Friday, May 25, 2012

The Man, the Myth, the Legend...

Do I have your attention now while you wonder who this legend could be?  An interview with a celebrity?  How about a famous author? No my friends, I bring to you today someone that means more to me than words can describe...

My loving husband, Michael.

Today is his "half-century" birthday.  Yep, a biggie alright. His lovely sister pointed out today that he is now officially eligible for membership with AARP (bad Cheri, bad!)  This weekend, our kids will give him a hard time about it which will probably include some cracks similar to his sister's about getting older, and he will smile and laugh at each one.

Because that is just who he is--he takes everything in stride.

I wanted to do something extraordinary, something spectacular to mark this special occasion for him today and burnt a few brain cells as I struggled to think of the best way. Finally, the cylinders fired and an idea surfaced.  So, without further ado, I introduce you to my Man, my Legend, and now, no longer a Myth to all, my husband Michael. This is taken straight from the pages of my latest release, Ramblings of a Mad Southern Woman.

Happy birthday My Love.
*****************************

            Let me tell you a story of a man who isn’t afraid to work for a living. Michael is a man who refuses to wear gloves to protect his fingers from harm because that is just what men do. He is a man whose hands are so calloused he can pick up a hot ember as it pops out of the fireplace without blinking an eye and so strong they can crush a normal man’s hand. Yet these same hands are the one’s that gently cup my face, as gingerly as a butterfly’s caress while leaning down to kiss me.  That is my Michael.
            Michael is the last of a dying breed of men. A true blue-collar man, he rises early and beds down early. He is the kind of man whose strength and moral fortitude help build America: he is its backbone. A hard day’s work earns him a paycheck and the satisfaction of a job well done. He loves his country and flies the American flag proudly in his yard, and if the pledge of allegiance is said while in his earshot, he will stop, put his hand over his heart, and recite it. He ends the day with a cold beer in hand after a long, hot shower to erase the day’s grime. He takes pride in his work and isn’t satisfied until the job is done right. While at a jobsite, he is as tough as the next man, as dirty, and can converse with the superintendent as well as the other laymen with ease. He knows his job and isn’t tolerant of shortcomings or omissions from the inexperience of younger workers. He spits, cusses, and yells just like the rest of the men, but I would never know that save for the fact he tells me these things, for he is only a gentleman with me. I am a lady, and he treats me as such. At work, he is a bear on the outside, but at home with me, he is a kitten. That is my Michael.
            He is fiercely loyal to his family and loves his three girls with raw emotion rarely seen nowadays. This big man with hands of stone must choke back tears when one of his girls tells him they love him. That is my Michael.
            One of the truest sports fanatics I have ever met, Michael loves all sports. An all-around athlete himself, he played football, basketball, and baseball while in high school and excelled in all. He is also a great tennis player, and generally kicks my butt when we play. No, his breed doesn’t allow women to win without earning it, for that just would not be right, for one must earn what they have. And that’s okay because it has made me a better player. An Arkansas Razorback fan to the core, he lives, eats, and breaths Razorback sports and is a walking trivia book when it comes to U of A history. Ask him about any player, past or present, in any sport, and he can tell you all about them, right off the top of his head. Razorback games are rarely missed, and if they are, they are recorded for later viewing pleasure (or pain if we lost). While watching a game, he yells at the commentators, screams at the referees when they make a bad call, and jumps up and down like a little kid when we win. Yet this same sports enthusiast will sit down with his nine-year old little girl and watch Hannah Montana, just to spend time with her. That is my Michael.
            Tall from genetics, lean from work, he stands 6’3” in his bare feet. His legs are long and sinewy, like a fine thoroughbred horse. All the years of sports and working on his feet have given him muscle mass that most men work years to attain. His shoulders and arms bulge from ceiling work for the past 25 years that no machine or workout could possibly recreate. His hazel eyes sparkle when he smiles and his grin is infectious. His keeps his soft, curly salt-and-pepper hair trimmed short to fit his lifestyle, but just long enough that I can run my fingers through it when he sleeps. That is my Michael.
            He is devoted to his family and never forgets anyone’s birthday, although he tends to leave the gift giving to me. He remembers to call his mom on Mother’s Day and her birthday, and speaks of her with admiration and awe. A man that loves the Lord in his own quiet way and lives out what he believes. That is my Michael.
            This man, this wonderful enigma from an era long past, is my rock, my knight in shining armor, and my soul mate. He appeared in my life during a time of great turmoil and uncertainty, and stood there as a beacon of light, a lighthouse in the stormy seas of sorrow that I rode. His gentle ways, his love of life, his soft kisses and warm heart lifted me up, dusted my heart off, and gave me the strength not to give up. His unyielding spirit and heart with depth I am only beginning to fathom, allowed this crushed flower to bloom once again, more strongly and vibrantly than ever before. His love for me has surpassed any dream that I have ever had and allows me to face each day with renewed vigor. His voice makes me smile, his touch makes me shiver, and his love makes my heart sing. This mountain of a man allows me to be enveloped in his arms and melt into his soul. His embrace makes me feel whole, safe, and loved. That is my Michael.
            His deep, calming voice makes me smile when I feel like crying. His appetite for life has infected me and pushed me to attain goals I never dreamed possible. His presence is a healing salve and makes the troubles of my day seem distant and less painful. That is my Michael.
            This man, this incredible man, who has endured hardships and broken roads of his own, loves me beyond a mere description of words. The gruff exterior hides what lies inside, which is a huge heart full of compassion, joy, love, and kindness. He knows what I am thinking without me uttering a word because this tough-as-nails man has the uncanny ability to read people, especially those he loves. When the world seems to all be against me, he is there, those strong, big arms wide open, ready to shade me under his protective grip. That is my Michael.
            So who is Michael?  Michael is the rarest of all men—strong as a bull on the outside, yet soft as down on the inside. A man of strong moral code who stands firmly for what he believes in. He is a man who loves with all his heart and expects nothing less in return from those around him. True fiber and depth of character with a heart full of grit and determination whose love I can’t live without. In short, he is My Michael.



