Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How To Books...

Suppose you had a dragon and a faery who were destined mates, but they weren't sure how to go about the cross species mating? What to do? I thought perhaps I ought to give them a how-to manual. Of course, how-to manuals can be pretty scary. I've hardly ever read one that made sense. The illustrations are nonsense usually with the important parts left out.

And have you ever noticed that they use big important terms, usually in Latin? Really, why can't they just call a screw, a screw? Too simple? And is it just me--or are more and more how-to manuals being written by people that don't speak, read, or write English? Which would be all right if they weren't aimed at English/American readers to begin with.

Suppose you have a non-native speaker try to explain computers? Perhaps mouse translates to small furry animal, closing windows translates to shutting the curtains, and saving a file comes out put away your metal tool? Then what?

The mind shudders to think what a sex manual would come out like. Not only would neophytes be confused and possibly horrified, but imagine the possible shock when they get to the real good stuff. We wouldn't have to worry about over-population. They'd never figure out how to do it.

Personally, I think every one ought to have to learn how to write a how-to paper. Back in college, our professor called it a process paper. When he handed out the assignment, he flat out told the class he wouldn't accept any process papers on changing a flat tire. He already knew how to change a flat tire, he informed us. He would like to learn something new.

I did mine on changing a diaper, something I was very well acquainted with at that time since I had three children...and something I was going to get reacquainted with because I was expecting my fourth child. Incidentally, I got an A on that paper. Heh. They say write what you know.

Maybe that's the problem. We need more know-it-alls to write the how-to books. Any volunteers?


PS: The Crazy Blog Serial is at Amarinda's page today. http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com Drop by and check it out because tomorrow is my turn!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cold Turkey by Janice Bennett - G

It's Monday! And as has been the case for several weeks, it's time for my mini-review and author interview. I've been very impressed with the wide variety of answers I've received for my interview questions. My guest today is Janice Bennett and her answers reflect a career that has been long and varied. So let's go find out just who Janice Bennett is...

1. IF YOU COULD START OVER WITH YOUR WRITING CAREER, WHAT IF ANYTHING WOULD YOU CHANGE? Well, my name, for one thing. I always thought Janet Evonovich or Agatha Christie would make a great pseudonym. Plus I'd have had home computers developed earlier. I wrote my first several books on typewriters. But seriously? I would have written in all the different genres like I wanted to instead of listening to the editors who told me I had to stick to just one type of book. I had to really stretch the boundaries of the regency to make each of my books different and to allow myself a taste of writing mysteries, fantasies, adventure, paranormal, all the genres I really wanted to explore.

2. WHAT WAS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU RECEIVED REGARDING THE LIFE OF A WRITER? Don't do it! That was the advice. I didn't take it needless to say. After that? To take vacations from writing. Nothing stifles creativity like stress and too many deadlines. I never seem to have the time to take that piece of advice, either.

3. IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE, LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD IT BE? The person who first decided to turn chocolate into a solid, edible, melt-in-the-mouth form. Now there was a true humanitarian. Other than her (it HAD to have been a woman.)? There are so many people of wisdom and humor and compassion and creativity, not only those who are famous but some of whom we might never have heard, all of whom would be so worth knowing. I'd like a chance to learn from all of them.

4. IF YOU COULD MEET ANY FICTIONAL CHARACTER, WHO WOULD IT BE? Again, there are too many. Terry Pratchett's Death (No, I'm not being morbid). Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax. Tolkien's Sam Gamgee in his later years. Patricia Wrede's Morwen. P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves. All people (and anthropomorphic beings) with good hearts, a strong sense of purpose and great wisdom.

5. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? I may have to get older but I refuse to grow up. But what would I want to be? Wise, serene, centered, complete. All the things I'm not now.

6. IN THE NEXT CENTURY, WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR? I'd like to be remembered for being wise and funny and caring and a great writer. In all honesty? It would be an incredible honor to be remembered at all.

Cold Turkey by Janice Bennett from Cerridwen Press

I confess that I love a good mystery. Even better I love a good amusing mystery. I cut my mystery teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, moved on to Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey books with a dash of Mary Stewart and John D. MacDonald. After a while, you judge the new against the old. So I was very pleased to find a new Sherlock to add to my collection.

Cold Turkey is a cozy, amusing murder mystery with wonderful characters. The heroine, Annike is an unemployed accountant who returns to her home town and Aunt Gerda to regroup over the Thanksgiving holidays. The hero, Owen, is the new sheriff, a non-native who is faced with the most difficult job a sheriff can face. No, not solving the murder. That’s easy by comparison. No, the sheriff has to find a way to live up to the memory of the previous sheriff, who just incidentally happened to be Annike’s deceased husband.

With a wild cast of characters, a busy collection of cats, Vilhelm the parakeet, and the star of the show, That Damned Bird, the turkey, the story moves along at breakneck pace, leading the reader down blind alleys, with the occasional stop for murder lightly seasoned with a pumpkin pie fight in the rain. I heartily recommend Cold Turkey for an absorbing read any time of day, but be prepared to stay up late if you start it right before bedtime.

My paycheck came today and Bunny Hop, the next in the series is at the top of my TBB list. Trot on out and pick up your own copy of Cold Turkey from Cerridwen Press.

Don't forget to check in at Kelly's Blog for episode twelve of the Crazy Blog Serial with the zucchinis and the peeler! http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Be careful what you ask for...

Early this morning I posted a short post on my author's loop, bemoaning the fact that we needed rain. Mentioned that our grass was pitiful burned straw. Somebody was listening. For the last half hour it has POURED. We now have a pond in the back yard with water rushing down the hill. Of course, the ground is so dry and hard that the water is mostly not soaking in--just washing away. But I ran out onto the balcony and quickly lined my potted plants up on the railing to catch whatever water I could. Hey! It's free and unprocessed. The radar shows another storm cell headed our way so I'll leave them up there a while...just in case.

Someone evidently complained about the hot water so now we're back to barely warm temps. It's not even hot enough to wash dishes. And shower? We're back to being able to shower without turning on the cold water at all. Sigh. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, it's either too much or not enough. Someday it'll be just right.

Food is often like that. Have you noticed? You order your scrambled eggs done. Notice I didn't say "well" done. When they arrive, either they're runny or crispy brown. Same with the hash browns. Either they're lukewarm, barely past the frozen stage, or they're charred. Wonder why that is? And toast? Don't even go there.

It seems some days as though you'll never quite have things just right. When was the last time you looked around you and said to yourself, "Things are just right?" Are we getting too picky?Waiting for perfection? I don't know.

Well, I'll be happy with the rain we received. If nothing else the bushes and flowers received a good soaking. And maybe one day we'll have the kind of rain the says "all day." You know the kind of rain I'm talking about? It just keeps gently falling out of a heavy gray sky. That's the watering kind of rain. Slow but sure. Just right.

For a couple of "Just Right" reviews of Dancer's Delight (available now from Cerridwen Press) please follow the links!

Fallen Angel Reviews http://www.fallenangelreviews.com/2007/July/Marlene-DancersDelight.htm and Jacqueline Roth http://jacqueline-roth.livejournal.com/


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Crazy Blog Serial Episode Eleven

Wow! Want to thank everyone for the wonderful encouraging words, both in private e-mails and in the comments. I was in the midst of preliminary FLEs and busy all afternoon which left me little time to brood. So there you go. Keep busy.

Then right before I went to bed, I received a lovely e-mail from a fellow writer who I've never met before, but she's been following the blog serial. She was tremendously encouraging. And finally, near midnight I receive notification that Dancer's Delight was awarded five angels from Fallen Angel Reviews!

This morning, I woke up to that stupendous review from Jae! It's been a combinations of my cup running over and heaping coals of fire. Needless to say, insecurity and discouragement are not in my vocabulary today. I cannot emphasize how much your encouraging words meant to me.

Today is my turn for the Crazy Blog Serial. If you missed the early ones, I'll be posting them on my website next week. If you missed yesterday's it's at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/!

Here is episode eleven:

Wary at this abrupt abandonment of ancient customs, Rafe yanked his hand free and backed away. “I think I will wait until you fetch your peeler,” he said firmly. “I prefer to properly observe all the customs.”

The woman chuckled and moved closer. “But the Guardians don’t plan for you to live long enough to observe the customs,” she whispered softly. “I am here to see that you die.”

Rafe turned and run, dodging through the crowded market place as the zucchini dealers inadvertently blocked the woman’s pursuit. As he neared the village gate, he saw the waiting soldiers. With a wild leap, he landed on the tailgate of the nearest zucchini wagon and without hesitation began to fire zucchinis at the soldiers.

