Five Reasons Why My New Release ‘At Your Service’ Is Important

Here are 5 reasons why my latest release At Your Service is important for women:

1. At Your Service breaks down ageist and sexist barriers that have allowed men to age, be adventurous, foxy, and paired with women 15-20 years younger while dismissing women over 40.

2. Portrays a strong, middle-aged female lead who is not an ageist stereotype or is typecast as a mother, wife, grandma, harpy, or crazy woman who lives in a van.

3. Portrays a middle-aged woman as intelligent, capable, attractive, sensual, and sexual.

4. Ageism is often overlooked as an issue of diversity. Young women will one day be older women. Positive, realistic representations of intelligent, capable, attractive, sensual, and sexual women over 40 create positive role models for younger women.

5. Sexism has rendered older women nearly invisible in all forms of media. The women over 40 in At Your Service get noticed.

Okay, so At Your Service is a romantic suspense cosy spy mystery thriller and how realistic is it to have a female butler join up with a British spy… Ah. Yes. You get it. Fiction. Content here creates the culture, the positive role model of a female butler, which is unusual role for a woman, AND the fact she’s middle-aged, intelligent, capable, attractive, sensual, and sexual IS the spin on the content and culture we’re SO used to seeing. Breaking down the barriers of sexism, ageism, stereotypes, and the sidelining of older women we’ve come to accept as the norm is not reality and it’s not fiction either.

The reality is, women over 40 are not invisible, but they have been miscast and have, for far too long, been left off screen and out of fiction. It’s my mission, so to speak, to challenge this, to change this, to give the world a positive portrayal of women over 40 and a role model for younger women AND men, one book at a time.

The F*ckable Silver Fox Romance Heroine And Me

If you have a psyche of a sensitive nature, one that detests off-colour language, you may want to look away now because I’m about to drop some f-bombs.

By now you’ve probably seen it, Amy Schumer’s Last Fuckable Day. If you haven’t here’s a link to it.  Go watch it now.

If you don’t want to watch it, in a nutshell, the skit addresses the ageist and oh-so-sexist double standard in Hollywood. You know the ageist double standard I mean, don’t you? It’s that thing when an actress reaches an age grannyand is suddenly put out to pasture, or only offered stereotyped roles like mother, cougar, knitting grandma, and crazy hag cat lady, because they’ve crossed The Line of 40 and are no longer considered ‘fuckable’— or bankable. It’s that thing that doesn’t happen to men in Hollywood.

It also that thing that doesn’t happen to heroes in Romance Fiction.

In Schumer’s Last Fuckable Day, Amy and her pals, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette point out a woman’s ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date in Hollywood, the enduring stereotyped roles available to an actress of a certain age, and how their male counterparts fail to suffer the same fate when they cross The Line of 40. You see, Silver Foxes, like George Clooney, are welcome in Hollywood as much as they are in romance novels. And in romance novels silver fox heroes are a hot and sought after hero.

Like in Hollywood the silver fox romance hero is usually paired with a younger woman. Like in Hollywood the silver fox moniker applies only to men. There are those of us who are tired of this ageist and sexist double standard. There are those of us tired of being told, ‘Sorry, you’re over 40 and no one wants to fuck you onscreen or in the pages of a romance novel.‘ To that I say, bullshit, there ARE people who want to see thosCGAHe movies and read those books. There are those of us who have money we would spend to see those movies and read those books because there are those of us who think that, who know that, being over 40 doesn’t mean you’re done with love or sex or romance.  There are those of us (in spite of how much we love Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade) who’d like to see the silver foxy hero paired with a woman his own age. There are those of us who want to change things, who want silver fox to apply to women who have crossed The Line of 40.

Yes, I’m one of those who wants to change this because, goddamn it, I’m over 40 and I’m a silver fox, not a dumpy middle-aged hausfrau who’s dead from the waist down, and I’m tired of seeing women like me left out of movies and books. I’m so over seeing Daniel Craig’s late 40s SPECTRE James Bond get paired up with the then 20-something Lea Seydoux instead of 50-something Monica Bellucci.

Pardon my momentary rant. I still haven’t recovered from the missed opportunity of Bond getting the RIGHT GIRL.

I write romance fiction with silver foxy men AND silver foxy women. Yeah, no, I’m not going to call her a silver vixen because cougar is already pejorative enough and there isn’t a male equivalent besides ‘dirty old man,’ which is something more perverted than a screen hero paired with a woman half his age—which keeps getting rammed down society’s throat Antonelli coveras normal.

