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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.


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"

A post at 4 am from the City of Orlando, Florida - home of one of the best colleges on Planet Earth - The University of Central Florida.  Yes, Virginia, Orlando houses more than mice and Harry Potter. Some very, very smart folks live here too.  After all, think of the wizardry it takes to run Disney and Universal and to send men and women to space.  I say "takes" for NASA too because the decision to halt America's space program was clearly, astronomically wrong and I believe it will be reversed sooner rather than later.

Anyway, I waddled away from my point, which is that my family is here to bring my eldest, Zack, a UCF rising Senior, back home to Myrtle Beach for the Summer.  Zack's a mechanical engineering major and has decided to also do "Honors In The Major" so he'll spend a lot of the Summer researching, studying and preparing to investigate an engineering topic and write a "mini" thesis about it.  You go boy!  I can promise you that my eldest did NOT get his math and technical smarts from his Mom and if you've concluded that my hubby must be a very smart man - you'd be right! 

It's been an interesting trip, largely in the sense of the old Chinese curse.  We left home very early on Friday morning and should have arrived here in the late afternoon.  Should have andwould have, except for the tire blowout we had on I95 near Richmond Hills, Georgia - a suburb of Savannah.   My smart hubby managed to keep his cool when the tire exploded as we were doing about 70 mph in the center lane of 95.  He got the car off the road and changed to the temporary spare and we boogled into Richmond Hills for lunch and a tire change.  Lunch was great and if you're ever in that city, DO go to Southern Image for a buffet of old time Southern goodies that will knock your culinary socks off.  But don't ask the good peeps there to recommend a tire place.  We did, and the store with the sign advertising "speedy service" took over 2 and 1/2 hours, meaning that we didn't make it to Orlando until about 9 pm.

The good part of the late arrival was that the day's graduation activities at UCF were over by then and we were able to drive and pick Zack up right in front of his dorm - saving Zack the really long walk we'd planned so we could avoid the traffic hassles.  But we got the eldest and drove on to Altamonte Springs to the Embassy Suites.  We've loved it in the past, although recently had been staying at the La Quinta near UCF because of the proximity - and its excellent staff.  But all hotels near UCF were booked for graduation, so we returned to the Embassy in Altamonte Springs.

The first problem at Embassy is that we stayed at Embassy - not that its a bad hotel - we love it normally.  But we've reached the stage where we now need 2 rooms so that everyone has a bed.  I'd tried to economize by booking a suite with 2 double beds and the sleeper sofa standard in the den at Embassy.  BAD MISTAKE.  First of all, those beds are not double beds.  They're more the size of the overgrown twin bed in Zack's dorm.  Second of all, DH and I are used to our Queen bed from home and can not occupy an overgrown twin bed with any degree of comfort - especially when the room is constantly HOT.  I DON'T DO HEAT WELL.  NO ONE IN MY FAMILY DOES HEAT WELL.  WE ARE SOUTHERN SO WE WANT OUR INTERIOR SPACES KEPT AT THE TEMPERATURE OF A MEAT LOCKER. 

Despite my repeated requests, Embassy never even sent an employee up to check the air conditioning, so obviously they made no attempt to fix it.   But the hotel room heat wasn't our only fun on the trip.  Nope.  The hotel is also undergoing renovation.  I knew that from the website but foolishly assumed they would renovate unoccupied parts of the hotel.  Not so.  Despite the lying sign in the lobby claiming that the 4th floor is under renovation, we know that the 2nd floor was being worked on as well as the 3rd.  How did we know this?  From the constant drilling and hammering as well as from the construction workers in the hall right outside our room.  We occasionally shared elevators with them and I'm not blaming 'em.    Far from it.  If you ever want to hire a bunch of hardworking guys find out who this hotel is using because those dudes were hammering, sawing and drilling until after 6 pm on Saturday. 

To put the "cherry" on top of our trip, Zack, the eldest,  was trying to play a prank on Sam, our youngest while we were in the car between Orlando and Altamonte Springs.  Zack ended up hitting Sam in the nose, causing a nose bleed and a panicked mother who is still asking Sam if his nose is "happy."  Thankfully - it is happy and Sam is okay.  My DH yelled at everyone - ordering that none of us touch anyone else in the family.  Hmm.......  don't think he thought that one through.  (Of course, he was joking and making a Cosby reference.)

Last night hubby and I crammed into the oversized twin bed and sweated our way through the night.  However, while the men were out seeing a movie and my muse was on my shoulder whispering fast and furious, I discovered that the den area was a little cooler than the bedroom.  For that reason - and because my hubby has to drive for 8 or 9 hours tomorrow and needs his rest, I decided to sleep with Sam on the sleeper sofa.  Sam slept there peacefully last night.  Uhh,  bad idea.  Sam is 14 and has 14 year old bones, but his mother does not. 

The sleeper sofa where it's impossible to sleep is the reason I'm up at 4 am typing this blog post.  I'm also going to do a little writing, although I think muse is passed out somewhere - I'm pretty sure she is because she's a heck of a lot smarter and sturdier than me! 

I'm also ready to head back home to Myrtle Beach.  I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  "There's no place like home, no place like home, no place like home."  Hey, if I could only find some ruby slippers maybe I could save hubby the drive and get us back to Myrtle at the speed of OZ. 

Does anyone know where I can find a pair of magical ruby slippers?  If they've got 'em anywhere  - surely it's in Orlando!!

