Monday, November 28, 2005

New Release

Howdy all! I just had a new story release from Liquid Silver Books - a novella in the Zodiac Series, called THE HANGING MAN.

The Hanging Man – Leigh Wyndfield
In another world, the Sagittarius and Taurus people are at war. The Taurean King spurns all things magical, including his own daughter’s hidden powers. An outcast, Gabriella Etall ghosts through the castle, forever alone, banned from going forth into the outside world so her magic will not be discovered by the kingdom’s magic-hating subjects. When she stumbles upon a captured Sagittarius hanging in the castle dungeon, she feels the hum of another’s magic on her skin for the first time. Now, she will have to decide if she will betray her family for one night of bliss or let her chance for fulfillment pass her by forever.



Read an excerpt!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Men: Let this be a warning to you!

So I just read the following newspaper article:

Jury Rules Against Woman in Genital Gluing

GREENSBURG , Pa. (Nov. 5) - A Westmoreland County jury on Friday ordered a woman to pay $46,200 to her ex-boyfriend for gluing his genitals to his abdomen.

Jurors found in favor of Kenneth Slaby of Pittsburgh in his civil case against Gail O'Toole of Murrysville after three days of testimony and ordered the payment for pain, suffering and emotional distress, according to television station KDKA.

"For all the pain and suffering I've been through, and the embarrassment, I don't think it's enough,'' Slaby told reporters after the verdict.

Slaby's lawsuit said the two broke up in 1999 after dating for 10 months, and he began dating someone else. After he broke up with his other girlfriend, Slaby said, O'Toole invited him over to her home on May 7, 2000, where he fell asleep.

He said he woke up to find that O'Toole had used Super Glue to stick his genitals to his abdomen, glued his buttocks together and spelled out a profanity on his back in nail polish.

Slaby said O'Toole told him that her actions were payback for their breakup, and he had to walk a mile to a gas station to call for help. He pressed charges and O'Toole pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and spent six months on probation.

Ummmm.... So. What to say? A friend commented that there is a book in this, and part of me agrees - not a romance for sure. Heh. I can't help but think this guy did something to his ex-girlfriend that isn't in the article and my writer's mind has come up with all kinds of scenarios that might inspire this behavior. Depending on what he did, six months probation and $46,200 might be worth it....

Bewitched Again

Once again - another promo for this book - this time for “Night Mares” by MaryJanice Davidson

Triskelion Press

At a birthday party for the Disdaine Triplets, the little darlings decide they aren’t pleased with the party or the guests and use magic to create their own fun. That night the town and all its residents are visited by the infamous Night Mares who wreak mayhem as only giant ponies prancing through your house can. (First episode with story & characters created by Lynn Warren.)

All proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the International Red Cross.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Spam-bloggers - a New Breed

I wanted to apologize for spammers who are hitting my blog. Today alone, Arianna Hart put a comment on the post I wrote last week and BAM! I had six spammers hit and not just last week's post, either. Two months ago, I spent over an hour combing through my blog, looking for what turned out to be an ad for enhanced orgasms and finally found it months back in posts. Very annoying.

What has puzzled me is when they post - it seems to come right after I post and then after any of you post. Post comments so I can run an experiment.

Realize I try to go after these guys as fast as possible, but I've given up policing past a month back. It's just too much of a pain in the buttocks to comb through. (I figure I can tell all of you my strategy - God knows these people don't actually read my blog before they post.) Hopefully, you'll understand and ignore them. It might be possible that some of you really do want to learn about insurance in Illinois or Elvis sightings - I don't want to take away every opportunity for you! Ha!


His Dark Desires

Looks like Jennifer St. Giles, award winning author of The Mistress of Trevelyan (a fantastic book!), has come out with another one from Pocket Books.

Read excerpt here!

The Back of the Book Blurb:
You are in danger. Trust no one. The terrifying words from a mysterious letter echo in Juliet Bucheron's mind. Destitute ever since her husband disappeared in the Civil War, Juliet has turned her New Orleans ancestral home into a boarding house -- despite the rumors of ghosts, the whispers of scandal, and the stain of murder. But even more unsettling is Juliet's new tenant, a handsome stranger named Stephen Trevelyan. Wealthy, educated, and seductively compelling, Stephen fills Juliet's heart with uncontrollable longing -- and her head with suspicion. Something, she senses, is lurking beneath the surface. And someone is stalking the hallways after midnight. As the danger draws nearer, Juliet wonders if she can really trust Stephen. But as he pulls her closer, she knows she cannot resist matter what the price.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Getting Out of Bed in the Morning

Today is the first day in five weeks I've written anything new. Yes, we're talking huge SOMETHING going on in my life. I've given this a lot of thought and that SOMETHING is not writer's block, since the very definition of writer's block is the inability to write, no matter how hard one tries at it.

I have not been trying.

I have, in fact, been studiously avoiding my PC at all costs. I haven't been answering emails, for example, to the tune of a thousand emails in my box unread. I haven't gone to chats, updated my website, or sent out my newsletter. In fact, I've done just about everything in my power to avoid my computer, since getting close to it might lead to actually attempting to write and that was something I just could not do.

Why? I don't know. It's true that I've had pretty significant issues in my personal life. My grandfather died, for example, and I told you I hurt my back. I've received a large amount of rejections recently. But my usual MO is to work through all this stuff by working. Not this time, it appears.

A while back, I'd pulled down Lawrence Block's writing book TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT from my bookshelf and made it all the way to the living room before abandoning it unread. It's old, from back in the 80's, and my mother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas two years ago. Since it was away from my PC, I picked it up last week.

When I opened it, Lawrence himself had written "Leigh - Go For It! - Lawrence Block" on the front page --- I had no idea that my MIL had it signed by the author. None at all. "Yeah," I thought bitterly. "I've really been going for it, all right." I flipped to the article on rejection and read it, looking for inspiration - looking for anything at all, actually, since I've been feeling lately like a cocaine addict right before she hits bottom. It was the usual blather about hanging in there and blah blah. But he's pretty funny, so I kept reading along. At the end of last week, I got to his article called TIME OUT.

"Consider if you will the pattern I have established for myself over the past several weeks. Each morning, as is my custom, I awaken around seven. I get out of bed, see my shadow, and dive back into bed, where I contrive to spend the ensuing four hours with the covers pulled over my head..." He goes on to basically describe my life for the last month.

Holy shit! I thought, reading on. I'm not the only one suffering from this non-writer's block SOMETHING or other. He suggests accepting this as part of the process some writers experience. He suggests not "letting everything else go to hell along with the writing." Which is exactly what I've been doing.

But what spoke to me the most and helped stop the skipping record I've been living lately is this quote -- "One thing I've found to be true for most of us is that, whether we enjoy writing or not, one thing we enjoy a good deal less is Not Writing. Unfortunately, it seems to be true that Not Writing is occasionally a part of the writing process. And it's a lot more tolerable, and probably better all around, if I can learn to trust the process."

Today I wrote new pages for the first time in a month. On one hand, that's pretty sad that I missed those days and will never have them back. But I feel better for writing, since Not Writing pretty much sucks. And I found I'd forgotten the thrill of a written page, the pure high I get when I build a scene from my mind, the glow of a man's wet skin in the candlelight, the burn of magic swirling inside my heroine, the tension between two people who will one day learn to love each other. I'd forgotten and the mere act of writing brought all that tumbling back to me. Thank God.

Another story from Gena!

“The Witches of Brokenoggin and the Dead Who Love Them” featured in BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEVAMPYRED by Gena Showalter from Triskelion Press

Welcome to Brokenoggin Falls, where the housewives are not only desperate, they’re Witches! (And one of them might be a Harpy) The spells cast by moonlight frequently go awry. And there are times when toads and Chihuahuas seem abundant as black flies in the summer, the dragons are a little touchy, the Forest Trolls are in danger of extinction from teeny-boppers, the Gryphons need help conceiving and...the scientist are crunchy and good with ketchup...

All proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the International Red Cross.

In which the well-endowed Tawdry triplets accidentally raise the dead while dealing with an overzealous peeping John.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Help the Red Cross!

This is for a great cause, all! Susan Grant is also in this anthology! “A Dance Through the Garden of Good and Evil” featured in BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEVAMPYRED by Susan Grant
(Triskelion Press)

Welcome to Brokenoggin Falls, where the housewives are not only desperate, they’re Witches! (And one of them might be a Harpy) The spells cast by moonlight frequently go awry. And there are times when toads and Chihuahuas seem abundant as black flies in the summer, the dragons are a little touchy, the Forest Trolls are in danger of extinction from teeny-boppers, the Gryphons need help conceiving and...the scientist are crunchy and good with ketchup...

All proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the International Red Cross.

Friday, October 14, 2005

When is a Hero a Hero?

So, in order to take my mind off my back, I thought I’d tell you about a non-romance romance book I just read. Oh, you know the kind. They parade around as another genre, but really, at the heart of it all, it’s a romance.

When I was in the shower, I debated telling you the name of this very celebrated SF/Fantasy/Paranormal author. I’m big on throwing it out there and calling a spade a spade. But then I thought that sure as God made little apples, someone who reads this is her best friend, will forward the link to her and then I’ll end up on the receiving end of unpleasantness, no matter how true what I’m about to say is. So we’ll call her the Author and leave it at that.

