Tuesdays with Ana: One night like this before I die

In talking with a friend yesterday, I reminisced about visiting the Royal Opera House (ROH) in London a few years ago. It had been my dream ever since childhood to visit England, London, and especially to see the Royal Ballet. The stars aligned just right, and I found myself in the building that (to me) was filled with fairy tales and dreams come true. I haunted the gift shop, hallways, display cases of costumes, and the customer service area.

On an impulse, I stopped by the ticket counter and inquired about upcoming shows. The Royal Ballet had closed for the season, but the Royal Opera was performing Le nozze di Figaro.

Oh, wait? One tonight? I waited with bated breath. Could there be any tickets left?

“There’s one available tonight in the stalls circle.”

The price, of course, was astronomical. Bigger problem: the opera started in less than an hour. I looked down at my tourist shorts and casual shirt in dismay. Sure, the ROH tends to be more casual than other European opera houses, but my dream of attending a ROH opera did not include tacky clothing.

“I won’t have time to change clothes. Is it all right if I wear this?”

The ticket seller waved my concerns away. “That’s fine. But this seat doesn’t have a surtitle view. I’m sorry, but it’s the only one left.”

Who cares about surtitles when I could still see the stage? And in such a good seat, too! Then again, the seat would have to be a good one for that price.

Possibly due to my less-than-costly attire, the ticket seller gave me a kindly look. “It’s a lot of money. Are you sure?”

It was a lot of money, and it wasn’t in my budget. But I hadn’t saved up for six years to go home without taking advantage of dreams come true. “I’ll take it!”

I rushed back to the gift shop hoping to find a libretto or guide for the opera that night. I knew the basic story, of course, but so much of the humor of an opera depends on knowing the timing. I did not manage to find a libretto or other aid (I would have been glad for a children’s book describing the story), but I picked up some more souvenirs instead. Wild with excitement, I wandered around the courtyard taking pictures of anything that moved and lots that didn’t.

Embarrassed at looking like an American tourist too clueless to know theater etiquette, I shuffled into the theater clutching my ticket (which is now proudly displayed on my fridge). I wanted to apologize for my inappropriate clothing, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

Breath taken away, I checked my bag and found my way to my seat. Too my surprise and delight, the woman next to me was a fellow American (expat) who gave opera coaching for her profession. She asked me if I knew the story, and I shook my head. I mean, I “knew,” but only in the most general terms. She proceeded to tell me about the story, in depth. I was grateful and touched. I kept wanting to pinch myself, though, to make sure everything wouldn’t disappear when I woke up. Me, little plain old Ana, at the Royal Opera House? It was too grand to be true.

Then the curtain went up…

(WordPress will only let me insert one video, so here is the link: a brief view of Le nozze di Figaro, by the Royal Opera House)

Spellbound, I laughed at the silliness and teared up at the gorgeous music. I have never liked Mozart (long story), but that night his clarity and lightness served as the perfect, frothy, summer fun treat. At the intermission, I went to the Crush Room and nearly fainted. How many times had I read about characters going to the “Crush” at intermission and talking with famous music and ballet critics? I wandered around the new additions and was glad for the loudness of the patrons…I could get away with a little squeal of excitement every now and then.

As the performance finished and audience members trickled out of the theater (or perhaps I should say “theatre”), I couldn’t bear to leave. I murmured to my new friend, “Do they allow photos?” She wasn’t sure, so I nipped closer to the stage and turned around to take a photo (not of the stage, which I was sure would be forbidden) but the seats. An usher came over (here I think my clueless American tourist clothing helped!) and politely told photography, even of the seats, was not allowed. I apologized profusely and sincerely, and I didn’t have to delete the photos from my camera!

It’s not a very good photo (I took the pictures as fast as I could in case I got stopped), but the angle and lights express my wonderment that night.

To crown the evening, as I walked out and tried (unsuccessfully) to find the nearest Tube station, a pedicab cyclist came by and offered me a ride.

