Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Unprecedented Decadence

I went to Bennigan's the other day for lunch with my mother and my aunt, and though I'm still on my diet [60 days and counting - 13 pounds lost!] I did peruse the dessert menu because, well, I can't help it.

I was both pleased and disappointed to see my favorite dessert back on the menu. Banana Xango is basically a deep fried banana cheesecake that is To. Die. For. But, alas, I'm not ordering it any more. I'm trying so hard to be good.

In addition to BX, Bennigan's is now offering a new dessert called the Triple Dare. They should probably call it Triple Digit Cholesterol instead. That's a picture of it above and here's the description from the menu:

We have taken three of your favorites to the next level. A chewy fudge brownie, a Hostess Twinkie® and a Zinger® are each wrapped in a crispy shell and fried until golden. Served with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces.

Are they kidding with this? I mean, yeah, it looks like heaven. Any time you deep fry something chocolate, you're passing into the realm of the angels as far as I'm concerned. It's like nirvana. But really...give people a break.

I'm not one of those activists that's going to go around trying to sue restuarants for making people fat, or bullying everyone into dieting [guess what, that doesn't work.] But I do have a small complaint about this stuff. As good as it looks and as tempting as it is, why can't they offer a healthier dessert choice as well? It wouldn't even have to be that much cheaper - I mean, at IHOP they serve a bowl of fresh fruit for $5.99 which is about the same price as these artery cloggers at Bennigan's. Sure $5.99 is a lot for fruit, but if you're out eating at a restaurant and everyone else is having fried cake, you'd be more likely to drop the six bucks and get yourself some expensive fresh fruit. When there are no healthy alternatives a lot of people will just skip dessert and if you're out to get their money, why not give them something they WANT to buy?

Some places are offering smaller desserts now, which is nice. I have no problem with cake, or ice cream. Hey, you have to live, you know? Food is one of life's great pleasures and I do believe we should enjoy it, but how about if restuarants helped out the populace and all offered lighter alternatives for desserts, like HALF a piece of cake - a SINGLE dare rather than a triple, or a dollop of sorbet and some fresh berries? Most places don't.

So therein lies my rant for today. Is it any wonder obesity effects more than 60% of the US population?

Writing 101 - Tip Sheets

Today I'm over at StarCrossed Romance talking about character creation. Come check it out.

BDSM anyone?

I don't usually blog about books I haven't read yet, but this one by fellow Diva Jennifer Leeland intrigues me so much, I thought I'd mention it.


In the BDSM lifestyle, Catherine Lanyard is an extreme submissive with serious baggage. For years, she’s avoided her pain and hidden dark secrets. Now, an experienced Dom has broken through her barriers and forced her to face her fear. Sex was always a give and take for Justin Travers. He’d always kept his “lifestyle” practices separate from real life. But when Catherine blurs that boundary, he must decide what he really wants.


It's on my TBB list, now just gotta find that credit card...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Can you see...

...the cat in this picture?? I opened the cabinet under my desk [it's actually a printer stand on wheels] and Topper jumped into the opening behind it. I snapped this picture, then I had to chase him out of there so I could close the cabinet.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back to the real world

Winter vacation is over!!


Everybody went back to school/work etc. today and I had some peace and quiet. It was nice.

I know I complain a lot about school vacations, but I have to say the week wasn't a total loss as far as getting my work done. I cleared out all my editing projects last week and I realized that even though I may complain a lot about my work load when I've got editing to do, as soon as I don't have any, I miss it.

Yeah, I need to take a pill for that.

I also completed Wolfsbane 2: Leader of the Pack and sent it off to Amber Quill. [Look for the Howling at the Moon...Again Amber Pax in August 2008] AND I finished my submission to Nocturne Bites. This story was originally written in part as a Pax submission, but I never finished it. Molten Man got that Pax slot and this story got put in a drawer. I'm thrilled to have finally finished it, even though it's short, because the beginning was so good. The characters deserved an ending.

Today in addition to reveling in having the house to myself, I picked up my paycheck from the town [they got my hours wrong :( ] I ran to DS's eye doc to get a new Rx for his glasses, since the one the doc wrote last week left the people at LensCrafters too baffled to do more than inspect their belly button lint. [Don't get me started!] The doctor was delayed in surgery [have you ever known surgery to NOT include a delay of some kind?] So my ride over there was for nothing. They have to mail me the correct Rx.

