Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Mayhem

I am covered in glitter. Except for the sardonically raised eyebrow, I look like Kimber the Good Fairy. Where did all this glitter come from you ask? Did I invade Tinker Bell's secret supply of pixie dust?

Ahem. No. I don't think anyone's allowed in Neverland who is over the age of fourteen--fifteen on the outside--and I'm well past that now. No, my glitter stylings come from shedding Xmas cards. And these weren't cheap cards, so what's the deal?

Obviously, I'm trying to get some holiday cards least to the people whom I don't talk to very often, but the world is crazy. I'm working. I'm editing. I'm trying to get things in order for my book's February release. I'm trying to be social and have and attend parties... it's madness.

And on top of everything, I've run out holiday stamps or even the nondescript Forever stamps with the Liberty Bell. So, now I'm slapping on any stamp that I can find. Which means some people who have the envelope with "the deer in the winter woods" scene are going to have a bright yellow sunflower stamp in the corner. Sighing heavily. Coordinating stamps and envelopes is officially beyond me.

That's why I can't wait for Xmas to actually get here, when the stores and the post offices will be closed, and I'll finally get to kick back. Then I'm going to do nothing...except perhaps watch a few favorite holiday movies. Here's my want-to-watch list:

1. A Christmas Story (The ultimate holiday movie, full of wisdom imparted through wisecracks. Love it!)

2. Elf
(As far as I'm concerned, Will Farrell has created a new holiday classic.)

3. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's stone
(Hey, there's Xmas in it! Harry gets the invisibility cloak as a Xmas present.)

4. The Year Without A Santa Clause (It's the one where the seasons are at war. The Heat Miser's one of the main characters. You know it?)

Do you have any favorites holiday traditions or movies?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mushroom Madness

I'm pretty sure that I have a greater love of mushrooms than the average person on the street, but even I blinked when I read that a one-kilogram white truffle sold at auction for $200,000.

The proceeds of the auction are going to charity, so at least this bit of excess is tied to some pretty tasty philanthropy. And, of course, yay for the 'shroom's rise to the top of the food chain. ;)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day!

This morning, I'm watching Home For the Holidays which stars Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a hilarious take on dysfunctional families over the holidays, and it's become a tradition for me to watch it this time of year.

Later, I've got Christmas music to play while I make stuffed portobello mushrooms to take (along with some wine and dessert) to a friends' Thanksgiving celebration. I can't wait!

What are you doing? Any special holiday traditions?

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend polital and social boundaries." ~ Jimmy Carter

It's such a cool, sunny, beautiful day today that I've got the windows open. It's a little chilly though so I'm editing from within the cocoon of my comforter while drinking hot vanilla tea. Lately I've been in the midst of a reading festival. I thought I'd provide a few excerpts over the next few days in case some of the books I've enjoyed are ones that you might like, too...

From Kim Lenox's paranormal romantic suspense titled NIGHT FALLS DARKLY about an immortal who is hunting Jack the Ripper in 1887 London...

Without waiting for an answer, he shouldered his way through the crowd, drawing Elena behind, his thumb pressed against the underside of her wrist. Their heels sounded against the parquet. Feeling more ferocious with each passing moment, he took the printed card from her hand and released it to fall in a zigzag descent to the carpet. The members of the orchestra ogled them, their various instruments poised in hand.

I love the way Kim Lenox blends the genres, and her writing is wonderfully evocative.

But [Dean had] lost interest in food. "Don't you own anything pink?"
She looked down at her bike shorts and camouflage t-shirt. "What's wrong with this?"
"Nothing if you're planning to invade Cuba."
She shrugged. "I'm not into clothes."
"Now there's a surprise."

Hee hee. I love that scene and loved the book. It's from Susan Elizabeth Phillips' contemporary romance, NATURAL BORN CHARMER

Have a great Friday!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


"Life likes to be taken by the lapel and told, 'I'm with you, kid. Let's go.'" Maya Angelou

I hope you're having a great weekend! Wednesday night I went out for drinks with the girls and had the best time laughing about what lunatics people can be. Some of those stories weren't fit to print, but others I think I'm going to have to post later.

In other news, there were a bunch of e-mails last week. One of the documents that Penguin sent was the proposed back cover blurb for Book 2 in the Southern Witch Series, and when I looked at the top, I saw that BARELY BEWITCHED will come out September 2009. Holy Cow! It's perfect timing since it's right before Halloween, but I never expected it to be scheduled so fast since (a) Book 1 doesn't come out until February and (b) I haven't even turned in the first draft of Book 2 yet. (It's not even due until January.)

