Exclusive Interview with Alexi Lawless, Author of Complicated Creatures

Full disclosure: Alexi Lawless hired my business, DaSh factor, for marketing & consultation. It was just a deliciously wonderful surprise that I’ve ended up loving her book (a curl up and read romantic-erotic-adventure) enough to recommend it here on MomsGetReal.

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I sat down (long-distance, via Skype and email) with Alexi, my new FAVORITE author, for an interview to get to know the writer behind the well-paced, uber-exciting, now-available-on-Kindle Complicated Creatures.

[Tweet “Read my interview with Alexi LAWLESS, author of Complicated Creatures.”]

We skipped the boring questions and got straight to the meat.

MomsGetReal: What do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

Complicated Creatures_ebooksmAlexi: I’m a die-hard Anne Rice fan. She had me at “Lestat”. I think my mother was incredibly worried that my dream man was an 18th century vampire with a penchant for leather pants, hot blood and the debauched streets of the French Quarter. When I read “Exit to Eden” at fourteen, I was pretty certain being a Domme was my intended job description, and may actually explain a great deal of my career path in strategy and management consulting (those hard-ass executives seem to jones the most for chronic abuse after all).

I’m a big fan of some up-and-comers too. Tarryn Fisher writes an evil plot twist that makes me want to hurl my Kindle across the room and purr with pleasure at the same time. CD Reiss may write some of the hottest sex scenes I ever read (and that’s saying something given my proclivities for the dark arts) with some fantastic character development and CJ Roberts is both spell-binding and disturbing in an entirely Rice-esque way. (I think she may have actually been torn from Anne’s rib). Alice Severin writes a rocker like no other– she makes Mick Jagger look staid compared to her vision of Tristan and I thoroughly enjoy that woman’s turn of phrase.

Your profile says: “Corporate Runaway. Novelist. Wanderer. Bourbon Drinker.” What are your drinks of choice (besides Bourbon)?

[Tweet “Pinot I drink by the case. Bourbon I drink by the bottle. Martinis I drink by the glass. #ComplicatedCreatures”]

Writing is hard work. What inspires you?

Music. I can’t write without music. In fact, I’m so reliant on it, I find no matter where I am in the world, if I turn on my playlist for the book/scene/character I’m writing, I can transport to that pretty quickly.

Check out Alexi’s playlist.

Your book spans the globe, almost literally. Where are your favorite places to travel?

I spend a lot of time on the road. I think I’ve traveled something like 60% of the world. I just finished a several month stint in South America. Next up: the Middle East. But I’ve been all over Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Northern Africa, Western Asia, Eastern Europe and the Pacific Ocean.

What do you do for fun?

Travel. Read. Drink. Write. Read while drinking. Write while traveling. Sadly, the drinking while writing is rarely productive, so we had to put a curb to that.

Are you a curl up with a good book kind of girl or a discotheque ‘til 4am kind of girl? In other words, how similar is Alexi to Samantha?

In the words of Sandra Cisneros, “I’m an aim-well, shoot-sharp, sharp-tongued, sharp-thinking, fast-speaking, foot-loose, loose-tongued, let-loose, woman-on-the-loose, loose woman. Beware, honey.”

What are you working on now, Alexi?

I am knees and elbows deep into writing Complicated Creatures Part 2. I also spend a bit of time thinking about who I’d like to play the key roles in Complicated Creatures if it became a movie.

I’m grateful Alexi took the time to chat with me about herself…and I do HIGHLY recommend the book. This is not your typical read-it-in-an-afternoon romance. It’s a highly evolved, deep story about a very strong woman, Samantha, who alternates her time between dodging bullets and dodging heartbreak…and if you think she is awesome (she is) just wait until you meet Jack.

If you are a blogger interested in reviewing Complicated Creatures, we have review copies available. To join the blog tour that runs June 25-July 31, sign up here.