Desperate to avoid the deadly zucchinis, the soldiers scrambled out of the way, leaving an avenue for escape. Arming himself with an armful of zucchinis, Rafe jumped down and ran through the gate into the wilderness of the Turquoise Mountains.

At their campsite, Shade woke abruptly from a deep sleep, certain that Rafe was in danger. “Get up!” he cried, shaking Emmeline urgently. “Something’s happened to Rafe!”
Emmeline scrambled to her feet and began to pack their belongings while Shade put out their fire. In moments they were hastening along a dim trail that led to the zucchini dealer’s village high in the Turquoise Mountains. Heart in her mouth, Emmeline wondered if they would reach Rafe in time.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Thief of Dreams

Word Count - 1007
Previous - 15, 895
Total - 16, 902

One day after writing about persistence, bamm! A couple of discouraging things happened and I spent a while asking myself if I wanted to continue. What if people really don't like what I write? What if I never sell enough books? What if....?

Insecurity if the thief of dreams. And it attacks us when we're down. Oh, yes it does. Boom! See? I knew I wasn't good enough! If I was, then more people would have bought the book! Never mind that I'm a brand new writer with a teeny, tiny fan base. Never mind that I know I have imagination and talent. It must not be enough, because if it was...

Well, I got over it. Mostly. I'm still a little down because I do have big dreams. But the dreams aren't dead yet. A little crumpled around the edges maybe, but not dead. A little singed in spots. But you know what? I'm not gonna quit. Probably because I'm so darned stubborn. Not willing to say "uncle."

Writing is a lot of work. Anyone who says otherwise is crazy. I love to write. I love to bring new characters and worlds to life. Well, duh...some of you read the Crazy Blog Serial so you know. But at no time has it been EASY! So it's a tad discouraging that more people didn't choose to read what I wrote. I suspect that every single author feels that way. This is our baby! Our creation! Where are the readers to enjoy our wonderful work?

They're out there. Someday they'll stumble across something else I wrote and say, "Hmmmm, I wonder if she's written anything else?" And then I'll get a pleasant surprise when this book suddenly finds more readers. So I'll look forward to that. And in the meantime, I'll push that thief of dreams back behind me.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Persistence or Defeat

Words Today - 3,345
Previous - 12,825
Total - 16,170

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." Calvin Coolidge

I can hear half of my readers asking, "Who is Calvin Coolidge?" He was our thirtieth president from 1923-1929. But that's another blog altogether. What I want to talk about is persistence.

I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog that I joined a couple of on line classes. One class is a very good class dealing with motivation and organization and all those things that keep us from writing. As I've read the posts this week, it strikes me more and more that so many of the obstacles are bogus. They're another name for, "I don't really feel like doing this right now." Well, okay. Then say that. Don't say "I watch too much tv." Don't say "I have to walk the dog." Be honest and say "I don't feel like writing right now."

If we're honest, then we have to take ownership for our lost persistence bug. Old Calvin was correct. There's another old saying, that you can't stop a man who believes he's in the right because he just keeps on coming no matter what obstacles you throw in his way. It seems that a lot of us suffer from a lost persistence bug.

Diet gone down the tubes? Quit exercising? Too tired to get up? Vegging out in front of the TV? When did we quit trying? When did we quit? Is it any wonder that our children have no get up and go when they see that ours got up and went? Accomplishment is nothing less than an individual that kept on moving. All those old cliches are true...a journey does begin with the first step. A book does begin with the first word. A song begins with the first note. If we don't begin, if we don't continue, then we can never complete that journey, that book, that song.

My bugaboo is cleaning house. I hate it. I'll do almost anything to not do it. I'll even exercise or go for a walk or write three thousand words rather than clean house. So I've started working fifteen minutes a day on the house. I'm not telling you that I'm accomplishing great things here. But fifteen minutes is fifteen minutes. Maybe I'll stretch it to twenty. The important thing is that I don't give up entirely allowing it to defeat me. Persistence is the enemy of defeat. So be persistent. Keep on keeping on.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Crazy Blog Serial Episode Eight

Words Today - 1,673
Previous - 11,152
Total - 12,825

Well, the blog serial still merrily rolls along. It seems that we have a few fans by the comments posted. Charlene and Mona are keeping our spirits up with an occassional visit from Sam and Cindy. Heh. Mona in particular seems to be getting into the spirit of things. If you want to laugh, read her comment on Amarinda's episode from yesterday at http://amarindajones.blogspot.com/! We appreciate any and all feedback.

I will tell you a secret. Writing may be a solitary business--at least the creation part. But writer's thrive on feedback. Without it we wither and die. We're on top of the world when we receive a fan letter. We dance on air when we get a good review. We loooove it when a peer tells us that they enjoyed our work. So feel free to make comments. We love it.

I suppose you're only here for the serial? Can't wait to see what new crazy direction our trainwreck has taken? Well... I'll just make one other statement. Beginning tomorrow, I'll post all the previous episodes on my website by the week. So all of last weeks--episodes one thru five will be up on my website at http://www.annycook.com/ just in case you joined us a little late.

Okay, okay--here it is.

At the crossroads near the foothills to the Turquoise Mountains, three females and their companion waited impatiently, their dark robes cloaking them from possible witnesses. “She will come this way?” the oldest demanded querulously.

“It is the only way,” the companion replied tranquilly. “She will be here soon.”

“It is imperative that we stop her before she finds him. If they mate, it will precipitate a terrible disaster!” The youngest one poked the companion in the chest. “You must not fail!”

“Fear not. By all the little purple gods, I will not fail.”

The middle female frowned and scratched her temple where the goggles were irritating her golden skin. “Why do you suppose Emmeline refuses to take both men? Hasn’t that been the custom for centuries? What has this man done to turn her against him?”

The oldest female snorted in disgust. “He stole her peeler and withheld the sacred chocolate. It was very daring of him, but everyone knows that a female of our species can not trust an alpha male. It is important to start as one means to continue.”

The companion ventured to suggest, “But if he returns the peeler…”

“No.” The oldest female was adamant and the companion bowed reluctant agreement.

The youngest female began to chuckle. “There is one way. The Mother of the Goddess ritual would tame him. As long as she is in possession of her peeler that would satisfy the basic requirements.”

“Someone comes this way,” the oldest female announced disapprovingly. “Quiet!”

Silence reigned for several moments before they heard Emmeline say, “Oh, all right, Shade. I’ll go with you. But first we must rescue Rafe.”

Remember that tomorrow's episode will be at Kelly's blog at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fear of Success

If you are following the Crazy Blog Serial, today is Amarinda's day at http://amarindajones.blogspot.com. I'm sure that she thought she cornered me, but alas, no, I've devised a wily escape which I will post tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have joined not one but two writing classes. One began day before yesterday. So far we've stated our goals for the next year, formulated a plan to implement those goals, and today we're working on analyzing what exactly is keeping us from implementing our goals. Once we decide that, our assignment directs us to find solutions to those problems.

As I read through the various lists my fellow writers posted, I was struck by the similarity from post to post. The same difficulties were listed. Spouse, children, elders, job, technical distractions such as e-mails and other web based activities. But the number one problem was self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a robber, not just in writing, but in every endeavor in life. That every present thought, "What if I'm not good enough?" keeps us from trying. If you never try, you can't possibly succeed. Ever. Whether you want to go to the moon, walk across the country, become the first woman president, or write a book.

This seems to be a peculiarly female trait. I know very few men who hesitate to do something because of the fear of failure. Why is that? What are we teaching our daughters that leads them to believe that they will fail? Does it all start with our urgent belief that certain things are not lady like or feminine? I don't know.

I do know that when I started asking other women about their dreams and what stopped them from achieving them, the number one reason was that same cry, "Suppose I try it and I suck at it?"

Well, my answer is, "SO WHAT?"

Will life as we know it come to an end? Will the sun fail to rise? Will the sky fall? I think not. Why is spectacular success so important? Why is it so terrible to try and fail? Isn't it worse to reach the end of life and have to say, "I never succeeded because I never tried?"

At fifty seven I finally found the courage to submit my first book. Nothing terrible happened. I was offered a contract. It was released last week. So I have to wonder how much longer I could have been writing and published. Sad, huh?

This is not to say that there aren't authors who have a satchel full of rejections. I have deep abiding admiration for them because they didn't quit. They kept on going. They didn't let fear of failure keep them from their dreams. That's the important thing.

If you don't try, you can't possibly succeed.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Because I Can by Amarinda Jones - PG

Well, things are back on track! The writing is going pretty good. (I'll post numbers later tonight!) I'm happy with the way my characters are behaving... although a new one popped up out of the blue. He's a philosophical merman pirate named Greenbeard. I'll let you fill in the rest of that from your imagination.

