Friday, April 28, 2006
Firefly Cloak by Sheri Reynolds is such a book.
I've been a fan of Ms. Reynolds since her Oprah bout with Rapture of Canaan. She's one of my favorite authors, and her latest novel does not disappoint. Is it too embarrassing to admit that one of the reasons I became a writer is because of her work?
I play a little game with the novels on my must-read list. I don't read reviews or even back-page summaries. I simply open the book, start at page one, and let the story unfold without a hint of what's to come.
Who's on your must-read list? Do you have any quirky tics in the way you approach a book? (Please tell me you don't read the last page first - total sacrilege.)
Thursday, April 27, 2006
My current wip has a 14-year-old girl as the lead in her subplot, so in the course of my research I've been learning a lot that I wish I'd known when I was 14. Of course, back then, if someone had told me that my mad crush on David Cassidy was primarily because of the feminine cast of his face, making him "safe" as a transitional object of affection until I was ready for a real boy ... well, I would have told them they were weird and run off with my copy of Tiger Beat.
Just in case you're wondering, the man is in his fifties and I still love that smile, okay?
I'm a visual person, and I need a picture of my hero pinned up on my corkboard in order to, well, keep the magic going ... at least at first. The hero of Grounds to Believe started out as David Duchovny, and then as the story progressed, he morphed into himself--a self, I might add, that has no resemblance to the guy actually on the cover. The hero of A Sounding Brass, which will be released in June, never did get a picture because his personality was so strong I dispensed with worry about his looks altogether and just went with the flow!
I'm sure celebrities don't have much use for a magazine-and-poster industry that survives on their likenesses. But I have to say, they sure are handy to jumpstart my creativity. And yeah ... we all like to dream a little dream, don't we?
Monday, April 24, 2006
When you first started reading romance, who set your heart pounding? Was it Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre? Or Heathcliff from Wurthering Heights? (I was more of a Rochester fan myself) Or perhaps you were an Austen girl and went for Mr. Darcy? (Personally I was Bronte all the way, preferring dark and brooding and windswept to drawing room etiquette). What about Mr. de Winter from Rebecca? Did you find him exciting? Or merely creepy?
What about now? Who are some heroes who really stand out for you? I’m thinking about Bobbie Tom Denton from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Heaven, Texas. His transformation was inspiring. And Roarke from the In Death series by JD Robb. Sophisticated and dangerous, what a combo. A sentimental favor is Roan Sullivan from A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith. He was so brave and protective. I adored him from the moment he walked onto the page.
What about up and coming authors? What do you think about Dr. Sam from Candace Havens Charmed and Dangerous? Is he a keeper or what? Or what about Kyrin from Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter? Alien, deadly and oh so sexy. What about the men of the Smithson Group from Alison Kent’s series. Super hunks, every single one of them.
I don’t get to read as much as I used to so help me out here. Come on, confess, which romance novel hero has you been curling up in bed with?
Sunday, April 23, 2006
My first major celebrity crush:
Oh, George. How I wept over that video for "Careless Whisper." I vowed that I would have understood your guilty, rhythmless feet.
Who's that, you ask? None other than Roger Taylor, drummer for Duran Duran. I was not sufficiently Alpha Girl in my social group in George Washington Junior High to lay claim to the coveted Simon or John. So, Roger it was. (It could have been worse. It could have been the universally-loathed Andy.)
Then The Dream of The Blue Turtles came out, and I horrified my older brother by falling heedlessly, ridiculously in love with Sting. As only a teen girl can, I wallpapered my bedroom with pictures and posters, and no doubt single-handedly got my brother over the Police break up by worshipping Sting way, way too much.
I had this poster over my bed:
But that was just the beginning. After Junior High, the fantasy crushes came fast and furious:
This is just to name a few. A highlights reel, if you will. And, of course, no discussion of Dream Men Fantasies would be complete without mentioning my favorite:
What about you? Who did you love in seventh grade? What about now? I want to know!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
It was not that I lacked for love. I really came from a loving--albeit very quiet--family. I didn’t need to invent love for myself. Maybe I needed to create excitement, though. My family, including me, were pretty timid…But that doesn’t explain why I’m writing romance instead of action adventure books.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve made up stories to help me fall asleep at night. There was always plenty of excitement in the stories, but mainly there was romance. Here are some of the fantasy men who helped me “get through the night” over the years.
When I was studying for my masters in psychology, I learned that people who fantasized had better tolerance for stress. Sometimes, though, I think imagination creates stress, in that I can imagine all sorts of scary things that could happen when I take the trash out to the garbage can at night.
