Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tax man cometh...

So we went to the tax man to have our taxes done. I confess that we did not do bad at all. I did a decent job of holding onto receipts and filed them properly so the tax guy was pretty happy with me. He offered a few pointers for next year, gave us a zillion papers to sign and we were off and running.

I do wonder though why it has to be so complicated. Who decided that the tax code had to be so complicated that you need an advanced degree in taxing to do it? Fortunately, the house hunk and I can afford to pay to have the taxes filled out, but what about those people who can't afford it?

And another thing... those receipts fade. There's something wrong with the ink and paper. You pull out the receipt to add up the stuff and you can't even read it. What's with that? Can't they use a permanent ink in the register so you'll be able to see it at the end of the year?

Mileage? I was thinking mileage to a convention or booksigning or something like that. But he explained we could also do mileage when we went to the store to buy something for my business. He waved the stack of receipts for the craft components I use in my promo items and said, every time you go to the store to buy more supplies you can use that mileage. Who knew? Now I need to go to the store to buy a mileage book. Hmmm. Three miles each way...

Anyway, it was entertaining and educational. Then he asked what kind of books I write. So I kindly explained in detail. Hauled out my Sony reader and demonstrated how it worked by letting him read a bit of one of my books. Distributed my business cards. Turns out he belongs to a book club. He invited me to come to one of their meetings and talk about writing.

Opportunity knocks in the most unusual places...


Monday, March 30, 2009


In July last year, my book Kama Sutra Lovers was released. I happened to be involved in a conversation not too long ago with an acquaintance who informed me that she wouldn't ever read it. Like any author, I was curious about her reasons, though I was sure I knew the answer.

"Why not? Is it because it's a tri-marriage--a ménage?"

"No, that doesn't bother me."

Huh. "Well, is it because it's a sci-fi? A futuristic?"

"No. I generally enjoy those."

"I know not everyone enjoys reading e-books..." I ventured.

She shook her head. "I have a lot of e-books. That's not it."

"Well, what's wrong with the book?" I finally asked in exasperation.

"It has a black man in it."


"I don't read books with black people in them."

I could not for the life of me think of anything to say to the woman. She had professed on more than one occasion that she was a big fan of my Mystic Valley books--and those people are blue! So why did it matter what color a character's skin was?

It was the first time in a long time that I had come face to face with such boldfaced bigotry. Oh, I know it exists. Both of my son-in-laws are black. My grandchildren are half 'n half, as my son-in-law says. I've seen the looks when we're all out together in the mall or a restaurant. But looks, while hurtful, are not quite the same thing as putting those same feelings in words.

I just can't quite understand what skin color has to do with who the individual is. There are good people. There are bad people. There are people with extraordinary drive and ambition. There are people who are lazy and lacking pride. Period. Color doesn't determine which is which. Each individual makes the choice of which way they will go.

I don't feel like it's any great loss that this woman won't read my book. I suspect that the love story would be invisible to her anyway. Because sadly, she's colorblind in the worst way.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

What next?

While I have a couple works in progress, I like to plan ahead. At the moment, though, I'm somewhat stymied for choices. Nothing seems to just stand out and yell, "Take me! Take me!" That's not usually how things go.

I've posted a poll in the corner with a list. I would be so delighted if y'all would vote in it. Maybe it will give me a nudge forward. If you vote for the last choice, then please leave a suggestion in the comments. Perhaps that will spark an idea or two.

In the meantime, my two current wips are moving along. Lovetalker's Woman is the tale of a faery's courtship of a human woman. He's having some odd difficulties as he tries to convince her that he's the faery for her.

The second wip is another tale set on Elyria, the setting for Kama Sutra Lovers. It's the love story of the KSL's oldest son, Darius and his mates. I'm very pleased with the way its shaping up.

I also want to thank all the readers and fellow authors who contributed interesting and odd word verifications. I've used a lot of them in various places. Thank you for your enthusiastic help!

And finally, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Love Never-Ending

Saturday, rainy Saturday... seemed like a good time for reading. Here's an excerpt from the most recent Mystic Valley book. This is Bishop and Samara's story, but as in all the Mystic Valley books, their families are an integral part of the story...

Arturo walked out of the woods, spying Panther and Llynx glumly seated on the pottery dome steps exactly where they were supposed to be. Time to put away thoughts of Ban the archivist and deal with his two recalcitrant siblings. As he approached them, they stood up and waited for him to greet them. “Well, gentlemen? How was your day?”

“Fine,” Panther replied.

“Boring.” Llynx kicked a stone out of the way.

“That is why you are in trouble, Llynx. You’re bored too easily,” Arturo observed. “I have talked to Papa about your boredom. Beginning on the first day after the gathering, you will report to Dan Miller. He has agreed to apprentice you, even though you’re a bit young.”

“What!” Llynx rounded on Arturo with both fists raised.

“Stand down!” Arturo bellowed.

Shaking with rage, Llynx dropped his fists and stood silently with his eyes lowered.

Arturo turned to Panther. “You may go, Pan. Clean up for dinner and report to the kitchen. Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Go.” Panther ran toward the house, more than happy to escape the uncomfortable scene.

When Panther was out of sight, Arturo turned toward the school and said abruptly, “We will walk.”

