Saturday, July 28, 2012

Download My Novel, Straight and Narrow, for Free!

Straight and Narrow is a story about a woman who is about to turn 40 when her best friend goes missing. This quirky mystery deals with midlife crisis, infidelity, unrequited love, and missing women.

Although the subject matter is serious, I try to inject humor whenever possible and have given my narrator some of my own treasured neurotic qualities.

Read more about the story and the plot and download the PDF for free here:

If you want the Kindle version, download for free on Smashwords:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Newsroom by Aaron Sorkin

Monday night I eagerly anticipated the season premiere of The Newsroom, an HBO series by Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin has always delivered high quality material from the acclaimed West Wing to the smash hit movie about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network.

Like his previous works, The Newsroom was sharp, quick witted, and intelligent. Jeff Daniels stars as Will McAvoy, a jaded news anchor who is forced to work with an old flame, Mackenzie MacHale, played by Emily Mortimer. As the show opens, Daniels is burnt out and co-opted. He has given up trying to deliver hard, real stories that matter. But as he sits on a college panel, trying not to divulge his personal thoughts and opinions about the state of the country, he sees Mackenzie in the audience holding a sign about America intimating that it was once a great country; it's not now but it can be again. This provokes Will to announce exactly where America stands in terms of literacy, infant mortality, and other important indexes that constitute success. From there on, working with his old love, whom he bitterly resents because she obviously hurt him deeply, enables him to emerge as a noble newscaster and semi-decent guy.

The show would have been perfect – great acting, perfect combination of drama and comic elements, informative yet not preachy – but it used real material. The first episode was all about the BP oil spill. Sorry, but I followed that catastrophe day by day when it occurred in 2010. I don't want to go through a blow-by-blow description again. Will next week's episode be about the spill? Or will we move on to some other old news like the Haitian earthquake or the terrible plight of the trapped Chilean miners?

The Newsroom would have been better off creating its own fictional news stories. I don't see how we can move from real life events to fantasy at this point, but I will tune in one more time next week.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor, and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released "The Pink Triangle," a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James is hot and I say that against my better judgment. In fact, my uber rich, dreamy looking lover is breathing down my neck at this moment, threatening to beat me to orgasm with a riding crop, and forcing me to write this. Just kidding. But I am serious about the fact that I didn't want to like this book.

I expected it to be too soft or maybe too hard, too saccharine or perhaps too dark and disturbing, but it was none of these things. It was a very sensuous and interesting look at a gorgeous, rich man with a predilection for domination and his fascination with a naïve 21-year-old whom he met by chance.

Why is Fifty Shades such a hit? Is it because married women are bored with the familiarity of their sex lives and single women find theirs to be erratic and unstable? Are male readers fantasizing about tying up their female partners?

Or is it because, at heart, North America continues to have deeply ambivalent feelings toward sex? On one hand, we use sex to sell everything from soap to magazines and, according to Forbes Magazine, pornography is a 2.5 to 4 billion-dollar business. On the other hand, we're not likely to tell our boss that we are late for work because we had a quickie with the next-door neighbor after breakfast and lost track of the time. That's not just because sex is a private issue but rather that we feel a sense of shame or discomfort talking about it. We are still imprisoned by our puritanical roots; this is particularly prominent in fundamentalist religions, which are anti-sex. And much like strict dieting causes a craving for sweets or carbohydrates, a fear, hatred, or taboo of normal sexual urges can result in either avoidance of such activity or overindulgence. So, when we see something mainstream that screams SEX, it sells.

Also, I believe readers are drawn to both the romance in Fifty Shades–Anastasia Steele falls head over heels for Christian Grey–and the forbidden nature of the arrangement. Due to childhood abuse, abandonment, and other complicated factors, Christian is incapable of love, although we suspect that he may evolve during the trilogy. Like vampire Edward Cullen in Twilight, Christian becomes the symbol for Every Alluring Yet Unattainable Man, and just as some women want to tame bad boys, others want to make the unattainable man their own.

