Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Give Santa a big, wet...kiss.

Hey, what did you think I was going to say?

Such thoughts!
Tell Santa to put you on his "Naughty" list!!! ;-)

Have a VERY Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I got it!

This is my little house. Well, it is if the home inspection goes well next Tuesday.

We had a weekend of really miserable weather here, but my realtor called me. She did a super job of helping me negotiate.

The loan I qualified for was an FHA loan - and there is a program where you can ask the seller to donate the down payment to a 501 (c3) non-profit organization which provides the down payment for the property. The seller gets to write it off on their taxes and as a result, I got a no money down loan. Now if the seller hadn't gone for it, I would have been required to come up with the 3% required by the loan. However, the seller accepted. I'm over the moon!

Now I just have to come up with earnest money and the money needed to pay for the house inspection. Fortunately, I can scrape that up. Be sure to check with your realtor if you're house hunting. This option is a REAL life saver for those of us without a lot of money for a down payment!

I'll keep you posted about the results of the house inspection.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oooops, I did it again!

I made an offer. Again. But this time it wasn't quite so terrifying. Two of my friends met with me and my realtor to look through the house with me. They like it. I like it.

It's not nearly so scary this time because it really feels like the RIGHT house this time. So of course, this time I'm on pins and needles because I haven't heard yet whether they'll accept the offer. They have until noon tomorrow.

The house is very cute. Smallish - but anything in my price range is. It has an enclosed and heated front porch. Brand new windows. All the appliances stay. A back deck and there are wood floors. The wood is probably pine - but for me (and my cats) anything in which carpeting is not involved is a very good thing. Unless you steam clean monthly, carpets gets disgusting. I want FLOORS! The living room/dining room has carpeting but there's wood hiding underneath.

I really hope I get this house.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

HGTV Junkie

Ever since I started house hunting, I've turned into a HGTV junkie. I preface all statements with "Well, when I was watching HGTV I saw..." It's so sad.

Yet, HGTV really speaks to me now. I used to watch it before. I'd pop in to watch the occasional decorating show, or something about people looking for a house to buy. It was entertaining but held no real meaning for me.

Now, I watch almost any show on HGTV and I think to myself, hmmmm could I do that when I find a house I want to buy? Would it be hard to paint? Could I build that...whatever it is?

I think my friends have started to want to tape my mouth shut. But they're my friends, so they haven't done it yet but it's only a matter of time. Help! I think I need an intervention...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Buyer's Remorse

I offered for a house on Friday. I was in low level panic all afternoon, because I began to realize it wasn't the right house for me. There's nothing scarier than hoping someone WON'T accept your offer!

It's a really cute house at a very good price, but it just wasn't right for me. The tough thing was that there was another offer on the property. I felt internal pressure to make an offer or lose the house. My realtor didn't pressure me at all and she has been SO great in all of this.

But I have some tips for other house hunters:
  • Do NOT let yourself fall into the "Me, too" feeling if you're not sure about a house.

  • Do NOT talk yourself into a house because it's cheaper than another house you'd looked at. Not good.

  • DO set a short deadline if there's another offer. It may save your life.
How does a short deadline save your life? Let me explain. Because there was another offer, my realtor set an 8pm the same day deadline for the offer. If the sellers hadn't responded by then my offer was off the table unless I CHOSE to keep it there. The sellers decided they needed to consult a lawyer but couldn't talk to him until Monday. I was off the hook. I've never felt so relieved as when 8pm passed on Friday evening. I thought about my decision and let the seller know today that I wanted to pull my offer. This gave them the opportunity to accept the other offer if they chose to, but I was clear of the deal.

I may still be house hunting, but I survived the weekend.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Still House Hunting

I've been house hunting. And hunting... and hunting.

Now, I'm a bit limited because I want to buy a house local to where I work. I have NO desire to commute. Also, I am looking only at homes under $70,000. So yes, we are talking some smaller homes. Some of the houses I've been seeing are really awful. In my town there are TONS of foreclosures. Almost uniformly, the foreclosed homes have been trashed. It's pretty bad.

It's so frustrating because I can see beyond the repairs needed to the houses that they could be. If only I had money, I'd have bought a home by now. However, anything I buy has to be almost move in ready. I can pull out carpets to get to hardwood (or wood) floors, but I can't gut a kitchen or bathroom. No money for it. Grrrrr.

I know the right house is out there. I just have to FIND it. Or wait to come onto the market. Keep your fingers crossed for me...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

House Hunting

Well, I received some less than happy news from my landlord at the end of last month. He decided to list the house I'd been renting. In other words, it's for sale. Between my lack of house keeping and hate for housework, and the fact that I could be homeless or scrambling for housing any time...well, I'm a bit scattered.

I'd chosen to rent a house when I got my library job because I could change my location at will, however I forgot that also meant my landlord could change my location at will too. I don't like strangers coming into my home - unless I invite them - and I don't like worrying about having to make a sudden move.

I contacted the realtor my landlord was using because I liked her. We checked into financing and low and behold, I qualified. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I'm thrilled. But I'm also now embarking on one of the scariest things I've ever done.

Yes, learning to fly a plane can get you killed if things go bad. But buying a house can get you in debt! You can end up with a money pit. In short, I'm excited and terrified all at once. I'll keep you posted on how things go.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I love Halloween!

Ghoulies and Ghosties.

Vampires and Werewolves.

Things that go bump in the night.

Oh yeah. I love 'em all. It really is a toss up which I enjoy decorating for more - Halloween or Christmas. This year I decorated the library and the book display was a celebration of horror. Horror books. Horror flicks.

Sometimes I wonder why we enjoy being scared. I think it's the adrenaline rush. It almost feels like sex. Your heart races. You sweat. Your body is tense. And you scream. A lot. Well, not everyone screams during sex, but I digress.

Fear, like sex, is exciting. Horror books and films are a safe scare, just like a roller coaster. Maybe that's the attraction of Halloween. It's a safe outlet for fear. Maybe that's why I love it. Or maybe it's just the candy. ;-)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

45 and Counting...

Today I turned 45 years old. It's funny, I didn't have a mid-life crisis when I turned 40. I had fun and went about my day. This year though, I was thinking to myself, "What have I done with my life?" Needless to say, a bit depressing.

Time to break out the chocolate.

But I guess I can enumerate a lot of things I've done well. Got my BA in religion, MA in Library Science. I've learned to fly a plane (still working on that very slowly - it's an expensive hobby). I've made many good friends. I've cared for family members. I've completed one novel-length manuscript and I'm 3/4 through a second.

So I guess I've accomplished quite a few positive things. I'm 45 and I've earned every grey hair on my head and hope to gain a few more before I give up the ghost. All in all, I done good!

Friday, October 12, 2007

I Love Warriors...

I've had my nose to the grindstone for the last two months as I work feverishly to complete my manuscript, Seeking Truth. Ya know what I figured out. I love warriors. Every single hero I've ever written has been a warrior in some way, shape, or form.

What is it about warriors? Why do I love them so? Danged if I know. They are the most contrary characters I've ever written. They won't obey. Obedience is only given to the King or their immediate superior in the work environment. They don't obey me, and God knows they NEVER obey my heroines. My heroines bitch and moan at me because I write such contrary males, completely ignoring the fact that the warriors tax my patience too.

Eaduin, are you listening? Diarmid? All the rest of you guys? Yeah, I'm talking to YOU.

No, they aren't listening. They are out slaying bad guys and grinning fiercely while they do it. The worst part is...they're sexy in their disobedience. I always end up forgiving them their bad behavior. Crap that I'd never accept from a "real" man, I cherish in my warrior heroes. I must have a masochistic side.

