Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ursula applauds

Ursula doesn’t have much time to read things other than editing submissions these days, but yesterday she perused the February 2008 issue of Romance Writers Report [RWR – the newsletter publication of Romance Writers of America] and her dark little heart went thump, thump, thump.

In the Up Close and Personal column by Dianne Castell, there’s a fabulous interview with E.J. Gilmer of Amber Quill.

In addition to discussing the uniqueness that is Amber Quill Press, EJ talks about writing in general, promotion, critique groups, contests and conferences. What Ursula [and I] found most interesting though was her response to this question:

What are the biggest mistakes new writers make?

[Note: I post this here not just from editor to authors, but from author to authors. Here are some important tips that, surprisingly, are overlooked far too often.]

EJ Gilmer says: ... “The other thing all writers need to do is polish, polish, polish.[emphasis added] Editors love to see work that’s clean with a manuscript not highlighted by spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t be so carried away by your story that you’re not your own toughest proofreader.

A new author must have a firm grasp of the English language! The largest percentage of all manuscripts we receive in our yearly contest are rejected based on misspellings, punctuation issues, grammar problems, sentence structure, etc. we find in the first few paragraphs. Authors need to learn their craft, and those who do not...well, the slush pile grows increasingly higher thanks to those individuals. No editor is keen to work with an author who acts like a prima donna and refuses to alter a single word, and unfortunately, with many inexperienced publishers and editors who aren’t given the support to demand the best from their authors, poor grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and even plotting problems are seen in books today.”

Ursula could not have said it better. Ultimately this is a humbling business and there’s a lot of disillusionment that goes on. Authors question their talents all the time, they get ripped by editors, devastated by rejections, panned by critics. Some of it is necessary. We have to take our lumps in order to be strong enough to survive but these are the things an author can do to minimize the pain and suffering of climbing up the publishing ladder.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Conversation with my Peeps

So yesterday I asked everyone for suggestions in the romantic movie category and Wow! I got some great suggestions. I decided to copy my comments section here today:

RF Long suggested Enchanted It’s on my Netflix list but not available yet. I can’t wait to see it. I think I’ll try bumping it up a few spaces.

Ayla says 10 things i hate about you, Just like heaven, the prince and me, when harry met sally, you've got mail... i could go on

I liked The Prince and me and of course Harry Met Sally is a classic. I’ll have to put the other two on my list.

Nonny suggests The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.BEST paranormal romance movie I have seen, EVER.

Which I can’t argue at all. I almost wish I hadn’t already seen it, because it would be a treat all over again. Definitely the best movie ever.

Jennah says I'm not much help either. My fav would be The Notebook. A Walk in the Clouds with Keanu Reeves is really good too. I can't think of any new ones.

Saw the Notebook and it was really good. I’ve also seen a Walk in the Clouds and I’m thinking I need to see it again - in fact I put it back on my Netflix list last night! – anything with Keanu in it is sighworthy all by itself. I drool for that man.

Kris says I have to concur with A Walk in the Clouds. Also, what about Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeves? That's an oldy but a goody.

Somewhere in Time in another one of those classics. Good stuff!

Msmenozzi offers a long list:

Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (Antonio Banderas and some rope? OK!)

Ooh – putting this on my list

Under the Tuscan Sun (chick flick with beautiful scenery - yes, I mean Raoul Bova.)

Seen it – loved it.

A Life Less Ordinary (Ewan MacGregor? Yes, please!)

Ooh, love Ewan!

Return to Me (A sweet and sappy film, yes. I love it, though.)

Seen it, also sweet and sappy but good.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jim Carrey? Romantic? Yes on both counts.)

Seen it – it’s one of those that left me going, huh?

Say Anything (John Cusak's classic)

A classic.

The Birdcage (hilarious, campy, and a true romance at heart)

Very cute also.

Jump Tomorrow (an obscure little flick about how life can pass us by if we don't fight for our loves)

Never heard of this one, I’ll have to look into it.

