Saturday, May 29, 2010

In Memory

The Memorial Day weekend has always been a bit more for me. Fifty years ago today I lost my mother in a car accident. I was ten. I thought she was very old. My perceptions changed, of course, when I reached the age she was that day. Then I knew just how young she was when she died at thirty-one.

Fifty years is a long time and I was young so my memories are fragmented. I remember her making bread and setting the bowl outside on the car for the dough to rise. I remember her making home-made flour tortillas on a huge cast-iron griddle.

I remember the year she made me two sets of dolly clothes for every single dolly I owned--and that was a lot. I had over thirty dolls.

I remember the time my father was in the hospital with a broken back and all of my brothers were in the same hospital having their tonsils out. It was a rare two days with just my mom and me. The hospital was nearly an hour away. We stopped on the way to have lunch at a tiny cafe. In those days, eating at any kind of restaurant was extremely rare as that was well before the days of McDonald's and such.

I remember the time she waxed the floor tiles with paste wax and then gave my brothers and I old towels to "dance" on while we buffed the floor.

There are so many flickering pictures like bits of old movies. Doing laundry in the old wringer washer. Adding bluing to the wash water. Hanging clothes on the line. Watching her crochet a sweater. Leaning on the piano while she played hymns.

Even though I was very young, she started collecting things for my hope chest. Before we left Arizona, she packed them up and took them down to my grandparents because there just wasn't any more room in the truck and trailer. I still have a set of cactus glasses she collected. Forty years ago when I married, my grandparents sent them to me.

Memories are a funny thing. When you first lose a loved one, most of the memories are sad. Then, God grants you a wonderful gift. The sad memories fade and mostly what you remember are the laughter and the happiness.

The important part is the remembering. That's why a day is set aside for the remembering of all those who died for our country. As long as we remember, then a little part of them still lives.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Spelling bloopers

I had a recent reading jag. Book, book, book. One thing I can tell you is spellchecker doesn't do it. Nope. Spellchecker only checks to make sure a word is spelled correctly. It doesn't check to see if the author is using the correct word.

Given that most of the books I read in my speed demon race were erotic romances, some words showed up with distressing regularity. My top pick?

Shutter. She shuttered as his fingers touched her. Uh-huh. I think not. A shutter is a wooden cover for a window. I deeply suspect that the young woman in this case probably shuddered.

The team won several awards and brought home nine metals. What--uranium, copper, aluminum? No? Ah, the author no doubt meant medals.

The restaurant served a variety of hot entrees and tempting deserts. Hmmm. Mongolia, Sahara, Painted...right?

Joe was admitted to the hospital with gang green. Interesting diagnosis.

His wife went to see the chef of surgery. Wonder what the chef was serving? Maybe some of those gang greens...

As long an the author types an actual word, whether it's the correct word in context or not, spellchecker will give it the go ahead. The difference between shit, shot and shut is considerable. So it is with virgin and vagina. And the list is endless.

These are the types of errors a slow careful read should catch well before the book is submitted, let alone edited or published. I cannot tell you how many errors I picked up while reading a dozen books in the last few days.

What is your favorite spelling blooper?


Thursday, May 27, 2010

RIP Art Linkletter

When I was young, we occasionally went to see my grandparents. Now the neat thing about that was they had a television. One of the shows we watched was Art Linkletter's House Party. Near the end of each show, he interviewed kids. That segment was known as Kids Say the Darnedest Things. And yes they did.

I hope you'll watch and enjoy the little clip I posted in memory of all the hours of enjoyment Art provided through the years.

Rest in peace, Art.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.~~St. Paul to the Philippians.

There is a widespread misconception that happiness and contentment are only possible if one has everything they want or need. Therefore, we strive and connive and contrive, always reaching for more and more, never content, never happy with what we have.

One woman even wrote to me, angry because I was such a Pollyanna, always happy and never upset with anyone. 'Easy enough for you to be happy when you don't have to deal with bad stuff.' Sigh...

I've been there. I lived below the poverty level for much of my life. I actually lived places that wouldn't necessarily be considered habitable in today's world. I've been the next place to homeless a couple of times.