I normally wouldn’t have dreamed of it, but the night was too glorious to end with prosaic, ordinary travel such as the Tube. I paid my money and got in, and I felt like Cinderella carried by her pumpkin coach and mice horses.

I said to my friends and family afterward, “Everyone should have a night like this before dying.” At intermission in the Crush Room, I thought I might burst with happiness. I’d gotten to do something I’d dreamed about ever since I was little, and I’d never expected it to actually happen. More than that, I was only lucky enough to do it because of a series of coincidences that gave me a night to remember for the rest of my life.

Talking about the night with my friend made me realize again the glory of realizing that dream. I’ve had many dreams come true in my life (I am blessed in many ways), but there’s something special about a lifelong dream.

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel sad that a happy moment is over or a person who makes us happy is gone. When things are difficult, I see the difficulty of the present instead of the blessings of the past.

No, every night can’t be a dream-come-true night, but some can. Dreams can come true in small or big ways, and sometimes the smallest ways are the biggest of all. A phone call from a long-estranged family member. The smile of someone who has been ill for too long. Good news when we least expect it.

Tonight (or some night soon), I hope you will have an evening that makes you think to yourself, “I’m so glad I had a night like this before I die.”

What is your dream?


Want to learn about opera but feel intimidated? Here’s a great “Opera for Beginners” guide.

And if you have children, read this guide to introducing children to opera.

New Kat-Sitting Story: Let it Go (Kat and Natalie watch Frozen)

New story up on Kat’s blog today:

“Kat, c’mon. You’ve been studying or working or stressing all week, and you need a break.” Natalie switches off my laptop. I scream and jump out of my chair.

“I was in the middle of a paper! You ruined it!” I frantically push the power button to turn the computer back on, but Natalie takes it away. “Give it back! If I don’t get an A on my paper, I’ll ruin my GPA and I won’t get accepted into the program.”

“You haven’t slept, you’ve eaten nothing but individual servings of microwaveable mac and cheese, and you’re scaring me. Do you want to make yourself sick?” Natalie sets my computer onto the table, and I snatch it back.

To finish reading, click here.

No More Smart Remarks: Irishey gets a #spanking from #EvilMistressKate!

For Irishey, who knows what she did.

Some people know how to keep themselves out of trouble, but not our dear Irishey. Oh, no. She has sass that won’t stop, but also the idea no one is big enough to deal with her. Too bad (for her) that retribution comes in the form of one Evil Mistress Kate. (Who is Evil Mistress Kate, you ask? You’ll have to wait for Spank or Treat to find out.)

For Saturday Spankings and Sunday Snippets this weekend, here’s a little peek into the woes of naughty Irishey and the overworked disciplinarian who must tame her. In our scene, the recalcitrant Irishey has begged, pouted, issued threats, and tried to use martial arts to wriggle out of her much-deserved spanking. Evil Mistress Kate has had enough.

“You shouldn’t try to pretend to be all big and tough; you’re too little for that,” Irishey taunted.

Sadly for her, Evil Mistress Kate flicked her multicolored martinet in a scattershot across the backs of Irishey’s bare calves. “Accept your punishment like a big girl, or I’ll take down those shorts and whip your bare bottom,” Kate threatened.

Despite herself, Irishey cringed. How could she face everyone in blogland afterward if they witnessed her cruel (and entirely undeserved, to her mind) treatment at the hands of this formidable woman? Too late, Irishey regretted opening her mouth to sass instead of save her bottom.

“No more smart remarks? Perhaps we are getting somewhere at last,” Kate said as she hauled Irishey over her lap to spank bare thighs with abandon.




Thursday Thankfulness

I slept just under three hours last night, am late for two deadlines, missed my weekly coffee-and-chat session with a friend…and I’m happy as a clam! Why? Taliasman is  finished! Finally! Yay! I’d celebrate, but I have to polish up the manuscript before sending it to the publisher. There are a few parts that creak. They needed to move the plot from one point to the other, but there’s no artistry in writing them.