In addition, Christian has a fetish for BDSM and Anastasia has never tried bondage or submission. When she does, she's not sure if she likes it. This conflict–I want him, I'm falling for him, but he will never love me and he derives pleasure from hurting me–is at the crux of the book and is what makes it interesting. If both parties were committed to the dominance, submissive lifestyle, the book would be dull.

As it is, the sex scenes are hot and the author talks about sex in a frank, unabashed, yet delicate manner. This is not pornography. It's not even soft porn. And as far as I'm concerned, it's not demeaning to women because the dominant/submissive relationship is consensual, and both genders and any orientation (i.e., straight, gay, bisexual, or transgender) could play either role. It is a highly sensual romance, even for those who have no desire to be someone's sex slave and it appears to be chick lit. I can't imagine many men wading their way through all 528 pages, but my good friend told me that couples on The Dr. Oz Show read the book together and the men were very turned on.

It's hard to describe how a book that links climaxing with pain could arouse anything but despair in someone who is not a sadomasochist. In this respect, the book reminds me of Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Very few people sympathize with serial killers, but our darling Dexter is portrayed in such a way that you have to love him even when he is plotting to decapitate someone who fails to meet his moral standards. Thus, although many readers may have no interest in S&M, they may still find this tale titillating.

Having said that, James indulges in a huge degree of repetition and the characters are ridiculously one-dimensional and unrealistic. This is not a literary novel. It's juvenile in many respects and I skimmed large parts, especially the sex scenes. She could have cut them in half and used more originality. Despite the fact that the book is a runaway seller, the Amazon community is divided as to whether it’s worth reading at all and many reviewers hated it or found it offensive.

But, as I said – against my will, and my better judgment, I devoured Fifty Shades, and will no doubt embark on the second book in this trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released "The Pink Triangle," a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Pink Triangle Is Now on Amazon Kindle

"The Pink Triangle" is now available on Amazon Kindle. Check it out and leave comments.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My New E-Book on Lesbian Erotica

Attention Romance Readers!

Silver Publishing just released my first story, part one of a sequel entitled "The Pink Triangle," which I wrote under the name Tiffanie Good. Although the story is erotica, my background is in psychology and social work so I never miss a great opportunity to delve into social issues. In this case, I examined some of the difficulties gay and bisexual teens and young adults face, such as discrimination, rejection, and resulting addiction or depression.

All in all, it's a good read and I would appreciate it if you would check it out and tell your friends. And if you're part of the GLBTQ community, please try twice as hard to get this message out!


Tiffanie ;)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Conversation with Jamie Johnson

     As a mom, there's no escaping the deep-rooted need to keep your children on the right path. But what if one of your kids thinks the path to happiness is through a sex change? And what if the other, while flailing around, trying to find his way, pops out five alternate personalities? How do you keep from having a nervous breakdown? How do you help the entire family find peace again? Secret Selves is the surprising, touching, and sometimes humorous account of a mother trying to ease the panic and accept the unthinkable twists fate has dropped in her lap.

     Jamie Johnson shares how even her doubts and mistakes while raising her two very interesting children helped her to eventually see life through different eyes. Her memoir is a book of hope.

Q - What made you want to write your story?

A - Well, there's a two part answer to that question. First: After the crazy part of my life let me sit down and process what had happened, I thought, My God, what are the chances of having these two kids? Really, it boggles my mind. I thought there must be something I should to do with my experiences. The only thing I could think of was to write. And I know that everyone has their story. When I was in the thick of things during ours, I think I would have appreciated reading a book that gave me hope. So that's what I tried to do. I wanted to give people something that would say to them, "Take a deep breath; you can get through this."

Secondly: I wanted to educate. My kids don't talk much about what they went through. And I know that both of the conditions they faced are highly misunderstood. I am their voice.

Q - How are Kip and Joey doing?