Eden Bradley offered another great list
All my favorites are a bit older:Chocolat - Yum
The Princess Bride - Classic
Love, ActuallyOne of the absolute best!
Pride & Prejudicethe new one I hear is fabulous, must get it.
Practical Magic - faboo
Music & Lyrics (saw it recently-very cute!) – also very cute
The Fifth Element (not your standard romance, but I love that movie!) – Hmmm, This one I know DH will consent to watch with me at least.
Waiting to Exhaleputting it on my list

Lillian Fiesty offers

Before Sunrise is one of the best leaves you with that dreamy felling movies.
I think I saw before Sunset, got to see which one comes first.

Jennifer Lewis says

I can only think of classics that give me that ::deep shuddering sigh:: feeling. An Officer and a Gentleman, To Have and Have Not, and All that Heaven Allows are three of my faves :-)

Will belegon says

I'll echo Feisty... Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are awesome movies and as well-written and acted as you will ever find. I'm even on a yahoo group about em.I agree with many here...Some Kind of Wonderful strikes all kinds of chords with me...The American President Shakespeare In Love (Not a normal HEA but tres romantique)Much Ado About Nothing

Loribelle Hunt adds: Sabrina and Persuasion

I loved Sabrina with Harrison Ford!

Toni Sue says:

Just Like Heaven

13 going on 30 is cute, funny and a good love story.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Leigh Royals votes for Oh, I adored Music and Lyrics.

CC offered this list

Sleepless in Seattle

Hope Floats

City of Angels

When Harry Met Sally

Music From Another Room

While You Were Sleeping


Princess Bride



Dr. Zhivago

An Affair to Remember


Thanks so much everybody! Now I have a list to work with. Considering Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’ve got two novellas and a full length romance to finish, I so need that lovin’ feelin’. I’m off to Blockbuster!

Monday, January 28, 2008

I need some romance!!

I was thinking the other day as once again DH and I were trying to figure out what to watch in the evening, that I haven't seen a really good romantic movie in a long time.

Sure, The Lake House blew me away. But that was months ago. Now I need something new. I'm desperate for a love story [one that I haven't written myself] - something hot and sweet and juicy. A movie or even a good shippy TV show would suffice.

Anybody have any good romantic movies they've seen lately? Something where you're left feeling all dreamy and sighing over the hero. I prefer adventures of course, but something sweet and stirring would be nice.

Is it me, or are good romances on film getting harder to come by these days?

Any suggestions appreciated.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Release Day!

By Bernadette Gardner
© 2008, Bernadette Gardner
Cover Art by Les Byerley
ISBN 9781419914393
Ellora’s Cave

Her body is his canvas.

When Makena Brady walks into SkIntense Body Art, she expects nothing more than a little prick, and a small tattoo to satisfy her quest for independence from her ‘good girl’ lifestyle. What she gets instead is a sensual awakening.

Darq Stone is an artist and Makena’s body is the perfect canvas. He works his magic on her, bringing her to the edge of reason with a temporary tattoo airbrushed on her inner thigh. Enthralled by the excitement of lying nearly naked while he paints on her, Makena yearns for more, but can she handle the real thing? Darq is much more than he seems and once he brands her with a permanent mark, she’ll be drawn into his world forever.

Here’s a short excerpt:

“My hands are shaking,” she said. “Maybe you could help me.” She dropped her suit jacket on the chair behind her, but it slithered to the floor. She shrugged and tried to quell her internal tremors. If he continued to look at her that way, she might come from anticipation alone.

In two long steps he crossed to stand in front of her. The musky scent of his cologne reached her and her head swam. Darq Stone was nothing like she’d expected him to be. In fact, with his long-sleeved casual shirt and black Dockers, he didn’t even appear to have any tattoos of his own. She wondered if she might convince him to show her all of his body as well.

“Would you like me to unbutton your blouse?”

She nodded. “Yes.” The word came out as a breathless whisper. She held herself utterly still until he obliged, raising his hands and clasping the first tiny button.