Today my guest author is Janet Davies. She writes for Cerridwen Press under her own name and for Ellora's Cave under the penname of Amarinda Jones. Yes, you guessed it! She's one third of the Crazy Blog Serial Trio. She was gracious enough to reply to my questions in her own distinctive style. So let us begin at once.

1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change?

I would like to be taller, slimmer, calmer and a tad more patient. To be honest, I really would not change anything because everything I have experienced has gotten me to this point in my life and my writing reflects that. I believe things happen as they are supposed to. And seriously just slimmer would be fine.

2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer?

My editor said write sex as sex sells. I initially thought - what? I can’t write sex. I am too much of a good girl for that. But surprisingly I can write sex quite well and I am good but not in the going to church on Sunday sense.

3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

I would like to meet Queen Elizabeth the first as she was an incredibly strong woman and I think she would have been an amazing pain in the arse when she was alive. This is a woman who ran a country in a precarious time when only men were supposed to rule. I think we could get into some excellent arguments.

4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?

I would like to meet Scarlett O’Hara and ask her what possessed her to think she was in love with Ashley Wilkes when the dark and delicious Rhett Butler was right there wanting her. What were you thinking Scarlett?

5) What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be crazy old lady who dyes her hair flaming red, dresses in outrageous clothes and is gossiped about at the retirement village. I want to say and do things because I can. I want to carry on living life like I mean it.

6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for?

As long as the reaction is strong – love or hate – that suits me.

Because I Can by Amarinda Jones from Ellora’s Cave

Have you ever started a book with some odd preconceived notion only to find yourself sucked into an Alice in the Looking Glass world? Amarinda/Janet has crafted a surreal romp through the business world Australian style. Never before have I read a book where the author's voice was so distinctive. Her heroine, Miranda is a staunch, take no prisoners advocate for her co-workers. Her hero, Justin is a staunch, take no prisoners CEO at the company that employs Miranda. Let the games begin!

The sex is hot and heavy in the most unlikely places, leading to a variety of stratagems that I can only describe as ingenious without giving away the goodies. The developing relationship between Miranda and Justin draws the attention of the “bad guy”, leading to several harrowing escapes. Will they identify him in time? Will Miranda believe that Justin wants more than a quick roll in the supply closet? Will Justin convince her he’s madly in love with her?

Oh, I heartily recommend this fast-moving snapshot of life in Australia with enough oddities (including a memorable scene with cane toads) to content the most avid arm-chair traveler and enough exciting sex to keep you busy groping for that cold drink and fan. For laugh out loud fun, run out and snap up your own copy of Because I Can.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Starting Over

Hello from the downside of a beautiful day. It's been so beautiful in Maryland that you would think I must have accomplished a lot today, right? Wrong. Or...maybe. Overnight, it finally dawned on me that the reason I've had soooo much trouble writing Daffodil is because it's wrong. When a book is wrong, it's like wading through jello. Squishy, slippery, and never-ending. So thirteen thousand words in, I stopped and started over. I admit that I was able to salvage some of it, but sometimes it's more difficult to salvage than to just start fresh. Argh!

It also seems that I'm suffering from a case of Greedy Gopher Guts as I've signed up for not one, but two online writing classes. Must be because I've moved far enough along in my lengthy writing career to realize that I don't know much about writing. Amarinda, I saw you roll your eyes, just now. Yes, I did. There is writing--and then there's writing. A lot of people can do the first kind. That's the sort of writing that gets you through school and possibly even propels you through those first acceptances from a publisher.

But the other kind of writing is that unique combination of technical skill, creativity, and voice that keeps you writing--and selling. I'm still working on developing that. So. At my age I'm still learning.

And writing. I yanked Daffodil back on the track and will now attempt to make up for lost time. Usually, I manage a chapter a day--an average of five for the week with the odd day off for good behavior and laundry. For the last two weeks I've struggled to manage partial chapters and each night I would close up shop absolutely hating the book. That's no way to write.

After chucking what I had and starting over, I asked a friend to read what I'd sort of salvaged. We discussed it a bit and I worked some more. Then happy with what I had, I thanked her for her help. Her reply was a telling question, "Has it put a fire in your belly to write it now?" And the answer was, "Yes! A resounding Yes!"

Whatever I accomplish today, I will go to sleep happy and content tonight. That's worth starting over--every bit of it.

If you're wondering who has todays episode of the Crazy Blog Serial, no one does as it's Sunday, our day off. Tomorrow, you can find the next sizzling episode at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ and boy has she come up with a dilly. Amarinda will need to do some fancy dancing to pull another rabbit out of her hat.

I'll also remind you that tomorrow is MONDAY which means it's time for my Mini-Review and Interview. This week's guest is Amarinda Jones/Janet Davies in both her alter-egos. The book I'm reviewing is Amarinda's Because I Can. Woo-eeeee!

Until tomorrow--be blessed and happy.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Crazy Blog Serial Episode Five

I'm posting this quite early as I have bloodwork first thing in the morning and then a full day of chores and obligations. Things I would rather not be doing, but there you go, life just sucks sometimes and we have to do stuff whether we want to or not.

This will be the last post of the Crazy Blog Serial for this week as we've decided that we'll take every Sunday off to regroup and recuperate from our labors during the week. On Monday, Kelly will once again take up her pen and march into the fray.

I haven't quite figured out why I've been nominated as the Crazy part in our serial title. Blue people with fangs and pointed ears seem perfectly normal to me. Really. However that may be, everyone else seems to think it's strange. So I thought I would give you a little peek from Traveller's Refuge, my uncoming sequel to Dancer's Delight. As always, it is subject to change.

In this scene, Trav has been injured and Wrenna's family is trying to heal him.

Deep in rapport with Trav, Wrenna was barely aware of movement around her. This was not how she had envisioned meeting her bond-mate, even in her wildest imaginings. The broken, pain-driven man she was linked to bore very little resemblance to the man to whom she’d struggled to explain their future relationship. That man had been strong, dominant and confident even while his life was in danger.

Subconsciously, Traveller was reaching out for Dancer, anxious because his brother wasn’t present. Anger welled up in Wrenna’s chest when she thought of Dancer’s focus, not on Trav’s injuries but on his own sense of betrayal. Trav sensed her disturbing thoughts and fought to break their rapport.

Abruptly, he threw off their link and demanded blurrily, “Take me to your leader!”

Squashing the angry frustration, Wrenna silently soothed him. It’s all right, Traveller. Dancer will be here soon. Relax…

She felt the rigidity in his body subside and realized that Dai had indeed returned with Dancer and Eppie. With Dai’s added strength, Mali and Jonas were able to block his pain more completely.

Llyon sighed softly in exhaustion. “Dancer! I’m glad you’re here. Wrenna needs help with Trav. We’ve blocked out as much of his pain as we can. We need to straighten and immobilize this leg. Try to distract him!”

Dancer cleared his throat and asked his brother, “I’m not their leader but will I do?”

Traveller, obviously in pain, very slowly turned his head and studied Dancer with foggy blue eyes that moved incredulously from Dancer’s face --taking in the changes in his appearance--down to his soft purple sharda. His eyelids fluttered closed and he moaned. “What have they done to you, Dance? You’ve turned into a blue Vulcan!”

Unable to contain his amusement, Dancer laughed out loud before leaning down close to Traveller’s ear and murmuring, “And that’s the least of it. You must get well as quickly as you can, Trav. I found my woman—and our grandfather. I have a lot to tell you once you’re better.”

See? Nothing weird or strange about that...

If you missed part four of our Crazy Blog Serial, then you'll want to catch up at Amarinda's blog http://amarindajones.blogspot.com/. If you missed the first three, they're all posted at Kelly's blog http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/.

So last chance to read all the other parts first...going, going, gone!

Shrugging, she slipped the laser saber back into the harness and adjusted the goggles back over her glowing eyes. “Your brother escaped and he’s hiding with the zucchini dealers in the turquoise mountains. I know how to find him. If you want him back, all you have to do is hand over the chocolate.” Sauntering away into the darkness, she paused, confident that he would follow her. “And of course, there’s that other thing I promised you…”

“Yes?” He stopped short of bumping into her, realized how very close she was, and breathed a shaky sigh of relief. So close he inhaled the scent of marigold on her breath. That would have been disastrous. If you were wise you never, ever touched one of them without an invitation, especially when they were in chocolate withdrawal. He sneered, curling his luscious upper lip back to reveal the glint of fangs. “What would that be?” he demanded.

“If you return my peeler, I won’t have to make you scream.”


Man on the Moon

Word Count - 1230
Previous - 11,393
Total - 12,623

Well, since I'm not finished with writing for the day, I'll post the count later tonight when I close up shop. Having said that, it's not going bad, but I wish it was going better! Our Crazy Blog Serial Challenge is picking up speed. If you missed today's check it out at http://amarindajones.blogspot.com/! You will note that Miss Amarinda has left me quite a mess to clear up. But never fear, I'll persevere leaving a new quandry for Miss Kelly.

