Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In With The New

2008 has been quite a roller coaster year for most of us. Be it the economy, the price of gasoline or the political merry-go-round of the election, the past twelve months have been anything but uneventful.
On a personal note, I've been fortunate enough to have two books released and signed two more contracts. I've watched my kids continue to mature and become better citizens of the earth. I've gained several friends, grown closer to one I made a couple years ago and sadly, lost a dear friend of more than twenty years. I finished a two-year run as president of my RWA chapter that taught me more than I'd ever have imagined.
2009 will hopefully bring some wonderful things to us all. I hope the state of the economy will improve and eventually recover. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a dear friend with a secret. I pray her tiny wish comes to fruition. I have lots more requests, way more than I care to share. But I wish you all the best year ever.
What about you? What's on your list?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas

I keep hearing that people are sick and tired of not being able to say "Merry Christmas" to strangers because it is sometimes politically incorrect. They say they refuse to wish people "Happy Holidays" just because it's more inclusive. This year, I'm hearing more and more Christmas wishes. Yes - it's the old backlash against politically correct.
But you know what? It irritates many of us to be told we should enjoy a holiday we don't celebrate. I'm much more comfortable with the generic "Happy Holidays." Sorry if that offends anyone, but why do people assume the customers they wait on or the workers that help them are Christian? Isn't that prejudice?
Now I have no problem with someone you know wishing you the best whatever holiday you celebrate - that's appropriate. But if you don't know me, please don't make assumptions about me.
Okay - I'll step off my soap box and wish everyone the best of holidays. May your cup runneth over, may your load be light and may your journey be safe.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Carving Out Time

We're in the midst of the holiday hoopla and life is busier than ever with gift buying, party going, baking and wrapping. Finding time for writing isn't always easy, but I've cut myself a little slack. You see, last year I used the holidays as an excuse to take a little vacation from writing and that threw me out of my routine - a bad, bad thing. So this year, I'm allowing myself to take one day - occasionally two - in a row off from writing. That way I don't feel guilty for slacking off sometimes and snowballing into a several week period of no work. And so far, it's worked for me. Most of the year I try to write or edit at least a little every day, hopefully, a lot every day!
What about you? Do you stick to your usual word count goals during the holidays or do you take a breather?

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I just signed a contract for a novella in a YA anthology due out next summer. Every contract I sign is accompanied by an author info sheet with a cover request, the blurb, an excerpt, etc. The one part that always takes me the longest is the dedication. There are always so many people I want to recognize - from critique partners to loved ones to favorite college or high school teachers.
The dedication is one of the most important sections of the book--at least it is for me--because it is a window into the author's personal life. Writers easily hide behind their characters and plots, allowing their readers to see only a carefully orchestrated creation. I always read the dedication in books because it is that tiny crack into who the author really is and frankly, I'm a voyeur by nature. I love peeking behind the curtain to see the actors not playing roles. Of course, I love the play as well. But glimpsing something of the real person gives me a sense of behind-the-scenes knowledge.
A friend told me recently she rarely reads the dedication unless she knows the author personally. I found this unconscionable! How could she skip past such a vital piece of information? She said she doesn't want to know too much about the author. It might cloud her perception of the story. What???
So now I'm curious. Do you always read the dedication? Or are there others out there like my friend? Do tell...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've been looking at the bookstore and Internet book sites' holiday offerings lately, wondering if these seasonally targeted stories are worth writing. I mean, they sell mostly in November and December, but then what? I'd like a book to have appeal all year long, not only during the holidays.
Now, I've written one holiday themed story, Cinderella Tannenbaum, which deals with a woman in need of a date for family gatherings so she searches for her High School crush. However, this is a short story, not a full length novel. I put a few weeks of my time into it, rather than several months. When I looked up my sales figures recently, I noticed this story is my number one seller. It was also an ECataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award nominee the year it was released.
So for me - yes - it was worth it to write a seasonal story.
So what do you think? Do you buy holiday themed romances? Do you write them?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Goodbye to a Friend

I found out I lost a friend today. I've run out of tears and my eyes are swollen and red. But this isn't about me. Rather than dwell on the loss, I want to share what a terrific person she was. I've known her for more than twenty years. We met on a professional level (she patronized a business I used to own), but we considered each other friends. Up until a week ago, we spent a couple hours together about once a month.
Like me, she was the youngest of three sisters. Her faith was more important to her than nearly anything and late in life, she found her soul mate at church. They married a decade ago and she'd been very happy with him. Her cats were like children to her and she brought them when she traveled. A lawyer and mediator, she never failed to offer me her expert advice free of charge. In fact, she drew up a will for me many years ago and refused to accept a dime for the work. She served on the board of a local charity recently and even worked on the staff of US Senator Lawton Chiles in her younger days.
We exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts each year and hers were always more than generous and well thought out. She gave me so much of my favorite jewelry and the packages coordinated with the gift. Her clothes and accessories (down to the color of her umbrella) were always perfectly matched. But more than anything else, I will forever cherish the time we shared, the world problems we solved between us and the warmth of her smile.
Roemy -- I'll miss you always.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Era

