Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Cannot Brain

For several months now, I've suffered from the brain fuzzies. Short attention span, difficulty concentrating, cognitive problems... And now, now the truth comes out. Two of the medications I'm taking can cause the brain fuzzies.

They're not exactly meds I can just stop taking.

I suppose what irritates me is the side-effects aren't a recent thing. Apparently, the pharmaceutical companies who make them have known about this for quite some time. But this side-effect isn't listed on the material you're given when you receive a prescription. 

So...if I seem inattentive, there you have it. Medication fuzzies.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Romance Terror

I love romantic suspense. Really. And the book I'm reading right now is by one of my favorite authors. So you're probably asking what the problem is.

I'm scared to death.

I can only read so far and then I have to put the book down for a while. That's ridiculous, I know, but that's the way it is. My old heart is pitty-pattin' and I find it's hard to breath so time to put the book away until tomorrow...or the day after that.

I've tried to analyze exactly what's setting me off. And I believe it's because the author's done a fabulous job of blocking all the exits. You know what I mean? Where there's no way out? And the villain is relentless. Crazy relentless. Methodical relentless. Brrrrr.

So what's your take on terror in a romance? How much is too much? I suspect I must be a wimp when it comes to writing the scary parts. I know one of my last reviews for a fairly recent book indicated the reviewer was disappointed because I was too predictable on the action scenes. And I have to say I'm not one to drag any particularly scary parts out for long.

Now I'm wondering if that's because I'm not much for the scary bits myself. Cowardly Cook?

Is this something I'm going to have to get past if I'm going to write romantic suspense? And if do I do that when I can't even read a scary book without leaving the lights on when I go to bed? Hmmmm.

Maybe I should write comedy instead.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the First Person

From the day I started writing (a very long time ago), I've struggled with this odd notion of POV (point of view). Frankly, I don't see what the hollering and bellyachin' is about, but editors and publishers and some writers and readers seem to think it's a big deal so I've struggled mightily to figure it out.

I believe there are some people who are just plain POV blind just like there are people who can't see the color blue. Just when I think I have it right, someone (usually a long-suffering editor or critique partner) will point out that--no--I don't have it right.

A couple months ago I embarked on a new venture. I started a story in first person. And for the very first time, I could actually "see" the difference. "I" as the narrator can only know certain information. And everyone else cannot know or see what I perceive or know. That might seem like a simple concept.

Not so.

I'm writing a love scene. Can I just say it's very odd to write such a scene from a personal viewpoint? For some reason it brings an immediacy to the actions and thoughts of my female character that I've never experienced before as a writer.

No matter how...out there...erotic romance writers might appear to be, there's still a barrier between them and their characters when they're writing in third person. (By the way, is there a second person POV? If so, how does that work?) Anyway, moving along. In first person you can freely describe--or not--all the feelings, emotions, surroundings your character is experiencing. Generally, this is pretty tame stuff.

But what happens when you start describing sex? Average humans can barely acknowledge they even participate in the activity, let alone discuss what they're actually feeling or any fantasy they might want to try out. In first person, the writer is liberated in a truly scary fashion. It's kind of like writing a diary you intend to burn.

Write anything down you want and figure out whether you'll delete it later. I don't know what I'll keep. But I've learned a lot about POV. I suspect when I finish this story, someone will tell me--no--I still don't have it right. Heh. How will they know?

After all, it's all my point of view.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Clothes in the Women's Section

Clothes. I hate shopping for clothes. Whoever styles/ designs clothing for the Big Beautiful Woman is NOT a BBW. Otherwise, we wouldn't have the atrocities in the Women's section of the store (Women's=BBW).

I will not debate the issues surrounding obesity. Everyone knows obesity is bad for you. But let's face it, there are a bunch of us out here in the world, like it or not. I don't know a single person who is happy to be obese. But it's hard to keep a positive attitude regarding medical issues, regular exercise, and a healthy eating plan when you look like crap.

Clothing does make the woman--or man. At least it can give you a real boost when you know you look your best. And 90% of the bigger sizes in clothing on the market are incredibly ugly. It's no wonder women wear sweatpants and sloppy t-shirts. At least those items are comfortable. And don't even get me started about undergarments. No one wants to wear the horribly uncomfortable underwear that's available.