It popped open under his expert touch and Makena gasped. Good Lord, if just having him open one button felt this good, what would it feel like if he actually put his hands on her? She’d come apart under him.

The next button went and Makena felt his warm breath on the vee of flesh exposed above her collar.

“Are you considering an image above one of your breasts?” His voice had gone thick. His eyes were locked on the third button of her blouse.

“I’m not sure. Maybe the small of my back, or on my shoulder. Or my inner thigh.”
“That’s a very sensitive area. You might not be able to wear a tight skirt or pantyhose for several days after the work is done. That could interfere with your job.”

“I have vacation time coming.”

Two more buttons. Makena wanted to put her hands on his broad shoulders and lean on him. Her legs felt rubbery and each breath hitched in her chest. “Pull my blouse out of my skirt, please.”

He hesitated only a second then tugged the creamy yellow silk out of her waistband. She didn’t need to ask him to push the blouse off her shoulders or to run one finger under the strap of her bra.

She bent forward to ease the intense ache that crawled up from her pussy to her womb. Her stomach clenched when his breath hit the bare skin of her shoulder. “Do you see a spot you like?”

He didn’t answer. Instead he curled his fingers around the satiny strap and pulled it down, almost exposing her breast. He ran his fingers over the skin below her shoulder and then into the cup of her bra.

Every nerve in her body went tight and she gasped when his fingers grazed the smooth skin just above her nipple.

“You’re very sensitive here as well. The process can be painful in certain areas. I wouldn’t want to see you in discomfort for a long period of time…unless you like pain. Some people do…they get a sexual satisfaction out of being tattooed.”

“I don’t know if I would…ah…”

“Turn around.”

She obeyed on wobbly legs. In her mind’s eye, he put his hand on her back, just between her shoulder blades and pushed forward so that she bent over the chair. She pictured herself spreading her legs for him and biting her lower lip hard while he lifted her skirt and probed between her thighs for the hardening nub of her clit.

Instead he merely removed her blouse, sliding the cuffs over her wrists. He placed the garment on the stool he’d been sitting on and then brought his hands up in delicate strokes along her spine to the clasp of her bra.

“Will you allow me to—”


To read more about Skin visit Ellora’s Cave!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gone too soon


It strikes me as interesting the reaction people have when celebrities pass away. Though these are people we’ve often never met in person, we can still be shocked, saddened and often devastated by their loss.

The earliest celebrity death I recall is that of Elvis Presley. I was ten at the time and not much of an Elvis fan, but I remember the shock and amazement of those around me. The King was dead and everyone was stunned.

Since then some celebrity deaths have shocked me: River Phoenix, Rebecca Schaeffer, Jessica Savitch, John Erik Hexum.

Others have saddened me: DeForest Kelly, Robert Reed, James Doohan

And others have seemed inevitable: Frank Sinatra, Liberace, John Belushi

The ones that have felt most like losing someone I know: Princess Diana, Steve Irwin

I suppose Heath Ledger falls into the first category. My heart goes out to his family. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sleep Shopping

So just before I woke up this morning, I was buying Tarot cards in my dream. I’ve used Tarot cards before and done some of my own readings, though I haven’t had time in a while. My favorite deck is the Robin Wood deck because I like the art and the icons remind me of characters.

The deck I was buying didn’t have a name that I could remember, but the concept was that the cards corresponded to body parts and the reading you did showed you which body parts were visible and which were invisible. The ones that were invisible were ‘free’ meaning not encumbered and the more invisible parts you had, the more your soul was free.

Sounds like a cool concept. The cards were on sale for $3.85 [pretty good deal], unfortunately I woke up before I could buy them.

Have you ever done a Tarot reading for yourself or someone else? Have you ever gone shopping in your sleep?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sarah Connor: TSTL

Big sigh. Spoilers ahead, btw...

In the never ending quest for something new to watch in my 'copious' spare time, I sat down with DH last night to check out Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on FOX. [We recorded it from last week and finally had a chance to watch the first two episodes.]