The good news? The power of the pen (or the keyboard), and I've got it. They can torment me all they like, but the torment goes both ways. Back to the salt keyboard. Let's see if I can bring my hunky men to full mistiness. Mistiness is usually the best I can do because they rarely cry...they're warriors, right? We'll see about that!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Killing a beloved character

I have to kill somebody and I couldn't do it. I'm not an assassin by nature. I love the character I had to kill off and she's my hero's mentor. But I had to kill her anyway and I had the worst time with it. I wrote all last week but she wouldn't die! Finally between yesterday and today I managed to do away with the old girl.

I created a death musical playlist. No really. I needed to get into the right mental framework to do the deed. So I found some great songs like: I Believe by Diamond Rio, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, and Into the West by Annie Lennox - among others. Individually those songs can choke me up - but as a group! Sheesh I was crying long before I started writing.

I'm not sure the scene is as wrenching as I wanted it to be, but I got it written. I'll just have tug at the heartstrings a bit harder when I go back and work on editing. Now if I can just handle the funeral and get her buried, I'll be in great shape!

Have you had any characters who wouldn't die? If so, how did you kill them off? Was it as painful for you as for your characters?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Journey of a Thousand Pages begins with a Single Letter

I started a writing challenge in the middle of August and have been writing like crazy. It's been a great experience for me because I've had to "report" to someone about my progress. Sometimes it is really helpful to feel accountable for what your doing.

I've always written better on deadline. I'm not sure why, but it's true. I'd be coming down to the wire for short reports and I usually wrote things the night before it was due.

Once I got to grad school I was a little better about writing, but I found the research aspect so fun I would get myself wrapped up in that. I knew what points I wanted to make in the paper, but often the paper would get written in the days before it was due. Somehow I could buckle down at that point and just "get 'er done." I admit, I pulled one or two allnighters in grad school to get a 20 page paper done in time. The irony is that those papers got higher grades. Go figure!

Once I started to write with the intent to publish, I realized allnighters wouldn't cut it. I had to write regularly. These writing challenges provide excellent motivation because I have a deadline of sorts. I've even set my own deadline. I want to get the manuscript I'm writing completed by my birthday in October.

The good news: I'm at almost 80,000 words. The bad news: I've got about 20,000 more to write. I'll keep you posted. I got involved in a September writing challenge too, and it has kept me nicely on track to get my stuff written.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a Single Step...

I first became aware of The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell quite some time ago. My mother was fascinated by the book and when Campbell was interviewed by Bill Moyers some years after the book's publication Mom watched the PBS series of interviews faithfully. Since Campbell talked about Star Wars and how it followed The Hero's Journey, I was intrigued too. So we had long discussions about it.

In the summer of 1977, I saw Star Wars IN THE THEATER at least ten times. Yeah, Star Wars Geek, that's me. But there was something archetypical about the story and Campbell explained the archetypes in ways that made sense to me.

For some reason though, I was kind of resistant when RWA writer friends told me I just HAD to read Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. I'm not sure what held me back, but I finally decided I should read it so I checked it out from the library via interlibrary loan. I let it sit on the shelf until it was due back, then started to skim the book.

I was caught. It was as interesting as all my friends had been telling me. The other thing was I realized that I used the formula described to write my stories. I hadn't planned it, but I used it nonetheless. And even though it's a formula, just like the hero with a thousand faces, each story is unique based on the face the hero wears at any given trip through the cycle. Sort of like past and future lives...

Now, I want to own the book. Good news, Vogler junkies! An updated and revised edition will be available November 1st, 2007. I've preordered my copy from Amazon.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Medieval helpdesk with English subtitles

This video has been around awhile. I think it has definitely gone "viral" but I adore it - especially since it's in Swedish.

I used to work in tech support and often get these kinds of questions when I'm working the reference desk now. People unfamiliar with the internet will want to use our public internet stations and need quite a bit of hand-holding before they get the hang of it.

After my bittersweet posts on Thursday, I thought we could use some humor today. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti sings Nessun Dorma

The Passing of a Great Voice - Good Bye Luciano!

I'm sad today. I was at work and pulled up a news page and the lead story was the death of the great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti at the age of 71. Out loud I was saying "Oh no..." My co-workers were looking at me oddly until I explained. Their reaction was "Oh, how sad," but I don't know that anyone was as saddened as I was by the news.

I've been a fan of Pavarotti since I was in high school. I think I saw him on a Live from Lincoln Center special on PBS back in the early 1980s. Now, I like all kinds of music but I've never been into opera all that much and certainly wasn't back then and neither were any of my family members. But I heard this big bear of a man sing with an impressive yet lyrical tenor voice that took my breath away. He took my breath away.

I watched interviews with him on 60 minutes and other news shows and enjoyed him as much when he was just being Luciano as I did when he was on stage as Pavarotti. He was funny, had a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor, and a genuine lust for life.

Later on when he joined forces with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras I tuned in to every program to hear "The Three Tenors." I love all three, but Luciano was always my favorite. I'm not sure why because all three men have truly phenomenal voices. There was just something magnetic about Pavarotti that drew the eye...and the ear. What a voice!

I'll miss your voice. I'll miss your high Cs. I'll miss your wonderful smile. Rest in Peace and sing well in your new venue.

For your listening and viewing pleasure, check out this YouTube piece above featuring Luciano Pavarotti performing in Paris while he sings his signature song, Nessun Dorma from Puccini's opera, Turandot. His performance is magnificent.

Bravo, Luciano!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

I had a three day weekend and I loved it. Not only that, but I got a ton of stuff done! A movie rental business in my town is going out of business (which is sad). A friend mentioned that they were not only selling dvds but the furniture too and they had shelves. Now I have been in need of bookshelves for I don't know how long. I was getting ready to go to Menards for the old college stand-by cinderblocks and wood planks.

I went into the store and most of the units were LONG. But I found one that I think will fit into my house. It's almost 12 feet long and made from sturdy wood. It was $30 dollars. I wrote the check. I have some friends I may be able to bribe with large amounts of food to get the thing home.

So, I started to rearrange my living room space. I am really proud of myself because I got the wall cleared and ready for a long shelf unit. Not only that, but the house is so much tidier (well, mostly). It's still cluttered, but there is now a clear wide path through the mess that is my home. Hey, it's well lived in. Anyway, it really was Labor Day for me. I labored and did a lot of work and I'm pleased with the changes.

I also got a bit of writing done and completed the layout for the PI newsletter. Now I'm just waiting for a couple of incidentals from article authors (bios, etc). Then it will be ready to go out to the members...ON TIME! Wooo Hoooo! Smokin'

I hope you all had an equally productive or utterly relaxing holiday!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The OtherWorld Diner and Research...

The topic for the week at The OtherWorld Diner is world building. To me good world building is done through research. Researching fiction? Isn't that an oxymoron? Not really. Good fiction starts with truth and to find truth, you need to do research. Arthur D. Little said, "Research serves to make building stones out of stumbling blocks."

Every time you figure out how your world works, you're doing research. Whenever you discover how your characters think, you're doing research. It's a long voyage of discovery where your world and your characters reveal themselves to you so you can share them with others. I love research, but then I'm also a librarian. ;-)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Guns are no longer in my immediate future...

I'm so bummed. I got a message over the weekend that the Citizen's Police Academy will be postponed until Fall of 2008. I was looking forward to frisking people and shooting guns. Just in case the letter I got in the mail was wrong, I confirmed with the Lieutenant. No classes. Sigh.

At first I wondered if this was a polite way to say "we don't want to teach you cop stuff cause you scare us girl!" However, since I KNOW I don't have any convictions I couldn't imagine there would be any reason they would be unwilling to teach me stuff. Heaven knows there's no way I'm going to take down any of their officers in a fight either. It's all about money. I hate budget crunches and staffing shortages.

Of course we get budget and staffing issues at the library too. Fiscal year rolled over in July and I've been spending money like a drunken sailor. Well, if drunken sailors actually bought things like the Standard Catalog of World Coins, the College Blue Book, or the Guinness World Records. Frankly, I can't picture them buying any of those books. But you get the idea. I'll soon be forking over the big bucks for the latest edition of the WorldBook Encyclopedia too. Reference books are so entertaining...not. Enlightening yes, entertaining, not so much.