I've known the loss of family, friends, pets and belongings. I've known grief, ill health, disappointment and yes, pain and anger. Every human being suffers similar disasters and losses. We can't control those events in our lives. But we can control how we face them.

Everyday we make a choice. We choose to be content/happy. Or we choose to be discontent/angry. It's that simple. We choose to look around us at the blessings we have. Or we choose to see only what we don't have.

I suppose you can figure out what my choice is most days. Over time I learned choosing to be happy was easier on my innards. It isn't that difficult. It's mostly a matter of deciding to focus our thoughts on the positive things in our lives.

There have been times in my life when the most positive thing I could dredge up was the simple fact that I woke up in the morning. Hey--it's not a given, you know. When we go to bed at night, we expect to wake up, but there's no guarantee that will happen. Imagine that being the high point of your day.

But it was a positive and as I went through day after day, I clung to that with all my strength. Slowly, I picked out other positive aspects. The sun was shining. A sunflower was blooming. I didn't burn the oatmeal. I found a quarter on the sidewalk. I saw a butterfly.

Contentment doesn't arrive with trumpets and rainbows. It steals into our hearts one blessing at a time as we make room.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hi, I'm Art!

Character introduction is...not something I do well. My tendency is to just open the story right in a character's head and let the reader deal with it. I used to believe a loving, detailed description of the hero/heroine was totally necessary. And then I did a writing exercise with some friends.

We chose characters at random from books on the library shelf. All genres. Famous authors and obscure writers. Here's the way it worked. Someone read the description. Everyone wrote down a well-known personality they believed would be the best physical portrayal for the character.

Out of ten character descriptions, there were no duplicated answers. Based on the writer's descriptions, everyone still had a different mental picture of each character. You might ask, "What does that mean?"

I think it might mean we don't need to get extremely involved in describing our characters unless that description has an important bearing on the story. Basics such as size, gender, race, and maybe hair/eye color might do it.

For instance--I'm currently working on a story where one character, Poussé, has very dark brown skin. All the other characters in the story are blue. How she adapts to living in the land of the blue people is an important aspect of the story. How she deals with it when she turns blue is another important point.

On the other hand, I don't need to spend paragraphs describing clothing, hair styles or what kind of weapon she carries into the valley. Within the first page, all of those issues become irrelevant when she's captured. Over the course of the story as she slowly accepts the valley culture, we see the other characters through her eyes. Blue,yes, but individuals.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Burying the Hatchet

There are few things as awkward as mending a friendship when you feel you are in the wrong. One of those would be fixing something when you don't feel you're wrong.

The problem as I see it is point of view. What I might view as a relatively simple issue just might be something another individual feels very strongly about. What to do?

Humanity in general is a seething mass of individuals who all have their own personal lines in the sand. One person draws the line here. Another draws it way over there. And neither budges from their position.

There is also the matter of resilience. Some people are far more susceptible to hurt feelings and anguish than their fellows. No one is wrong. That's just the way humans work.

But because of those lines in the sand, those hurt feelings, those differing points of view, relationships sometimes have hidden booby traps, secret vulnerabilities that all parties aren't necessarily aware of. That's when one person can inadvertently hurt or anger the others.

There are possible solutions. I suppose it all depends on whether all parties are interested in burying the hatchet.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

The weekend...

This week for many of us the weekend has taken an awfully long time to arrive. Rest. Unwind. Eat chocolate. Perhaps sit in the sunshine and meditate. See ya on Monday.


Friday, May 21, 2010


That's me. Frolicking in the woods. Dancing to my own band. It appears that I'm not WRONG--just different in my approach to writing. Like most things in life, there is no one correct way to do it. Unfortunately, also like most things in life, everyone believes their way is the only right way.

So I'm a square peg in a round hole. Or visa versa. It doesn't really matter which way it works. Either way, I don't fit.

I don't mind being different. I do mind being told that different is wrong. I can deal with the limitations of different. It might handicap me in my endeavors. If that's the end result, I can deal.

