Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Here's this year's Jack-o-Lantern. He turned out pretty scary even though he was actually supposed to be modeled after Squidward from SpongeBob Squarepants.

Here he is with the lights on. DD did the black outlining to make him scary during the day. I put the triangular hole in his head to let the evil spirits out. ;) And just because I was in the mood to chop some more.
Have a happy and safe Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Two more with teeth

I'm going to carve this year's jack-o-lantern this afternoon so it'll look a little gnarled by tomorrow. I know some people carve them early, but then you either have rotting pumpkin in the house or a feast for the squirrels if you leave it outside, so I wait until the last minute.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two for one

Because they're small, I picked two pumpkin shots today. The one on top looks like it would make a nice quilt. If I ever get back into quilting, I'll have to remember it.

This one looks like Topper would look if I could get him to sit in a pumpkin patch. I bought a huge pumpkin yesterday for carving, and he won't go near it, nor would he sit among all the little pumpkins I've got, so this is the next best thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

An Earie Sight

Disney World takes Halloween very seriously. Last year we went to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and we had a blast. If you're ever looking for a good holiday to visit the Magic Kingdom, try Halloween. It's not terribly crowded, the weather is usually fabulous and the decorations are great.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's pumpkin week

I'm going to be looking for cool pumpkin pictures this week. This is one of my own jack-o-lanterns. Carving pumpkins is one of my favorite projects.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #28

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Names I call my Cat

1. Sir Toppington

2. Topster

3. Tip Toppington

4. Top Cat

5. Topping

6. Kitty Bat

7. The Bat

8. Bat Cat

9. My Topper

10. Purr Baby

11. Mr. Purrrfect

12. Baby Cat

13. Purr Face

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Please forgive the intrusion

I know I’m treading in dangerous territory here – but I’m going to complain about the public library. I fully expect to garner a few rotten tomatoes, but I’m sorry, I have to speak up.

Yesterday I took my daughter to the public library to get her a book for a book report. She had a rather eclectic list to choose from which included both Madeleine L’Engle and Stephen King believe it or not, and there were exactly two entries from the list available. Not an impressive selection.

Now, I’m hoping this isn’t the case in most libraries, but I have to say the one in this town is staffed by the least helpful bunch of people on the planet. Not one person we spoke to made eye contact with us. A question about the computer system was met with a curt reply in between the stamping of book cards, and when we finally checked out, the person at the desk slapped the book on the counter and gave us a monotone, ‘Have a nice day’ without so much as cracking a smile.

I’m not asking for joviality, and I realize one has to be quiet [though there seemed to be tutoring lessons going on in the middle of the room, which I thought was rather rude.] There are smaller rooms around the perimeter of the main library that could be used for tutoring and there are also quiet little nooks on the second floor where the conjugation of verbs would not be heard by people doing research. No one seemed concerned by this. Nor by the woman having a conversation on her cell phone in the stacks.

Sigh. I realize a job is a job to some people, but I can’t fathom choosing a job in a library if you weren’t passionate about the work, about helping people, especially children to enjoy their library experience. In a world where people can download ebooks to their computers instantly or have Amazon deliver a shipment of books to their door by FedEx, wouldn’t you think library employees would be latching onto ‘customers’ like used car salesmen?

A friend of mine regularly borrows novels from the library, and she reports being browbeaten on several occasions when she’s returned books a day or two late. She says she’s been treated like felon while paying the 10 or 15-cent fine for an overdue book. Now I understand one must follow the rules, but again, you’d think the staff would be pleased someone is borrowing the books at all when many of them can be easily obtained elsewhere.

Maybe it’s me. Am I expecting too much? I used to love the library, but lately, I feel more like an intruder there. Whassup?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Walk to Work

Since the end of the summer, I’ve been taking a walk three to four times a week. It’s my ‘I’m 40 now, I’d better exercise’ regime and it’s also a little bit of mental down time for me.

I like walking because it’s something I can do without feeling worse after I do it. [Sit ups, jogging, jumping jacks – forget it!] I get to be outside [a treadmill just isn’t the same], and it’s 45 minutes to an hour of time that I don’t have to do anything else. It’s an allowance of mental vacation.