Oh well, at least I still have airplanes to look forward to. I'll keep you posted on flying.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm on Fire!!!

Last weekend, right after my IRN meeting on the 18th I got involved with a writing challenge issued by fellow PI (Passionate Ink) members. I have been writing my ass off. Well, no. It's actually still there. However so are about 18,000 new words! Really! It's so exciting to feel creativity surging through me like this. In fact, if my writing surges regularly I'll be a very happy camper.

Part of my inspiration comes from the fact that I got to write an extremely hot love scene between my hero and heroine this week. Somehow I can NOT write a short love scene to save my life. Still I'm good with it because, DANG Eaduin is a hottie! The cool thing is Vérité more than matches him.

I could almost hear Eaduin singing the Rick James song, Superfreak. You know the line... "She's a very kinky girl. The kind you don't take home to mother..." And trust me kids, it was a VERY happy song Eaduin's singing. LOL Of course I know full well that Vérité has no complaints either. Ever since I wrote that scene she's been wearing one of those secret, "I've had great sex" smiles. You know, kind of like the Mona Lisa.

It's been a good week for writing!

Friday, August 24, 2007

I think my next door neighbor's name is Noah...

Iowa has been rained on.... And rained on. I thought this past spring was bad. Summer has been much worse overall. We've had a couple weeks of rain. In fact it's been raining off and on since the week I took vacation. Counties in northwest Iowa (yeah - I DID just drive up there) have been declared disaster areas. There is flooding in my former home town too.

I went to lunch with friends today and we had to run through the rain. Arrgh. Lunch was wonderful, but the rain was not. Later in the day I met another friend. It was great to sit down to chat so we could touch base. There are times I don't get the chance to tell people how much I appreciate them. Today afforded me the opportunity.

I work this weekend and when I'm scheduled at the library, I have Friday off. In spite of the rain it was a good day.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

OtherWorld Diner daily special - tomorrow!

Art work by Michael Whelan

I'll be blogging again tomorrow and the topic for the week is what inspired us to write paranormal romance. My inspiration is Anne McCaffrey and Pern fiction. Anne has been writing about the Dragonriders of Pern® for forty years now. I only hope my work has that kind of longevity.

I loved her characters with all their warts and I loved her dragons. Visit my post tomorrow to find out more about how the Dragonlady has inspired my writing!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I See Dead People...

I'd hoped to get together with my sister this week when we both headed to northwest Iowa to visit our parents' graves. Unfortunately, her schedule didn't accommodate our plans. I hope we can get together later, but whether I met the living, I still wanted to visit the abode of the dead. Yeah, the cemetery.

As I mentioned, I've not been to the graves since my mom died because I know they aren't there. Their spirits are elsewhere even if their ashes are buried there, but for some reason I've felt called this year. I tried to visit a couple of years ago and was prevented by feet and I do mean FEET of snow covering the graveyard gates.

As my need to visit has grown, I keep wondering what it is that makes people commemorate the resting place of the dead. Why we feel it necessary to make pilgrimages. I haven't come up with anything overarching and profound for the world at large.

Of course I come from one of those bizarre families that take pictures of the deceased to add to the photo album and send snapshots of themselves next to their own gravestones to family members. No, really. I swear. One of my aunts did this. there is a picture of my aunt and her daughter beside my aunt's gravestone. This kind of planning ahead is a touch extreme in my personal opinion. So maybe this appeal of the graveyard makes sense for me. Even so, I've never understood the morbid fascination my family has with taking pictures of a dead person. I almost expect some voiceover guy to talk about "documenting the dead," like we just have to verify they are really gone or something. I love 'em but they're weird.

Of course I know that part of my need to visit the cemetery is the "they" thing. I want "them" to know my parents were loved by putting ornamentation on the graves. Now, I have no idea who "they" are, nor do "they" really care about whether my parents' graves have flowers on them. Still "they" linger in my mind.

At least I know where I got the dreaded "they" thing from. My mom. The house had to be clean in case "they" stopped by. What would "they" say if the children ran around the neighborhood in filthy clothes. Heck, what did I know or care about it at 8 years old.

I'm glad I went though. I left some baggage behind on the trip because I released some of my anger at my grandparents and acknowledged my gratitude to my great aunt and uncle. The trip helped me revisit my roots too. There were a LOT of stones in that graveyard that had my last name on them. I may not have known a good many of my relatives, but it was an odd sort of touchstone, milestone, and just stone-stone. I guess I had fun. Hey, I never said I was normal.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I joined a Group Blog - check it out!

One of the RWA chapters to which I belong is called FF&P: Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal. I met a group of likeminded ladies there who enjoy writing paranormal with a dash, or a LOT, or humor. We tossed the idea around today and decided to put together a group blog.

It sounded like a fun idea to do a group blog because then I'll only need to post every couple of weeks. I'm hooked up with a great bunch of writers! Please check out my blog over at The OtherWorld Diner tomorrow then let me know what you think. Look for future blog posts every two weeks, but feel free to visit the blog daily to read what my fellow writers have to say!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Three more days! I'm taking some much needed vacation time from August 6 - August 10. I can even hear the Go-Gos singing in my mind. Yes, I DO need a vacation. ;-) During that time I plan to do nothing. No travel. No split lips. No lost cell phones. Just nothing...

Well, not quite nothing. I AM going to write. I want to make some headway on my manuscript next week. I'm ready to get it finished so I can start submissions with it. I'm really enjoying my characters and the story they are building. Gotta tell you...Eaduin's REALLY hot.

And I am going to go to my parents' graves. Visiting graves. Yeah, now that sounds fun. It isn't so much fun as I need to go. My dad died in 1991 and my mom in 2003 and I haven't been to their graves since we buried Mom. They aren't there. I know that but I'm ready to release a little baggage so I'm going for a drive. I'll let you know whether or not I have "fun."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Police Academy - Citizen's edition

This week I had two very cool programs at the library which unfortunately were painfully under attended. A program on arson investigation and one on police investigation. At the police one I met my first Lieutenant. He's a very cool guy and imparted tons of useful information.

Why is this a big deal? Well, almost as an afterthought he mentioned that the Police Department in my town holds a Citizen's Police Academy which is free and encourages citizens to learn police procedure. You have to complete an application (which if I had a first born, I think they might want him or her!). How do I know this? Well....
I'm listening to the Lieutenant talk, and granted after the first mental flash to the movie Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, I thought to myself this was a golden opportunity to learn. I get to learn how to take finger prints, dust for prints, and shoot a gun. Could anything be cooler? So sometime this fall, I'm going to be "on duty" as a citizen trainee. More after class starts. This rocks!
Oh, and I'll let you know whether or not I can handle a gun or you should run like hell if you ever see one in my hands. ;-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shirley Damsgaard visited my library

Cozy mystery author Shirley Damsgaard came to my library today, July 22, for a program. She talked about the where she gets her ideas for her popular Ophelia and Abby series. I must say I'm very fond of Ophelia for two reasons. She's a librarian and she is a witch. Because I write paranormal stories, I can related to that aspect of Shirley's stories and because I'm a librarian it's fun to read about a character who shares some of my day to day joys and frustrations with the job. Shirley has done her research too, because Ophelia hasn't done anything wrong as a librarian that I recall. Believe me, I'd notice. :-)
Shirley is from Iowa (as is her character Ophelia) so when I pick up one of her books I see myself, friends and family in her characters. Shirley's ability to draw a reader in and make them love the characters like family is a real gift. I hope I do that with my characters. It is certainly what I aspire to do. The Witch is Dead is her next book and will be released in August. If you enjoy paranormal stories, cozy mysteries, and librarians then you'll love this series!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Release

Potter Pandemonium hits library. Film at 11. No more like 2 in the morning. Good thing these kinds of book releases only happen once in a lifetime. I get home from RWA only days ago, then I have a busy week and Harry Potter is only the beginning! I've got library programs on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Am I a masochist or just a poor planner? I'm not sure.