Okay, so here’s the set up. It’s WWI. Evil witch step-monster (really, she’s a witch) has seduced the heroine’s father and sent him to his death in the trenches for his money. Only she’s made a boo-boo, since she forgot to have hubby change his will, so she must keep her step daughter alive to have access to the money. Using black magic, she traps the heroine to the house by cutting off her pinky finger and burying under the hearthstone. The heroine, it turns out, is also magically gifted. She is able to slip out and visit a nearby field, where she meets her old crush, injured in the war.

So far so good. Here’s where I started to get mildly annoyed.

The hero is a magical master of air (the heroine will become one of fire). When his plane is shot down, he is already in a bad mental place, killing people when his job has always been one of protecting human life. When the plane crashes, the earth collapses around him and he’s tortured by beasties. To save himself, he cuts off his magic, which was attracting the evil monsters.

Up to here, I was with her. When we’re in the hero’s point of view, I found him a bit whiny and a little too sorry for himself, but my gut reaction was – how bold! She’s really set up a hero who has a far way to go to be whole again! Fantastic.

But while the heroine grows, learning not from the hero (which would have made sense in my opinion since he’s another master) but from her dreams, the hero is a wreck and stays that way. He opens up his magic to save the heroine at the end, but the moment something goes wrong, he’s in a pathetic ball on the floor (literally) with the heroine having to save them both. Boo! Boo! Boo!

Well, it’s not a romance, you say huffily. He doesn’t have to grow!

And my answer is this – why in the heck would the heroine WANT him? I mean, he’s hot. Fine. But the heroine, who I’ve spent 500+ pages with tiny print getting to know, is this strong, rocking lady fighting against evil. What on earth attracts her to the hero?? I couldn’t figure it out and suspected the author was not going to have them be together in the end. They were, by the way. The author stuck her heroine with a useless wuss. I was saddened.

In my opinion, a hero is a guy who grows, overcomes his weaknesses and triumphs. He doesn’t have to save the heroine for me to like him, either. He just has to be lovable for both me and the heroine. Someone who can’t stop feeling sorry for himself isn’t heroic. You had a horrible thing happen to you – how terrible! Now get over it and help the save the heroine from certain death, dammit!!!!

This hero was stuck in limbo. There was page after page of nightmares all the way to the end of the book. Every time the heroine met him for another useless talk in the meadows, he jumps, totally startled. Come ON! She can sneak up on you once, but really! Put your big boy panties on and let’s start acting like a man.

I realize the author was carefully writing a romance that didn’t come off looking like a romance. I’m down with that. God knows, as an art form, romance writing is considered a joke. But as I read, I became convinced that by focusing so completely on the heroine and short changing the hero, she actually short changed her heroine as well. It was hard to be happy for a woman who is with a man solely because he’s hot and she’s had a years old crush on him. There must be more or the whole story falls apart and your reader gets to THE END calling bullshit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Sad Truth

I'm going to try to tell this story without whining, but it's hard, so forgive me in advance. Theoretically, it should explain why I've been silent for almost a month now. It's kind of a pathetic story, but I did learn something very important out of it, so maybe it wasn't all for nothing. You might learn something too, so read on!

About 9 months ago, my back went from being "not right" to just plain painful. So I trucked on in to my doctor, who told me I needed to do yoga. I'm in pain, right? Lying in bed at night, my upper back and neck were burning and I kept thinking, "I'm 33 years old. This just can't be right." The yoga helped me clear my head and I really enjoyed it. But my back pain didn't go away.

On the first of March, I went back to my doctor. I had to lie and say it was an emergency, since getting in to see her would be a three month wait if I didn't. Anyway, she tells me to up my yoga to three times a week. I push back and say I've been going for three times a week. She sends me for x-rays, but won't refer me to a specialist. She says at my age, I don't need to see one.

Two weeks later I'm diagnosed with arthritis. Um. Okay. Can't do anything for arthritis but take Tylenal and deal with the pain. I'm crushed, but what can you do? A 33 year old with arthritis is rare and, according to the internet, means that I'll have serious problems later on. My stress level jumps, but I power on, trying to ignore it.

Months go by. My pain is steadily increasing. Then one day last month, I'm reading the mail and I see that Aetna (my insurance company) has gotten rid of the referral process. I can book my own appointment with any specialist I want. Marching upstairs, I call a friend who works in a physical therapy office and ask if she can recommend a non-surgical orthopedic. She does. I comb the Aetna site and see I can go there. I call and make an appointment.

The upshot of it all is that I was misdiagnosed with arthritis. What my doctor was seeing was not arthritis at all, but rather the gooey fluid in three of the discs in my back leaking out. Which explains the constant burn in my neck and upper back, since the tissue around my spine doesn't really care for that gooey fluid to be hanging around.

So for the last two weeks, I've been in serious physical therapy, traction - the works. Trying to basically untwist my spine and get my vertebrae off my discs. What saddens me is that while I can stop the damage, the discs that are damaged are damaged for good. The gooey insides aren't going back inside, although getting the vertebrae off the discs will allow the fluid to retract somewhat.

What caused this? Sitting at my PC. It's as simple as that. Because I spend so many hours here, writing without a break, I've jacked my back up for life.

What can YOU do to not end up where I am? Get up every 20 minutes and stretch. Keep the weight off and your posture correct. Staying at your PC long enough that you become tired and hunch forward is the beginning of the end, my friends. Keep your shoulders down and your head in alignment with your spine. Work out, concentrating on building your back and stomach muscles.

What did I learn from all this? I could go on a serious rant, but this has gotten too long as it is. The upshot is if you're in pain, get a freaking second opinion. I knew my back was jacked up. I laid in bed every night thinking "Jesus, I'm in pain." My husband said one day out of the blue, "I'm concerned about you. There isn't a day that goes by that you don't mention that you're in pain. Yoga isn't working." Listen to your body and if you're dealing with a doctor who won't listen, go to someone else. I was so afraid of being a "whiner" that I ignored my health. Because I let things go so long, the muscles throughout my back are a mess. I am riddled with knots and all kinds of complications. Yesterday in Physical Therapy, I cried. CRIED!!! I have a firm policy against that. Six months ago, things wouldn't have been anywhere near this bad.

Take your back seriously, ladies. Once things go down hill, it's hell to get them right again.

New Books!!

Howdy all!

As I was looking through the bookstore yesterday, I saw the following books I'm really excited about!

First - Kick @ss - which has several kick ass authors in it, including two of my favorites - Angela Knight and MaryJanice Davidson.

Read excerpts:
Angela's Warfem
Passion instantly blazes between the two superhuman warriors, but old enemies and new lies may tear them apart. And Alina dreads what Baird will do when he finds out about the secret she’s been keeping for the past twenty years. But she soon discovers she’s not the only one keeping secrets.
MaryJanice's Misadventures of Boo
Former police officer Gregory wonders how life can be so unfair. Recently, he was turned into a vampire and to make matters worse, he has met his soulmate (that is, if he had a soul). The problem is his beloved wants to kill him as Boo is a bona fide vampire hunter.

Also - check out Angela Knight's MERCENARIES!

Read an excerpt!

Beautiful Trinity Yeager's mission: join Nathan August's star-hopping team of mercenary soldiers. With one condition: Trinity must prove her resilience as a lover for him and his first officer, Sebastian Cole. Trinity not only sees Nathan's bet. She raises it... Now, from galactic dens of depravity to far-reaching planets of dominant females and strapping male slaves, Trinity, Sebastian, and Nathan join forces, risk flesh and blood, and push the boundaries of erotic adventure in order to protect, honor, and service.

Finally, check out: “Candy Cox and the Big Bad (Were) Wolf” featured in BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEVAMPYRED by PC Cast. PC Cast is not only witty and wonderful as a person, but this story is sure to be a scream!

All proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the International Red Cross.

Godiva Tawdry casts a spell and burned-out school teacher Candy Cox finds the sexy young were-lover of her dreams. But when she finds out he’s really the pack slut, she sets out to “teach” him a life lesson. It’s never smart to piss off a woman who makes a career of disciplining teenagers

Monday, September 19, 2005

E-books and Harlequin

This weekend, I went to a mini-conference that had a great cast of speakers, all speaking about epublishing. Jennifer Skully spoke about her career and what e-books have done to build her writing resume. It was an inspiring speech and those of you who are looking for a way to break up and out through epublishing should take a look at Jennifer’s career (she also writes spicy romance as Jasmine Haynes).