Here's my wish list...

a) Just because I'm a big girl doesn't mean I'm a tall girl. Why are all the sleeves and pant legs three inches too long? Chances are if I'm on the chunky side, I'm short. Having to roll up my hems makes me feel like I'm wearing my sister's hand-me-downs. And I don't even have a sister.

b) Why are all the tops too short and too wide? And once you wash them, they're shorter and wider? Com'on, now. Do I really need a top that exposes my belly? Really?

c) And on that same line, why are the sleeves so narrow they feel like sausage casing? Is there really such a shortage of fabric?

d) Or there's no sleeve at all. Listen up! There are very few obese women out there who are comfortable exposing their arms! What's with all the tops with no sleeves. Or such short sleeves they end up in a wad in my arm pits. Gross.

e) And finally...the worst fault. The fabrics and patterns are atrocious. Most of them remind one of tents and sofas. I have the vision of the clothing factory. The guy that chooses the fabrics has two bins. One for the smaller sizes (pretty colors and attractive small prints) and the other for the large sizes (burnt orange, hot pink, blinding blue and prints suitable for drapes or furniture).

I could go on. Why are all the large sized sports bras only in gray and white? The smaller ones are in blue, pink, yellow, red, turquoise, purple. Do you suppose the designers think obesity also means we're color blind?


The BBW just want to look as attractive as possible while we're battling to get down to a healthier size. It would be nice if the industry pitched in to help out.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dead Wrong

So. I went to the dentist yesterday for a procedure they call deep cleaning. What that means is they clean way down below the gum line. Since mine are receded, that is really waaaaay down. To minimize the discomfort (notice how they always call PAIN discomfort?) the hygienist shot me up with a bunch of numby stuff.

It didn't work.

Actually, it wore off before she poked her first instrument in my mouth. I kept waiting for it to kick in. Nope. No such luck.

Now, I had a discussion with the hygienist prior to the procedure and indicated at that time that most numbing products a) take a long time to start working on me and b) don't work very long. She nodded and said she would give me extra.

So after the procedure--mouth is still throbbing--I indicated the numbing part was not a success. And this is what she said. "This is the strongest meds I can use because of your high blood pressure and diabetes."

What? Why not say something before hand???

All my life I've struggled with this non-working numbing issue at the dentist. For me, dental work equates to extreme pain. When compiling some medical history from my older relatives, I discovered the numbing stuff doesn't work for anyone in a particular branch of my family. Nor does it work for my kids. None of them. Grandkids... same thing. Stitches for wounds are not fun.

Try convincing doctors and dentists this is so. It's like you're speaking Swahili or Vulcan. They nod and ignore you.

So. Anyone else out there have this problem? Or am I the only strange one in this universe?


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Power of Words

In my downtime I play a computer game that's basically a world-building premise. If you quit the game before you win, it flashes a statement across the screen.

You abandon your colony!

Abandon. That's such a...negative word. I just want to shut down the game because I need to cook supper, or I'm tired, or I have an appointment. But I don't want to abandon my little people! See how that works? Abandon as a word has power.

During my time as a writer, I've been continually struck by the words we have chosen as power words. Fuck. Penis. Nipples. Why? What about them makes them intrinsically powerful? They're everyday, ordinary words in the English language, yet we endow them with power far above what they're worth.

The youth of our country have devalued the word fuck to the point it basically has no meaning. There's no shock value anymore when you hear this word. It's not even useful as a swear word when you hit your hand with a hammer. They use it as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and heck, for all I know, even a preposition. Overuse of a word devalues it very quickly. Think about some of the other overused words you hear everyday.

What if we quit worrying about the overused, shocking words and started focusing on words that really have power? Words like responsibility. Accountability. Honor. Dependability. Honesty. Generosity. Compassion. These words used to have value in our culture and society. A man or woman strived to live by these words. What if we went back to a time when these words had power?


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Laundry Hijinks

Regular readers of my blog know the dreaded Laundry Day rolls around every couple weeks. We have no washer/dryer in our apartment so that requires a trip to the local Laundromat. Yesterday was the day.

Now I have certain intimate items I don't dry in the dryer so the house hunk went out to the car to get me a plastic bag for my damp clothes once the washer was done. While he was gone, I started folding my dry clothes.

In a bit he returned, his wadded-up beige bandana hanky held to his forehead. Naturally, I asked, "What happened?"

He moved the hanky to show me two deep gouges (still bleeding) in his forehead, almost dead center. "Is it bad?" he demanded.