Still the Harry Potter thing was a blast. We had about 75 people show up and we partnered with the local independent book store. They handed out pre-ordered books while we gave out prizes for costumes and jelly bean counting. No, I didn't win a prize. Staff doesn't win prizes, but I think I look a little like Miss Sprout. At least I'm in brown, even if I don't have the right hat! Tomorrow I'll be reading - well after I attend the IRN meeting that is. I wonder when I'll sleep this weekend? Oh well.

Me - Think I look anything like Miss Sprout??

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Homeward Bound!

This morning I got to see Misty again before heading for the airport. It was so fun to finally MEET her in person. We've known each other for a couple of years now, but only online. Misty is a really talented writer and I had a lot of fun talking with her.
The other thing I got to do today was fly. I know this is the least favorite part of other peoples' travel experience but I love it. I don't like the airport part, but the taking off, soaring through the air, and landing parts are faboo. (Yes, I am an Animaniacs fan.)
Still, I gotta tell you I was SO glad to get home - even though one of my cats had pooped on the carpet. Thank God for Resolve carpet stain cleaner!
RWA was wonderful. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Inspiring. Well I could go on with words for hours, but I am glad I went and I intend to save up my money and go next year. I'm looking forward to San Francisco.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pitching and Pitching some more!

No, I didn't go to the RITA awards tonight. Too bloody tired! But the day was good! I started out with a pep talk from my crit partner, Misty Simon. She let me try out my pitches on her and gave me tips. It really helped because...

I put on my suit today (my job interview suit) and went to pitch to Ms. Raelene Gorlinsky of Ellora's Cave. Yes, the lady with the neat hats. I liked her and she was very professional... but she has quite the poker face. I wasn't sure if I'd done well with my pitch or not. Still, she told me Crime of Passion fits what their readers like to read (older hero/heroine, rubenesque heroine, and shapeshifter hero) and asked me to send a submission. That has to be good in my book. Yaaaay! So is that a no hitter or a homerun? No, really. I wanna know.

Anyway... After catching my breath and allowing my heart rate to return to normal, I hit some other sessions. Notably, two very cool spotlight sessions. One for Samhain Publishing, the other for LooseID. Samhain was interesting. The big news from Samhain was that they will be open for submissions again soon. I look forward to that and may submit to them in the future.

The LooseID session was way cool. If you asked a question, they gave you a book. Let me tell you I was scrambling for a question because one of the books they were giving away was Angela Knight's new how to book about writing erotic romance titled, Passionate Ink. I got a copy! Wooo Hoooo!

Not only that, but Ms. Treva Harte told those present that she would listen to pitches after the session if anyone wanted to pitch. At first I was too nervous, but then Maya and Marie (fellow PI chapter members) encouraged me so I got up my gumption and went up to pitch my medieval paranormal romance, Seeking Truth. You know, eventually I'm going to get every subgenre of romance rolled into one book. Anyway, she was really nice because this pitch had not been practiced the way my other pitch had been. However, I managed to interest her and she told me to send her a submission. I'm so proud of me! I rock!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Promotion and Scoping Out Agents

My Friday afternoon was spent in more workshops. I attended two in a row with Jessica Faust as a panelist. Jessica is with BookEnds Literary Agency and I read her blog fairly regularly. I really liked her. She's professional but realistic which appealed to me. She is also funny. Funny is very good. Yeah - maybe I hope she reads this when I get up my courage to query her, but if she doesn't that's cool. I'd feel the same way regardless.

At the end of Friday, I'm starting to suffer from overload. I'm tired and a bit let down, but inspired. I have NO idea how that combination works - maybe I'm hormonal or something. Tomorrow I have to pitch. Now since I'm pitching I should be going for a no hitter, but what I want to do is hit it out of the ballpark. Talk about your mixed metaphors. More later!

Jitters, Passionate Ink & Ellora's Cave...oh my!

Today I wore a dress and heels. Why such torture devices? Because today was the PI luncheon where they would be announcing the winners in the Stroke of Midnight and Passionate Plume contests. I was a finalist in the Time Travel/Paranormal category of the Stroke of Midnight contest. I won't keep you in suspense - I didn't win. I was a bit bummed but it was an honor to be nominated. No really. I was NOT making the Oscar face. Okay, I was. But I was happy for the winner - I just wanted the winner to be me. Maybe next time because I am certainly not giving up.

Before I attended the luncheon I went to the Ellora's Cave spotlight. This was VERY cool because Raelene Gorlinsky had books. Boy did she have books and after the session she gave them away. I also snagged one of the coveted Ellora's Cavemen Calendars. Now I know why they are coveted. Definitely inspiration for my next erotic romance. I was also very impressed by the presentation by EC. They answered a bunch of questions I had and it was interesting to get a preview of what Ms. Gorlinsky is like because I was able to get an appointment to pitch to her-which I will do tomorrow. I must say, the lady is very put together and I love her hats.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

And they're off!

The conference began in earnest today. My morning started with a great breakfast held by the Hearts through History chapter, of which I am a member. Great food, excellent view, and interesting company. HHRW gave away wonderful goodies for members. I received a couple of certificates for accomplishments - achieving PRO status and finaling in a contest. It is nice to have formal recognition, so it felt good.

After breakfast I headed for the PRO retreat. The speakers offered tons of useful tipson promotion, how publishing works, and the importance of persistence. Historical romance writer Jo Beverley was named PRO mentor. Her speech was wonderful. Not only was it substantive and inspiring, Jo has the most marvelous British accent. I could listen to her talk for hours.

My great morning was made greater because the PRO keynote was presented by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Yup, I got to see her again. She may have given the speech many times before, but it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment in time. Sherrilyn Kenyon rocks!

The afternoon was the luncheon and keynote address by Lisa Kleypas. Can you say, armadillo? Sorry, ya had to be there. :-)

The finish to the day was the Annual General Meeting - AGM. The AGM was...interesting. It was also painful. Painful in the way a room full of scalded cats is and all because of a "Hot Sheet" released by the board. Now I don't say that to be mean, because I admit freely I am one of the scalded cats. Go to the RWA Web site for details and fall out. I'm sure I won't explain it well. Suffice it to say, there will be no erotic romance category for the Golden Heart or the RITA and somehow most or all (still not sure which) e-publishers were designated as "subsidy or vanity" presses. This is baloney. I hope they revisit their definitions...soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Literacy Signing

A room full of romance authors. Have I found Nirvana? And no, I'm not talking about the band! I was SO glad I was feeling better tonight because tonight was the literacy signing. My favorite authors and new books...what could be better? Okay - sex with a really hot cover model but that wasn't happening on this particular trip. Oh well. :-)

I met several authors whose work I love and got to chat with them for a few minutes and get their autographs. Yes, I even got to tell Susan Lyons I loved her book! My crit partner, author Misty Simon, was signing and I had a chance to meet Robin Rotham too. Kathy Bacus, who belongs to my IRN group had only a few books to sign because somehow a whole bunch of books were placed into the goodie room by mistake - great for goodie gatherers but not-great for the literacy charity.

The highlight of the evening for me, though, was meeting Sherrilyn Kenyon. She wore a large black swan hat, fangs, and a bustier. The lady has style! She's also got class! I waited for about 30-45 minutes to reach the front of the line but it was well worth it. I had a chance to chat with her for a few minutes, get books signed and have a photo taken. Believe me, I was not the only fan who waited to see her either. There was a row long line when I was done and she stayed there signing until the last one got to see her. She was gracious, friendly, and genuinely grateful to her fans for their support. I used to just love her writing, but now I love her too! When I grow up I want to be just like her!