Sitting down with Talia and Vina to brush their hair, powder their noses, straighten their skirts, and send them off to their entrance examination. Good luck, girls! Don’t sass the proctor.

Today the wonderful Sue Brown will join me (I hope) in celebrating Thursday Thankfulness. I’m thankful to have a friend and colleague to join in the day. I’m also thankful for all of you who join me each week.

I’m thankful for the fun of yesterday’s “See Jane Spank. Spank, Jane, Spank!” post. I am glad to make people smile. I smiled when I wrote it, after all.

I’m grateful for a phone call yesterday from a friend who had surgery. Glad she is recovering, although the process is never fun.

I’m thankful for understanding publishers who give extensions when a harried Ana can’t quite manage deadlines. After I send Taliasman off today, it’s time to polish “Living in Sin” and send that story for editing.

I’m thankful for so many things today, including:

  • Clean, ironed bedsheets
  • A mug of boiling water to keep my hands warm while freezing in an overly air-conditioned diner
  • A 24/7 diner that tolerates my staying overnight to work like a maniac
  • Ikea drawing paper that serves as a lovely surface to handwrite my drafts
  • That my new card reader works, and I could import approximately 5,000 digital photos from the past 7-8 years
  • Watching the 5,000+ photos flash by my eyes in a time lapse of my life, and finding a few pictures I’d forgotten I had.
  • That Sci Spanks 2014 the anthology earned a silver star at All Romance Ebooks on its first day and a best seller designation in its first week!
  • Clean laundry
  • Friends who keep me company while making laundry clean
  • Did I say I finished Taliasman????
  • A reviewer promising to write an “extremely long and glowing review” of Mira’s Miracle. Yay! I can’t wait to see it.
  • Mark D. Jones, who is the most fabulous retweeter on the planet (@livelovethinkex) and retweets my blog posts with a favorite quote. To be perfectly frank, it makes me a bit shy to think someone reads and takes in my words. At the same time, I’m grateful. Thank you!
  • It’s only 129 days until Ana’s Advent Calendar!
  • An artist friend may work up a drawing of the talisman that serves as a centerpiece for Taliasman! I can’t wait to see it.
  • I’m so thankful I can wake up on my own, rise from my bed unassisted, bathe/clothe/feed myself, walk up and down stairs, drive a car, own a car, and take care of my needs. Having watched a quilting granny go through endless weeks of rehab after an unexpected health issue, I’ve learned to be grateful for my good fortune. I can live at home and take care of myself, two things she will not be able to do for a long time.
  • That I made it back to church, at last, after three weeks of absence. Bad Ana. :D
  • I’ve been promoted from substitute/part-time handbell ringer to a regular member of the choir for this year. It was one of my favorite activities this past year, and I can’t wait. I’ll be playing different bells than I’m used to, but I like a challenge.
  • I’m thankful I know today’s day, date, and month! :)
  • I’m also thankful another quilting granny has a film I needed to use for research. Yay for not having to purchase items!
  • I’m thankful that an ice cube stopped a cold sore before it could form. Yeah! I saved the nearly $30 it would cost to buy over-the-counter medicine, and the ice worked better!
  • I’m thankful I remembered to check for clothes tags before going out yesterday. :P (I went to church and the grocery store with the sales tags dangling.)
  • I’m thankful I get to meet so many wonderful people who put up with my foibles. Bless you, each one of you.

What are you thankful for today?

See Jane spank. Spank, Jane, spank!

(With apologies to the real Dick and Jane)


See Jane spank. Spank, Jane, Spank!

“Ow,” says Sally. “Ow, ow.”

Jane spanks.

“Ow,” says Sally. “Ow, Jane. Please don’t spank.”

Jane picks up the hairbrush.

“Ow,” cries Sally. “That hurts. Please don’t spank with the hairbrush.”