But I think the most interesting information came out of a talk given by Malle Vallik, VP of new business for Harlequin. Here's a little bit of what she said:

* Next month, HQ is starting an e-book program consisting of 40 titles (reprints and a few new releases). These books will be available on the e-Harlequin site and from
* is partnering with HQ to record HQ's books, which will be available for download to your MP3 and i-pod. Brenda Novak will be one of the first authors recorded.
* E-harlequin has serialized romance stories (if you haven't read them) to generate traffic on the site and let readers try an author.
* E-harlequin has been trying interactive writing, to let readers vote on plot twists for these stories. Telling stories in the future will, they think, be more interactive.
* Harlequin is trying to come up with ways to use new technology, such as our mobile phones, to increase interaction with the reader. HQ has a mobile phone test with Vocel, where HQ novellas will be sent to people's cell phone in daily chunks of 500 or so words for a small charge.
* HQ has been putting Manga out in Japan now for years (these are graphic novels which are more and more popular here these days). They plan to test two new lines -- Pink for 12 to 16 year olds and Violet for 16 and up.
* HQ and Oxygen are teaming up to put out series books as movies.

I found her talk fascinating. HQ really is looking for new ways to deliver stories to people.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reflections on the Big Apple

I'm a travel freak. I love it, especially if I'm traveling with someone who knows the lay of the land and speaks the language. That rarely happens and, as much as I like to think of myself as a world traveler, if I'm really honest, I can get strung out as a bat, slipping into super-bitch mode when you least expect it. But as I've gotten older, I've kept my calm like a champ. (I tell my husband that if he thinks my behavior was bad, just think how much WORSE it would have been if I hadn’t been controlling myself.) Part of the problem is I don't like to miss things, so I take the time to be early. If you make me late because you're messing around, not managing your time like a good little travel companion, then the wrath will be unleashed. Your lack of planning should not be my emergency.

My husband, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and I all traveled up to NYC with the express purpose of seeing my sister-in-law, Lauren, get her hair cut. Yes, yes, it sounds insane, but my mother-in-law gave her a hair makeover with the What Not to Wear hair guy, which thrilled Lauren's socks off, since it is her favorite show. And since Lauren had the same hairdo since she was 11, this was nerve wracking for her. The haircut was actually a masterpiece. He cut it one strand of hair at a time with a razor, an assistant holding her hair for him while he worked. She really did look amazing afterwards.

The rest of the trip went it fits and jerks. I realized for the first time that others, not me, don't like to plan (this person said it was too stressful), so we had odd moments where none of us knew what to do. I did get in a quick drink in with my agent (I love her), we saw the city at night from the top of the Empire State Building, we walked and walked, we shopped, we went to a comedy club, but there were dead times where everyone tried to figure out where the others wanted to go without seeming pushy.

I took a moment to reflect on my travel preferences during one of the many times I stood in front of the hotel waiting on the slower members of the group. I'm one of those people who feels antsy if I have a moment of dead time in my schedule. I'm a freak. I've accepted that. But I either need to be moving or have a drink in my hand. And oddly, I really don't care so much where I'm going so long as it's somewhere. I make plans, but easily cancel them when I get distracted. Once, my husband and I were in London and ended up dropping everything to hit the top ten pubs in the city according to our guidebook, since we accidentally stumbled on one of them for lunch. I find plans freeing, because you can always cancel them if something more interesting comes along. The idea that planning can be stressful is really quite fascinating to me. The more stressed I become, the more I plan. It calms my nerves hugely.

I guess I just hadn't considered that anyone else might like to travel differently. I mean, it makes sense that there would be other points of view, but the thought is just so bizarre to me. Is standing on the sidewalk for an hour after the appointed departure time discussing the day’s activities fun for anyone? Maybe so. I managed to make it through the trip without my temper slipping free. The dead times weren't bad and I really do need to learn to learn to deal with them.

One thing we all agreed on was the food. We ate lots of it. Often. And I was reminded once again that NYC is a great place to visit, with bustling nightlife and fantastic eats.


Looks like Gena Showalter has come out with another one!

Here's the blurb:
He’ll make you burn…
He is a Dragon, a rare breed of warriors able to transform into the legendary creature at will. Though the mighty warlord breathes fear into the minds of his enemies and fire into the blood of his women, no one has ever stirred his heart -- until he encounters Grace Carlyle of modern day Earth. He burns to possess this proud, alluring beauty . . . but he has sworn to kill her.

Journey to the mythical world of Atlantis, where the gods’ hid their greatest mistakes – the vampires, demons, dragons, and other creatures of legend – and experience white-hot passion, exciting adventure, and a love that defies the boundaries of time and magic.

Sounds pretty yummy, eh? Read an excerpt here!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Out of Office

Well, in my mad dash to book it out of town, I have once again neglected my blog - I apologize! But I'll be back on Monday, with hopefully a pulse on NYC. We'll see. Those folks are stingy with the info.

I'll see you all in the funny papers!!


Looks like Mary Janice Davidson has another one out, this time in hardback!

Read an excerpt here!

Meet Damon, Maltese, and Shakar - three noble brothers from an enchanted kingdom where wooing and pleasuring is practically a royal commandment. They're hot. Irresistible. And just a little different. But what woman doesn't like a guy with a few surprises?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Jaci Burton's GARDEN OF EDEN

You might be scratching your head, wondering why it took me since Thursday to finish reading Jaci Burton's GARDEN OF EDEN, a novella in the Ellora's Cavemen Legendary Tails II Anthology. I can only say it wasn't because her story isn't excellent!! I give it two thumbs up!

Read an excerpt here!

It has more to do with me trying to get my e-book reader piece of you-know-what set up on my PC. Yes, I did work installing software systems for seven years, but I have been defeated by an old Gemstar ebook reader. I should just go buy another, but it's the principle of the thing.

Anyway, so I finally just said flock it and printed her story. I stuck my tongue out at that piece of soon-to-be-trash and read it in the bathtub, something I would never have done with the Gemstar anyway. So there.

Having gotten over my peevishness, I settled back in the tub and had a diet coke and a smile reading this fantastic short. While there, I began to ruminate about how hard it is to have a true, I-love-you, Happily Ever After with a 15,000 word story. Jaci did an excellent job with it. But I've been struggling myself with my latest story, THE HANGING MAN, which releases in November from Liquid Silver Books.

I was also working with 15K, and with three sex scenes, there isn't much room to allow them to have the experiences for marriage level commitment. Or at least not with this particular hero and heroine. They were both pretty battered when they happened upon each other (as you might imagine since the name of the story is so dark) and they had a lot to work out before they were in a place where they could believably give their hearts and souls.

So I found it interesting to see how Jaci did it in her story and I'll be reading other shorts, looking for the secrets to building believable true love in 15,000 words. Feel free to leave recommendations for me to check out in the comments section on this blog!!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

An Early Halloween

First, I'm reading Jaci Burton's GARDEN OF EDEN and loving it. I hope to finish tonight and give you guys a book report tomorrow.

Second, here's a little early Halloween candy - I mean EYE CANDY!

WARNING - if you are on dial up, I'd skip this (I bet you thought I'd warn you not to view it because it has nude men in it?? Of COURSE it does, but if you're on this blog, you should expect that kind of thing - LOL!)

A random aside: I do not subscribe to the philosophy of the site that hosts this e-card. Personally, I'm a man lover, not a man hater. Explore that place at your own risk.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Hi all!

My first book, TRUE SEEING, has been re-released! Expanded, with all new sex scenes and spicy bits, this book underwent quite a face-lift from the first time it was out. It's about a psychic and a homicide detective and will always have a special place in my heart.

I seem to be picking up a "male nude torso" theme to my book covers these days - heh. There are worse things, I'm sure. At least he doesn't have scary, green nipple rings like the guy who came to replace my gutters a couple weeks ago. I'm still a bit scarred by that.

Read excerpt here!

Order Here!

Hold on!

Howdy all,

I've gotten a few "where are you?" emails and I wanted to ask you all to hold on just a few more days. I'm at the very end of membership drive for Passionate Ink, a new RWA chapter for erotic romance authors. Please understand that I'd rather be blogging than herding cats - oh! I mean, collecting membership dues from fine authors who go by so many names I'm not sure THEY know who they are any more. Combine this up with a large percentage of people who got married, but never changed their last names on PayPal and you have my own special brand of hell.

I just had the following conversation with myself (names have been changed to protect the guilty):
"So the PayPal says "Cissy Michelle" on it. Cissy isn't exactly a common name and on the roster I have "Cissy Willows." Maybe they're the same people? Or maybe not. Hmmm..." So I shoot out an email, only to find Cissy got married five years ago and never changed her maiden name from her PayPal account. Better yet is when I get a PayPal from "Cissy Luscious" or something like that which SCREAMS of a pen name. I look on my roster and am not shocked to see that "Luscious" isn't on the list.

It's an exercise that is teaching me something, I'm sure, but whatever it is I'm supposed to be learning, the lesson seems to be going straight over my head. I find myself cursing and snarling and generally asking myself what possessed me to ever sign up for this job in the first place. I don’t even balance my own checkbook and never have. I just am one of those people who has a “feel” for what’s in my account. Of course I bounced stuff right and left when I got married since my husband spends money in odd patterns without telling me, but that’s another blog for another day.

Anywho, in the next day or two it will be over, and I can blog about author photos, which is what I've been working on. I have some interesting observations I think will amuse you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

S.O.S. Internet Down

So my internet has been down off and on since Sunday. It really annoys me. I feel isolated without checking my email, oh, 400 times an hour. I feel lost without reading my usual blogs, then emailing the authors with sarcastic comments. In fact, I felt so down right cut off from the world that I actually - gasp - called a few of my old friends on the phone.