Anyway, I'm bewildered, but thrilled, and considering everything, I better get back to work!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Allhallows Eve

This week, I'm editing BARELY BEWITCHED (the sequel to WOULD-BE WITCH) and in it, Halloween plays a prominent role. I don't want to give any details of Tammy Jo's adventure away, but while I would advise you to look both ways for cars when crossing the street, Tammy Jo would advise you to look both ways for accursed creatures.

That's right, people. All Hallows Eve, which was once the feast of Samhain, marks the beginning of the so called "Dark Season" when the doors to the supernatural world are opened and all kinds of scary preternatural creatures spill over into our world. This is a excellent excuse for humans of all ages to don a costume...aka, a disguise. Then the vampires and witches will think you're one of them and pass you by, looking for human victims. So dress in scary wear, and be safe!

Hugs & Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Anatomy of a Week's End...

Thursday - The page proofs for Would-Be Witch arrived. The fonts are so cute that I got misty-eyed. I know...being a tad ridiculous.

Friday morning - worked on creating a brochure for booksellers. It came out really well. Microsoft Word is almost too powerful, you know? I have The Terminator-like fears of the days when the machines take over. It's always the software that you have to be afraid of.

Friday night -worked at the "day" job. It was a long shift.

Friday overnight - crazy random insomnia. I never take sleep aids, but sometimes I am REALLY tempted.

Saturday morning - proofread part of Would-Be Witch. Yay!

Saturday afternoon - missed a pumpkin-carving extravaganza because was busy sleeping all day. Arg! (Still waiting to see pix...hint to friend, RH)

Saturday night - Kim Lenox & Sharie Kohler's book launch party at La Carafe (cool wine bar in very old/awesome building) Neighborhood was too scary to take my expensive Nikon camera. :( Alas, no pictures. Tragic because everyone looked so gorgeous!

Saturday later night - Rick and I drove aimlessly...well, we had an aim, but it never seemed to work out except for the brief stint at Empire Cafe. We still managed to have a good time, as always.

Sunday - worked on staying hydrated. Got a fever, and hence had to watch millions of DVDs rather than doing anything ambitious like standing upright.

Monday - Proofread during illness recovery. Page proofs ready to go to New York. The next time I see this manuscript from Penguin, it'll be a real book. Yahoooo!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Unexpected Acrobats

"I want to be John Cleese, and it took some time to realize that the job was in fact taken." Douglas Adams

I have recently been leaving my gate unlocked because there's been a lot of backyard clean-up since Hurricane Ike and workers have needed to get in and out. So yesterday without any heads-up (pressing the doorbell would have been good to alert me to take a look around before coming downstairs in scanty attire. There are French doors with big glass leading from my living room to my yard.) some men turned up back there.

Anyway, luckily I heard them crunching over leaves and hesitated before wandering by the windows. My initial plan was to treat them like all the creatures who pass through my backyard...if they don't bother me, I don't bother them. This policy has worked with squirrels, birds, raccoons, cats, and possums in the past and I couldn't see why humans should be any different. If anything, people should be smarter and require less supervision than woodland creatures.

But then I notice one of the men walking along the top of the fence. It has no platform and is not designed to be walked on, but I do allow the squirrels to use it as a bridge. Of course, they only weigh two pounds and have claws for traction. Ditto for the cats. This man is wearing boots that are decidedly wider than the fence.

Now fully dressed, I open the door and say, "Hey. What's up?"

"We're from the cable company," the one on the ground responds.

"Do you also have circus training?" I ask.

The one walking along fence clutches a half-broken tree limbs for balance.

"He's okay. That's the only way to get to the cable."

"Isn't the cable underground?"

"Well, yeah, it's along the ground, but it's easier to pass it along this way. He's fine. We do it all the time."

I quirk a brow. Three quarters of my fence fell down during Hurricane Ike. One of the sections that was recently repaired still has bits of exposed nails. Also, though I'm no structural engineer, I have noticed that the squirrels have been avoiding the un-replaced area, so I've got my doubts about its stability.

The man on the fence wobbles. I know that if he falls and cracks his head, I'll have to help him, but I'm supposed to meet a friend for coffee, so the timing of his concussion would be really inconvenient for me.