This capacity to fantasize certainly is an essential part of writing a novel. I feel lucky that I can recreate that feeling of first falling in love, and I can do it over and over. What is even more wonderful is I can create that happy ending. Over and over.
There is so much of real life that is unpleasant, stressful, scary, enraging, despairing that fantasy provides a needed respite. I think reading provides a similar respite, more so than other entertainment, such as TV or the movies. My friend Julie says that in reading a book the reader engages in a partnership with the author. The author’s words spark the reader’s imagination and a fantasy of the sights, sounds, and smells is created in the reader’s mind.
So, thank you, readers, for sharing your imagination with mine and for letting us both have the experience of falling in love again. Especially with those hunky guys above!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
What if (insert your famous fantasy guy here) offered you: One night of passion - no messy strings attached - and a guarantee that no one else would ever know. Would you take him up on his offer?
And before husbands - children - stretch marks - the ten pounds you need to lose - hair under your arms or on your legs long enough to braid - that chipped front tooth you've been meaning to get fixed - ratty underwear - the need for a manicure and pedicure - a hair appointment to get your roots dyed - and any other excuse you can think of, flashes through your mind - FORGET ALL THAT!
In this hypothetical situation you're beautiful from head to toe and single.
So? Would you take your famous fantasy crush up on his offer?
I called my best friend and asked her, "If Bon Jovi offered you one night of passion" and before I could even finish my sentence she said, "In a heartbeat."
Now, it's possible she answered so quickly because I'm always calling her up to ask stupid questions when I'm in deadline hell - as I am at the moment - which is why I'm trying to pump you guys for information. Of course, it's also possible she answered so quickly because she figured if she ever got that close to Bon Jovi (her all-time idol) poor Jon would get a passionate night with her whether he wanted one or not.
Did I mention I'm in deadline hell at the moment?
My next two upcoming romantic comedies from Warner Forever are Housewives Fantasy Club novels. Book one in the series "YOUR BED OR MINE?" is scheduled for release August/2006. The sequel, "DINNER FIRST, ME LATER?" is the book I'm working on now.
My deadline heroine (beautiful from head to toe and single) is facing the question I just asked you.
So, help me out here. PLEASE? What would you do?
Monday, April 17, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
And that’s not normal. Like Robin, I have a lot of time consuming “stuff” I have to do, like work. Unlike Robin, I no longer have to please a family, just myself and my husband, who – thank goodness – isn’t fussy.
We do lots of stir-fry type meals (2 chopped up chicken breasts added to a package of frozen veggies J). I have also discovered the joy of Bertolli’s one pan, two serving, ten minute preparation meals.
However, tomorrow is Easter, and I’ll have a houseful of people ringing the doorbell expecting to be fed. Luckily, they will all be bringing food with them which means less time in the kitchen for me! Yes!!!
Several years ago we began the tradition of replacing a big evening dinner with an early afternoon brunch. Brunch lends itself to variety, and to many dishes that can be made ahead so I’m not in the kitchen All Morning Long!
Below are two of my favorites. Naturally, one is dessert. J
STUFFED GRAND MARNIER FRENCH TOAST
12 slices firm white bread
¼ lb butter (approx)
8 oz cream cheese
4 T Grand Marnier or orange juice (divided)
1 ½ t orange zest
8 eggs (or equivalent egg substitute)
2 ½ C milk
2 T sugar
Optional: ½ C chopped pecans or ½ C crumbled cooked bacon
Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Lay 6 slices flat, buttered side down, in a lightly buttered 9 x 13 pan.
In small bowl, mix cream cheese, 2 T Grand Marnier, orange zest and pecans. Spread evenly over bread in pan. Place remaining bread slices on top, butter side up.
In medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar and remaining Grand Marnier until well-blended. Pour over bread in pan. Refrigerate overnight.
An hour before you are ready to serve, bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve with Jam or Maple Syrup or Powered Sugar.
2 pkgs Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 8 oz pkgs cream cheese
1 egg (divided)
1 tsp almond extract
1 C sugar (or Splenda)
Spread 1 package of crescent rolls in a 9 x 13 pan. In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the egg yolk, almond extract and sugar. Spread the mixture over the dough. Top with the 2nd package of crescent rolls.
Beat the egg white until frothy and spread that over the top.
Mix ¼ C sugar with ½ tsp cinnamon and sprinkle over all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Beware, the Cheesecake Bars are addictive!
Friday, April 14, 2006
Life has been chaotic these past couple of months - as evidenced by my lack of blogging. (Deepest apologies O Wise Blogamatrix). I meant to blog – but as they say, the road to hell is paved with the stones of "meant to's" (okay - I took some liberties with that one).
