Friday, August 31, 2012

Stories Under the Bed

Every writer I know has a few stories stashed under the bed, in the computer, in a box, in the file cabinet...somewhere. Some of them are ideas gone bad. Some are ideas who were before their time. Others simply got lost in the helter-skelter of life.

I have jump-starts by the dozens in my computer files. Whenever I need a new story idea, I click through them in search of that certain something that sets off a glimmer of promise. Sometimes I don't find it. And then I go back and look at story ideas from long ago.

Because of events in my early life, I've always been moderately introverted, happy to lead an internal existence. That doesn't mean I've been bored. On the contrary, that internal life has been full of adventures and curiosity. Some of those adventures found their way to paper--usually via the pen. After all, computers appeared relatively late in my life. For most of my early attempts, pen and paper were the only way to share my thoughts.

Some of those thoughts are not the kind you share.

But others--well others show possibilities. Every couple years I'll go through journals or dig through boxes of papers and occasionally I'll find a hidden treasure. Some writers leave their stories under the bed, never taking a second or third look. But I think some ideas need to wait, need for us to mature a bit before we're ready to write them.

Who knows what could happen when we finally share the stories we hide under the bed?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Calling Noah...

And the rain continues to fall. Isacc is making an indelible impression on the Gulf Coast. Homes and towns in Mississippi and Alabama are washing away. Thousands in Louisiana are evacuating as a dam threatens to give way.

And the thing I'm noticing on the news clips is one phrase repeated over and over. "It came so fast."

No, it didn't. Isacc was moving particularly slow. Multiple repeated warnings forecasted heavy rain and wind. People had over twenty-four hours to prepare and either evacuate or be ready to do so.

And yet...

Over and over you see pictures of folks who say they've lost everything. One woman escaped without even grabbing her purse. That's how fast the end came.

I admit I don't understand. Every time I've been under a weather threat, I prepared ahead of time. The car was packed. I was ready to go with the personal possessions I would need to survive. And when the authorities said, "Go!" we did.

Did I like it? Heck, no. Who wants to leave their home? But for crying out loud! Aren't lives more important than a bit of wood and brick? The people plucked from roofs and attics still don't have their homes AND they almost lost their lives. How does that make sense?

Some will say I'm unsympathetic. I only have one thing to say to that. Every single storm places the rescuers in danger--usually because someone was somewhere they shouldn't have been.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pillow Talk

Sigh. Moan. Whimper. Groan. Yawn. Scream. And that's just getting out of bed in the morning.

I've done quite a bit of reading in the last few months. Action adventure. Romance. Romantic Suspense. Erotic Romance. Westerns. All of them have one thing in common. Lousy pillow talk.

The hunk and I have been married a long time--nearly forty-five years--and I have to confess our pillow talk does not, nor ever has resembled the dialogue in books. Not even close. To tell the truth, most pillow talk in books just makes me want to laugh. Or throw the book at the wall.

Partly, I think it's because there just isn't any graceful way to disrobe. Unless you're doing a burlesque show. And most guys aren't much interested in the how-you-get-naked part. They're happy to speed up the process, if you take too long, but as long as you get to the good stuff, you'll have their undivided attention. As the hunk says, "Take off your clothes." Ah, the romance.

Really. I'm nearly as wide as I am tall. Yet, he still wants me to take off my clothes with amazing frequency.

Now, the pillow talk. Our conversations tend to go something like this.

"Do you want the light on?"

"Yeah. Did you lock the front door?"

"It's locked. Did you see that post on the Internet about the bank robbery? That was just stupid."

"Takes all kinds... Damn, my knees hurt."

"You want me to rub them?"

"Yeah. Maybe I'll take a hot shower first."

"Okay. I'll check out Facebook while you do that."

"Where are the towels?"

"In the laundry basket."

"Never mind. Let's just go to bed. I'll shower later."

See? No sighing. No whimpering. Maybe some moaning later on... Or groaning. *Smile*


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crying Wolf

Like a lot of people, I've been watching the Weather Channel coverage of Tropical Storm Isacc. It might turn into a hurricane. It might not. It might strike...somewhere. Maybe.