"Well, unless you've got trapeze training and insurance, I'd prefer it if you'd stay a little closer to the ground while you're in my yard."

They grumble, but the would-be gymnast hops down.

"Thanks," I say and wave, retreating back into my house.

Fifteen minutes later, I hear a whoomp. I look out. My yard is empty, but I see the non-climber standing in my neighbor's yard trying to look over my neighbor's fence into a different yard.

I open the window. "Do you have a man down?" I ask.

The non-climber whirls and says quickly, "He's fine."

I nod. "Is he talking?"

"Of course!"

"Is he bleeding?"

The non-climber glowers but doesn't answer because, naturally, he doesn't know. "Go around and check. If there's blood or he can't walk or talk, ring my doorbell."


"Don't waste time," I say, waving a hand. My Hippocratic Oath is my business, and there isn't much time before I need to leave. I finish getting ready and gather my stuff. Downstairs, I go first in my yard, but I don't hear any sounds from the surrounding area.

So I walk to the front of the house, and note the would-be gymnast limping to the cable van. There's no blood and he's grimacing, but coherent.

"I didn't fall," he announces.

Sure you didn't, I think. The sky's raining sacks of flour.

"Okay." I say, getting in my car.

I start to pull out of my driveway, but stop. I'm not sure if the cable guys' mission was accomplished. There could be more of them coming...

I hop out and stroll over to the metal gait and lock it. Guys who aren't as nimble--or as smart--as squirrels shouldn't be in my yard without supervision.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


"I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." ~ Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) in Harvey

My pal, David, is coming home this weekend from Aruba. Yay! Here's hoping the weather was better at the end of the week, because it rained the first part of the week and he was stuck in the hotel a lot, reading, which, as he pointed out, he could have done in his apartment. Sigh. Would it kill the weather to be a little more cooperative when my best friend's trying to have a beach vacation?

Anyway, after hurricane Ike, he stayed at my place and one of the movies we had fun watching together was Harvey, so the quote above is for him.

Hope everyone else is having a fantastic Sunday!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Who says typos are bad...?

"When I was born I was so surprised I didn't talk for a year and a half." Gracie Allen

Okay, there are parts of the writing gig that I love, that I'm addicted to, that I couldn't live without... and then there are parts that I would gladly trade for more pleasurable experiences like a root canal or a stint in a military prison camp. Yes, I'm talking about re-writing, which is a rather significant part of the writing process.

There are those writers who reportedly prefer revising to writing. When they say that though, I'm pretty sure that they are either (a) lying or (b) insane. Ahem. I am a professional, so I shall cease complaining.

As I get my coffee, I'm going back to polishing Would-Be Witch's sequel, Barely Bewitched, which if I'm pressed I'll admit needs an editing pass--or two. And, by the way, you're unknowingly glad I'm revising because you would have hated that silly souffle metaphor that I deleted from page 87. Honestly, what was I thinking when I wrote it in the first place?

Your hard-at-work author,

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A helpful guide...

A Brief Guide to American Newspapers

The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country - if they could find the time - and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running
the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.

The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Groovin' on Wednesday Afternoon

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full." Henry Kissinger

So I'm finally settling back into my normal routine, post-Ike and post-vacation. (I went home last week to Michigan to see my family.) My nephew is utterly adorable, but there are only so many science experiments one can do from a Borders activity kit before one wonders what in the world one was thinking when she bought it for a 6-yr-old in the first place. (Why yes, we were digging through cupboards and closets for things like tin foil and protractors.) Anyway, mini-MacGyver is back in school where I'm pretty sure he's not making rockets from balloons and fishing line. (That's right the teachers leave the hard stuff to the aunts and uncles.) Still that Borders kit may one day make a difference in his life. You never know who'll end up on Survivor. ;)

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

700 billion has a lot of zeroes

Wall Street had a big sell-off yesterday amid disappointment that the U.S. government (i.e. the American tax-payer) was not going to bail them out of their current financial crisis. In their shoes, I'd be bummed, too. But as someone who's been watching the debt rise amidst consistent deficit-spending, I worry about the government's plan to "lend a hand."

