Shelter, Food, Sex: A Writer’s Hawaiian Sojourn

Shelter, Food, Sex: A Writer’s Hawaiian Sojourn by A.J. Llewellyn

 

Many years ago, in my incessant penchant for collecting Hawaiiana, I happened across a small paperback called Hawaii: Shelter, Food, Sex. At the time I thought this was a very naughty and utterly thrilling title and bought the book for the princely sum of fifty-nine cents. I’d like to be risqué and say it was sixty-nine cents but alas, it isn’t true.

I was reminded of this title when I flew into Honolulu eight days ago with my friend and fellow author Serena Yates. Our first order of business once we arrived was making sure we got to our shelter okay since we’d booked it online and well…I’ve read too many horror stories about online scams to be complacent. Our two bedroom cottage in the rainforest of Makiki, bordering the old Paradise Park was as remote (read: dark and scary) as the landlady promised.

She was kind and frankly, a bit drunk but I emphasize kind because we were exhausted and hungry and she’d provided milk, coffee, fruit, juice, soup and cereal…even English muffins. They were a welcome reward and helped blunt the true nature of our rustic surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, we wanted the authentic, local Hawaiian experience but I hadn’t expected roosters that crow all day long or cats that fight all night. Right outside my window.

Our cottage is home to a host of bugs; gigantic roaches, fearless ants and adorable geckos. The baby one I found in the shower was so cute until I scared it and it committed suicide by jumping down the drain. Our landlady assured me that the shower water here goes into some kind of reservoir and therefore the gecko would come right back up. I haven’t felt quite clean ever since that conversation.

I am an animal lover and have fretted about the rather large gecko that lives in our kitchen and warms itself on the coffee pot and investigates any food left on the  counter.

As I headed to Kailua Library today and its fantastic book sale, Serena stayed home to write. I’d Googled what geckos like to eat and we are fresh out of live crickets and meal worms (I hope) so we both thought I should definitely stop by the pet store and pick up gecko food. Seriously. Gecko food. It exists.

 

But try telling the pet stores here that. They all wanted to send me back to Paradise Park with meal worms and/or live crickets. I once fed a friend’s iguana live crickets. They escaped the plastic bag because they were too big for the iguana. They flew off and multiplied. When I came back to try again, there were millions of them. I still have nightmares about that. Not to mention the freakin’ noise.

The info I found online told me to be careful feeding a cricket to a gecko because crickets bite and the gecko might become injured. Yeah. Just what I need!

I’ve decided this little guy found his way to shelter. He’s clearly having loads of sex judging by his many offspring…and he doesn’t seem to be hungry. He can deal!

Being erotic romance writers, sex is never far from my mind, or Serena’s. We eat, we drive, we play, we write. Yesterday we drove to the leeward side of the island, where few tourists go. It is dry and hot and there isn’t much to see at Ewa Beach, our first port of call. Over one thousand thousand homeless families living there were evicted in January and have relocated to places like Malii Beach Park in Waianae, once dubbed the place of kings.

We passed the snazzy new golf course and the Disney Resort hidden from view from plebs like us. I don’t care how ritzy these places are, I bet they get geckos and ants, just like we do.

Serena and I have an obsession with Zippy’s and eat there a lot but we decided to upgrade our source of food and dined at Haleiwa Joe’s for lunch yesterday. The food was fantastic but we could not get away from sex. No, sir, we just couldn’t. There we were at one of the best restaurants on the island when a fight broke out and a female duck was almost raped.

I’ve never seen ducks bonking before, but had no idea the males of the species could be so sadistic. The wait staff at Haleiwa Joe’s kept running out of the restaurant and onto the lawn stopping a poor, tiny female duck from being pummeled. At first I thought they were trying to kill her. It sure didn’t look terribly…sexy.

These big, bossy ducks wanted to gang rape her and they just wouldn’t stop.

Some ducks just need to learn that no means no.