A - They're both doing very well. Kip got married last fall and I have a kooky picture of him & Joey acting-the-fool for the photographer. It sits on an antique sideboard in my living room. Joey says he's happier than he's ever been right now.

Q - Why did you feel the need to use a pen name?

A - There are several reasons why I changed the names and places in our story. My biggest fear was that, somehow, because I had chosen to share our story, something bad might happen to my kids. With prejudice there is always the real danger of violence. But there were other worries too. I didn't want to make their lives more difficult. There are going to be people who judge them; that's just how life is. But I didn't want my kids to face, say, having a tough time getting a job, or worse, losing a job because of me. I also didn't feel like I had the right to share the private moments of our extended family's lives without some measure of anonymity.

Q - If you want to remain anonymous, how do you manage public appearances as Jamie?

A - "Jamie" looks a little different than I do. Her hair is curly. She wears red glasses. She does her makeup a bit differently. Her style is not the same as mine. Now, I know that anyone who knows me well will recognize me right away. But those people already know we're the "characters" in Secret Selves, so it doesn't matter. I look different enough that people who haven't seen me very often will question themselves if they see the resemblance. That's good enough for us. I very much want to do public appearances so we had to find a solution to that. The more I get out there, the more I can raise awareness and educate.

Q - Do your children support your decision to write about what you've been through?

A - Oh yes, there's no way I would have written it if they didn't. They've both read the book and feel very strongly about its messages. I'm sure I drove them nuts when I was writing it though. I asked them questions constantly -- I wanted to make sure I was remembering things as they happened. I wanted our story to be real. I'd often call Kip and say, "Do you remember when..." or "Do you still have that note I gave you when I started calling you Kip?" I think he was amused at first, but I might have become a bit of a pain in his...side, by the time it was finished. Joey read one of the first drafts to make sure everything was accurate. He made notes in red all the way through. At the end, he simply wrote -- Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. That still makes me smile. I wrote the book as a gift to them.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"I Don't Know Where but She Sends Me There" – The Beach Boys

Ah, love. Is there anything in the world like it? Colors seem brighter, food tastes better, just getting up in the morning fills you with a sense of anticipation. And although regular romantic love is fantastic, I've always been especially intrigued by forbidden love. The student teacher relationship; the married man; falling for your boss; developing an interest in your best friend's partner. What then?

The best novels are based on forbidden love, and if not forbidden, then doomed. Think of The Thornbirds or Dr. Zhivago, Wuthering Heights or The Great Gatsby. Of course, it can't be as fulfilling or satisfying as an uncomplicated relationship, but it makes for great reading.

Next month Silver Publishing will release my first erotic short story entitled "The Pink Triangle." Kari and Lizzie are best friends. They are inseparable until they both fall for the same woman, who chooses Lizzie. After too many drinks, Kari finds herself alone with her best friend’s girl; her actions have lasting consequences.

What happens? Stay tuned.

SigridMac, using the pseudonym Tiffanie Good.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Older Women and Younger Men - Why the Taboo?

What do Rupert Murdoch, Billy Joel, and Alec Baldwin have in common? They are all involved with women decades younger than themselves – women who could be their daughters. Because they are powerful men, we often accept this as normal. But just try reversing it.

Demi Moore was practically our only role model for a successful relationship of an older woman with a younger man, but alas even this long-term marriage has come to an end.

I'm not saying there's anything particularly great about falling in love with someone half your age, that those people will have anything to talk about, or that the relationships will last; however, I am pointing out that women who do this are often ridiculed whereas men are admired. That's because men are still greatly valued for their status, prestige, and money, and women for their looks and youth.