Now I admit, I don't have cable television so the Weather Channel's coverage on there might be more balanced. But I doubt it. I've watched the channel since it's inception way back when. It used to be the coverage was wide-spread--until the last day before landfall. Up to that point, you heard about the weather all over the country.

In the last few years? Not so much.

I don't blame the reporters/meteorologists. They're working stiffs who do what they're told. Same for the other so-called media. And it must be tough to make the piddly news story sound important when they know they're not really covering the stuff they should.

No...instead we get the stories about Prince Harry's vacation. Or the latest school fashions. Or some other namby-pamby issues while our country merrily dances it's way to destruction while the politicians fiddle-fumble and drum their way to the polls.

There's no real conversation about the issues. No hard-hitting report about the candidates. We're basing our votes on sound bytes orchestrated by faceless propagandists. I'm constantly, continually amaze by the people who declare, "If that was true, it would be on the news..." 


Money controls media. If you don't believe this is true, then I challenge you to do your own research on the following stories:

Monsanto and GMO foods. You think you know what you're eating? Not likely. Most of the food crops have been so manipulated, they bear no resemblance to the original. And our meats/dairy? Full of hormones. I submit it's no accident that our young girls are hitting puberty earlier and our women are suffering a higher incidence of cancers. The war on women began in the fields.

2012 NDAA, HR347, CISPA, the Patriot ACT and Obamacare. No. Don't babble the party line. Don't pass on the line your friends/facebook/twitter is spreading. Go look them up and READ them. It will take time. Do your own research. You and your family are worth it...right?

The candidates. Not just the presidential candidates, but the locals and states. What do you really know about them? Look up their voting records. Find out about the real people behind the media babble and party line. Who's backing them? How did they get to be at the level they currently occupy? Whose agenda are they really backing?

The banking industry. Do you know where your money is? Do you know how it works? You say, "What money?" Exactly. 

The media propaganda machine. Media has always been manipulated for the purposes of those in control. Always. That's why the notion of a free press was so important. Here's the thing. A free press is only free if they can cover stories without being muffled by the money guys. And that's what is happening right now. 

I find it interesting that every time an important issue comes to light, there are a spate of sensational stories hyped that totally distract the public. When a new sensational story hits the Internet, I start looking for a story that quietly faded into the background. And there always is one. We're being manipulated by masters. And by the time we see the full pattern, it will be too late. 

The wolf will be at our door.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nutrition Information?

As I've mentioned, the hunk and I are working on tracking what we're actually ingesting. Ingesting. I like that word. It sounds like we're swallowing a bunch of chemicals...and apparently, that's exactly what we've been doing. If you don't believe me, check out any nutrition label. You'll see. Chemicals.

Calorie counts are pretty weird, too. Most things (like drinks) have multiple servings in the container. And let's face it--most people don't drink just one serving.

People vastly overestimate portion sizing. Take coffee creamer for instance. A serving size is 2 tablespoons. Measure it. It's amazing how much darker my coffee is with a measured portion. And peanut butter? Try covering a piece of bread with the "portion" listed on the nutrition label. And why is there sugar in the peanut butter?

Corn syrup is in almost everything in the country--whether or not it's supposed to taste sweet. Corn syrup. You know that sickeningly sweet syrup you use to make pecan pie? In everything. Why?

Then there are all the chemicals and colors and flavors that aren't even listed. They're just called natural flavors. What does natural mean, anyway? A rock is natural. So is a dog turd. That doesn't mean I want it in my food. If I did, I could go out and scoop up some fresh in the front yard.

Do you know what you're eating? Really?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bean Bread and Pumpkins

Went for my quarterly doctor's visit and normal donation to the daytime vampires. And of course, I had to get on the scale. To my deep shock and amazement, I actually lost a pound. However...a pound is not enough when the sugar hovers high and the blood pressure is creeping up. 

So, once again, I'm tweaking the food plan, hoping to hit on the magic solution that allows me to eat without tramping on my pancreas and liver. After much research, I'm aiming at reducing the gluten in my diet and upping the protein. It's a fine, narrow bridge I trod. So much of the gluten free products available are not soy free.

Soy is considered the magic bean by many people who go the vegan way. The problem is if an individual is taking thyroid meds, soy screws around with the way the meds work. So soy is out. 

