Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009


I dreamed night before last.

I rarely dream. And when I do it's a confused jumble of this and that. But strangely enough this dream was quite clear and coherent. It was about my current vampire story, but the characters' positions in the story were completely different.

When I woke up the dream was still there, complete and orderly, prompting me to go have a long look at my work in progress. There I discovered a startling truth. The dream was correct. So I spent the entire day yesterday revising the story.

Not that there was much to revise, after all. But when you make changes (or anticipate making changes) you need to start at the first page and read through, revising as you go. In the first three chapters revisions were minimal which just goes to show that my subconscious already knew the story was wrong. The rest of me had to catch up.

When I really, really get involved with my story, I tend to block out my surroundings. There's no one home during the day except house hunk two (son-in-law) and me. He keeps busy taking care of the house, doing the shopping, laundry, and cooking. I burrow in my office pounding on the keyboard. The house is QUIET.

I had my nose near the monitor screen trying to figure out what something was on a blurry photo when HH2 came to see if I needed more coffee. Um...I jumped about a foot. Talk about heart palpitations!

Heh. After that, he'd call out, "Mom?" before he reached the door.

Funny how we can be so enthralled by something we don't hear or see or notice anything around us. I used to write with kids running in and out, yelling and wrestling, the dog barking and the phone ringing. Huh. I wonder what happened?

I think my "blocking" mechanism wore out. Or is it that we don't multi-task as well when we're older? Maybe it's just that I get more sleep now so I'm more alert than I used to be. I suspect back then I lived life in a foggy haze.

Hmmm. Maybe I drink too much coffee.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Fabulous Box

Anyone who has ever had small children--or been around small children--is very aware of the box phenomenon. This is the way it works. You spend a zillion dollars on your kids for Christmas/birthday/holiday of your choice. Then you spend another fortune on paper, ribbons, gift bags and cards.

The event finally arrives and the kids rip the paper from the gifts with wild abandon and accompanying shrieks of joy. Now days most toys are wrapped in so much plastic, twist ties, and other crap that the kid will have to wait three more days while Mom and Dad work their way through the packaging.

In the meantime, the kid is sitting in the corner playing with the boxes. Why?

Because boxes can be anything. They can be a fort. Or a dollhouse. Or a pretend stove/refrigerator/sink. They make a fine play car or truck or plane. Do you need a table? Yep, turn that sucker upside down and you have a great table. One of my kids tucked all the flaps inside and spent many happy hours "watching TV".

If you have a cat or dog, the box is a wonderful bed or cage. For that matter, if the box is big enough it can be a fine bed for the kid. When the child is all done playing the box becomes great storage to hold all those toys. Eventually, Mom and Dad liberate the "real" toys from the packaging and the boxes are stacked in the corner until trash day.

That's when the final irony is revealed.

The boxes will last longer than the toys. By trash day, the toys make the trip to the curb while the boxes endure. Seems like it would be easier to just buy some boxes.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stone and Sky

My dear friend and critique partner, Cindy Pape's newest release Stone and Sky is available today. Stone and Sky is the fourth book in the Gargoyle series. If you haven't read these books, then you're truly missing a treat!

Stone and Sky

Cindy Spencer Pape

Heroes of Stone, Book Four

Marc Armel is a gargoyle under pressure. It’s up to him to find the fourth and final missing artifact necessary to save his race. When he goes off to think, what does he find instead but a gorgeous harpy, washed up on his beach in a tattered evening dress, no luggage and no memory.

Aldara knows she came to Canada for a reason, but she can’t remember what. After one look at Marc, she hopes to heck that she’s single because she wants him more than her next breath. As her memories return, her passion for Marc grows too powerful to resist.

Their nonstop sex may have to wait, though, when danger threatens to tear them apart. While Marc is determined to come through for his clan, he’s even more set on saving Aldara. But perhaps she’ll be the one saving him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reply All...

In the wrong hands, e-mail can be a dangerous weapon. Do you remember those chain letters that people used to "snail" mail back in the sixties and seventies. Truthfully, you might get instructions to mail the letter on to ten or fifteen people, but that was it. Postage was prohibitive.

Now we have e-mail. I can't tell you how many of those odd e-mails I've received with the instructions, "Mail to everyone in your contacts list." Really? Com' on. What kind of nonsense is that? Half of those e-mails are crackpot spam or urban legends that have been circulating for years. How many of my correspondents do you suppose actually checked out the info in the e-mail?

At one time I would take the time to track down the truth and fire it back at the sender, but I'm just too tired and too busy to do so now. I just delete it.

I've been pondering for quite a while the general idiocy of using "reply all". In some e-mail programs, the computer traces every single address attached to that e-mail chain and then sends the new reply to all of them.