"Yes." I was blunt and to the point. "What happened?"

"I didn't move far enough from the car when I closed the back hatch."

Ouch. We have an SUV. Apparently, he slammed the corner of the door into his forehead. We had wet clothes in four dryers still running. So I told him to sit down. As soon as the dryers finished running, I bundled the clothes into our baskets, hauled them out to the car and drove him to our doctor's office.

There he acquired four stitches in each gouge.

I always say laundry day can be the most exciting day of the week...


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Today I have a dentist appointment. This is a new dentist. I have not had good experiences with the previous dentist and with a low, low, low pain threshold, I'm not looking forward to my consultation today, even though it will most likely consist of x-rays only.

Sigh. It's very lowering to admit you're afraid of going to the dentist when you're sixty-two years old, but there you have it. I suffer a lot of pain when they're messing with my mouth. And I'm not very tolerant with pain.

Ah, well. Guess I'll put on my big girl panties and get on with it.

In other news, my younger son and his girlfriend got married yesterday! When I pointed out it was Valentine's Day, he admitted that was part of the reason they picked the date so he wouldn't forget when their anniversary was. That's my boy! Felicitations to Tony and Frankie! I love y'all!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Hearts

Today is Valentine's Day. A lot has been written about how it's a corporate construct designed to generate spending. That's all true. But if people didn't buy into that, it wouldn't generate squat.

I'm always appalled at the women who ask (on Facebook and other media), "What do you want your lover/boyfriend/husband/significant other to get you for Valentine's Day?"

Hello! Why would I expect anything? What is this gimme, gimme thing we have going on? Do I need another chocolate bar or bunch of dying flowers or piece of jewelry I won't ever wear?


Why not jointly donate money to your favorite charity? Or send those flowers to a lonely elder to brighten their day? Or bake some heart-shaped cookies for a neighbor?

Take your parents to breakfast or lunch. Mine are too far away so I sent them the money so they could afford to go out. They love to have breakfast before they do their weekly shopping. When I send them money in a card, they feel like they can enjoy their time out free of guilt.

Valentine's Day isn't about coupling. It's about sharing love with others. And it's about giving--not receiving. So, what are you ladies doing for your men? Really.

A card? A card??? Is that it?

What's his favorite pasttime? At the moment, mine enjoys playing computer games. So I got him a selection to entertain himself. No it wasn't expensive. And it was exactly what he wanted.

What did I get? He cooked me breakfast. He cooks breakfast everyday. And lunch. And usually dinner. I have plants throughout the apartment because he remembers to water them. The floors are vacuumed because he does that. And changes the sheets on the bed and the towels in the bathroom. Why does he do all of that?

So I can write...which is really what I want.

That's what I receive every day--not just for Valentine's Day.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Plan B or...

I have a page or three of notes. I have a file with my editor's notes. I have a manuscript dotted with my editor's notes and corrections.

What I don't have is a sane brain. I have a case of the fuzzies where the ideas and notes are all racing around like hamsters on wheels or butterflies on speed. My mind can't seem to settle on one thing. You know that line, "Oh, shiny..." That's me.

I love my story. Shadows on Stone is one of my favorites. But the edits are turning into a nightmare--not because of my editor!!!--but because I have the attention span of a microsecond.

So I suppose you're wondering what Plan B is? Plan B is simple. I'll print out the manuscript (with notes and corrections), print out my editor's note sheet and take all the papers to the dining room table while the hunk goes for a doctor's appointment tomorrow. Then with my handy-dandy red pen, I'll write out my corrections in what we used to call longhand. Quite frankly, I really think better when writing stuff by hand rather than typing. I suppose that's a holdover from my school days.

When I first started writing (BC~Before Computer) I typed my stuff on a typewriter. Every single correction meant retyping the entire page or two or three. Corrections, revisions, and edits were really serious business. Typos could give you heartburn. Especially if you had to retype a page for one letter.

When I did revisions, it meant drawing neat little arrows to point to an inserted page where I wrote all the corrections with numbers and other arcane symbols that only meant something to me. When everything was corrected to my satisfaction, I sat down at the typewriter and typed. No thinking required.

If any of you have ever worked as a typist, you'll know exactly what I mean. I suspect my brain has reached the point where it refuses to do two things at once--think and type.

So. Plan B tomorrow! Onward!

anny (retired typist!)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Map It!