Corn syrup derivatives are out. Try looking at the contents on any pre-packaged food. The producers use a lot of different names for the corn syrup family, but it's all the same thing--and much worse for most diabetics than plain old sugar cane. For me? Whoa, Nellie. Corn products shoot my sugar through the roof.

Chemicals. Check your labels, folks. We're walking chemical factories. If you didn't grow it yourself from heirloom seeds, then likely it's been fiddled with by the GMO folks. That's genetically modified and your meat products (unless it's free range) has been stuffed with hormones.

So the house hunk and I went "shopping". Mostly, we were checking prices so we could make adjustments in the grocery budget. The three items we actually found were three-to-four times the price of the "regular" food. The rest of the stuff on our list was unavailable in our area. 

So. Food recommendations are swell. But if it's unavailable or priced so high you can't afford to buy it, then effectively those particular changes are not possible. 

I'm in the process of modifying the food list. A bit of this. A tad of that. And we'll see what happens. First on the list. Adding a lot of veggies to my diet. We'll see how it goes. Pumpkin Stone Age Bread and Carrot/Bean Bread. Stir-fries. Limited red meat. (And that's a problem as I'm allergic to chicken.)


Monday, August 20, 2012

A Kiss is Just a Kiss

Back in the dark ages when I first started reading "grown up" books, a kiss was the climax of the hero/heroine relationship. It often was the last scene in the book. Everything else in the book--plot, description, bad guy, good guy--led to that one climatic moment. The kiss.

This was true for lot of books that weren't even classified as romances. Quite a few of Louis L'Amour's books end with that kiss. Mary Stewart's romantic suspense books often end with that kiss. Helen MacInnes' suspense books usually had the climatic kiss.

Now, a book with only one kiss is considered a YA--Young Adult book. A kiss isn't exciting. It's more like a get-acquainted handshake.

I think we've lost something along the way.

Does anyone remember the anticipation, the belly flutters, the breathless will-he-or-won't-he finally kiss the girl? Heck, the hero/heroine didn't even hold hands for weeks. Accidental touches were exciting. Then maybe he would take her hand in his, signaling his interest. Weeks later he might kiss her goodnight when he took her home. Maybe.

I miss the leisurely build up, the tip-toeing anticipation, the delayed gratification in those old stories. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that won't fly anymore in the grown-up world. Frankly, I don't want to go quite that far back. It's unrealistic and not very satisfying. There's some expression about putting the genie back in the bottle...

In the clamor created by that book--you know the Gray book--women are coming out of the closet, admitting they're curious and interested. And just a little scandalized, maybe.

There's always been a certain segment of the female readers that were willing, nay, enthusiastic about reading erotic romance with all that implies. That's what I write. And yep, I have fans who write to me demanding more. The difference now, is what I call the fence perchers. They feel a tad guilty about reading books with *sex* in them.

Surprisingly, this group is not the baby boomers. They know about sex. They know there's frequently a huge difference between fictional romance and real life. They're the original bra burners.

No, as far as I can tell from my observations, the most scandalized group is firmly in the thirty/forties. They're too young to remember the "old" days when there were no women's rights. They think they've always had the right to own property or have sex before marriage or buy birth control. And kissing? Phft.

They're stuck buying books about secret babies, gazillionaire CEOs, and SEALS. Their children are almost young adults and the middle-agers have suddenly been confronted with the sex lives and unplanned pregnancies of their children. I think they're also suffering a bit of guilt at their own secret, naughty desires. They're women, dammit, often caught between the wild, no holds barred lives of the young and what they perceive as the hopeless, dreary lives of the old. Too many are coping with the difficulties of single parenthood, careers they no longer want, but are stuck with, and a crashing economy. Where is that man who's going to sweep them away in a Calgon moment?

Is it any surprise they gravitate toward the romance of the climatic kiss? Or the implied promise of a strong, well-to-do man who will shoulder their burdens without presenting his own demands?

The publishing revolution is about more than just a new way to share the written word. I think it's about the clash of needs and desires. Women (and maybe even men) may want romantic fantasy in their books, but they want realistic fantasy. They want portrayals of real, caring men. Sexy men who can cook. Or braid their daughter's hair. Or, heck, even do a load of laundry. Plus, he finds them desirable and sexy.

