The Next Adventure

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I’ve been counting down the days and it’s finally here.  I am no longer employed by the School District of Palm Beach County.  I finished up my duties, cleaned out my room, brought WAY too much stuff home, and said goodbye to folks who’ve been my colleagues for the last thirteen years.  Okay, maybe not ‘goodbye’, we’ll be getting together over adult beverages on a regular basis for the foreseeable future.  But we won’t be working together.

Lots of people have asked the question, “What are you going to do now?”  Having left the District, I’m finally free to answer.

Two years ago, June 7, I (accidentally) published my first novel.  How I did that accidentally is a long story.  Suffice it to say, there has been a steep learning curve. And had I understood the depth of my ignorance about marketing, promotion, SEO, graphic design, formatting, etc., I would never have had the courage to try.  Ignorance can be a huge asset, it turns out.

Let me put in a plug for self publishing.  Indie publishing is a growing industry.  In the past, the large publishing houses have been the “gatekeepers,” determining what literature the reading public has access to.  That meant little variety–they’re only interested in a return on their investment.  But like iTunes and YouTube did for Indie music, and Sundance did for Indie films, Kindle Direct Publishing and Draft2Digital are allowing authors to get their work out in front of the reading public.  Buying an Indie book is the literary equivalent of ‘buying local.’

A few years ago, under the pen name Pandora Spocks, I started writing literary steamy romance just as a hobby, really, a creative outlet.  After a while, I began publishing chapters online, and I discovered that people liked what they read.  Eventually, I published the entire book, chapter by chapter, on a blog.  Along the way, I met other writers who independently publish their work and I began to wonder about doing it myself.

My books are spicy, y’all.  I promote them as ‘Smart, Sexy Romance’.  They’re heartfelt, deeply character-driven stories punctuated by the occasional steamy love scene.  Think of them as the thinking-girl’s romance.  Like Fifty Shades, but more literary.

Today, I have seven books available on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and several other outlets you probably never heard of.  My goal by the end of August is to publish my next steamy novel, and to write a nonfiction book about classroom management, to be published under my own name.

I mentioned marketing.  I’m active on social media every day as Pandora.  You can find me in these places:

Website: PandoraSpocksAuthor.com
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2rwR5Lv
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PandoraSpocksAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PandoraSpocksWP
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+PandoraSpocksAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14080322.Pandora_Spocks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pandora.spocks.author/

Steamy romance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  But if you enjoy a nice hot love story, I hope you’ll check it out.

Saturday Night Serenade–Of Dreams and Dreamers

It’s Mr. R’s birthday today.  A big one–he’s fifty!  You might recall a few years ago when I freaked out over turning the big 5-0.  That’s right, I’m a proper cougar, LOL!

Back then, we didn’t have money for a big gift or anything, but he made me this promise–one day we’ll take a trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England.  Now, having nearly finished our extreme renovation, and being smack in the middle of a life re-set, we are in the same position.  My promise to him–one day we’ll take a trip to Spain.  He longs for Madrid and Barcelona.

Those trips will happen.  We’re just the kind of dreamers to believe.  For now, I’m content to add to my bucket list.  And one of those must-do items is: Pay a musician in a pub in Galway to play Galway Girl.  Did I ever mention the time Mr. R paid a guy at my favorite bar in the world, the James Joyce Irish Pub in Ybor City, to play Dirty Old Town?  Another story for another day.

Tonight, I have two different Galway Girls, and I’m obsessed with both of them.  They were each posted by my favorite bar in the world (and yes, I have about five of those) Paddy Reilly’s in Manhattan.  Once on a business trip (and for teachers, those are RARE) I dragged my whole group from the upper west side where we were staying, to Paddy’s on the lower east side, just to hear The Prodigals play their home bar (Bucket List item #27, check!).  Follow Paddy Reilly’s on Facebook for great music, including the moments they go live.  Trust me, you’ll love it!

Anyway, from the pair of us dreamers, to you and yours, Happy Saturday night!

Happy Thanksgiving!

happy-thanksgiving

We’re having a quiet holiday here at Chez R.  We went out yesterday and bought a new Christmas tree, all pre-lit with the option of clear or colored lights at the flip of a switch.  We also got strings of colored lights for the outside.  This morning, I spent an hour or so decorating the tree while Mr. R. risked life and limb hanging lights on the front of the house.  That’s right, we’re getting all festive up in here.

Dinner will be later in the afternoon, just the two of us.  My sons are out in the mid-west living their own lives.  Matter of fact, my Airman daughter-in-law is deployed this holiday, so if you think about it, maybe shoot up a little prayer for her safety and a swift return.

We have lots to be thankful for, Mr. R. and I.  First of all, we have each other.  We’re reasonably healthy, we have enough, and we’re realizing we’re at a point in our lives where we have options.  In the new year, we’re planning on exploring a few of those possibilities, and we’ll be sharing with you along the way.