Regardless of who you voted for or what you think of our new President-Elect, you have to be in awe of the change this country has undergone in the last fifty years. As I watched shots of the crowd in Chicago last night, I couldn't help getting choked up when I saw the tear-stained faces of people who had lived through the civil rights era, probably witnessed race riots in the sixties, all sorts of injustices and atrocities. Those same people, in less than half a century, welcome our first black president.
I'm completely energized by the level of participation, especially by young voters. According to CNN, voter turnout was the highest since women won the right to vote! Even though ridiculously long lines prevailed, people waited to be part of the process, to have a voice.
This was my nineteen-year-old son's first opportunity to vote in a presidential election and I'm so glad he did and also saw his friends participate as well. After all, they are the future, a future they will help shape.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Apple for the Teacher

First of all - I've been a bad blogger! Sorry I've been absent, but I'm trying to complete a YA novella on a deadline and have a big book signing project I'm working on as well.
But here's my real purpose in this post -- Teachers. Underpaid, overworked, we all expect them to work miracles on a daily basis. DD is struggling with her first high school math class. She refuses to ask questions during class - hence, she's falling behind. Now, DS, a college student, is a regular math wiz, but isn't home quite enough to act as a tutor. So, at his job one day, he runs into one of his former HS math teachers, and shares his sister's dilemma. Said teacher, Miss B, works at DD's school. She immediately offers her assistance, explaining that she arrives at school an hour before the start of classes and would be happy to help DD in that time. DD is thrilled and takes her up the offer. It's only been a few days, but DD already seems more confident in her math ability.
Thank goodness for teachers like Miss B.
Now I have several friends who are teachers and principals and I can tell which ones are more like Miss B, willing to help and there because they have noble ideas about education and the future of our kids. I wish you earned your true worth - way more than you're currently paid. So, thanks to all the teachers who care. You know who you are and so do the rest of us.
Dedicated to JB, MLW & MO

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Passing of a Legend

I'm so sad that Paul Newman is no longer with us. He was always one of my favorite actors and at the very top of my list of favorite celebrities.
He used his celebrity to set a great example for others. This handsome, talented man did what so few mega-rich Hollywood actors do - he set up charities, he dared to have a political voice and he stayed married to the same woman for half a century. As a philanthropist, he helped raise more than $200 million for various causes.
When I see celebs and company execs buying more and more for themselves, outdoing one another and living in the lap of ostentatious luxury, I cringe. They could all learn a lot from the example set by Paul Newman.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Monster is Eating my Dining Room

Every November, my RWA chapter, Central Florida Romance Writers hosts a huge multi-author signing at a local mall to benefit the Adult Literacy League. Usually we have more than 20 Romance Authors from the state and the Romancing the Holidays signing draws some media attention and hundreds of readers. For the last two years, I've been one of the organizers of this endeavor, as well as a signer.
This year, I've added to my duties by taking on the task of putting together the amazing goody bags we give out to the first 75 customers at the event. These are the most amazing goody bags ever and usually have at least 3 autographed books, hundreds of bookmarks, pens and other promo items inside. Now, assembling the bags is an almost overwhelming task that requires half a dozen volunteers working for several hours. Before the bag stuffing day, though, these books and promo items arrive in my mailbox (or more often at my door since my mailman can't fit all the boxes and packages in the mailbox) for months leading up to the signing. From there, I move them into my dining room since that's where we assemble the bags. With the bag stuffing party weeks away now, my dining room had now become more boxes of stuff than furniture. The corner where I stash the items has grown into half the room and I now realize, the room's been eaten by this tremendous promo monster.
Not that I'm complaining. I'm glad to help other authors promote their work and even more thrilled for all the donated books. So, if you happen to have any extras of your books sitting around gathering dust, why not ship them over to me where they will be put to good use. While you're at it, throw in a bunch of bookmarks, magnets or pens singing your books' praises! If you have anything you'd like to send, please leave me your email addy in the comments or you can email me from my website.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MeMe from H#ll!

This is all Katie's fault. So here it is: The world's longest Meme. For those I tag, you must add a question.
1. What is your occupation? Romance Author and House Frau

2. What color are your socks right now? Don't wear them

3. What are you listening to right now? Disturbia (Rihanna - by way of DD's computer in the next room!)

4. What was the last thing that you ate? sugar free jello with cool whip

5. Can you drive a stick shift? Nope

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Pink

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My sister, Ruth

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Of course

9. Favorite drink? Cosmo

10. What is your favorite sport to watch? Gymnastics

11. Have you ever dyed your hair? Oy - yes. Won't do it again until I see a few grays

12. Pets? 2 cats that I love dearly

13. Favorite food? ice cream

14. Last movie you watched? Young at Heart (Documentary - highly recommend)

15. Favorite Day of the year? Have to say my birthday

16. What do you do to vent anger? Yell - yikes - I'm telling all my well-guarded secrets!

17. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbies

18. What is your favorite, fall or spring? Spring

19. Hugs or kisses? Hugs

20. What kind of pie? Pumpkin

21. Living arrangements? A house

22. When was the last time you cried? Um - during my last (and every) period - no reason, just felt like the thing to do.

23. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes, a plastic tote full of gifts for future use

24. Favorite smell? baby powder

25. What inspires you? news stories, movies

26. What are you afraid of? flying

27. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? cheese

28. Favorite car? Jag

29. Favorite cat breed? Ragdoll

30. Number of keys on your key ring? 2

31. How many years at your current job? 3 1/2 since I actually held one

32. Favorite day of the week? Saturday

33. How many states/provinces have you lived in? Two

34. How many countries have you been to? 14

35. How much do you love "Knowing Me, Knowing You" by ABBA? I like it - don't love it.

36. The name of the first person you kissed (romantically)? Jay (better known as Terror - don't ask)

37. Are you the oldest child, youngest child, middle or only? Youngest

38. What is your favorite TV series currently still on? Mad Men

39. What is your favorite book right now? Patty Jane's House of Hair by Lorna Landvik

40. How many children do you have? 2

I tag: Macy and Mimi

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Funeral for a Friend

No, I'm not talking about a person, but DD's beloved cockatiel, Terri. She found Terri outside about 4 years ago, a recent escape from somewhere nearby, we were sure. DH came to the rescue and ushered the frightened bird into a box and brought her inside.

Problem: We already had a (very aggressive) cat. So, Terri became DD's personal pet and was given a large cage in DD's bedroom, from which the cat was forever banished. Eventually, we let DD get a companion bird and all was great. Until last night when poor DD went into her room and found Terri stiff on the floor of the cage. The tears seemed to go on forever. And you know if you are a mom, that rips your heart out, even though it's a natural part of having pets. I put myself in her shoes and thought about my dear kitty. I think I'll cry for weeks when she goes.

So, this afternoon, we will have a funeral after school for Terri. DH is researching Bird Funerals on Google so he has a jumping off point, so to speak.

Some of these life lessons sting more than others. Think I may have to break the diet and have a good, stiff drink prior to the ceremony!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Love Routine

Sounds awfully boring, doesn't it? But my kids have gone back to school and the days have again taken on a regular routine. The good news is, with them out of the house each day, I've gotten back to my writing schedule. In the past few days, I've completed more than 7k words on my new novella, a steamy contemporary with a little mystery set in Savannah, where I recently vacationed.
I was barely chugging along on my previous WIP when I realized it wasn't going where I wanted it to. So, I abandoned it - maybe for a while, maybe for good, who knows. What it came down to was my lack of enthusiasm. And heaven knows if I have no enthusiasm for a story, neither will an editor!
Have you ever just walked away from a manuscript in progress? Or a book you were reading, for that matter? My take on it is - why should I waste my time?
On another note, a NYT bestselling author who purchased The Kitten Club several months ago at a book signing, dropped me a note last night. She said she found the book poignant, a lovely story and even gave me a quote to use on brag pages for future books. I was honored to have such high praise from an author of her caliber.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Building an Ark

Heading into the third day under the nearly-stationary Tropical Storm Fay has me ready to start gathering animals two by two! I think enough tree limbs have fallen onto my roof to start a decent sized boat, judging from the overhead clunks I hear at least once every hour. It's amazing how depressing endless days of rainy gloom can be. But the weather has me thinking of mood and atmosphere in my writing. Weather is something many writers tend to overlook on occasion, myself included. But atmospheric conditions can add a lot to your story by setting a certain mood, creating obstacles for your characters and bringing the reader into the scene more. Movies are good at using the weather to create mood and feeling. When I think of a few dark movies, they often were set in rainy places like Seattle or foggy cities like London. Cold, snowy settings lend themselves to scary stories.
What about you? What sort of weather pictures do you paint?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Disasters of the Head Kind

Yesterday was a rollercoaster of day! First, DD decides she wants to highlight her beautiful dark blonde hair and make it closer to platinum. Now, I've highlighted it before (I worked in salons for many years and knew how to do this - sort of). But she complained it wasn't blonde enough last time and didn't last nearly long enough. So, we buy a kit and then she says she doesn't want it done the same way. So I agree (foolishly) to paint it on in layers without the cap. She leaves it on too long and lo and behold, she's platinum (mostly) blond. Problem - her coloring doesn't work with it and she burst into tears, pronouncing, "I hate it!" On the advice of my hairdresser (who does know what she's doing) we go to Walgreens and get a no peroxide box of dark blond/light brown color and apply that. Well, the hair is back to it's original color, but it feels like burnt straw. Lesson learned.
Now this whole thing was traumatic enough, but no, the day wasn't over. DH takes her to her high school orientation and sits beside a woman who farts all night as they listen to the entire staff give advice and proclaim the superiority of the football team. While they're gone, I eat a stuffed olive and feel something really hard in it. I take it out of my mouth and discover I've lost about a third of one of my molars! So unfair since I am neurotic about my dental hygiene.
Now if I haven't mentioned it before, I'm the world's biggest chicken when it comes to seeing the dentist. But he gets me in this morning and before I leave my house, I take a nerve pill (I save them for special occasions like this) When I arrive, I tell every person I encounter in the parking lot, waiting room and in the office that I want all the Novocaine they have in the place. The dentist laughs, but I tell him I'm serious. He gives me 4 shots and then drills for what seemed like hours. When the temporary crown was finally in place, I breathed a sigh of relief. Until I get the bill.
Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to my book signing at my home base mall tomorrow. I can't take any more unexpected disasters of the head!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Falling Star Released!