I’ve been walking in the same park for a while now. I vary my route, but I still manage to run into a lot of the same people – a lot of the same characters, if you will, and they make the walk more interesting.
There’s Henry, my mother’s neighbor, who often walks in the same park. He’s a determined walker but he always gives me a southern accented ‘Goud mornin’’ as I stroll by. There’s the guy I call Lopey...he’s a jogger with an unusually long gait. He’s not running per se – it’s like a slow motion run, probably really good for the hamstrings. Then there’s Happy Guy – an older gentleman in flannel and a fishing vest who greets everyone he meets with a jovial ‘Goooood mawning!’ There’s the Politickers – two middle aged men who meet going in opposite directions and debate congenially before going their separate ways and there’s The Lady With Two Dogs who is constantly admonishing her miniature collies not to bite people. [I don’t think the dogs would even consider it, they seem very friendly, but you have to wonder if maybe she’s speaking from experience or just a touch of paranoia.]
These are the people in my neighborhood, if you will. The characters I meet on my ‘walk to work.

What characters do you meet every day?


I told you there would be backlash.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dastardly Deed of the Day

I'm bad.

I can't help it. I have a mean streak in me that I usually keep under control, but sometimes I just have to let it out, and Friday was one of those days.

My husband received one of those chain letters in the mail - you know the kind that promise big bucks in return for no investment. This one was a doozy. It claimed you could make $250,000 in weeks and all you had to do was send some guy $10 and mail out 19 other copies of this letter telling people how much money they could make by mailing out the same letter.

It was four pages absolutely rife with grammatical, punctuational and spelling errors, not to mention fuzzy facts and contradictory statements. And it was supposedly written by a lawyer! How anyone could fall for it, I don't know, but the really big question on my mind as I read it over dinner, was how could anyone read this crap and not succumb to the all powerful urge to EDIT it???

So I gleefully ran to my desk, grabbed my red Sharpie and went to work correcting every single mistake from the odd punctuation !, to the number discrepancies - your investment on page 1 is $23,20 [with a comma for a decimal point, btw] and on page 3 the breakdown of costs adds up to $33.20. It was a treasure trove of bad, an editor's playground - well, more like a nightmarish fun house - editors really do like clean copy, you know. Honestly.

After all four pages were good and bloody, I stuck them back in an envelop which I mailed back to the hapless schlep who got my husband's name [and spelled it wrong besides!] thinking he's going to get rich quick over this mess. I'm sure he'll be shocked and offended that someone had the audacity to correct his money-making scheme, but if the claims in the letter are correct [it works perfectly EVERY single time you use it!!] maybe he'll at least feel a small bit of shame at being taken by something so blatantly badly written.

After all, if you're going to scam someone, at least have the decency to proofread your chain letter, ya' know??

A Wizard Outed

I just read on E! Online that J.K. Rowling has outed Albus Dumbledore.

Yes, apparently the kindly if quintessentially mysterious headmaster of Hogwarts is gay. Or was gay, rather since...well, I'm sure everyone knows he's dead but just in case you don't, you didn't hear it from me.

How do I feel about it? Well, I couldn't care less one way or the other if Dumbledore was gay, straight, bi or omni [like Captain Jack Harkness!]. It's certainly Ms. Rowling's prerogative to reveal that one of her characters is gay. It's not a big deal for me, nor would it in any way color my decision to allow my children to read the books or watch the movies or even dress up as Dumbledore for Halloween if they wanted to.

What interests me more is what the extreme right will have to say about it. There is already a staunch, if debatably intelligent, army of protestors who have made it their job to cast Ms. Rowling's blockbuster series as nothing less than an insidious grimoire of evil magick. [And these are the people who would recoil even at seeing the 'k' on the end of the word no doubt.] I'm sure discovering that not only will the Harry Potter books turn their children in Devil worshipping warlocks, but will also give them slightly squicky leanings toward members of their own sex - well EGADS! Someone better alert the media.

I'm looking forward to the hubbub actually. Not so much because now and then I struggle with a macabre delight in bruhaha, but because this latest bit of scandal can only rachet up Ms. Rowling's royalties even higher than the 'more money than God' that she already makes.

And that's funny to me.

So I'll be sitting back and watching, listening and reading to see how this revelation, if you will, pans out.

Any thoughts?

Every TV show should have...

...a romance novelist on staff.

It just makes good sense. Let's face it, even though there's an abundance of 'shippers' out there for almost every show on TV, how often are you really satisfied with a TV romance?

I mean, I'm so tired of hearing 'If so and so got together it would ruin the show.' Bah humbug. That's absurd. Sure it's happened - look at the Moonlighting fiasco. That was the show, I think that set the precedent. You can't have a couple dance around the idea of being in love for a number of seasons and then have them finally hook up, because the show goes to the dogs after that.

Not true. The addage should be, you can't have a mediocre plot after two beloved characters get together or the show will go to the dogs.