About ten years ago a story went around about a woman who planned to break up with her lover, but was delaying it until the New Year so she wouldn't miss out on all the goodies usually exchanged by lovers and so she would have an escort to the Christmas parties. She discussed her plans with a good friend. Then their discussion moved on to other matters--some of which were shared with the lover who was gonna get the heave-ho.

And yeah... he happened to scroll back through the e-mails and so was fore-warned of his fate. And that gal received a lump of coal in her stocking. He, on the other hand, found himself a new lover--before Christmas.

An acquaintance of mine was fired from her job (Executive Secretary) for sending a questionable joke to people at work. It might not have been bad if she had sent it to a fellow secretary or two. But she couldn't resist her own cleverness, hit the "reply all" and thus sent it to the entire administration plus the board members. I believe she was gone in two days.

Why are we spewing unwanted e-mail in all directions? What happened to good manners? If you have something to say, then say it to me. But there's nothing special in a letter sent to your nearest and dearest two hundred friends or acquaintances. Give it a break.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Outside is a dangerous place...

In the last three days I made several trips across town. That meant driving on the Interstate. I've concluded that driving on the Interstate is akin to willfully taking your life in your hands.

On Friday I hopped in the car and set off across town to meet fellow author Julia Barrett who was in town to help her daughter relocate here from California. The freeway was a mess as it's under reconstruction. Fortunately, my fellow drivers were pretty conservative and careful. The weather was pretty good. It was a nice drive.

And we had a lovely visit at Panera's. Julia brought her daughter along to our meeting. It was wonderful to meet them both and I had a wonderful time. Time was too short. Isn't it always too short? It seems like there's never enough time to visit. Hopefully, Julia will be back this way soon when she comes to visit her daughter.

The next day I was up early. The house hunk and I set off across town in a new direction. The weather was cool, cloudy, and dry when we left. Fifteen minutes later the sky opened up and it poured. At the same time, the freeway turned into a parking lot, a sea of red tail lights as far as we could see in front of us and a stream of blurry headlights behind us.

Almost immediately, the cars in the inner lane began inching forward. I, in my naivete thought that must mean there was at least one lane where traffic was getting past whatever was blocking the road.


They were using an emergency cross-over to pull u-turns and go back the other the pouring rain with near zero visibility in the inner lane where the on-coming traffic would be traveling the fastest. So it wasn't bad enough that there was evidently a major crash in front of us that already was taxing the emergency resources in the area. Noooo. These idiots ignored the possibilities of causing another accident.

Forty five minutes later, miraculously traffic began to move. We arrived at our exit before we reached any evidence of what caused the stand-still. So I still don't know why we sat on the Interstate for forty five minutes.

On top of that, we didn't make the connection to meet with the woman we were supposed to meet so it was all in vain. Unless you count the six books I bought from the bookstore while waiting for the lady to show up.

Finally, we gave up and headed home. There are some crazy, crazy drivers out there--people who decided to turn right from three lanes of traffic on the left--with no signals of their intentions. Nuts who were in the turning lane and abruptly decided the street was not where they wanted to turn. And my favorite--the guy from New York who kept swerving into the turning lane and back out for three miles. I was so relieved to see him finally turn!

Yesterday was grocery shopping day. How was I to know that all those people who normally shop on Saturday decided to do it on Sunday? You know, I can understand those individuals who drive the speed limit exactly. Personally, I think it's safer to travel with the general flow of the traffic because I don't want to be what's refered to as a "rolling roadblock".

If you don't understand what this is, next time you're traveling long distance, just observe what happens when a police car enters the stream of traffic and rolls along at the posted limit. No one wants to chance passing a cop so all the cars travel slower and slower and pretty soon you have a long stream of cars behind the cop car.

A true rolling roadblock is worse because these drivers usually travel a few miles below the speed limit. Traffic piles up behind them and then those drivers take dangerous chances trying to pass the roadblock car. If the roadblock car is traveling on a two lane highway with on-coming traffic in the other lane, then it's really dangerous.

And that's what I dealt with yesterday. Crazy drivers darting out into on-coming traffic lanes to pass idiot roadblock drivers. Sigh. I was soooo glad to pull into the parking lot of my apartment complex.

Yes, it was good to be home. Outside is a dangerous place.


Friday, October 23, 2009

And your point is?

Blogging is a bit like taking potshots at grasshoppers at midnight. Anything you hit is purely accidental. The strangest things strike a chord with the readers and there's never any way to know what that might be.

The thing I find interesting is the least response is usually on the days when my blog counter indicates the most visitors. Odd. Is it a peer thing, I wonder? Do readers arrive, see that there are no comments and move on? Or is the blog that day really a dud? It's difficult to tell with no feed back.