I'm so excited to announce the release of my latest book from The Wild Rose Press,
Falling Star.
Nearly broke and unable to find work, Hollywood has-been Jolie Farnsworth is desperate to feel loved and appreciated. Her husband, a former rock star hopes to ride Jolie's star back to the top--even if it means destroying her in the process.Producer Dante Ebersol is under the gun to create a top-rated reality show and portray Jolie as a train wreck. When he starts falling in love with her, his plans crumble, threatening to end the career he's worked for his entire life.
Get it today at The Wild Rose Press

Friday, August 1, 2008

Do You Hear the Banjo?

Hello from Tennessee! I'm on vacation now - visiting DH's sister and nephew at their new home in the freaking sticks. Let me share what the adventure has consisted of so far: sitting on the porch shooting the stop sign with a beebee gun, feeding the sheep, trudging through a "haunted" cave on a private farm where the overall-clad owner gave a dissertation on canning peaches and making rabbit, dove and deer stew!!!, eating lunch at the old school cafeteria (now a down home style restaurant), which had pretty good food and a shlocky junk store attached, sitting on the porch and shooting paper cups and plates with the beebee gun, shooting the wooden wind chimes with the beebee gun, going the "Second Amendment Gun Shop." This evening we go bowling, then back home for guess what - more target practice - YAY! Tomorrow, we'll probably tour Vanderbilt University's campus (which will actually be interesting) - DH's sis works there now. The nearest neighbors are about half a mile away - past the soybean field and the tobacco field. In all seriousness, it's nice to see where my SIL lives and to visit, although DS and I decided if we ever had to live here. we'd have to hang ourselves. The town (population 300) has 7 churches and a post office - nothing else. SIL bought this giant house built in the 1920's with loads of space and lots of charm. Oh - did I mention the graveyard on the property, which dates from the 1820's? Many of the neighbors also have similar graveyards for their ancestors. I think they died of boredom! Or overindulging in soybeans, corn and tobacco (pronouced tub ak uh here). The natives need subtitles to be understood.
Sunday morning we take our leave and head to Savannah, one of my favorite cities for a Ghost Tour, lots of sightseeing and some good old Southern charm. Thank God it's an actual city and that we're leaving the beebee gun here!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Sorry if I've been scare in Blogdom these days. I'm really trying to get some writing done. I did finish the book, BTW - YAY!! I've also been doing some re-write work on an older MS and was deep into it a couple days ago when DD came into my office and wanted to chat.
Well, chatting turned into "a real talk," so I abandoned the writing for the evening and we had girl time. We made earrings together, played a couple hands of cards and talked all the way through. Now, if you're familiar with the workings of a fourteen-year-old girl, you know the times they actually want to speak to a parent are few and far between. I had a hundred things on my To Do List, but none - not one single thing - will get in the way of spending quality time with my children.
DS has also hijacked my attention a few times lately and that's fine, too. Won't be too long before he's no longer living under my roof and I won't get to see him nearly as much as I'd like. I wish I'd known this years ago, when they were both little. I was so busy working or doing all the stuff that probably could have waited, to give them the time I should have. But I've realized that life is too short and there's no going back to correct mistakes. The book will eventually get written, the laundry will be done, but those moments with your loved ones will never repeat themselves.
I know - very introspective for the usual fare here.
I hope you have a great weekend and I hope you get to spend time with those you love.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

No More Ms. NiceGuy!

OK - I mean it this time. I'm going to buckle down first thing tomorrow and get back to my regular writing routine. Enough summer laziness. I have a gazillion ideas swirling in my head and after an RWA meeting earlier today and a gentle kick in the pants from Lara, one of my plotting group/goals group members, I'm ready to start writing. First thing on the agenda - finish the damned book I've been working on for months (and not working on for weeks!)
It's been a couple of weeks since our last goal meeting and I left there feeling positively energized and ready to tackle the surgery I've been putting off on the book. But after a couple days of less than stellar word counts, I stalled again. So here's the carrot I'm dangling in front of my eyes. I can start on any of my new projects when I finish the book-in-progress.
So, should I plan to do the YA first, the short, humorous story or the paranormal? So many possibilities! And all I have to do to get to that great place where I'm charting new territory is write a few thousand words... But can I do it? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Sunday afternoon and I've done a little more than 400 words today. Only a flash in the pan compared to what I'm capable of, but it's a start!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Muse at Rest

This has not been a very productive summer for me, at least so far. I've been struggling to finish my WIP, which is moving along at a snail's pace. I've also been revising a novella, but that honestly hasn't taken very much time from my regular writing. I have one excuse after another:
1. Compromising Positions, my second book, just came out in print and I have been busily promoting it and mailing out copies to friends and family.
2. Planning our vacation to Nashville and Savannah later this summer.
3. Working on the various upcoming book signings I've scheduled for my RWA chapter.
4. Working on a program I am presenting on writing short stories and novellas.
Shall I go on? I can think of a hundred excuses, but what I need to be doing is committing myself to even a minimal daily word count. I'll let you know if I get there!
What about you? Does your Muse go on holiday every now and then?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In Honor of Dads

