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?

When Bad Covers Happen To Good Authors

It's sad. Really, really sad when a bad cover happens to a good author.

I'm sure you've all seen this one:

When I first looked at it, I thought, "Hmmm... is that a guy's body? Yeah, but why do they have him lying face down like that?" Then I was like, "WAIT! is that a LEG up in the left hand corner?" At first I thought they were HIS legs, sticking out of his shoulders. Then it hit me, "Ooooh, Noooooooo....."

A friend took one look at this cover and remarked, "It's a shame. The author is SUCH a nice person, too."
"Well of course she is," I responded. "If Billy Joel is right and only the good die young, then it stands to reason that this bad of a cover could only happen to someone one step away from sainthood."

But on to another type of travesty that isn't so extreme.

Let's take this cover:

I bought this book in a Walgreens. I have a policy where if I'm off the beaten track and find a paranormal romance I don't own, I buy it. Walgreens (or the one across town from where I live) has a HUGE paranormal romance section, which is totally cool, so every time I'm close, I stop in to buy another book there. I figure it's so rare to have a paranormal romance outpost like that I should do my part.

That's how I bought this book. It says Paranormal Romance on the spine, but after I got it home, I read the back of the book blurb and it didn't light me on fire. And the cover -- here this poor woman is, in her nightgown, and her washer has exploded suds all over her nice red drapes. I could never bring myself to read it. It just looked so, so BORING. Ugh.

But then a friend said something about how great Melanie Jackson is and I realized I had that washing machine explosion book (it reminds me of that time Bobby on The Brady Bunch becomes a power hungry lunatic and overflows the washer), so I gave it a whirl the other day. It was a wonderful read!! Although as a warning, this is the last book in the series, so you might want to start somewhere else if you're a stickler for that kind of thing.

But based on this cover, no-no-no.

It doesn't seem fair that we as authors work so damn hard and end up with absolutely no ability to change something as important as this, does it? I wish I had some sort of wisdom to impart to make us all feel better, some sort of suggestion on what to do in this situation, or a battle cry to fight for a better cover. But really, I have nothing. I just hope Billy Joel is right and my theory that sainthood is required for a truly bad cover is spot on. I figure with my past, it will be a long time before I get a really bad one. Maybe not until my next lifetime...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

High Heel Shoes And The Kick Ass Heroine

So someone said I should talk about high heeled shoes, that they're all the rage these days on people's blogs.

Hmmm... Well, I think I'm up for the challenge. I certainly wear them every day. A couple months ago, I had a group of writers over and my husband came through the room. I went to talk to him (we're having really ugly problems with our windows) and everyone couldn't believe how SHORT I was without my shoes, especially next to him. (If you can't tell from my writing, I like big, tall, strapping men - LOL!) Anyway, I'm 5'3" but with a good pair of heels, I can be 5'6" or even 5'7" - how can you not love that??

But high heels aren't always bliss. When drunk or even tipsy, they'll cause you to fall down, for example. And what's up with these kick ass heroines wearing 4 inch heels and doing roundhouse kicks and whatnot? PLEASE. I tried to jump off a two foot tall rock after my stepson with 2 inch heels on and ended up sprawled across the parking lot like a complete idiot. I mean, I love a kick ass heroine as much as the next gal, but don't you think we should be a little realistic here? She's not running anywhere for long in 4 inch Pradas, ladies. It's just not going to happen (and why would she be wearing that nice of shoes to kill mutant aliens, anyway???!). What's wrong with having a heroine dress correctly to battle evil? I mean, if I was going to go kick some baddies asses, I think I'd dress in my intergalactic military uniform, not a red slinky dress and heels. But then again, I've always been known for being a bit stuffy.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

CJ Barry Has a New One Out!!

Woohoo!! CJ Barry has a new Un-book out! Lookie here:

Read an excerpt!

When I heard, I rushed to my over-stocked TBR pile and rifled through until I found the one Un-book I owned already and haven't yet read - Unraveled - and gobbled it down today while laying out on the back deck.


I recommend this book with all my heart, folks! Read Unraveled and tell me you love it as much as I. Sexy, with a vulnerable, yet kick ass heroine and a hunky guy blasting off on a fabulous adventure -- I'm telling you, it's not to miss!!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Awaken Me Darkly

Gena Showalter's AWAKEN ME DARKLY has been keeping me glued to my seat at night these days.