I find myself unexpectedly angry about the whole thing. I spent some time last night trying to figure out why that is so. And I believe it's because our culture penalizes anyone who doesn't conform.

Conformity stifles creativity. Yep, I know there are rules. But within that framework there are variables. Who decides which variables work the best? All the major scientific discoveries were possible because someone stepped out of the box.

I find myself facing a true paradox. Writers are among the most conformist humans in the world. Print publishers are best, they cry even as the digital revolution is inundating the marketplace. Thou shalt only write in such and such POV, because that's the way we do it. No one will read this genre or that genre, until the day a digital publisher proves them wrong.

In an industry that should thrive on creativity and out-of-the-box writing, the powers that be are cramming more and more writers in that box. I know about economics. Boy, do I know about the recession. Most writers do.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, I wonder what the writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century would think of the industry now. Would they applaud us for our conformist strivings or would they scratch their heads at our sheepish ways?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Everyone has at least one particular thing they don't "get". For some people, it's numbers. For others it's a subset of numbers such as percents or fractions. Some people transpose letters. Some have trouble with verbs. For's point of view. Hence the title of my blog.

Since I started writing with serious intent, I've been teased about my runaway switching of view points--otherwise known as head hopping. I understand the concept when it's explained to me. Really.

But if you hand me a couple pages of manuscript--anyone's manuscript--I can't pick out the instances when this occurs. As hard as I try, the darn thing is opaque for me until someone else high lights it. Even then, I may not be able to decipher who's viewpoint it is. Or why.

If you're a non-writer you may be shaking your head and saying, "So what?"

But if you're a writer, you know this is considered a serious flaw. Editors and publishers don't want to spend time marking up your manuscript for the zillion POV changes that need to be made. No matter how brilliant your story might be, no matter how many heart strings you tug, ultimately it isn't worth the time commitment required to correct it.

Yesterday I worked many hours on a section of my manuscript that was about three pages long. I slaved over it word by word before finally sending it off to a critique partner. And still in that short piece there were two POV issues. That was with two characters in the scene. Imagine what it must be like when I have more than two characters!

There are certain subjects that don't seem to be covered in writer's workshops. One is synopsis writing. Another is point of view. I'm sure there are others. In the meantime I read every article I can find on the two I mentioned, believing that the day will come when the light bulb flashes and I finally understand. So far, it's not happened, but I haven't given up.

I have to admit, though, that frustration sets in when I'm told understanding POV is simple. No--for me--it isn't. I don't pick up on the cues that would give me the information I need. Someday in the future that might be the case, but for now it's not. To some extent, I might as well be blind when trying to decipher whose POV a particular paragraph is.

I'm sure every writer has some issue that drives them insane. Writing is such a solitary profession. It's not like the writer can wander over to the next desk in the office and chat up a co-worker for help. Yes, I know we have critique partners and fellow writers and editors. But if y'all are honest, you'll admit that dealing with problems in the technical aspects of writing are the most difficult to share. Especially when there's a repetitive issue involved.

Surely I must not be the only one with a writer's block. Right? What's your particular problem?


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Ah, the vocabulary. Men don't have boobs. They have moobs. And bromances. And manscapes. They have mirdles and mansierres and are metrosexuals. Mantyhose and manscara are available for the truly well-rounded male. Think I'm kidding? One word. Google.

So, what is it all about?

Culturally, where are we going with this? Will there be a true reversion back to the days when men wore some version of the skirt and women wore pants? After all, gender wise, it would make more sense that way. And up through the sixteen hundreds, men were quite eager to display their peacockish ways.

There are a lot of women who really drool over a fellow in a kilt. I suspect that was part of the appeal of my Mystic Valley books. Every single male in the valley wore the kilt-like sharda. Yummmm.

There are several kilt companies out there that cater to the modern man who loves his kilts. Utilikilts even produce kilts for the fellows who want to wear them on construction jobs. Imagine the opportunities to find out what a man really wears under his kilt! I suspect it is NOT a mirdle.

How do you feel about the shift in gender wear?