Today, thirty-eight years ago, the first man landed on the moon. I realize that many of you weren't around for that. And because you weren't around, you might take it for granted. Please don't. Men died in the race to the moon. If you stopped ten people on the street, they probably couldn't name them and that's a national shame.

I was interviewed on Kelly's blog to today - http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ - and one of her questions was about famous people. It occurs to me that our astronauts ought to be famous with national hero status. Why aren't they? Why, when we have such men and women of stature, are we fascinated by the petty doings of movie stars and sports players? What does that say about us as a people?

Why aren't we holding our true national heroes up to our children as examples? Ask your child what it means when a soldier is awarded a purple heart or a medal of honor. Can they tell you? Do you know? Ask your child what it means to win the Newberry or Caldicott award. Do you know?

Perhaps, we need to start demonstrating our values at home. It could be that we need to start talking about the real heroes/heroines and role models. Its way past sad when our kids don't know who wrote our Declaration of Independence or our Constititution. Its sadder still when half of our citizens cannot recite the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner.

There is remarkably little fanfare on this anniversary. I daresay if it was the thirty-eighth Superbowl, we would be inundated with all sorts of facts and figures. That's too bad. So here are some random facts you may not know.

On January 31, 1958, Explorer 1 became the first artificial satellite launched into space by the United States. Onboard was a cosmic ray detector designed to measure the radiation environment in Earth orbit.

On August 25, 1932 Amelia Earhart set three records for women flyers: the first non-stop U.S. crossing, the longest distance record, and a coast-to-coast record time.

On October 14, 1947, in the rocket powered Bell X-1, Capt. Charles E. Yeager flew faster than sound for the first time.

Did you know that improved hurricane forecasts, made possible by NASA satellites such as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), can save as much as $1,000,000 per mile (1.6 km) of coast evacuated?

The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft landed in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans when they returned to Earth.

Did you know that the first African-American woman in space was Dr. Mae Jemison? She was selected for the astronaut program in June 1987 and served as the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab-J (September 12-20, 1992).

Eileen M. Collins was the first female commander of the space shuttle. She and her crew launched aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on the STS-93 mission in July 1999.

On October 11, 1984 Katherine Sullivan was the first U.S. woman to walk in space. During STS-41G, she and Commander Dave Leestma successfully conducted a 3-1/2 hour Extravehicular Activity (EVA) to demonstrate the feasibility of actual satellite refueling.

All facts were taken from the NASA page http://www.nasa.gov/facts/Space/index.html
Check it out! Pass it on!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Out of Hot Water

Word Count - 1,233
Previous - 10,160
Total - 11,393

Today I was out of the hot water both literally and figuratively. Figuratively because it is NOT my day to write a Crazy Blog Serial segment. Although I'm sure that tomorrow Amarinda is going to lay some wicked twist on me that I'll have to deal with. I have some ideas, but I shall say no more, keeping them close to my chest...

Now to the literal side. I had no hot water since last night. I had no water period for most of the day. Now do you suppose the apartment owners might just casually tack up a note on the bulletin board downstairs? Something to the effect that "we know it's not working..." Nope. When I took the dog out first thing this morning, I looked. No note.

At that point I had cold water, at least, so I could do the necessary things like fill the coffee pot and dog bowl and flush. Happy with my small blessings, I went about my day. Until my downstairs neighbor called to see if I knew why we didn't have any water. I of course denied knowing anything. She has been unwell and slept late so it was after noon by this time.

She called the apartment owners who gave her a song and dance about some part that blew on the hot water heater in the middle of the night. And so it goes. We had cold water back on around three this afternoon. And finally had hot water around five. VERY hot water. Another one of the downstairs neighbors nearly burned his hand as he wasn't expecting actual hot water.

For months now, it's been possible to take a shower with only the hot water on. So, I guess we won't be doing that from now on. I prefer not to be parboiled when I shower. Or wash my hands. Although the dishes is another story.

Years ago when I first moved into my home in NY, the hot and cold hookups under the house (it was a mobile home) were swapped. Imagine my surprise when I sat down on a very warm toilet seat. Woo-hoo, talk about sitting on the hot seat. Well, it didn't take long to get someone to fix that! Let's see... how many times do six people flush per day? Lots of hot water down the drain.

Of course, the lack of water was a wonderful excuse for not accomplishing any number of things like cleaning house, doing dishes, cooking dinner. Unfortunately, the water did come back on in time for me to cook dinner. Sigh. I was on such a roll, too. You would think that the repair guys could get it right and turn the water back on AFTER I come home from the restaurant. Nope.

Such is life. At least I'm not taking four minute showers like they have to in Australia. Not yet.

Today's Crazy Blog Serial segment is at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Part Two of the Crazy Blog Serial Challenge

Word Count - 1,276
Previous - 8,884
Total - 10,160

So this is the second day of the Crazy Blog Serial Challenge. Boy, Amarinda left me in a tough spot. If you haven't read part one at Amarinda's blog, you need to check it out first at http://amarindajones.blogspot.com/. Go ahead, read it now. I'll still be here when you get back.

See? Did you see what she left me to work with? I tell you the woman is completely wicked. I had my work cut out for sure. But I had a secret weapon. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and while there, I consulted with her on the best way to go forward with the serial. So there! Pffftttt!

Anyway, I have a few things to mention in passing...

Yesterday was my baby daughter's birthday. She turned twenty-nine. Happy Birthday! It's a sad thing when you forget your baby's birthday.

And I want to make sure I post Kelly's blog address so you can find her entry for the Crazy Blog Serial Challenge tomorrow. I e-mailed mine to her and you wouldn't believe what she said when she received it. I was shocked, I tell you. Shocked!

Okay, here's my entry:

Frantically, she searched her tool bag for the special peeler. Who would have thought this mission would require a peeler? No, no peeler. While she kept her glowing green eyes (thank the little purple gods for the special goggles the researchers had developed!) on the object he tenderly cradled with his hands, she slowly pulled her laser saber free from the harness. This job was going to require all the delicacy at her command.

To be continued on Kelly's blog tomorrow at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What do you want?

Word Count - 1,261
Previous - 7,523
Total - 8,884

On the author chat loops this last week, there has been much discussion regarding the differences and similarities between being a print author and an e-published author. I suspect the most passionate of all the debaters are those authors that hope to one day make the leap from e-publishing to print with a NYC publisher. I wish them the very best. Yes, I do.

I, on the other hand, don't have any such ambitions. Perhaps if I were younger. Perhaps if I were hungrier (literally). Perhaps then I would have deep seated ambitions to grab at that shiny brass ring.

But the truth is much simpler. I'm perfectly happy doing what I'm doing where I'm doing it. I like writing what I'm writing. And apparently, I have a knack for it. On one author's blog, she discussed how erotic romance wasn't really "her" so she had decided to withdraw a book from the publishing schedule and would write something that was more "her". Lucky woman to find herself and her niche. Even luckier to realize it and have to courage to stick to it.

That's what I'm going to do. It seems that I do fairly well writing funny erotica. What an oxymoron. But it seems to work. I wrote another book that was just as good...just as creative...just as interesting--to me. Readers hastened to tell me the book was really, really good. But as my friend told me bluntly, "It's no Chrysanthemum. It's not funny." Heh.

Let us hope a lot of readers read it anyway. And maybe those readers who found Chrysanthemum just a tad over the top will, like the baby bear, find that Dancer's Delight will be just right. If those series don't quite do it, I also have a series about a bunch of shape shifting angels...

The beautiful thing about writing for Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press is that there is room for all my weird crazy oddball ideas. So far, my editor, bless her heart, hasn't fired me back an e-mail asking if I've lost my tiny mind. That's exactly why I'm content to hang out where I am. It's my niche. My place.

I don't begrudge anyone with greater ambitions. Every single writer has to assess their own goals and plans. Without a long term plan, they won't reach their goal. Part of the rise to success is just plain luck. But most of it is hard work and planning. That's something most of the newbie authors are only now understanding. Writing is the least of the career. It's the easiest part... it's the rest of it--promo, website, blogging, chatting--that takes careful planning so that the writer has time to write!

I have my hands full doing what I'm doing. Thank goodness!


Monday, July 16, 2007

Dragon in the System by Cindy Spencer Pape--G

It's MONDAY! And that means it's time for the Mini-Review and Interview. My guest today is Cindy Spencer Pape, my third critique partner. She was gracious about answering my nosy questions. And of course, we all know she looooves dragons, so right there we have something in common. With that, we'll just plunge right in.

1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change? I’d start earlier! Much earlier.