Last I checked the United States is 9.8 trillion dollars in debt. I'm no economist, but I do balance my checkbook each month and 10.5 trillion (our post-bailout balance) sounds like a lot of red ink to me. All I can say is that if they end up having to auction stuff out of the Smithsonian to pay the bill, those corporate executives on Wall Street who are making $44 million a year better be at the auction buying things and donating them back.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fricka Frack!

How in the world is everyone else doing?

I'm a little dizzy after a whirlwind week. I wrote a column for our writers' chapter newsletter, judged four writing contest entries, edited 200 pages of the sequel to Would-be Witch, worked some overnight shifts at work, met with a contractor to fix Ike's damage to my fences, etc. AND dealt with some people who tried to StEaL My IdEnTitY. *$A%!! Bastards!

Anyway, I haven't been to a police station in...well...ever. It was kind of surreal, and I felt like a character in one of my books. "At least I can use it for research, right?" she asked, while perpetually trying to look on the bright side.

Also, I hate to complain, but honestly... after Hurricane Ike gorged himself on entire houses on the coast, did he really need to eat some shingles off my roof, too?!

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes! I luv ya.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Through the Rain!

Hurricane Ike was a wild ride. I didn't know trees could bend that way! From 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday was a bit of an adventure, but I survived without flooding or broken windows. Yahoo!

I hope to get some pictures of the aftermath for you later, and like most everyone here I did lose power, but mine is back on now. My fences were blown down so I have a community yard and there are huge branches blocking my driveway, so I'll be doing some manual labor when I finally do decide to venture out, but overall I feel extremely lucky.

Thanks for all your good thoughts!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Central

Houston - 10:45 a.m.

It's sunny and hot. There are intermittent swells of wind followed by a stillness that's not quite ominous but is getting there.

I'm eating up my frozen foods, doing laundry & dishes, and, in case the windows later decide to cave into pressure from the wind and the trees, moving anything that might (with the right inspiration) fly around the house. Oh, yeah, and I'm charging every battery that can take a charge. 

More later (er, at least I hope so.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spitting in the Hurricane's Eye

Monday (on e-mail) -
"I just don't worry about hurricanes anymore."

Tuesday (at work) -
"It's too far out to know where it will hit. We all made ourselves miserable and exhausted getting ready for Rita, which turned out to be much ado about nothing as far as Houston weather was concerned."

Wednesday (on the phone)-
"Hmm. Yeah, I guess we should cancel our Saturday meeting. There could be a lot of rain. No use driving in that."

Thursday 5:10 a.m. (at the gym)
"It looks like Hurricane Alicia because it's wide, warm, and slow-moving? I didn't live here then, what was Alicia like? Tornadoes, huh. People lost power for weeks? That would be a serious problem for me. I can't go more than a day or two without using a laptop."

Thursday 5:45 a.m. (in the car)
"No one else is awake. I'll be able to pick up a few supplies just in case. Wait, what are all these cars doing in the Randalls' parking lot before 6 a.m.? Don't people work?"

Thursday 6:10 a.m. (in the grocery store)
"This is more canned food than I've ever bought in my life. If we don't lose power, my pantry's going to be overcrowded for months. Now what kind of batteries does my flashlight take? Oh, must be D since there's a big space where the D batteries used to be. What the hell, I've got candles and matches at the house. Time to go home and back to bed."

Thursday Noon
"Wow, look at the traffic. The lines to get gas are outrageous. I wonder if the stations will run out like they did before Rita. Glad I have 3/4 of a tank. Unlike during Rita when I was on my last 1/4 tank and had to drive back and forth to the hospital every day, coasting on fumes at the end of that stint was rough on the nerves."

We have not forgotten...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Guest-blogging Gig

I am guest-blogging today at my friend Shane's place. Come and visit Jaunty Quills to hear me dish about the search for happy historical fiction.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Unmastering Zen

I was at an outside table at Starbucks in the morning--an interloper in Smoker's Territory since when it's ninety degrees they're usually the only ones out there. But I was chatting on my cell and hate to do that in a restaurant or cafe. I prefer the privacy of the open street ;)

Anyway, while I was outdoors enjoying the pollution of the nearby intersection, some mosquitoes bit me. I tried not to be furious at them. I tried to remember that lots of bigger creatures need mosquitoes for their food bats, the inspiration for great comics. I tried to be in a zen-like state. At one with the universe. But instead I squished them.

Here's a little reminder to myself to appreciate nature. ;)

"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
- William Blake

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Make like a pin cushion...