Maybe we're all on such tight schedules that commenting is something we feel we can pass on because there are other things--more important things crying out for our attention. It's possible.

An acquaintance once told me that people might be intimidated by me. That they might be afraid to write a negative comment for fear that I would be angry. Hmmm. I haven't used my hatchet in years. It was such a pain in the ass to clean...and oil...and quite frankly, it was starting to weigh down a bit.

So I appreciate those of you who take the time to read my blog. I know very well you could go elsewhere. However, if you do have a couple minutes, drop me a line so I know you stopped by. And regardless of what you say, I promise not to dig my hatchet out of the closet.

Besides, I'd have to unstack all that other stuff in there to find it.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's the story?

So... you meet a writer and after the beginning of the discussion you ask, "What's your book about?"

Two hours later, you still don't know any more than when you started. As a writer, it isn't enough for us to write well. We must also be able to share a short synopsis with our readers if necessary.

It could be a very short description--"I write BDSM ménage with a historical background." Or it could be a little more. "My current story is about a retired female spy who is leading a secret life. When her life is endangered due to an internet hacker, the hero who also a spy must find her and save her life."

In either case, you immediately have an idea about the story. If BDSM is not to your taste, okay. But you aren't floundering along wondering what the story is about. It is our job to describe our story as concisely as possible. After all, when you're exchanging information in a grocery store line, time is of the essence. And yes--almost every time I go to the grocery store, I share information about my books.

I recently met a woman who is a self-described writer. When I asked her what she wrote, she stated a genre. And then I said, "Oh. What is the story about?"

She didn't know. After a while I concluded that there was no story. There might be a scene or two, but this woman has no idea that she needs more. For over an hour, she talked mostly describing various examples of her genre. But every time I asked about her story, she went back to describing her genre.

That's like saying I write fantasy. Or sci-fi. Or romance. What do I write specifically? I write humorous erotic romance stories based on the Arthurian legends. They are part satire, part twisted fairytale cycles based on the adventures of three sisters seeking suitable husbands.

Now at this point, if you as the reader don't like satire, Arthurian legends, fairytales or erotic romance...well at least you've been thoroughly forewarned.

Or I might say I write a series about a secret valley where blue people dwell among strange plants and animals. Their highly sexual culture is a medieval/high technology mix with paranormal elements. Oh, yeah. Outsiders who find their way to the valley can never go back home.

How about you? Can you describe your story in a short paragraph? This isn't a blurb for the back of the book. This is a short description of your story. Here's your chance.

Tell me--What's your story?


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Encouraging Words

You know, those sports bras are easy to get turned around. One can easily see how someone could put it on backwards or even upside down, but I suspect there would be a bit of a draft...

Eighteen hundred words yesterday and the story is still rolling along. Thank you to all those who wrote encouraging words on the blog yesterday. I appreciated them.

The writing community (more than most) is comprised of members who both encourage and promote each others' work. As Regina Carlysle pointed out in her post about RomantiCon, we were like a family.

It's in that spirit of love and friendship that a number of us are showcasing Desiree Holt's new release today. So if you think you're seeing double or triple as you check out the blogs today--no, you aren't. Check out that pretty cover. Read the blurb. And then give in to temptation (come on, you know you want to) and go buy the book!

Rachel Windsor knew nothing about Gabriel Peralta except that he was walking sex appeal. He blew into her life without notice, here today then always gone on a puff of wind. But each time he appears, he does things to her body that even her fantasies haven’t conjured up, driving her to orgasms that shake her like a raging storm. His mouth knows every inch of her body. The imprint of his intimate kisses linger long after he disappears.

Now he’s back again, his life unexpectedly on the line. But even in the danger zone his sexual demands are more scorching than ever and this time, Rachel is determined not to lose him—or the erotic lifestyle that binds them.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To write or not...

Writing is sort of like being on a diet. Once you fall off the wagon, it's very hard to climb back on. I've been wading across the Slough of Despond for about six months now. I hope I reach the shore pretty soon.

There are a variety of reasons a writer can fall off the wagon. A bad review. A rejection. Bad health. Family emergencies. Financial distractions. I think I've had them all in the last few months. A friend asked me, "What can I do to help?"

And I'm just not quite sure.

I'm torn between needing someone to tell me I'm a good writer--and that same someone to firmly tell me what I'm doing wrong. It's a fine line we ask our critique partners and editors to walk. On the one hand we desperately need them to support us and build our confidence. On the other hand we need them to be brutally honest about those things we need to work on. It's a tough thankless job.