By the time I finished lunch, I realized I had 3 minutes to get over to the school for the Winterguard Bake Sale. I couldn't find a parking space, I forgot to bring napkins [Silly me, kids don't care about napkins when they're ripping cupcakes out of plastic trays and shoving brownies into their mouths.] We sold out in 7 minutes [A record - usually it's much less time] And I was on my way home again.

Now I've got to dig back into one of my NY submissions and prepare for some rewrites.

Overall I can't complain that I didn't have a productive week. Now I have to think of something else to complain about.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow day

Why bother having a major snow storm on a day when the kids are already off from school?

We're having a serious accumulation of the white stuff today, which puts a damper on a couple of my plans to actually go out. Heck, it can all wait. DH is working from home, so he's rather jaunty this morning.

The upside, I normally go to the office on Fridays, but I went on Tuesday and due to those pesky budget cuts, I have to limit my hours so I'm off today. Down side, I can't pop in and pick up my paycheck.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Virtue of Patience

Today I'm over at Star-Crossed Romance talking about something I have little of: Patience. Dorp by and give me a shout out!

Vacation or Hiatus?

Today is the second week day of Winter Recess, which means the kids are home all day, every day for the whole week.

Usually I get very little done during these 'vacations' - for me they're more like interruptions of life as I know it.

I'm plugging away slowly at everything, but it ain't easy. Yesterday I got a bit of editing done AND I finished the draft of the short story I'm planning to submit to Nocturne Bites. Now it has to cool for a day or two, but I want to get it out ASAP. Since the line is new, I want to get something submitted fast before the editors get inundated with submissions, as I'm sure they will. With all the paranormal authors out there, it's only a matter of time before the in-box is flooded.

Today, I'm off to the office. Budget meetings are throwing my little neighboring township into a frenzy and I'm swamped - which for a change I don't mind. I like being busy at the office. Got to drag the kids out of bed and drop them off by my mother for the morning, then listen to people argue about whether or not to stop providing water and coffee for the office workers in order to save money. SIGH. When will they learn? Keeping morale up will help keep expenses down, people. Pay attention .

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chatting Today

As much as I don't want to move NCW from the top of my blog, I thought I'd better post, so I'm announcing my chat later today at Novelspotters.

I'll be on from 3:30 to 4:00 pm talking about my Amber Quill releases. I'll have some sneak peeks for Thieves in Paradise, coming in May and Wolfsbane II, scheduled for release this summer and I'll have a very easy contest if you're interested in winning a free dowload of one of my Amber Heat releases.

So drop by and say hello if you get the chance!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Have a Yummy Valentine's Day!

This is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. He's the star of FOX's upcoming paranormal drama, New Amsterdam and I'm auditioning him for a role as the hero in one of my stories. Or maybe all of them.

Sizzle. Snap. Pop.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


It bugs me sometimes when I feel like a hypocrit.

Had one of those moments this morning. I'm reading a best-selling book from a best-selling series by a best-selling author. Love the book, love the author, love the series - but it's FULL of passive verbs. Everything is was and were. Telling, telling, telling.

When I edit, I spend a lot of time on passive verbs. Okay, wait a minute - Ursula does. She tends to highlight the was/weres and was/ings in manuscripts and suggest authors get rid of as many as possible. She redlines passive usage with a vengeance.

And then she picks up a book that is lauded by critics and finds all the things she just spent two weeks trying to weed out of someone else's ms.

Should the authors be miffed about this?

Well, I couldn't blame them if they were. It's hard to deal with the - If she can do it, why can't I? syndrome. But we've all been told this time and time again.

Just because Nora Roberts head pops doesn't mean we can get away with it. Just because e. e. cummings didn't use capital letters blah blah blah.

Is it fair?

No. But it's the way it is. Ursula feels bad about it, but she's going to continue highlighting those passive verbs and changing 'he was watching' to 'he watched' wherever she finds it. She's going to continue her battle against ever-shifting POV, telling vs. showing and when someday an author she'd edited gets to the NY Times Bestseller List and looks back and says, 'Damn that Ursula, she wouldn't let me do all the things I wanted to do!' She will sit back and sigh, 'My work here is done.'

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I finished Wolfsbane 2 today!!!