Hey there,

So today I went to get a TB skin test, and the nurse asked when my last tetanus shot was. It's been over ten years. Naturally, since I update practically every trauma patient that I see, I agreed to a booster myself.

And honestly the needles for the TB test and the tetanus immunizations are so small, I couldn't even feel them at the time. Afterward, however, the tetanus site feels like I slammed my shoulder into something hard enough to raise a bruise. I suppose it is better than getting tetanus though. I am very much anti-lockjaw. That smile might have worked for Heath in Batman, but us normal people not so much.

Anyway, tomorrow morning's workout should be a lot of fun. ;)

Are you due for a booster?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Emergency Penguin Fix

So, I'm doing a little warm-up on the treadmill to clear my head and a commercial comes on between news segments. It's for a documentary on penguins. I watch the penguins walk, dive in the water, swim, bite each other's beaks and generally waddle about. They're cute, I think. Watching them is kind of relaxing. Then the commercial goes back to the ordering screen and highlights a second video. That's right...not just one penguin film. A pair of them. So the first one won't get lonely on the shelf one presumes.

Then I notice it. FOR RUSH DELIVERY...

LOL Hey, I love penguins as much as the next person, but emergency shipping for a penguin documentary? Except for Danny Devito preparing for a Batman movie, who needs that?

If you're the person who needs your penguins RIGHT NOW, please chime in. I want to know about you because you're fascinating to me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cooking Up Ideas - Descartes Takes to His Stove

When brainstorming, authors will chase ideas around corners, down dark alleys, and even into sewers. Well, maybe not into sewers, but we'll go pretty far. So, lately I've been reading history and I've got to share some of the fascinating stuff I've come across.

You know how when you have a problem or a goal that you want to accomplish, you'll break it down into parts and tackle each piece? In the case of parents this week, it's scooting the kids back to school. You don't just shove them out the door. You register them for class, buy school supplies, you get their hair cut, you pack them a lunch, etc., etc.

Well, did you know that we got this system from Descartes? He was French. We won't hold that against him because we actually love the French; they invented Paris, gave us the Statue of Liberty, and currently have possession of Brangelina.

Descartes was lying in a huge porcelain stove (a kind of shelf that homeowners laid inside to keep warm) and came up with a system for breaking scientific problems down into component parts to solve them. Later, he would publish a small book on the process suggesting to ordinary people that they could use this system of analysis (Greek for "breaking down") to solve every-day problems. So, there you go; life as we know it explained.

I do wonder what Descartes would've thought of how his system was applied far and wide, in the form of say...psychoanalysis. Do you think he would have found some later uses half-baked? (Okay, silly pun, but I'm up before dawn AGAIN so cut me some slack. ;) )

Have a great day!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I think I'd like to be bored...

"The penalty for success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you." -- Nancy Astor

I'm brainstorming new story ideas, so please be on the lookout for my muse. She's about 5'6 and was last seen wearing gold bangle bracelets and cornflower blue slingbacks while in the stands at a relay medley swim meet in Bejing. Please don't mention my plan to chain her to a chair for a few days. Just tell her that there's a house party in Houston with raspberry margaritas. If she's reluctant to leave China, add that it's being held in her honor. Gets her every time. ;)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wake up, World! Do you know what your author is doing?

So I worked out at 5 a.m. I don't think we can rule out the possibility that I'm INSANE. Ahem. I mean motivated.

Anyway the sunrise was gorgeous and getting the blood pumping does sort of jump-start the day.

Here's a good morning quote for you:

"Beautiful young people are an accident of nature. Beautiful old people are works of art." Eleanor Roosevelt


P.S. I was inspired to use a quote from the incomparable Eleanor by a profile quote of a new pal about always believing in your own worth. Now go out and take that world by storm!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Have you kissed your vampire today?

I have met so many vampire lovers over the past couple of weeks that I feel compelled to share some advice from Dr. Blood, a noted vampire expert...

Vampires are immortal, so chances are that your vamp paramour has seen more than his/her share of history. Be sure to brush up on world history as well as vampire lore. Factoids you may want to drop to impress your vamp...

(a) Honey, did you know that Sherlock Holmes investigated an apparent vampire in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" ?

(b) Sweetheart, of course capes are always in fashion for vampires! Did you know that the trend was popularized on the stage in 1924 by Hamilton Deane?