Sorry…sorry, ranting again. Bond should have been with Bellucci.

There are those of us who believe we need a new normal, those of us who believe that if we saw silver foxy women on a regular basis, in advertising, on the big screen, on TV, in print that the double standard that keeps women over 40 trapped by stereotypes of age might change. That’s what I am doing, changing what I see by presenting real women in romance fiction who are not trapped by a stereotype of age, who are not cougars, grannies, or crazy cat ladies. In fact, I’m going against the Hollywood image completely.NextToYou_V1_FINAL Round3-Harlequin1920_1920x3022

My books, all of them, feature pairs of silver foxes in romance fiction, something we are lead to believe is a younger woman’s tale, which we know in real life is bullshit.

My latest release, Next to You, features a pair of silver foxes. It’s about a Bubblegum pop loving albino man named William Murphy and his new neighbor, Caroline, a woman who’s trying to grab life by the balls.  Next to You  comes on on Monday.

Seventy-five Days of Phobias Day 62 Mo Mo Mo And Mo Driving in Neutral!

TDriving_Final[3] 12.45.14 pmo OH YEAH MAMA the upcoming release of Driving in Neutrala love story about claustrophobia— (available for pre-order!) I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. Thanks to everyone who’s been following along and everyone who’s joined in to share. As Olivia, the heroine in Driving in Neutral says to Maxwell the claustrophobe, “Everyone’s afraid of something.” I’m not really sure where this one stands.

It’s safe to say I am not afflicted by Pogonophobia, the fear of beards. I am married to a goateed Sicilian and I like beards as long as they don’t stray into ZZ Top or Rumpelstiltskin territory, which makes me think there may be food scraps hidden somewhere in all that hair, whiclongbeardyh feeds my cleaning compulsion. I look at the long, backwoodsman beard and feel an overwhelming urge to TIDY IT. First with a vacuum, to collect all the toast and cookies crumbs and dislodge any caked on bits of cheese from last Thursday’s Fusilli Bolognese. Then with shampoo, and finally with a pair of scissors.

I once had a friend who wasn’t bearded, but he did have a moustache. He had a moustache that was so thick and long he would often have remnants of his lunch embedded in the hairs. On first glance, his ‘mo seemed broom-like, but that vast stretch of bristly hair curled over his upper lip and dipped into the seam of his mouth. His ‘mo was more like the food filtration system on a baleenBaleen whale. So I was wondering if my fear of his dirty, dirty Balleen whale ‘mo meant I was somehow Cetaphobic. Like I developed a irrational fear of BIG WHALES because of his big, bushy, bristly, food-filtering ‘stache? Or was it merely some kind of mustaceumphobia?

Then I met another man who had the ZZ Top Harley-Rider beard that he could tuck into his belt. I noticed his beard was soft (because he used conditioner) and clean, and his massive comb-like food-filtering bristly moustache was too. But this was only BECAUSE HE KNEW HOW TO USE A NAPKIN!

There are no dirty moustaches or beards in Driving in Neutral. But there is ice cream. and messy eating, which should appeal to Author Lily Malone.

Dark chocolate cranberry almond crunch was the unusual flavor Olivia chose, but Emerson went with green apple. He liked the idea of ambling around the town square, window- shopping and eating ice cream cones, but the afternoon sun was too intense. The ice cream began melting faster than they could lick it. Milky trickles started to run over golden cones as soon as they exited Kenton’s ice cream shop.

They found a park bench beneath the shade of a maple tree and sat.

Olivia handed him a paper napkin. “Have you ever considered you might have anger management issues?” she said.

Emerson licked the joint where the apple ice cream met the cone. “I think I manage my anger very well.”

“I can’t argue with that. You did a great job getting hostile back there in the jewelry store.”

“I wasn’t hostile.”

She clicked her tongue. “You practically used him as a stand-in for Timmons. Do you miss your little whipping boy?”

“You know if you talked less and ate your ice cream faster, you wouldn’t have chocolate all over your knuckles.” He sneered, wrinkling his nose.

Olivia made a face back. “You’re like my brother. It’s taken him over sixty years to learn you don’t have to yell to get what you want.” She watched him bite the tail off his cone and suck ice cream through the end.

He smacked his lips and said, “Look at it this way. This is how I manage my anger. I get mad, speak my mind, and poof, it’s over. I’m relaxed and I’ve got what I want.”

“Of course, because you use dictatorial intimidation tactics.”