I have one of those at my house. I call him the house hunk. And he even knows how to kiss...


Friday, August 17, 2012

Brave New Worlds

So. Finished, edited, revised, and submitted Spear of Retribution. Now it's on to something else. Another story, another world...or maybe just a new story in one of the worlds I've already created.

I was thinking earlier today about how I used to spend hours as a teenager planning what kind of house I wanted when I grew up. I'd draw floor plans and decide exactly where the furniture would be placed. As I recall, one house had seventy rooms. Good thing I grew up and acquired some sense. What woman in her right mind wants seventy rooms in her house?

Do you ever think the Queen of England might wish she has a cottage by the sea? I figure the reason she's in such good shape is because she has to walk so far to get from one side of the castle to the other. Just think, she never has to worry about exercising in the rain or snow.

The real reason I write is because I'm a frustrated creator. I can't change huge parts of my current world, but I can totally control any world I create. I could make it a beach world full of sand. Or a world filled with mountains. Lots of water. No water. Purple trees. Green sky. Strange animals. No snakes. Or bugs. Pink clouds. Two men to every woman. Or visa versa.

The sky's the limit.

Or I could decide to have flying mountains or floating continents.

The thing is, once you decide what your new world will look like, then you have to decide how that world affects how your characters will act and live. Do they live underground? Or in the sea? Or on one of the flying mountains?

Ah, yes. Time to write a new story. Where will it be?


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


There are few things I hate more than being the subject of a photographer...especially the amateur family photographers. If there's a way to make me appear more obese, tired, drunk, stupid, insane, or OLD, the family photographer will succeed. They cheerfully lop off the top of my head, focus in on my belly and boobs, give me red devil eyes, catch me yawning, or with my eyes half closed.

Here's what I want to say to all amateur photographers--especially the family ones. Choose your shots. Really look at the composition of your photo. And try to--please try to--make it a photo the subject will enjoy looking at over and over.

Smiles? No, you don't need a smile. Grin? Nope. Too darn scary. Try to remember the individual(s) are people with their own set of insecurities. Choose the most flattering shot you can. And I repeat!!! Smiles are not necessary. Sometimes the more beautiful shot shows an entirely different expression. What are you trying to capture? Love? Wisdom? Joy? Comradery?

I've looked at photos recently from several romance writers conferences. Inevitably, there are groups of people, dressed in odd outfits, some obviously inebriated, smiling at the camera. I can tell you what the intelligent ones are thinking.

"I sure hope this pic doesn't show up on Facebook. Or Twitter. Pinterest. My publisher's website..." If you want to really represent your publisher, your fellow writers, your fans in the best way possible, then pick and choose your shots. And don't post pictures that show them at less than their best.

Have you ever spent some time looking at old photos? I mean the really old ones? Have you ever noticed how the people are striving to look their best? Photography was important. It was a way to capture their image for future posterity. I think we've forgotten that with the ease of capturing images now.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

I wonder...

I'm not a political analyst or a conspiracy theorist. I suppose you could best call me an observist. I read a lot. When things capture my attention I track down multiple sources on the same subject until I'm a) satisfied or b) convinced there's no way to access the truth.

I have to wonder about some things, especially as we race up to the election of 2012. For instance, who do you suppose is really controlling the media in this country? I understand all about competition and advertising paying for television coverage. Dollars. Dollars run the system. But what's the point??? Are they competing to see who can provide the dumbest, most apathetic, least concise coverage? Is that it? If so, then I, for one would be happy to flip a coin and declare a winner so we could go back to some grown up news. Of course, the drug companies would need to rack up the production of Xanax to calm down all the people who finally wake up.

A friend and I were discussing JFK. Now there's a real conspiracy moment. Right? But you know? I have to wonder how such a large, rich, influential family could possibly have such bad luck. Really. Assassinations, plane crashes, car crashes, assorted other sad deaths. Makes you wonder at the timing of some of those events...

Or the Chick-Fil-A circus. I found it fascinating that no one looked around to see who benefited from the tempest in the chicken bucket. Really? The CEO didn't make any NEW moves. So why was it suddenly an issue? Who needed to redirect the citizen's attention away from a hot topic? And was the sacrifice of the Chick-Fil-A hole card effective? Was it worth it? Because once you use that card, you can't use it again...