Of course first I had to throw out all the stuff I wrote yesterday, which replaced the stuff I had thrown out the day before, which replaced the stuff I had thrown out the day before.

Writing is rewriting, as they say.

Ahhhhhhhhh, the thrill of victory.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I'm closing in on the end of Wolfsbane 2: Leader of the Pack. I seem to be caught in the never-ending ending though...

I could wrap everything up quickly and relatively cleanly, but leave myself with the feeling that I've 'wrapped it up' or I could draw it out a bit and hopefully give a little more closure and some more satisfaction to the ending without making it seem like I'm dragging it out.

I'm not trying to fill up word count, my characters just don't seem to want to leave the stage yet.

Do you ever want to say to your characters, "Enough already, you're done." Or do you feel that everything should play out as long as it takes to play out? Have you ever read a book and felt like the scenes had been artificially stretched to make them fit between the front and back covers which had to be a certain width apart? I have...and I don't want to do that with this story.

How do you know when enough is enough? If you had to choose, would you prefer a story that ended somewhat abruptly, but with all the ends tied up, or one that went on to give you just a little bit more than you really needed to feel fulfilled?

I know the best answer is neither, but if you had to choose? I guess I'd go for the little bit extra.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Opinions on S.E.X

Fellow author Lauren Dane has a wonderful post up on her blog about S.E.X. She brings up some fabulous points about the heights [and often depths] authors will go to in order to write “hot.”

I agree with Lauren 100% that what’s ‘erotic’ doesn’t necessarily lie in how many sex scenes you can cram into your story, or how many pages each one takes up. And this post at Star-Crossed Romance by Lynda K. Scott sums up my feelings on ‘erotic’ language.

It’s not what words you use, or how many pages you fill up with sex, or how many positions you can invent that makes a story erotic or sexy, or even good. It’s how you can make your readers feel about your characters and what they’re doing that’s important.

Like Lauren, I’ve read books with relatively few sex scenes that I thought were incredibly sexy. A smoldering look can be sexier than a chapter-long, ten-position roll in the sheets if it’s used properly. For me, to be perfectly honest, it’s the buildup that’s far sexier than anything else.

One of the reasons I’m a huge fan of Karen Marie Moning is because her stories, IMHO, build the reader up to the breaking point. By the time her characters actually have sex, I’m dying for it to happen. The actual scene may only be a page or so long, but it’s a mental release for me, as it’s a physical and emotional release for the characters. I’m a firm believer that one of the best parts of sex is the anticipation. The excitement should begin to build long before the characters hit the bedroom [or the floor or the wall or the backseat, it doesn’t matter where] and have the reader literally aching for the moment when they finally get it together. That’s sexy.

My goal has always been to write stories that make readers desperate to turn the pages before and after the sex scenes [or love scenes] since not everything I write is erotic romance. I want readers to find as much satisfaction in a story where the hero and heroine don’t make love until the final chapter, as they do in my erotic romances where sex is an integral part of the plot.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Epiphanies and phantom titles

Fellow writer Cora Zane was talking about epiphanies on her blog. A timely post, since I just had an epiphany the other day with regards to my WIP - Wolfsbane 2.

I'd been laboring along, working with a page from my calendar so I could keep all the important days of the week straight and follow the full moon in a reasonably accurate fashion. [Full moons being important to werewolves and all] and the other day it occurred to me in one of those DUH moments that the 'climax' to to speak of the story needs to be on the night OF THE FULL MOON. Not, as I had previously plotted, a week BEFORE the full moon.

What was I thinking?

I have no idea why on earth I would plot a werewolf story to take place entirely before the full moon. I didn't realize my massive error until I got ready to begin the final chapters, the big payoff, the final battle and thought to myself...gee, this would be so much cooler if the villain could transform into his wolf self right about...hey...wait a minute.

Why can't he?

Somebody tell the author to make the villain able to transform into his wolf self now, please.

A small voice came back to me and said, "The writer is on strike."

I said, "No, she's not. She's just having lunch. Get her back in here and tell her to change all this so that the full moon rises right about the time the villain is ready to put his dastardly deeds in motion."

"She won't like being disturbed," the voice said.

"I don't care," I said. "This is important. It will make the whole story so much better."

"Okay," said the voice. "But she gets cranky when she has to make revisions."

"Too bad," I said.

