink the left-handed Kool-Aid, then maybe you should vote with your wallet.  Before you buy a book, log onto the writer’s Twitter account and see who he or she follows. Does it include people with views similar to yours? A writer should be following a wide, expansive and diverse community of folks.  It should include people across the political spectrum. The group should be defined by who is interesting, not by who is a rabid leftie. If you don’t see people in that group who believe like you do, then you should reconsider that purchase.

Those who believe that everyone is entitled to respect shouldn’t tolerate disrespect and condescension from people we give our money to. Don’t support anyone who wants to sell you something but would never listen to you or consider your thoughts.  If we don’t use the power of the purse to insist that freedom is as grounded in listening and sharing as it is in talking and pontificating, we’ll lose it forever. Our soldiers, sailors and marines and especially our Gold Star families who’ve paid the ultimate price deserve better. Freedom isn’t free and respect is a two-way street.  Check before you buy.

Howdy sweeties, it's the angry old husband here, been awhile, nice to talk to you again, yadda yadda yadda.

Thanks to Facebook, I found the video that is the pinnacle of ecstasy for my dear wife, the Crazy Duck Lady.

What few of you know is that not only does she revere ducks (especially baby ducks), she likes to talk randomly about fish as well.

Well, the video below was practically tailor-made for her. Check it out - a baby duck feeding fish.

Let me tell you about this so-called War on Women.

The people who yell most about it will tell you that they just want women to be equal to men. What they really want is equality of behavior, not equality of worth. They want to eliminate the natural, God-given differences between man and woman, the male and the female. The differences are there for a reason, and they are not just physical.

And these differences are what I find to be the most beautiful things about women.

Just to show how old and wise the recognition of this difference is, look at the Tao symbol, which existed 1,000 years before Christ was born.

tao_symbol

Opposites intertwine to make a perfect whole, each dependent on the other and each one taking shape inside the other. They have true equality - EQUALITY OF WORTH - but are still opposites that touch and fold inside each other.

I came to this epiphany while watching videos of soldiers coming home and reuniting with their families. While every family member had emotional reactions, it was the mothers and daughters who drew my attention.

They would break out in tears and cover their mouths as they ran to their loved one, and I realized they were trying to contain their literally overwhelming joy.

The capacity for that much joy and happiness, and the other feelings of life's experiences, were so beautiful to me. And it will be a horrible, hellish day should that ever be eliminated.

It's been a bit since I've blogged because I'm presently writing TWO books.  Yes, I know, lots of authors juggle books frequently, but I generally do them one at a time.  This period right here - this is an exception.  There is a single reason for this:  my muse is in hyperdrive but my bank account is not.  That's why I'm presently writing Vlad's Story (A Forbidden Forever) and part 2 of Adam and Evan's Story (Scandalizing Duty from my "Seducing The Guardian" series).

My bank account is also the reason I've backtracked from a prior position.  I've re-enrolled all my books in Kindle Unlimited, making them presently exclusive to Amazon.  While this drives Mr. Duck mad to some extent - he puts up with me.  (Maybe I should name him Saint Duck?)  The fact is, like almost (I'd say "all" but nearly nothing is always true) so, like ALMOST all self-published authors, most of my income is from Amazon. Despite that, I don't like the exclusivity and therefore bailed after one term in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.  I've backtracked because in reviewing the books, I see that I made MUCH more money in KU than out of it.  I think a lot of that is because KU offers the opportunity for promotion - like giving away "leading" books in a series free for a certain number of days a month.  If I do that, then readers are more likely to buy the other books in that series. It adds a lot to the bank account.  Because we're presently bailing out of credit card debt and the baby duck will start college in the fall - the bank account matters.  I apologize if you read books on another device and - I hate to sound like a shill for Amazon but - I suggest you download the Kindle App for whatever device you use and buy your books at Amazon.  There's not another place on the planet that equals Amazon's selection.