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom Part 2

This column is a reprint from November 2007. Many of my friends are suffering discouragement, loss, and even tragedy. I was looking through some of my old posts for a specific quote (never found it!) but found this post instead. It spoke to me. Perhaps it will speak to those who need it. Blessings on your day.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change; the courage to change the things i can;and the wisdom to know the difference. The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer written by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930s or early 1940s. For more information about the Serenity Prayer...

A friend and I were talking about why I'm called the Zen Queen. She asked, "How can you be so calm?" I had to think about it for a while. I think it's because I took the Serenity Prayer as my general "motto" for life. Everyone has some tenet that they live by. It may be the Golden Rule or a quotation or a religious saying.

Many years ago when one of my children was involved in all sorts of dangerous behaviors, I attended Families Anonymous. In many respects it saved my life. At the beginning of each meeting we recited the Serenity Prayer. And I found it good.

There is a lot of old wisdom contained in this relatively short sentence. The sentence as printed at the beginning of this blog is the way it was originally written. Did you notice that the i's are lower case? That's one of the first things you learn in any of the anonymous programs... that it's not all about you. So. Small i's.

Serenity is a product of acceptance. There are certain things in life that we cannot change. I will never be five foot ten. I'll never be younger than I am right now. I know that you're thinking well that's just silly. Everyone knows you can't change things like that. What about bad judgment, hurtful words, or stupid choices? They're in the past. Things in the past are simply that--past. They cannot be changed. You can ask for forgiveness. You can make amends. But you can't change the past. "Grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change."

Courage is a little understood word today. We equate it with the military mostly or heroic deeds. But courage is really taking a leap of faith. It requires an immense leap of faith to make some changes. Changing a job. Changing a life style. Changing an address. Eating healthier. Going for a walk. Getting up an hour earlier. All of those require us to take a leap of faith that there is something better out there. Change is uncomfortable. Just ask anyone who's moved recently. We like our comfy little niches in life. Change requires us to move out of our comfort zones and try something new. "Courage to change the things i can."

Wisdom is mistaken for intelligence or education. Some of the wisest people I know are small children. They cut through the trappings of adulthood and go right for the heart of the matter. Unfortunately, as adults we don't gain wisdom without experience. Frequently the experiences are painful or bitter. It takes a while to understand the difference between "book learning" and "horse sense". With that hard won wisdom, we can determine whether the circumstances require change or acceptance. Sometimes it's best to simply accept the place we are in life. Other times we need to seize the courage to change. The wisdom we've accumulated helps us decide which choice to make. "The wisdom to know the difference."

I use these three short phrases to get through life. My child calls with an emergency. Not my emergency--but her emergency. The immediate visceral response is to leap in to save her. But wait. That would deprive her of hard won experience so that she can gain her own wisdom. So what exactly is required of me? Perhaps... all she really needs now is encouragement to follow the path of serenity, courage and wisdom.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Magazine Musing

For a while now, I've been curious about whether women really pay attention to the articles in magazines or whether they buy them for the recipes and such. I read the covers when I'm standing in line at the checkout counters in the grocery store and wonder who decides what they put on the covers?

As far as I can tell, the most popular entry on all covers, regardless of genre, always has something to do with weight-loss. I confess I've bought a few, lured in by the possibility of some new suggestion or information.

The only thing of interest to me personally was the information that soy-based products shouldn't be consumed by individuals with thyroid problems. Since I had a doctor's appointment scheduled shortly thereafter, I ran that one by my doc and she concurred. I pointed out it would have been useful to know that during the previous four years when I was consuming a boatload of soy-based bars, drinks, etc.

The second most popular subject apparently, is sex. Can we talk? Is there really anything new? I recently read through a zillion blog comments about a book review on the subject. According to the majority of commenters, the author was depraved and wicked. Sigh. In that case, let's hope they don't read Victorian erotica such as the Pearl or the really good stuff written by the Romans or Greeks. There is nothing new. If you want to know what turns a man on, ask him. He'll be happy to tell you--in detail.