Llynx trudged along beside him, waiting for Arturo to start yelling at him or something. Instead Arturo continued to walk in silence. When they reached the path that ringed the central village green, Arturo took it without a word so Llynx followed him, uncertain of their destination. The tension in Llynx’s body wound tighter and tighter as he waited for Arturo to speak.

Finally Llynx could bear the silence no longer. “Aren’t you going to yell or something?” he burst out in frustration.

“Why?” Arturo’s reasonable tone enraged Llynx further. “I am not angry. You are.”

“Well, it’s not fair!”

“Perhaps you should tell me what is not fair.”


“I see. That’s a pretty comprehensive statement. Perhaps you should tell me one thing that is not fair,” Arturo suggested.

“I was going to tell the truth and—”

“You were cheated of the opportunity?”

Llynx kicked another stone out of the path. “Yeah.”

Arturo clasped his hands behind his back and nodded. “I suppose that could make you angry. My question is why you didn’t tell the truth earlier. There were many opportunities.”

“I dunno.”

“Don’t you?”

“Well, Panther was so mad! He was crying and yelling…” Llynx’s voice trailed off and he swallowed hard. “He never gets mad, Arturo, never.”

“So you thought you would fix it, eh?”


They walked in silence for a while. Then Arturo said, “I will tell you a story. A healer lies to his patient and tells him that he is very sick. If the man wants to be healed, he must buy this special salve that costs many credits. Now the man is very poor so he steals the salve from the healer. Tell me. Who was wrong?”

Llynx didn’t make the mistake of answering immediately. Arturo’s stories had a way of leading to tricky answers so Llynx considered the circumstances before he replied. “Well, the man was wrong because he stole the salve.”


“And the healer was wrong because he lied so the man would buy the salve.”

“Also true. So. Which one should I punish?”

After a while, Llynx said in a hushed voice, “Both. One lied. And one stole.”

“What is another thing the man could have done instead of stealing?”

Llynx scratched his chin and thought about that. It hadn’t occurred to him that there might be alternatives. “Well, he could talk to another healer?”

“And then what would have happened?” Arturo asked.

“The second healer would have told him it was a lie.”


“If Panther had told you he didn’t take the picture, then he wouldn’t have been punished,” Llynx muttered. “So part of it was his fault.”

“Exactly.” Arturo turned up the walkway to the bakery where Dan Miller waited in the doorway. It was nearly dark so there were light stones in the windows. The scent of fresh bread swirled around them on the late afternoon breeze. He offered his hand to Llynx. “Come, let us go talk to Dan about your apprenticeship.”

Strangely relieved, Llynx placed his hand in his big brother’s and willingly went in to talk to Dan.


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Friday, March 27, 2009


Are you one of those readers that reads the last page first? Are you the reader that reads the last chapter before you decide whether you want to buy the book? I swear I had a friend that did that. That's okay. I'm perfectly happy with that. Just don't insist on telling me the end of the story before I get a chance to read it!

Actually, other than the blurb, I would prefer not to know anything about the story until I read it. To me, reading is part of the adventure. It isn't only the plot, it's the characters, the descriptions, the word choices, and the dialogue.

Perhaps that's why I have such a hard time writing a synopsis and blurb for my own stories. There's that reluctance to spoil the experience for the reader. Oh, I know they are necessary to sell the story, but I detest having to reveal the story outline to my editor and publisher before there's time to read it.

General outlines unfortunately don't tell the reader much about the characters, the dialogue, or even how the plot unfolds. I once read the synopsis for a story in a creative writing class. The entire concept was exciting so I was looking forward to reading the story.

The next week when we arrived at class, the instructor passed out copies of the story. Flat cardboard people, boring dialogue, and the same exact paragraph from the synopsis revealing the bad guy. Ugh.

So do me a favor. Let me find out about the story on my own. Even if you hated the story. I once commented to a friend that two of my favorite writers were Jayne Ann Krentz and Louis L'Amour. My friend went, "Ewwww!" Turns out that she hated them both. Hmmm.

We all have individual tastes fortunately. Otherwise there wouldn't be enough readers for all the books we're so busy writing. Whether you've enjoyed a book or hated it, sharing your feelings about that book are fine.

But hey! Don't tell me about the good parts--or the ending.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spiderwoman? Not.

There are few things that will seriously squick me out like a spider. It doesn't have to be very big. A small spider will do it just as easily as a big one, though I have to admit that a big spider is a bigger squick than a small one.

Over the years I've tried various things to psych myself out of this feeling about spiders, but nothing seems to work. No matter how intellectual I try to be about my feelings toward spiders, the truth is that they give me the serious willies.

I believe that every person has something that gives them the shudders. It might not be spiders. It might be snakes or scorpions or elephants. For whatever the reason, those fears are with us, usually for the rest of our lives.I once had a friend that was absolutely terrified of cats. Such is life.

To the lucky person who lives life without such fears, the phobic individual often appears to be weak and silly. Heh. I have so many fears it would take Noah's ark to transport them from place to place. Height, enclosed places, millipedes, and the list goes on. The number one for me? An elevator in a tall building. That one counts for both heights and small places.

So, don't let me suffer alone. What are some of the things you're afraid of?


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the WWW

Yesterday I spent some time surfing the web, looking at author's web pages. It was an interesting experience. Some authors have up-to-date information on their sites with all sorts of extras such as character biographies and trailers for their books. Several of those with extensive bibliographies have the complete list, broken down into series and some even give publishing dates. Like I said, their pages are really up to date.

