Thursday, October 29, 2009

I torture pumpkins

That's my favorite part of Halloween. The carving of the Jack-o-Lantern.

You wouldn't think I would enjoy it so much, since I love pumpkins in their natural, whole, orange, gourdy state, but I do derive a fiendish type of joy from plunging a ten-inch long knife into the virgin flesh of a big 'ol halloween squash.

I decided to record this year's bloody experiment for posterity, so here goes - The Death of Bartholemew J. Pumpkin.

He starts out in very nice shape for someone who is both round and squat. He looks happy, doesn't he?

Now, not so much. The interrogation went well. I got him to spill his guts without too much trouble. Bwahahahhaha

Ol' Bart turned out to be a bleeder though. Things got messy real quick.

The operation wasn't much of a success...but I did manage to get a black cat to grow out of his brain.

Next year, I'll try for bats.

What's your favorite part of Halloween?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Collected tidbits and Captain Tightpants

Yes, I did make it back from NJRW – I just haven’t had time to post until now.

The weekend adventure to say the least. Fortunately, I had my usual awesome roommate, Jen Baum, so even when the fire alarms went off at 4:00 AM Saturday morning [and at 5:00...and at 6:00] and we found ourselves standing outside in our pajamas in the rain while crow-bar wielding firemen wandered among us, we were still having a great time.

I originally thought I would devise a series of posts about things I learned at conference, but considering the main thing I came home with was a renewed desire to write, write, WRITE – I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging. So maybe I’ll just summarize the important takeaway points:

There are no absolutes in writing. I sat in a workshop where a well known, best selling author insisted to us that we should NEVER write a prologue and NEVER write an epilogue. I also sat in a workshop where a well-known best-selling author told us we should do whatever works for the story.

You have to make the time. I know this already, but it bears repeating because it’s very easy to lose sight of it. The published authors I heard from were all dedicated to their writing schedules. Without the drive to get things done, the money train never leaves the station.

Plain old promo doesn’t work. I don’t know how many piles of card-stock type book marks, printed press releases and book flats I saw that no one seemed to touch. If you want people to take your name home with them, give them a pen, a charm, a candle, a toy, a keychain, a pad of paper...basically any little object they might get some use out of. If you’re determined to go with a postcard, business card or run of the mill laminate book mark, at least attach it to a piece of candy. Chocolate gets attention. Cardboard does not.

Write the synopsis first. I know. This one hurts. I HATE synop...well. I don’t have to tell you. You know how I feel about synopses. They are vile, hateful, terrible, awful devices of torture that make me cringe in horror. Write them first. Get them out of the way, then the joy of typing ‘The End’ won’t be marred by the horror of having to sit down and write a book report about your own damn book. There should be a law.

Always check your ice bucket for holes. This one is self-explanatory.

If I think of anything else, I’ll post it. In the mean time, I’m off to work on edits for the sequel to SKIN.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bon Voyage!

Well, I evicted Onyx from my luggage, packed, unpacked, repacked, unpacked and decided I could fit everything in the smaller suitcase. Yay me! There's more room than you think, when you don't have a cat in there.

I have all my paperwork, my goodies for the goodie room, my spending money and my comfy shoes [and a pair of not so comfy shoes too]. I'm all ready to go.

For anyone who plans to be at NJRW's Put Your Heart in a Book Conference this weekend, look for me - I wear a sticker that says JAC and I hang out near any chocolate fountains, chocolate cakes, chocolate cookies or chocolate covered strawberries.

I also do my best to avoid the damnable, infernal, Balloon Arch of Satan which they insist on putting up in the lobby every year. Why couldn't they do something cool like a Stargate?? No, it has to be freakin' balloons. Shoot me.

I'll be back Monday, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. See ya then!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's hard to pack

With a cat in your luggage.

I'm trying to get ready for NJRW and the minute I put my suitcase out, I had fine furry friends investigating and setting up residence. I wish I could take my furbabies with me, but I don't have room to pack a litter box.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bigger is better

Yes. I'm still obsessed with temari. I came across some huge styrofoam balls at a garage sale and used them to make temari bases. I was a little intimidated at first with the prospect of making a bigger design, but I think this first one came out pretty good.

This is one project, but the two sides are different designs. It took two evenings to finish, that includes wrapping the base. If only I could write a novella in two evenings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I did some writing...

So I've been taking a break from writing lately. I haven't worked on my WIP in over a week. My brain is fried and I've been really scrambling to try to figure out what direction I want to go in.