Back to the magazine covers...oh, yeah. Fashion. Some days I wish we never progressed past the chemise and dress stage. Two pieces. Put them on. Done. Of course, there would always be some smart-ass who decided she wanted a different color dress. And then some needle-quick hussy would decorate her dress with embroidery...

And lastly, way lastly, we have the celebrity component. Here's what I think: I don't care whether they're sleeping with six men, a goat, and a turtle. I don't want to know. I don't care if they're snorting cocaine, Lysol, or catnip. That's their problem and unfortunately their family's. I don't care if they're wearing really ugly clothes, a bikini, or whether they dye their hair purple. They're human beings who are sometimes paid ridiculous amounts of money for stupid talents.

When are we going to honor people for honest achievements and contributions to society? What about the woman who gives her time and love to foster children? What about the teacher who inspires kids to learn? What about the fireman who goes where others flee?

Put them on the covers and maybe, just maybe I'll buy your magazine. Maybe.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Have a great weekend!

Sleep late. Eat chocolate. Read a good book...preferably one written by Anny Cook! Don't forget to check out the new work in progress excerpt!


Friend Request Denied!

Social networks! Friend me! Follow me! Twitter! Where will it all end???

I have 653 friends on Facebook. I probably know 80 of them. Maybe another 10 are family members. And that leaves...563 people who want to be my friends. Of those, I'm slowly getting to know another 15 or so. And then there's the fan club for Jacquelyn Frank's Nightwalker series. I appear to be friends with most of them. Since they seem to be a fun bunch, I've been enjoying being their friends. They're easy enough to spot. Every one of them has the last name of Elemental Nightwalker.

I recently attended a workshop on viral media networking at the Maryland Writer's Conference. The presenter, Mindie Burgoyne recommended limiting your friends to a manageable sized group. Now you might ask how to determine what's manageable. And here's the answer: How many friends can you have a relationship with? Realistically.

I came home from the workshop and scrolled through my list of friends. That's when I realized I didn't know at least 400 of my friends well enough to have a relationship! Oh, no! What should I do?

Obviously, I must remedy the situation in some fashion. I know! I'll unfriend some friends!

How shall I determine who to unfriend? Maybe I should do it by lottery. Or spin a wheel. Or ask for volunteers.

MAYBE I should insist on a letter of introduction! What if I asked all my "new" friends to write to me explaining why they should be accepted as my friend?

I think I might do that...just send a little note telling all new applicants that I require a note of introduction and explanation. It would be very interesting to see what happens. I'll let you know. Who knows? Maybe I'll actually make some new friends for real!

Wanna be my friend?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chasing your tail...

Last night I played Wii bowling with the house hunk, my daughter and her SO. I was doing pretty good. And then...

The dog started chasing her tail. First to the right. Then to the left. Right. Left. Very difficult to bowl when the dog's chasing her tail. BTW, I bowled 181 that game.

That's pretty much how life is these days. It's not so much that I'm chasing my tail... but everyone around me is. That can be distracting, you know? In our wild world it's harder and harder to take time to just think.

Jane and I had a discussion about waiting rooms (doctor's waiting rooms to be specific). She was of the opinion the time spent there was wasted. I think it might be "found" time. Time to read a book. Or time to think. Or even time to dream.

Of all the things from my childhood, I miss the ability to daydream the most. It was an acceptable past time back then.

"Whatcha doin', Anny?"

"Just thinkin'."

And then your friend would plop down beside you and you'd spend time thinking. Or imagining wonderful, amazing things. Now if a kid sits around thinking, his parents haul him off to a therapist because obviously he must have something wrong with him. Original thoughts might be dangerous. Goodness knows there aren't very many of them floating around.

I wonder if life on the planet would be different if we all had to spend two hours a day on recreational thinking. No distractions. Just silence and thought. Think about it! Shut down everything from noon until two pm everyday and dedicate that time to thinking.

Sure, some people would sleep, but that's okay. That's just another way of thinking. Meditation. Being one with the mattress. Yeah. I could go for that.

I bet there would be people who couldn't sit still that long. You know those women who just can't relax. They'd be thinking about the laundry or dishes or some other bit of work that needed to be done. Those people are born tail chasers.