It felt odd, fumbling around for my now-unused-cellphone at the bottom of my purse, pushing tiny buttons on the contacts list and then having to leave a message for everyone but Sage Grayson, who was trying to talk to me and have two IM conversations at the same time. (Bet she regrets giving me her cell number at the last writer's conference we went to - heh.)

So over the last few days, all the cats I called on Sunday and Monday were calling me back. Which meant I had to talk to them. Not that I didn't enjoy it, and it allowed me to wander around the house and clean, but...

I have this weird relationship with the phone, left over from when I worked in the real world. I got to the point where if I was home, I didn't like to talk on the phone. Working for CapitalOne (the credit card guys), I was in an environment where voicemail ruled your life. Email was for Cover Your Ass purposes, but almost all work came through the phone. I began to think of the phone as the ringing harbinger of crisis. To this day, the phone rings and I jump. Not that I don't enjoy a good crisis every now and again, but my nerves are shot from finishing up this last book.

Anyway, so I was talking to my friend Ashley last night. She's single now and dating. It's been a long time since I was single and dating, and even back in 'Nam, I didn't really DATE, as much as engage in serial monogamy. In collage, I tried the dating thing and found juggling a bunch of guys around was too hard for me. I'm kind of a possessive person anyway, not really into sharing.

So Ashley was telling me all about her men -- The Neighbor, The Band Guy, The Ex, The Guy She Works With, The Guy She Met At the Bar, etc etc -- and I thought, "If I tried to keep up with all these guys, I'd have to call them "Buddy" so I wouldn't accidentally call them by the wrong name." I was exhausted just listening to it all. Her other line rang in about 20 times during our conversation.

After I got off the phone, I went back downstairs to hang out with my guy and watch Big Brother 6 (yes, we're Reality TV hags). As boring as my life might be, I appreciate it. Although, talking to Ashley reminded me of this book I was thinking about writing... it's about four girlfriends who dare each other to do all kinds of things, like see who can date the most men at one time. I scribbled some notes this morning. Who knows? I might just write it one day. Of course, that would require more phone calls to Ashley, since obviously I am not an expert on How To Juggle Multiple Men At One Time. But the internet connection came back up again and so all that's on hold. Thank God.

Three Recommended Reads!

Robin Owens HEART CHOICE is out! Read it! I did and loved it. I give it a serious RR - recommended read - from yours truly. All of Robin's Heart books are brilliant, although I like HEART DUEL best. Read an excerpt.

Oh and also, I read BEYOND CONTROL, which I blogged about below. I thought it was one of Rebecca York's best. Then again, I'm partial to mind-meld kinds of themes.

Finally, I wanted to recommend another book which I haven't mentioned yet - WARPRIZE, by Elizabeth Vaughan. I really enjoyed it. It headed more towards the fantasy end of a fantasy romance, but it was well worth the read.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Beyond Control

Yesterday, I took the day off and went to the bookstore. Sigh. I love the bookstore. For two hours worth of work, I bought three books. One was a Mercedes Lackey book, one was my friend and critique partner Jasmine Haynes' book TWIN PEAKS (fantastic read if you like contemporary spicy romance), and one was this - Rebecca York's BEYOND CONTROL about telepaths who discover and develop their powers only when they sexually link with another of their kind. Heh! Sounds fantastic, eh?

Read an excerpt here!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Other Amusing Blogs

Hey all,

So I thought I would blog about other blogs I'm reading regularly at the moment.

First the writing ones: - Jody Wallace (author and cat lover)’s snarky sister blog. Jody (who is darn funny herself) has her sister blog about this and that. Cracks me totally up! But you’ll notice that she cleverly takes you past her home page of her latest author events for you to get there. - Jaci Burton blogs about story ideas, good books and her general writing life. Also, - CJ Burton and Jaci’s husband do an advice column that often has me snickering out loud. - Gena Showalter has Hot Guy Monday. Dang! - Shelley’s got her husband right now writing about what it’s like married to a romance author! - Robin Owens talks about writing.

Agents are even getting into it!!

Non-Writing Blogs:
This site you must visit – this woman takes old sewing patterns and posts the pictures up and makes fun of them – heh -

Also go here:

I've been thinking about putting up the American version of this blog --- --- if you buy him a pint, he takes a picture of himself drinking it. HAHAHA. Don’t know why that totally amused me, but it did!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A - B - C-ya!!!

Well, SECRET OBSESSION is gone, gone, gone. My agent has it and can jam it in her ear as far as I'm concerned. Not that I don't like it, mind you. It's a great book, but I'm bored with it. I mean, I've read it now 300 times at least and I'm ready to hang out with another crowd.

If you think about it, I've been writing this book off and on for (checking) seven months now (I wrote the first three chapters, then took a long break, then wrote four more chapters, then another break, then I jammed out the rest). So I've been spending time with this same set of people forever. Long enough, in my opinion.

I'm ready to hang out with him for awhile!

Someone recommended him as a cure for bad in-laws and I happen to agree that he's a tasty treat, for sure.

I like this sassy smirky smile he's got going on too. Yummy.

Anyway, so I'll be back on the blogging tour now that the book is done. I think I'm going to do a blog about other blogs next. That should amuse me, although probably no one else will be as entertained... we'll see.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'm in the mood...

I'm in the mood to be viciously selfish.

Some of you are gasping in horror out there, but I just spent the weekend with my bad in-laws (as opposed to the set I like - my husband's parents are divorced) and it sucked. Not terribly. Not as bad as that time I got locked in an elevator for almost two hours with twenty people, one of which was a claustrophobic lady who had a nervous breakdown, screaming continuously "help! help! get me out of here!!" until I started laughing hysterically, which wasn't an appropriate response to the situation, but was the best I could do at the time.

But it was really uncomfortable and creepy crawly, if you know what I mean. That kind of soul sucking, draining experience where everyone is trying to be nice, but there is so much history and bad feelings locked in one small space that you find yourself out on the back porch just so you can breathe.

So I returned home and instead of working on SECRET OBSESSION (my work in progress I owe my agent like yesterday -- I'll have it done on Wednesday night, I promise), I decided I would watch FARSCAPE episodes and make a fat bowl of butterscotch pudding and eat the whole thing.

For the record, I'm not saying my husband's family is any worse than my own. My family is a mess, even if it's carefully hidden from the outside world. It's just hard to know the right thing to do when it's not your family. When his father left before any of got up this morning, do I agree with everyone that he's a jerk, or do I secretly just thank God he's gone??

I didn't do either. I ate a piece of my step-son's birthday cake. It was better than laughing hysterically, I thought, and tastier too. Who says I never learn?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Reno - The End

So now it's Saturday. I'm hung over from the Harlequin party last night, even though I swear I never felt like I had my drunk on the whole time. Gena Showalter and PC Cast made the event, putting on their own dance show that had me questioning if Gena's hips were double jointed. (As an aside - check out the pictures on PC's website - hahahaha. TOTALLY had me snickering.) I went with my critique partner and fantastic friend, Jennifer Skully, who came in exhausted from eating seven courses at the HQN dinner before hand.

During the day, my goal was basically to snarf more free books so I can run a contest for my newsletter folks when I get home. I'm giving away a whole bag of them - check it out on my site! I ran into Jaci Burton and her fabu husband Charlie snarfing books of their own. We found Sage Grayson and decided to take a break and gossip viciously about Tara Taylor Quinn, the RWA president who has caused a fervor the likes of which haven't been seen in the organization for at least four years. Hahahaha.

Anywho, then I went to the Red Sage spotlight, then got ready for the dinner and Rita awards, which I already blogged about here. I won't bore you with more of it.

Sunday, I spent 10 hours flying home. I almost missed my connect since we landed late, having circled the Atlanta airport for several hours (I'm not joking). When I got off the airplane, I saw that I hadn't been assigned another route home, even though my other flight had officially departed 3 minutes before. I pull an OJ Simpson - dashing through the airport, past 8 million people in line to reschedule their flights, down the stairs to the tram. I showed up just as the doors shut and it took off. Heaving like a 10 pack a day smoker (I'm carrying 30 pounds of books and a laptop on my back), I turn without pausing and sprint down the moving sidewalks to the next terminal, back up the stairs, and ALL THE WAY TO THE VERY LAST FREAKING GATE!! How's that for luck? I thrust my boarding pass at the desk guy, my hands shaking so badly he had to grasp for it twice, not that it stopped him from chatting with his friend. I stagger to the LAST seat (literally) in the plane, drop down and try to cram everything under the seat in front of me, since there is, of course, no bin space left. I'm heaving for air, sweating out all the alcohol I've been drinking all week and so thirsty, I could die (they ended up not serving beverages on the flight, by the way - too much turbulence). The stewardess gets on the intercom and, instead of starting the preflight instruction on how to buckle your seat belt, announces that it will be another thirty minutes until we leave because the pilot of this plane hasn't landed yet from his last flight. He's still circling above us. I just ran 7 miles with a total of 40 pounds on my back for absolutely no reason.

I'm telling you, I have the worst freaking luck when it comes to air travel.

