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Today's guest is successful and much-loved author Z. A. Maxfield, here on LJ as zamaxfield. And in a thoughtful and wry-humoured way, she's got some New Year thoughts and advice for us!


Z.A. Maxfield is a fifth-generation native of Los Angeles, although she now lives in the O.C. She started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four manages to find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can do if you completely give up housework.”

Find her at her website.
Join her Yahoo Group.
Follow her blog on Live Journal.


Ten Things I learned (the hard way)

I’m feeling a little reflective this month as my twins turned thirteen (On New Year’s Day) and my daughter Zoe, turned eighteen on the fifth. Here are ten things I’ve learned the hard way. That’s ten I doubt I’ll have to do again, but don’t quote me, sometimes it takes me longer than one try…

Just because you’re offered the opportunity to eat a particularly hot pepper, that doesn’t mean you should.

Always, always, always double check the privacy lock on an airplane bathroom door. There is nothing that defines “awkward” better than the look on some shocked businessman’s face when he’s faced with a middle-aged woman taking a leak.

Speaking of which, there are places in the world where there are no western toilets. Some of those places aren’t where you would expect. If you’ve been taking in the sights of Paris by night, perhaps drinking your way from café to café on the Champs Elysees, it pays to remember exactly how long it will take to get out of your clothes enough to use a facility that offers you two footprints and a hole in the ground. Maybe get on that elliptical or do some lunges before you go so you don’t fall over in the madness of the moment… just sayin’

When you have four children, it’s virtually impossible to spend enough one-on-one time with any of them to truly scar them psychologically for life. That was my reasoning anyway. What I didn’t realize was that the relentless onslaught of energy from four small human beings would scar me for life.

Any room can be filled to capacity with safe, educational or plush toys, but if there is one piece of broken glass, one rusty nail, or one unexploded grenade, that will be the only thing identical twin boys will want to play with. And they’ll fight over it.

As a Southern Californian who lives in the suburbs, it hasn’t been my privilege to get used to public transportation in the big city. So, okay… now I know. Most city buses don’t go in big circles like the trams at Disneyland.

My dog appears really stupid -- yet all the while she’s been secretly training her master into perfect obedience.

Romance novels are to be taken with a grain of salt with regard to sex. So far I haven’t met the man I’d let f*ck me on horseback but I’m keeping an open mind. Larger than life, perfect heroes, fantastic first sexual encounters, and unqualified happily-ever-afters are why they call it fiction.

No matter how attractive a pair of shoes is, if while I’m wearing them my face looks like Edvard Munch’s The Scream, there’s no point to me putting them on.

My daughter and I have recently started shopping for her prom dress. There have traditionally been friendly relations between our separate nations during clothes shopping season, a fact which I attribute to her high I.Q. and my ownership of credit cards.

But in heavens name, wasn’t it just yesterday we established the no-scratchy crinoline rule? The I don’t wear pink, the I like sparkles but not on my clothes, the no camo, the anything turquoise but lets call it teal, the celestial T-shirts because the sun/moon star thing is cool. Wasn’t it just yesterday I was buying footie foot pajamas and little headbands with reindeer antlers attached? (Actually that was just last Christmas but who’s counting.)

Stop, stop, stop!

This isn’t even something I’ve learned the hard way! I knew all along my daughter would grow up, take the SATs, apply to colleges, and run off to define her own future. I savored every single moment of the time we had together, and still…

Wow. Maybe one of the things I have to learn is that some things are really difficult, even if you don’t learn them the hard way.


Z. A. Maxfield's new release The Pharoah's Concubine is now out at Samhain Publishing.

BLURB: Beauty is only skin deep…until love reveals what lies beneath.
As mob boss Yvgeny Mosko’s open secret, Dylan Anderson is happy enough with a passionate, if loveless, arrangement that affords him a life of luxury. But at thirty-six, he wonders how committed Mosko will be to an aging lover.

He finds out when a rival gang kidnaps him in a turf war everyone’s sure to lose. Mosko unleashes deadly force, leaving no one alive except for a young man whose dark eyes tug at Dylan’s heart—and the conscience he thought he’d excised long ago.

Though he tried to stop the kidnapping, William “Memo” Escobar knows Mosko will use what’s left of him to send a powerful message to his rivals. When Mosko’s pampered pretty boy risks everything to help him escape, he can’t believe his luck.

William figures he’s better suited to life off the grid, but as the days go by he begins to realize Dylan’s beauty is more than skin deep. And as Dylan coaxes more and more beguiling smiles from William, he yearns for things—like family ties—he’d thought were best forgotten.

Yet behind their newfound happiness lurks the certain knowledge that no matter how careful they are, Mosko will come for what’s his.

Warning: This book contains a mob boss, a kept man, and a reluctant kidnapper who will never have to hear the words, “Size doesn’t matter.”



Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Take the prompt "A NEW RESOLUTION" and write something for the visitors this month. It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.

I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).


Follow this month with Clare - and the goodies so far:

JAN 15: Favourite worldwide travel with cdn_tam.

JAN 08: A great new novel and sequel from mickieashling.
JAN 09: Fiction and beautiful illustrations from essayel.
JAN 10: New menage release from lc_chase.
JAN 11: Fabulous mix of SF and erotic romance from Sloane Taylor and Robert Appleton.
JAN 12: Follow the bizarre photographic history of Wind in Hair Guy with egret17.
JAN 13: When only your family understands the joke, with charliecochrane.
JAN 14: A top 10 of gay books you should read from erastes.