Since it's Fathers Day, I want to share some thoughts about dads from a writer's perspective. In romance novels, we read about the sexy hero - the guy who makes our heart quicken and stirs the old libido up. He has qualities we want in a mate - maybe he's tall and dark, tough but strong. Perhaps he's wealthy or powerful. But what is it that our heroines seek? It boils down to good mates in biological terms. Scientists tell us women instinctively look for men who have well-muscled shoulders, a full beard (or evidence of the ability to grow one) and a deep voice. These are all signs of a high testosterone level, which equates to a man who can impregnate a woman. Our body unconsciously senses that with this man, our offspring have the best chance of survival.
Emotionally, though, we seek a man who can be a good father, not just a sperm donor. He must show evidence of good character so we can know he'll not only father a child, but hang around to help raise it. So, is this the quintessential man we write as our romance hero? Well, I can't say I've ever read a romance novel where the hero was scrawny or a big pork chop. They never have high voices or lack the ability to grow a beard. So, all types of romance novels - from sweet historicals to sexy eroticas feature dad material. Even if your hero and heroine are too old or too young to consider such things, they are there.
So this Fathers Day, I'm honoring the romance hero - the dad in every man.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Planning for Fun!

I had a meeting today and I must tell you, I'm excited. You see, we're in the midst of planning our biggest book signing of the year - more than 20 romance authors, center court in a big mall right at the beginning of the holiday shopping season. We make these amazing Gift-With-Purchase bags loaded full of books, promo pens, bookmarks, magnets and every other kind of promotional trinket you could think of, plus chocolate, of course. My dining room is already starting to fill up with goodies and the excitement is palpable!
The signing is a fundraiser with Barnes and Noble donating a portion of the proceeds to the Adult Literacy League. We also do some impressive raffle baskets (the ticket money all goes to the ALL). We sold a ton of books last year. Personally, it was the only signing I've ever done where I sold out all my books. Needless to say, I can't wait to participate.
So, if you're an author and you'd like your promo items in those amazing goody bags, leave me a message with your email addy and I'll give you details. Meanwhile, if you're in the Central Florida area, save this date! November 15, 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Experiences

Today DH and I are attending a wedding reception - but not just any wedding reception. This will be a new experience for us. You see, this will be the first lesbian wedding reception we've ever been to.

I was at a loss about what sort of gift bag and card to buy, since it's not an actual legal wedding in this state, but I went ahead and got a traditional bag with wedding themes and a regular wedding card. Frankly, I think all this couple wants to do is be like any other couple, with one obvious exception. The weird thing is, the last time I went to a party hosted by "the bride," it was a housewarming for her and her then hubby. DH tells me we'll probably be the only straight couple there (she works with DH). And I'm okay with that - I think. You see, I'm a pretty liberal person with this sort of thing, but events such as this definitely push me to the limits of my comfort zone. I know I SHOULD be comfortable attending the party, but since it's a new thing for me, I hope I don't say the wrong thing. Maybe I'll just stick with the tried and true, "Mazel Tov!" What about you? Have you taken a stroll outside your comfort zone lately?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Supporting Other Authors

Today is the release day for my friend Katie's very first book, City of Secrets, and I'm soooo excited for her. Not only is Katie as sweet as she can be, but she's one of those people who is so supportive of every other author in our RWA chapter. So, first thing this morning, I bought her book. I hope everyone reading this does too, because not only am I sure it's going to be a great read (I've read the prologue so far and I'm already hooked!), but she deserves to see her name on the Wild Rose Press' best seller list.

Yesterday my RWA chapter hosted our annual Bookseller/Librarian Tea and we had nearly 20 local booksellers and librarians in attendance. It was great, and opened a dialogue that will yield speaking engagements, book signing and who knows what else. It's one of those things none of us could have done alone, but by each lending a hand, we'll all benefit.

OK - I'll step off my soap box - for now!

Friday, May 9, 2008

My friend Katie Reus, author of sexy romantic suspense from has given me an award! The Blogging with Purpose Award! Katie is an awesome blogger herself and I can't wait to read her upcoming release - her very first - because I know it'll be wonderful! So now I get to hand off the award to 5 bloggers who have not received the award yet for their contribution to Blogdom. There are so many good blogs out there, it's hard to choose just 5!

The rules are:
1. Nominate 5 blogs which haven't had this award before
2. Each of the blogs must have a purpose
3. The nominated blogs must make a link back to this page
4. The logo from the award must be put on their blog and it must link back to this blog.

Here goes:

1. All sorts of great info for writers - just love it!

2. Lots of good stuff about many aspects of the industry.

3. Jenna Bayley-Burke's blog with all sorts of tips and heads ups. Jenna is so sweet to share all things related to helping other authors learn and grow - love her!