Jane spanks more. “You were a bad girl, Sally. I will spank you with my hairbrush.”

Sally cries. “I am sorry, Jane. I was a bad girl.”

Jane spanks hard. “Cry, Sally.”

Sally wipes her eyes. “I was a bad girl. Please spank me.”

Jane stops. “No, Sally. Bad girls go to the corner. Go to the corner, Sally.”

Sally cries more. “I don’t want to go to the corner, Jane.”

Jane picks up the hairbrush. “I will spank you hard, Sally.”

Sally stands up. “You are mean, Jane. It is my turn now.”

Jane holds the hairbrush tight. “No, Sally. It is my hairbrush. You have to obey me.”

Sally shakes her head. “I will tell Penny. You are mean. Penny will spank you.”

Jane drops the hairbrush. “Oh, no! No, Sally no!”

Sally smirks. “Yes, Jane. You were a bad girl.”

Jane covers her eyes. “Please spank me, Sally. Spank, Sally, spank.”

Sally picks up the hairbrush. “I will spank you very hard, Jane.”


(What do you think happens next?)

Tuesdays with Ana: Corn Husking

As I write this post, a pot of water bubbles merrily on the stove. Fresh ears of corn lie on the counter awaiting their terrifying plunge to the netherworld.

Ahem. Can you tell my head has been in fairy tale land for the past few weeks? Talia and Vina are anxious for me to finish their story and send off Taliasman to the publisher, but it’s not quite perfect yet. There’s something both fairy tale-ish and contemporary about their story, and I’m struggling to put it into words.

Writing used to come easily to me, and then I became a writer. :)

Lately, I’ve been enjoying fresh produce. Sweet strawberries, blueberries, cherries, melons…and one of my favorites, corn on the cob.


The local grocery store sells pre-husked cobs in tidy trays wrapped in plastic, but even lazy Ana gives those a pass. For me, husking corn brings back memories of crops from my godmother’s farm. What treat is lovelier than a bag full of sweet corn? Like the Little Red Hen’s chicks, I wasn’t interested in planting, caring for, or harvesting the crops. Instead, I came running at the sight of a brown paper grocery stack bursting with tufted green packages of delight.

Oh, and the husking! Neat freak Ana’s Mom couldn’t abide corn silk and husks in her kitchen, so I would bring my sackful of ears to the garage. I’d sit on the step (sweet cool concrete in the heat of summer, before air conditioning became prevalent), pull the garbage can close to me, and unwrap one layer of husk at a time. Unlike my parents who hated the bother, I took my time. Right down to the last bit of silk, I made the corn shiny, sparkly, and new.

Later when we spread butter on our corn and chased the hot, slippery cobs around our plates, I would take pleasure in the steaming rows of kernels on each cob of corn. From my godmother’s fields to my family table, I could take pride.

Today, as I tweak Taliasman and grumble because I can’t get the words exactly right, I’ll take pleasure in the work of my hands.

What will you husk today?

She #spanks a good game! @Leighellwood dishes on #scispanks #99cents out now!

Anastasia Vitsky:

Some thoughts from Leigh Ellwood on the new Sci Spanks 2014 anthology.

Originally posted on Eva Lefoy:

Hello, everybody. Leigh Ellwood here, and I’m thrilled to announce I’m part of a new anthology called Sci Spanks. This is a collection of 15 shorts on a theme – naturally science fiction with spanking. My contribution, “Skin,” came to me as I racked my brains to think of a story. A martini or two later, and it happened.

You may or may not be familiar with my work, but BDSM and kink are not sub-genres I write often. I don’t read much BDSM, just a few authors, and I know writing kink requires research so the stories are accurate and do not misrepresent the Lifestyle. Since this book deals mainly with spanking, though, I felt it was okay for me to participate. The science fiction setting allowed me a bit of creative license as well. I placed my heroine in a precarious situation where a law was accidentally…

View original 1,083 more words


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