Above, I mentioned how my unpredictable and often insane ways torment Mr. Duck.  I know they do, but he puts up with me because he's probably AFRAID of what I'd do if he tried to leave.  (Parts of him might make it.) Seriously, I ADORE my hubby and although there are a billion and one reasons why - you only have to look around this website to get a good look at one of them.  Mr. Duck has put in a LOT of work to revamp the site. Not only have his efforts made QA a thing of great beauty, Google now thinks so too because it's mobile friendly.  With everyone reading so much on phones, tablets, etc., QA needs to be easy on all those eyes, and Mr. Duck's efforts have made that happen.  It's why he's my favorite digital delight and the best technical wizard on the planet - IMHO, anyway.

As I also said a bit ago, my baby duck is getting ready to do the most unbaby-type thing:   yes, QA readers, the SAM duck is about to graduate from high school.  On June 4th, he'll be wearing that black robe and the funny hat and walking across the stage.  Watching the baby duck change his tassel from one side to the other will be his proud parents, his elder brother (the Zack duck), his proud grandparents, and possibly his proud Aunt Jen.  It's a workday, so Aunt Jen may not be able to make it, but she'll be with us in spirit.  We might've had a bigger crew but we only get 8 tickets.  Although his insane-duck-Mother will be prouder than proud, I do expect to shed more than a few tears.  It's not that I don't want him to grow up and become the BEST HISTORY TEACHER ON THE PLANET but - he's doing it too fast!!  He needs to go back, start Kindergarten and do it one more time.  After 12 more years, I might, MIGHT be ready for him to graduate -- or so senile that I wouldn't notice.

It's a busy time at the duck pond, but hopefully, there will soon be a new Mary Anne Graham book and a new Olivia Outlaw book.  Before that, we'll have a graduated duck named Sam and Mr. Duck will have earned several new Sainthood badges.  After all, post-graduation, the Sam duck is flying to NY State to spend a month or so with elder duck Zack.  During that time, Mr. Duck will get ALL my attention and all my worry.  Come to think of it, maybe Mr. Duck should earn more than Sainthood badges. Hmm.....I'll have to see what kind of special reward I can come up with for the King of Duckland.

In the meantime - read a lot, love a lot and DEMAND happy endings!!

The horrific, senseless, and utterly evil killing of the late Walter L. Scott is not a justifiable action.  This post does not, in any way, attempt to justify it.  This post is about why my state's lowcountry region has not been torn apart by vandalism and violence masquerading as protests.  This is about why the North Charleston/Summerville area of South Carolina is not and will not become the next Ferguson, Missouri.

A week ago today, on Saturday, April 4th, Mr. Scott, a black man, was stopped by a white North Charleston police officer for a very minor infraction - I believe it was a broken taillight on his vehicle.  In the course of the stop, Mr. Scott fled his vehicle and ran from the officer who gave chase.  A taser was employed but ultimately the officer pulled his gun and shot the fleeing Mr. Scott a number of times in the back, causing Mr. Scott's tragic death.  First accounts indicated the officer felt threatened because Mr. Scott tried to grab his taser, but an eyewitness took video of the event and he ultimately turned it over to the Scott family.  The shooting occurred on Saturday, April 4th and on Tuesday, April 7th - just three (3) days later, the officer was charged with murder.

However,  the Charleston area hasn't turned into Ferguson, Missouri.  Here, we've had no hordes of people using Mr. Scott's death as an excuse to steal iPads or televisions.  We've had no mobs taking to the streets to destroy the hard-earned property of business owners and pretending they are doing it as an act of "respect" to the late Mr. Scott.  Very likely, Mr. Scott's family and friends own businesses and have worked hard at various enterprises.  Surely, that was also the case in Ferguson, but it didn't stop the vandalism and violence there, which was largely committed by outside agitators. Why is South Carolina different?