Find out more about Alexi LAWLESS and Complicated Creatures:


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The (R)evolution of Music

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Before we moved to New York in 2008, my husband spent months sorting through (and mourning over the loss of) his collection of 1,800 vinyl albums. He decided to part ways with the majority of his records after years of collecting. Part of the reason, he explained, was practical — we already dedicated one entire room in the house to music, and the space was beginning to fill up, since we now were buying CDs at an even more rapid rate than we’d bought vinyl. The other reason, he said, was that we were planning a move, and after 20 years of hauling the records with us, he just didn’t feel like lugging them around one more time. What’s the truth about why he finally got rid of his records?

The truth started with an innocent little purchase of a 30-gig iPod. I was not nearly as up-to-date on the technology as he was, and most of my musical knowledge has been from spending the last ten years with him. He, however, wanted an iPod because it was the latest experience in music.  Once he realized how easy it was to carry around the little tiny gadget instead of a case of (8 tracks, then cassettes, then CDs) for the car — well, that was that. And when I sweetened the deal with an MP3 converter that let him digitize his vinyl, there was no more reason to keep them all.

A year or two before he got his first iPod, he had purchased an mp3 player for me. I honestly didn’t know what to do with it. The player sat in my drawer collecting dust for three years, and it finally sold at a garage sale for $5. A 30-gig iPod holds approximately 7,500 songs. I am not sure I even know that many songs, but my husband got started on downloading stuff he had not yet purchased on CD—like “KISS Alive 4,”  added all the albums he’d digitized, and soon worried that he would be out of space.  I bought an iPod too, put my favorite songs on it, and hit shuffle a lot.

That was five years ago. I am still using the same iPod, and only recently did I have to remove a few Christmas albums in order to make room for some 80s music I wanted for our road trip. Parker, having maxed out his 80-gig iPod in less than two years, has upgraded to a 160. Dave is now on his second iPod as well, having increased from a 30-gig to an 80-gig.

We’re moving again.

This time, Dave is not quite mourning, but still saying goodbye to the 1200 or so CDs we amassed before the digital music wave completely overtook us. There’s just no need to move them again. We’ve digitized everything, created redundant backups on external hard drives, and have moved completely into the digital age, even buying what few movies we still feel we must own through Amazon Prime on a digital account.

What’s exciting is the glimpse of the future I get going through this process. Our kids will grow up not thinking about owning a bunch of stuff and instead be happy to have an iPod to hold music and a hard drive to hold movies. While Dave and I have slowly moved into the digital age, our kids are of the digital age. Even the different of two years is remarkable: Parker has used cassettes and owns a few vinyl records; he understands the past that exists there. But at age 12 he can also type 80 words per minute, understands almost intuitively the technical aspects of everything he touches, and uses a computer for everything from taking notes in class to doing his homework. Anika at 10 has never known life without digital.  She’s had an iPod since she was old enough to be aware musically, and will never understand the nostalgia of knowing just where a song breaks on an 8-track or why old songs sometimes have pops and scratches.

It’s a new frontier out there. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Favorite Things from Heart to Toes

Getting Real With Tiana Green

As I was beginning to compile my list of favorite things, I realized that I really have a lot of favorites!

One of my very favorite things is Facebook! I am from Idaho, live in Utah, and have family as far away as my sister, Shadra in New York. Facebook has allowed us to keep in touch and still be a big part of each other’s lives. I love being able to share everything from photos to the little every day happenings in our lives. Facebook allows us to keep in touch in our own respective time zones at our own convenience!

Another of my favorite things is Diet Pepsi. There is nothing more refreshing than a crisp, cold Diet Pepsi to quench my thirst. It just completes my meals (even breakfast occasionally). The extra boost from the caffeine is a plus too!

Something that I truly can’t live without is my Android phone! I am a recent Blackberry convert over to the amazing Droid world and have been amazed at the capabilities and all the apps that can do everything from scan a product and tell you where to find the best price, to tracking my daily workout and calories burned. I have always been completely dependent on my cell phone, regardless of the type, but the Android offers a whole new world of possibilities. I also love the combination of two of my favorites. I love being able to take a picture with my phone and upload it directly to Facebook!