2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer? The great author Douglas Adams once wrote “drink lots of coffee and buy a desk that can withstand having your head banged upon it.” Substitute Diet Coke for the coffee and there you go.

3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Well there are several politicians living and dead that I’d like to meet just for the opportunity to smack them upside the head! Other than that, Marie Curie, perhaps? Jane Austen? Thomas Jefferson? Leonardo DaVinci? Nah, none of them would talk to me anyway.

4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be? Dr. Watson. You know he had to be the stabilizing force in that duo.

5) What do you want to be when you grow up? Grow up? Bite your tongue. I have no intention of doing any such thing. Now growing old is a different story. I plan to spend my old age sipping cocktails on the beach and banging out stories on my laptop. Oh yeah, that’s the life.

6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for? Heck, I hope they remember me at all. Hmmm- being remembered for my writing would be cool. As a loving wife and parent? That crazy writer who sat on the beach and wrote all those sexy stories?

Dragon in the System by Cindy Spencer Pape from Cerridwen Press

There was a funny thing that happened on the way to me reading this story. I read a bunch of other dragon stories so I had a pre-conceived notion about how this one would go. Hah! Was I wrong, thank goodness! Cindy very skillfully leads the reader down the uh, steam tunnel without giving away the secret, so I sure won’t spoil all of her hard work, except to say that the fun has barely begun. At least one of the characters already has his own book and I’ve really been lobbying for more.

To be perfectly honest, my entire college experience was part-time as an adult (graduated in my forties!) Most of my time at college was a mad dash from work to class and then another mad dash for home, so I have no frame of reference when it comes to academia. But the story made me wish—just a little— that I had been able to have that experience. Certainly, Cindy uses the refreshing backdrop of a small college town combined with intelligent characters with the complete confidence of experience.

The characters were ordinary men and women caught up in something so unusual that they demonstrated their strength and courage and ingenuity by rising to the occasion. Eric is one hot geek. Yeah, he is and Lori isn’t too bad herself. Keep the fan on high and the ice water close when these two get together.

If you want a hot entertaining read, get yourself a Dragon in the System.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Failure to File

Word Count- 1,313
Previous - 6,310
Total - 7,623

Think I'll begin this on a cheerful note. Love Romances and More reviewed Chrysanthemum this past week. They awarded it four hearts.

"Anny Cook’s debut Ellora’s Cave book, CHRYSANTHEMUM is rollicking hilarious story set in Came-a-Lot. This is truly one story that will have the reader giggling like mad at all the wild escapades Gareth, Chrysanthemum, Arthur and the rest of the Avalon legends have. With exceptional characters that play off each other like a fine tuned symphony, Anny Cook delivers a wild, sensual ride into the King Arthur legend.

This author captivates the reader with her wit, prose and subtle comedic turns that mesh well with the sensual passion that is sprinkled throughout the story. With some light bondage involved, this reviewer was alternately giggling and wishing for her own Avalon lover to come calling. CHRYSANTHEMUM is a delightful tale that will leave you breathless-either from laughter or passion. With just the right amount of both, Anny Cook delivers a story that is destined to be read over and over again."...Dawn from Love Romances and More.

And believe it or not that wasn't all the good stuff they said. So that was a really wonderful ending to the week.

Yay! Moving along! Not as much writing as I wanted to get done, but better than I had any reason to expect given the amount of time I spent on writer's housekeeping. Paperwork, paperwork. I do detest doing paperwork and that's a major requirement for being "self" employed. Taxes, contracts, receipts, all the paperwork that seems to multiply like rabbits.

And of course, when you have paperwork, you must have some type of filing system. Now, my favorite type filing system it the vertical pile system. That system doesn't work very well when you're dealing with small pieces of paper like receipts. Sigh. So I broke down and started an actual filing system. I loathe filing.

You need to understand something. I spent thirteen years as an executive secretary type so I'm quite experienced at setting up and using filing systems. That does not mean that I like it. It just means that I know how to do it. Kind of like dishes or cooking. Just because I know how to do either one of those, doesn't mean that I want to waste time doing them. I have considered denying that I know how to do laundry at all.

In any case, as I flipped through the receipts, it occurred to me that I should have marked the receipts when I bought the items. Now I'm stuck peering at receipts with faded ink, wondering what the item was. Of course, I was able to discard the receipts for fast food, slow food, uncooked food, fresh food... sure seemed to have a lot of those. I don't suppose the tax man or woman would be amused if I hauled them in for their inspection.

I now have vertical files stacked on most of the flat surfaces in my office (which was the living room in another life). That means that tomorrow I will spend the day filing, tossing, and putting away so that the cat doesn't get a chance to amuse herself by playing with important papers. There is some method to my madness. By the time I get a chance to sit down and write, there's no time to goof off. So I actually accomplish quite a bit.

Speaking of housekeeping...I have one other thing to note. Tomorrow is MONDAY! That means it's time for my Mini-Review and Interview. My guest author tomorrow is Cindy Spencer Pape and I'll be reviewing Dragon in the System. Now see, that's probably what's wrong with my filing. There's a dragon somewhere in there messing things up. Maybe she'll have a solution for me.

Until tomorrow...


Saturday, July 14, 2007

On the Balance Beam

Word Count 1,133
Previous - 5,177
Total - 6,310

I did a little better today. Went shopping. Saturday junk at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart. Then we made a run to the Office Depot where I had several copies made. I'm developing a relationship with the young lady that runs the copy department. She's the one that made all the prints of my covers for me so that I could frame them. By this time, she's taking a proprietary interest in my work. Always good to have your copy lady on your side.

Came home and wrote for a little while. Then we went downstairs to my friend's place and I autographed the cover sheet for Dancer's Delight for my friend, Jane. She seemed to be especially pleased because part of the dedication is for her.

Back upstairs and we had dinner. More writing. More puzzling over the way the story is careening off the trail. Went back and read the relevant parts from Chrysanthemum and Honeysuckle just to make sure that they all mesh together.

Wrote some more.

Checked e-mail and posts for anything that I needed to answer. All are DEAD quiet. So probably everyone else is actually writing.

Wrote some more. Husband made me coffee to keep me awake. Getting late so I'm taking a break to write my blog and then I'll go back to writing. I'm annoyed that I can't get the cast of characters to get with the program...any program. Pansy's acting like a ditz. Bart can't seem to keep his glasses on. And Gerald is...being Gerald.

Tomorrow I have to spend some more time cleaning my "work" room which is actually a catch-all room until we finish with the rearranging in the apartment. You know that room--"what should I do with...?" "Put it in the workroom." Except we are fast approaching the point where there will be no more room in the workroom.

Such is the glamorous life of a writer. Work, write, write, eat, write, work, sleep, write. That's how it gets done. Nothing exciting there except when you finish a chapter that seemed to take forever or when you re-read it three days later and realize that it's really good. Or the very best is when you re-read a couple weeks later and say to yourself, "Did I really write that? Wow!"

So tomorrow will be another day. Sleep well, my friends.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Life of a Writer

Word count - 512
Previous - 4,665
Total - 5,177

Well. Sigh. I did a little better today. Tomorrow, I foresee a writing marathon. I did a LOT of writing today. None of it was on the work in progress (Daffodil) except my paltry 512 words listed at the top. That means that I have considerable writing ahead of me to make up the missing words. When you get behind on writing, it's similar to getting behind on your car payments. Seems like you never catch up.

I did have a great time on the Cerridwen Chat Loop today meeting other authors and some of our readers. One of the writers, Janice Bennett, and I had an impromtu writing contest where she wrote a few sentences, then I wrote a few, in a nonsensical tale about a blue man disguised in a pink bunny suit who meets up with an injured man in a Santa suit. It was going pretty good, but then we had to stop and go back to work. Too bad.

I posted quite a few segments of Behind the Covers--Characters interview Anny Cook. Those seemed to be popular. I think it's because Dancer and Eppie are funny and smart. I've carried them around in my head for a very long time, so it's really neat to finally see their story published.

Readers, friends, family, even fellow authors sometimes ask, "How do you think this stuff up?" I have to tell you, I truly don't know. It just seems that I start with a very simple idea and my brain says "What if...?" Before I know it, I have some weird story line that's going places I never dreamed of it going and I'm not in the driver's seat anymore. Actually? I don't think I've ever been in the driver's seat.

I can't imagine how I could write if I was a plotter. I know what would happen. Right from the first paragraph my characters would refuse to listen, refuse to follow the script. By paragraph two, they would be ripping the script to shreds and there you have it. Confetti. Since I don't believe in wasting paper, don't want to vacuum up confetti, and don't have the energy to wrestle with my characters, I pretty much let them do what they want. I know. Bad parental skills. Sigh.

