Gilda and Me

My first love was Gilda Radner. I was fifteen when I fell for her and I fell hard. I never missed an SNL. Ever. I memorized all her skits word for word, verbatim.

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Gilda was everything I wanted to be and everything I knew I never would be. She was skinny with that big mouth, soulful eyes and hungry look. She had all that wild-ass hair that curled every which way. She was funny, sure, but she had talent that went beyond that. She was original, one-of-a-kind, deliriously funny. She was Roseanna Roseannadanna, Lisa Lupner, Judy Miller, Baba Wawa and Emily Litella all rolled into one.

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I even went to New York to see her. She lived in that one building that John Lennon got shot outside of and where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed. I didn’t stalk her there, but I did stay at the Edison Hotel which was directly across the street from where she was starring in The Lunch Hour, the Broadway play she was doing with Sam Waterston.

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And one day, miracle of miracles, I got to meet my beloved Gilda. I hung out the second story window of my dingy hotel room, cupped my hands around my mouth like a megaphone and shouted, “Gilda! I love you!”

She had just come out of the theatre and was walking toward her baby blue limo. She heard me yell and looked up toward my window. I waved at her and shouted again, “I love you, Gilda!”

She threw back her head, laughed and waved back at me. “I love you, too!” she said.

I watched her ride away in that baby blue limo and knew there wasn’t another woman who would ever touch me like she did.

Several years later she was dead.

I cried and cried. I cussed Gene Wilder. Had it been me she had married instead of him, she would still be alive. Somehow, some way, I would have shielded her from the ugly crazed killer called Cancer.

Now when I think of Gilda, when I see a picture of her, when I see a re-run of SNL, when I see somebody mimic Roseanne Roseannadanna, my heart is filled with a more mellow love. It tastes sweeter, somehow, since her death. I wonder if our paths would have crossed again had she lived longer.

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Oh, I know she probably wouldn’t have reciprocated my romantic, idealized love. But maybe she would’ve been my friend. Maybe we would have sipped lattes and exchanged jokes. She could have bitched about the agony of staying skinny and I would’ve bitched about quitting smoking and we would’ve laughed.

We would’ve laughed a lot.

Gilda was my first love. And there’s nothing ever quite as sweet as an unrequited love, is there?


 

A sweet & steamy short story

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The LezBeans, Episode 17, “Tini’s Accident”

While I went to work, Tini stayed home with Lulu.  Lulu was in her room with the door closed. Tini heard a strange noise.

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The noises grew in strangeness and intensity, so Tini walked up to the door and listened closer.

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Unable to figure out what they were, Tini pressed her ear against the door in the hopes of deciphering the strange noises.

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Suddenly, Lulu appeared, holding the door’s hinge pins in her hand. She said, “Hey! Did you know that these little bolts where the only thing keeping the door from falling over?”


Making the world a happier place—one book at a time!

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Get your laugh on! Available for only $4.99 at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Kobo!

The Ins and Outs of Kindle Unlimited

By Layce Gardner & Saxon Bennett

As readers we adore Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. We each read at least 100 books a year. Our daughter reads, too. (Mostly graphic novels.) We each have our very own kindle. (I want to be buried with mine.) So it only makes sense financially, as a family, to invest in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

For those not in the know, here’s how Kindle Unlimited (KU) works: You pay a $10 per month subscription fee and you can then borrow an ‘unlimited’ number of books. You can check out up to ten books at a time. When you finish reading a book, you return it. Just like at a brick and mortar library.

It’s a pretty good deal for voracious readers. We pay $120 a year and we read 200 plus books a year. (We read both mainstream and Lesfic novels.) We have found some wonderful new authors that we wouldn’t have gambled our money on otherwise.

Some readers have expressed to us that they don’t do KU because the author doesn’t get paid for the borrows. That is wrong. The author does get paid. They just don’t get paid as much as for a sale. (Want to know how much an Indie author earns? Click here for our blog “How Much Money Does a Novelist Make?”) For the past three months, Amazon has paid out $1.39 per borrow. That’s not a lot. However, if you go to the library and check out a book, the author gets nothing. If you buy a book from a used bookstore, the author gets nothing. If you loan your book to a friend, the author gets nothing. We’re not saying it’s wrong to go to the library or used bookstore or borrow from a friend. We do the same things. I’m just putting it all in perspective for you.

Now, how do authors feel about Kindle Unlimited? This is where things get a little messier. KU has both pros and cons for the writer.

PROS

More of your books can get read by more people because some people who read your books on KU may become a part of your fan base and then read all your books.

If you publish a short story and charge 99 cents to buy, you only make 35 cents per sale. KU has been paying $1.39 per borrow for the past three months. That is considerably more than 35 cents.

Each borrow is given the same weight as a sale by Amazon and borrows help to put your book up higher on the Amazon charts. And the higher you are on the charts, the more you sell.

CONS

It could be that people are now borrowing your book instead of buying it – KU could be actually cannibalizing your sales.