One of my favorite things to indulge in is a good pedicure. I love having soft, smooth feet and pretty painted toes. The massage chairs are a bonus too. I usually get a pedicure with a girlfriend so we have time to catch up, relax, and enjoy each other’s company!

Shadra’s Favorite Things

I’m not much of a shopper and have little if any brand loyalty, because I try to shop based on price and avoid collecting material items as much as possible. I do, however, have a list of favorite things…some you can buy, and some you can only experience.

Lilacs. In my mind, there’s nothing better than the fragrance of a lilac bush. That it’s purple and beautiful too just makes it even better. I’ve loved lilacs since I was a little girl and I’d fight the bumble bees for the pleasure of the flowers in my grandma’s front yard.

Montreal. Having studied French since I was in 7th grade, you can’t imagine the pleasure I have at living only 6 hours from the biggest population of French speakers this side of the Atlantic. When you add delicious food, friendly people, low crime, and a great metro system, Montreal is destination #1 in my book!

Books. My love of writing started with a love of reading, and there’s nothing better to me than sitting down with a good book and diving in. I have rainy afternoon favorites, like Sue Grafton and Jeffrey Deaver, and intellectual favorites, like E.M. Forster and Derek Walcott, and poets, like Alice Notley and Peter Riley. If the floor of my house ever collapses into my basement, it will be because of the weight of the books that line the shelves throughout the house!

While I’m not brand loyal to many things, there are a few that have made the A-list in our home:

Tide. I don’t care how dirty my kids get their clothes or how thick the grass stains are in the knees. Tide gets everything clean. We’ve tried nearly every detergent, and it simply works better for our laundry than anything else we’ve tried. We keep the liquid around to use as a stain spotter but buy the powder in bulk for the loads of laundry.

Scott Tissue. Ok, nobody talks about toilet paper much, but when you live with a disabled person whose judgment about how much of the stuff to use is often fairly off, having something that doesn’t clog up the pipes is a must. When it also happens to be of high quality and affordable, it’s a win-win!

Palmolive Dish Soap. Not only does this cut the grease and clean the dishes, but if you need a quick clarifying wash for your hair, nothing works better. It works great to get out hairspray and other hair treatment residue and buildup. It’s also great for skin outbreaks, especially the antibacterial version.

Veronica’s Favorite Things

Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra

There are very few things that I am particular about.  Mostly I make due with whatever is at hand, but I do have a few things that are just too wonderful to compromise on or do without.

Pilot Precise V7 black ink pens – I’ve written with all kinds of pens, but a V7 is the only one I’ll buy.  I prefer it over all other pens.  The way the ink flows as it glides across the paper in my hand is enough to have me writing an ode.

Post-it Note – These handy self-adhesive slips of paper are invaluable to my life.  I use them for marking pages in books, and writing notes as I read and research.  I use them for labeling and leaving notes for my family in anticipation for the questions they have when I leave them for any length of time.  My absolute favorite kind are the hot pink, 4×4 pre-lined ones, but I love all Post-it Notes in all sizes and colors.

True Blue Gloves – The hands-down best household glove on the market.  My mom got me a pair a few years back, and they are still in great shape in spite of the number of uses they have seen.  They are great for washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms and kitchens, cleaning gutters, and for opening jars!

Scissors – There is nothing so completely useful to civilized life as a good pair of scissors, especially since I love sewing and crafting.

Double sided tape – As an avid scrapbooker and card maker I don’t think I could live without my double sided tape.  Having kids around the house means that any glue is just a mess waiting to happen, but with double sided tape I don’t have to worry half as much.  My kids don’t try to eat or drink it, and never accidentally spill it over my projects.

Real Simple – My favorite magazine.  I find so many great ideas or inspiration for my own great ideas for everything from household items to fashion tips that fit my life style.

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things…

In the coming weeks, in honor of Oprah, our contributors are going to be sharing a few of their favorite things with you. Lisa Van De Graaff came up with the idea and leads us off here…

In honor of Oprah, my favorite things!

by Lisa Van De Graaff

Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil – It moisturizes beautifully, and the touch of light color makes me feel feminine. I pack it around in my pocket and use it several times a day!