Monday, May 21, 2012

Ties That Bind - by Carolyn Arnold



TIES THAT BIND Book Blurb:

Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident. But when another woman's body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they're dealing with something more serious.
Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim.

EXCERPT, TIES THAT BIND, Chapter 3

He sat there, in his 1995 Honda Civic, sweating profusely.  Its air conditioner hadn’t worked for years.  A real piece of shit actually but perfect for the crappy life he had going.  He combed his fingers through his hair and caught his reflection in the rearview mirror.
Last night had changed him—whether for the good or for the bad remained to be seen.  All he knew was his eyes had changed, revealing the darker side of his character.  He rolled his shoulders forward in an effort to dislodge the growing tension and took a cleansing breath that brought with it a waft of the cigarette that burned in the car’s ashtray.
He had parked down the street close enough to observe the activity at thirty-six Bay Street yet far enough away to be left alone.  At least he had hoped so.  Cruisers were parked out front of the house, and about forty-eight minutes ago, a department-issued SUV pulled to a quick stop.
He picked up the cigarette, tapped it in the ashtray.  He took pride in getting all this attention for his work.  Statistically it was nothing special.  Another dead young lady.  People would move on.  They always did.
It was the city’s thirtieth murder of the year.  He knew this only because he had been brushing up on his statistics.  He was just like that, a gatherer of facts, of useless information.  But maybe someday his fact-finding and attention to detail would prove beneficial. 
He wiped his forehead.  The sweat trickled down and stung his nose.  It was still tender to the touch.  The old man at the bar had a strong right hook.  He closed his eyes for an instant.  When he opened them, a Crown Vic pulled to a stop in front of the house.  He straightened up.
A woman of average height, probably about five-ten, with blonde hair walked toward the yellow tape.  But her looks didn’t have his attention.  It was her determined stride that garnered his respect.  And she looked familiar to him and now he knew exactly why—Detective Madison Knight.
She had made headlines for putting Russian Czar Dimitre Petrov behind bars, but the glory didn’t last for long.  His power couldn’t be weakened and the detective proved powerless to stop another murder.
He felt flattered with her on the investigation.  An adrenaline rush built within him.  He could feel the energy in his veins, his heartbeat pounding in his ears, and the subsequent strain to draw in a satisfying breath.
Tap, tap.
Knuckles against glass.  His driver-side window to be exact.  He felt his heart take pause, his breath shorten further, as he surmised who it would be.  Slowly lifting his eyes to look at the intrusion on his reflections, his suspicion was confirmed.  It was an officer.
Stay calm, play it cool.
He drew the cigarette to his lips and took a drag on it.  Damn, his nose hurt so much when he sucked back on it, he had to fight wincing.  Leaving it perched between his fingers, he directed his attention to the cop who motioned for him to put the window down.
“I’m going to have to ask you to move your vehicle.”
Good thing for his dark-tinted glasses or maybe this cop would see right through him.  “Sure.”  He could feel himself shaking.  More adrenaline now infused with fear.
“Are you alright sir?”  The police officer bent over, looked into the car.
Following his gaze to the unsteady hand holding the cigarette, he forced himself to raise it for another drag.  It shook the entire way.  “Yeah, I’m fine…”  Her lifeless eyes flashed though his mind.  He coughed for the dual purpose of clearing his throat and for the hope it would somehow dislodge his recollections.  “Sure…I…I’ll get out of your way immediately.”
The cop’s facial reaction made him nervous.  Had he seen through the entire fa├žade?  Was his guilt that obvious?
“All units confirm a secured perimeter.”  The voice was monotone.
The officer ignored his radio.  “What happened to your nose?”
What was this uniform out to prove?  He forced another cough, attempting to re-direct the conversation.  He made himself take another drag and form-pressed a smile to conceal the pain.  His words escaped through gritted teeth.  “Bar fight.”  He tapped the cigarette in the ashtray.
The officer nodded but didn’t look too convinced.  It felt like the man’s eyes were condemning him.
“I need you to move your car.”  The officer’s flattened palm drummed on the roof.  “And try to keep yourself out of trouble.”
Too late, Officer…too late.