And then there are the others. I found websites three and four years out of date. On one website the author more or less said, "I'm too busy to mess with this anymore. So here's what I have up to this point in time." It was dated two years ago.

Personally, I don't care how fancy your website is as long as it has current accurate information. Fancy slide shows? Trailers for every book under the sun? Not necessary. When I visit an author's website, I want three things: an up-to-date list of the author's books with purchasing information, an up-to-date list of upcoming books, and if any of the books are part of a series, then I want the title order listed so I know which book to read first.

Everything else after that is gravy. Maps, free short stories, character bios, author autobiography are all fine. As long as they're up to date!

There are a couple authors that I wonder if they're dead or alive. To my way of thinking, if you're not going to keep your info updated, then why have it??? If there's no way to reach you to let you know half your links are broken, if there's no current information on your career and what or when to expect releases, then why do you have a web page?

New authors worry about whether their web page is fancy enough. I've looked at some beautiful pages...with broken links and fancy do-dads that didn't work. Just give me a straight forward business-like page with the information I need. Never forget that the point of having a web page is to disseminate information.

Anything after that is extra.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Even a paranoid has some real enemies. Henry Kissinger

I moved to New York City for my health. I'm paranoid and it was the only place where my fears were justified. Anita Weiss

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you Kurt Cobain

I'm not a paranoid deranged millionaire. Goddamit, I'm a billionaire. Howard Hughes

Paranoids are people, too; they have their own problems. It's easy to criticize, but if everybody hated you, you'd be paranoid too. D. J. Hicks

You can never be comfortable with your success, you've got to be paranoid you're going to lose it.
Lou Gerstner

“We don't want to make people paranoid, but we want them to be prepared.” Claudia Stein

"Why are you so paranoid, Mulder?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's because I find it hard to trust anybody."
- Scully & Mulder, The X-Files, "Ascension"

"Do you remember when you were back in High School and you were convinced that everyone was talking about you behind your back? Well... you were right."~Anny Cook


It's a scavenger hunt featuring over 40 authors of Fantasy, SciFi, and Paranormal Romance. Each author is offering an individual prize and there are 3 grand prizes of $65.00 gift cards. Click the banner above to get started!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lab vamps

Over the weekend I went to see the vampires at the lab. Picture me surprised when I was zipped in and out with nary a bruise to show for my visit. The last two times, I came out looking like someone had used me for a punching bag.

The first time, a male vamp attempted to draw my blood. Everywhere he poked me, the blood quit running so he found a new spot. Poke. Blood dried up. Poke. Oh, lookey there! A couple of drops in the tube!
Three days later, I still had massive bruises on my arms.

After that visit, the head vamp admonished me to drink. Lots and lots of water, that is. No caffeine for two days before the labs. Water, water, water. So I kept that in mind for the next visit.

The next time the head vamp (doctor) sent me off to the lab, I went to a different branch. This time I had a female vamp. It was a repeat of the first visit. Poke. Drip. Poke. Drip. Fifteen minutes later, she had the requisite amount of blood needed. And I had four bandaids plastered to my skin. My question? If I wasn't bleeding enough to fill a test tube, why do I need bandaids? Eh?

So I doubled the amount of water. Sloshing like an old wringer washer, I arrived at the lab, filled out paperwork and sashayed into the room, really nervous because while I can deal with the needles in general, come on! Four times?

While I was still psyching myself up for the jab, the technician was slapping a bandaid on my arm. "All done. Pee in this cup." She handed me a little plastic cup, pointed out the bathroom door, and called "Next!"

Now as I took pains to explain to the house hunk, females do not have aiming equipment. Providing a sample is complicated enough without having to aim for a small target. Heck, most guys can't hit the toilet and that's a lot bigger target that a small cup.

And that's not even talking about the three towelettes you're supposed to wash the area with, plus pee first, stop and slip the cup in the approximate position, then pee in the cup--if you guessed right. If not, the cup is not what gets wet.

After my adventures at the lab, we went for a fast breakfast at Panera's and then stopped at Michael's, a large craft store. I mentioned last week that I went to Office Depot to have my book covers printed for me. They're all 11X17 inches. Try finding frames in that size. I finally located some at Michael's so everytime I add a few more book covers to my stable, it means a trip out to Michael's for frames.

Oh, no! There weren't any frames that size. Oops. Wrong aisle. Picked up the frames. Paid for them. Discovered they were all a third off the cover price! Considered going back for some extras, but my better judgement prevailed so we stashed everything in the Cookmobile and came home.

So what did you do over the weekend?


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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Contest!


Live today! It's a scavenger hunt featuring over 40 authors of Fantasy, SciFi, and Paranormal Romance. Each author is offering an individual prize and there are 3 grand prizes of $65.00 gift cards. Click the banner above to get started!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Caught in the act!

I can't remember how many books I've read where the hero (usually!) is caught someplace where he's not supposed to be and he declares, "Now honey, this isn't what it looks like!" At which point, the heroine stomps off into the sunset. There are a couple hundred pages of misunderstandings and in the last chapter, the heroine finally listens to the hero's explanation. Ta-da! They live happily ever after.

I should stop here and say... this is a valid romance archetype. I don't mind it in the least when it's well done. Especially if the author creates a really unusual reason for her hero/heroine to fail to get back together for a while.