Some people are map people. And some are not. If you're not a map person, your eyes will probably glaze over and you'll fight off the urge to doze.

For a map person, though, there will never be enough maps in the world. I'm a map person. I collect them. I display them. I draw them for my books. Without a map, I'm lost. For every book I've ever written there is a map. Maybe not elaborate, but I have one that tells me where the stores are located on "Main Street" and which direction the characters will travel to reach the beach.

The map above is the original map for Mystic Valley. It was colorful and detailed. With each book I added more notes and bits. Now it's time to update and re-do the map. Likely I'll just do it in black and white.

Some readers enjoy having maps to pore over while they read the story. Other totally ignore them. If you're a map person, check out the maps I have posted on my website for the Mystic Valley series and the Flowers of Camelot series.

In March, a new series of mine will launch from Siren-Bookstrand--Shadows on Stone (Tuathan Treasures 1). By then, I'll have the map for that series available on the website.

I think maps are important--particularly for fantasy series. Keeping all that information in your head is difficult without it. A map keeps the author on track. No, not everyone agrees. 

If you're a map person, though...check it out!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blue People, Dintis, Firkas and Packits

For more than thirty years nobody knew I was walking around with more than five hundred people in my head. I also had a wide variety of animals and plant life in there. Of course I needed to keep everyone in line so there were the laws and rules and my helpers, the warriors and...

After a while it got very crowded in there. They were a noisy bunch, always making suggestions about how I should manage my life and how I should rear my kids. They wanted more room and some of them were impatient to get on with their lives.

And then a few years ago, I finally tossed most of them out. Oh, there are a few still hanging on, waiting for me to tell their stories, but most of them are living in the valley I created for them, busy having babies and carrying on as though I never carted them around.

They're blue. One or two of them weren't too happy about that but that's the way the cookie rolls...Jade thought I ought to find a way to grow chocolate in the valley. Bishop whined about the lack of electricity. Personally, I think I did a pretty good job.

The dintis are happy with their role as mentors for the women and they're proud their long silky hair is shorn twice a year to weave in the bonding blankets.

Sneering at the dintis low expectations, the packits  (big hunting cats) trot off into the woods, hunting at the side of the males they choose to mentor. But both packits and dintis have saved the lives of their humans so they all have reason to be proud.

In the gardens, the tiny firkas industriously keep all tidy and weed free in exchange for a few pottery huts. Once in a while an orphan firka is adopted by a human much like a gerbil or hamster, though they're never caged, of course. After all, one doesn't cage members of a sentient species.

Not everything is sweetness and light in the valley. If it was, the humans would grow lazy and careless. That was never part of the plan. In exchange for longer lives and protection from the outer world, they work hard. Yes, they do. But that's pretty much life, isn't it?

If you would like to know more about the Blues, check out Traveller's Refuge. It's free for the next week. I think you'll like the people you'll meet. Who knows? You might even want to be blue, too?

Just click on the book cover for more info!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Free Book!

Free book? Well, yes! Beginning today and for the next two weeks my publisher, Ellora's Cave, is offering Traveller's Refuge for FREE on both the home site AND third party sites. If you ever wanted to read about my blue people and see what the excitement is all about--here's your chance.
Framed and running for his life, Traveller Devereaux decides to follow his missing brother Dancer, using the clues he left behind when he disappeared. They lead Traveller to the mysterious Mystic Valley where the people are blue, the flora and fauna are decidedly odd, and the mating customs are definitely different.

On his journey to the Valley, he is injured in a serious accident that traps him in a cave with his best friend, Bishop. Bish finds the hidden tunnel leading to the valley and takes Traveller to safety. Trav’s slow recovery allows him much needed time to adjust to the valley and fall in love with Wrenna, the woman chosen as his bond mate. When he finds out that she is related to the man who murdered his parents and siblings, he must choose between the woman he loves and her murderous grandfather.

Bishop Llewellyn woke with the certainty that it was not going to be a good day. His head was full of tiny elves industriously beating on drums. His stomach was jumping in time to the drum beating. And his arms were twisted uncomfortably behind his back, where they appeared to be tied to his ankles. No, it wasn’t going to be a good day. A dark bag that seemed to be impregnated with cow manure was pulled over his head. He sincerely hoped that most of the cow manure had been emptied from the bag before he had dubious pleasure of its acquaintance. As he carefully took stock of his situation, he realized that he was stark naked and cold and had been rather carelessly dumped on the rough metal floor of a moving vehicle. It was a stupid way to spend his forty-fifth birthday.