As a romance novelist, and a dedicated shipper since the age of ten, [who didn't root for Mark and Princess to get together on Battle of the Planets?] I'm so tired of spending years hoping a couple will get together and then either a) having the romance fizzle out because the writers are afraid of where it will go, b) having a substitute thrown in at the last minute [fortunately the whole Deanna Troi/Worf thing didn't last and she ended up married to Riker, but look how long it took!] c) getting to the series finale and finally having the writers throw the fans a bone.

Don't you think the world would be a better place if we got more satisfying romance? Who's your favorite TV couple?

If offered the job, would you be a romance consultant for a television show? Heck, I think it should be a mandatory staff position.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Things that go bump...

Lo and behold, I'm over at Star-Crossed Romance today blogging about things that go bump in the night.

Chickens welcome.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What is it....

about men named Captain Jack?

Earlier this year Captain Jack Sparrow had everyone swooning in the third installmant of Pirates of the Carribean. [Honestly, I'd pick Orlando over Johnny Depp, but that's just me].

Now there's a new Captain Jack on the scene, at least for us sci-fi geeks. The British Doctor Who series spinoff, Torchwood, boasts a new and different Captain Jack - Harkness, that is.

Played by American actor John Barrowman, Captain Jack made his debut in an epsiode of Doctor Who then spun off to star in his own show.

Torchwood [an anagram of Doctor Who] is a fictional law enforcement agency that operates 'outside the government, above the police' and deals with alien incursions on Earth and very often interdimensional and time travel.

The show rocks - mostly because it's British and they can do things we just can't on American TV - chief among them have the lead character be admittedly 'omnisexual.'

Captain Jack isn't gay [though John Barrowman is] and he's not technically bisexual, even though he's been in love with both males and females. The word 'omnisexual' has been coined to describe someone who is open to all sexual experiences. I've yet to see him mack on a non-humanoid, but I'm sure it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Captain Jack fascinates me because in addition to being a tortured soul of sorts - lost in time, and unable to die - he's dashing, compassionate, intelligent and hot. He has all the qualities of a good hero, with the added bonus that he can potentially fall in love with anyone, or any thing.

The difference, I think, between Captain Jack Harkness and Captain Jack Sparrow is that Jack Sparrow was somewhat ambiguous, and Jack Harkness [an alias, btw - but you have to watch the show to find out where he got the name] is unapologetically...biguous so to speak. There's nothing questionable about his orientation. He's gay, he's straight, he's bi and he's easy on the eyes so everyone can fantasize.

If you get a chance, check out Torchwood and see for yourself what makes this Captain Jack so compelling. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Once More With Feeling

Under 'Things you never knew you wanted until found out you couldn't have them:'

Apparently FOX has put the smackdown on unauthorized airings of the muscial episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer entitled Once More With Feeling.

Fans have been showing the episode and apparently dressing up for a sing along a lot like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and FOX, which now owns the rights to Buffy and is not making any moola on the venture, decided to step in and crack the legal whip.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for protecting the rights of artists and the actors and others who get royalties for airing these episodes do deserve to get paid, as I'm sure their contracts state, but I have to say, if I were a big hootie hoot at FOX, rather than tossing everyone else's toys off the table over this, I'd figure out how to make it work for me. If fans want to turn this episode [which is utterly fabulous, btw] into a cult classic like Rocky Horror, why not let them? Hell, why not help them?

I'd set up official screenings of the episode, charge for tickets and make it an all fired big deal. This way your fans get what they want. Just because a show is cancelled doesn't mean there still aren't people dying to watch it. Look at Star Trek. Cancellation didn't hurt Trek fandom at all, why should it hurt Buffy fandom?

I've never been to Rocky, but let me tell you, I'd go to theatrical screening of Once More... and I'd sing my heart out...

Walk throught the the point of no return...

Once I get that in my head, forget it. I'm a goner.

Come on, FOX, let Whedon fans have their fun. You don't want us all asking the musical question...

Where do we go

Sunday, October 14, 2007

So I guess I should post...

Lately it's been a real chore to come up with blog topics. I used to have a lot to say and I enjoyed the journalistic aspect of writing a blog - coming up with 'articles' and pertinent subjects that might be of interest to my readers, other authors or maybe even the occasional editor or agent who might have the time to happen by.

It seems like now, when I sit down to blog, I think...ugh. Other people seem have interesting topics, funny stories, cute pictures...and I just....don't.

I'm wondering if it's my increasing frustation with Blogger. It seems like everything I try to do with Blogger takes forever and it comes out wrong and has to be redone. I have to go through several formerly unnecessary steps just to read and post comments and it's a real drag. Several of my fellow divas have changed to Wordpress and I'm thinking about doing the same, but that requires a learning curve and I'm not sure my general malaise when it comes to all things computer would be able to handle that.