4. Author Barbara Samuel's great blog all about the mental process of creating, her travels, etc.

5. Author Kelley Nyrae's blog features reviews, news and all sorts of interesting tidbits. Kelley's a doll, too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Book Club Fun

I had a really fun evening this week. A local book club chose The Kitten Club as their May reading selection and invited me to join their meeting, held at a really cool wine bar called, The Vineyard. The ladies were all very nice, very bright and had lots of thought provoking questions for me. They also picked my brain for my thoughts on the book's characters and themes. After a few minutes of neighborhood news (they all live in a swanky development in the south of Orlando), they all jumped in, discussing the reader questions I'd given them a few weeks earlier and giving their opinions on the characters' motivations and development. The very coolest thing was listening to people talk about my characters like they were as real to them as they are to me. That's one of the best parts of being a writer to me, creating a world that readers willingly step into.
What about you? What's your favorite thing about writing fiction? As a reader, do you always immerse yourself in the world of a book, or is that something that only happens once in a while?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Reality Bytes

I'm truly, totally ashamed of myself. I've never been much of a TV watcher, save a few favorites at a time - currently Ugly Betty and Damages. But with the entire season lost due to the writers' strike, reality TV has filled the void left by all the shows that fell by the wayside.
Now, I've always been one to make fun of such bits of fluff as Survivor, Dancing With the Stars, Big Brother, etc. Only lately, with nothing else to watch when I wanted to veg out, I was forced to take a taste of the reality show apple and Lord - the fruit poisoned me!
Yes - I've done it - I started watching three - yes, THREE different reality shows, one more asinine than the next. How did it happen? I have no idea. One day I was laughing about the premise that an aging rock star could really find his mate from a bevy of beautiful girls. The next moment, I was glued to Rock of Love!
I scoffed at a Beverly Hills matchmaker who makes her living finding the right woman for an assortment of California millionaires. Suddenly, I was searching the TV listings for Millionaire Matchmaker.
But my favorite is a bit less fluff (well - you could say a bit more). I love Discovery Health's National Body Challenge - thirty minute shows about some poor overweight person (or this season, set of twins) who lucks into having a personal trainer, two doctors and a healthy cooking expert working on their behest! How cool is that. Then you get to see the before and after and everything in between.
Okay - I know - I have the reality bug and I need a vaccine against any more of it! What about you? Did the reality bug byte you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Writer's Personality

As you could imagine, I know many, many writers. Some are shy, some are very outgoing. The solitary nature of the work often has one of two different effects. Either the person is shy and quiet, OR they are so full of things to say when they emerge from the cave that they're quite outgoing, chatty even. I seem to know a few extremes at either end of the spectrum.

One writer friend would rather have a root canal than speak in public or do a book signing. Another talks so much, you want to muzzle her or carry your own pair of ear plugs when she's around! Funny how the same profession can breed such opposite types. I'm somewhere in the middle - toward the outgoing end, but not a hundred percent comfortable speaking in public, although I've forced myself to do it more and more so I get over that.

What about you? Are you the silent type or the person everyone wants to gag, or somewhere in the middle?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Auditory Overload

I am a silent worker. I can't create with music in the background, television noise or conversation. Concentration is a tenuous lifeline I hang onto when I work, hence the reason I do most of my writing during the day while the kids are at school and the house is quiet. Yet I find an unlikely source of distraction mingles with the rhythmic ticking of the cuckoo clock. One of my cats has a snoring problem. Both felines gravitate to my office during the day for their all-day naps. My Russian Blue is a silent sleeper, thankfully. He climbs onto a swivel chair and somehow turns the seat toward the wall, creating his little private space. But the other cat, my baby, snores the paint off the walls as she sleeps. What ever happened to the notion of cat naps? I used to think all cats were light sleepers, prone to wake at any little noise. But this cat sleeps like the dead. All hell could break loose around her and she'd keep on snoozing. I'm seriously considering ear plugs.
What about you? Do you play classical music while you work, or watch the TV out of the corner of your eye? Or must you crawl into the proverbial cave, surrounded by silence to entice the muse out?

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Well, the conference was terrific. Loads of invaluable info and experience. I met such nice folks, too. I love small conferences for that reason - you get to meet the agents and editors and see them in different settings - at a dinner, teaching a workshop, taking appointments, etc. Suzanne Brockmann, the keynote speaker, was fabulous. I also had an opportunity to chat with an editor from a huge publishing company, and a top - and I mean top - agent (who was the sweetest person!) The book signing was fun - I sold some books, bought some books and talked to some great folks in the process. I came home with a huge Bag O Books, as if the TBR pile could be any higher! But I dived right into one - How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, by Simone Elkeles, who I sat next to at the signing. Terrific book - just finished it. Now, I'm on the first chapter of Deidre Knight's Parallel Attraction, which already has me hooked.
It's a wonderful thing to be surrounded by writers talking about writing. Today the buzz finally wore off when I had to get a cortisone shot in my heel - ouchie! Off my feet for the night with an ice pack.
So what about you? Do you enjoy conferences? Which are your favorites?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Off to a Conference

Tomorrow I head to Jacksonville to The Southern Lights Writers Conference. I'm very excited to be teaching a workshop with friends and crit partner, Terry Odell. I'm also participating in a book signing there and attending many of the other workshops. I've been running around like a whirling dervish trying to pack all the things I need in the way of clothes, items for the workshop, for the signing, etc. I keep having this unsettling feeling that I'm forgetting something. Don't you hate that? I'm not sure if that feeling is a product of age or just the neurotic brain wiring of a compulsive organizer! Either way, it's unsettling.
On a completely different subject, I got a very nice note today from a local book group informing me that they had picked The Kitten Club as their selection of the month. They asked if I'd come to their meeting and speak to the club. This just tickled me pink!
So, if I'm absent for a few days from the Blogosphere, you'll know why. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Crunch Time