Take my current story for instance. I had settled on who the bad guy was. And then today, I found out he wasn't a TOTAL bad guy. Man, don't you hate it when bad guys have redeeming qualities? It is such a pain in the patooty to deal with bad guys with redeeming qualities. See if they're totally, totally bad, then you don't feel bad if you kill them off or whatever, but shoot! When there's something good about them, then you can't just knock 'em off.

And my good guy? Well he's a heck of a lot more stubborn than I counted on. He's gonna be big trouble, I can see. Trying to get him to stick with the program is like trying to lasso a cat. I sure hope Daffodil has more steel in her spine than I've seen so far. She just might surprise us all, though. Just maybe she's one of those "still waters run deep" kind of women. We'll see.

Anyway, that's the way it goes in the life of a writer. You live with a whole host of people inside your head, carrying on conversations while you're trying to talk to your husband or people on the phone. I know sometimes they all think I'm deaf when I shake my head and holler, "What? What did you say?"

It's because of the noise in my brain.

And I bet you just thought I was odd.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dancer's Delight Released

Word count- 196
Previous - 4,469
Total - 4,665

Well, didn't do so well writing today as I spent time promoting my book and doing laundry. Tomorrow will have to be better. It has to be, simply because the laundry will be done. And I will be rested. We have one of those memory foam pads on our mattress. Yesterday something was spilled on the bed. Changing bedding was simple, but the pad had to be cleaned and dry out. So last night I slept on a rock hard slab of a mattress. Or rather I sort of slept, waking up this morning feeling like I had slept on a slab of rock. Out of sorts and aching in most of my joints, I spent the day posting excerpts on the Cerridwen Press chat loop http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cerridwenchat/ and checking our author loop for information about the RWA. I recommend you checking out the chat loop for some great excerpts and a series of mini-interviews my characters conducted.

If you're not involved in the writing profession, you've probably never heard of the RWA (Romance Writers of America). You might think of it as a professional organization for writers--romance writers specifically. This week is the yearly gathering. I believe it's called a conference. And at this conference they unveil changes and/or improvements for the coming year or future. It seems that this year's changes were not popular. Enough said on that subject. I merely explain this so that you know how I spent the day.

Then around three o'clock my husband arrived home and we went off to the laundromat to do several mountains of laundry. By the time we finished, it was seven o'clock. Time to fix dinner, eat, check e-mail and write my blog.

I admit that I was getting to the dreary "let-down" stage you reach when a much anticipated event is over. Sort of like Christmas after you open the presents and are left with a pile of shredded paper and ribbon. So it was a very pleasant surprise to receive a late e-mail from a friend who accused me of being an evil woman. It seems that she started reading my book.

And became so involved that she never got around to her own writing. She was waiting for her PDA to recharge so that she could finish it. So I'm torn between being thrilled that the book captured her and terrified that she won't like the ending. How schizophrenic is that?

I have to say, though, that it was the perfect ending to my day. I'm smiling. And everyone should go to bed with a smile on their face. Everyone. So to my friend--Thank You! You know who you are. And if it means that you like my book, then I'll happily continue being that Evil Woman!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Down the Research Rabbit Hole

Word Count
Total-- 4,469

Like most responsible writers, I try to do basic research on various subjects that become part of my books. I freely admit that much of my research is done on the internet with an occassional dip into my library for the really arcane stuff. And I also go one further and admit that it IS basic. As one of my writing instructors said, "When I ask you what time it is, don't tell me how to make the watch. Show me the watch face." Well I like to at least be able to tell time, just in case the other guy can't.

In my current work in progress there is a tooth faery. Now you might think that there is a plethora of material about tooth faeries. You might think that, but you would be wrong. Wrong I tell you! There is nothing out there about tooth faeries. Not even in a book about faeries. Or the book about magical critters. Or...

There are a lot of websites that would willingly sell me a tooth faery box. Or a tooth faery pillow. Or a tooth faery book. But for the real nitty gritty on tooth faeries, I located five or six sites that all had the same information (mostly copied word for word from each other--I thought that was called plagarism, but what do I know?)

But the basic information is: 1)Vikings had a tooth fee. 2) Asians have a tradition of throwing the tooth over the roof or under the house depending on the original position of the tooth. 3) In the medieval ages teeth were buried or burned to prevent witches from using them for nefarious purposes. There are some very minor variations which struck me as the authors stretching out the info to make it look like more. Notice that none of the them actually mention faeries.

What to do? After some more pondering with the aid of a mocha latte followed by a teeny glass of wine accompanied by a chocolate bar, I settled on a solution. Make it up as I go. Hey! I'm a writer and I'm supposed to make up stories, right? So, I'll come up with my own origins for the tooth faery. Now that I've thought about it, maybe the tooth faery belongs to a UNION! And there has to be more than one, because how would they get around to all those teeth that fall out?

I have heard some pretty scary stories about the escalating exchange rate for teeth these days. It seems that if there was a tooth faery union, then parents should be able to negotiate for a fair exchange rate with set limits. After all, what is fair about some kid that gets thirty dollars when their little friend receives fifty cents?

And why should a faery be stuck with wings? Really, have you thought about how difficult it must be to sleep on your back with wings poking out? What about swimming or riding a bike. What do you do with the wings in the shower? How the heck do you dry them? And clothes? Please, let's not go there.

And why should faeries be stuck with honey and nectar. Ewww! I say give 'em a steak. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

As you can tell, I've really taken this entire thing to heart. My philosophy is if you're going to make it up, then make it believable. Think out all the details. Plan ahead so you don't paint your faery into a corner.

Tomorrow my second book, Dancer's Delight will be released from Cerridwen Press. In the book which mostly takes place in a mysterious valley, there are some pretty strange beings. I'm posting a quick little introduction to some of them for your enjoyment.


Merlyn had taken the morning to show him around the village, introducing him to the villagers as they encountered them and answering his questions. The packits padded along behind them, acting exactly like they were intently listening to the conversation. Finally, nervously, Dancer nodded toward the two animals and asked, “Why are they following us? They look like they’re eavesdropping.”

“Probably because they are,” Merlyn replied mildly. “Packits are sentient creatures. If they choose, they can mind talk with you.” He smiled at Dancer’s shocked face. “On the oldest part of the Talking Wall, they are one of the listed sacred beings, with the charge to protect and revere them. There’s a long tradition of some individuals adopting particularly talented young men and serving as advisors and guides.”

“Stop.” Dancer plopped down on the bench in front of the bakery and crossed his arms, hugging his chest. “Just stop a minute. What exactly is a Talking Wall?”

With a soft laugh, Merlyn joined him on the bench and stretched his long legs out in front of him. “The Talking Wall is an enormous hanging wall, about sixty feet high and maybe a hundred feet long. It’s a good three day walk from here at the other end of the valley. Small glyphs the size of my palm are inscribed over the entire surface. It contains history, laws and instructions for living. At the moment, less than a third of it has been translated, so we don’t know what other information it may contain. Dai and I have been hoping that there’s something on there that explains the passages into the caves from the out-valley. There’s a whole raft of archivists that do nothing else except work on the wall.”

“And the packits are listed on the wall?”

“Uh-hmm. Packits, dintis, firkas and drangs…though Dai has never seen a drang and he thinks they’re probably extinct.”

Dancer sighed deeply, pinched the bridge of his nose and asked, even as he knew he shouldn’t, “What is a drang? And those other two things you mentioned?”

Merlyn grinned at Dancer’s obvious frustration, remembering his own incredulity when he and Jade had arrived in the valley. With a certain amount of anticipation, he relished Dancer’s reaction as he elaborated, “Dintis resemble very large, very long-haired dogs. Their older females occasionally adopt a promising young lady. Twice a year they present themselves to the dinti keeper and shearer to get their hair cut. The hair is carefully preserved and used in the bonding blankets Tyger weaves.” He paused when a vague choking sound escaped Dancer, then, after a moment he continued, “Firkas look sort of like gerbils or hamsters. Eppie has a family of firkas living in her garden, so if you see something that looks like a mouse, don’t kill it. Most gardens have firkas. They eat garden pests and certain weeds, but once you tell them a plant is off limits, they never touch it.”

Dancer bent over and moaned.

Chuckling, Merlyn just patted his back. “Now drangs are an entirely different thing. They’re small dragons. According to the Wall, a drang will appear and adopt an individual who is exceptionally important to the valley, serving as a mentor for the rest of that individual’s life. No one in the valley has seen a drang in living memory, so…”

“They’re extinct, or there hasn’t been anyone important enough for a drang,” Dancer concluded sourly. “Maybe you can answer another questions for me… Why does Eppie have a small dragon identical to mine on her left shoulder? She’s named Epona for the horse goddess. Why not a horse?”