Now I didn't meet a bad apple at the literacy signing. All the authors were friendly and welcoming. There were lines for other authors who were as wonderful, too, but Ms. Kenyon made a lasting impression on me and I'm honored to have met her.

The only negative of the evening was that by the time I finished paying for my books (oy the line!) it was almost 8:30 and the FF&P Gathering had started at 7pm. By the time I arrived all the food was gone and when I looked into the room where it was being held I didn't see any chairs available. There probably were seats, but without food I wasn't going in there because I was STARVED! I hope that next year The Gathering is held at a different time so I can attend. I really wanted to meet some of the folks from that online chapter.

Sticker Shock and sickness

I went out with IRN friends last night to Smokin' Joes BBQ. The food was incredible, the company was awesome, and the DART was clean. The Dallas train system really impressed me. Reasonably priced, clean, and non-scary. Being a small town girl, I thought traveling around in a city the size of Dallas might be intimidating but the people were really friendly and very nice.

This morning though, I woke up sick. Nothing to do with last night's food, I'm sure. I think the stressful trip and the nerves caught up with me. I mean, after yesterday I thought the worst had to be over. But no... However, the positive thing to come from things was I really like my roommate, Justine. We had met online (both belong to FF&P chapter), but never met in person. We like each other and she is very cool! Things could have been dicey otherwise.

The night before as we chatted together, both of us sweet little small town midwestern girls (Justine is from Kansas, I'm from Iowa) had to pick our jaws off the ground as we noted the cost of some "amenities" of our hotel. For example the bottles of Evian water on top of the entertainment center were $5 a bottle. Ouch! I'm an Iowa girl. $3.50 for an a la carte cooked egg is a touch steep. Now, I like my eggs, but that's a bit much. Fortunately, Justine drove down, so today we went to Wally-world to buy some groceries.

Most of the shopping expedition went well, until I broke into a sweat and the sparkly lights started dancing around my eyes. This is never a good sign. I think I may have had low blood sugar because after dragging myself back to the car and eating half a 24 oz container of strawberry yogurt I started to recover. BTW, just in case you're curious, Dallas drivers are insane. Not quite as nuts as Chicago drivers, but...

More after the literacy signing and The Gathering tonight!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I love to fly but this is ridiculous...

What a day! I was completely ready. The car was loaded. As I started to drive out of town, I hunted for my cell phone which was NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! OH MY GAHD!!!! I realized I left it on the table at a restaurant I ate at last night with some friends. I drove to the restaurant which didn't open until 11 a.m. My flight left at 10:05 am and it was about 8:15 am. I panicked. No kidding? Yeah. I drove to the house of one of the friend's I was out with the night before. She wasn't home, so I tried another. She was still home and suggested I contact the Chamber of Commerce.

I drove there, trying to regulate my breathing and heart rate. I stumbled inside. Yes, they did have the phone number of the owner and miracle of miracles he was AT the restaurant and he found my phone. Life could return to normal. I ran from the Chamber back out to my car but in the process of opening my car door, I smacked myself in the face and split my lip. Yes, kids. A split lip hurts like hell! I grabbed a napkin and dabbed at the bleeding gash while going to rescue my cell phone.

Cell phone in purse, I head for the airport. Late, but I figure I'll make it. No problem. I get there at 9:30 a.m. I reach the front of the line at 9:38 am. I'm told I missed my flight - which is still on the ground, mind you. How? By three minutes, that's how. The flight leaves at 10:05 and the computers no longer allow anyone to board beyond the half-hour mark. So at 9:35 boarding closed. My plane is on the ground. I'm at the airport, but I can not leave. Needless to say, I'm pissed. Not rude. Just pissed. Thank God for a gifted staff person who found a later flight for me and printed me a boarding pass.

Were my traumas at an end? No. I think not. The flight they got me on was...get this...delayed. And delayed.... Finally, it arrived and boarded. At last, all being right with the world, we took off for Dallas.

Now I must tell you, the flight was way cool. As we took off, I could feel the climb and knew they had throttle full, mixture rich. As we came in to Dallas, I could feel when they put in flaps and knew what they were doing and why they did it. I love flying...sigh.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Can we say nervous?

Next Tuesday I will be winging my way to Dallas, TX for the RWA National conference and I'm nervous and excited both. I'm looking forward to meeting people I currently only know online via special interest chapters, and I'm going to enjoy spending some time with my IRN friends who will be attending the conference too. Most of the IRN crew has attended before, and they've offered some great advice as far as planning for the trip and getting ready for my pitch appointment.

I've been worried about coming up with the perfect pitch and still can't seem to come up with a "high concept idea" to save my life. I hope the people I meet won't be hypercritical. As everyone I talk to tells me, they are just people. They put their pants on one leg at a time. Assuming they wear pants - if they do skirts - all bets are off! ;-)

Keep your fingers crossed for my good health and success. Off to Nationals I go!
Woo Hooo!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

The fourth of July is another one of those holidays that makes me think about the past. My past. My family's past. Every citizen's past.

But for a small group of rebels, tired of being used and abused, this country might never be. We might still be citizens of the United Kingdom. Now I have nothing against the UK. In fact, I'm a bit of an Anglophile, truth be told. But I think the world would have suffered for the lack of an independent nation of people that will look at one another and say, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

You know the best speech about democracy I ever heard was in a romantic comedy. A movie I expected to be fun and full of fluff. Yes, there was fluff. There was romance. There was fun. But there was also this incredibly powerful scene. I'm talking about The American President and the speech was recited by Michael Douglas. In part....

"...America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free'. "

I loved the movie because it was a great romantic comedy. But what I loved best about that movie was that quote. It gave me chills. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. There aren't a lot of speeches that do that to me. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" and JFK's Inaugural are the top two that come to mind. I'm sure there are others, but I can listen to those and find some new nuance every time.

Now you may not agree with me, but that's okay. That's what it's about. Dissent without fear. Protest without being labeled a traitor. That's why I'm thankful to live here.

Let it always be the law of the land!

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bittersweet success - I landed an airplane!

Well, I did it.
I landed an airplane.
The good news...we survived!

My flight instructor suggested we go out with a bang. He wanted me to practice landing procedures and perform what's known as a "touch and go." It's where you land, then take right off again. We climbed into the plane and took off - no problem whatsoever. I still love flying and that won't be changing anytime soon!

Then we "landed" in the air - slowly practicing a traffic pattern while descending from 3000 feet to 2000 feet to "land." The first time going through we would have crashed and burned. I ended up at 2000 feet well ahead of the designated "runway." However, after more practice I got better. Then we headed back to the airport to practice the real thing.

I got to bring us down while my flight instructor did the actual landing, then he gave it back to me and I took off. It was SO cool. The second time we went through the procedure, I brought us in and he was ready to take over if needed, but I LANDED THE AIRCRAFT!!! Oh yeah. It was great.

Update about my instructor. He got the job he wanted and will be leaving for training next Monday. I know he is going to be incredible. The good news is when he completes training he'll be back in the area because he'll be flying out of Des Moines. I might get a chance to see him from time to time and I know his family and girlfriend will be happy to have him in the area too. It's nice to be close to home, yet able to do what you want to do for a career.

A big plus for me - when I talk to him I can pick his brain about flying the big jets. Who better to talk to for research than an airline pilot? :-)

Thanks for being such a super teacher, Ryan and good luck. See you around!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Calamity Jayne Hits the Library

I was pleased to have Kathy Bacus visit my library tonight. She talked about her writing and signed books for readers. It was a great night!

I know Kathy because we are both members of the Iowa Romance Novelists chapter of RWA based in Des Moines. Kathy is a dedicated author, former state trooper, and an all around cool lady!

We didn't have quite as large a crowd as I might have liked, but it was respectable and several bought books and had them signed - including me!