I wonder how many citizens really understand that our Congress runs the country--not the President. There's a lot of yelling and screaming about what the President is doing but, hello! I don't see any impeachment proceedings going on. They do have that power if what he's doing is illegal. So...that must mean it's all just hunky-dory with them. And that provides additional food for thought then. If it's all right with them, all the hollering is just so much smoke and mirrors.'s a play generated for the citizen's benefit.

And that leads me to another thing I wonder about. How is it that no matter who wins, their agenda/plan sort of disappears when they get in the White House? I've been watching Presidents come and Presidents go for over fifty years. One thing I've noticed. No significant changes are generated without the stamp of approval of the Congress. None. Everything just rolls along down the same path it was on with the previous fellow. I wonder if the candidates really understand they're mostly figureheads?

In the meantime, we don't hear much about the wiley-coyote Congressmen/women and what their up to. I bet 90% of the citizenry can not name their representatives or senators. And I bet they don't have a clue about their voting record. I further believe that many have no clue about where their congressman stands on any of the issues they (the citizens) hold important.

How many days per year does your congressman work? Find out. You might be surprised. Furthermore, if you look at the voting records you might be shocked at how often the votes have nothing to do with party lines. Ooops! We're not supposed to have access to that info. More smoke and mirrors. Could it be we really don't have a two party system?


Thursday, August 9, 2012


I finished my latest book. Spear of Retribution. In a discussion with a friend (about this book), the subject of romance was raised. It might not be as romantic as my other books.

"It has sex..."

"Romantic conflict was solved kinda early..."

"It has sex..."

But I pondered on the conundrum of sex vs. romance. What defines romance? It depends on our viewpoint, I believe. In our current culture we expect extravagant gestures. Jewelry, flowers, fancy dinners.

My hero/heroine are in a survival situation. A long-term survival situation facing a series of unexpected dangers. And the story is circa 1820s in the wilderness. Different expectations.

What constitutes romance in those circumstances?

A fish for dinner. A hot pool for a bath. Guarding each others backs. Caring for each other when there are injuries. Sharing the last of the food. Taking time to explore the many avenues to sensual fulfillment. Arranging a shelter in the woods.

What constitutes romance at my house?

Fixing dinner for me. Arranging some time in a hot tub. Rubbing my back--or his--when it's sore. Sharing the last brownie. Taking time to explore the many avenues to sensual fulfillment. Paying the rent, the electric bill, the phone bill...

Hmmmm. Maybe everyday romance isn't so different from era to era. It could be that only our expections have changed. The thing is..."I love you," is still powerful. "I need you."

"I want you."

"You're my heart and soul."

"I caught a fish for dinner."

Yeah. That could do it.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ghost Writer

Sometimes, when authors are in the beginning of their careers, they move away from their initial choices in stories because--let's face it--we want to capture the reader's dollars. After a while, we discover we're dissatisfied with our choices.

Maybe...we even discover we have more compelling stories to tell. I believe this is the case with the Ghost Writer serial tale by Amarinda Jones. If you would like to read something different, something thought-provoking and unusual, then I urge you to check out Ghost Writer~~Prelude.

Megan and Woodrow's story will capture your heart, ensnaring you with the hurdles they face before they can reach their happily ever after. Want to know more? Click on the cover for the link!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chat, chat, chat...

What's a chat? I suppose there are lots of different definitions, depending on the host/hostess. In my case, I post excerpts from my current/backlist. I "talk" to readers and authors who show up for the chat.

And I encourage published authors to share an excerpt--or two with the rest of us. I believe in "paying it forward" when promoting other authors. 

Is publishing a cut-throat business? It can be--if we permit that. Or we can humanize the business by supporting our fellow authors. So if you are a published member of the Love Romances Cafe Yahoo loop--or if you sign up by this afternoon--you're more than welcome to come "chat" with us and showcase an excerpt of your work.

I'll be sharing some excerpts from Shadows on Stone. And maybe a sneak peek or two...


Monday, August 6, 2012

Euphemism Quandary

Part of writing historical erotic romance is using the correct euphemisms for the private parts. For some strange reason, publishers frown on the use of penis and vagina, even though those would certainly be correct. When you ask why, they mumble something about those terms not being sexy or romantic.