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The New Bad Guys...

Word Count--
The Rift-303
Total --2,826

On Monday, I took the afternoon off and went to see a movie with my husband. We go to the movies about twice a year. I could list a whole hosts of reasons why this is so, but that's another blog sometime. What I found interesting about this movie was the shift in our perception of the bad guys.

We went to see Live Free or Die Hard. Actually, I've seen all of them so this was an interesting comparison as it were to the whole spectrum. In the first one we had a mad Russian that refused to quit. In the second one was a different team of foreigners. In the third was yet another Soviet/Germanic type. And then we get to this movie. It could have been subtitled the Revenge of the Geeks.

I in no way want to imply that I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. It had everything. Bad guys and girls. Good guys and girls. Car crashes. Explosions. Shoot outs. Truck crashes. Explosions. Oh, yeah, I mentioned that one. I got my money's worth in entertainment.

All of this centered around a guy who tried to tell our government that we were ripe for online infiltration. When they didn't snap to and listen up, he decided to uh, take the country down and then ask for big bucks to fix it. Snappy idea, right? Of course, a few people got in his way and he had to "eliminate" them, but a lot of eliminating was done via the computer like a video game. So the question comes up, were they real people if you just knocked them off with the push of a button?

In a scary, weird series of events, the underground computer hacker/geniuses had a war. And the real, walking around people got in their way. We've come full circle. There were no foreign terrorists of any persuasion. These were homegrown computer geeks without conscience who decided one day to shut down the country via computer. Interesting.

The other interesting point was the persistance in having an Asian chick as the bad girl. What no blondes? No red heads? No tall built black chick? And for crying out loud, why do they all know kung fu, or some other crap where they kick and yell a lot. What happened to the chick that beats the other guy up with her Manolo Blahniks? Huh?

Maybe I was just ahead of the trend when I penned Dancer's Delight. The bad guy is the head of an entire undercover agency. Cool. I'm with the in crowd for once in my life. No foreign terrorists--just good old Big Brother government. Perhaps this is going to be a new trend across the board. Why pick on other countries for our bad guys when we have so many of our own to choose from?

There you go. The new bad guy. For a new take on the bad guys, I've posted a short excerpt from Dancer's Delight. Please enjoy.


“He did what!” the angry voice exclaimed, echoing in the small conference room. Free Llewellyn had arctic blue eyes and a grim mouth. The tight lines radiating out from his flared nostrils declared that someone was going to pay for pissing him off in the very near future.

“He’s dropped out of sight,” Marcus replied calmly. The other men in the room had never seen Marcus in any mode other than calm and contained. Some speculated that it could be fatal to be around if he was in any other mode. After all, one did not get to be the commander of the Waterloo Group by being timid or squeamish—or hot-headed.

“Report,” the Director demanded curtly.

“He left the stage after his main performance, changed to street clothes, returned to the stage and performed a totally new composition entitled Dancer’s Delight. Then he exited the stage and no one’s seen him since. No one saw him leave the building. No one recalls seeing him inside or outside. My office received a small package by messenger this morning. It was an envelope containing a business card with ‘Assassin for Hire’ printed on it with an anonymous phone number. Angelo checked it out. The card was self-printed on a standard ink-jet printer and when he called the phone number it rolled to a voice mail message that informed the caller that the individual was no longer accepting assignments as he had retired. The background music was Dancer’s Delight,” Marcus added with sour humor. He shrugged. “Trackers couldn’t find any trace of him. With the exception of the Traveller, he’s the best we have. We won’t find him until he wants us to, Mr. Llewellyn.”

The Director stared at him for several long moments before reluctantly asking, “Where is the Traveller?”

“Asia…as far as we know. He hasn’t been seen in the last week. If you’re thinking that he’ll help, you’re dead wrong. You know they’re a team.” Tilting his head in thought, Marcus added, “The title of the encore and change from his normal cover was a deliberate gauntlet thrown down in public. He’s challenging us to prevent him from retiring. And he’s threatening us with substantial disclosure if we succeed.”

“Find him. Neutralize him. And locate the Traveller,” the Director said without inflection. “Make sure he’s contained until you locate his brother.”

“Dead or alive?” Marcus clarified fearlessly. It took brass balls to face down the relentlessly bitter old man who refused to retire, though retirement age was long past. There was considerable speculation that Marcus would take his place if he ever retired. More likely he would drop dead from sheer meanness. “You know the chance of bringing either of them in alive is slim to none.”

“Do what you have to do.” Passing sentence with no apparent remorse, the Director left the room without another word.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Here to Stay by Jenyfer Matthews--G

It's MONDAY again and time for Mini-Review/Interview. My guest today is Jenyfer Matthews, a fellow author and another of my valued critique partners. I sent her the same bunch of nosy questions and she was gracious and answered them for me.

Just let me take a moment to do a couple of house-keeping chores... Last week when I started posting my blog at a second location I neglected to post the urls. So the myspace blog is at http://blog.myspace.com/annycook and the blogspot blog is at http://www.annycook.blogspot.com/. I guess I was just too excited to think of everything. So if you want to comment, now there's no excuse not to.

Hmmm. Now back to our previously scheduled programming. I'm posting early as Jenyfer lives in Egypt--don't you think that's cool?--and I would like for her to be able to read it before she goes to sleep.

1) If you could start over with your writing career, what if anything would you change? I started writing just over ten years ago (with a couple of years-long hiatus in there to have babies!) in total isolation - just me and my computer, the blue screen and gold text of Word Perfect my only companion. I had no idea what I was really doing and whether or not what I was writing was any good. (Looking at it now, it's pretty bad!) If I could start over again I'd probably seek out some sort of writers group to join for support and feedback - which thanks to the internet I have now.

2) What was the best piece of advice you received regarding the life of a writer? Since I was on my own no one ever really gave me any advice in person. I read books and the things I learned were: a rejection isn't personal and it isn't the end - it's one person's opinion which you can take or leave; learning to self-edit is a vital skill; andperseverance is as important as talent when you are trying to get published.

3) If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be? This is a tough question. I'm not much of one to idolize people and from my travels I have discovered that there are many, many fascinating people in the world who are just regular everyday people whose names wouldn't mean anything here.

Practically speaking, I'd love to meet Nora Roberts so I could pick her brain about how she keeps coming up with such great stories, time after time after TIME!!

4) If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be? Of all the books I've read the first two that spring to mind were Scarlett O'Hara - I'd like to slap her upside the head and say "What were you thinking?" and Roland from Stephen King's Dark Tower series. He's an intense and fascinating creation.

5) What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be Superwoman - able to juggle family life and all that goes with it along side a bestselling writing career with style and grace (and no yelling!)

Either that or Queen of the World.

6) In the next century, what do you hope people will remember you for? If they don't remember me its okay, new things come along all the time and people forget. It would be nice if people would continue to read and enjoy my stories though.

Want to know more about Jenyfer? Read her blog at http://jenyfermatthews.blogspot.com/

Here to Stay by Jenyfer Matthews from Cerridwen Press

Jenyfer has given us a lively story about second chances. Julia and Patrick are near the end of the painful process of divorce. Julia has providentially inherited a house in New Jersey that she has decided to renovate and keep. Patrick travels from their former home in Chicago, determined to try one last time to convince Julia that they belong together. It’s a tough sell.

Julia, still hurting and uncertain about her future, is not inclined to listen to Patrick. Seeking a reason to stick around, Patrick hits on the idea of helping her with her renovations. And things aren’t too bad until he falls off the roof. In a hair-raising series of odd events, Julia and Patrick must work together to solve the mysteries surrounding Julia’s inheritance.

This was an interesting book for me as getting-back-together-in-the-ninth-inning stories are not generally my cup of tea. But Patrick and Julia kind of sucked me in with their story. I wanted to shake them both sometimes and they certainly got me involved. They say if you don’t care about the characters the author hasn’t done her job. Well, I was involved and if I hadn’t been reading it in the middle of the night I probably would have groaned and yelled and shouted, “Look out! He’s behind you!” or something similar. If you want an exciting, romantic who-done-it next, I heartily recommend that you get your own copy of Here to Stay.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Seventy Day Writing Challenge...

So I joined a writing challenge. Four to six pages every single day for the next seventy days. Hmmm. I betcha I get a lot of stuff done. There's nothing like a challenge to get your ideas flowing. The challenge begins today and runs through September 20. Oh, boy.

No excuses. The way I understand the challenge, I have to post my total word count every Wednesday. If you miss one day of writing, you have to make it up another day. But I figure if I post it each day on the blog, it will motivate me to keep on task so beginning tomorrow, I'll post my output--words and pages. We'll see how this goes.