What have I been up to? I started a new day job, agreed to write a second book (book 2 of the IMMORATALS series coming in 2007 from Dorchester) in the same time frame I’m trying to write the fourth book in my Warner NIGHT SLAYER series while revising TEMPTED IN THE NIGHT , the third in my Warner NIGHT SLAYER series. Add to that three teenagers heavily involved in sports and . . . well, we barely have time for fast food – and we’ve eaten so much of it that nothing sounds good anyore.
Does this happen at your house?
What we need are some fast, easy and moderately healthy dinner ideas. Anyone have one they'd like to share? I'll start:
I got this one from my critique partner, Mary O’Connor (http://www.maryoconnor.net/). She has a recipe page under “Meet Mary”. This one’s surprisingly easy, takes about 30 minutes and the family loves it.
Sausage Broccoli Stir-fry
1 16-oz bag of frozen broccoli florets
1 package kielbasa sausage, sliced into medallion slices (or whatever link sausage you prefer – I like smoked turkey)
instant rice--4-6 servings (I use regular rice)
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Cook broccoli in a small amount of oil until tender. Add sliced sausage. Season with oregano and pepper to taste. Cook until sausage is heated through. Meanwhile, cook instant rice according to directions. Mix Parmesan cheese into sausage/broccoli mixture. Remove from heat. Put serving of rice on plates; place sausage broccoli stir-fry on top of rice. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
If you’ve got a recipe to share – please do.
Now – off to work I go.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Stories to keep you up all night.
Riding to the rescue April 2006
Monday, April 10, 2006
Which is probably a good life strategy, come to think of it.
Right now I'm ignoring the fifth Danny Valentine book while I do some revisions on the third. This is in self-defense, for the characters have declared mutiny and I'm waiting for the dust to settle before I venture back into those waters. I am also knitting up a storm, which is one of my coping mechanisms. Somehow a few rows of clicking needles and yarn manages to untangle most any plotline.
Speaking of plotlines brings me (eventually) to my subject today: pantsing versus plotting*.
I am a pantser. There's nothing I can do about it. The characters are in control, they disgorge their story whole onto the page, and I'm merely the fingers they use to tap out their fates. Of course, word choice and revising is all in my purview, but in the heat of creation I'm a total pantser. I can't outline to save my life.
When I do outline a story, the characters seem to take a nasty satisfaction in changing the story on me at the last minute. I think I tried to plot out three books before learning my lesson and just letting the story lead me.
This has its drawbacks, of course. For one thing, I have to go back and bring out the underlying structure in the book in my initial revision, and sometimes little plot tails get hung out to dry. Characters are oddly insistent on little things that are brought back into the story and made important later, but sometimes even they forget. I rely on my beta readers to tell me what a story's missing, and the gods have blessed me with some very picky, very wonderful betas. Pantsers need supportive peers a little more than plotters do, and plotters tend to need editorial support a little more than pantsers do.
I do envy plotters. I've edited quite a few of them, and am always amazed at how they can write to spec with manageable characters who stay (mostly) between the lines. Much of my writing angst seems like it would be solvable if I could only corral my characters and make them bloody well behave. Whenever I edit a plotter, I am struck by how tight their story is in the first draft and how little I have to nudge to get the story arcs in a manageable pattern.
The drawback to plotting, of course, is the temptation to "force" a character to do something uncharacteristic, for the purposes of the story. Plotters are sometimes uncomfortable without a triplicate map of the foreign country they're trying to penetrate in writing.
There are other differences. Pantsers tend to mumble when working on a plot line, and plotters tend to be always searching for pen and paper to get the idea out of their heads so they can add it to the outline. Pantsers are more prone to take on aspects of their characters in the midst of large projects, and plotters are more likely to "play God" with their characters and introduce a deus ex machina. Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto, I wish I could call the whole thing off and be a plotter. I really do.
It's like people with curly hair and people with straight hair--the grass is always greener, I suppose. Pantsers like me often wish they were plotters, and I've had a couple plotters buy me a drink and tell me they wished they were pantsers. To add insult to writing injury, my writing students are usually aghast when I detail the difference between pantsers and plotters. The incipient pantsers are usually stunned by the thought that anyone would outline a story, and the incipient plotters are usually stunned that someone wouldn't. A few students smack their foreheads and say, "My God! You mean it's okay to outline/not outline?"
To which I reply: whatever gets you there. Which is the great thing about writing. One can always refine, play with, discover new things that help the Muse come out and play. I live in the great hope that some day I will find a form of outlining that will tame unruly characters and keep my first "clarity" edit (the edit I do before anyone else sees the finished project) from being such an unholy mess.