All I can say is thank God I'm home. I don't want to have this much fun again for another year.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Reno - Day 4

Yeah, I know. I'm two days late with this post. But a series of unfortunate events occurred which have conspired against me. First, my AC went out. Right in the middle of editing this book - is there no god?!? And second, my husband "fixed" the wireless modem so that it may never work again. I time warped back ten years and dialed up to post this blog in 400 degree heat. Further, my PC is acting wonky. After this goes up, I'm backing up my files like a banshee.

So Friday dawns in Reno and I wake up feeling ill. I'm not a big fan of speaking, but feel it's a skill I'd better learn now, instead of after that best seller hits (hey, if I don't believe, who will?). I realize I haven't really thought through what I'll talk about. So I go down and grab some food and give my section of the speech to anyone I can find with a pulse.

I started feeling better, so I greedily snapped up some free books. I need more books like I need a hole in my head, but my love of books is what landed me in this job in the first place and free is my favorite word.

Okay - so it's time. We're talking on novellas - common mistakes and how to write around them. (I have to bring my brain out of the fridge to write this part - I'll be right back - ahhh! much better). Judith goes first. She's almost lost her voice and I'm silently cheering her on, since she's kind of the anchor man of this little performance.

She talks about submissions with the following problems:
  • Novellas without strong beginnings - too much back-story, ones that don't grab you from the first sentence
  • Novellas without endings - wrapping up too quickly, not resolving both the external plot and the romance
  • Novellas that have external or romantic arcs that don't arc -- more on this later in my section of the talk
  • Too many characters
  • Unsympathetic characters
  • Novellas without strong conflict
  • Novellas that aren't tightly written with every single sentence furthering the story
  • She told what she wants to see - a ROMANCE with a happily ever after and sex that is believable and sensual, not just sexual.

Essentially, she believes (and I agree) that novellas are different from novels in the following ways:

  • Romance – The novella-length romance arc reflects a more concentrated progression and often encompasses a shorter time frame. The romance is arced using pivotal points within the plot, conflict and characterization to achieve the goal of the HEA. A previous history, whether romantic or not, often assists with the progression of the romance within the limited word count.
  • Characterization – The majority of story’s focus is on the hero and heroine, and they are usually brought onto scene within the opening pages. Secondary characters are few in number and are used as a device to forward the progression of the romance, plot or conflict. A novella is not the place for an ensemble cast of characters.
  • Plot – The plot must be concise but not too complex, instead a scenario that lends itself to the shortened word count. The lead-in is necessarily brief, and the novella typically starts at the incident that brings the hero and the heroine together. It is vital to avoid “information dump” and keep the back story to a minimum, weaving in only the elements that are integral to either to establishing the characters, setting, conflict or plot. The action must have impact; the dialogue reflect characterization, the conflict or the romance; and the scenes segue smoothly from one to the other without wasted wordage. Scenes in a novella usually are shorter in length, and chapters, if used, often average around eight to ten pages.
  • Conflict – The conflict must be simple, believable and act as another device to forward the romance and the characterization arc. In novella-length romances, there tend to be one external conflict and a limited scope of internal conflict.
    Setting – The setting must be well developed, yet introduced quickly and often used as another device to present characterization, the romance or the conflict.
  • HEA – The happily ever after still demonstrates the commitment of the hero and the heroine to each other, but in a novella-length romance, the HEA can simply be a commitment to continue the relationship in its present form.
  • And never forgets the KISS:
    The novella-length romance epitomizes the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” rule. Keeping many of the above elements simple and not overly complex allows the novella-length romance to focus on the most important part – the love story between the hero and the heroine.

Angela Knight talked about how she grew as a writer by writing comics. Because she only had a very tight amount of space (2 lines per frame) to tell a story, this helped her distill down to the essentials to write novellas. She made a point that people love characters that care about others, so she always writes her characters with this in mind. She also spoke about writing sensual sex. Check out a FANTASTIC article that summarizes her talk Here!

For my part, I spoke first about secondary characters. You need to keep your secondary characters to a minimum. I'm more of a pantzer (someone who writes without a pre-defined plot) and so what I do is write the novella, then make a list of all the secondary characters and their functions in the story. You can do this during the outline stage if you're a plotter. Then I try to combine as many people up as possible, halving the list of characters if possible. So for example, Tim brings the news that the planet is under attack. Roy is later killed defending the heroine. I will then change it to Tim who's bumped off. The reason? Simple - you only have a tiny amount of words to tell this story - you don't want to waste them on setting up nebulous secondary characters.

I went off on a short rant about setting as a character. I write fantasy/SF/paranormal romance, which means I have to set up my world FAST in these novellas (same thing applies if you're writing historicals). If you think about your setting as a character, it will help you trim down the amount of words you use to introduce your world to just the essentials. I go back and take every sentence that sets up the setting and rewrite them, combining them up, punching them up - so that where there had been five sentences, there is now one that will (in theory) convey all that information with a punch to the reader. Thinking of the setting as a character helps me do this. (Yes, some of you think I’m nuts, but it works for me and maybe it will work for one of you, too.)

I spoke about tension. One of the biggest problems authors struggle with in novels or novellas is keeping tension high, but in novellas, it's essential. If I'm writing a 100 page novella, I'll usually have 10 page chapters, leaving me with 10 chapters (you with me? heh). So what I do is take a sheet of paper, turn it sideways and draw ten stairs up the page. Above every stair, I write the increase in external tension I will try to accomplish for that chapter (this coincides with my external plot arc) . Below the stair, I write the increase in the romantic arc for that chapter. For example, in chapter two of a recent novella I wrote, I had above the stair "Monsters are mysteriously getting into the camp" and below the stair "Heroine recognizes hero as her mate, but decides not to tell him of their bond." Then I inch up the stairs, making sure every chapter increases my external and romantic tension.

Finally, I spoke about the fact a novella should have a beginning, middle and end. Rushing the ending is really the biggie Judith sees, but what else is there to say but "don't do it!"

I know you guys were waiting for this. Hope it's everything you were looking forward to!

Monday, August 08, 2005


After speaking with my husband at length about this issue (he just decided to read my blog for the first time), I have agreed to make the following correction to an earlier post.

In the July 21st blog, titled "Hot Guys? Anyone?" the following sentence should be corrected from:

"I open the door to the most fantastically built, hot guy I've ever seen in my whole entire life."


"I open the door to the most fantastically built, hot guy who almost looked as good as my husband does on a daily basis. "

I greatly regret any confusion my earlier post may have caused. Thank you.

Reno - Day 3

I started the morning moderating Arianna Hart’s workshop on writing EMTs and Firefighters. She did a great job.

During the class, someone got a little obnoxious in the Q&A session at the end. I think the woman was prepared to go point by point through Ari's talk and tell what she, as a police dispatcher, thought about each subject. Now if you're an expert in the field, why go to the class? I'm being serious here. My time is valuable - once I lose it, I'll never get it back (I keep reminding myself this as I race to my PC to read the latest update on the RWA president's personal train wreck). It’s almost as if she felt a call from God to make sure Ari told the truth in her class and if she didn't, well this woman was going to correct her, by golly!!

I found myself wondering if I, as the moderator, should step in or if Ari was the one who was supposed to handle it. Ari got things under control before I figured it out. They had a class to teach moderators how to moderate, but it was seven hours after Ari's talk. I wonder if part of the training included How to Handle Obnoxious Class Attendees. That would actually be really good stuff to know.

My agent, Deidre Knight, had a lunch in Tahoe for all her authors. She totally rocks, by the way. Love that woman!! We took a bus up to a house on the lake that was owned by an extremely eccentric dude named George Whittell, Jr. It seems this guy had more money than Bill Gates, had more eccentricities than Michael Jackson, and loved a good party as long as you didn't make the mistake of thinking you could spend the night over. We’re talking a separate house just to play cards in, his own menagerie of circus animals, and cool hidden tunnels between all the rooms. Lunch was great, the house tour super-cool, but I think what I really enjoyed was finally meeting two people I keep cyber bumping into, Jaci Burton and Shelley Bradley.

As an aside, I have this really bad problem that occurs when people are long winded and boring. My mother raised me with Southern manners, I swear, and I know it's rude, but I just cannot seem to help myself. I *MUST* leave immediately either mentally, or preferably by physical means, the moment I feel that mind-numbing tedium that reminds me of this blind professor who taught my dissertation class in college on turn-of-the-century amusements (doesn’t that sound like it would be amazing?? It wasn’t.).

The historical society lady at Thunderbird talked for about 7 hours (okay 30 minutes) about the house. She began right as I finished off the last sip of my wine. Sadly, she stood in front of the bar, so I would have had to circle her to get a refill. My luck is like that sometimes. Basically, every time I looked at her, I saw about 15 bottles of wine sitting in a bucket of ice beyond her shoulder. I'm not an alcoholic, but I think wine would have made her more interesting. I'm just guessing. It got so bad, I went and played for awhile in the bathroom. It was a nice bathroom, and the cell reception was fantastic, allowing me to text page back and forth with my husband for a bit. I'm sure everyone thought I had a bad stomach, but better that then they know I was being horribly rude. I could tell Gena Showalter was jealous I snuck out for awhile. Heh.