When I was a kid we spent about half an hour everyday on our knees next to the bed. We were supposed to be talking to God. Of course, that wasn't always the case. Some people did but others thought about ways to make their vegetables grow bigger or how to get that ding out of the front fender. Whatever they were thinking about it was quiet time. More importantly, it was sanctioned quiet time.

One of the major problems people deal with in this country is a whole slew of sleep disorders. I wonder if thirty minutes of meditation before bed would alleviate some of those problems.

What do you think? Would life improve if we just stopped chasing our tails?


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Give me a sign...

Every human in the world reaches a point of no return. It's not so much giving up as finally reaching that place of diminishing returns where the results just don't support the effort.

I am quickly approaching that point. Oh, not this week or the next, but soon. The signs are all there. Sales are flat-lining. I give parties and no one shows up. Most visitors to my blog and webpage are accidental and according to my meter, they leave almost before they arrive. That can't be a good thing.

Lest you think this is a whine and cheese event, I will hasten to say none of the events listed in the paragraph above are NEW. No, that's been the situation for quite a while. So why would I suddenly 'fess up? Perhaps it's simply a matter of facing reality and economics.

What is my time worth?

At least five days a week (sometimes more) I sit at my computer and write. From eight to nine I take care of business--e-mail, blog, social networking. Then from nine until around five I write. There's a break until seven-thirty and then more writing until ten. Close down the computer. Start all over the next day. So I work a minimum of forty hours a week just writing.

My income last year was six thousand dollars.

Hmmmm. Forty hours a week multiplied by fifty two weeks = two thousand eighty hours. Divide six thousand dollars by two thousand eighty and you have...? Two dollars and eighty nine cents per hour. Not exactly a stellar income.

I never expected to sell my books like a Nora Roberts or J.K.Rowling. I understand the economics of erotic romance vs. all other genres. But there's a little factor known as piracy. I hate that word. It lessens the reality. The truth is there are book thieves out there stealing from me.

The publishing world is one of the few where bold-faced thievery is tacitly condoned.

John Smith has a little woodworking business and he produces Adirondack chairs. If I decide I want one of his chairs so I just take it...good ol' John would have me arrested.

If I decided I liked your necklace and took it, you would complain loudly (and possibly have me arrested).

If you bought a book and I tucked it in my bag and walked away, you would be incensed that I made off with something you bought.

All of those instances are clearly thievery. Yet, there is a school of thought that it's okay to steal a book if it's over the internet. Yes, I know all the creative ways people have come up with to justify their thievery.

Not one person has presented a valid argument to put the resulting missing income back in my pocket. No one has a creative way to provide restitution for the loss of book royalties. And NO, I can categorically say that free books do not increase my sales in any meaningful way.

Writers seldom receive feedback. The reality is we don't get bags filled with mail extolling our books. We count ourselves fortunate (and leap around with excitement) if we receive a two sentence note from a reader saying they enjoyed our book. Really. The occasional visit to our webpage is just that. Occasional. And blogs? They seem to be dwindling at an increasing rate except for those focused on dissemination of professional information--or the most controversial ones. As for chats, I suspect they will soon disappear entirely in favor of something new.

Our feedback is the number of books we sell.

Based on my current feedback, I need to find another job.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Taking the day off...

It's been a busy week or two. I'm taking the day off. By the way, I have a chat this evening between 7PM and 9PM EST at Love Romances Cafe. Feel free to stop by. If you're an author bring your excerpts. If you're a reader come prepared to chat and read!

See you then!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Truth or Lie?

I've been nominated by a number of people for the most recent blog tagging but I'll link to the first one to nominate me and it'll have to do for the rest... Amarinda Jones. You can view my fancy new award in the upper right of my sidebar.

So here's the deal. I'm supposed to list seven things about myself. Six must be true OR six must be false. You may guess which is which. I'm ALSO supposed to tag seven more people to do this, but it's tooooo early in the morning for that and besides, my body aches from playing too much Wii bowling yesterday. So, here goes.