My Passport – The freedom to travel around the world, experience new cultures, see for myself the things I read about in National Geographic Magazine (while pretending to be a NG photographer), and EAT! I challenge myself to fill every space before it expires, and I came close with the last one!

Flour sack towels – I’m particularly fond of embroidered ones, since they make me feel like my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother are cooking with me. More practically, I pull out a huge stack and set it on the counter as I begin a large cooking project. They are handy whenever I need a fresh towel to pat strawberries dry before dipping the berries in chocolate, to clean the crumbs off my knife for the next perfect slice of banana bread, to wring the water out of spinach for spanakopita, or, of course, to dry my hands after washing. I toss them in a pile as they get soiled and clean ’em up all at once at the end of my culinary explorations. They wash up beautifully with a little bleach. (Don’t use the towels to sop up cooking oil or bacon grease – The oil can be flammable in the heat of the dryer.)

Nitrile Gardening Gloves – These are from Gardener’s Supply Company, and they are flexible for good gripping and movement, breathable so my hands don’t sweat, and waterproof enough for most gardening tasks. I have two pair, and I use them exclusively when doing yard work. (Hands need nurturing, so apply a generous dose of hand cream after gardening.)

Cardamom – My passion for spices and herbs runs deep, and I get a bit fanatic about them. Right now, it is all about the cardamom – green pods float in my morning coffee, pancakes and scones include a generous teaspoon of ground cardamom, and Halibut will never be boring again. Mmmmm!

My Camera – I’ve had various cameras seemingly permanently connected to my body since high school, but my most recent favorite is a Canon EOS 40D. It is heavy, but I love the big screen to review images and the practically nonexistent delay. It is almost as good as my old 35mm SLR (I still long for the darkroom).  I get great photographs of my daughter – which is fulfilling as a mother – and I can take artsy images of food, flowers, and travels to nurture my creative self.

Tank Tops – They are for more that pajamas! I’m especially fond of the ones that are all cotton with spaghetti straps, and I like to wear one instead of a bra under t-shirts to give me a bit of support but allow my breasts to move for better lymph drainage. It is especially fun to match them to my panties…

Technology – I am so very grateful for Facebook, Skype, email, texting, and cell phones. I live far from family, and while a tweet is no substitute for a long face-to-face chat over a cup of tea, it does keep me in daily contact with loved ones between visits.  While some bemoan the minutiae that appear on these sites, they give me an intimate look into the life of those people I love but can’t see every day.

The Oprah Winfrey Show

I must admit that I feel a very real and true sense of depression and sadness as everyone’s friend, mentor, and teacher Oprah, comes to the end of her 25 year legacy with The Oprah Show. For those of you that have been regular and faithful viewers, I am sure that you understand what I am talking about. For as long as I can remember I have watched Oprah. I used to watch Oprah with my mom just as my girls have watched it with me. I have laughed. I have cried. I have learned so much over the years from the various subject matter that she has had on her show. She has talked about nearly everything! She has interviewed all the big movies stars and covered life changing events that have happened throughout our world. A lot of us “grew up” with Oprah and the huge influence she has had on our lives. Honestly, I can’t imagine what life will be without her! The countdown is on and there are just a handful of episodes left.

I have never been so affected by a celebrity or movie star personality. But I think that is why Oprah has been able to reach so many people in so many ways. She is just so real. Oprah has the gift of being able to speak in a way that makes you feel so connected to her. We have all been able to identify and relate to the various guests she has had on her show as well as Oprah herself. She has done so many amazing things that have made the world a better place.

So thank you to Oprah Winfrey for being such an invaluable model and inspiration to so many people throughout the world. Your show will be missed tremendously, but I think we can all look forward to everything that will undoubtedly come in the future! Tom Hanks said it very well. It is like our favorite neighbor that has always lived just down the street is moving out of the neighborhood. We love you Oprah!