Anyway, I zoomed to my room after lunch in time to change and get to the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal RWA Chapter's Gathering celebration. It was a rocking event, filled with updates on the paranormal romance market, talks by agents and editors on what they're looking for, and lots of different kinds of coffee. I love coffee and these concoctions were the kind with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top - love it!

I was shocked to learn I won the Prism Award for Best Paranormal Erotic Romance for my book IN ICE. My hero in this book will always have a huge place in my heart, because he wears a mask. Come on, you know you've always had a thing for masked men!! Admit it ladies! Robin Hood and Zorro. Sigh.

Anyway, afterwards, I decided to buy everyone a round of shots (Sex on the Beach, to go along with my award theme), so about 20 of us troop to the bar. In my euphoria, I ordered before my thrifty soul realized what I was doing. The bartender stacked out glasses.
"Wait a second!" I held up a hand. "I forgot to ask how much this will cost."
"Eighty bucks," he said.
"I'm not paying eighty dollars for shots. Any way you can give me a deal? I'm looking for something around the forty range." Where these words came from, I don't know. I can only say that I was high on caffeine, sugar and life at that moment. I felt like I could do anything, say anything - hell, I felt like I could take over the world (no I didn't, but I suddenly had a flash of Pinky and The Brain there).
"Let me see what I can do." He made the shots, rang them up, and says, "Forty-one dollars and fifty cents." He even got two hostesses to carry them over to the table for me.
WOW! I can't believe that actually worked!!! Who knew?
A fantastic topper to a fantastic day!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Reno - Day 2

Well, I made it! Yeehaw! After missing the hotel shuttle last night, I called my critique partner and basically begged until she found someone sober enough to come pick me up at the airport. But I’m here at the Reno Hilton, rarin’ to go.

Short Rant On Sharing A Bed:

I’ve decided I can’t share a bed with someone who is not my husband. My roommate slept last night in kind of in a V, so her fanny rubbed on my body off and on all night. Not good. Not good at all. There is something about another person in the bed, the feeling of never being able to fully relax, just in case you do something bad while you’re asleep. Or more importantly, SHE might do something bad while I'm sleep. (Just kidding Liz - heh) I’m not sure what either of us might do that I should be on guard for, but I’m sleeping with one eye open none the less.

I think it's the trauma from my first roommate I had in NYC for this same conference back in 2003. She basically cuddled into me every night, tucking her hand around my stomach. No. No, no, NO!!! That just won't do. The trauma has made me a super-light sleeper.

Finally, around 5:30 or so in the morning, I pulled out Rebecca York’s latest, Crimson Moon, and finished that up since I wasn't sleeping anyway. Good book. I'll have to blog about it some time.

Back to the story:

Today I hung around with Arianna Hart. We figured we’d get some quality time in with each other before the madness began. Over sushi, we yapped about her latest book, Honor Bound, and generally gossiped about everything and everyone until some folks sat down close to us that we knew. Gossip is only fun if you don't get caught, so we moved on. Oh - thanks for lunch Ari!!

The new Passionate Ink spicy romance writers group met in the afternoon for drinks and a social. Thanks to Sylvia Day, Shelley Bradley, and the rest of the crew for working so hard to put this group together! Writers of Spicy Romance Unite!! (I just wrote "Untie" by accident - hee hee).

I ate dinner with Angela Knight, her husband, and Red Sage editor Judith Pich. Thanks to Judith for buying us a fabulous dinner at the Hilton steak house. The food was to die for. We spent over three hours talking about the class we were giving on Friday on writing novellas.

This class is totally going to rock! It’s all about the mistakes Judith consistently sees when she reads over submissions and how as writers Angela and I try to keep those mistakes from happening. The conversation at dinner was fascinating. I know that makes me sound like a total geek, but it was. I’m going to blog just about this later in the week, but I think what totally had my attention was the passion to which the three of us feel about writing and reading short erotic romance.

There is a trick to writing short, one that a lot of authors never master. I think it has to do with understanding how to condense your romantic and external plot arcs, keeping your conflict manageable, and limiting your cast of characters.

Further cool stuff I found out:

* Red Sage is going to start giving out $1,000 advances - hoo-boy!
* Angela's next Red Sage novella (in Vol. 14, which also contains my novella, NIGHT HEAT) will have not one, but TWO heroes.
* Red Sage is going to put out six anthologies next year.
* Angela and her husband have a really cool relationship - he's a total sweetie and takes a huge interest in her work!
* Red Sage has joined the Ingrams book distribution network. That will mean - ta da! - Barnes and Noble baby!!

Finally finishing up, I went to meet my friends, but found that they were all in bed. Losers. It was only 11:30pm. The night was young. With a heavy heart, I trudged to my room. Tomorrow I have one heck of a day planned, so I might as well get a good night’s sleep -- or as good as I can get with my roommate's fanny rubbing on me.


Do you get my newsletter? If you don't, sign up quick -
Send an email to:

If you already get my newsletter, I'm giving away my coolest contest prize yet!! This is my way of celebrating my newest release, Secrets Volume 12, which has gotten a 4 ½ star Romantic Times Top Pick and Recommended Read from Fallen Angels Reviews!

THE PRIZE: When I was in Reno, I picked up books from some of the hottest romance authors around, most of which have been signed by the author. I'm going to give away a whole bag full of them to the winner!!!

Here's how to enter -
Send me an email to with the words "RENO CONTEST" in the subject line.

YOU MUST BE A MEMBER OF MY NEWSLETTER LOOP TO ENTER. This is my way of thanking my newsletter members for sticking with me through my recent lack of book releases. I appreciate you. Thank you!

Please enter only once.

This contest is only open to United States residents (because otherwise postage would kill me).

If more than 100 newsletter folks enter, I'll give away TWO bags of books to two different winners, which will double your chances to win.

Special thanks to Jaci Burton for this idea! Besides being hysterically funny, your advice is fantastic lady!

Quick Book Promo

Hey all - check out this new story from Lucy Monroe - “Moon Magnetism” is a novella in STAR QUALITY, which came out in May from Brava books.

Ivy Kendall dreads the full moon. For generations, women in her family have been extremely magnetic on that day—which was fine fifty years ago but not in the age of hard drives and cell phones. That’s why the hotel manager has resisted the technological improvements her boss wants her to implement. Now, the sexy, dynamic Blake Hawthorne is coming to insist on the upgrades in person. Shoot, he’ll probably fire her. Being around Blake makes her body go as haywire as a full moon, maybe even more. And as long as she’s going to be out of a job soon, there’s no reason not to use a little of that magnetism to her advantage, luring him into an elevator where the only electricity that will work is the kind they generate themselves…

Now that's something I have to read - she's magnetic!! Like literally! Ha!

Read an excerpt here.

Marianne Mancusi

Today I've got too many blogs I'm putting out - I apologize in advance, but there are some things I need to tell everyone and I still want to get myself out of the airport and actually to Reno where the fun and games begin.

Marianne Mancusi returned from RWA Nationals in Reno to find her house had burned down. Here's what's left.

That sucks. And she didn't have any renter's insurance. Ouch!!

So a group called the Literary Chicks is acutioning off critiques from industry professionals Chris Keesler, the Deidre Knight Agency, Beth de Guzman, Stephanie Kip Rostan, Steve Axelrod, and more. Authors critiquing include Jennifer Crusie, Allison Rushby, Bev Katz Rosenbaum, Dianna Love Snell, Wendy Roberts, and more. If you are interested, pop over and check it out. I've sent my contribution, because I know from watching another friend how hard it is to recover from something like this.

Thanks in advance for helping Marianne out!!

Friday, August 05, 2005

They say getting there is half the fun...

They say getting there is half the fun... but whoever "they" are, they're liars. All of them. This was written on the way to Reno for the Romance Writers of America Conference this past week - sorry it's late, but deadlines have been calling!

Bad luck is supposed to come in threes. I must be heading into a second round then, because I’ve had quite a run recently. Sometimes I think Bad Luck is my best friend – him and Bad Choices. They’ve both been pals of mine for years, always by my side, nudging me in the wrong direction. But today, I’ve been hanging with just Bad Luck, who seems to travel with me when I fly. Lost luggage, mechanical problems, stewardesses who spill drinks on my head, missed connections – and I’m not getting into the crying babies, airsick passengers and other undesirables I inevitably get stuck sitting next to.

Today, it will take me five extra hours to get to Reno above and beyond the original ten hours it was to take in the first place. I’m not bitter. Well, not too much. After all, Delta gave me a meal voucher for SEVEN dollars. HA! But a free sandwich is better than jack squat, I remind myself. She only gave it to me because I didn’t unleash a fury on them. I know this because she thanked me for being so patient (stop laughing! I've been patient before. That one time back in 1994...) What was the point of complaining? Bad Luck screwed me. There wasn’t anything else to do but eat my sandwich and go to the airport bookstore to count the whole passel of Black Lace books they had there.

Now I’m sitting beside a guy who has his cell on speakerphone. He’s old and deaf, so he has it cranked. Come on now! Have mercy!! But lucky for me, Bad Choices caught an earlier flight, so I’ve resisted the urge to tell him about cellphone etiquette.