Mumble, mumble, mumble...

Men seem to stick to the big three--cock, dick, and prick. All are old names that evolved from the Medieval era. They're serviceable terms, easy to remember, and can be employed in a variety of ways to insult their fellow man.

My story is set in 1820 (or thereabouts). The approved euphemism for most erotic romances--pussy--wasn't in use until 1880. Extensive research was required for an alternate. Setting aside the "C" word--a word that was considered offensive and vulgar even in the Medieval era--we're left with a mish-mash of oddities.

Cunny/coney, cunnicle, bessy, mossy, teazy, fluffy, nonsuch, tuzzy-muzzy, quim, chink, and notch. I confess, I'm left with an impossible vision in my head of some dignified woman referring to her genitalia using any of these terms. These were the least offensive I found for the time period.

The time period my story is set in was more frank about sexual expectations than fifty or sixty years later. Procreation was an important part of marriage and a couple who did not produce children were considered failures. There is a tendency for modern readers to impose current cultural values on earlier eras. While a certain modesty was expected during the day--and really, who wants to do house work with the girls hanging out for all to see--evening dress at the time would make some of us blush now.

Country girls knew very well what was expected of them. They had clear notions about the birds and bees. So what words do my hero/heroine use?

I'm still mulling the euphemisms. Pondering the possibilities. What's your vote?


Thursday, August 2, 2012


One of the most frequent interview questions for authors is, "How do you balance writing with work/family?"

Balance is the key, isn't it? If you work outside the home, then the time spent in travel and work is pretty much set. Deduct that from the total number of hours per day--twenty-four. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we're all working on making the day longer, but it doesn't work that way.

Then deduct eight hours for sleep. What? You say you don't sleep eight hours? Zzzzzzt! You lose the balancing act. Lack of enough sleep shortens your life span and is an underlying cause for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress, and in women also contributes to thyroid issues. I'm a poster child for this one contributing factor for poor health. In my forties I bet I didn't sleep more than four hours a night--for years--and it's caught up with me.

All right. For the hours left over after work and sleep, consider the following factors. Do you have a spouse/significant other? Do you have children at home? Are you caring for an elder? For each of the above, how many minutes do you spend in focused individual interaction (no, supervising homework while you're cooking doesn't count. Neither does talking while you're watching television, playing computer games, or texting your mother.)

Did you just estimate that? Zzzzzt! That's approximately as accurate as estimating the number of calories in a hot fudge sundae. Keep a written log. For a couple days.

Finally, how many minutes do you spend on the computer (other than actual writing), phone, television, or any other electronic device? Write it down. Oh, yeah...all those gurus urging you to spend hours on social media to promote your books? They're talking through their hats. The number one way to sell books is to expand your backlist.

Some other things to many books do you read per week?

How many minutes per day do you spend on some form of exercise/walking/swimming/etc.? Walking to the refrigerator does not count.

Now answer this question honestly. When was the last time you took time to pray/think/meditate with no distractions?

Add up all your minutes. Analyze how you spend your time. Make a conscious decision about how you might want--or need--to change. You can't successfully balance life until you know exactly what you're juggling. What are your true priorities?

Take time to observe, think and plan rather than rush into changes. Balance? It's something different for every individual and family. What's yours?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Good morning! August 1st already with the year zooming by. That doesn't seem right. Coffee's ready. Birds are singing outside on the balcony. Before we know it, winter will be here and we'll be complaining about cold and snow and whining about Christmas shopping.

For now, we have temps in the seventies with a rainy day start. Mostly people with kids at home are starting to worry about back-to-school stuff. There are lots of sales on for cheap dorm outfitting for the college crowd.

I married instead of going to college so I never did the dorm thing. I have to wonder how practical most of this stuff is in reality. When I went to college I stuffed it in between work and family, studying on the fly, in the car or on work breaks.

I wonder what percentage of college students benefit in real terms by going to college--I'm talking about the ones that attend right out of high school--the ones who have no real world experience. Do you suppose as a culture we'd be better off if everyone was required to do two years of work experience between high school and college? Would students change their planned majors?

Y'all have a great day! I'm off to write...