The ones that tick me off are the stories where the entire misunderstanding could be cleared up in about three sentences--and that's usually about how long it takes in the last chapter. Or the ones where the guilty party is REALLY guilty and she takes him back anyway because he's learned his lesson. Uh, no.

At some publishers the misunderstanding is compounded by a secret baby. I have four children of my own and I can tell you there was nothing secret about the process. The guy would have to be deaf, dumb and blind while simultaneously living on a deserted island in order to miss the obvious signs in most of these books. And when the baby is not one, but twins then that stretches my credulity past the breaking point.

I suppose the woman could go to the deserted island, but then you have the difficulty of a) no prenatal care and b) no help delivering the baby. Perhaps that isn't important to either the writers or the readers. I would have a hard time dealing with those issues.

I also find it tough to swallow the story lines where the guy is a secret agent who is a mild mannered Clark Kent type when he's home, but a wild and wooly agent when he's on a mission... and the woman never wonders about him.

Author's note: Mary Stewart wrote one, Airs Above the Ground, but even in that one, the wife suspected something was not quite right.

Perhaps that's why I enjoyed True Lies so much. The wife was really putting him through his paces. I mean, wouldn't you wonder how your husband acquired bullet wounds when he was supposed to be selling insurance in Iowa? And why is it always Iowa? Do they have a particularly high death rate in Iowa? Why not Miami, Florida? Or New York City?

See, I would like to see one of those plots where the wife takes a trip to New York City and just happens to see the husband a couple thousand miles from where he was supposed to be with a grungy lowlife type in a compromising situation. Then let him explain his way out of that! But so far, I haven't read one like that.

Ah, well. It's a sturdy plot device that's been a workhorse in the romance field for good reason. It works. And everyone likes a happy ending.


Thursday, March 19, 2009


The key to enjoying a book such as one of the Harry Potters, or one of the Narnia Chronicles, or even My Favorite Romance is a simple suspension of disbelief. For a few short hours the reader willingly sets aside all that they have learned through their life to embrace the magic of talking animals or shape shifters or vampires or even far-fetched coincidence. But it is up to the author to shape the story is such a manner that the far-fetched seems not only possible, but highly probable.

Using the picture above as a jump start, how can I as an author convince my readers that the dogs did indeed fetch that log? How can I account for the seeming impossibilities? The simplest way might be to state that the dogs are shape shifters who fetched the log with a tractor. But I think that's sort of cheating. So how else can I deal with the imponderable problem? Perhaps...

Bobo sat on the log, panting in the terrible heat. His fellow warriors, Hazaz and Muri, rested on either side of him as they slowly caught their breath after wrestling the mighty log in place. Their pack shaman had forecast a terrible storm, a storm that would boil up from the sea with seething wind and drenching rains.

All along the beach where the sea met the pack lands, pack warriors were moving tremendous logs into place to serve as protective barriers between the fury of the storm and the vulnerable land. The faintest of whistles caught Bobo's attention. He sat up, searching their surroundings alertly.


"The storm is coming. Go help the others while I give warning. Hurry!"

Hazaz and Muri leaped down from the log to do his bidding, racing across the sand to help the other teams. Their exhaustion was forgotten in the rush to complete the protective barriers before the storm arrived.

Bobo loped up the beach to the small settlement where the shaman was directing the preparations for the trek inland away from the coast. "The storm is coming!" Bobo yelped.

The shaman uttered a sharp bark. All activity ceased as everyone waited to hear what he would say. "It's time to leave. Bobo will lead the first group. Mothers and pups, go now."

Immediately, Bobo led the way through the grassy capped dunes to the forest. Behind him, scared and subdued pups followed their mothers, anxiously trotting as fast as they could to keep up with the adults. Mothers carefully shepherded the little ones, keeping a sharp eye out for any who might fall behind. Old Marco, blind in one eye and lame, proudly carried a basket with his mate, Maisie's tiny one week old pups. She walked by his side, confident that her mate would protect them all.

On the beach, as the warriors pushed the last log into place, the first howling winds swept in scooping up the sand in terrible scouring whirlwinds. The warriors thundered over the hills for the shelter of the forest. On the highest hummock, the shaman paused for one last look at the long barrier on the beach. And then he turned away, fleeing from the storm.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tech support?

Ah, tech support. What an oxymoron. It's neither technical nor supportive. After spending the better part of the day following the remote directions of various tech support idiots, I gave in and hauled my computer into the geek squad for resuscitation. After a fifteen minute diagnostic, they very kindly informed me that all the crap I'd spent the day doing had mostly just made the computer worse. And for a mere $199 dollars, they'll undo all the said crap.

So, sometime on Thursday or Friday, I'll have my computer back. In the meantime, I'll be limping along on my elderly laptop which is behind a couple generations on Windows and Microsoft Office, but hey! It actually works. And that is what ultimately counts.

In the meantime, after losing two days of writing time, I'll get back to the books today and probably have to read the first three chapters just so I remember where I was. Who knows? That might prove to be an inspiration!

My ambitions did not reach the levels needed to take down the Christmas tree so I'm seriously considering a trip to the Dollar tree for some of those giant plastic eggs to decorate it with. I'm thinking that I could string some pretty spring-like crystals to hang on the tree. It would look very delicate and pastel. Just might do that.