“This coming from the woman with the chocolate Hitler moustache. Good Lord, you’ve got ice cream all over your chin too.” He handed back the napkin she’d given him. “It must be good if you make that much of a mess.”

She wiped her mouth with the crumpled paper. “It’s very good. Want to try it?”

“Sure.”

“Great, and when you’re back in Kenton’s can you get me another napkin?”

It took him a second of watching her lick a circle around her ice cream before he got it. “You mean I can’t try yours?”

“No. Go get your own.” She stuck out her tongue and turned the cone against it.

Emerson stared at her.

“What are you going to do, yell at me until I let you try mine? Holler until I submit?”

“Just for that, you have to go back into the jewelry store and face Mr. Twenty-First Century Hair Fantasy alone,” he said.

“Like I was going to let you come back in there with me.” She licked her ice cream again and then shook the cone at him. “There is no way that’s going to happen. You are going to sit here and wait.”

In one motion, Emerson grabbed her wrist and yanked her close, sliding her across the bench until she was just a few inches from his chest. “I may employ a bit of intimidation…” He drew her closer and watched her lips part, her eyes widen. The heel of her hand pressed into his breastbone to push him away. The conductive energy of her touch shocked through him, but before she shoved him away, his head dipped…

 

Seventy-five Days of Phobias Day 49: The Fearless Imelda

TDriving_Final[3] 12.45.14 pmo blow the horn for the upcoming charge of my (now available for pre-order!) third novel, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. Olivia, the lead in Driving in Neutral doesn’t think there’s much to be afraid of in life, but I know what scares the bejesus outta me. 

My guest today, author Imelda Evans, strikes me as the FEARLESS Olivia type.

Hello, my name is Imelda and I’m not afraid of anything.

No, really.

Well, okay, not exactly. But when Sandra first suggested this post to me, that’s what I thought. Imelda2I thought, oh dear, I’m not sure I’m the best person to write about phobias, because I don’t have any. Not proper ones.

Of course, there are things I am afraid of. And they’re very specific. For instance, I’m not scared of heights, but I am scared of falling. Tall buildings, hot-air balloons, balconies, even cliffs if they’re nice and solid, are all fine. Rope ladders, or bridges that wave in the breeze? Not so much. But I consider that more common sense than a phobia.

Likewise, I’m not crazy about enclosed spaces, but my issue is not so much the enclosed space itself, as not being able to get out. So, a tight, dark cupboard, with a freely opening door? Fine. A kid’s exhibit of a gold mine, made of theatre flats, but with really low doorways, which make me wonder whether I can stoop through them? Slightly hyperventilate-y. Still, controllable, with an effort of will (and the reflection that, if the worst came to the worst, I could just knock the whole thing down), so not really a phobia.

I’m probably closest to a phobia on the subject of being able to breathe easily. I recently visited the Great Barrier Reef and had no trouble holding my breath for surprisingly long periods under water so I could look at the pretty fishies. But ask me to put a snorkel in my mouth, and feel as though my breathing was being impeded by something other than me? I don’t think I actually threw the snorkel back at the nice crew member, but I certainly lost some hairs in ripping it off my head.

But still, not a fully-fledged phobia. Half-feathered, at most.

So should I get myself a cape and write myself a comic series about Imelda E, Fearless Gal?

Not yet. Because there is something I am afraid of. So afraid of, that if I were a book character, my writer would be right now working out how to make me face, it, day after day, until I conquered it or died trying. Oh waitImelda. Hang on. That’s already happening. It’s called my life. So what is it, I hear you ask? What is this dread secret? What makes me so afraid that even in my mind, it’s called ‘The Fear,’ with capital letters?

Not being good enough.

The Fear can strike over anything I care enough about: being a wife, a mother, a friend, a citizen, a good person. But most of all – or most often, anyway – I fear not being a good enough writer.

I fear that my funny is not funny enough, my serious not real enough, my plots not twisty enough, and that my books will never move, or entertain anyone – at least not enough.

Some days, I can laugh at The Fear. Others I can look it in the eye and insist it back off long enough to let me work. Some days I grit my teeth and work and at the end of the day, The Fear mocks me and says that I have wasted my time.

And some days, it takes me in its grip and won’t let me go. Those are the days the smoothly opening doors become bolted from the outside and I think I will never get out. These are the days when I sedulously avoid drinking. (Is there a name for fear of becoming a writerly cliché? I’m sure Dr Sandra would know.)

So, I guess I do have a phobia. But I don’t have a name for it. I think it’s called being a writer.