I'm also wondering if it might be my increased committment to actually writing [fiction that is]. The whole list of extraneous author activities like blogging, collecting friends on MySpace, chatting, creating a database of excerpts...etc. takes so much away from the actual business of writing. I feel overwhelmed. I need to work on three or four short stories, sequels to existing books and a new single title. I just don't want to devote so much of my week to considering blog topics, hunting down appropriate photographs or messing with tedious HTML codes in order to make things look good.

Maybe I'm getting lazy in my old age, or maybe I just really want to focus on what's important, creating new stories.

I need a new approach to the blog if I'm going to continue doing it - should I go with a quick update of my progress a few times a week? I conversational style? Stream of consciousness? Or post more mechanical things like quick tips and tricks from the mind of a writer and editor?

As a reader, a writer - or whatever you may be, what type of blog post do you like to read?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 27

Thirteen Cool Things About NJRW

1. Rooming with Jen Elbaum
2. Dinner with my agent, Christine Witthohn
3. Meeting the Book Cents Gang – Hi, Miriam, Liz, Cathy and Heather!
4. Not having to pitch this year – whew!
5. The dessert reception
6. Knowing someone who won the Golden Leaf Award – Hi Beth! Congrats again.
7. A weekend away from housework
8. My first book signing
9. My promo items disappeared like hot cakes
10. Dinner with the Samhellions
11. Seeing Stella Price and Rene Lyons at the Book Fair
12. Meeting some fans [I have fans!]
13. Meeting my EC editor, Briana St. James

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Everyone's a Character [in a book, that is]

I don’t often run into fully drawn characters in my day to day life. Most of the fictional people I’ve created do have a little bit of reality mixed into them, but they’re usually never modeled entirely after one person. It’s so much more fun to mix and match – especially with heroes...but I digress.

Yesterday, on my way into the office building where my daughter’s orthodontist runs his bustling practice, I ran smack into a character from my next story.

The perfect villainess sauntered through the lobby in her Paris Hilton glasses, silk blouse, painted on skirt and shoes that cost more than my wedding ring.

She had a cell phone jammed against her ear and her lips pressed together in a disdainful pout. She breezed by me as I blithely held the door open for her. Why did I do that? Well, because it was polite, and because I didn’t want her to break a talon trying to push the door open by herself.

I tossed a jaunty “You’re very welcome” over my shoulder as her stilettos hit the sidewalk and I’d like to think she took a moment away from pouting into her phone to say Thank you, but somehow I doubt it.

No problem. I went up to the orthodontist’s office and borrowed a piece of notebook paper from my daughter. While we waited, I scribbled the intro for my villainess while all the details were fresh in my mind.

Now, naturally, I don’t know any more about this woman than what she looked like, and that at this particular moment in time she happened to carry herself with a veneer of bored superiority and faux sophistication. For all I know, she may have been a perfectly lovely individual who was having an exceedingly bad day and she’s home right now agonizing over her inability to be polite to a stranger while she was perhaps getting dumped over the phone by her long-time boyfriend, or learning her cat had just swallowed her roommate’s canary and was even now being rushed into expensive veterinary surgery. Who knows? I’ll have to round out her personality using ingredients from other sources and hope I do her justice.

And of course for anonymity, I do plan to change the color of her blouse.

Have you ever met a character from one of your stories – complete and life size as if they’d walked out of the pages of your book? Was it before or after you'd written the character?

Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm baaaaaaack!

I'm back and raring to go. As usual, NJRW's Put Your Heart in a Book Conference was a blast.

I met so many people and saw so many old friends I don't think I could list them all.

[BTW - this is me at the Literacy Book Signing. I sold quite a number of copies of Unleashed, Conjured in Flames and Ravenstar's Bride AND was interviewed by Romance Novel TV!]

I'll be back later with the highlights. I'm still trying to get my thoughts organized. Catch you later once I've fired up my remaining brain cells.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Put a kitty in the window for me

I'm off to NJRW tomorrow morning. Looking forward to rubbing elbows with my fellow authors, fellow Divas, fellow Samhellions and the Book Cents Babes.

The conference is always a lot of fun. My first year, I pitched to an editor and got a request for a partial manuscript. The second year I pitched to my future agent and got a request for two fulls and who knows what this year will bring.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I will be signing my Amber Quill Print releases at the NJRW Literacy Book Fair

The Sheraton at Woodbridge Place
515 US Highway 1 S • Iselin, New Jersey 08830 • United States

Date: October 6, 2007
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 PM

Please also be aware that at the request of Barnes & Noble, any previously purchased books are not permitted into the book fair.

Stop by if you can! I’d love to see you there!