Now I recall the scrappy heroine from the movies who went from '80s big hair chick to hard bitten resistance fighter in the space of a few short hours, and I liked her. Thrust into a bizarre reality, Sarah Connor kicked ass and took names in order to protect her future son, who would one day save the human race.

Nice premise. Of course, they made it into a TV show. And they naturally left most of their brains out in the parking lot.

Why is the 'new' Sarah Connor TSTL? Well, it's not just her, per se, but let's start with using the alias Sarah Reese. Come on folks. Reese was the guy who got her pregnant - her adult son's best friend from the future who came back to 'save' her and inadvertantly became his best friend's father. As a fugitive, you might want to get over yourself and NOT use a name that would link you to your future/past.

Next, if you're a fugitive, why oh why would you enroll your teenage son in public school for heaven's sake? Then he's in the system. If he shows up one day with a bullet wound, don't you think the school nurse might be alarmed? Ever hear of home schooling?

Now, those things are dumb enough. Most of the second episode involves Sarah and the new friendly Terminator [played by Summer Glau of Firefly] pounding it into young John's head that he shouldn't leave the house. Of course, being a teenager, he must do exactly what his mother tells him not to do [granted, he's a kid, but he grew up knowing he was not safe anywhere. You'd think he'd 'get it' by now.] He goes, where else, to the mall. Where there will be a lot of people, because it's better to be recognized by hundreds in a place where there are security cameras all over the place, than to mosey down to the local mom and pop to pick up a soda and some chips, ya know?

He goes into a computer store and starts looking up his mom's ex boyfriend while the big screen monitor behind him displays everything he's looking at. A helpful sales clerk [can you tell this is fiction?] explains to him what a jerk he is and then he leaves and goes to the ex-boyfriend's house. Why? Why would you go see someone who could identify you?'re T S T L??

Oh, the best is the time travel - PYT, [pretty young terminator] jumps Sarah and John [alias Sarah and John] into the future [conveniently 2007] and when Sarah demands to know why, PYT says, 'Because you die in 2004.' Oh.

Of what?

Cancer. So they jumped over Sarah's having cancer? Unless they jumped over whatever it was that caused her to get cancer, she still probbaly has it, so what was the point of jumping through time? Because now they don't have to spend all that money making everything look like 2000, I suppose.

If they really wanted to end the whole thing, they should send someone back in time to right before the first Terminator showed up and be prepared to blow his shiny metal ass to Kingdom come and keep doing that every time a new terminator shows up.

Ah well. I may take in another episode or two, but odds are I'll spend too much time nitpicking to really enjoy the show. I don't think it will be long before it's terminated.

Monday, January 14, 2008

They did it again

The weather 'people' predicted a major snow storm starting last night, ending this morning and then starting up again tonight.

Yesterday the supermarket was a three-ring circus AGAIN. You'd think people in NJ had never seen snow before. Everyone acts like we live in North Dakota and will be buried under the white stuff until spring. They load their carts with bags of salt, bottled water, milk, eggs, bread and coffee - I guess everyone figures they will live on French Toast until the big thaw.

A discussion I had with my daughter's coach centered on his fear that all practices would be cancelled all week long due to bad weather.

DH prepared his computer so he could work at home today.

The kids went to bed wearing their pajamas inside out and put spoons under their pillows. Apparently this is some dark magick taught to them by their teachers about how to induce a school-closing snow storm.

And...this morning, there's nothing but a powdered sugar dusting on the lawn. The sun is peeking through the clouds and everyone is walking around shoulders bowed, moaning about how unfair life is.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to hide my enthusiasm. Yay! I don't have everyone home underfoot all day, wanting French Toast for breakfast and filling up the bathroom with soaking wet socks and gloves and scarves and cheering at the Wii all day while I try to ignore them and get some work done.

Am I bad?

Friday, January 11, 2008

I wasn't gonna' do it...