For the second day in a row, I spent more time walking than sitting. That has to be some kind of record. If I keep that up, I'll be skinnier by summer. I admit that I mostly walked from the bedroom to the living room, but I figure walking is walking. I have an idea that the house hunk was anxious to get me out of his hair because he was extremely cooperative about jury rigging my laptop so I have a regular keyboard, mouse and my gigunda monitor. Basically, the laptop is just a flat cpu.

While I was waiting for several programs to run, I finished sorting through the pile of stickies, scribbled notes, and takeout menus on my desk. Its positively amazing how much junk you can accumulate in one small spot. I found three tubes of lip gloss, six nail files, and eighteen pens. I knew there was a pen somewhere there if I just looked hard enough. I also found the little card that has the instructions for removing the lining on my mammoth Crocs for cleaning. Found a bird box (looks like a duck) full of quarters. Always a good thing when you find money. And a container of Valentine m&m's. Yummm.

Jane, my chef, prepared a delicious corned beef with potatoes to celebrate St. Pat's. I can't remember the last time I had corned beef, but I do know it definitely didn't taste as wonderful as Jane's. Of course, today it's back to the regular diet, but it was worth it.

I hope y'all have a wonderful day. Blessings on y'all.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Deep breath...

Okay. So I went to the doctor and it was mostly good news. Lost four pounds. Have to have more blood work done. Ick. I guess I broke even.

Came home and fought with my computer some more. Every screen change takes anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. I suppose I'll spend the morning with the tech guy. So, take a deep breath and do NOT throw the computer against the wall.

Not much writing took place. Hoping I have a chance to do more writing once my computer quits hiccuping and settles down. Received some great news from my editor. Rescuing Clarice will be released May 6. That's a nice springy month for a book release!

On the other hand, since I couldn't work on the computer, I cleaned up enough to collect four bags of trash necessitating two trips to the dumpster. The house hunk was not amused as it was raining by the time he came home.

On Friday, spring begins so I suppose I should decide whether to take the Christmas tree down or whether I should decorate it with Easter eggs. It wouldn't be the first time. But I could use the space. Who knows? Perhaps I'll get ambitious and move all the furniture around. So if the computer refuses to get out of bed today, then maybe I'll wrap up the ornaments. We'll see. It's always good to have a back-up plan.

Went shopping last night. Of course the house hunk homed in on the Easter candy, ready to buy it immediately "for the grandkids". Hmph. I told him he needed to talk to our daughter first and find out if we were even going to see the grandkids for Easter before he started buying candy. He protested that all the candy would be gone if he waited to do that. Heh. He's a chocoholic so yeah, it would be gone, all right. No candy when we left the store. Anny, 1. House hunk, 0.

Next we visited the Office Depot where I had some copies of my book covers printed so I can finish framing them. I have a nice wall that's just calling their name. While we were there, the clerk and I had a lovely conversation about writing and other such stuff. She was very excited to be a real "live" author. I refrained from mentioning that I was excited to be alive, also.

In the meantime, the house hunk wandered around the store until he talked himself into buying a laser printer for his room. Then he spent the evening hollering for me to come in there to see the printed pages... as though no one had ever printed anything before. What is is with men?

So that's about it. A nice boring Monday. No telling what will happen today. In the meantime, have a great day!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Bug search

So I spent all weekend working on my series bibles, updating them. They were sadly out of date. Anyway, I was trolling through some old e-mails from my editor, looking for information tidbits when suddenly the computer screen lit up with all sorts of flashing lights and warnings.

Naturally, I called for the house hunk. He's in charge of stuff like that. He instructed me to remove my current virus software and gave me a new package to install. Guess what I did all afternoon on Sunday? Watched that little green meter inch across the screen while the software installed and scanned my computer.

So I missed the two chats I was going to drop in on and didn't accomplish much in the different bibles I was working on. No writing, either. Twiddled my thumbs. Sorted through some notes and threw out a bunch of papers. Consolidated a bunch of other paperwork.

Today I have to organize my income tax receipts and paperwork. Later today I have a doctor's appointment. My prescriptions ran out so the pharmacy called the doctor and what do you know? They won't renew until I show up in person so they can check stuff like my blood pressure and weight.

"Ms. Cook? This is Dr. Good Doctor's office. I'm calling about your prescriptions."


"We need to see you before we can refill them. Do you realize that you haven't been here since October???"

"My, time flies when you're busy, doesn't it?"

Ah, well. I'll go in, crawl on the scale, and offer them an arm to squeeze. What fun.

So that's it for today. Fun, fun, fun.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


And if you don't have that... how about a Dilly Bar?

Y'all have a good weekend!


Friday, March 13, 2009


When you're twenty-somethings in love, that phrase from the wedding vows doesn't mean much. You're young, reasonably healthy, and can't imagine a time when either of you won't be well.

Time passes. Age creeps up on you. It's always the little things at the start. A little extra weight. Blood pressure is a tad high. Cholesterol numbers are creeping up. Joints get a bit creaky. It's not too bad if both of you are slowing down together.

But what if one of you is perfectly healthy while the other is not? Sometimes the roll of the dice just isn't fair. An accident, a stroke or heart attack, even a terminal illness can change the face of your relationship in an instant.

Then those vows spoken with such hope and joy suddenly take on new meaning. Real meaning. In this day of disposable marriage, it takes deep meaningful commitment to hang in there in sickness or health. The more dependent one spouse is on the other, the more commitment it requires.