Housekeeping stuff... Remember that Monday's are the Mini-Review and Interview. Tomorrow's guest author is Jenyfer Matthews. And I will be reviewing her Cerridwen Press novel, Here to Stay. You won't want to miss out on this chance to get to know her.

On Thursday, my second book, Dancer's Delight will be released by Cerridwen Press. I can barely believe that I'll have two books! Two! So on Tuesday and Wednesday, I'll also post a couple of short excerpts just to give you a sneak peak.

My friend and fellow writer, Amarinda Jones, reviewed Chrysanthemum on her blog yesterday. Wow, I'm really impressed with myself. I'll probably need a hat a couple sizes bigger after reading that review. (And don't worry Amarinda. No charge for this one!) If you'd like to read her review, you'll find it at http://amarindajones.blogspot.com/.

Since I'm going to be very, very busy for the next seventy days, I believe I'll just finish this with a wish for restful sleep and happy dreams.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Time to say goodbye...

When you first acquire a pet, the furthest thing from your mind is how you will feel when your pet dies. I have had many dogs, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, and hamsters so the death of a pet is not new to me. But today I find myself faced with something I've never dealt with before. Always before my pets died suddenly on their own. Just boom! Or in the case of the dogs or cats, many of them died because they ran in front of a car.

But my current dog was diagnosed with bone cancer today. The vet estimates somewhere between three to six months before the time comes that we will have to be humane and let her go. I've never had to watch a pet slowly pass away.

At the moment, she's very alert and pretty perky except for the huge bone mass on her front knee. She moves slowly and we will have to be careful that she doesn't break the leg. Stairs are tough. And we came home with a bottle of pain killers. The vet said when these no longer work we can put her on something a little stronger. When that doesn't work...it will be time to say goodbye.

She's been a good and faithful companion, keeping me company while I write, while I paint, while I sleep. She follows me from room to room as I move around my apartment, always keeping me in sight. She's travelled to Texas, Arkansas, Florida, and New York with us. She's a well travelled dog.

She's been camping, stayed in fine hotels, gone to the beach, and slept under the stars. She loves squirrels. And deer and rabbits. She'll face down the biggest dog around. She had my daughter's St. Bernard convinced that she was the boss. Tiny dogs terrify her. Can't imagine why.

She's gentle and loving and fiercely protective. She's under the impression that the entire apartment building is "hers" so she doesn't bark at the other tenants or their dogs, but strangers will raise a noisy alarm from her.

I don't have a lot of time left with her, so I'll be spending what time I can just being together. If I seem a little distracted or absent minded, then I hope you'll understand while I take the time to say goodbye.


Friday, July 6, 2007

What's Your Style?

Someone asked me what kind of books I write. I have to admit that I'm sorta stumped. I think they're pretty sexy, of course. But they're also exciting, tender, funny, and uh, odd. Yep, odd. For some strange reason my brain seems to have a kink in it. I can just hear it now. What do you mean, odd?

Well, for one thing, in Dancer's Delight, part of the Mystic Valley series, the valley people are blue, have pointed ears and short fangs. The thing that makes it odd is that I feel like they're just normal people. They live, love, eat, hunt, and do all the stuff that normal people do. But my editor insists that blue people that routinely use telepathy are part of the "paranormal" sub-genre. So...odd.

Then there's Chrysanthemum, part of the Flowers of Camelot series. "Why flowers?" my friend Cindy asked. Well, here's the way it was. In the beginning, this was supposed to be the first of a serious trilogy about three sisters that go to Camelot (yes, the one with King Arthur) and find husbands among the Knights of the Round Table. Then something went wrong.

Not sure what happened there, but in the first few paragraphs the characters hi-jacked the story and quicker than you could say Lancelot, the plot went with the wind. Now I have this odd set of books that seems to be taking on a life of its own with a wild cast of characters with names like Nanny Anny (yes, Janet, I'm working on her book!) and Percival the Dragon and Gerald the Giant. Uh, that's the ones I can put in a G rated blog. Oh, yeah. There's dragons and unicorns and trolls and faeries...

So, I thought I would try one more time--really, how difficult can it be to write a serious story? I have a lot of author friends that do it every day. Maybe if I think about sad things?

I started off with a serious suspense story about a girl that takes the dog out for a walk and witnesses a possible body disposal so she's kidnapped and ends up as part of a white slavery ring, but she's rescued by a family of angels that are also shape shifters... you see? Do you see what happens? Pretty soon, the story just leaves the tracks and heads for the cliff. Sigh.

Well, I finished it (Winter Hearts) and of course there are more books to write because the other family members want me to tell their stories, too. I foresee a string of books about Cage and Rack and Zipporah. And I have to wonder what kind of trouble they'll get up to.

My friend Jane has been agitating for me to finish a story about a group of middle-aged women who belong to the Dead Relatives Club. You would think that there couldn't possibly be anything funny about a bunch of middle-aged women. We'll see. I'm only on page eighteen and already they're misbehaving. I don't hold out much hope for them. Especially when this little voice in my head keeps chanting "Myrtle's girdle, Myrtle's girdle" and I just know it's gonna show up somewhere in this blasted story.

I tell you what. If you can think of a way to describe my style, you let me know. Maybe I'll have it printed on my business cards and magnets.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Anny's Writer's Commandments

With increasing frequency, I'm receiving e-mails asking for advice from new authors. What's strange is that I'm a new author myself. But maybe other authors are just looking for a steady hand in the instant quagmire that results once you receive your first contract offer. Suddenly with no warning at all, you're faced with tons of decisions and options.

So I've devised my own list of Thou shalts and Thou shalt nots for authors. The most successful authors probably have their own lists. For fellow authors, feel free to adopt what you find useful and ignore the rest. This is MY list...the one that I live by.

1) Don't be a pain in the ass. Or as my grandma used to say, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I couldn't ever figure out why I would want to catch flies, but that's another story. The truth is simple. Be nice. Be polite. Be patient. All those things your mama taught you about being a lady or gentleman are more true now than they ever have been.

2) There is no privacy anywhere in the world except in your bathroom--if you're alone. Every where else in the world you're in public. Don't say anything that you don't want to hear on the six o'clock news. I'm serious here. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is secret. If you share information with another person expect it to spread like the plague.

3) Having said that, DO NOT be that plague carrier. Never, ever share anything anyone has told you unless you have their express permission. Gossips get a reputation very quickly and then when they really, really need to know something, they don't because no one will talk to them.

4) The reason you have editors and critique partners is so they can tell you what you need to improve and work on. If you refuse to listen to them, refuse to learn from them, you will never be any better writer than you are right now. Listen. Rewrite. Learn.

5) No one can promote your book with as much zeal and enthusiasm as you can. Yes, you have to take time to do so. What you're selling is your name. If no one knows your name, they won't buy your book. Set aside time to take part in chats, do a blog, set up a web site... the list of possibilities is endless. Take time to investigate. It is possible to do most of your promo with very little money.

6) Choose your excerpts carefully. Ask a friend to read them. Make sure they're interesting without giving away your story resolution. Not too long.

7) If you participate in a chat, don't be a post-and-runner. Hello! What part of chat is difficult to understand? The readers want to CHAT with the writer. If you post and run, you cheat the reader. And you lose an opportunity to answer questions or add little tidbits about your book.

8) Always remember that you are in public. Always. Act like you're at a booksigning when you attend a chat. You wouldn't go to a book signing in your underwear. Don't "verbally" strip down at a chat. Be professional. Friendly, but professional.

9) If you have a bone to pick with another individual, discuss it privately. That's what e-mail is for. And never forward an e-mail without express permission from the originator. Never.

10) Always offer a helping hand when possible. Always encourage the next guy. Always give the gift of friendship and experience. Remember that you were once brand new too.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A tale of two blogs...

After receiving numerous complaints from readers who couldn't post comments on my myspace blog, I've decided to post my blog in two places. This means that there will be NO excuses from the readers now. I want to see comments! Lots of comments, actually.

Today is the 4th of July. In America, we celebrate Independence Day, or as the kids say, this is our country's birthday. It's kind of funny to say that, you know. There are parts of the world with civilizations so old that a mere two hundred plus years sounds absurd. Perhaps the most important thing is what we've learned in that time.

Our country is a wild and lively mix of immigrants from all over the world. Because of that, we've learned to live with other races, colors, beliefs, and cultures. Our language reflects the contributions from other tongues. Our food and customs are enlivened by the contributions from other cultures. If you visit any major city in our country and travel through the neighborhoods, you will meet people from every where.

That doesn't mean that we don't have problems. It just means that we've mostly found a way to deal with them without bombs and wars. Hopefully, as we grow up and mature as a country, we'll find a way to solve our problems so our citizens can live in harmony.

Today as we celebrate, let us not forget that we are one people--Americans.