Family and friends are both a blessing and a...millstone. They stand on the outside cheering us on, believing in us, exhibiting their pride in our accomplishments. But when we're floundering, they have no frame of reference to understand exactly how bad things are. As one family member said to me, "Well, go write!" There's simply no concept of what it's like to sit in front of a computer and have a blank mind.

In the last two days I've written seven thousand words. I hesitate to save the file and leave the computer lest the words dry up and disappear. Could I bear the loss again? I don't know. I only know I need to create in order to be complete. Without the creation, I'm a partial person.

There are all sorts of exercises a writer can try to get their "mojo" back. Go for a walk. Read a book...or two or three. Make some cookies. Take a nap. Take a bath. Go for a drive. Go on vacation. Spend time with other writers. Have a life changing experience. Take a sabbatical. Yep. Tried them all.

Eventually, you just have to tough it out. Sit down in front of that computer and twiddle the keys. When there are no more ways to postpone writing, then you simply have to do it. Perhaps I finally reached that place. Perhaps not. But for two days, I returned to that place, that wonderful place where words flowed and characters blossomed. If I'm very blessed, I'll find that place again tomorrow.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Lady Spy

So for no apparent reason, I started a new story. And since I have no other thing to blog about, here's a snippet...

David strolled down the block, the dog leash held loosely in his fist while Max the Mutt drifted from side to side, pausing to sniff every few feet. David had no idea what Max smelled, but he was content with the slow pace as it offered him plenty of time to case the quiet street. Due to Max’s insatiable curiosity, David was lounging under a huge oak tree near the corner when the ladies suddenly descended on Myrtle Whitmore’s house.

Myrtle was the last of the three possibilities in the file F had given him. So it was a distinct shock when he recognized two of the visitors as the other women he’d already checked out. Coincidence stretched a long way in David’s world, but he immediately rejected any notion that this meeting fit in that category.

Though he’d tentatively eliminated Katherine Milson, based mostly on her apparent age, Iris Brooks was still a possibility. The thick glasses could be a disguise. Actually, he hated to admit that none of the women really rang his chimes. He leaned against the thick tree trunk as he reconsidered the information in the file. Each of the women had heavy strikes against her.

The thought crept out of his consciousness that F might be smoking weed or mixing up his meds. David just couldn’t envision any of the women as a superspy. But he did wonder what drew this group together. A librarian, an executive secretary, and a schoolteacher. What did they have in common?

He scratched his chin thoughtfully as he considered ways and means. He needed to find out what tied them together. Tugging on the leash, he headed around the corner.

“Max, we have work to do. Let’s go home.” Eagerly, Max trotted past him with both ears perked up, leading the way back to the car. “Yeah, I know. You just want to get back so you can check out that sexy poodle next door. I tell you, Max. Flashy women are dangerous.”

When they reached his car, David opened the back door so Max could jump in, then slid under the steering wheel. He sat for a moment, studying the quiet neighborhood, noting the houses with toys in the yard or obvious signs of pets. Searching Myrtle’s home was a last resort option, but experience told him he might have no other choice so it was best to scope out the area while he was here.

The Sunday morning quiet was shattered by the roar of a lawnmower and the thud of slamming car doors. When a noisy trio of young boys whizzed by on their bicycles, he started his car and pulled away from the curb. No need to draw undue attention to his presence.

At home, once he let Max out into the back yard, he settled in front of his computer and started new searches on the license plate numbers on the four cars parked in front of Myrtle’s house. Two of the women arrived together, but that still left him with more possibilities than he had when he left that morning.

Within the next hour, he had three new names. Maryellen Klipper, a housewife married to a dentist, Jayne Andrews, an accountant, and Rose Wilson, a bank teller. He began compiling files on the three new women, searching for the common link. His eyebrows shot up as he whistled silently when he looked at Maryellen’s bank accounts.

Unless he missed his guess, Maryellen’s marriage was on the skids.
Without hesitation, he began a new background search on Dr. Henry Klipper while the other searches continued to compile.

It was growing dark when Max’s muffled bark captured his attention. He stretched and pushed his chair back from the computer before switching on the desk light. Time to eat, he decided as he made his way through the shadowy house, turning on lights and the TV on the way through the living room. When he reached the back door, he could see Max waiting on the back stoop.

Shaking his head, he swung the door open, admitting Max to the warm kitchen. “Sorry, Max. You really should have barked before now,” he chided. “I missed lunch. I depend on you to keep us on schedule. Now we’ll have to eat lunch and dinner together. You know what that means…no dessert!”


“Well, I’m sorry, but that’s the rule.” David opened the refrigerator and took out the dish of shrimp alfredo, setting it on the counter. He added a bag of salad and a bottle of salad dressing.