A really neat part of this is both of us are going to Nationals in July and Kathy is a finalist in the 2007 Daphne Contest for Published Writers. She is nervous and excited. I can relate because the Stroke of Midnight announcement creeps slowly forward. I'm all jittery about it. I definitely hope Kathy wins her category. It would be really wonderful and well deserved. If you enjoy a funny, cozy mystery be sure to give Calamity Jayne a try!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Body in the Library

Tonight we had a murder mystery at the library. It was a BLAST. The Teen Advisory Board and staff members were suspects. Because I worked this evening, I couldn't be part of the early fun - but I did record the newcaster broadcasts. Let me just say I am a MUCH better writer than I am actress.

We used a purchased murder mystery, though I really would have liked to try my hand at writing one from scratch. It would have been a challenge to make sure I laid out all the clues without tipping my hand. Kind of like writing a romantic suspense novel but without the really bad acting.

It was definitely interesting to peruse the game to see how it was done, and do some script rewriting. The mystery purchased didn't include a dead body and ALL the Teen Advisory Board wanted one. I even helped make up our DB so she had bluish lips and a "bruised looking" neck. Not only am I NOT an actress, I am NOT a makeup artist. But hey, I tried. She looked good, if a little striped.

All in all it was a very fun evening. Maybe next time we'll hold one for adults. It might be draw quite a crowd!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Flight Instructor is moving on!

I went flying today and it was a blast, except for ONE thing. I found out my flight instructor is leaving! What am I gonna do without my teacher! Waaaaaa!

Now on the plus side, he's decided to follow his dreams to become a commercial airline pilot. I really admire anyone who goes after their dream and takes a risk. I may be a bit prejudiced, but in my not so humble opinion, any airline that snaps him up is going to be very happy and should be highly smug.

Not only is he a good pilot, but he's a very patient, calm, and funny flight instructor. I'll find out more next week because - funding or not - we're flying together one last time before he leaves!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Imagine the Possibilities or Why I like to write paranormal romances...

I love to write paranormal romances. I've mentioned in other posts that I was influenced by my parents to imagine the possibilities. For myself, I like to ask..."What if?"

What if a woman finds out she is half-shapeshifter and her new lover shifts into a wolf a whim?

What if a medieval woman has psychic abilities? How does she hide them so she isn't accused as a witch?

The ideas are endless. That's why I like paranormal. I don't have to limit myself to the "real" world possibilities. I can imagine boys like Harry Potter are real. I can dream that one day I'll get to ride a dragon and fight thread. I get to spin my own tales set in a unique and wonderful universe and maybe inspire another would be writer to imagine the impossible. Or convince a reader to dream the wonderous.

That's why I write paranormal. If you're gonna dream. Well, dang it.

Dream BIG!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Musical Moods

I'm always surprised how many romance writers I meet who say that music inspires them when they write. I have to admit, I've used it for background too. I'm always reminded of the western music playing at the very beginning of Romancing the Stone. Remember how Joan Wilder wrote that cheesy but wonderful ending to her western? She wrote with headphones on and the soundtrack from How the West Was Won booming in the background. Flash to Joan, pulling the last page out of the typewriter, tears running down her cheeks saying, "That's so good!" And it was. It was the perfect soundtrack for her book.

When I'm writing a contemporary paranormal romance, I listen to my favorite love songs regardless of musical style. I have Billy Joel mixed with Tim McGraw and it's all good. I like to create a great mix the progresses from love song to sexy love song. And when I'm writing a love scene, there are some seriously hot love songs, like "Let's Make a Night to Remember" by Bryan Adams that makes writing that all important love scene so much easier!!

When I'm writing something historical though, I like to try to find music that fits the mood. Recently I've been writing a medieval paranormal, so I've been listening to polyphonic music by Anonymous 4, the Kings Singers singing my favorite historical folk songs like "Now is the Month of Maying," or the Medieval Baebes performing "Salva Nos." I've also discovered the Sherwood Consort and they have a nice version of "Sumer is icumen in." Listening to the right music puts me in the right brain space to work on a particular story.

What works for you when your writing? Contemporary or historical music or do you prefer blessed silence?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Writing madly

I attended my local chapter meeting for RWA today. I belong to the Iowa Romance Novelists in the Des Moines area. I was so pleased to be able to announce that I had written 90 new pages this month. The cool thing was those were all on the same manuscript. A medieval, paranormal romance called Seeking Truth. Lord Eaduin Kempe is my hero and as I said in a previous post, I'm falling for the guy. Damn he's hot.

In addition, I went shopping and found several cute outfits to wear to the RWA national conference, so I am feeling set. Now I just have to get my pitches ready and I'll feel less nervous...maybe. We'll see.

Starting next week, I will get back to writing (and editing) madly. It feels very good to be so productive!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Erotic Romance and Ratings

Of late, I've read far too many published and unpublished writers dissing erotic romance on listservs to which I belong. It has really upset me and made me angry. Posts I've read on these lists talk about erotic romance being all sex and no romance. Writers/readers say they skip over the sex to get to the next part.

Well, some important points are part of the expression of sexual love. I just wrote a love scene in which I drop clues about my hero's phobia during the love scene. If someone skips my love scene, they miss that clue and will get blindsided later in the story. BTW, it is a LOVE scene and not just sex. That's what makes it an erotic romance.

Now I won't tell a reader what they should read. I don't like being told what to read either. But another aspect of these postings included writers suggesting that books should have ratings. If publishers voluntarily put some sort of rating on their books, that is there choice but asking the state or federal government to step in to enforce some rating system is just wrong. It makes me cringe. I can imagine the easily offended specifically hunting out books with certain ratings in book stores and libraries then attempting to get those books banned. Fahrenheit 451 here we come! Now, perhaps that isn't what the writers meant, but it sure sounded that way to me.

Recently books have been challenged at the high school in my town. The uproar on both sides of the issue was thunderous. It is important to remember that every book out there is going to offend SOMEONE! Religious books offend atheists. Left wing political books offend right wingers and vice versa. Erotic romance books offend people who don't want their romances to have sex and strong language. Heck, Captain Underpants offends some parents. There is a solution...

If a book offends you, don't read it and don't buy it.
Problem solved.
All is right with the world.

For my next trick I'll solve global warming. ;-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Adult Summer Reading - Get a clue at your library

Summer reading has started at my library. We had a wonderful kickoff picnic for kids and teens and had hundreds of kids and parents at the library to sign up. I love this time of year - even though the library becomes a zoo - because it shows how much people value the library's role in the community.

Not only do we promote a summer reading program for kids and teens, we promote adult reading too. We try to keep our summer reading program for adults simple. Most people don't have a lot of time to come into the library and read anyway. I put together a new program this time (based on something the YS librarian brought back from one of her seminars). I went to the food places in town and pitched summer reading to them in order to get coupons for free food. We had an AMAZING response. It felt great to score all those coupons to benefit/thank my readers.

People pick up their packet and it has a book mark and five entry forms. They can complete the entry forms or not. If they complete them, they can bring them in to be entered into drawings for $25 gift certificates for businesses in town. Everybody wins!

Why participate? Your time is limited and you have vacation and kids and...

Well, just remember....if you don't use it you lose it. Reading can sweep you away to new worlds and new civilizations. You can boldly go where no one has gone before. (Okay yeah, I'm a Star Trek fan - you get the idea).

So stop into your library for a chance to be swept away and have as much fun as the kids!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Am I being unfaithful?

I still love Diarmid Redwolf. Really. He is the hottest cop I've ever written. I love his humor (dry and macabre) and his sexy bod. But he has Mikaela. Diar has his happily ever after.

I feel like I should let him go. Why? I'm writing a new hero.

Lord Eaduin Kempe is my new hero and I'm falling for the guy. He's tortured and feels like he doesn't deserve love and happiness, but he does. Not only that but he is a very intense and passionate lover. Plus he looks damn good in chain mail armor!