It's different because we are not joiners and we are not followers. We don't join unions and we don't join gangs of thugs and we won't follow any outsiders who try to motivate such stupidity.  Mr. Scott's family is a sterling example of South Carolina at its finest.  They have been vigilant and forceful in insisting that the truth of their son's death be brought forward, and that the responsible officer be held to account. But they've only asked that the responsible party be brought to justice - they've not blamed the entire North Charleston police department for the criminal evil of one officer.  In fact, two police officers on motorcycles escorted the hearse carrying Mr. Scott's body at his funeral today.  The family has indicated that it wants Mr. Scott's death to demonstrate and motivate changes that need to be made in the power dynamics between officers and citizens. The Scott family has given strong and clear signals that they do not want, and would not appreciate, an invasion of outside agitators.

Should any agitators be flown or bussed into the lowcountry of South Carolina to try to instigate a campaign of violence, I expect they would encounter armed business owners and armed law enforcement officers who would travel to the area from all over our state.  That is as it should be, because the tragic death of Mr. Scott is a South Carolina matter, to be dealt with by South Carolineans in the just, peaceful and strong manner that my state generally employs. Local leaders would not tolerate outside agitation and our state's Governor, Nikki Haley, would lend the full support of her office to keep the Charleston area as a peaceful place where respectful tributes to Mr. Scott can occur.

There is a prayer vigil planned tonight April 11th, the day of Mr. Scott's funeral, by local United Methodist Churches.  It will be held at the sight of the shooting and those wishing to pay respect to the late Mr. Scott, to support his family, and to indicate their abhorrence for the act of this officer, will walk silently to one of the Methodist Churches.  Participants won't be given the opportunity to vandalize businesses or liberate electronic devices. They will be given the chance to pay their respect and to indicate, by their presence, their support of Mr. Scott and his family.

Respect and support are important parts of South Carolina life.  I'd wager that Mr. Scott's family hasn't had to cook a meal since his passing.  Their friends and family have been there, tending to providing food and gathering with the family to join them in remembering Mr. Scott and celebrating his life and his legacy.  They will be there in quiet ways as the days pass, and will join the family again, to support them when the Officer is brought before a South Carolina Court to face justice.

We're not joiners and we're not followers so you won't get us riled up and ready to go out and attack our community.  And if you try to bring in outsiders to incite such violence, we will stand in support of business owners and officers in resisting and in overcoming such efforts.  All of South Carolina mourns with the Scott family today.  Mr. Scott's death was a South Carolina tragedy but I am very, very proud that the late Mr. Scott's parents are dealing with it as South Carolineans, not joining and not following and not seeking joiners or followers.  I am not a member of his family and didn't have the privilege of knowing Mr. Scott, but I expect that his family would appreciate people remembering their son by giving a donation to his Church or the NAACP rather than by breaking into businesses and destroying their community.

Racism is evil, but so are violence and vandalism.  Ferguson's leaders may have felt that they had to tolerate a certain amount of violence in order to prevent more, but South Carolina is not Ferguson. We'll not join you and we'll not follow you - but if you are here to incite trouble, we'll be glad to show you the way out of our state.

Rest in peace, Mr. Scott.

Hey babies, it's your rockin' and rollin' favorite angry old fat dude here. It's been a long time since the last post, so I just wanted to reassure you, Mary Anne's/Olivia Outlaw's readers, that we're doing OK and nothing super bad or good has happened. We're just busier, that's all.

A second job for yours truly has resulted in more neglect to the website, and the Crazy Duck Lady has had her full-time hours reinstated for her day job, so she has less time to grind away at video slots the latest books in her two ongoing projects, the Carnal Collateral male/male series and the Forever faerie series.

Well, I finally had to break down and update some more behind-the-scenes stuff on the website. Of course it had stabilized so now Yahoo is hard at work trying to screw it up again. At any rate, I got the updating done tonight, so the site should comply with their little rules and regulations and they can stop bothering me so I can stop thinking about ripping their faces off and rubbing course sea salt onto their raw exposed face muscles and letting diseased rats chew on their fatty little cheekbones.