Max sat next to the stove, watching every move with big sad eyes.

“No, we had a deal,” David said as he piled salad on his plate. “Besides, I bet you spent the afternoon romancing that sissy poodle. You should be ashamed of yourself. No self-respecting mutt would fall for that wiggle in her walk.”

Sighing mournfully, Max collapsed in a heap on the kitchen floor.

“Now, that’s just not right, Max. Don’t use that moan on me. You know I can’t deal with the moaning.” David opened the refrigerator door and fished out a mozzarella string cheese stick. “All right. Just one. Then you eat your dog food.”

Max’s ears stuck up, though his muzzle still rested on his leg as he shot David a wounded look.

“Geez, Max, give it up. No puppy dog eyes, right? One cheese stick is all you’re going to get.”

Slowly, Max stood up and edged closer, his fluffy tail wagging from side to side. David peeled the plastic from the cheese stick and held it out to Max who delicately lipped it between his teeth before turning to walk out of the kitchen. “And don’t leave little bits of cheese all over the rug!” David admonished as he poured dressing over his salad.

He opened the container of alfredo and forked some onto a plate. Staring down at the pile of noodles and shrimp he considered for a moment before shrugging and adding some more to the plate. Setting it in the microwave, he punched buttons and pressed start. Then carrying his salad out to the living room, he put it on the coffee table while he set up a wooden TV tray. He sat on the couch just in time to catch the local news.

As he ate, he caught occasional snatches of murder, mayhem, a broken water pipe, a robbery, and a fatal car accident on the beltway. The weatherman jovially warned the listeners about the rain headed their way. When a commercial came on, David went out to the kitchen to put his salad plate in the sink and retrieve his alfredo from the microwave.

He was looking forward to the rare treat, a dish his great aunt Millie prepared for him two or three times a year. Max loved it, but the vet had warned David not to let Max have any as it upset his digestion.

David settled on the couch to finish dinner while he watched the rest of the news. After several bites, he noticed Max stretched out on the rug in front of the TV. But Max wasn’t watching television. He was watching David, wearing the saddest expression David had ever seen on a dog in his life. If he hadn’t known better, David would have sworn Max was part basset hound.

Determined to ignore Max, David shoveled in another bite. His jaw tightened as he chewed though the delicious pasta lost its appeal. Swallowing with difficulty, David glared at Max. Then he picked up the dish, carried it out to the kitchen and shoved the food into one of his lunch containers before sticking it in the refrigerator. He couldn’t stand Max’s sad face.

After cleaning up the kitchen, he went back into his office to check the status of the searches he had running. The television was dull background noise as he sat down at his desk and studied the new information.

As he suspected, Dr. Klipper had been spending time in bed with someone other than his wife, Maryellen. His eyebrows lifted when he realized the sleazy dentist was a switch hitter. Jason Belden. Well, well. That was interesting.

He scrolled through the other files, stopping occasionally when something caught his eye. Jayne Andrews had recently shed her third husband, an officer in the merchant marines. Rose Wilson was in line for a promotion at her bank. And Iris Brooks had been a teacher at the same school for more than twenty years.

David frowned at the screen. How had F’s researchers missed that? There was no way Iris could possibly be the woman he was searching for. None of the timelines worked. Irritably, he delved deeper, pulling up credit histories, tax records, every scrap of information he could find.

Finally, he pounded on the desk and leaned back in his chair. Without question, Iris Brooks was eliminated from consideration. He pinched the bridge of his nose before rubbing his eyes. What the hell was F up to? Why was Iris included in the file compiled by the agency?

Until tomorrow...


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainy Weekend...

Yesterday was grocery day. We usually go to the WalMart and yesterday was no exception. When we arrived, we discovered everyone else in Maryland had the same idea. For us shopping is a family event, so picture six of us traipsing up and down the aisles.

It was also pouring down rain outside so you may imagine my puzzlement when confronted with more shoppers than you see at a Christmas sale. Wall to wall people wearily shoved heavy carts down crowded aisles. When we finally had everything we had listed, we went to get in line.

A long line.

A long sloooooow line.

I still haven't figured out why so many people were in the WalMart. Anyway, we finally straggled out to the cars, packed the groceries in the back and headed for home. We'd never been to this WalMart before so the area wasn't familiar.

For whatever reason, the entrance ramp for the freeway wasn't marked. You guessed it. We drove around in the rain on narrow back streets until we ended up back where we'd started--only from the opposite direction. And there (yes, right there on the right side) was a huge sign indicating the entrance to the freeway.