1) I'm really a tall red-headed blue woman with pointy ears and fangs, sent here to check out the men on your planet. However, since your men tend to panic when I show up, I wear my current disguise so I don't scare them too much.

2) My favorite after dinner treat is a Cuban cigar. Unfortunately after my visit with Fidel, he refuses to send me any more. I still maintain he's prejudiced against blue people.

3) I was born on the planet Elyria. Sigh. With all the tri-marriages going on there, we now have a shortage of men. I'm taking lists of volunteers. If you're interested, raise your... hand.

4) My favorite flowers are dandelions. I would settle for an iris or a rose, but dandelions are edible and self-sowing so I'd rather have them.

5) Dragons make the best house pets. Percy, my green one was perfect until he grew too big. I suspect he ate too many dandelions.

6) I once had a family of scorpions for pets. I made the mistake of taking them to school and lost them. Or it could be the school authorities were prejudiced against scorpions.

7) My favorite outfit is my black leather motorcycle duds. My neighbor Jane thinks I look hot in them. Of course, it could be the high-heeled boots...


Sunday, May 9, 2010


Motherhood is the top learn-on-the-job occupation in the universe. There isn't a one-size-fits-all manual. Every child is a new experience from day one, whether you have one or twenty.

Being a mom is the most rewarding and the most heart-breaking job ever. No one, not your parents, not your spouse, not your best friend can grab your heart like your child. You might kill for your significant other. You will definitely do whatever is necessary to protect your child.

Once a year we set aside a day to honor our mothers. Somehow, that doesn't seem to be enough, you know? I suspect we get so used to mothers being around, doing whatever is necessary that we kind of forget how special they are.

Some mothers will receive flowers today--whether they're living or dead. Some will go out to dinner with their families. Some will get a phone call because they live far away. And some made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their child up for adoption. There are some who won't hear a word and might even languish in loneliness and heartbreak.

If you know a mom who's alone today, please take the time to wish her well. Maybe call her to say Happy Mother's Day.

Mothering is a tough job. It's a volunteer job, whether you're a biological mom or a foster or adoptive mom. No pay. Long, impossible hours, and it's years before you know how your efforts worked out. Were you a success? Hard to tell, sometimes.

For some of us, our mom has passed on and all we have is memories. And if we were very fortunate, we might even have been gifted with a second mom, a courageous woman who took on the job of raising kids not her own.

Wherever your mom is, whoever she is, call her up and tell her you love her. Just because she's your mom.


Saturday, May 8, 2010


Have a great weekend!


PS: Make sure you check out the new blog pages in the upper right!

Friday, May 7, 2010

**crazy people**

I read this wonderful book last night by Elizabeth Jennings titled Homecoming. It has a wonderful cast of characters who appear to be crazy at first glance. But as the reader becomes more involved with the story, they realize the characters' sanity (or lack of sanity) is a matter of perspective.

The same is true of the people around us in real life. Mostly their actions are logical and sane from their viewpoint if not from ours. When we know their motivations and experiences, then we more easily understand why they do the things they do.

When we writers create our cast of characters, we are constrained by our characters' motivations. If we don't know why they act the way they do, then how can we perceive whether their actions are true or false? How can we decide whether they are sane or simply marching to their own drummer?

Perspective is everything.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lookee, lookee!

Had a wonderful surprise yesterday... a new print book edition of two of my Mystic Valley stories--Everything Lovers Can Know and Traveller's Refuge! They're available in this very pretty print edition titled Lovers' Refuge. Want more info? Just click on the title!

Wanted to also mention I have two other books available in print. For autographed copies of Dancer's Delight or Carnal Camelot, get in touch with Lauretta at Constellation Books--she's more than happy to mail them to you!

Of course, they're also available at Ellora's Cave site or Amazon...

All right, now that bit of exciting business is done, I wanted to also point out this blog has a new page titled Blue People. If you look in the upper right at the top of the side bar, you'll see a link. Over the next few weeks I'll be adding new pages with information and hi-lights about my books, writing, plans, etc. I hope you'll check them out as they show up.