Night night! Sleep tight! Don't let the rodents bite!

P.S. I'll update the website a little more soon with proper cover pictures while Mary Anne gets her freak on with the man-on-man action.

In the wake of the overwhelmingly tragic slaughter of innocent elementary school students and heroic teachers and educational professionals on Friday in Newtown, Connecticutt,  there has been much discussion of the shooter and his Asperger's Syndrome.  One controversial piece entitled, "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" was written from the perspective of a mother who fears her 13-year-old son may be headed towards Adam's path.

The mother in the article doesn't seem to be talking about Asperger's, but I mention it because it inspired this piece. According to every news account I've heard - and there have been many - Adam Lanza was an Aspie.  Mr. Lanza may or may not have had other mental health issues.   However, the article linked above made me ponder why I am NOT Adam Lanza's mother.

I have a beautiful, brilliant 21-year-old son.  And yes, he's always been bright.  We always knew he was bright.  When he was in elementary school we learned how bright Zack was - school psychologists tested him and found that he has a genius-level, MENSA-grade IQ.  Why did he get tested?  Because Zack was always different.

...continue reading "Why I’m Not Adam Lanza’s Mother"

I've now finished reading "Fifty Shades of Grey" by EL James. As everyone on the planet likely knows by now, Grey is a trilogy and "Fifty Shades of Grey" is part 1. The books have received everything from lavish praise and adulation, to a life-changing movie deal for the author, to scorn and demeaning comments for the writer and the book's fans. I must've been fated to read it because I was still mulling over whether the books were worth the investment when my eldest bought me Fifty Shades in paper for Mother's Day.

And no, there was nothing weird about the gift. Zack had heard me mention it and recalled my saying that it was written as a tribute to Twilight. Zack's a big Twilight fan, and he knows I like tribute books (mine - Dangerous Relations: Griffin's Law is my nod to Grey's Anatomy).  So, being a thoughtful child, he picked up this one for me.

Here it sat, in my house as a gift for Mother's Day.  I hadn't decided whether to take the plunge and buy it - and this is where I have a confession to make - I'm not an erotica reader. My first acquaintance with the genre came with my first ebook publishing venture -  way back before Amazon built  the Kindle,  when no one ever dreamed that books would be mainstream in any form but paper, there was a little company called Mobipocket.  I first epublished there (later, Amazon bought Mobi and used the platform/engine to build the Kindle). Erotica sold better on Mobi than anything else, so I'd occasionally peruse the covers. Floating torsos.  Multiple torsos. The covers would show three or four men and one woman or sometimes several women and one man, and all of them would be naked and hovering. 

Ick.  What that reminded me of was growing up in a little town called Hartsville, SC where there was one of  THOSE drive-in theaters.  And sometimes, even respectable married ladies would venture in.  My Mom and my aunt took me and my cousin a couple of times as elementary school kids.  They told us to sleep in the back seat, but as long as we were quiet, they weren't going to interrupt their guilty pleasure to spank us for not sleeping.  Invariably, in the movies someone would show up for their first day at a new job and before they'd even filled out the tax forms, everyone in the office would be naked and going at it hard.  Or someone would move into a new house and order a pizza but they'd end up with the delivery guy, the plumber and welcome wagon ladies who brought a lot more than bundt cake.  It sort of put me off the genre.  As young marrieds, my hubby and I would sometimes rent one of those movies to enjoy together and as we wandered around the back section of the video store, I'd hand him a box and ask -- does this one look like it might have a plot?  (In case you're wondering, the answer always turned out to be no).

I hadn't decided whether I wanted 5o Shades, but it seemed to want me.  It's nice being wanted.  Then I started hearing high and mighty PC types calling Fifty Shades - "Mommy Porn."   Okay, if the PC crowd hated it, then I had to give it a try.  At least there are no floating torsos on the cover.

...continue reading "What Could Be Stranger Than Fifty Shades? My Review"