On we zipped and barreled through the rain back to our side of town. Somehow, it felt like we'd traveled to a different country. Sometimes a trip is so stressful, it feels like you've spent all day going nowhere. I do know that I was very glad to be back home.

Home where it was warm and dry--where the cozy lights pushed back the gray dreary day. I kicked off my damp shoes, slipped on my comfortable slippers and settled down with a hot cup of mocha and a good book. Ahhhh, home sweet home.

Oh, the groceries? Well, you know? Sometimes it pays to have family living with you temporarily. I know when they move into their own place I'm gonna miss my son-in-law delivering that first cup of coffee to my office in the morning. And I suppose I'll have to vacuum my own rugs when my granddaughters aren't here to do so anymore.

Sigh. I guess I'll even have to clean out my own refrigerator. But in the meantime... life is good.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Lazy days of... winter???

It seems that Baltimore has leaped from summer directly into winter. I finally dragged my butt out of bed at 9:30 AM yesterday, sighing and yawning and then fell asleep over my computer at 2. What is it about cold rainy days?

We're supposed to have rain through Sunday. I'm considering just snoozing through the weekend and maybe I'll get up on Monday. There is something to be said for sleeping until you aren't tired anymore.

Last evening the house hunk asked me what I was doing. When I said I was reading, he asked why? It occurred to me that I'm taking less and less time to do the things I enjoy. Maybe that's why the writing is grinding to a halt. For me, writing is just one of the facets in my life and when I don't take time for myself, then the writing suffers.

So, this weekend I'm going to be lazy. Sleep late. Drink tea. Read a book or two or three. Draw a picture. Polish my toenails. Listen to Josh Groban sing beautiful songs. Live free.

Who knows what that might all inspire?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Anny's Booksigning...

Ah, the glamour of a booksigning...right? Well, not really. A large percentage of your time is spent waiting. Waiting for someone to stop at your table. Waiting for people to wander by. Waiting for someone to pick up your book and look at it.

Fortunately, I had wonderful tablemates sitting with me. Kathleen Coddington even arrived in a wonderful gorgeous costume to promote her book Threads of Destiny. And Tracy Cooper-Posey brought her lovely husband, Mark.

Large booksignings are a bit strange. Groups of people arrive and roam from table to table, looking at books, helping themselves to the assorted freebies the authors might have set out. Some have specific authors in mind when they arrive. Others don't have anyone particular they're looking for so they wander from table to table looking for something interesting.

It's noisy. Very noisy. People have to raise their voices so they can be heard and then it gets noisier. It makes talking with your neighboring authors somewhat of a challenge.

At some point it reaches a crescendo and then suddenly the afternoon is over. The readers all leave and the silence is deafening. All that's left is the clean-up as you savor that book or two that you sold. Or that wonderful compliment you received from a reader. Or even that surprise appearance from a friend or fan.

That makes it all worth it.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Man, I'm tired!

How is it possible to be more tired the second day after you get home than you were on the first day??? I'm sure I don't know. I really thought I would come home and jump back into writing, but I have to admit that I spent most of the day in a foggy blur. So I guess it will take at least one more good night of sleep.

Later this week I'll have some reflections on my weekend, but for now, I'm still absorbing all the sights and sounds, the people and the events. There is always soooo much to remember.

Of course, there is also the unpacking and settling in to do when you get home. I haven't even begun to work on that. And there's the dreaded laundry. I generated a remarkable amount of dirty clothes. Really, I wasn't that bad.

So, later today, when I crawl out of bed, I'll try to settle my brain and organize my thoughts and write! Surely I have enough inspiration!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

There is something to be said for sleeping in your own bed. After three nights away, I was thrilled to stretch out in my soft comfy bed. I figure it will take a week or two for me to get rested up after my wild weekend at RomantiCon.

It was a weekend of increasing highs. Within minutes of arrival at the hotel, I met my former editor, H. She came all the way from Australia. Talking to her face to face was fabulous! H, you're as wonderful as I always knew you would be!

I renewed my ties with old friends--Cindy Pape, Bronwyn Green, Desiree Holt, Kaenar Langford, and Kelly Kirch. I finally met Regina Carlysle! And in a surprise appearance, Barb Huffert popped in at the book signing.

So many friends from the frogpond were there. It was wonderful to chat over coffee, drinks, or at meals. And there were other old friends from previous conferences...Cris Anson, Judy Mays, Ann Jacobs, Betty Hanawa... well, the list goes on and on.

This time we had the opportunity to spend time with the behind the scenes ladies and gents. Randy--you're the best! And Valerie and Martha, I was thrilled to be able to get to know you!

Of course, no discussion about RomantiCon would be complete without mentioning the Cavemen! As usual, they were very... hunky and perfect gentlemen.