My daughter asked me once how she would know if she was in love. I told her to imagine that strong young man flat on his back, dependent on her for everything in his life. And then... then decide if she still wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. If she still wanted to be with him more than any other man, if the thought of living without him even disabled was unbearable, then he was probably the one for her.

It's kind of funny. She's with a man now. When I questioned her choice she reminded me of that conversation and said, "He's the one."


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Snakes r Us...

When I was in fourth grade, I had a boyfriend... we'll call him Harry. Now Harry loved all things creepy and crawly. He collected stuff like black widow spiders and tarantulas and once we tried to collect a gila monster, but that adventure ended badly.

Anyway, our families went on a picnic together. This was back in the time when you could have a camp fire and roast wieners and marshmallows and stuff like that. We didn't have coolers back then so Kool-aid or tea was made up and carried in a big glass gallon jug. Food was carried in bowls or pans covered with aluminum foil. No Tupperware back then, either.

When we arrived at the picnic spot (generally just a place by the side of the road where there were some trees and a creek as a park was a National park, not a local park). This particular time we had cold fried chicken with sides so we didn't need firewood until after supper. Then while our mothers cleaned up and put things away, Harry and I went looking for firewood for the marshmallows.

It was getting near sunset. Once it was dark, we would roast marshmallows and sing songs. So Harry and I were hurrying along when Harry spied a snake.

Well, don't you know, Harry wanted that snake in the worst way. He sent me back to fetch our fathers. They came and had a look at the snake and determined it wasn't poisonous. Then they had to determine a way to take the snake home.

You guessed it. Everyone had a drink from the gallon jug so we could empty it and rinse it out. Then they caught the snake and put it in the jug. The whole time we were roasting marshmallows and singing, Harry had his arms around that jug.

I don't remember what happened to that snake. But for sure, that was one picnic I never forgot.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bunny foo foo

Strange... you can go for years without thinking about oddities from your youth and then, some little thing will remind you (like the picture above) or this from YouTube. Imagine my surprise when I listened to several of the different versions of the song my kids used to sing in Girl Scouts. This version is relatively harmless, but some of them were... not.

Back when I was a leader we had a million little songs our girls sang. I wonder if kids do that anymore? Huh, they used to sing The Ants Go Marching In and Make New Friends, the ever popular Kum By Ya (click here for a performance on the Ed Sullivan show!)

Something I read recently speculated that there's no such thing as innocence. Would a variety show of today have the gentle Benedictine nuns singing Kum By Ya? Probably not... not a wardrobe malfunction to be seen.

It seems sad to me that the simple pleasures are lost. Little girls aren't little girls anymore. Singing around a campfire is too square (or whatever the cool word is now.) Little girls are worried about wearing makeup and thong panties and shaving their legs. At ten and eleven, they're not playing dolls--they're discussing blow job techniques.

And likely, most of them never have heard of Bunny Foo Foo.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Junk Mail

Just when junk mail was beginning to overwhelm the U.S. Postal System, millions of people made the move to e-mail. And everyone breathed a sigh of relief--too soon, as it turns out. Now I'm bombarded by junk mail, both snail mail and electronic.

The snail mail is the standard stuff--ads, insurance offers, credit card offers (though those have dropped off dramatically since the economic crash!) and the odd offer for cable TV.

The electronic junk is much wilder. I receive all sort of offers for penile enhancements--oral, creams, exercises, and pictures of naked women. I have a bunch that regularly offers me pictures of naked men. And then there are assorted offers to become my "good" friend.

Then there are all the e-mails that breathlessly inform me that I've won! I've won millions of euros, dollars, yen, and other assorted currencies. All I have to do is send them my name, social security number and bank account number and they'll send the money right over. Uh-huh. And if I believe that, they have a bridge in the desert to sell me.

A variation of the lottery win is the "letter from Africa" that I receive almost daily. In this letter the writer claims to be the representative of some VIP who needs to ship their money out of the country. If I just send them my name, social security number and bank account number, of course they'll split the money with me. Riiiiiight. I've also received this letter from a couple of countries in South America and another from the Philippines. So I guess you can't keep a good thing down, huh?

I used to get all sorts of offers for super cheap software programs, but that seems to have tapered off. I'm not sure what I was supposed to do with the programs, but I suppose if one person out of every hundred responded, then their campaign would be considered successful.

Recently the emphasis seems to be on cheap medicine. Now think about this. Why would you want CHEAP meds? Isn't it bad enough ingesting something that you get from the pharmacy where they even tell you all the side effects? Why would you want to swallow something that you have no idea about the quality control or ingredients?

I also get the occasional offer to show me how to make my career successful through better web pages, blogs, promotion, etc. And there have been at least two offers to edit my books. Odd stuff, that.

So what do you have in your junk mail?


Monday, March 9, 2009

Slow day

There are slow days... and then there are sloooooow days. Absolutely nothing happened. So I'll be back tomorrow!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Heritage quilt

Help! Recently received a very old quilt. One hundred years plus old. How do I clean it? How do I care for it? Anyone have knowledge about how to care for old textiles?

As the family historian, it's been my privilege to serve as custodian to the bits and pieces of our heritage. A surprising number of items have ended up in my care simply because the owners don't know what to do with them. Most of their owners know that I'll care for their heritage, display the items if possible, and treasure them so I'm never surprised when new items arrive at my door.