(c) You'd rather eat cardboard than plain Quaker Oats? I'm not sure that's unique to vampires, sweetheart, but it could have its origins in the long-standing vampire aversion to them that was first noted by the Russians who scattered them on the ground to keep vamps from rising.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whedon...For a Limited Time

Fans of writer-director Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Serenity) should not miss their fix of his creative talent this week.

Whedon has a humorous short film/musical that is airing in 3 acts.

See it at:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Would-Be Witch Cover

This is not the finished product yet, but since they sent it to me, I thought I'd share it with you. Blogger toned down the red of Tammy's hair. In the original file it is positively eye-popping.

Many thanks to the fantastic artist at Berkley. That art department rocks.

P.S. The "cat" is an ocelot, his name is Mercutio, and he rocks, too. ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This egg is well done!

Well the ever clever and imaginative Mr. Fforde does it again. I'm late to the party reading this one which was published in 2005, but isn't that just the great thing about books? No expiration date.

Anyway, remember all those nursery rhymes, you learned as a kid? Fforde turns them on their ears. What if the Three Pigs didn't really kill the Big Bad Wolf in self defense? What if Humpty Dumpty was a womanizer, an alcoholic, a philanthropist, and a murder victim? What if Jack Spratt had to solve these cases and others?

As usual, for a fun, surreal read, I recommend Jasper Fforde's books.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nero Nearby

When I've allowed myself a break this past week, it's been to listen to a Rex Stout book on tape that I found in a used book store. I became a big fan of Stout's eccentric genius detective, Nero Wolfe, and his dapper sidekick, Archie Goodwin, after seeing episodes of the A&E series featuring Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton.

Listening to the book, I can picture all the principle characters and settings in vivid color. I can see the office, the orchids, Wolfe's yellow shirts, and Archie's swagger so perfectly in my mind. It's a great way to be immersed in a story.

What, if any, are your favorite casting choices when it comes to books made into movies and T.V. shows?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

There's no whining in pyramid building...

(The photograph is from Tulum in Mexico. You can see the ruins in the upper right corner.)

So I watched Juno on Thursday night. Terrific movie. Great characterization. I loved the layers.

As often happens when I enjoys another writer's work, I took a step back from my own work-in-progress (WIP) to evaluate it. Editing and story analysis are probably not the best activities to undertake while in the midst of trying to complete a first draft, but I have a kind of haphazard writing process anyway.

Naturally, a WIP is not as polished as a feature film, and I found myself pouting over my draft. Is this working? If it's not working, should I attempt to fix it today or should I just dive into the stack of books I bought this week to read? And why is writing so hard anyway? I should take up something new. Something eating Tic Tacs or doing 10-piece jigsaw puzzles for toddlers.

That was about the time that I thought about the megalithic, astrologically aligned pyramids in ancient Egypt. Now, there was a project meant to stand for all time. They lugged massive blocks of rock and placed them with astounding precision. Clearly, the difficulty of the work didn't deter them. And look what they have to show for it.

So, like Tom Hanks' character says in A League of Their Own: "The hard is what makes it great."

We struggle to do things that are terribly difficult because they are worth doing and...

There's no crying in baseball.
There's no whining in pyramid building.
There's no pouting in writing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Candy Havens in the House

Well, this weekend was a ton of fun. Friday night I had some fellow writers to my house for a small reception to welcome Candace Havens to Houston. We drank Tangopolitans, ate all sorts of delicious food, and got into an interesting round of true confessions which will never go farther than my living room.

Saturday, Candace shared her tried and true secrets of writing a FAST DRAFT in two weeks. It wasn't unlike the way I spree write when I leave town for a writing retreat or stage one in my house. She also taught REVISION HELL about approaching revisions in the same sort of editing spree. I am going to have to try it. She is definitely a time-management czarina.

She was funny and direct, kind yet exacting. I especially found her discussion of high concept very helpful and interesting. (Candy is an entertainment journalist in addition to being a wonderful writer and teacher.) If you are having trouble finishing that book and need support and direction, I recommend that if you can't see her in person, you go to her website and do an online workshop.