This is not what I intended to write in this post. I intended to be much funnier. But young Sandra (Young Sandra? Bwahahahaha! You slay me, Imelda.) did ask me to share what I was afraid of and it’s too late for her to regret it now.

Imelda Evans is an Australian writer who likes books, baths and baking, coffee, cocktails and craft, family, friends and food…  and a good lie in the hammock when the alliteration fails her!
She writes contemporary novels about women’s lives – the dramas, the challenges, the joys and the occasional loaded gun – and how they get through them with a sense of humour and a little help from their friends. Find out more about Imelda.
imeldaevans.wordpress.com/my-books/

Her latest, Playing By The Rules is set for release on 15 September!

 Rules are for Breaking                  Playing By the Rules

Rules are for breaking 2Playing by the Rules small

 

 

Seventy-five Days of Phobias Day 46: Ebony McKenna Spins a Tale of Triumph

To celebrate the upcoming release of my third novel, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. As Olivia, the heroine in Driving in Neutral says to Maxwell the claustrophobe, “Everyone’s afraid of something.”  While this is true, it seems Author Ebony McKenna may have conquered one of her fears. Showoff.

EJMCKENNA_small_4x6Not another author admitting to Arachnophobia, a phobia about spiders! Yeah, guilty as charged. But I’m also sharing a dramatic personal journey[1] about how I forced myself to get over them.

There’s nothing wrong with being afraid of spiders. They have evolved to look like they’ve come from the very bowels of hell. They bite, sometimes with venom; they’re sneaky and make enormous webs that get in our hair; they also love to hide in the car and leap out when we flick the sun visor down. This suburban cliché did happen to me. I did my best not to freak out, but the people in the car beside me lost their minds!

Growing up in country Victoria, spiders were part of life.

The woodpile was always a source of spider terror, so I’d routinely roll the logs off the pile with a rake and kick them a few times before bringing them in.

Then I’d sit by the fire and watch the black house spiders crawl out from those same logs of wood, into the flames of hell.black house spider

The worst ones were the orb weavers. They don’t spin webs; they make vertical trampolines. Walk into one and they fling you backwards. (I can attest to this. — Sandra)

My cat was the first of my rescuers. She had a litter of kittens in the corner of my bedroom, and one morning a freaking enormous huntsman sauntered across the floor. Like he owned the place. Before I could grab my shoe, the cat padded over, whacked the thing flat into the ground, then proceeded to eat it. The whole thing. Not even a hairy leg left.

That cat was either starving hungry, or protecting her babies. Either way, she was really freaking awesome.

I found red back spiders in my compost heap next to the veggie patch. I lifted the lid to chuck in the leftovers and there they were, calm as you effing well like, with a huge sack of eggs behind them.

A ciggie lighter and a can of fly-spray from the kitchen made a brilliant napalm fire-spray. Sure, it melted the compost bin lid, but in any war there’s bound to be collateral damage.

But there are only so many houses I could burn down before I had to admit I had a problem. A good and proper phobia of spiders. Plus, by this stage I was living in a share house so I had to harden up and look after myself instead of relying on another person, or cat, to deal with my issues.

Plus, at some point (I’m not entirely sure) I kind of grew up.[2] In those halcyon days when people read blogs, I wrote for a fake-news/satire site. I had to fill it with content! Every week! I know!

AusdieOne of those pieces of spak-filla content was about the numerous Australian creatures just sitting around waiting to kill unwary tourists. Crocodiles, irukandji jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, stonefish, sharks, dingoes, drop bears and spiders.

Reading about these creatures, I learned that red-backs, while famous for hiding on toilet seats, weren’t that lethal. Sure, the bite itself is so painful you’ll wish you were dead, but you won’t die. Just recently, hospitals have found most spider bite cases don’t require antivenom.[3] Just painkillers (yes please!) and loads of ice packed around the wound to numb the pain.

Hmmmm, I thought. Not instantly dead eh? That’s a plus.

The more I read about our arachnid friends, the more I realised how incredibly helpful spiders are. They keep the bug, fly and mosquito numbers down in the garden. They in turn become bird (and presumably cat) food, thus continuing the circle of life.

Spiders also show us that we can become instant ninjas when we walk into one of their webs. How cool is that?

There are still some species that are very dangerous, like the Sydney Funnelweb (Thank goodness I live in Melbourne), but I believe most species are seriously misunderstood.

These days, when I see a spider, I don’t immediately kill it. I do the ‘jar over the top, slide a piece of cardboard underneath’ trick and take them outside.

Then, when it’s all over, I have a private little freak out and get back to work.