 

Last night, we took a ghost tour and I have some pretty spiffy photos on my cell phone. I plan to ask my three-year old niece how to retrieve them. What I learned is that ghosts are not much different from geckos, ants…or horny ducks.

They want what they want. What they want is to inhabit you (shelter). They obviously miss eating and being Hawaiian ghosts you can bet your bippy they miss Zippy’s. So if they er…take over your body, they hit the trifecta. Food, sex (if you have any) and a place to call home.

I had a few scary moments with the dead last night, and so did Serena. But I’ll let her tell you that story. I’ll close by saying this. I have been scratching my head trying to figure out what the odd, clacking sound has been in the house. Apparently it’s the gecko’s mating call.

We have seen at least three geckos in here so he’s a womanizing, colonizing, coffee-loving gecko. Well! And to think I felt sorry for him!

But back to sex. I have to keep writing it and will take advantage of my rainforest shelter for as long as I have it. Shelter. Food. Sex. Yep, I found it all on my side of the island…in this action-packed sojourn.

Serena says she heard dogs barking, but I did not. I did see a man in an awful Statue of Liberty costume near the freeway trying to hawk condos. I almost stopped and asked him how the wildlife situation is there but he was a little entangled with his headdress the last time I saw him.

Ah, Hawaii…I will miss you much…

 

Aloha oe,

A.J.

If Come

By A.J. Llewellyn

I’m so excited that this wonderful anthology, Sins of Winter is out and it contains one of my fave stories, If Come.

Until the day before I started writing this story I’d never heard of an If Come deal, which, I learned is the hot new thing in Hollywood. How it works is that a producer reads a screenplay and instead of giving the writer money and a contract, they give the author a contract and a promise that if it comes to pass that the screenplay is sold, the writer will get extra money on top of the industry standard rate.

The producer I’d met with on a project wanted to give me an If Come deal and I was a little…perturbed. I’d never heard of an If Come deal and hated sounding like a dumb-ass asking him to explain. I’ve worked as a screenplay reader for several years and it shocked me that I didn’t know what an If Come deal was.

He patiently described how it all worked. I’d had deals in the past  where I’d allowed a couple of people to option my material for free. Both times, they were actors and I still lament that those projects never worked out. My lit agent at the time warned me against these deals saying unless people paid for the right to projects they didn’t take them seriously but I’ve never believed this to be true.

I personally know tons of people who have no financial binding to a project but heartily champion their passion pieces…besides, as a struggling young writer, I was thrilled that people even liked my work, let alone wanted to option it. I even had a mad dinner one night with actor Robert Blake about a screenplay I wrote…but that’s a whole ‘nother story…

The If Come deal is a whole lot better for writers because they get more money than they otherwise would, and hungry producers get to pitch something they love to the studio and/or production company.

After checking with a couple of friends who are smarter than I am and knew all about If Come deals – one of them actually had one and it panned out!! – I signed the contract but of course, I am waiting. I’m not thinking about it much except of course it gave me the idea for a cool story!

If Come is about a struggling writer, Zam Carmarthen, who is dealing with depression – actually he is dealing with acedia – one of the oldest of the seven deadly sins – and he wants badly to make it in Hollywood. He’s had some success with one screenplay, which he sold…except that a famous script doctor, Dominic Glass was hired to rewrite it and got the final screenwriting credit.

Yep…those things happen in Hollywood every day.

When Zam gets an If Come deal for a second screenplay, he learns to his horror that Dominic Glass is being scheduled to take over as author. ARRGGH!

Of course…love, sex, passion, movies…love…did I mention love? happen…and well, I won’t say anything more. I hope you’ll check out this handsome new antho with my story and two rocking great ones from D.J. Manly and Serena Yates.

And if it comes to pass that you read it, gimme a holler. I’d love to know what you think!

Purchase Link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?P_ID=1549

Aloha oe,

 

A.J.