The speed at which the vehicle was moving down something that resembled a dry pot-holed river bed did not auger well for either the vehicle or his skin. He bounced from one side to the other, slamming into hard pointy objects and concluded with faint resignation that he had no hope of getting out of this situation with a whole skin. The vehicle slammed to a stop and he heard the driver get out and shut the door. A few seconds later, the back door was opened and he was yanked toward the opening, losing more skin on the way. Almost with relief, he felt the tiny needle prick in his ankle and then he knew no more.

When he woke next, the elves were still with him but he was stretched out on the cold ground with his arms and legs firmly tied to stakes. And much to his dismay, he was still naked. The odiferous bag had been removed from his head and he saw that he was surrounded by darkness. About six feet away, a small fire was merrily crackling but it provided no heat for him. The duct tape that had covered his mouth had obviously been ripped off, taking part of his skin and mustache with it. It still burned, so he decided he was glad that he had not been conscious for that particular delight. His field of vision was limited but it seemed to him that he was in a cave.

“Happy Birthday, Bishop. I see you decided to finally rejoin the almost living,” a dark velvety voice observed and he knew exactly why he was in this situation.

“‘Lo, Trav,” he said casually. “Lots of work to piss off my father.”

“Now, Bish,” he was assured, “nothing is too much work to piss off your father.” Traveller moved into his field of vision and looked down at him. “You don’t look very comfortable, Bish. Aren’t you cold, like that?”

“Freezing,” Bish replied curtly. “But I’m sure you have something in mind to warm me up, so I’m not too worried about it.” He shivered artistically but Trav wasn’t buying. “So, what’s the deal? Are we waiting for a party? Or is this a stag deal?”

“Just you and me,” Trav informed him agreeably. “Straight trade. You for Dance.”

“And if Dad doesn’t have Dancer?” Bish didn’t think that his father had Dancer.

“We-ll, we’ll get to be better friends than we are now.” Traveller laughed quietly, sending chills up Bishop’s back. “I do hope that your father believed me when I said that I won’t negotiate.” He moved away and Bish heard the sound of liquid splashing into a container. “Are you thirsty?”

“I could use some water,” Bish replied.

“Here. Turn your head,” Trav instructed as he held a metal cup to Bish’s mouth. “There are approximately six hundred men out there on the mountain, trying to pinpoint this position. One of them is your girlfriend’s father, Carl DeMarko.” he said casually, as he tossed his heavy auburn braid back over his shoulder.

“Tiff’s not my girlfriend,” Bish declared curtly. “She’s a Fed they sicced on me when you disappeared.”

“I see. Now it’s my fault you were sleeping with that foul-mouthed wild cat?”

Bish shrugged. “Why turn down what’s offered?”

“Oh, maybe because she might just stick her gun up your butt and pull the trigger?”

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Have you ever had a vision for a book or series...and then lost it? I have several series I'm right in the middle of writing and something happened. I forgot what the overall plan was. Sort of. I've spent three days looking through notes--extensive notes--trying to understand what happened. What was the plan?

Part of the difficulty is time passes. Yes, it does, despite our best efforts to stop it. And with time, we forget. That is just what life is about.

The difficulty is when we go back to write the next book in the series and we have no idea what we were going to write. Now I've never been a plotter. But I usually have a general idea about what's going to happen. This time, not so much. This time doing it later is not working out well.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the story might be better because of it. Yes, there will be more background work, but maybe I was wallowing in a rut. Maybe, this is what really needs to happen to regenerate the story line. Who knows?

Have you ever had this happen? How did it all come out?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day

As usual, when I started researching the origins of Groundhog Day, I instantly zipped down the nearest rabbit hole like Alice. Apparently, the tradition of using an animal as a weather forecaster is quite ancient. A variety of animals have been employed...bears, snakes, badgers. Similar customs have been reported across the northern hemisphere--and even from some places in the southern hemisphere (for their spring). The groundhog day celebrations in Pennsylvania were introduced by German immigrants in the 1700s.

The holiday has also been associated with Candlemas, Imbolc, St. Brigid's Day, and a number of other very early pagan celebrations. This day was seen as the day when "light" was more prevalent than the "dark" of winter.

For that reason, perhaps sufferers of SADS should celebrate this turning of the season! In any case, Happy Groundhog Day!