The first book in her Charmed series is available in mass market paperback now. (See cover above) And she has a new book (THE DEMON KING AND I) with a fabulous cover coming out in November 2008 from Berkley.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Marydale Musings

Welcome to the weekend, people. :)

I was out of town for two weekends (and the week sandwiched between them) at the Marydale Retreat Center in Erlanger, Kentucky. I was part participant, part staff at the Writers Retreat Workshop, originally created by a beloved man named Gary Provost. I didn't know Gary, but his legacy lives on in the form of a wonderful retreat where writers get boot-camp style immersion into the writing craft and obtain more personal feedback on their work than can be imagined.

My first ever writing conference was this one and coming back with a soon to be released book on my laptop was great fun. I was reunited with some of my close friends and writing mentors and could not have had a better time. Maybe the ten days should be extended to thirty or thirty times thirty or... forever. ;)

See you in the comments!

P.S. Nancy's blog re-opens June 15th.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Welcome to the Weekend

It's gorgeous in Houston this morning! Sunny and cool. I expect it will warm up by mid-day, but I'm enjoying having the windows open for the moment.

I saw Prince Caspian last night. The effects were great and the actors beautiful, but I didn't find the story as engaging as the first Narnia. I wished I'd seen Iron Man instead, which I've heard is awesome.

What has your week been like?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Big Money hits H-town

Jack Getze, known also to his close friends as Jano (pronounced Yano) after he did a witching-hour brainstorming session one night at a writing retreat and channeled some marauding viking--don't ask--was in town yesterday.

After a hectic day, it was great when he arrived at my house and we could finally relax and catch up on writing and life. Then I attended his signing at Murder By the Book (a great and legendary Houston bookstore) where I bought Jack's second book (Big Money) in the darkly comic Austin Carr mystery series. (Austin's a stockbroker who lives his life in a grey area where choosing between morals and money is tough, and whenever he chooses Big Money he lands himself in big trouble.) In this book, Austin gets tangled up with the New Jersey mob, and the inspiration for the novel came from a true story involving Jack's own father-in-law.

The first book, Big Numbers, was great, and this one promises to be even better. I recommend you get them both.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

If it's the weekend...

Whew. It's been a hectic week. And what I'd like to know is: if it's the weekend, then how come I'm so busy today? No time to post now, but I'll be back to post in the comments later.

In the meantime, how was your week?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Into The Deep Blue Sea

Happy Weekend, People.

Sorry I've been missing in action. I went on an 8-day cruise to the Caribbean, and it put me off my normal schedule.

The photo of the pirate ship was taken from the cruise ship when we made port the first day. I didn't have my binoculars, but I'm pretty sure it's captained by Capt. Jack Sparrow. And how about that water? Pretty darn blue. More on my trip later...I have so many great pictures to share...

What's the news?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Green arrows...not optional.

"I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me." Fred Allen

I do not have a hangover, but this kitty has an expression that I can relate to after driving around the city today. I think that, by and large, moving cars should short out cell phones. Many people can barely drive or park or think as it is.

Today, I saw a man swerve randomly into someone else's lane as he tried to make a turn without bobbling his cell phone. About 60 seconds later, I was trapped behind someone who for the purposes of this post, we'll call Annoying Idiot With Cell (AIWC). Being mid-conversation, AIWC could not be bothered to take the green arrow's perfectly reasonable suggestion that she make a left turn from a lane that was designed especially for the purpose. So we just sat there. And sat there. Finally, I honked to remind AIWC that the lack of a parking meter was not accidental on the city's part.

Arg! Just because I didn't have anywhere to be, doesn't mean I didn't want to get there in a hurry. I think I may have to buy a big car and hire a driver, so that I can more effectively pretend that the other drivers on the road don't exist.

How was your week?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Puddle Melt

I've worked so long and so hard the past couple days that I just don't think I can form a complete sentence with any wit or even coherency, so it's time to borrow...

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." W. C. Fields

Welcome to the Weekend & how was your Week?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Unofficial (& Fabulous) Cover Copy

Yesterday, I was telling you about my cover copy for Would-be Witch. And I'm so excited about it that I just can't wait...I have to post the unofficial version. For the back cover:

In the small town of Duvall, Texas, the only thing more troublesome than gossip--is magic.

The family magic seems to have skipped Tammy Jo Trask. All she gets in the way of the supernatural are a few untimely visits from the long dead, smart-mouthed family ghost, Edie. But when her locket--an heirloom that happens to hold Edie's soul--is stolen in the midst of a town-wide crime spree, it's time for Tammy to find her inner witch.