Wow! This book really packs a punch, especially when you hit about the middle of the book. Mia Snow, Alien Huntress, is a kick ass heroine with a complex history that has made her who she is, battling alien baddies with style.

Read an excerpt.
Take the Mia Snow Huntress Quiz or get advice from Mia.

For those of you who read it, what did you think?? I'm interested to hear. And very interested that Downtown Press (New American Library) published this book. For those of us who write alternate realities (I'm writing some present day spell casting witches right now), books like this are fun to read and a good sign for our own work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fat Camp

So when I started this blog, I thought I was going to only blog about books and writing. I had a vision of talking about insider rumors, because oddly I tend to hear some juicy stuff behind the scenes. But every time I go to write about them, I think about the fact my NAME is attached to what I'm writing, so I temper what I'm saying to the point there is nothing left and I just throw my hands up in the air and say I'll try again tomorrow. It's not that I'm afraid of telling it like it is, it's just the storm that the smallest thing can create is distracting to me creatively. I got into it with a not-to-be-named big-named author a few months ago about something I would love to rant about here, but for weeks, the controversy of our argument had my creative mind in shambles. I like to laugh about the ridiculous, but I don't like to have my email box filled with people threatening me and accusing me of all kinds of nasty things. Authors are touchy.

So bear with me while I figure this whole blog thing out.

Until then, I'll tell you about Fat Camp - aka Weight Watchers.

Insurance companies look at authors as a high risk group. You'll notice that you'll get better health insurance rates by yourself than you can going in with a group of authors. Why? Well, we lead a HUGELY sedentary lifestyle. I mean, we are sitting on our ever-widening buttocks eight hours a day. How many email loops have you been a part of where everyone complains about back problems out the wazoo?? And we have issues with the over-eating of chocolate and a non-existent exercise regimen.

But we're also public figures who need to, in my opinion, project a public presence that is together and hip. You don't see other types of artists walking around in sweatpants and horribly un-matching shirts, do you? Painters, sculptors, poets, and the like tend to dress in funky, off-beat, interesting ways. How we dress is a reflection of who we want people to believe we are.

Yet even as I realized this, I looked down and realized I was thirty pounds over weight and getting heavier by the moment. My back hurt and I'd stopped exercising. Every rejection that came in the mail was an excuse to stuff myself full of chocolate. I could barely fit into my sweatpants and horribly un-matching shirt.

I was miserable.

So I embarked on a quest to get myself into reasonable shape and fit back into my pre-writing clothes.

It took me almost three years to lose thirty pounds, but I did it. I'm not exactly someone who has a lot of self control. Now I'm back to my "gosh, if I just weighted 10 or 15 pounds less, I'd feel great" stage, which is where I've been all my pre-writing life. Welcome home!

When I went in a few months ago to have my back x-rayed, the technician said, "Well, I'm not sure what this is going to show them. You're not overweight and you haven't been in an accident, so this shouldn't show any problems. You need an MRI for that." Wow - I thought. He just said I wasn't overweight. It was a nice feeling.

Anyway, so I went to Fat Camp today for my monthly weigh-in. Even though I made goal weight back in March, I still weigh every month. I've made peace with the fact that I'm one of those people who just has to keep my eyes always on my weight or it will creep up and bite me on the ass. Literally.

Now I just have to figure out how to match these t-shirts to my sweatpants and I'm set. Call me sloppy-chick.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Free Bookmark!

Looking for a Secrets Volume 12 Bookmark? Send your snail mail address to and I'll send you one!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Great Writing Link and Free Story

Hi all,

I'm not feeling all that chatty today. Allergies. So I thought I'd make sure you're aware of the fact I have a free story on my website in the Biography section. Check it out:

Also, I thought I'd tell you about a website you may not have explored yet -- Bombshell author Vicki Hinze’s site.