I’m also eternally grateful for your friendship and companionship throughout the year.  While the world seems to have lost its mind, I’ve met the nicest, kindest, funniest, smartest, strongest folks right here on WordPress, and I want you to know that I appreciate you all.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  ❤

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Saturday Night Serenade–Need Some Healing

Hallelujah, friends and neighbors, it’s been one hell of a week.  I’m feeling the need to vent and since it’s my blog, that’s what I’m going to do.  Some folks may be offended by what I have to say, but I’d challenge you to read to the end.  Everything’s not as black and white as people would like to think.  Black and white would be easy.  This situation is anything but easy.

On Tuesday, America elected itself a racist, fascist, misogynist, megalomaniac narcissist as our new leader.  I could not have been more stunned.  I knew we the people were smarter than that, we’d evolved beyond believing that Mexicans are rapists, all Muslims are bad, and women are sub-humans to be objectified.  How could this happen?

Before you go getting all defensive, understand that I can’t stand Hilary.  For years, I swore up and down that I’d never vote for her.  I think she’s the very definition of greed and avarice, of selfish ambition and ‘win at any cost’.  Enter Donald J. Trump, with his message of hate and intolerance.  The man bragged about sexually assaulting women.  Billy Bush got fired.  Trump got elected President.  What the ever-loving fuck?

So, shortly before Election Day, I took myself to one of the early voting sites, choked back the vomit, and voted for Hilary Clinton.  Because I knew that whatever she was selling, it wasn’t the hate and vitriol that Trump has been spewing for the last year and a half.

I still can’t wrap my head around the results.  Can’t imagine anyone I have less respect for than Trump.  And there’s that nagging fear–Holy shit, what if he makes good on his promises about reversing gay marriage, about deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims, about all the other bat-shit things he said?

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There’s a movement afoot, a peaceful protest aimed at sending a message to those folks Trump would marginalize.  Like-minded people are wearing a safety pin indicating support for those at whom Trump has aimed his special brand of hate.  If you see me around, I’ll be wearing the biggest safety pin I can find, and I’ll do it until everyone is safe.

So tonight’s serenade…  We lost Leonard Cohen this week.  Maybe his heart just couldn’t take it, I don’t know.  But we need a little healing up in here.

Hug those you love.  Remind them that hate and prejudice are never okay.  Maybe reach out to someone in Trump’s cross-hairs.  Hallelujah.  Happy Saturday night!

One Final October Story–In Which Mr. R. Lived In A Haunted House

England's Raynham Hall has been said to be haunted by the original owner, Lady Dorothy Ghost? Townsend, since 1835. This picture, taken nearly 100 years after that, remains to this day to be one of the most iconic ghost pictures.:
Photo from Pinterest

Here’s one final spine chiller as we gear up for Halloween.  The title is pretty self-explanatory.  It’s completely true and like I said below, it’s the reason I am considerably less skeptical than I once was.  I hope you read it to the end.  I’m tacking on a new little snippet that happened a few weeks ago.

On a side note, there is some creepy shit on Pinterest.


This last October story is the most personal.  I have no photos or other documentation to prove what I’m saying but this is the single reason that I now entertain a certain amount of curiosity about the paranormal.  Up until this point, I was pretty sure I had it all figured out.  Yeah, right.

In the earlier days of our relationship, my sweet lived in a haunted house.  No, honestly.  I know what you’re thinking.  Even I didn’t believe it at first.  He tried to tell me.  I just thought he was messing with me.

Before Mr. R. and I got married, he rented a house with two other guys for a little over a year.  It was just a regular older house in a normal neighborhood and it was owned by a personal friend of Mr. R.  There was nothing remarkable about it, in fact, it needed quite a bit of updating, but it was a nice size with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.  It also backed up to a large lake and had a nice pool in back between the house and the water, these two features being really the best of the whole place.

I vaguely recall Mr. R. mentioning to me that there were times when his roommates were out and he felt as if he were not alone in the house.  I completely blew this off.  I am an educated, logical person.  There is always an explanation for everything.  I just thought he was trying to creep me out.

We spent many Saturdays hanging out at the house, sometimes swimming in the pool or fishing off the dock, lots of nights watching television in the converted sun porch just off the dining area.  I never noticed anything weird.  Never even thought about it.  Until…

One night we were watching television and I left the room.  As I headed through the darkened dining area, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.  My heart jumped and I stopped immediately, looking to my right, the direction of the movement.  Mentally, I scolded myself.  You saw yourself in the mirror, I thought.  There was a mirror on the wall and that explanation made total sense.  Except…I was about 10% certain that myself was not what I saw.  I shook my head and went about my business.

After that, from time to time as we watched television, I was almost certain that I saw movement in the dining area.  Let me describe a little of the design of the house.  The tv room and dining area were separated by double french doors which were always left open.  The double-wide opening was flanked in the tv room by the multi-paned french doors pushed flush against the wall.  The panes of glass reflected light and color from the television, not to mention the lights of the boats passing outside on the lake.  So it made sense that the movement I saw was the reflection in the glass doors from the television and from outside.  Except…There were times I was sure the movement I saw was not in the glass on the sides of the doorway, but in the empty space of the doorway which would be the center of the dining room.

Mostly I just tried to ignore it, sure that I was being silly.  And there were long periods of time when nothing unusual happened.  I would forget about it, have no expectation of anything at all.