Sins of Winter – OUT TODAY!!

Sins of Winter

Book three in The Seven Deadly Sins Collection of Anthologies

The seven deadly sins: lust, wrath, greed, gluttony, envy, pride and sloth.

The Sins of Winter weaves a general thread of revelation loosely tying these tales together. Acedia (a precursor to sloth), Greed and Pride, are explored in these hot m/m tales involving action, burning hot sex and out-of-this-world adventures that will warm you up…fast!
‘Toppling Pedestals’ by D.J.Manly
In ‘Toppling Pedestals’, DJ Manly deals with the sin of pride.

The thought that there was something better out there took Tristan away…then pride almost broke his heart.

Tristan, Samuel and Casey had been friends since grade one. When Casey-the doctor’s son-goes off to university, Samuel and Tristan are left behind in their small hometown. Samuel comes from a poor background and has no money for school. He takes a job in the hardware store that Tristan’s parents own.

Tristan decides to work at the store for a year before joining Casey at school. He’s expected to run the store eventually but wants to explore what’s out there first. Breaking away from the town means breaking Samuel’s heart. When tragedy brings Tristan home again, will pride stand in the way of letting Samuel know how he feels?
‘If Come’ by A.J.Llewellyn
In If Come, AJ Llewellyn deals with the ancient deadly sin of acedia.

It was once considered the ‘noonday demon’-a melancholia that is brought about by repetitive work. Writing, marriage and monkhood were the three main occupations said to induce it.

Zam Carmarthen is a mildly successful Hollywood screenwriter struggling with a debilitating depression that prevents him from completing anything he starts. When he lands an ‘If Come’ deal with a major Hollywood producer, he’s finally forced to focus on his work and not give into the strange malaise gripping him. In order to ever move ahead in the movie business, he must complete the pilot episode of his proposed TV series, Angel Inn. If his producer is able to sell the series, Zam will be a very rich man. Everything he has worked for can be his.

Paralysed by his depression, he finds unusual solace in the form of his arch nemesis, Dominic Glass-a surgeon turned super successful screenwriter…and the man who rewrote Zam’s hit screenplay for his own glory.

Can Zam overcome the depression Dominic calls acedia, which threatens to derail his whole life? Can he move on from his long time sex buddy Jason? And what about these new feelings he has for Dominic in spite of their rocky history? Will Zam get it together…or will Dominic once again walk away with all the credit for something Zam created?
‘Winter Challenge’ by Serena Yates
In Winter Challenge, Serena Yates deals with the sin of greed.

Paediatrician Noah Goldwin receives some bad news-his father has died and his greedy elder brother doesn’t only take over the family business, he wants the entire fortune for himself. So, he informs Noah that he was adopted and washes his hands of him. Noah, who never knew of his past, sets out to find his roots.

An elderly aunt, a mysterious ring and a location in the far north of Canada are his only hints…until he meets a tall, dark stranger who may have the solution to all his questions. There is only one problem-Ataro lives in a parallel dimension.

Will the two men be able to find a way to join forces? How will they defeat the power hungry enemies on Ataro’s world? And are inter-dimensional relationships even possible?

For purchase and sizzling excerpts please click this link:

http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?P_ID=1549

Good Grief

By A.J. Llewellyn

It is nine weeks today since I lost my beloved dog, Venus. I’ve had pets die in the past…I once had a cat stolen and the shock and worry over her were tremendous but my grief right now seems endless. I cannot believe how broken I feel and how easily I burst into tears. Everything is an effort. My two cats are loving and sweet but it is not the same. I question everything I did in my baby’s last, trying few months and while I know I did everything I could I ask myself why wasn’t it enough?

I know she is not the only dog to die but I wanted her so much. I can’t rationalize that I wanted one more day because it isn’t true. I wanted more. I troll youtube and other sites obsessively looking for a new dog to love even when I know I’m really not ready yet. I have stumbled across horrible scenes of dog abuse and have donated money to people who rescue dogs from shelters and the streets. I have applied online for several dogs…but never hear back.