So now it’s your turn. Can you find it in your heart to love a spider? OK, what about a little picture of one instead?

PS. There are no spiders in my Ondine novels, but there is a talking ferret and copious footnotes.

Ondine # 1 The Summer of ShamblesTry Ondine2Ondine # 3 The Winter of Magic

 

[1] Results may vary.

[2] Open to debate.

[3] http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/29/6/156/8#qa (An actual footnote citing source material. I know!)

Seventy-five Days of Phobias Day 45 When Surly Met Jewellery

TDriving_Final[3] 12.45.14 pmo celebrate the upcoming release of my romantic comedy, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running this 75 Days of Phobia series. Thanks to everyone who’s been following along and everyone who’s joined in to share. As Olivia, the heroine in Driving in Neutral says to Maxwell the claustrophobe, “Everyone’s afraid of something.”  In this case, the something that wigs out rebellious writer Barbara MacRae could be the basis of a really awesome horror movie that would wig out my previous guest, Kate Cuthbert.

I’m not afraid of very many things. I loathe mosquitoes, and I have what some (well, alright, mostmozzie) would consider a rather acute fear of germs and disease, good common sense! I just don’t have the bandwidth for superstitions. If there’s a ladder in my way, the only way I’m going to walk around it is if there’s someone on top of it who is coughing. The only time I’ve ever thrown salt was during a dinnertime argument, but that’s someone else’s fear story to tell. I have sevens and thirteens tattooed on my skin, I open umbrellas indoors and I leave hats on the bed all the time. I’m not more advanced or more logical than those who have irrational, superstitious fears. I’m just too lazy and obstinate to follow any rules I don’t absolutely have to.

I do, however, have one very peculiar dislike. No, it’s not a dislike. I’ll say it. It’s a fear. A totally irrational, completely superstitious fear. And apparently it’s so rare that it doesn’t even have a name, at least not one that I could find. So knock yourself out on this one, folks: I’m terrified of antique jewelry.

evil ring

Satan’s ring

When I was very young, probably 5 or 6, my mother read me a story about a princess, or maybe it was a virginal milkmaid, I don’t remember. The details about her are gone. But she somehow came into a possession of a beautiful ring, and the moment she put it on, it began to change her. The ring had belonged to an evil sorceress, and it was imbued with all the horrors of her personality, and anyone who wore it would be infected with those horrors. (Yes, my mother had interesting ideas about what constituted age-appropriate children’s literature.) I will forever recall my mother’s cackling sorceress voice as she read, “the ring is on your finger! The evil is now in your soul!”. Yup. The math I learned as a kid? Gone. Piano? Forget about it. Church? She couldn’t make that stick, and I promise you, she REALLY tried with that one. But the ring that carried its former owner’s evil? Stuck like glue.

evil vicjeweller

Evil Victorian Hair Brooch

So how bad is it, my antique-gemmaphobia, my jocalepriscusphobia? I desperately want to tell you that it’s just a personal thing, that while I wouldn’t wear vintage jewelry myself, neither would I recoil in terror from my friends when they show me the gorgeous bracelet they got at some chi-chi antique shop, or the stunning necklace that they picked up for a song at the flea market in Paris. I believe in upcycling! I believe in the re-use of previously owned objects! I believe in personal choice and free will! If my friends want to eat crickets or soak up evil, that should be their business. But I can’t. I just can’t. If you show me that 1920’s Viennese bracelet and start telling me about the crazy gypsy lady who sold it to you, my hands will sweat, my stomach will hurt, and something is going to come up very quickly that will force me to put some distance between us. It’s not personal, really! I just can’t handle the waves of fetid vileness invisibly emanating from that lovely art nouveau piece. So sorry.

pawn

Full of Pain Pawn shop jewellery

The semi-rational (and actually writing it down is pretty certain to blow this excuse right out of the water) explanation that my brain has devised over the years to cope with this phobia is that jewelry is a highly emotional object. Unlike, say, pants, which are just pants, jewelry is something that is given in love, worn with pride, earned through sweat, hidden in fear, stolen in jealousy, pawned in anger. The object itself inspires huge emotions, and I just can’t get past the feeling that long after the person is gone, those emotions live on, caught in the metal and stones like a shadow or a faint smell of cloying perfume. And pawn shop jewelry – oh man, that is the worst. Pawn shops are the place where my relatively inconsequential little phobia grows long spindly legs that twist and twine their way into the other objects in the store, not just in the jewelry anymore, but right into the TVs and the radios and the bowling balls. Reeking of sadness and pain, they sit, marinating in the haze of unhappiness that infects the entire shop, right down to the industrial carpeting and the bars on the windows. Nothing comes into a pawn shop in happiness, and nothing leaves it without baggage. I would wear a cigar band before I’d even touch a pawn shop wedding ring.