Yeah. It's nice to dream, isn't it?
* A pantser is a writer who writes without an outline or synopsis as part of their planning stage. A plotter usually utilizes an outline and sticks fairly close to it.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
As any author would do, I did pull myself out of it and got to work, but at the back of my head was still that little niggle of dismay that I had written such a bad first version that I had to rewrite it.
Then, at exactly 10:07 this morning, I found myself sitting in the dentist chair with a bit (a wee bit) of numbing gel on my gums and this evil looking hygenist wielding this MASSIVE metal syringe with this HUGE needle on it, intending to sink that sucker into my gum. Repeatedly.
Um, hello? I don't know if you have recently analyzed your mouth, but there's not a whole heck of a lot a room for two inch needles to be sinking in there. So, I'm sitting in that chair, tilted so far back that my head's about six inches off the ground and my feet are up by the ceiling (no doubt to make it impossible for me to bolt when the hygenist confesses she has fantasies about causing pain to anyone who writes books for a living) and I'm trying SO HARD not to look at this frickin' syringe.
But I can't help it. It's got my name on it and it's coming in for the kill.
So, as I'm sitting there in my headstand position, awaiting the stab of death, I close my eyes and try to remember to breathe. And then that sucker sinks in and she's like, "Oh, this might hurt."
Gee, thanks for stating the obvious. I can feel that needle ripping through every formerly intact cell in my mouth. And I'm starting to sweat. And my stomach is beginning to churn. And the room is beginning to spin. And I'm cold. And hot. And I realize I'm really close to passing out. Yeah, terror will do that do you.
"How are you doing?" the hygenist cheerfully asks as she yanks the needle out and shoves in another place that isn't numb yet (translation: That hurts, you psycho b*tch from h*ll! (I tend to get ornery when I'm so terrified I'm on the verge of passing out)).
Like I can answer her. I have a syringe wedged into my gum. I settle for a little fantasy in which I hurl her through the window and jump on her, shoving multiple syringes into her happy little smiling face.
She stabs some more and I scrunch my eyes shut, wondering what will happen if I faint. Will she even notice, or will I tumble off the chair and totally embarrass myself? Will they go ahead and drill while I'm passed out and unaware, or will they be cruel enough to wake me up before proceeding?
I don't know, but the room is spinning violently and deep breaths aren't going cut it. I'm.... going... down...
"All done," she chirps. "Be back in a few minutes."
She leaves, so I try to text message my husband to tell him how much I'm freaking out, but my hands are shaking so much I can't even hit the keys on my phone. Yeah, I'm a wimp. So sue me.
So anyway, while I wait for the full numbing to go into effect, I pull out my Katie MacAlister book and discover that reading about hot sex is ALMOST enough to make the churning in my stomach and the spinning of the room stop. "Almost" being the operative word.
So then the dentist sashays up and taps my gums with her poker. I don't feel it, so all is good.
So I relax a bit and let her drill, marveling the wonders of novocaine as she turns part of my tooth into a fine powder. She finishes up that filling without any problem, and life is great. One more small filling to do and I'm home free. God, those revisions are looking good, right now. I can't wait to get back to them.
So, then she starts drilling on filling number two, and I feel a flash of hot or cold or something. I immediately tense. Was that the drill? Can I feel her drilling? No. Impossible. I'm over-reacting. Then I feel a sharp stab of what is clearly pain and I start to panic. Oh, God. The hygenist from h*ll didn't numb my tooth all the way! I knew I'd sensed some anti-author sentiment from her! Do I stop the dentist? If I do, I'll get more shots (oh, God), but what if she's almost done? I can take this level of pain for another few seconds. But what if it gets worse? And how much worse will it get? What level of pain can I take before I start screaming? Another stab of pain and my body involuntarily jerks, but she doesn't notice. So I'm sweating now, my body so tense it almost hurts, as I wait for the kill. The white hot flash of pain that will make my brain explode. How bad will it be? Or will she sit back and say she's done? Will I be spared? Then she moves the drill and a white hot stab of pain makes my whole body convulse. She immediately stops. "Can you feel that?"
"Um, yeah." That's why I'm a sickly green and sweating and shaking. Duh.
So she pulls out that needle and I can't even bear the thought of it, so I close my eyes as she stabs this monstrosity into my gum again. "Can you feel the shot?" she asks.
I nod, as I feel that needle work its way through even fiber in my mouth. But, on the plus side, it doesn't hurt as much as that drill did, so we're making progress right?