I may even post sneak peeks or excerpts on there. You never know what will show up!

And speaking of sneak peeks, I need to get back to the writing. Working on Beau and Emmeline's story today and it's getting to the "good" part!

Y'all have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Video Life

Did you ever wonder what life would be like if all interactions were via videos? What if dating, shopping, school, work were all accomplished with videos instead of face to face? Would it make any difference in our lives?

Of course, there would likely be fewer colds passed around! But how would it affect our social interactions? Have we reached the place where we no longer need to be in the actual presence of another human? Has technology finally become the substitute for communication?

It seems to me that something was lost when we stopped writing letters. I remember writing long letters to my cousin Wanda and my grandparents and my aunt and uncle when I was in high school. I lived in Chicago and they lived far away in Arizona and Hawaii. I remember how excited I was when I received letters in return.

Handwritten letters communicate more than words. They communicate emotions through the loops and whirls of ink. They reveal joy or sadness or excitement in a way that the printed word can't duplicate. The very time it takes to generate a handwritten document allows the individual to think about what they're writing. Many writers go back to the pencil and paper when they're having trouble with writers block. Perhaps the very act of making that personal mark on paper is the key.

Video communication bears the same relationship to personal interactions that e-mail does to snail mail. It's quick. It's impersonal. It does the job, I suppose. In the case of business conferences over long distances, it's certainly cheaper. For military families separated by conflict, it's a precious opportunity to be together.

I wonder, though, if we are too ready to use technology out of a growing inertia. Is texting taking the place of getting together on the front porch to visit? Are we so wired we no longer see the real people around us? Have we lost the ability to recognize emotion because we're so immersed in our individual worlds?

Some say we're communicating more than ever, but I don't think that's true. Now, instead of one-on-one discussion, we send out an e-mail to our hundred closest friends. How can that be personal? What's the difference between that and those mimeographed letters we used to get at Christmas?

In this day of instant sound bytes, I fear we've lost the ability to communicate. Truth and emotion are over-shadowed by speed and sensation. Increasingly, it's not who we are, but the picture we present that's important.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Friendship Forever

I have several friends going through some terribly tough times right now. There are a lot of people going through bad times all over the world so I expect all of you have friends in the same types of situations. They need help or sometimes just a listening ear. Yet, they don't call or e-mail or post it on their blog.

Instead, this is what they say... I didn't want to bother anyone.

Here's the deal. In friendship, there is no bothering. Otherwise you wouldn't be friends, you know? Some people think that love is God's greatest gift. I think that's not quite right. I think friendship is his greatest gift. And if we're fortunate it turns into love--whether platonic or not.

I'm not talking about self-centered friendship here where you're only friends for what one of you can gain from the other. I'm talking about friendship where you know the other person well enough to tell them they're a pain in the ass. It's the kind of friendship where you can tell them their favorite dress is the ugliest piece of fabric on earth. Or that hair color makes them look like a hooker on main street.

When you have that kind of friendship, their pain is your pain and their sorrow is your sorrow. Inconvenience isn't even a word in your vocabulary because you would do whatever you could to smooth their path.

Huh. That sounds an awful lot like love.


PS: Several of my friends have had birthdays in the last few weeks! So Happy Birthday to Jane, Cindy, and Rita! Many, many more!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sea of Ideas

Where do you get your ideas? That's in the top ten questions readers ask me. The answer? I have no idea. At the moment, I don't have a single idea in my head.

Actually, I know there are ideas in there. I just can't seem to catch them. They float up to the top of the seething mass of goop in there, but when I try to snag them, they dance away, chuckling at my ineptness. It's frustrating to say the least.

I've tried all my tricks. Writing down lists. Drawing maps. Reading. Taking a shower. And still...there they are, hiding behind all the other worries in life, refusing to poke their heads out. What's a writer to do?

Mostly, it's a matter of time. If I wait, paying attention to something else, the ideas will come. They'll poke and prod and nudge me. They'll take over my dreams. They'll intrude while I'm writing my current works in progress.

If I ignore them, they will come.