Am I being unfaithful? I don't know and I wonder if every romance author has this reaction as she transitions from one book to the next. Do you ever feel like you are cheating on a lover when you start writing a new hero and he captures your imagination?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Another personal post today because it's my mother's birthday. She would have been 78 years old today. I lost her in 2003 and it has left a big hole in my life. Yes, because she is my mother, but most especially because I would not be a writer today if not for her.

My mom believed in me when few others did. She encouraged me to write and told me to follow my bliss. Mom was smart, funny and a poet. No really. She wrote lovely poetry. When I lost her, I lost my best friend, my most fervent cheerleader, and my main source of unconditional love. She knew my faults and loved me anyway.

Now, the lady was not perfect. Never think it. She could be clingy and needy, stubborn, and bossy. Growing up I knew I could get around her, but I also knew I could push her just so far and no farther. She's one of the few people who has ever really understood me. I wasn't the only person who felt she was special though. Mom had many dear friends. Even acquaintences thought she was special and appreciated her humor and her genuine, warm smile.

Damn, I miss her. Have you ever wondered why I write paranormal romances? Partly my dad, but mostly my mom. Both of them were willing to entertain other religious philosophies than those with which they were raised. I remember mom getting help from the minister to get interlibrary loan books at a nearby University library. You might think that was no big deal, but what did she got on interlibrary loan? Not knitting books. Uh-uh. No, she ordered the Apochrypha and Pseudepigrapha because she wanted to read ALL the books of the Bible, not just those that ended up in the Protestant Bible she read as a child, but the expunged books, too. These suckers were 2-3 inches thick. I remember they literally filled up the dining room table because they were also a foot wide and a foot and a half or two feet tall. BIG BOOKS!

When this woman had questions, she went to the source and she researched her ass off! Her hunger for knowledge stuck with me. Dad used to do that kind of thing with science books, but just watching her read the sacred texts of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism really impressed me. Had she gone another path, she would have been a university scholar with a PhD in religion. Yeah, my mom was COOL!

She also explored new age thought. I was exposed to the used of tarot cards and psychic research. Mom valued me as an individual. She presented ideas, but never told me I had to believe as she did. Instead, she let me form my own belief system and discussed it with me. My mind was opened to the possibilities which is why I now write paranormal romance. I can imagine things because I wasn't forced to into a belief system which saw only black and white. I learned about shades of gray too.

My mother was a major influence on me. I miss her every day. I miss hearing her voice and feeling her hugs. I'll miss her until I cross over to the other side and join her. My one consolation is that I know with absolute certainty she will be waiting for me when this life is over and will provide just as much fun, teaching, and love for me in the new life I'll be beginning. And that's the way it should be.

I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thank you... Happy Memorial Day

This "holiday" always makes me think. Think about everyone who has served in the military in my family and in the nation down through time.

My grandfather served in World War I, my father served in World War II. I didn't have a close friend or family member in VietNam or the first Gulf War, but I've had friends who have served in Iraq. Fortunately for me (and them) all have survived their service in the far flung war torn areas of the world.

Thanks one and all for your service to this country. Regardless of whether I agree with a war effort or not, VietNam taught me never to forget, as a citizen, how important such sacrifice is to those of us who live in the United States.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My voice is changing...

No, I'm not a teenage boy. I mean my writing voice. Why is it happening, and how? Well, you may ask. It shocked the heck outta me!

My first finished manuscript is a contemporary paranormal so there are a few pop culture references (not so many as to date it - I hope), strong language, and sexual content. I've also injected a bit of dry humor and in one spot almost campy humor. What can I say? I'm eclectic.

The manuscript on which I am now working is a medieval paranormal. Everything is different with this one. First, the language is more formal. I left out the thees and thous, but included yeas and nays and it takes more words to say the same thing - they talked more flowery back then. Check it out - Shakespeare probably takes two sentences to say, "I gotta pee." Prithee good sir, where may I find a privy? My innards threaten to burst.

Sorry - I had to try it. But I digress...

The biggest difference I'm finding is how I write the love scenes. I always write sex graphic and hot. That hasn't changed. What has is the way I describe things. Body parts get described a bit more euphemistically. I wouldn't call it lyrical or purple prose, but it isn't contemporary either. As an intellectual exercise, noting the differences is fascinating.

For example I can not imagine using the word clitoris in any kind of historical romance, but especially not in a medieval. The term is too clinical and modern. Instead I used nub or nubbin. Now, happily the word cock was in use back then, but I have trouble imagining a lady knowing or using the term. I decided to have my lord use it to describe himself, but the heroine uses manhood. Yeah, I know...I don't like the word either...too flowery. Somehow it works here. Although on their wedding night, the hero introduces the heroine to his word. Once that happens she can scream it all night if she wants to...and she does. ;-)

Now that was a fun scene to write!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nationals approach swiftly...

After I received my tax refund I took my money and bought my plane ticket for Dallas and paid for my conference fees for the RWA national conference. I am excited and nervous all at once, but I am THRILLED to be able to attend.

What has me so thrilled? Networking. I belong to quite a few online chapters through RWA and I'll get the chance to meet many people who have thus far been only names on an email. Not only that but I may get to meet, or at least see, some of my all time favorite romance authors. Down deep I'm a real fangrrl, I admit it. ;-)

Will I meet Nora? Will I rub shoulders with Christine or Sherrilyn or Robin? Not only will I get to meet new friends, I'll get to meet my heroines. Women who have overcome obstacles to make a name for themselves in romance. How cool is that? On top of all that coolness, I have an appointment to pitch to an editor and may get to pitch to an agent if I stumble across one at a workshop, in the hallway, while eating...just not in the bathroom!!! I been warned about that one, believe me!

Keep your fingers crossed for me in July. It's going to be an incredible trip!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Color me a happy camper

Okay, they have me for at least one more season, as long as the writers don't screw it up again.

The season finale was much more satisfying than most of the rest of the season has been...I'll give them that. But please, Calleigh and Eric are just a no go. Calleigh and the bad boy has possibilities.

BTW - is H ever going to develop a personal life again? It would be nice. It would be even nicer if she was born prior to the initial screening of Star Wars. Better still if just maybe she had even HAZY memories of Watergate or Vietnam.

Don't mind me, I'm just a writer frustrated with one of my favorite shows and how far off the beaten path they've traveled - and NOT in a good way.

Thankfully, there's hope for next season.

Monday, May 7, 2007

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down....

It's been raining for days, and I for one, am sick of it! I mean, I know April showers bring May flowers, but this is ridiculous! And what purpose do May showers serve, I ask you?

Oh, now I admit it can be fascinating. On Friday, April 27th I went flying. It had been raining for nearly a week straight and the South Skunk River had flooded (probably still is for all I know)! So in the air we flew toward a lake that wasn't normally there. It looked VERY cool from the air.

The funniest part was there is an adult bookstore near here right off the interstate. It has been dubbed "Porn in the Corn." The building and the road running to it were passable, but it was surrounded by its own little moat. God help us if our porn became inaccessible. LOL Also, let no one say God wants to smite porn, because if he did - there wouldn't be a moat. There would be a lake with the porn store solidly at the bottom. ;-)

Anyway - more rain during the weekend complete with a tornado and flooding in Iowa. Enough already! My honey pots are already as high as they can get!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What are they thinking?

Yup, I'm a long time fan of CSI: Miami. I like all the CSI franchises, but I admit I was partial to Miami and especially Horatio Caine. Now, I was not a major David Caruso fan in the NYPD Blue days - or since. I don't know if he was too cocky or his hair was too red. But age has made him hot. Kind of like what happened to David Bowie - but that's another column.

But as a writer I need to write a little rant...spoilers will be involved so close your eyes unless you don't care or have already seen the episodes...