So I made the author change the whole ms and even print out a new calendar page for a different month so the full moon would fall exactly on the date that the villain does his stuff. Of course that took up a whole day - the rewriting and fixing, but now I'm ready to write the ending, and hopefully it will all make sense now and readers will go, Wow - how cool that all this just ends up happening on the night of the full moon and everything.

THEN, I had another one of those AHA moments. Totally unrelated to my WIP, I came up with another kick arse title for a book. Yes, this title rocks! I have no plot to go with it, no blurb, no nuthin' - but damn it's a faboo title. I must use it.

I have no idea how. SIGH.

Off to wait for another epiphany.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What they're saying...

about Skin!

I've never gotten reviews this fast before. Here's a sample of what they're saying about SKIN!

Five Cherries! [Skin is] ... fascinating and downright erotic. This intensely sensual and erotic story was so mesmerizing ... Needless to say, I commend the author on a job well done. – Viscaria, Whipped Cream
84! [Skin is] a sexy story that makes an erotic fetish out of body art...this book works because damn it’s hot – Mrs. Giggles
Grade A! Man, oh Man! Have you ever read a book that has you smiling like the Cheshire Cat? ...This book is a scorcher! Shira, Simply Romance Reviews
I'm always amazed when I manage to impress Mrs. Giggles. LOL.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Subconscious musings

Occasionally I have really cool dreams - like Thumbworld for instance and the time I was in the middle of a Stargate SG-1 episode, but most of the time my dreams are just random weirdness.

Like the other night, I dreamed about brownies. [Okay, this makes sense since I'm on a diet]. Someone had made a plate of deep, dark chocolate fudge brownies and left them on the table. I wanted to have one - and everyone around kept reminding me I was on a diet and I shouldn't have one. I was yelling at everyone, 'I just want one! Just ONE!'

And they wouldn't let me have one.

The dream world can be a cruel place.

Crueler still, last night I dreamed about Amy Winehouse.

I have no idea why. I don't listen to her music. Her faux bee hive and kohl-rimmed eyes turn me way off and I have a rule about avoiding trainwreck celebrities [Sorry, Britney - not that I ever was a fan].

Ms. Winehouse was in a police car. [Not a stretch from what I hear about her]. But oddly, in my dream, she was driving it.

I do think it's time for some mind-altering medication.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

He said, she said

There’s an excellent post up at Redlines and Deadlines about exactly the topic I wanted to talk about today.

Not that I want to turn my blog into a daily writing exercise, but on this timely topic, Dialogue Tags, I have another small rant.

No, it’s not about the authors I edit. It’s about an assignment my daughter was given in English class. Her teacher asked the class to come with as many synonyms for ‘said’ as they could.

While this might be a nice exercise in learning how to use a Thesaurus, as a writer and editor I had to object. She’s teaching them to do something that, as a writer, I’ve had to train myself NOT to do. Once again I say, it’s a wonder anyone learns to write at all when the skills you’re taught in school are sometimes exactly what you have to unlearn in order to become fiction author.

I cringed when my daughter explained her assignment and I told her, while it’s great to know synonyms for any word, SAID should not be considered a boring, mundane or useless word. I told her, when used properly, SAID is invisible. It fades into the background where it belongs and lets your dialogue show unencumbered.

You don’t need to say: “I’m not lying!” she insisted.

Or worse, “I’m telling the truth!” she proclaimed vehemently.

“I can’t stand all this arguing,” he whined.

“Neither can I,” she retorted.

SAID works, it fits and it’s fewer letters to type. Use it! But not after every single piece of dialogue. Then it gets repetitive, and repeats are another thing Ursula has a fit over, but that’s another topic.

Anyway, as the discussion continued, we went through a list of synonyms for SAID, and I opined petulantly on the merits of words like ‘hissed’ or ‘spat’ or ‘whispered.’ Occasional use is fine, but don’t make a habit of having your characters do anything with dialogue other than say it. It sparked a big debate with my husband whether or not you can ‘laugh’ dialogue. I say no, you really shouldn’t, and he said yes.

Finally, my daughter asked, “Can you quack dialogue?”

I said no, unless you’re a duck. And DH came up with what I believe is the perfect use of ‘quacked’ as a tag.

“AFFFFLAAAACK!” he quacked.

Can’t argue with that.