I decided to not to work on anything until after I get back from NJRW this coming weekend. I'm hoping that the conference will energize me as it has in the past and I'll come home with some new ideas that really get my writing blood fired up. And I'm also hoping that a self-imposed exile from my fictional worlds will make my heart grow a bit fonder and I'll look forward to getting back to work. In the past, nothing has made me more eager to write than not writing.

Of course, that being said, I had to write something. So rather than work on a WIP, I actually sat down yesterday and wrote to my congressman.

I bet you didn't know I had my very own congressman, did you? LOL. Well, he's not my personal congressman. I share him with a bunch of other people who live around here. I decided it was time to tell him what I thought about the health care debacle...I mean debate.

Here's my letter. If anyone out there would like to use it as a basis for their own letter to their own congressman or government representative, please feel free to do so.

Dear Congressman ___________,

I’m writing to you to express my concern about the national healthcare crisis. In following political news for the past several months I’ve noticed an alarming omission in the health insurance debate. It seems that there is a great desire by our government for every American to have ‘health insurance’ when the hot button issue should be assuring that every American has ‘health care’.

As someone who has been self-employed at one time and was then responsible for obtaining private health insurance for my family, I’m acutely aware that having health insurance does not always equate to having access to adequate and affordable health care. Too many Americans are drowning under the burden of paying exorbitant health insurance premiums, which while it may leave them covered in the event of hospitalization still leaves them with little or no money to afford co-payments, medications or incidental medical expenses. I’m sadly aware of many families where the cost of insurance prohibits spending for anything else. What good is having health insurance if you still can’t afford to go to the doctor?

I’ve read about the cost of health care skyrocketing due to people who wait until they are seriously ill to seek medical attention. Making health insurance mandatory and fining those who do not obtain it [with or without government subsidies or thresholds] will not solve this problem. Money that should go to pay for health care will still be funneled into paying for insurance, and the cost of that will still preclude many individuals from actually being able to obtain timely, routine health care to prevent serious illness.

What America needs is not more health insurance or laws forcing people to give more of their hard-earned money to insurance companies. We need a system by which Americans can afford to go to the doctor and obtain medical care at reasonable prices from the most basic checkups and health screenings to treatment for the life-threatening and catastrophic illnesses that every day threaten to send more American families into bankruptcy.

I am respectfully asking that you vote to give Americans peace of mind with regards to the health care debate and do what you can to see the emphasis in this issue shifts from the importance of health ‘insurance’ to the importance of health ‘care’. I strongly believe that a reduction in the stress involved with living under the constant fear of losing one’s health insurance, or of losing one’s home to medical-bill induced bankruptcy will go a long way to improving the overall health of the American people.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

So there you have it. It ain't fiction, but I do think it needed to be said.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wanna bite?

If you're hungry...and you're a vampire, go check out the vampire bonanza over at Smutketeers today. The ladies there all have vampire books coming out soon and they're talking about the allure of the hero with with bite.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I dream in color

Colors of thread, that is.

I've become obsessed with making temari. Now, when I go to sleep, I see thread crossing and looping and wrapping around in coordinating and contrasting colors.

This is the first one I made that actually looks just like the picture in the pattern.

These are just random patterns I made up.

This one turned out different than I intended but still pretty cool.

For more information on how to make Japanese temari, and what some really expert ones look like, check out Click on the How To, Patterns and Album section for some gorgeous photos of temari like the ones I made printouts of shown in my pictures. And be prepared to become obsessed.

Friday, October 09, 2009


So if you blog, by now you may have heard about the new FTC Guidelines governing disclosure of payments or non-payments in the case of product endorsements or reviews.

This quote comes from an article about the new regulations, which can impose fines on those who break the rules:

"We’re acting to ensure that bloggers don’t create a bias in the consumer decision-making process,” said Mary Engle, acting deputy director for the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers need to know that what they’re reading is technically an advertisement.”

This would be noble if it wasn't so half-assed. Anyone been surfing the web lately? Where is the FTC in relation to those insipid ads you see all over the place - Obama asks Moms to Return to School!, Local Mom loses 47 pounds following This One Old Rule, I earn $77/hr while I sleep! Come on - that's NOT false advertising? Yet it remains.

Have you ever caught one of those infomercials on TV that consist of a string of glowing testimonials by people ‘just like you and me’ who have become overnight millionaires using those get rich quick schemes where they sell household products, or they distribute reports or they buy and sell real estate or the most nebulous one – ‘they place ads’ and the money rolls in and now than can retire at 35 and you can too? Seriously. NOT false advertising?? Come on. Yet they remain.