Here are some of the things I enjoy about it. First, her newsletter is FANATASTIC. If you aren’t already a member, sign up. She sends out monthly tidbits on writing. But the biggest goldmine is her “Writer’s Library.” You can see past newsletters and a plethora of writing articles here. She talks about everything from ARCs (how to make one, what to do with it once you have) to Sagging Middles. You name it, she has a writing article on it. Stop by and check out her site today!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Enchanted Inc

So I didn't blog yesterday. I couldn't. I was in a total stew, because this book I wrote called TAMING RED DRAGON got the big R. Yes, rejection city. Always a laugh a minute, this time it actually stung double because that book is just so dang GOOD. You know that feeling? Like you just know in your heart of hearts that the book is just plain perfect? So why isn't it selling? Marketing doesn't think it's marketable. They may have a point. I wrote a book I wanted so badly to read, but couldn’t find something like it in the store. Fantasy with a huge romance - girl goes on quest with hunky guy, saves the world using magic. How could anyone resist it?!? I don't know, but they have been in droves - LOL!

So as I wandered around my house, wondering for the first time since I started this writer’s journey if I'd done the right thing picking this as my career and the phone rings. It's my friend Carolyn Greene, the Plot Doctor herself, telling me she's almost at my house. WHAT?!? I bust ass to the kitchen, grab heaps of mail and stuff it in the pantry, throw 2 days worth of dishes into the dishwasher, grab 400 items left out by my step-kids and toss them into the hall closet. Then I dashed upstairs, threw on a hat over my greasy hair (I was depressed and anyway it was only two in the afternoon - that's not THAT late to shower), rolled on some deodorant and hustled downstairs right as she came up the walk.

She brought me a book.
Shanna Swendson's Enchanted,Inc - Hex in the City

And told me that she thought my witches would find their day, just like Shanna Swendson's witches found theirs.

With depression staring me in the face, the only thing left to do was to sit down and read ENCHANTED INC.

I'm only half way through, but guys - YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!! And it isn't just because it's saving me from a mental ward, either. It's about this chick who goes to NYC and thinks she's just seeing normal city life, but it turns out she can see the magical community when others can't. Read an excerpt if you don't believe me that it rocks!!

So what's the moral of this story (besides be prepared for unexpected guests)? I don't know. I'm not really into morals and whatnot. Don't worry about all that squishy stuff - just read the book. That's why we’re all here anyway, to write an escape for our readers that will take them away somewhere fantastic. Thank you Shanna Swendson for being here in my time of need!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Secrets Volume 12 Releases

Hello all!

In a surprise move, Amazon just changed Secrets Volume 12 from “Pre-Order” to “Shipping” about a month earlier than expected -- Look HERE!

Read an excerpt from WHITE HEAT here:

Reviews for this volume have been amazing - we've even gotten an RT Top Pick!

I hope you enjoy the stories!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Graphical Standards Rant

Well, I promised a book report, but I am tempted to blog about Graphical Standards at RWA instead. Isn't that what blogging is all about? Not happy little "I read this fantastic book" prattle, but mean, lean rants on evil censorship, with a heavy dose of sarcasm thrown in. LIKE THIS.

Ha! I snickered mightily when I read his oh-so-sarcastic comments on the idiocy of RWA's new standard. For those of you who haven't read it, here it is:

With respect to all RWA programs and services, the following shall not be depicted or represented: exposed male and female genitalia, exposed female nipples, cunnilingus and fellatio, hands or mouth covering naked female breasts, naked or g-string-clad buttocks, and beastiality. The following words: cock, cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, shit, and tit, will not be displayed.

Okay - let's think here. Before you jerk away from this, which was my natural reaction, start by pulling it apart. Yep, beastiality shouldn't be in romance, in my opinion. And I would rather not be sitting next to an author at a book signing with a cover that has the word fuck on it. (why I felt the need to bold that word, I have no idea, except for the fact that I really didn't want to type it, since I'm a little bit of a prude at heart. I'm like that - if something makes me flinch, I'm going to do it AND put it in bold).

I think a little honesty from me is in order. I am someone who holds a pillow in front of my face during the kissy bits in movies. I'm just, well, embarrassed by naked people and public displays of any kind and I have never used half the words in that list in my books, let alone put it on my covers or in my excerpts. In fact, I fought HARD against the naked people they tried to put on my first cover, then told every cover artist I've dealt with since then that I will NOT have naked bodies on my covers. I just don't feel comfortable with that. I also never want one of those clench covers Dorchester is famous for, either. They embarrass me equally, to be honest (and don't you think those models need a hair cut??).