I loved my dog. We spent 15 years together. My brain is a mush of jumbled thoughts and my heart awash with emotions.

Well-meaning friends ask how I am doing then when I start to tell them, they say I need to get over it, I need to pull myself together. If they don’t want to know how I am doing, why ask?

A few of my friends know exactly how I feel because they are going through it too. The news isn’t good. I am learning that grief is profound and it takes a long, long time to recover. I know they suffer in silence and for the most part I do too. I have good days and bad. I can be absolutely fine and then all of a sudden it hits me.

Often, my mind spins back to the day I found her on the freeway and how I wish I could go back and start all over again.

I want more time. 15 years was not enough. Why doesn’t God allow our companion animals to live longer?

Dogs haunt me everywhere I go. I see people walking their dogs and looking bored…or checking their text messages. I envy the time they have. I envy their dogs’ mobility. I want to scream at them. “Enjoy every second. It does not last!”

I keep running into mobile adoption units that leave me in tears. I fret over the ones from the East Valley shelter because of their high-kill rate. There was one little white dog I saw just before Christmas. I beat myself up because I wonder if the dog found a home…or…

The one dog I found recently likes to kill cats. Obviously, that won’t work. I try so hard not to dwell but it’s almost impossible. In those first dark days a friend called me and warned that the first six weeks were the hardest. She also warned that I’d have a lot of free time. That it would be a huge adjustment. She wasn’t kidding.

I was shocked to discover she was right. I had no idea how much time I invested in Venus. She was a huge part of every single day. Even at the end we walked five times a day. My entire writing schedule, my whole life revolved around her.

In the last six months when she couldn’t manage it up and down the stairs without help, it was physically difficult but she always kept a smile on her face. I will never forget how much she still wanted to be here. How she still stopped and smelled flowers on the stret tried to chase squirrels and barked at people with dogs.

I miss her capacity for joy and her funny ways. I miss her in the morning waiting at the kitchen door for cookies and her big kisses goodnight. I wake up in the middle of the night and remember…and the chain pr pain begins again.

I have tried to fill the empty spaces with work, long walks alone, long walks with other people’s dogs…I continue my volunteer efforts but it’s not enough. I drive home crying because I know she’s not there waiting for me for our next adventure outdoors.

The house feels so empty. I’ve cleaned and rearranged…it’s no use. She’s not there.

Mostly I miss holding her, talking to her, and I miss her bright, beautiful being. Her spirit was huge and my home doesn’t feel the same. I know one day I will find a new dog to love. I know my cats won’t be happy but I will feel better. I have so much dog-love to give and nowhere to put it all. Mostly, I will never forget and never stop loving the dog who taught me so much and still gives me moments of joy and yes, profound sadness.

I’ve been surprised how many people miss Venus…people who live in my building who didn’t hear the news see me at the mailbox or whatever and ask about her. They are so used to seeing us everywhere together.

Sometimes, I hear her…seriously. I heard her lapping water one time and I thought I was dreaming but the cats looked FREAKED so I know Venus was back just for a moment to let me know she is okay. I will never forget that moment…

I find it hard to talk about her but I love when people ask after her. I have five friends who all got dogs around the same time. We all became friends at the dog park and have stayed close all these years. We’ve lost them all…Last week her friend Bridey left this life and we dog parents talk about how all the dogs are together again in heaven. I like to think so…and I like to think I’ll meet my golden girl again on the rainbow bridge. I look forward to her special hugs and kisses and long walks where she feels no pain and her bark no longer sounds feeble.

I miss my girl, my bright, beautiful, best friend. I know she is in a beautiful place and free of all pain. I bet she gets all the bacon she wants, too. I will never forget her…I will never get over her. I will think of her often and thank her for choosing me to love her in the first place.

Aloha oe,

A.J.

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