Is it just me, or has the world started spinning a little faster? Suddenly, there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I have to. I knew March and April would be busy, but it seems like more and more things to do are being thrown on the heap every day.
Right now I'm working on a presentation I am doing with Terry Odell at the Southern Lights Writers' Conference in Jacksonville on March 30. Two days after I return from that conference, I head up to Clermont, FL to sit on a writers' panel at the Lake County Festival of Reading. After that, I host a Passover Seder for 24 at my house. Sometime in between, I'm trying to edit a novel and a novella, and - oh, yeah - write!!! Throw in a few events with DH, DD and DS's birthday celebration and you have my life. Don't get me wrong -- I love my life. I just wish I could space events out into perfectly proportioned bytes. A little warm up time before, a debriefing period after... ah - if only. So if I'm scarce here, please forgive me - I'm here in spirit!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Have You Hugged Your Editor Today?

Yeah, I know - most everyone works via the Internet these days. Many of us have never even met our editors. But they can be as important to our work life as our closest friends are to our personal lives. I've had several editors, some better than others.
Two great ones stand out. A fantastic editor will do several things for you - first, they'll polish your work and make it shine even brighter. Second, they'll be straight with you and tell you when something sucks and when it's brilliant. But the most important thing they do for you is to make you a better writer. The things I've learned and continue to learn from them have made me a stronger self-editor, thus making their job easier on the next manuscript of mine they work on. That's something I'll take with me always.
No one likes to see a ton of changes on their manuscript, but I welcome the ideas. After all, the goal is to make the work stand out. All this and they rarely get much of a pat on the back. If I ever meet them, the first thing I'm going to do is to give them a heartfelt hug.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Katie Reus has tagged me to list 10 weird, random facts or habits about myself. Then choose 10 people to tag. So, if you're reading this and you haven't been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged!

1. I frame each of my book covers and hang them over my desk for encouragement and inspiration.
2. I love the combination of blue and green, especially mixed patterns, like florals with a stripe or plaid.
3. I used to straighten my hair (which is naturally very curly). I even went so far as to iron it with a clothes iron when I was a teenager. Desperation - what can I say?
4. You can spell all 4 of my family's names with only 5 letters - a, d, i, n and r. We didn't realize that until our youngest was learning to read.
5. My real mother died when I was a baby. Everyone thinks my step-mother is my birth mother, but she's not, although she raised me from a toddler.
6. I have a brown thumb - I can't even keep silk plants looking good!
7. I can't stand the sight of blood and guts, although my grandfather was a surgeon.
8. I learned to snow ski before I started kindergarten. Living in the sub-tropics, I don't ski anymore.
9. I'm a coupon junkie. DH calls me the Shopping Ninja!
10. I'm a sucker for a foot massage. I can't stay mad at DH if he offers me one;-)

Your turn!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Check This Out!

Author and Blogger Katie Reus interviewed me for her blog. Check it out here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Are you happily coupled? Or are you unhappily coupled yet you appear okay to your friends? I found out yesterday that a close friend's marriage is on the rocks. This will be the third couple we're friends with that broke up in the last few years. One was expected, the other two shocked us. It seems like my own marriage gets a quick aftershock from these events - first the total surprise and sadness, then the reaffirmation that we are fine. Each time we've gotten this news, it's affected us the same way. We've been lucky in that the friendships have remained strong, yet different.

DH read me an article years ago about a study of long, happy marriages. What the researchers found was that couples who were happy over the long haul had one commonality: The husband was "willing to be influenced by his wife's advice." I had to mull that over for a while to understand the implications. What it comes down to is that a husband must respect and honor his wife. Sounds awfully simplistic, huh? But some think tank somewhere came up with this and although it's worded rather strangely, I believe it's true.
So what do you think? Does your relationship fit this model or do you have a different predictor of success?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Family - Gotta Love 'Em!

If I've been a spotty blogger lately, fault lay with all sorts of goings on with my family and my in-laws. First, my parents came to town for their annual snowbird stay of six weeks at a nearby condo. This does several things - keeps me on the run constantly shuttling them places and spending time with them (which I really enjoy), and it precludes DH and I from spending our usual amount of alone time. I have to make a concerted effort to carve out an evening here, a morning there with him.
On the in-law front, my sister-in-law and nephew are preparing to move 12 hours away (this is a good thing since she got a fab job and we don't really see eye-to-eye on many things). My husband's folks will follow her after they sell their house - which in this market might take years. So, I've been busily planning parties for that event. What all this means is, the writing time has been clipped back in a big way. I find it really tough to juggle lots of things at once, yet I know, busy = my life, so I need to get used to it and work around it.
On the book signing front, I've cut back, at least for the next few months until Compromising Positions comes out in print in July. I have two events I must travel to soon, then I am event-less until the middle of the summer.
So what about you? Do you find that your writing time is cut back when life gets crazy, or do you find the time, regardless of the pandemonium in your world?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Idea Tree