I’m going to a writing convention, very serious and all that – editors and other publishing professionals everywhere. It’s best behavior time. Last year, I made a complete ass out of myself in front of Nora Roberts. It made a good story, though. Nora told me I was “refreshing” afterwards, repeating my name several times. I’m not sure that was such a good thing, no matter how amused everyone seemed to be by it.

In six hours, I’ll make it to Reno. I figure Bad Choices is already there, swigging a shot of tequila with a beer chaser. He’s an ass, but never boring. I plan to resist temptation. I will resist temptation. I promise to resist temptation, no matter how much fun it seems like it might be at the time.

To Be Continued….

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Quick Blog About RWA Nationals

I have a blog for almost every day I was at the National Romance Writers of America Conference in Reno from this past week, sitting around waiting to be edited, but I ran into my agent in the airport and was treated to a stern, "where in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks is that book you owe me" speech. So instead of blogging, I've been doing that writing thing that will, in theory, bring me some income sometime down the road.

Some of the blogs include:
  • Why is it I always end up taking hours longer to fly any place than the itinerary the airline books me with? With a short rant included about one of my best friends, Bad Luck.
  • The talk I gave on Friday with Senior Red Sage Editor Judith Pich and Author Angela Knight on how to write novellas - the pitfalls Judith sees and the ways Angela and I write around them.
  • My Prism Award win for IN ICE, including what happens when you're flying so damn high, you negotiate with the bartender, getting shots for 20 people half price.
  • My first book signing at Nationals, including throwing candy at other authors for fun and profit.
  • And why I cannot sleep in the same bed with people I'm not married to.

But I just have to take 10 minutes right now from writing (it's almost 2pm and I've written 22 double spaced pages - I'm starting to go brain dead anyway) to talk about this whole thing that went down Saturday night at the Rita Awards Ceremony.

Now I was there and I'll admit, it wasn't the greatest. But I just ate a can of soup and read my email box (I'll reply later - I promise!) and see that we're all going down Hysterical Street again.

Okay, so it wasn't tasteful (re: Monica Lewinsky - Lorena Bobbit), it was positive to the Republicans (uh oh), it showed a lot of meaningless history and not a lot of women making history, it had goofy people jaunting down a runway in goofy outfits, and Nora Roberts, in an effort to advert disaster (or at least save herself from participating in it) bailed out as the MC at the last minute.

Do I think any of this is good? Hell no.

But before we press the pedal to the metal and waste precious writing hours getting all worked up again, perhaps we can remember back to that time long ago when we were readers and had never even *heard* of RWA. Friends, fellow writers, et al, nobody but us even knows who the heck we are, let alone cares what happened at our awards ceremony.

I was there and what *I* thought (since all of you really want to know, I'm sure) was, “Thank God this bottle of wine isn’t empty and really White Zin isn’t as terrible as I last remembered, further I’m going to resist the urge to eat the head off my Rita Award chocolate so I can take it back to the kids, and gee the lining on this dress is KILLING me – I need to get out of this dress RIGHT NOW.”

There is something to be said about being clueless….

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hot guys? Anyone?

So my husband, whom I love (please don't send me a bunch of emails saying how wonderful he is - this isn't about him), has been playing this little game called "Schedule People to Work on the House Without Telling the Wife" lately.

So today I was sitting outside reading my latest manuscript in my bathing suit, trying desperately to dampen the white glow of my body in time for nationals next week. And no, I do not look like LKH's latest heroine - I look like a sickly computer programmer. Into the driveway roars a bunch of guys in a truck. I scramble for my shirt and shorts like a Yankees fan after a foul ball.

Later, after I'd recovered from my embarrassment somewhat, the doorbell rings. I go answer it to find a guy in his twenties asking if I could turn on the outside power outlets. "No," I said to his two rather large, green nipple rings. I couldn't look away. We had the whole conversation with me staring at them.

I did NOT find that hot.

In fact, I hardly ever see a hot guy anywhere. Sighting them is a very rare occurrence for me. I saw one last year at the Police Academy shooting range. Thinking... Vin Diesel was hot in PITCH BLACK (but not in other movies). Um... well, Harrison Ford, of course, but he lives near my parents in Jackson Hole Wyoming and he's sadly VERY OLD now.

Which brings me to one of those stories all my friends find so amusing. It's call Leigh Wyndfield Acts Like A Jackass, Part 182:

My family has a condo up in the mountains and I went up a few days early to write. We had ants. Lots of them. I carefully tracked them into a box of chocolate cereal the kids love, then called the exterminator, since the ants didn't go away when the cereal did. They said they’d be out “sometime.” I shrugged and forgot them, settling happily in to spend a few days merrily writing away.

A day later, there is a knock. "Weird," I thought. "No one comes here." I open the door to the most fantastically built, hot guy I've ever seen in my whole entire life. Whoa.

"Hi," I said, completely confused. Was he lost?

"Hi," he says back in a strange, kind of sexy accent - maybe Norwegian. He looked like he came from Viking stock. Muscles bulge out his uniform and he's carrying this big box by a handle -- and I swear I thought he was a stripper!!!! In my bizarre, messed up writer's mind, I immediately decided my sister-in-law had finally gone one step too far in her pranks (it was my birthday the next day).

We look at each other while I try to form words to send this fabulous hunk of man away, because I know one thing - there is no way I'm letting him take off his clothes! I'm a married woman, for god's sake!

"Um," he says, starting to look confused. "Did you say you have an ant problem?"

Then I realize that the uniform says “Ned’s Exterminators” on it and I had, indeed, called about an ant problem.

I was so embarrassed. Really and truly. But also relieved, since I hadn't yet gotten the words out to stop him from undressing. THANK GOD!!!

But really, that's one of the few men I've taken one look at and been speechless. Often, it's a man's personality that makes him for me, not his outside package. I don't the like feminine good looks you see in magazines. I guess I'm turned on by what I see on the inside more then the outside. Which might be why a lot of my heroes are pretty banged up. To me, scars mean character and experience. They symbolize the ability to face tough challenges head on and come out better for it all.

I have a feeling I may be in the minority, though.

I've been back up quite a few times to the mountains since then and while I've been on the look out, the bugs are all gone. A man who is good looking AND completes a task beyond expectations - be still my beating heart!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


So my friend Elizabeth Kruger emailed me yesterday about Mary Janice Davidson's latest book, UNDEAD AND UNAPPRECIATED. She's just finished it and said - "The third installment of the Undead series was awesome. Mary Janice kept the action moving and the quips hilarious. As usual, I was laughing out loud in places and read the entire book in record time." WOW! Now that's a fantastic quote!!

I've been a big fan of Mary Janice since reading her Secrets story, JARAD'S WOLF in Volume 8. I'd never read a hero before that was so fantastically original - sexy, strong as hell, and admittedly stupid, he made me laugh out loud in the bathtub the first time I read his story.

So I'm off to get this book. If you are a fan of funny paranormal stories, check out her excerpt here!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Warning from Deirde Knight

It looks like someone is pretending to be Deidre Knight of the Knight Agency, sending out emails to e-published authors with false information.

Check out her blog for details:

I guess this kind of follows that whole "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" thing.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Crimson City

Well on Friday, I went and bought Liz Maverick's CRIMSON CITY, the start to a new series Dorchester is bringing out. The line up goes like this:
Book #1: Crimson City, by Liz Maverick
Book #2: A Taste of Crimson, by Marjorie M. Liu
Book #3: Through a Crimson Veil, by Patti O'Shea
Book #4: A Darker Crimson, by Carolyn Jewel
Book #5: Seduced by Crimson, by Jade Lee
Book #6: Crimson Rogue, by Liz Maverick

I'm actually not a huge fan of reading series unless the whole set is out in print already, but I'm finishing up Susan Grant's 2176 series now and loved the first five books (haven't started the sixth). They didn't have to be read in order or all at once, and neither do these. Thank God, because I hate leaving a hero or heroine stuck for six months while the author writes the next book in the line. Liz Maverick and Patti O'Shea both wrote books in the 2176 series - I actually just sent Patti an email a few days ago saying how much I liked her story THE POWER OF TWO. I loved Liz's THE SHADOW RUNNERS as well, so this new offering from her is going to be yummy!

This series is even jazzier, since vamps and weres abound in futuristic LA. A little different spin, for sure. I'll let you know how it goes. The excerpt was rocking! Read it here. Plus how can you resist a back of the book blurb that ends with: "Fleur Dumont is about to meet the one man who may understand her: a tormented protector who’s lost his way and all he loved." AWWW! A tormented protector hero. Gotta love it!

I must say with all these awesome books out, I don't know how I'm finding time to write these days. My To Be Read pile is so bad, the cats have started playing hide and seek behind the stacks on the floor. But I guess there are worse things in life...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Saying NO

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging recently (besides a summer cold and the complete panic attack I had over not being able to write a word for a solid week - yeah, I know - wah, wah, wah - I'm a big baby) is that I have so many extra things I'm doing besides writing that fall under the writing umbrella. You know - judging contests, critiquing new writer's work, being the treasurer of not one, but TWO RWA chapters, helping with a conference, helping with a party at Nationals, and the list goes on. This on top of trying to make a deadline.