But this one has me stumped. I'm afraid to just wash it as I suspect the fabric is too fragile for that. So if anyone out there has an idea or knows someone with knowledge, I would truly appreciate it.



Saturday, March 7, 2009

Drums in the gums

So I went off to the dentist and after she messed around with my mouth, I believe there's a fire in there under the gums. The word throbbing has an entirely new meaning for me. So, I'm gonna go lay down with an ice pack. See ya tomorrow!


PS! Don't forget to vote in the poll!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Real deal...

After spending a few thousand hours talking to characters in your head while you write a book, it's difficult to give them up and send them off to play in the big outside world.

You live with them day and night. Sometimes they invade your dreams. You imagine their sex scenes while you're driving down the road or loading the dishwasher. A stray overheard comment leads to an new way of resolving their conflict.

And then, suddenly, they're gone. Their story is finished and packed off to your editor and you mourn their absence for a couple of days before you dig through your files and begin a new story.

Eventually, you'll receive edits on your submission. This time as you make corrections and revisions, its more like a short visit with old friends who inevitably leave, instead of a that initial wrench. You wave them off a lot more cheerfully with anticipation and relief.

Months later your final line edits show up. By this time, you're frowning as you try to remember who these characters were. You're head is filled with so many others already. You skim through your book to refresh your mind. Oh yes, you think. I remember this.

Final line edits are finished and off your story goes for the final touches--the cover and blurb, the excerpt and dedication. And a few days later, it's for sale! People buy your book and meet those characters that you lived with so long ago.

Are they real? Absolutely. For a while.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Love me?

Writers are notorious for lacking confidence in their work. Good reviews make us bounce off the walls. Bad reviews sink us in a terrible black pit of despair. So-so reviews leave us puzzled and worried... "What did she mean she wanted more tension? The hero and heroine nearly killed each other. Isn't that enough tension?"

When you have a lull between books, there's a tendency to feel like no one out there remembers who you are. Oh, your fellow authors are around, working to prop you up, but it's not the same thing as knowing that readers are reading your books. That's why reviews play such a important role for the writer, especially the new writer. It isn't the review per se, but the fact that someone read your book!

I think that's why we get so excited when a fan drops us a note or when we get requests for an interview. I always think of that Sally Field acceptance speech for her Oscar... "You like me, you really like me!"

I wonder when we reach the point that we don't wonder anymore? Is it at ten thousand books? Or twenty thousand? Or a hundred thousand? Does Nora Roberts go to bed at night wondering if her readers really like her books? Or will we always wonder, how ever successful we are, whether our readers will still love us when the next book is released?

The truth is probably that we will always have that little niggling doubt about our writing. There will always be that wince when we go back and read something that we wrote last year or the year before or even twenty years ago. That is life. But at this time and place people are still buying the books. They're still plunking down their hard earned money to read what we have to say. And that's proof enough for the most part.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Family Feuds

Yesterday morning my son called to deliver a message. Seems a former genealogy correspondent tried to call me, using my old New York phone number. When she discovered that was no longer valid, she called my son--he uses the same name as the house hunk--and asked him to pass her phone number on to me.

I don't remember the last time I talked to this woman. She says it was in 2001. But we have shared considerable information on a particular family line since I first married--and that's quite a while!

I called her back, wondering what had spurred her to get in touch with me. After the usual catching up that you do in this type of situation, she revealed the purpose of the call. It seems that my mother-in-law, now deceased, had shown her a picture many years ago of a mutual ancestress who was purportedly an Indian "princess".

Now, I'm sure that there were many early Americans that intermarried with various Indian tribes. We have historical records as proof of that. And it's even possible that there would be a comparable title to princess in the tribe hierarchy. But I find it a bit far fetched--in the time period that this was supposed to have taken place.

In any case, my mother-in-law was always less than helpful when I was working on the genealogy for that side of the family and definitely never showed me that picture. I explained to my friend that when she died, all of my mother-in-law's papers, pictures, and other belongings went to my sister-in-law. All efforts to get her permission to look through them have been unsuccessful. Eventually, the house hunk and I obtained the information we needed from other sources and quit worrying about it.

Now my friend wants a copy of the picture of the Indian princess. Hmmm. Well, I explained the difficulties, gave her my sister-in-law's phone number and wished her luck. It will be interesting to see if she's more successful at prying information from my sister-in-law than I was.

Genealogy is a touchy subject with some. Clearly there are deep, dark secrets in this particular family line. What I find interesting is long after all the relevant people are dead and gone, the secrets are still worth defending. It doesn't make the house hunk and I less curious, for sure. But neither is it worth the effort to retrieve that hidden information. For us, it was a shared interest that we enjoyed.

An experienced genealogist is discreet and respectful with family information. While it might be amusing to discover that an ancestor from the eighteen hundreds was a bank robber, the same would likely not be true in the late twentieth century. So whatever the secret is--its safe. And if my friend does indeed obtain a copy of the picture from my sister-in-law, I will be most curious to see what the princess looks like.

Families realities are often stranger than fiction.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Psst! Want a shovel?

Yesterday it snowed all day. Now I realize other parts of the country have lots of snow. For us, however, this was our first really big snow. And things went pretty much as expected. People slid off the roads. People had accidents. Schools were closed. Children went out to play in the snow. (Have you ever noticed that's the one time children voluntarily play outside?) And the rest of us hung out and watched the flakes come down.