Until the night I had an experience that I could not explain in any way.  Once again, we were watching television.  During a commercial, I glanced out into the darkened dining area where my purse was hanging on the back of a chair.  Oddly, in the space between the top of my purse and the handles hanging on the chair, I saw a tiny red light, like the ready light on something electronic.

That’s weird, I thought.  What in the world is it?  My first thought was that it was my phone.  But I realized it couldn’t be my phone because: a) my phone didn’t have a red light like that; and b) my phone wasn’t sticking out of the top of my purse, it was in the pocket in the end of the purse, which was the reason I bought that purse to begin with.  That’s so weird, I thought, and I looked back at the television without thinking about it beyond being perplexed.  When I glanced back at my purse, the red light was gone.

I was properly freaked out for the first time.  Mr. R. realized something was wrong, but I’m from the school of thought that says, If I don’t say it out loud, it didn’t happen.  I made him sit beside me, and it was only after the show was over, when we went out onto the back deck that I told him what I’d seen.

He told me a few more stories, and now, of course, I was all ears.  The master bedroom of the house was separated from the master bath by a short, narrow hallway that ran between ‘his and hers’ closets.  Mr. R. said that once he’d been on his way into the bathroom when he’d suddenly changed his mind and turned around in that area between the closets.  As he abruptly turned, he said he saw someone standing there, then instantly he didn’t see someone.  His sense at the time was of someone who was lonely and desperately wished to be ‘one of the guys’.  He told me about many times when he’d been in the kitchen cooking and he’d felt certain that someone was just behind him, looking over his shoulder.

After that experience, I was very aware of the nights when we’d hear thumps and bumps of unexplained origin.  I chalked a lot of those up to the wind getting under the eaves, but that only explained some of the noises we heard.

One night, after his roommates left for the evening, Mr. R. and I were in the house by ourselves.  We were sitting together on the sofa just chatting about nothing in particular when we heard, from the other room, the distinct sound of someone clearing their throat.  “Ahem!”  We just stared at each other.  “You heard that, right?” we said simultaneously.

One of the last things I experienced in that house happened as we were making dinner one night.  Mr. R. left the room, leaving me alone in the kitchen.  I heard, from another part of the house, a loud sort of boom, bang, crash as if a stack of pots or something had fallen.  I moved in the direction of the noise, the direction Mr. R. had gone, saying, “Hey, are you okay?”  I met Mr. R. coming toward me saying, “Hey, are you okay?”  We’d each thought the other had knocked something over, yet neither of us had.

As a result of the strange things I experienced in the house, I became somewhat interested in investigations of the paranormal.  No, I’m not going out to buy a bunch of electronic gizmos (except maybe a phone app).  But I have come to appreciate the TAPS investigators from the SciFi show, GhostHunters.  The reason I like them is that they set out to disprove paranormal activity, to find logical, rational explanations for odd things that people experience.  One thing I learned from them is that high electromagnetic emissions, such as would be present in an older home with faulty wiring, can cause various physical reactions including feelings of unease, of being watched.  I absolutely believe that explains some of what Mr. R. experienced in the house.  And then, every once in a while, the TAPS team comes across something that really defies explanation.  I can relate to that, too.

Now, a little history on the house.  These are things I know to be true, they can be verified in the news and by talking to the family members who owned the house.  Some years before Mr. R. and the boys rented the house, the family who owned it experienced an unfathomable tragedy.  A teenage son was murdered in a violent robbery at the fast food restaurant where he’d worked.  The mother, utterly devastated by his death, hired a psychic to come into the house and give a reading.  The psychic advised the mother to place some of the boy’s personal belongings around the house to encourage his spirit to stay.  Turns out, there were some skateboards and other things placed in the attic and other spots around the house during the time Mr. R. lived there.  Now, normally I’d say that whole business is a load of crap.  But things happened there that I can’t explain.

All of that to say this–I’ve always believed that most of the things that happen in this world have logical, rational explanations.  I still believe that.  Now, I also have to concede that some things simply defy rational explanation.

It gets real when you experience something for yourself.  Take, for example, those photos from the Pilar in Islamorada.  Or the photos from the Riddle House.  I’m much less certain that I have it all figured out.  Still, I’m okay with that.

I wouldn’t spend any time alone in that house, though.  Nope.


As promised, one last little tale…

Mr. R., before he quit his job (don’t even get me started again), was a steely-eyed newsman.  His most recent position was as an assignment editor–those are the folks in the newsroom who know what’s going on and send out reporters and photographers to cover stories.  They take phone calls, keep in contact with community leaders and law enforcement, and keep an ear on the scanners.

In that capacity, one day shortly before his last, Mr. R. overheard an odd conversation over the police scanners.

Town of Palm Beach Dispatcher to officer on patrol: I received a call from an on-duty private security guard.  He’s reporting that in the house he’s guarding, he keeps hearing children whispering and giggling.  The thing is, the house has been empty and boarded up for several years.  Can you check it out?

Officer on patrol: (long silence) Oooo-kay.

I’m sad to say that Mr. R. never heard the outcome of that call, but like all my other October stories, it’s true.

Happy Halloween!!