At the book signing, Susilien,one of my most ardent fans showed up! It was such a pleasure to meet her. Yay! I still have a hard time realizing that I have fans!

And finally, I won an award at our publishers appreciation dinner. When they called my name, I kept looking around waiting for the woman to stand up. Then Cindy is urging me to stand up and receive my award. I was so floored. You just can't imagine. Anyway, the certificate says the award is for "Creative World-Building to Anny Cook for Love Never-Ending". Definitely, very cool. I also received a little trophy.

You KNOW I was excited!

When it was time to leave, I was a bit sad. And then there was the nine hour drive. But I arrived home safe and sound. And anxious to make plans for NEXT year!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meeting the Queen Frog

In the past, I had an editor from Australia. We called her the Queen Frog. I'm here now at RomantiCon and have been privileged to meet her in person. She's delightful in person, I'm very happy to say.

The days have been crammed full of meetings, delicious food, and the occasional foray in the hot tub and pool. I hope to have some pictures to post tomorrow. Until then...

anny at RomantiCon

Friday, October 9, 2009

On the Road to RomantiCon!

4 AM. Getting ready to head out. Here are a few of the goodies we've been working on. I'll report on all the fun.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Family that rocks together...

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a family to get one lowly author ready for a convention. I know. Other authors seem to manage just fine so what's my hangup?

Well, as usual, I have too much ambition. This was the to-do list for today.

1) Spray remaining rocks gold.
2) Try the new fabric transfer on a shirt.
3) Two quick loads of laundry (wash ruined shirts to see if it was possible to use them).
4) Pack remainder of luggage.
5) Try new fabric transfers on ruined shirts. *Make note--read directions carefully so you don't end up with transfer on a perfectly good pillow case.*
6) Go to store for new make-up as old make-up is over two years old.
7) Rub transfers on gold rocks.
8) Figure out how to wash/dry the linings on your Mammoth Crocs. *Hint--turn inside out and place in front of fan to dry if you plan to wear them sometime this century.*
9) Rub transfers on gold rocks. *Round up more helpers!*
10) Finish last wax job on face. *Make sure your grandchildren are present to critique the performance.*
10) Clear spray the finished rocks.
11) Attempt number...3? to make fabric transfer work on shirts. *Hint!!! Peel off the backing so transfer will stick to shirt!*
12) Have dinner. *Make sure you have a daughter and son-in-law handy to prepare said dinner.*
13) Write blog. *Entire family has gone to bed, exhausted by the last minute chores, leaving Nanna to ponder the list of things she might have forgotten.*

Truly. Without the help of my family, I wouldn't be ready to go. Every one of them from the smallest to the house hunk have pitched in with ideas, physical help, and encouragement. The reason I'll have a good time this weekend is because they've been there for me.

Thank you, guys!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting Ready for RomantiCon--Part Three

In the quest to get everything ready for RomantiCon, I came up with a brilliant idea. At least I thought it was brilliant. What better way to advertise my books than plastering one of them on a tee-shirt? And if one is good, wouldn't three be better?

While at the craft store I bought a fabric transfer packet. We came home where I discovered I needed an inkjet printer to print the cover on the transfer sheets. I have an inkjet printer, but I was out of ink. Since I normally use my laser printer this hadn't been a problem for me, but now--now I needed a color cartridge for my inkjet printer.

The house hunk and I went in quest of cartridge replacements and made a shocking discovery. A new printer was cheaper than buying the cartridge. A couple hours later we returned home with a new printer.

Day before yesterday, I fiddled around with three sheets until I was happy, printed them out and my daughter and I jumped into the shirt business. Since my daughter had extensive experience with fabric transfers, I was content to let her do the first shirt while I rinsed my new hair color out in the shower.

When I returned, complete with towel wrapped head, she was muttering beneath her breath. And it wasn't good. The transfers weren't working. Actually, they were totally defective. And we ruined two shirts before giving up in disgust.

Yesterday, we went in search of a different brand of transfers. And were successful in our search. Then I thought well, the purple shirt is shot. I'll replace that one.

Well, no. There were no purple shirts to be found. Anywhere. I gave up on the purple shirt, decided we'll see what we can salvage on the old purple shirt and finally came home.

It appears that WalMart is in the midst of reorganizing their clothing department and they've decided not to carry plain ordinary tee-shirts in the women's department. And in the men's department they have black, gray, and white. Oh, yeah. Those are exciting colors.

I printed out the transfers last night and we're going to see how it goes this morning. I'll say one thing. On the new transfers, the colors are far more vibrant. So cross your collective fingers. I really want to wear one of these shirts at the convention.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Watching the movie

Two nights ago I watched a movie with my daughter and granddaughters. It was awful. It was so awful that we watched the entire thing, fascinated and appalled, just to see how much worse it could get. And it didn't disappoint us in that regard.