If sales are being cannibalized, the $1.39 per borrow is significantly less than what you make per sale on a full-length book.

You cannot sell your books anywhere else if you enroll your book in KU. You have to grant Amazon exclusive rights for three months. That’s like putting all your eggs in one basket—a scary proposition.

We have been testing the waters by both having our works on KU and not having them on KU. We have crunched the numbers, done some soul searching, asked questions on Facebook and come up with this conclusion: KU does not significantly cannibalize sales. In fact, our sales have stayed the same or slightly increased when our book is enrolled in the KU program.

Our book Crazy Little Thing was in Amazon’s top ten immediately after publishing. It hung around there for a while then when it started to drop into the fifty range, we put it on KU. It immediately shot back up the charts and stayed for another two months on the strength of its borrows. And because those borrows pushed it up the charts, it then sold more.

Last month we took all our full-length novels off KU and put them on Smashwords, BN and Kobo. (We kept our short stories on KU.) What we found out is that we make more on borrows with KU than we make selling our books anywhere off Amazon. In fact we make hundreds more on Amazon borrows than on selling the books anywhere else. (We have written sixteen books between us that were traditionally published. Those are not ever on KU.)

We are still fine tuning the best possible way to do things, but here is what we have decided for now: We are going to sell our books on Amazon, BN, Kobo and Smashwords for the first few months of a book’s life. Once sales begin to taper off we will de-list our books on those other platforms and publish exclusively on Amazon, enrolling it in KU. Then borrows will breathe new life into the book and give it new legs.

Each writer has to decide for herself what is the best way to maximize her profit, but I hope this helps to shed a little light on what has become a very misunderstood and controversial subject.

As of this writing most of our works are on KU and ready for you to borrow! Our latest book Kiss & Tell is for sale at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes & Noble and will be on KU the first of May.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below and we’ll try to answer as quickly and honestly as possible.

Making the world a happier place—one book at a time!

 

Indian Ghost Story

This is a true story.

When I was in college I had a VW bug. It was mostly primer and there were holes in the floorboard. I also owned a Yamaha 400 motorcycle.

I went to college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. For those of you not in the know, Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation. It is the end point of the Trail of Tears. So, as you can imagine there is a lot of Native American history here. The town’s street signs are written both in English and in Cherokee. And almost everybody around these parts has some Cherokee in them. My daughter is even Cherokee.

I’m not Cherokee. I’m 100 percent Scottish. I’m like the whitest person on earth.

So, one day back when I was 20 years-old, I decided to widen my horizons and go visit an old Indian cemetery. It’s where Principal Chief John Ross is buried. John Ross was chief when the Cherokee were forced to march the Trail of Tears, so he’s a pretty big deal around here.

Now, I have to tell you that a Cherokee friend did tell me not to go out to Ross Cemetery alone. He told me the spirits did not like white people walking around in their graveyard. I told him I’d be respectful.

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I also took a friend with me. Her name was Diane. She was the second most whitest person in the world.

We drove my VW bug to the cemetery. I drove the Bug up a winding dirt road, through trees and past an abandoned schoolhouse. I parked my car at the top of the hill facing the graveyard and put on the emergency brake.

Diane and I walked among the graves, whispering low, being very respectful.

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When we left, we walked back to where we had left the car.

It wasn’t there.

We walked around. And around. And around. I had the keys so nobody stole it. We began to walk back to town and… there it was.

It was resting peacefully at the bottom of the hill.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it rolled down the hill, easy peasy, end of story. Nope. It wasn’t even on the road. It was off in a copse of trees. It was surrounded by trees! The only way it could have rolled to where it was is if it had dodged about a dozen trees on its way down the hill.

Anyway, the car started just fine and we drove off unharmed, but spooked.

Flash forward two years. I’m telling this story to my first girlfriend, Lynn. She happens to be Cherokee and even some of her aunts and uncles lived in the area. So I decided to take her out to the cemetery because she had never been. But this time we went on my motorcycle.

I parked it at the top of the hill, this time perpendicular to the hill. We visited the cemetery. Very respectfully.

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When it was time to go, my motorcycle wasn’t there.

It was at the bottom of the hill. Parked. Kickstand down. Surrounded by trees. Not a scratch on it.

I had a bad case of the heebie jeebies. Lynn took me to her aunt and uncle’s house. She told them the story. The aunt and uncle conversed back and forth in Cherokee for a while. Finally, the uncle looked at me and said, “Do not go back. The spirits have asked you to leave twice now. They will not be so friendly again.”

Suffice it to say, I’ve never been back!


Making the world a happier place—one book at a time!

Good news! All our short stories can be borrowed for free! (Kindle unlimited members)

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The LezBeans, Episode 16, “Fluffy Dreams”

When Lulu was four-years-old she asked me what clouds were made of. I told her that clouds were made of marshmallows. One night when she was going to bed, she told me that she was going to dream about flying high in the sky through the marshamallow clouds.