_____
Carolyn Arnold is the author of several novels in various genres.  Her mystery novels Ties That Bind and Justified have reached best seller status on Amazon United States for Kindle.  Her FBI thriller Eleven released November 2011, and made it on The Miami Books Examiner's 'Top 12 Fiction Books of 2011' list.  She currently lives with her husband, and two beagles in a city near the well-known Canadian center Toronto.
Where to connect with Carolyn online:
Twitter
Facebook page 
Goodreads




Friday, May 11, 2012

No Greater Love....

Mom.  Mommy. Ma. Whatever you call her, Sunday is the day we celebrate these incredible beings that brought us into this world.

As a "seasoned" mother, I want to offer a bit of encouragement to those that are just starting their journey as someone's Mom.  You know who you are.  The harried newbie that can't seem to get enough sleep, doesn't want to ever see another dirty diaper and wants to cry right along with your screaming little one because you can't recall where you put the car keys?  

Enjoy every moment because one day, they will not need you anymore, and you will WISH for these moments back.  I recall holding the squirming mass of soft flesh in my shaking hands from the moment my son entered this world twenty-two years ago and feeling inundated with many different emotions. I was absolutely terrified by the prospect of raising a child in this scary world, fearful to let him ever leave my arms.  The magnitude of love I felt wash over me, well, words can't really describe it, as I am sure each mother out there already knows.

You hover; you comfort; you smile at their antics; you love with raw power and God help save the person that ever hurts them from your wrath.  You learn the true meaning of devotion.  They are your world, your reason for living.

Then, suddenly, they grow up and leave your realm to forge life anew.  That is the hardest part of all: watching the fledgling leave the nest.     

I want to share a bit of my thoughts on my beloved son, taken from my latest collection "Ramblings of a Mad Southern Woman" in hopes that you frantic new moms out there take a cleansing breath and learn to enjoy.

SUNRISE, SUNSET


“Sunrise, the dawning of a new Spring day
Vibrant light shoots forth, illuminating a halo all around
Full of energy, promises, life anew.

Yellow rays caress your chiseled cheek
Glistening off your dark curly hair.
Your eyes lit sparkling blue;
Faint stubble upon your chin.

Nothing hidden now, the piercing light reaches all
As I look at the once tiny hands I held in mine
Now huge, clasping the hands of your beloved
Casually brushing her golden hair from her face.

But even under the Spring sun’s shimmer
My heart still sees my little boy;
So full of innocence and wonder
As we walked along the beach hand in hand
Not so long ago.

Now into the waning summer of this new era
I watch you walking with your love
Smiling, arm in arm, drinking in your new world
As I lag behind.

Sunset; the ending of the day
I fade towards the orangey glow
Hoping the dusk will hide my tears
Watching my man from a boy he has grown.”



Thank you, My Reason For Living, for just being.


If you would like to read more from my latest collection, it will be free on Mother's Day from Amazon.  Just click on the link.

Available exclusively on Amazon

Happy Mother's Day!