So anyway, I was happily watching the story arcs waiting for H and Yelena to get together when Ray returns and whisks her away. Okay... I can cope. It is all bittersweet and H is adrift again. But then the 4th season happened and so did Marisol Delko. First of all - this woman looks young enough to be his daughter.

Now I KNOW there are men that date women 20-30 years younger but they are usually guys like Hugh Hefner or actors like Michael Douglas - not regular guys like cops. It kind of creeped me out. Remember this is supposed to be Horatio Caine and not David Caruso (50 year old new dad - more power to him) we are discussing. Let us not confuse the two men.

Okay - so he dates a 28 year old woman and he's in the neighborhood of 50. I try to swallow it - but then there is no passion between them. Hell there was more passion between H and Yelena (whom he maybe dated) than there ever was between H and Marisol (whom he married)! No physical affection for Marisol and I'm not talking about him carrying her off to the bedroom but how bout a single kiss...even on the cheek? Nothing. She touches him - he doesn't touch her. And when she is conveniently killed the day of their wedding (and what's up with THAT!!) who kisses her on her death bed? Her husband? Her brother. Her husband wants to run and get the bad guys. Understandable to want to get the guys that killed your wife, but the only emotion he shows is a few tears which do NOT escape - because he's a manly man.

Can we tell I'm fed up with the writers? The topper was last night. H is the kind of guy who HAS gone out on a limb for his people. Hell, he all but covered up a drug test for Eric, but let Ryan be human and have a gambling debt and he's fired? Excuse me? Does H face him down and fire Ryan himself? No. He lets...get this...STETTLER do it. Arrrrgh.

Where is the Horatio I used to love? I wish the writers would get a grip and quit tweaking or whatever they are doing before I turn it off permanently. And it will cost them money if I cease to watch - I've bought all the past seasons on DVD.

Oh Horatio, we hardly knew ye....where did you go?
rant over...for now...stay tuned!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Oh, the horror.... I must write a synopsis!

What's scarier than a blood-thirsty vampire or a ghoul looking for meat? Well, for most writers, it's the synopsis.

It sure is for me! When it comes to writing a story, I'm a certified pantser (plot by the seat of my pants). Oh I have a general idea where the story is going to end when I'm done, but the journey getting there is as much as a mystery to me as to my characters. So when I'm told I need to come up with a synopsis, I start to sweat and shake. No, really!

Also, I am always writing my synopsis after the fact. Once I've finished my story, I try to write out the plot line so I can share it with others (like agents or editors). Now if that isn't scary, what is??

So I write out what happens as best I can and either include way too much (so the thing is ten pages long - single spaced) or leave out way too much so I might as well be describing some generic romance instead of MY story. I wish I could figure this out! I hear people say "Oh, make sure to inject your voice into the synopsis." Um.... How do I do that when I'm instructed to outline a novel length plot (100,000 words) in about five pages, double spaced.

HELP!!! Please, help me guys! Freddy Krueger is chasing me and he's asking where his synopsis is!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Why I love Alpha Males!

What is it that draws romance readers and writers alike to the Alpha Hero?
Let me throw a few words your way...

Intensity... Passion... Honor... Chivalry...

All this and more is what I love about an Alpha male, whether I'm reading a romance or writing one. An Alpha male will die for the heroine and not bat an eyelash at the sacrifice.

But you may argue, he's a control freak. He's bossy. He always has to win. Uh huh. Until the irrestistable force (hero) meets the immovable object - of his affections (the heroine).

Another argument I've heard.... He's the representation of the paternalistic society oppressing women. Yup - until he meets the heroine. Romance is about feminine empowerment because the heroine is the one in control of the relationship.

Is that what really draws us? Naw, we like alpha males cause they're hot. When they want a woman, they chase her down like prey and there's an inherent excitement in a man being that fascinated. And no, I'm not talking "real world" stalkers. They are scummy bastards that deserve to be jailed as soon as possible. I'm talking about the fantasy - which is what romance is after all. When an alpha male wants, he chases. When he falls in love, he's brought to his knees.

What a heady power trip for any heroine, reader, or writer. Time to start writing now... I'm stoked!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Champagne Rules and so does Susan Lyons

I loved this book.

Trust me, I don't say this about every book I read. I was judging a contest - never mind which one - and this book arrived in my mailbox. So I knew I HAD to read it, but it sounded good so I saved it for last. You know - best for last kind of thing. Or give myself a treat at the end... Well, I liked all the books I read, but I loved this one.

Now, I enjoy erotic romance anyway (at least when it's well written). But I am picky. I've read books where I wanted to kill the hero or heroine cause they did stupid things or kept secrets for lousy reasons, etc. None of that crap here.

This story is about two strangers, Suzanne and Jaxon, who make love while vacationing in Greece and meet again years later and reconnect, but they decide to keep it light and play by Champagne Rules. But they keep breaking their own rules because they want to know one another better. It's cool to find characters who want hot sex, but want more from their lover, too. Susan Lyons has written a well paced story that is hot, funny and moving. The main characters are well rounded and complex. The secondary characters have personality without stealing the show. In fact, I'm sure Susan will write more about Suzanne's friends, and when she does I want to read them. Hot in Here is the second book in this series and is currently available. I'll be shopping for it soon.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Measure of a Man - Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday. Unfortunately, I'd have to visit the cemetary to celebrate with him. He would have been 81 years old. He and I fought like cats and dogs when he was alive, but I still miss him. Weird huh?

Dad was one of those people who measured success by the paycheck. Maybe that's a guy thing, I don't know. But he never made the big bucks, so he didn't think he was a success. He felt like a failure and I wish he hadn't felt that way. I think he was a success and I'll tell you why I think so.

My dad survived teasing as the "fat boy" when he was a teen. (Having been the "fat girl" I know what this is like.) Instead of letting it get him down, he focused on things he did well. He joined the drum & bugle corps and played bugle and coronet. He was good, too. As a sixteen year old, he got his parents' permission to enter the Navy. He served as a radioman aboard a cargo ship in the South Pacific during World War II. He rarely talked about his experiences, but they colored him for the whole of his life.

After the war, he went to college and earned a geology degree. That's also where he met my mom. I will say the smartest thing he did was snag her and not let go once he found her. After they married, they traveled a lot following his job. Oh, I forgot. Mom said he was good in bed. Hey, you make your woman happy in bed, you're a success! Now granted, I really didn't want to know about their lunchtime quickies, but it's nice to know they were horny newlyweds just like everyone else.

Back to the career thing, once they settled in Iowa, Dad was a well respected geologist. He was active in professional organizations and did a good job for the companies he worked for. He even did lapidary work and made some gorgeous jewelry. I have some which I still wear. More important than the outward success, he stuck with his family.

His parents were verbally and physically abusive to him when he was young, yet he didn't abandon them when they were old and needed him. His dad had to be taken to doctors a lot due to a long chronic disease. My father took time off from work to get him there. My grandmother lived with us until her death after she contracted Alzheimer's disease.

That's the measure of a man, for me. Can he be counted on when the chips are down? My dad was that kind of man.

Mom called Dad her "teddy bear." She was scared of thunderstorms and if he was home, she was fine. If not, she was a jittery mess. If she heard a noise in the night - guess who got to investigate? Yup. He did. More importantly, he got out of bed, put on his robe, picked up a flashlight and some sort of weapon and checked on the noise. Usually it was a racoon going after the garbage.

For all our disagreements - and they were many and legendary - I counted on him too. If I had a flat tire (which I never learned to change), I called Dad. He might grumble when I needed him, but he showed up. He showed up for my sister, too. Even if he had to drive a couple of hours to get to us, he'd still come if we called.

There's a line spoken by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, "If by my life, or death, I can protect you - I will." That says it all. For all his faults, my dad could have uttered that line and not had anyone burst into laughter. That's the measure of a man, and Daddy ya had it in spades.

Happy Birthday!