My office just upgraded to Office 2007 - we didn't go to 2010 because of compatibility issues with other software.  And I'll confess up front -- I'm a rut person.  Actually, I'm a rut person's rut person.  So new technology isn't something I adopt easily.  But usually, I don't feel that the technology was designed to make me, as a woman, feel inferior.  In fact, that feeling has never happened to me - until Office 2007. 

It's all about the ribbon, which is an insidious device that seems designed to serve two evil purposes:  (1) to hamper, harm, denigrate and deter women and (2) to drive women backwards in an effort to survive in the workplace. 

The ribbon is clearly a man's tool.  It's mostly like designed by men for men and it's all about men.  Why?  Because men are visual.  They think in pictures.  And what is the ribbon except a long string of pictures? 

Women think in words.  For women the drop down menus of older versions of Office were easy to understand and navigate.  Well, that couldn't continue, could it?  Women were already succeeding in terrifying numbers.  That had to stop. So the software mogul designed an improvement intended to drive women backwards while men advanced on the work front. 

Why does it drive women backwards?  I'll bet one of the first acts of every woman who spent more than an hour trying to decode all the idiotic pictures on the ribbon did the same thing I did - a Google search for keyboard shortcut codes for 2010.  And I can press control-w all day long to close documents, but every time I do it, I resent the heck out of it. 

If Microsoft isn't trying to be a sexist, anti-woman crusader - it should send users one of those updates that gives us the chance to get our menu bar back - and yes, I want "edit" back on that menu.  Whoever thought it would be a good idea to take all the editing tools that were under one handy label and scatter them randomly on the ribbon from hell?  Whoever it was, I'll tell you who it wasn't - it wasn't a WOMAN.  And don't get me started with out the company screwed up the "view" option.  The "draft" view is the normal view - or at least it is for WOMEN.  Apparently men can't make the mental adjustment to process the words and symbols on the now-draft view. 

So Microsoft -- if your goal is to drive women backwards - roughly to the days of DOS - you're succeeding mightily.  If your goal isn't to alienate women - who make a heck of a lot of the software decisions in most offices - then you best readjust your thinking.  The only thing your current sexist efforts will do is to drive women into the arms of your competitors. 

If Microsoft wants to serve the needs of all of its customers -- rather than just the preferences of its male buyers - the company needs to send us an update that caters to women - THE SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO THINK IN WORDS.

Very early in our relationship, my hubby went shopping with me for a purse. Note that I said "very early." There are many things men will do early in a relationship that go out the door when a couple settles into reality - like purse shopping or eating green bean casserole (don't ask). After that early purse excursion, we learned that if we wanted to keep love alive, purse, clothes or shoes shopping should be my department. It must have been a good call, because we've been happily married now for over 20 years.

I hadn't really thought about how men and women shop better for different things until I read about a study in the UK's Daily Mail Online. The study, commissioned by The Co-operative Food, focused on how men and women feel about and deal with grocery shopping. Although women are considered the experts at shopping, our prowess stops at the doors of the grocery store. Yes, Virginia, the study found that women get more flustered and stressed in supermarkets.  

Researchers studied around 2,000 people and found that despite the fact that women are more likely to enter the weekly grocery shopping frey armed with lists and coupons, the experience throws us into a complete tizzy. Women hate the crowds at the store, feel rushed at the checkout and are generally shocked at the cost of purchases.  Two thirds of the women studied said they disliked fighting crowds to get what they wanted and 34% hate it when other people's children get into their way.  1 in 10 of the women confessed to getting into arguments at the store with other shoppers over things like shopping carts, fighting over the same item or line jumping.

Grocery shopping, it seems, is an activity that men excel at and enjoy.  "Men seem to adopt a much more laid back and methodical approach, taking their time looking for bargains and make sure they’re getting the most for their money."

The study found that 51% of the men are more likely to opt for brands they know while 26% of the women grab the first brand they find because it helps speed up the shopping.  It found that women are more likely to ask for help in locating something, but men are more likely to use technology to make the shopping easier.

Authors of the study say that for women, grocery shopping is apt to be just another on a long list of things they have to do so women rush through the grocery store "to conduct the shopping as quickly as possible."    Researchers theorize that there is a "new breed of male supermarket shoppers."  I find a lot of the studies I run across interesting, and may share them with blog readers even if I personally consider them to be chock full of hogwash.  I'm sharing this one for the opposite reason -- based on personal experience, I think it's absolutely accurate.

I hate a grocery store.  Just the sight of one makes me feel tense and unhappy.  One of the happiest days in my life was when Lowe's Foods came to Myrtle Beach because of the Lowe's To Go Service.  It meant I could order my groceries online and schedule a pickup time. I'd drive into the parking lot, push a loudspeaker button to announce my presence, and an amazing employee would wheel my groceries right out to my car.  It was life altering for me - and it still would be today.  The only reason I stopped using the service is because of a change in workschedules and hours, my hubby started doing the grocery shopping.  He prefers going into the supermarket and engaging in that whole battle.

It was hard for me to understand how my DH could possible enjoy the shopping experience, but the new study indicates that he's not alone.  It turns out that the grocery store is a man's world.  But you know what?  I'm okay with that.  I'm very, very okay with that.  Really, I'm okay with anything that keeps me out of the grocery store.

Don't tell my hubby, but he's much better at grocery buying than I am!    Besides, my DH looks so cute pushing around that shopping cart...