At least once a week, someone asks me where I get all my ideas for book plots. I tell them I go out to the backyard and pluck them off of an Idea Tree. They snicker or say, "Yeah, right." So where do a writer's ideas come from?
For me, it's a complex answer. As far back as I can recall, I've been thinking up stories. My Barbie dolls had the most convoluted backstories you could imagine. I knew their history with Ken, Ken's emotional baggage, Francie's inferiority complex since she was always the sidekick, never the star. Even little Skipper had skeletons in her pink plastic wardrobe.
My stuffed animals formed a society with assorted roles - governor, mayor, police chief, resident movie star. And yes - I was a weird little kid, what with all my toys taking on lives of their own! But my point is, stories have always been floating around in my head, dying to come out. Now they come to life on paper. How great is that? These days, fodder is everywhere, from the newspaper to the PTA to the neighborhood goings-on. All I have to do to find the first thread of a story is to look around me.
What about you? How do you come up with your story ideas? Have you always had stories dancing inside your brain or do you struggle to come up with a plot?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Buy a Book, Help a Kid

On Saturday, February 9, from noon -2 pm at Barnes & Noble, 2418 E. Colonial Drive in Orlando, romance authors Catherine Kean, Dara Edmondson, Louise M. Gouge, Linnea Sinclair, Aleka Nakis and Terry Odell will be autographing copies of their novels in a special book signing to benefit Central Florida’s A Gift For Teaching, which provides classroom supplies for underprivileged children through its Free Store for teachers. A percentage of book sales will be donated to this non-profit organization. Book buyers will receive a wonderful goody bag! For more information, call (407) 893-6372.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Care and Feeding of a Work Station

I sit before my computer in my otherwise neat, orderly house and stare at my desk, which looks like a hurricane hit it. I have all the tools for organization - a standing stacker filled with neatly labeled file folders (with the help of an electronic labeling machine), an in box and a desk with three drawers and one cabinet. Yet papers, envelopes, index cards, sticky note pads, pens, nail files, a stapler, a tape dispenser and a return address stamper cover the surface. And it's not like I don't clean my desk - I do - at least twice a week. But in a matter of minutes I can set off a clutter bomb worthy of my kids' bedrooms!

So here's my question to you, dear reader: How do you keep your work area from becoming a mess? Do you have a system? A secret plan of attack? Or are you like me, a frustrated clutter bug in your work space?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Book Signings

This Saturday, January 26th, I'll be signing books at the Borders at 880 W. SR 436 in Altamonte Spring, Florida at 1 - 3 pm along with authors Nancy J. Cohen, Catherine Kean, Aleka Nakis, Terry Odell and Louise Gouge.
Here are 8 things I love about participating in book signings:
1. The customers. I love talking to readers about what they like to read and answering questions about the book I am signing.
2. Being in a book store. What's not to love?
3. Chatting with my fellow authors. We get way too little time to socialize normally.
4. People watching. It's so interesting, overhearing conversations and just watching.
5. Seeing members of my RWA chapter who come in with friends and relatives or alone to su-port us - they're amazing!
6. Free coffee drinks from the cafe;-)
7. Giving away the little goody bags I make for every signing.
8. SELLING BOOKS - yeah - the reason I'm there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Write a Review and Win!

I just found out I am a semi-finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Contest. You can read the first chapter of my entry at: From there, you can download the chapter for FREE.
If you are an Amazon member (or wish to join - also FREE) and you write a review, you could win some awesome prizes:
The three customers who provide the most high quality reviews will be qualified to win one of three customer prizes, including an Amazon kindle reader!!! - a $400 value, $2000 in Amazon gift card value, and an HP photo printer. Learn more

So, I would be sooooo grateful if you would read the passage and write a review. Awesome prizes await!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Release and A New World

Today is the digital release date of Compromising Positions and I'm really excited. Not only is this a really funny book, but it's my first book that is also available for Kindle - wahoo! This next generation ebook reader seems to be taking the world by storm. Now I don't have a Kindle, but I hear sooooo many folks are buying them. This is great news to ebook authors since all Kindle books are available on Amazon - one of the largest book retailers in the world.

So, what will happen now? I wonder if my sales will jump through the roof. Yeah, right. What have I been smoking? But I am hoping to see higher than normal sales than for my other, pre-Kindle ebook releases.

What about you? Do you have a Kindle? Planning to get one?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Problem With Writing Erotica

This is the very HOT cover for my next short story - an erotic vignette about two people trapped in an elevator when the power goes out. It's quite steamy and explicit. So here's my problem: Do I offer a copy to my family? Do I tell my more conservative friends about it? Or do I only promote it among those I know are okay reading explicit materials?
Sure - I could have written it under a pseudonym, but my first two erotic stories, Desert of Desire and Kissing Cousins were released under my name, so why bother now? Would it behoove me to change that mid-stream?
Personally, I know many people who write erotic romance and I don't think any less of them. Only with family and close friends, it's like revealing something that should remain unknown, almost like opening your own bedroom door.
What do you think? Are you comfortable with reading love scenes written by someone close to you, or is that just too much information?