JAN 01: A FREE short from me, revisiting Nic and Aidan from Sparks Fly.
JAN 01: Delicious m/m icons from luscious_words.
JAN 02: Why I want to be a Bond villain! by chrissymunder.
JAN 03: The world of inspiration between 'historical' and 'contemporary' with stevie_carroll.
JAN 04: Some fascinating Swedish proverbs from 1more_sickpuppy.
JAN 05: A round-up of a great year just gone from angelasstone.
JAN 06: The countryside and history that inspires author sandra_lindsey.
JAN 07: The challenge of trying to balance edits, with diannefox and anahcrow.


Check up on the original post and the Guest Schedule for January HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.



( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, they do grow up so quickly. I can't believe my daughter will graduate in two more years. Wow. It's been good times though.

I've yet to find a bathroom that has not had a "normal" toilet. *knock on wood*. I imagine it would be similar to peeing on the side of the road as I occasionally was forced while a child and traveling and had to go NOW.

Great piece and congrats on the new release. Looking forward to it.
Jan. 16th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much Tam. Probably my experience with non-western toilets which happened in the eighties is obsolete now. I just remember trying a drunken balancing act after removing one shoe and a leg of my panty hose that sort of defied gravity...
Jan. 16th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
“It’s amazing what you can do if you completely give up housework."

My hero.

This is all very good advice, especially the one about the shoes.
Jan. 16th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, heavens yes. We all come to that place, where we realize we've earned the right to wear ugly shoes. Whether we do or not is still a choice. :D

When I'm feeling flirty I still pull out those kitten heel mules but less often these days.
Jan. 17th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
That's MY favourite too LOL. I've *got* those shoes....
Jan. 16th, 2011 02:33 pm (UTC)
I'm rather lucky in many ways... one is some of these you've listed, I've learned I really don't want to do that based on others' experiences!

  • I would have to replace 'cats' with 'dog'

    The 'keep an open mind' advice is very good advice. I have to keep reminding myself that there may ...never be a man worth having sex on horseback, but someone in the world finds that uber-sexy.

    Your daughter is very wise in the ways of shopping. *nods*
  • zamaxfield
    Jan. 16th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
    Hi Merith, this brings to mind the fact that I need to send you a note off list, which I have been thinking about all week but never when I'm at a computer, so it's good to see you!

    I learned a lot vicariously from family members too, but those ten are all on me! :D
    Jan. 16th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
    I'm glad it's not just me who discovered that about giving up housework. ;)
    Jan. 16th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
    Nope! Giving up housework has freed me up to do things that earn money. Why didn't I think of that years ago!
    Jan. 16th, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
    Omg, I enjoyed this very much, and in particular comment #3 prompted me to take an unscheduled trip in my cranial time machine, all the way back 1982 and a personal piece of culture shock I experienced in an upscale restaurant in Paris where I had my first encounter with the WC, the porcelain squatty pee place the French so cleverly substitute for an actual TOILET when you least expect it. Ah yes, good times. Heh heh.
    Jan. 16th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
    Oh, my gosh that's EXACTLY right! I was warned, but I didn't realize how difficult it would be. I have weak thighs or something and well... No one forgets falling down in a public toilet.
    Jan. 16th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
    My husband definitely needs to take heed of the first item!

    And oh yes, I know just what you mean about kids always finding that rusty nail/stray knife/dodgy magazine... ;)
    Jan. 16th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
    Hi Josephine
    Yep! And there can be tons of other, more enticing things to play with, but if one draws blood they are so all over it!
    Jan. 17th, 2011 09:59 am (UTC)
    Hehe, yeah, and it doesn't help if you have a husband who never seems to clear up properly after doing DIY... Power tools and small children just don't mix all that well XD
    Jan. 16th, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)
    Oh ZAM! you are always full of.............wit and wisdom....gotcha! Thanks for the chuckles and congrats on the new release.

    Jan. 17th, 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
    Thanks for stopping by Jo!
    Jan. 17th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
    I hadn't realised that you had twins! Mine (fraternal girls) turn 20 in May. I have an older boy - 22 - so know where you're coming from with the comments about one on one time although I'm achieving that more now than I used to. Hopefully it's not too late.

    I love your comment about housework. So true. Housework is totally overated.

    I have cats who think they have trained me - I suspect they're right.

    Looking forward to reading your latest.
    Jan. 17th, 2011 04:11 am (UTC)
    Ah! Give up housework!!! Note taken :) Actually, I don't do much of it, now. I have kids and a house-husband, lucky me.

    I think, ZAM, I will endeavour to learn from your hard lessons. Incidently, I don't think small boys need to be twins to find that one thing they absolutly should. Not. touch. :)
    Jan. 17th, 2011 09:49 am (UTC)
    Oh yes, yes, yes. Agree with it all and more.

    But isn't it lovely when your little girl fledges and you think, "Hey, we did a good job"?
    Jan. 17th, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
    *LOL* I personally am hoping for that, Charlie, on a daily basis for my Sons...:)
    Jan. 17th, 2011 10:14 am (UTC)
    Excellent - and very funny post. Loved them all, and I've learned somethings from you--will beware if it go to Paris!
    ( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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