No, I'm not going to tell you what the movie was. It was a film rendition of a book and in my experience, there are very few book-to-movies that are satisfactory or well done. I won't blame the author.

What do you suppose it is? Why are there so few movie renditions of books that are satisfying? Is it because the movie can never meet our internal expectations? I don't know.

I do know that I found the movie mildly amusing, but expected it to be something fantastic. Perhaps that was a silly expectation. After all, I know that once the book leaves the author's hands, he or she has very little control over what is done with it.

On the other hand, last night we watched a Disney film. It was a parody of all their old films and actually succeeded in being both amusing and enthralling. That's a tough act to accomplish. I must admit that the five year old really didn't find it that interesting. She said it was just silly. In that she was quite correct, but sometimes adults enjoy watching something silly.

Sometimes we just need to watch something silly.

In other news, J colored my hair last night. No more white streaks. It's amazing how different we look with our hair colored. Partly, I think it's attitude. There's nothing like hair color to make us feel younger. Except maybe a new outfit.

Today? A manicure and pedicure. If I have any nails left by then. It seems to be a given that all your nails will break about three days before you have to attend some important function. My nails have been long and lovely. Now, I have two left--my two pinkies. So this mani-pedi will mostly be damage control.

Anyway, until tomorrow?


PS: D, my oldest "baby" turns forty today! Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Getting ready for RomantiCon--Part Two

Today was round two of the Great Mustache and Beard Wax-Off. Actually, most of the hair came off with the second wax-off. One last pass near the end of the week should finish off any of the stray hairs.

This time it was more of a family affair with my two granddaughters closely observing the process. D, the five year old was particularly anxious to get in on the actions. After J daubed the first dollop of warm wax on my chin, D excitedly asked if she could "rip off Nanna's hair?" She was quite disappointed when her Mama said no. There was a faint gleam of sadistic mischief in her eyes until J ripped off the first square. Then D squinched up her eyes and demanded, "Doesn't that hurt, Nanna?"

"Uh, yeah."

On it went. Daubs of wax, ripping whiskers. T, observing that there were a sprinkling of hairs left behind, declared that we would be able to pull those out with her "super pliers." Now, I just want to say that you probably thought I have ordinary whiskers...but noooo. My whiskers require the super pliers!

Turns out that she meant her super tweezers, but we spent a good while laughing about the super pliers. Every time, J started to rip off that next square of cloth, we started giggling so it took longer than it might have otherwise.

The girls were fascinated with all the little hairs sticking out of the cooled wax. In that ghoulish way that kids seem to have, they rubbed their fingers over the prickly hair and came up with some outlandish ways to re-use the hairs. Probably, T's was the most absurd when she observed that the hairs felt exactly like the bristles on baby toothbrushes. Sigh. Kids.

Both of them took great satisfaction in telling me that most of the hairs were white. Well, duh. I could have told them that! The beard usually matches the hair on your head. Thank goodness for Feria #74!

When J finally declared she was finished for this time, the girls told her that she couldn't do the next time until after they came home from school for that day. They don't want to miss the exciting adventures of the Great Wax-Off, Part Three!


PS: Jae, e-mail me. I have your answer and some tips!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Warm Snuggly Reading

So do you need something to warm you up now that the nights are cool and the darkness falls earlier and earlier?
Maybe you need something to jumpstart your lovelife? Something to give you a naughty idea or two to spring on your significant other?
Or maybe you just want a satisfying love story with a wonderful ending--a happily ever after is always guaranteed...
When you pick up a book from Ellora's Cave. Click on the link and check out the wonderful choices now. Who knows? You may not even need that cup of hot chocolate to keep you warm...


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tourist Phishing...

In less than two weeks I'll be on the road, spending money for gas, food, and a hotel. There's been quite a bit of discussion in our household about what form the money will be in.

In a better day, I would simply take my bank card, but after the last couple big conventions in Romanceland, there were outcrys of outrage because credit card and debit card numbers were stolen at those events. Having my bank accounts ripped off is not the kind of souvenir I want to bring home.

Ultimately I think I might load money on one of the WalMart Money cards--or something similar. That way there is a limit to how much money I can possibly lose. They work sort of like the old traveller's checks. Does anyone remember those?

It used to be that you had to worry about pick pockets. Now instead of your pocket, the thieves take the money right out of your bank. Sort of cuts out the middle man (us) I guess. One way or another, it takes some of the joy out of traveling but I refuse to let them take it all away.

For better or worse, I'm gonna smile.