That gave me an idea.

I set my alarm for two o’clock in the morning.  I got up and oh-so-quietly sneaked into Lulu’s room. Then I put a handful of marshmallows in Lulu’s panties while she slept.

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I wanted her to have fluffy dreams of flying through marshmallow clouds.

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And when she woke up, she would find the marshmallows and know that her dream was true!

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It didn’t work out quite the way I had expected. Lulu drew her own conclusions about where the marshmallows came from.

poot marsh

And then she ate them.

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Still, I thought it was a pretty good trick.


 Making the world a happier place—one book at a time!

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, and Kobo!

Crazy Little Thing Book Review

Crazy Little Thing by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner

Texans Ollie and Claire traveled to Iowa to legalize their love. Now, in order to untie the knot, these (f)lawfully wedded wives must return to their state of matrimony. But do they really want to undo “I do”?

Remember those droll, belligerent bumper stickers that said Protect the Sanctity of Divorce from Gays?

Well, divorcing gays Ollie Hiland and Claire Drummond are the unprotected sex.

Texans who traveled to Iowa to legalize their love, these (f)lawfully wedded wives must return to their state of matrimony in order to untie the knot. And―get this hitch―they’re obligated to play house for three months with their future past spouse.

All shook up yet? Just wait―things get even shakier when Ollie and Claire embark on a road trip. They may not be going south, but everything else certainly is. Accompanied by a narcoleptic nincompoop and a demented documentarian, the women hit Jailhouse Rock bottom. To top it all off, Claire develops a fascination with a hallucination of Elvis Presley.

Needless to say, Ollie’s little darlin’ is the eponymous crazy little thing. In fact, all this separation anxiety is Claire’s (un)doing. Convinced she and Ollie jumped the gun when they jumped the broom, Claire insists they’re far too incompatible for infinity.

Ollie, on the other hand, may be girl happy like Elvis, but she’s not a happy girl. Her feelings are more in the style of “Love Me Tender” than “Return to Sender,” with a sampling of the song “A Boi Like Me, A Girl Like You” from the Presley picture Girls! Girls! Girls!

Will the couple’s compulsory cohabitation bring Claire-ity to their situation?

Crazy Little Thing is an od(d)yssey of outlandish distortions. A screenplay in prose, though not a novelization of a screenplay in the standard sense, the story is reel-istic: a credibility-compromised creation that should, by rights, succeed only on the big screen. Plus, the spectral sightings of the pelvis-pivoting crooner are too desultory to be pivotal, so poor Elvis has left the building blocks of the story scattered from Texas to Iowa.

But when all is wed and done…somehow this medley of commotion, emotion, and devotion succeeds because of its wanton wackiness. Fools fall in love, and while it isn’t a burning love, I can’t help falling in love with these characters. It’s just one of those crazy little things.

Crazy Little Thing can be found at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Kobo!

Random Acts

Right after college I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.

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I was broke by the time I got there and got set up. I had spent all my savings on an apartment and utilities and phone and just enough food to last me a month. I finally found a job in the mall, leasing cars from a kiosk. The company was named “Lease Car.” I had two skirts and two blouses and one pair of shoes to my name. I had to wash my clothes in the sink at my apartment and hang them across the shower door to dry so I would have something to wear the next day. I owned one spoon and one can opener. I only ate canned soup.

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Since I didn’t have a pan, I would heat the soup still in the can directly over the gas flame of the stove. (Warning: take the paper off the can before putting over flame.)  I’m telling you all this so you understand how very poor I was. Money was a very big deal.

I was overjoyed at my first paycheck. I could pay rent and buy food! (And maybe even buy a pan.) I got in my car and went to run errands: mailing a letter to my girlfriend back home and depositing my paycheck at the bank. I stopped first at a mailbox that was on the street. I threw the letter into the slot. I got back in the car and… Oh hell, no! I had dropped my paycheck and deposit slip in the mailbox!

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I immediately went to the nearest post office and told the clerk all about it. I even talked to the postmaster. They told me they couldn’t do a thing about it. The mail from that box would be collected later that day and if somebody saw it, they would contact me. However, the postmaster told me, it was very likely I wouldn’t get the check back.

I called the home office of Lease Car, hoping to get the check replaced. But guess what? Lease Car was out of business. That very day they decided to go out of business! Now I had no money for the month I had worked and I had no job. My rent was due in a couple of days and I had only one can of soup left in the cupboard.  I was hungry.

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I went back to my apartment and cried.

The next afternoon I went to my mailbox and retrieved my mail.  There was a note in my box. It read:

“I am your mailman. I found your paycheck with a deposit slip in the mailbox on Fourth St. I took it to the bank for you. Here is your deposit slip. Have a nice day.”

I cried again. This time from relief. And for the random act of kindness from the mailman that changed my life.

P.S. I paid my rent, and bought a pan!


Check out our review for Crazy Little Thing in Curve Magazine!

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