As I sat in Wachovia setting up a bank account for the new Passionate Ink chapter the other day, I realize that I really struggle with the word "no."

The fact is, I feel guilty when I say no. Lots of people have helped me along my writer's journey and I want to give back. I don't want to be stingy, jealously hording my knowledge from my fellow author. I want to share like others have shared with me as I’ve gone up the ladder.

I once read in the RWR an article by some famous author (I forget who, but she's my hero) who sent out a letter to her whole apartment building saying that while she writes from home, she isn't going to accept her neighbors' packages, or walk their dog, or pick up their mail when they're out of town anymore. Essentially, she told them all to f-off. At the time, I laughed. Now I realize just how strong she really was and I admire her for it. I can only dream of being so kick ass!

It's hard to know our limits, hard to actually pre-plan enough to say no to judging a contest five months before you actually receive your entry packets. But some how I'm going to need to learn. Part of the problem is I'm just not sure how much is "just right." Of course, being treasurer of two RWA groups isn't "just right" but rather is obviously in the dumb ass zone.

On the way up to the mountains today, my husband practiced saying no with me. He'd ask me a question like "So, you wanna be the treasurer of our group?" and I would answer, "No." Just no, without an explanation that will allow the asker to further negotiate me into a corner.

One day, I figure I'll have given so much that I'll know for sure I've given enough back. Then the guilt will be gone.

But until then, I need to learn to be strong and keep my eyes on the prize --- if I don't sell because I'm too busy doing free workshops or critiquing other authors' work that I don’t finish my own, I'm not going to be doing much eating next year.

Any hints on how to accomplish this would be greatly appreciated, by the way. Post them here in the comments or email me at!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Demon Hunting Anyone?

So I just discovered (rediscovered??) Julie Kenner. I read awhile back her Aphrodite's Kiss - I think it was up for an award of some sort at RT so I picked it up then - that was when I'd written one or two words of my first book and wore a little neon sign above my head that flashed "Clueless" as I stumbled into my beginning writing class that RT in Reno. Usually I'm great at remembering these things. Wait, wait, I found it - Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award Winner, Best Contemporary Paranormal of 2001. See? I had it in my mind I bought that book for a reason. And it was great!

But it looks like she's shifted into a new, demon ass-kicking type of book -- CARPE DEMON: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom. Read the excerpt here - scroll down to the bottom if you're feeling confused. I went all over the site, thinking, "gee, there should be an excerpt here, eh?" and then realized I just needed to scroll down on the first page I'd been to. Hmmm... I think I lost my mind awhile back -maybe at that last RT convention. Anyone finds it, let me know.

Can you tell I'm in the middle of a deadline? My brain is fried, the only thing I'm focusing on is "must write this sex scene." (like that guy on the donut commercial - heh) Well, that's not true. I had a nice, long conversation with myself this morning where I debated if 28 pages was too long in between sex scenes for this book I'm writing called SECRET OBSESSION. I usually write about people who keep in bed when not out having adventures, but my characters had some things they needed to take care. These things happen sometimes, I suppose.

I'm wandering again, aren't I? I guess what I wanted to say is that I've got this book ordered through Amazon, and thought all of you may want to check it out! With Julie's impressive writing resume filled with 24 books that are on the shelves or coming soon, you know she's worth a serious read.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Word on Book Reviews

I have this theory about book reviews -- great ones can help you a little, bad ones are generally forgotten by everyone but the author, and okay ones are never read.

Now if you disagree, I want to hear! So post a comment.

However, I'm not finished, because this is supposed to be a rant, and so far I haven't been very rant-ish.

I've gotten two bad reviews for different books. One was for my first book, TRUE SEEING, and while the rating was really low, the words themselves were really nice. Sadly, that was my first review ever, and so it sent me orbiting around planet Neptune in one of my classic freak-outs.

The second one was for IN HEAT, my second book that is still on the best selling and best reader review erotic lists at, 20 months after its release. The reviewer said that while she loved the first half of the book, she could barely finish the second half, it was so awful. That book came out in November of 2003. I can remember reading that review as if it was yesterday. I lost a week of writing after that. I paced the floor and discussed with myself if I should even be an author. I agonized the impact to my sales (of which, there were absolutely none - this is still my all-time best selling book by 150%). I emailed my publisher and asked if I should withdraw the manuscript. I was a mess.

But I'm glad for that review. I owe that reviewer for letting me have that massive slap early on, before I had a book come out that would impact my career more than IN HEAT did. Learning how to take hurtful feedback and go on is a vital weapon in the author's toolbox. For that, reviews are great. And they're an ego stroke when they're good, although a million great reviews can't temper one bad one, believe me.

However, what else do reviews bring us? A writing resume stuff if you're just starting out. Something to put on your book cover and website. Sales? I don't actually think so. Maybe you'll see a small bump for a really stellar book review, but to be honest, looking at daily sales, I saw no decrease or increase for anything except for a mild jump for my RT Bookclub Top Picks. Not enough to even come close to covering the cost of my RT ad, by the way. (In case you were wondering, I'm a complete numbers freak - give me data and I'll start running all kinds of analysis on it.)

Some other truths about reviews from my perspective:

-- Don't worry! No matter how bad your book is, you'll have someone review you high. It's the way of the land, I'm telling you. Think of the worst book you've read recently, then do a search across review sites. Someone will have given it a high score. I guarantee it!
-- The more generic and inoffensive (and boring) the book is, the more you'll see it getting consistent 4 out of 5 review scores. The books that fly up and down on the review scale usually have something interesting about them, something that may cause a reader to love it or hate it. (I don’t think this is the case with my published books, by the way. I’m just trying for love it or hate it and I can’t sell any of those books – LOL!)
-- Some review sites will not review books badly. If the book gets a 2 out of 5, the owner will hand it over to another reviewer to try again. If that reviewer gives it a 2 as well, the owner will email the author and ask if the author wants to withdraw the book. Now I don't know about you guys, but a review site that never gives a low review seems a bit counter-intuitive to me. Aren't they supposed to keep people from wasting their money?

So the long and the short about this rant? Reviews are cheap to obtain, especially when most sites take emailed galleys. So your time isn't wasted. But don't blow their importance out of proportion. They’re a tool. Use them all you can, then lose them. They are, after all, one person's opinion... and we all know that we can't please everyone all the time. Maybe, just maybe, we don't even want to...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy 4th of July All!

I've been in the mountains with my step-kids and in-laws, playing cards and doing that all-American craft fair/fireworks/picnic thing. Oh, and playing a lot of Spyro the Dragon with my eight year old step-son. I love that guy. Very relaxing to run around solving puzzles, flaming bad guys and picking up gems. If only life was that easy!!

Of course, what I really want to do is head home so I can pick up a copy of Angela Knight's MASTER OF THE MOON!

Wow! Check out the cover! And the excerpt here. RT gave this a Top Pick, one of many she's received.

As some of you might know, Angela and I were up for Best Erotic Romance of 2004, but she took home the gold for her Red Sage Release, THE FOREVER KISS.

I personally loved her book, JANE'S WARLORD. Fantastic book and I can't wait for another great read.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Stella's Groove is MIA

So today on the way to yoga, I heard that Terry McMillan is getting divorced. Turns out her book, HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK (about a 42-year-old woman who went to the islands after her divorce, met a HOTTT 20 year old man and fell in love) was autobiographical. Her now-26-year-old husband, though, is gay. He claims he didn't know when he married her -- she claims he used her to get into the US, since he wasn't a citizen. Regardless, the court just ordered her to pay him 2K a month in spousal support and 50K in his attorney fees (covering his run at her money). I guess his dog grooming business doesn't bring in large amounts of cash. She caught him spending hours talking to a "friend" long distance, hanging out for long amounts of time at his place of business and (this one would be the kicker for me) she busted him having cyber sex on an online gay chat group. Um, yeah. That would be a hint he was gay.

What made me laugh out loud, though, was when the two DJ’s who were discussing this had the following conversation:

Guy DJ: “Wait, so she’s paying him?”
Girl DJ: “Yeah, well, she’s an author. They make a lot of money.”
(I snicker)
Guy DJ: “That much money? I mean, she’s paying to support him and for his attorney fees.”
Girl DJ: “Authors make a lot of money, man. I’m telling you.”
(I begin to both laugh and sob a little at this oh-so-untrue statement.)
Guy DJ: “Really? Maybe I should write a book then.”
Girl DJ: “Me too.”

Which reminded me of this wedding I went to a couple months ago.

Everyone was writing a book. Everyone. And they knew a million people who were also writing books, or selling books, or who had friends who were writing and/or selling books. I patiently asked them what kind of book they were writing. “Well,” they said. “I haven’t really decided yet. Probably something about shoes or something. It’s hard to explain.” Huh. I nodded wisely. “Well, I’ve heard shoes are really in right now,” I said and gulped another mixed drink from the open bar. No wonder so many authors have been alcoholics. Between accidentally marrying gay men, making little or no money even when they’re writing decent books and having every person they meet think this is the easiest job on the planet, what else is there to do but drink?