When I turned 50, I had a hip replacement because my hip was fractured in an accident I'd had years ago and the joint wore out. The only thing worse than turning 50 was turning 50 and having a hip replacement! I felt ancient. Absolutely fossilized. And as a result I developed a big-time crush on a guy 25 years younger than me. He was really fond of me (Hello, Alex!) until he realized that my interest was romantic and then he ran as far as he could in the opposite direction. And rightly so. I get that. What I didn't get was the way my family and friends mocked me, as though it was a ludicrous notion that anyone so much younger could be interested in me. Why? Because I wasn't an 81-year-old man with an empire that stretched as far as the Wall Street Journal and Fox news?

In my novel Straight and Narrow, my main character Tara Richards is about to turn 40. She is deathly afraid of the clock turning, and sees 40 as the demarcation line between young and old.  To make herself feel younger and more attractive, she yearns for the attention of a 24-year-old guy. What happens? Read Straight and Narrow! And let me know your thoughts on younger men and older women.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Turning 40

For many people, especially women, turning 40 is traumatic. There is a line that our culture has drawn in the sand between youth and middle-age. And the implicit message is that being younger than 40 is good and being older than 40 is bad, except compared to old age, and then it's OK!

The funny thing about life in North America is that many of us yearn to be older when we're in our teens. We want to be independent. We can't wait to vote, to drive the car, to move out of our parents’ house. And society smiles upon us in our 20s and 30s for our beauty, which invariably diminishes over time. And when the clock turns to the big 4-0, some people freak out.

When I turned 40, I lied about it for three years. I was working in a women's collective at a local university and everyone was younger than me. I wanted to seem cooler than I was by staying 39 forever. Finally, when I came out of the age closet, I started telling everyone my age, even at inappropriate times. I interjected the digit whenever I could, just to be rid of my hangup, but it didn't really help. I still felt old.

40 has come and gone a long time ago for me, but now I'm OK with my age (as long as you don't ask me about it!). Seriously, nothing is more sad than spending the bulk of our time wishing that we were somewhere else, or were someone else, and that's what happens when we don't accept our age (59, thank you, and reasonably proud of it). And numbers are arbitrary. Some people are old souls when they're 16. Old in the sense that they are serious, cynical, or unadventuresome. Other people never get old; they live well into their 80s and 90s with young attitudes because they accept today for what it is and move forward instead of constantly looking over their shoulders and yearning for something that has long since passed.

In my book, Straight and Narrow, both women are about to turn 40. One is fine with it but the other panics. She develops an obsession with her hair because it's one of the few things in life that she can control and she's not the Botox type.

If you're worried about your age, try thinking about all the angst that went with being young and inexperienced. My mother, one of the wisest people I know, has a saying – we grow old too fast and smart too late. How true. Wouldn't I love to be 40 again now that I'm 59? But unless I'm planning to build a time machine, that's not gonna happen. And, unlike Tara, in Straight and Narrow, I can't be bothered with my hair.

If you've already turned 40, tell us how it feels. If you're approaching the big landmark, how does that resonate with you? Is it all right to lie about our age, or should we just stand up and own it?

Sigrid Mac

Author of Straight and Narrow

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome to the Women's Room!

When I was in grad school, I remember finally finishing my last semester and rushing out of the stuffy university classrooms, where I had been reading hundreds of pages of text, to go to the bookstore with my friends to buy fiction! Not that I have anything against nonfiction – at least forty percent of what I read is nonfiction – but I have a special love for novels, particularly those that feature women.

Since I have just released a novel that relates to women and being best friends, and I have two short stories that will be released by Silver Publishing in May, I wanted to devote my blog to women and women's fiction.

So, fasten your seatbelt. I'm very opinionated and I love to talk about social issues.  More importantly, I'm interested in your take on what's going on.  And if you don't agree with me, all the better! I welcome dissent. I love respectful disagreements.  We are not the Borg on Star Trek! Your opinion is welcome.

In honor of Marilyn French, I'm naming my blog "The Women's Room." I hope that we will never go back to that period in time when women were not allowed to voice their opinions – although it hasn't even been 100 years since women received the right to vote  and in many places in the world, they are still silenced.  But it won't happen here.

Author of Straight and Narrow