So, she finishes numbing me up, pulls out that drill again (no, please no!) and gets back to work.
Thankfully, no more pain.
Ten minutes later, I'm walking to my car, my whole body shaking so much from the aftermath of the adrenaline that I seriously consider sitting down in the middle of the parking lot until I regain my strength and control of my body.
Being the trooper that I am, I persevere and make it to my car, climb in and sit there for about five minutes, until I recover enough to drive. I try to call my husband to tell him I'm on the way home (he's babysitting our little girl), but I can't move my mouth well enough to talk. Yeah, that numbing thing. I decide to just surprise him when I get home. I'm such a spontaneous girl. Go. Me. Rah. Rah.
And you know what? The prospect of spending the afternoon working on revisions suddenly looks really, really good to me.
It's all about perspective.
DATE ME, BABY, ONE MORE TIME, coming April 25th!, read an excerpt
MUST LOVE DRAGONS, 11/06
Monday, April 03, 2006
That’s right…I’m a blog virgin…so be gentle with me!
I thought and thought about what to blog about, and decided that since this is my first ever blog, it’s okay to blog about, well, ME! After all, no one knows me here yet since I’m a new author…
I’ll start with the basics. Most people think I look a lot like Paris Hilton, only with more boobage. This is only partially true….
…okay, It’s not the least bit true. But if I blog about myself (mom, two kids, two cats, gotta run to soccer practice in ten minutes) it will be so very dull.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about gypsies lately (my books are about gypsies), and they have an interesting relationship with the truth. That is, they tell the truth among themselves, but they have no problem lying to gadje—or outsiders.
This makes me think of blogging. Maybe what I need is to set up my own Gypsy Code to Blogging. A creed to live by, on-line, here to make this go smoothly.
First: You all are part of my clan. So only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Paris Hilton.
Second: I will be a true wanderer, a person unafraid to go where my muse takes me (hey—I don’t have a horse and cart—a muse will have to do!).
Third: No matter where my wanderings take me (soccer practice, the orthodontist…) I will return here on the third of every month.
Well, there it is.
Hey, the first time’s not so bad.
Or is it? Let me know what you think!
Saturday, April 01, 2006
I almost got arrested in March. No kidding.
It was St. Patrick's Day and I flew up to New York to turn in my revisions. The revisions were for my upcoming October release (insert shameless plug here) How to Seduce a Duke, and the production schedule was so tight that if I missed FedEx, which I did, I had to get on a plane and the fly the revisions in.
Of course, my flight was delayed. I would have to be quick. Drop off the manuscript and then race back to LaGuardia to catch my return flight, zoom home to be there before the kids came home from school. This was going to be trick. But I had no other choice.
So back to the almost getting arrested part.
It was St. Patrick's Day and I was in New York--and wasn't wearing green even though I am part Irish. Still, though I risked getting pinched, I was pretty sure I couldn't be arrested for not wearing green.
Turns out you can get arrested for illegally crossing through the middle of St. Patty's Day Parade, the oldest and largest of it's kind in the country. The police don't like it when someone, not wearing green, attempts it. They don't like it at all.
But what's a girl to do when she is standing in a heaving, drunken crowd on one side of 5th Avenue and her publisher's offices are a half block up on the other side?
Police in their dress uniforms (and green shirts, which was very cute) lined 5th Avenue as the longest freakin' parade in history passed through. Crowd control, you know.
Geez. I couldn't get around the parade. Impossible. It stretched as far as I could see in both directions. I just had to cross 5th Avenue.
So, I edged along the crowd scoping, looking for a gap without a police presence on either side of the street. I'm sure I looked suspicious as hell with shifting eyes and my mysterious packet clutched to my chest. But the crowd, with green glitter hats and shamrock temporary tattoos on their faces, seemed too tipsy from their lunchtime green beer to take notice.
And then, my window suddenly appeared--I could dash right between a marching band and an antique engine filled with waving fireman.
I sucked in a breath, punched through the opening in the crowd and ran like a maniac through the parade. I heard a policeman yelling at me from behind. A group of drunken men on the other side cheered me on, and even stepped aside to allow me to disappear into the crowd before the policeman hurrying along the curb could catch me. Yeah, I rocked.
I managed to deliver the revisions just in time.
Time was tight though. I hadn't counted on the parade. And now it seemed if I wanted a cab that could get me to airport, I had to cross the wall of green again. Yes, the police screamed after me, but my spirited Irish friends made clean my escape once more.
And you know what, no one said a word about my not wearing green. Until I got home, and then my youngest pinched me. Hard.