I'll admit that I've enjoyed the snow more in the last few years that perhaps I should. You see, I have a secret. I live in an apartment now so I don't have to shovel snow. And I work at home so I don't have to put on snow boots, get dressed in warm clothes, and clean the car before slip-sliding to work. So it's quite easy for me to enjoy the snow now--from inside.

We lived in upstate New York for nineteen years and I shoveled my share, believe me. Once all the children moved out, there wasn't anyone else to do the job. I drove the house hunk to the bus station at 4:30 AM and dropped him off. And I picked him up at 6 PM. That doesn't leave much time for him to do much snow shoveling. So it was usually up to me to take care of that little chore before work.

Some years we had very little snow (rare, very rare) and other years we had enough snow for three years. I have pictures of the house hunk standing on the porch (which was a good three feet above the ground). The snow was piled so high that all you can see is his head.

I think I enjoyed being outdoors in the snow a lot more when I was a lot younger. Snow seems to be something that the very young enjoy.

But I admit that I enjoyed watching it fall yesterday. And I'll enjoy looking out at the back yard, seeing that pristine white cover over all the dead grass. Spring will be here soon. Grass will turn green. Flowers will bloom. For just this moment, though, I'll enjoy the last blast of winter.


Monday, March 2, 2009

What's in a name?

Character names are one of those things that you either struggle with...or you don't. My characters tend to have unusual names. I can hear a couple readers snickering. The hero in my first book was named Dancer. The heroine was Eppie, short for Epona. The second book--about Dancer's brother--had a hero named Traveller with a heroine named Wrenna. See? No Bill, Bob, George, Lucas, Tiffany, Jake, or Heather.

I have a few other odd names. Chrysanthemum, Honeysuckle, Daffodil, Magnolia. Otis, Arik, Hartwell, Zipporah, Dennac and Undain. So it's usually a jolt when I find one of my character's names in another book. Look at that list. Do you reckon any of them are on the top twenty of the baby names list?

In the time since my books have been released, I've discovered two books with heroines named Chrysanthemum, a fellow writer has a book with the heroine named Zipporah, and I've also found two books with characters named Dancer--one male and one female.

I'm currently working on a book with hero named Finnian and heroine named Mairwen (Mari). My friend and fellow writer e-mailed me that she'd just recently contracted a book with a heroine named Mari. Hmmmm. As we always do in these cases, I offered to change my heroine's name and she declined. And we went on down the line, amused that once more we'd picked the same name.

And now I can see you scratching your heads, wondering what the big deal is. Actually, that's my point. It's not a big deal if some other writer has a character in their book that has the same name as a character in your book. Even if that name is an invented name.

I confess that Dennac is one of my computer generated passwords for one of my softward programs. I liked the sound of it and used it. For me, Dennac is a unicorn shifter with long violet hair. He's a shaman for his people and a loving husband. If some other author comes along and uses Dennac for their hero's name, it won't change my Dennac a whit.

In the effort to make our heroes and heroines stand out, we may have gone overboard with the strange and unusual. I elected to go for old-fashioned and simple with my characters in Rescuing Clarice. Otis and Clarice. Of course, they just happen to be dragon elemental shifters. He's fire and she's water. Mix well and let the games begin.

I believe that a name can actually help you shape your character--give him or her substance in your mind--show you the facets hidden from the world around them. Every name out there generates a raft of feelings in us, based on our personal experience. For instance there are certain names I would not use because they are names in my family. I just find it difficult to write hot sex scenes for a male with my dad's name. Sorry. Can't do it. That personal baggage influences the names we choose for our characters.

So if you discover a book out there with your hero or heroine's name, just smile. All it proves is your excellent taste in names.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Where are we?

I've done my share of traveling around the US of A. In my younger days that traveling was often at night. In the days when we had little money and a lot of kids, hotels generally weren't in the budget. So we swapped off driving duties, the kids slept in the car, and we drove and drove and drove...

When I was young of course that was always the case. There was no money, no Interstates and motels were very far and few between. They were tiny poky little rooms that weren't much more than a double bed and a bathroom. The main routes were two lane roads that had few straight stretches. They went up and down and around... and slowed to a dead stop in every little town that came along.

There was a road that we traveled regularly in Arizona that was about a lane and a half. It had small pull out areas so drivers could "pull out" for the oncoming traffic to pass. It also was hairpin curves for about forty miles, with a sheer cliff on one side and a sheer drop-off on the other.

I remember waking up many nights as we zipped through sleepy little towns where even the gas stations were closed and asking, "Where are we?"

There's a certain feel to the night when you're traveling. In the summertime when you stop for gas, the bugs are attracted to the fluorescent station lights, the hum of the truck tires sing in the night, and no matter how hot the days, the dark mysterious hours seem cold and damp. There is a delicious sense of the forbidden when you travel at night. As a child, you're usually fast asleep, safe in your bed, but when you travel, you're often awake while the rest of the world sleeps. Even as an adult I find that feeling of sneaky naughtiness still blindsides me occasionally when I'm traveling. While the rest of the world is safe at home behind locked doors, I am out and about.

On your next night trip, listen to the sounds, breathe in the night scents, watch the dance of the night creatures as they whirl in the lights. Look around you and remember the feel of the wind. Wherever you are.