After a few experiences in dysfunctional magic, Tammy turns to the only one who can help; the very rich, and highly magical, Bryn Lyons. He might have all the answers-and a 007 savoir faire to boot-but the locket isn't the only heirloom passed down in Tammy's family. She also inherited a stay away from anyone named Lyons...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A book is built...

This past week, I got an e-mail from my editor at Berkley asking me to look over the draft of the "cover copy" for Would-be Witch. What is cover copy, some of you might be wondering. Well, it's the text that goes on the front cover, back cover, inside cover, etc.

I printed out the file and was a bit awestruck. Holy cow! This is the cover text for my book! My book is really being published and people wholly unknown to me have read it and are working on turning my unbound pages into something that will be on the shelves and tables of the bookstores that I frequent. It was SO surreal, and better than Xmas, better than my birthday, just plain better than most moments in life.

Welcome to the weekend & see you in the comments!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wisteria In Bloom

" The head never rules the heart, but just becomes its partner in crime." Mignon McLaughlin

Welcome to a new week! See you in the comments. :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Characters in search of titles...

"Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas." Paula Poundstone

"No one can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it." Tallulah Bankhead

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Don't you find it amazing that there is more than one person in the world named Tallulah? I've been struggling to name characters, but luckily there are baby-naming books to help. Back on the subject of Tallulahs, I wish Demi & Bruce would've called. I'd have loaned them my copy.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Spring!

Friend and fellow WRWer, Rick Bylina reminded me that it's spring. (My allergies have been letting me know a little, but I like Rick's approach much better.)

So what has this week been like for everyone? How's the weather where you are? If you're a writer, how's the writing?

See you in the comments for Saturday morning coffee.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Sunday!

Good afternoon, all! I worked late, so I didn't get around to putting up the post last night. Next time I'll have to prepare, right. ;) Anyway, it's a gorgeous day, and yet, I must go in to work again in a couple of hours.

What are you up to today?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Welcome to the Weekend

"Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbor's noisy party than being there." Franklin P. Jones

Anyone up for a noisy Saturday brunch outdoors? I know the setting in the picture looks serene, but imagine it with fifty close friends and a matching number--or so--of Bellini Martinis added.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Black Days & White Nights

I just watched a report on how a city in Norway (apparently the most Northern populated city in the world) just saw a sliver of sunlight after months of pitch-black.

This reminds me of the opposite phenomenon, which I had the good fortune of experiencing as a teenager when I visited Alaska with a friend and her family. We were there in July and, in the middle of the night, it looked like dusk. The sun only set for two or three hours per night. It was odd and wonderful for a pair of friends who liked to stay up all night hanging out.

I don't know how the Alaskans or Norwegians manage the winters though. All that darkness. Kind of scary unless you've got Vin Diesel with you.

(This photograph was taken by Jennifer Adleman and is available for download from the Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday Morning "Floured Eggs" in Paris

Good morning, cyberfriends (not to be confused with Superfriends in which case we would all have to be wearing capes.)

Chez Nancy is on Montmarte today. When I was growing up, my mom used to make my brothers and me this flat delicious breakfast food that she called "floured eggs" because that's what her mother called them. We ate them with syrup like pancakes, and I preferred them to anything else. It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized they were actually crepes. LOL

Do you like crepes? Do you take them sweet or savory? Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The coffee's on...

Nancy Pickard hosts the friendliest blog and has created a terrific community at

They helped me cyber-celebrate finishing the draft of my book. But for the moment, the porchlight's off at Nancy's while she works diligently on her book. Until then, on weekends this space is for her people (and any of my peeps who want to join in.)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Demon Deer of Northern Michigan

"I am not a good shot. If people are interested in animal preservation, I am the person to invite on a shoot." David Steel

I took this picture of a pair of baby deer near my Aunt Millie's place in Northern Michigan. They were quite shy of people (and who could blame them, given the concentration of hunters in the area come winter.)

In person, er, in animal, these deer were nimble and nervous and sweet. Imagine my surprise then when I developed the photograph and realized that they were possessed. Seriously! Look at the eyes. You may be skeptical, but I write paranormal fiction and can tell you a thing or two about witches, wizards, werewolves, and demons.

So, in a quick survey, during hunting season, who would you root for? The hunters or the demon deer?

Kissing the Suspect Release!

Chapter 1 Callie Melville was wanted by the law, but to put it that way made things sound worse than they were. She hoped. The rumors...