Isn't the whole point of advertising to create a bias in the consumer decision-making process? If advertising wasn’t mostly false [let’s face it] would those Whoppers really look so good on TV? Take one out of the box, they’re not as juicy and delicious in real life as they appear on the screen. Is your candy bar really as rich and creamy as it looks in the commercial? Or is it a bit crumbly and sickeningly sweet? [Candy IS evil, remember.] Tell me again how those models in VOGUE are NOT airbrushed. Their skin is naturally flawless, their eyes are naturally brilliant sapphire blue and [well this part is true] they really ARE a size zero because they don’t eat [candy OR Whoppers]. Notice how the FTC doesn’t seem to be doing anything about those advertisements.

Why do my kids want the latest video game? Because the commercials make it look like a full-blown 3-D interactive mind-blowing adventure they can have right in their own living room. Not because it’s actually really frustrating and impossible to win. Why do I want to go see that great new comedy that just came out? Because the trailer shows a sampling of the hilarious, madcap entertainment my $11.00 can buy me. Not because those 30 seconds of trailer represent the only 30 seconds of the movie that are worth watching.

In the meantime, I can be handed a free copy of a book written by my best friend, I can read it, love it and write a glowing review [that's maybe a bit biased because hey, this is my friend] and suddenly I'm up for a fine if I don't disclose that I got the book for free?

Someone, anyone, anywhere, I beg you. Give me a break. Consumers need a lot more protection, but not from rabid bloggers.

* And please note my new disclaimer in the side bar. I do not endorse or recommend any of the products or services mentioned in this blog article and I have received none of them for free. Nor would I want to.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Goin' to the Chapel

I haven't done much writing this week. I have a cold and my brain is totally fried by that stuffy-headed feeling. I haven't even read any romance because it seems much more comfortable just to stare straight ahead, not blinking and willing my nose not to run.

Yeah, TMI. Sorry about that.

Anyway. A week like this would normally have me questioning my status as a romance writer. After all, how can a romance writer NOT be in the mood to write romance? And, usually, cold medicine gives me a bit of a creative buzz [ask any writer, they'll tell you - a good dose of Sudafed and your fingers are flyin' on the keyboard] Maybe it's the weather too - cool, breezy - really good sleeping weather. Who can concentrate on writing when sleeping seems like such a good idea?

Fortunately, I figured out how I know I'm still a romance writer. I'm still a romance writer [who is currently out sick] because I'm totally jazzed to watch the wedding of Pam Beasley and Jim Halpert on THE OFFICE tomorrow night. Pam and Jim are an awesome couple. They're my idea of romance. They were friends first. They had a repertoire of shared language and inside jokes. They always looked out for each other and thought about each other all the time. They had their ups and downs, their dark moment [more than one] and they still ended up together. Tomorrow night is the HEA all the fans have been waiting for. It's like the last chapter in a long, mushy romance novel.

I can't wait.

So, the romance is still in there somewhere. I've got it. It's just taking a break until I can breathe again and hold both my eyelids open at once. Now I just have to try to refrain from throwing rice at the television.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Candy is Evil

So, just in time for Halloween, TIME comes out with this bit of absurdity in which a researcher in the UK posits that there is a link between children who eat candy and adults who commit crimes.

The study in question comes out of Cardiff University and brings what it believes to be incontrovertible evidence that the consumption of candy leads to criminal activity.

Researcher Simon Moore discovered that "kids with the worst problems tend to be impulsive risk takers, and that these kids had terrible diets - breakfast was a Coke and a bag of chips,"

He further discovered that: regardless of other environmental and lifestyle factors, like family-income level, parenting style or children's level of education, the data suggested it was only the frequency of confectionery consumption in childhood that strongly predicted adult violence.

So there you have it, folks. Just as the kid who is still drinking from a bottle at age 2 or sucking on a pacifer until Preschool, the kids who eats candy will grow up to be a criminal. That explains a lot. Especially since crime is such a relatively NEW know, it's only been around since they invented candy.

I'm glad this study comes out of the UK. If it was an American study I would be on my rant about wasting money on dumbness, but if Cardiff University wants to pay someone to link candy and crime, that's their business. I'm off to buy a big bag of Snickers to hand out to the hooligans on October 31st. I have no doubt at least one of the little rug rats who shows up at my door dressed as a hobo and waving a hollow plastic pumpkin at me will grow up to be a serial killer. But I also believe that one of that serial killer's fondest memories will be of getting high on sugar after a lawless night of Trick or Treating.

Call me an anarchist.