Fortunately, this isn’t a phobia that costs me a lot to carry. As fears go, it’s far from crippling. There’s plenty of brand new jewelry out there, and I have no trouble finding it. I have to admit, though, since I’m going for full, neurotic confession here: Lately, I’ve been worrying just a little about the source of my silver. How would I know if my new bracelet came from the melting down of someone else’s old one? Can evil survive smelting? Does pain, left clinging to an object, delve stubbornly into the Silver_crystalmetal itself, or does it vaporize when the form of the object dissolves? I do not know, because it’s illogical and imaginary and made up, and yet, on nights when I can’t fall asleep, and the hours tick by, and my head goes to scary places, sometimes there is that sorceress voice in the back of my brain, cackling and hissing through my mother’s mouth. And as I methodically twist my rings, and my bracelets, I wonder. Where exactly did this silver come from, and what has it put into my soul?

Surly and rebellious, Barbara MacRae hated school until she registered at De Anza College in Cupertino, and now she loves, LOVES school because she discovered she didn’t actually hate learning, she just hated being a teenager. She loves writing essays, which means this guest post worked for her because, as her husband, Karl, once pointed out, “you didn’t write about the book Huckleberry Finn, you wrote about how the book made you feel” (she got an A+ on the essay anyway). She’s notorious in the English department at De Anza for her inability to write her name in less than 1,000 words. Barbara lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.

Unsurprisingly, she did not write this at an antique writing desk.

Seventy-five Days of Phobias Day 42: The Answer!

Driving_Final[3] 12.45.14 pmWith the impending release of my smart-assed grown up romantic comedy, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series.

Over the last 42 days of this series, I’ve been asked, “Why did you decide to do a series on phobias?”

And my Answer? Two reasons.

The first reason. I write romance fiction, and aside from war, what’s scarier than falling in love? Falling in love impacts your entire life, your heart, your health, your personality, your day-to-day routine, your future. You risk all that you are, all that you’ve ever thought you wanted to be, for love. And that’s pretty freakin’ scary, even scarier than living your life alone.

Some fears are minor; some are the size of an elephant sitting on one’s chest. We all have little irrational fears that we understand are completely irrational. We can see the logical side of the fear —that spider is 30 times smaller than the bottom of my shoe— and look at statistics about serious injuries caused by the little muther elfers, or know that eight times MORE people die from bee and wasp beescaredstings than from spider bites, and that’s due to an allergy. Of course, with a phobia all that shoe-size and allergy logic stuff goes out the window. The thing about phobias is when you’re confronting one dead on, your focus becomes pinpointed on that terror, which escalates and keeps your attention, with laser precision, on that thing. And that one thing can reduce you to, well, a massive ball of anxiety.

Sort of like this:

Maxwell couldn’t breathe. Well, he could, but it felt as if the air was being squashed back out of his chest as soon as it went in.
“You’re going to take me down with you, aren’t you? When you pass out, and you’re going to if you keep hyperventilating, you’re going to fall on top of me.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he wheezed, bending forward at the waist to snatch his breath back as if he’d just sprinted 800 meters. Shit, he was hyperventilating.
No, he was hyper-hyperventilating.
This was ludicrous. He was nearly forty-eight years old and terrified of being in a very small room simply because it had no window and…his mind suddenly zeroed in on that important point.
There was no window.
What if the emergency light died?
What if the storm outside made the Chicago River flood into the basement of the building like it did back in ‘92?
What if the rubber-coated elevator cables, the cables suspending them in mid-air above nothingness, snapped?
Any way he looked at it they were locked in this box…trapped in this vault…enclosed in this coffin…sealed in this tomb.

Maxwell’s anxiety really takes off from this point. He’s lucky that there’s a levelheaded ElevatorFloorIndicatorstranger in the tomb –I mean elevator to help him refocus his attention on something else. Which brings me to the second reason I chose to do a phobia series, which is really still the first reason. I’m not afraid of elevators, but I did meet my husband in one.

And all my attention focused, with laser precision, on him.

Driving in Neutral launches 1 September, but you can pre-order it here now.

You can find A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only, my other smart-assed, grown up romance novels here too.517c639Q9QL._SL110_413ld2mPy3L._SL110_