I didn’t want to get involved in the next in a depressingly long list of plagiarism scandals, but once again, I just feel the need to make my position known.

I won’t use the name of the author in question, but she’s not the author who admitted stealing from a well-known name in romance, and she’s not the teenaged author who got mega bucks for a book that was lifted from the pages of someone else’s book, and she’s not the e-book author accused of stealing from the fan-fiction author.

This is the author accused of lifting passages of from text books and reference books that may in some cases have expired copyrights.

I’m not going to opine whether I think she’s guilty or merely misguided, or whether her actions are truly criminal or merely unfortunately stupid. I won’t take a stand on RWA’s hedging of an opinion, and I won’t express a desire to see her [or anyone] drawn and quartered.

All I’ll do is express my disappointment that in a business where new authors have to lie awake at night worrying that they didn’t use the correct size of rubber band to secure their snail mail submission to an agent, or worry that their manuscript will be rejected out of hand because they used Times New Roman 11pt instead of Courier 12*, and in a business where newbies are spanked for inappropriate POV shifts or vilified for the over use of the word ‘was’ – a well-known and prolific author can engage in ‘questionable’ practices and continue to publish.

The business seems so forgiving of those who are already making money and so cutthroat to those who haven’t yet proven themselves.

It’s a shame. And it’s a kick in the teeth once again to think that someone who has, if not broken the rules, at least bent them irreparably, might continue to sell their work, while it’s often a Herculean effort for a new writer just to get an agent or editor to afford their work an honest 15-minutes of time.

Maybe it’s time the industry got an overhaul, but how can we possibly effect change when even our leadership won’t take a stand on the issues?

* Note: Not saying all agents and editors reject manuscripts based on these criteria, but just that new authors do worry about these things.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another reason I don't subscribe... a lot of magazines is, I can’t stand fluff news. All right, one could look askance at me, the author who enjoys writing adventure and romantic romps and despises anything that’s too depressing or serious. You’d think I’d like ‘pop news’ and the stuff they fill newspapers and magazines with to make them more fit to line a birdcage, but sorry. No.

Case in point, while once again trapped in the dentist’s office [a kid with braces can be a boon to a parent’s reading time] I perused the available periodicals. I figured the cover story of US News and World Report for the 12/31-1/7 issue would be enlightening: 50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2008.

We can all use some life improving, right?

I shouldn’t have expected too much.

Along the same lines of ‘installing crown molding’ I found these exciting ways to make my life better:

No. 13: Yawn
The article extolled the health virtues of a good yawn. Okay. So should I spend more time getting tired so I can yawn, or more time being bored so I can yawn? Or should I just look at other people who are yawning more often so that I will catch their contagious yawns and thus in some obscure way, improve my health?

No. 24: Use your mobile phone for everything.
One of the wireless services must have paid for this one. The idea is to consolidate your services into one device so you can rely on your cell phone for everything. The day my cell phone can do laundry, I’ll consider it.

No. 26: Get a raise.
Now there’s a damn good idea. Let’s all resolve to get raises in 2008. I hope my boss reads this article, otherwise I might be out of luck since the last time I checked, you can’t just go out and GET a raise, like you go out and GET a newspaper. No doubt it would equate to a significant life improvement though for most people. Can’t argue that.

No. 35: Stop drinking bottled water.
This was my favorite. At first I had to ask myself, what’s the alternative? Puddles? Lord knows, in my town, you don’t drink out of the tap unless you want to grow a third arm. The article advocated saving money by skipping the expensive designer waters that are available. Well, there’s some merit in that, considering some companies charge $7.00 for a bottle of water that came out of a tap in Columbia. I’d rather drink from the hose – but what got me was the article suggested asking for tap water in restaurants. Had I not just ordered an ice water at a local restaurant and gotten a glass of what tasted like something that had been siphoned out of the dishwasher, I might agree – well no, I’d never agree. That suggestion is absurd. What’s worse, they advocate spending the money you’d save by not buying a bottled water on dessert! I guess the worm has turned. It will be a life improvement if you drink something that’s been run through dirty old lead-lined pipes and fill your gut with chocolate tiramisu.

Is it any wonder I don’t subscribe to these magazines?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lettuce Naked

Now even my food shopping receipt is R-rated. I went to Shop Rite on Sunday [big mistake! Not only is it the first weekend of the month, it’s also the beginning of the Can-Can Sale. The place was a three-ring circus!]

After fighting the crowds for nearly two hours [yeah, I shop slow] I got home, put everything away, had lunch and sat down to record my purchases in my computerized checkbook. [I let Excel do my math for me. Calculators are beyond my expertise.] My wandering gaze just happened to fall on the following line item:

Lettuce Naked .99

I guess that means it had no dressing. LOL.

I decided to check out the rest of the list and I found:

Special Banana Nak 1.79

And I thought my bananas were just average. I guess they’re naked too.

Then I found

Imp Navel 2.66

I suppose a publication full of naked lettuce and imp navels could be considered erotica? Maybe I should send this to my agent.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


I haven't blogged because I love the vegetable picture in my last post so much that I didn't want to move it from the top.

Yeah - that's a good excuse. I'll stick with that. LOL.

No, really, it's a great picture. I love vegetables. My kitchen is decorated with them. I used to collect silk veggies, then miniature ceramic veggies. Now I just try to stock up on real ones.'s been a minorly productive week. Almost 5000 words on Wolfsbane 2: Leader of the Pack. I finally took down the Christmas tree so everything feels back to normal. We still have to take down the outside decorations, but heck, it's been too cold to mess around out there.

U-4EA got 5 Angels from Fallen Angel Reviews! Here's a snippet:

This is one hot story! The premise of U-4EA would be every man’s dream and while Fletcher most definitely enjoys the results of the drugs, he also feels guilty that Talia is in the position she is with him. As they work through piloting the craft and the threat of the Mogarthan, as well as the marathon bouts of sexual activity, they soon realize their feelings are also becoming involved. These two in addition to Ganymede, Fletcher’s ethereal partner, make U-4EA a story you won’t want to miss!Reviewed by: Trang

The publishing world should be waking from it's holiday stupor now, so hopefully there will be some movement as far as my full length paranormals are concerned. Fingers crossed for 2008!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Writing and Food

Seems an odd combination, doesn’t it?

Technically the two really have nothing in common, except that they are going to be my focuses this coming year.

Ooh, goody! More books to read and more food to eat? No, not really.

Well, hopefully more books to read. That’s my plan: to write more, to maintain better focus and to get stuff out there into submission land.

The food part is a little more tricky. A long time ago I resolved to never diet again, because let’s face it, diets don’t work. Losing 8 pounds only to gain back 10 is a waste of time and effort. I’ve done it too many times to think it will work again. Food has become my enemy because while I love to eat, I usually feel awful after I do. I eat all the wrong things.

So this year, I’ve decided to try something new. I’m not going to starve myself, or count calories or fat grams or eat fake food like fat free cheese and diet soda and processed chocolate flavored shakes.

I’m going to eat real food. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and lean meats. I’m going to cut out the soda and the sweetened drinks [I’m a high-fructose-corn-syrup-aholic] and I’m going to not be hungry. That’s the first key to failure. I’d starve myself on a diet and then one day, when I couldn’t take it anymore I’d crack and end up binging on something that was satisfying. Then forget it, you can’t go back to a Smart Ones frozen entrĂ©e after you’ve had a Big Mac and fries. It just doesn’t work anymore.

So, although I acknowledge that it takes more time and effort to prepare healthy food, [don’t let anyone fool you, it does take more time] I’m going to commit to it. I’m still a full-time stay-at-home author/Mom and while I have that luxury [luxury = being mostly broke all the time but who’s counting?] I’m going to devote more of my time to the food we eat around here. If I spend more time chopping veggies and peeling fruit it’s time well spent.

We’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck.
Happy New Year!