But ride with me here -- is it my place to dictate the covers of others? Or to say what is or is not appropriate? Just because I don't want these things for me, doesn't mean I have a right to take them from others. If we feel uncomfortable at a book signing sitting next to someone with a cover like that, shouldn't we just MOVE a few spaces away? Or not advertise places where these types of covers are displayed? If I'm the one with the problem, shouldn't *I* be the one to change, instead of changing others? I'm just confused here about why people are censoring instead of just removing themselves.

A friend of mine pointed out that RWA Nationals HAD to draw a line on the continuum to keep out porn – it was imperative, in fact, that we have some measure of ABSOLUTELY NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I don’t know where you draw the line on the continuum - I'm just not sure it's possible. A lot of publishers have erotic work they publish in some of their lines – does that mean that because Random House’s Vintage line published Lolita (a book *I* consider porn), that their romance lines aren’t considered romance? I mean, drawing a line is like lassoing a rain cloud. I have had a couple reviewers claim that my books aren’t erotic romance at all, but merely a romance with extra sex in it. Does this mean that I should be banned from RWA or can I still be a member? Who would be qualified to make that call? It’s a scary prospect, from where I’m sitting, since I am on one side of the line or the other, depending on who draws the line. Then again, if you drew the line where everyone agreed, the line would be so far onto one end as to be meaningless.

So what's the answer to all this? Who knows. Right now I'm just trying to sit back and watch where the cards end up falling, then I'll pick up the pieces, change that one "cock" I have in an excerpt on my website to "erection" and write another book.

Monday, June 06, 2005


So I promised a post on Rome yesterday, but of course I didn't get to it, perhaps because I was still on Rome-time. They're not big on rush-rushing there. Maybe we should take a lesson from them. Or maybe, since their economy is still shuddering from the conversion to the Euro, we shouldn't. Rome is expensive and part of that is the shift they've gone through to join the European Union. I got an earful one day from Fabio (no, not THAT Fabio - snicker) who drove us to Pompeii. He is worried that Italy will lose their middle class with the inflation he sees from the switch to the Euro.

Of course this isn't what I wanted to talk about (why do I always get off on these rants, anyway?). What I wanted to talk about is the Piazza Navona. We stayed right near it in a little hotel covered by ivy dripping down into the street. This Piazza was amazing. My husband and I couldn't stop spending time there. It has this huge old fountain (and we're talking real old here, like 1651, not American old) in the center and the place is always filled with musicians, artists, these crazy mimes, and people, people, people. Filled with cafes and gelato stores, it is a people watching heaven.

One day, as we sat drinking a bottle of wine (much cheaper than drinking a coke, by the way), this old guy came and set up a keyboard. He was drinking a huge bottle of beer, smoking a cig, and was dressed in a rather dirty suit. As he played, it became rapidly apparent, to me at least, that he played one song with his right hand and a completely different one with his left. It sounded like a Bach fugue on acid. Then he stopped out of the blue, tossed his cigarette butt into the street, took a swig of beer and grabbed the dirty ashtray. He went all through the little tables we were sitting at, using the ashtray as a coin collection hat. Then he played an encore for a few moments, then stopped, packed up and went in front of another restaurant. The odd thing is, although this sounds sad, it really wasn't. I thought to myself how wonderful it was that he had managed to find a way to live that included music. He certainly didn't seem anything but happy at his circumstances.

Rome is a city of greatness. We toured in chronological order, for lack of a better way to do it. By the end of Wednesday, which we spent at the Vatican, my husband begged for mercy on seeing any more churches. So we strolled the streets, hand in hand, eating ice cream and watching people laugh and enjoy themselves. It was truly wonderful.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I'm Back and Rarin' to Blog

I'm back and have several blogs to post, so get ready for the infusion!! Heh, heh, heh.

First, I wanted to quickly plug a book. Then I have a rant I'll post (probably tomorrow after my stepkids depart) on Rome. And then on Monday, I have a book report to do on the six books I read on my vacation (evil laughter here). My critique partner, Jennifer Skully, said that she thought I was going over board for what was essentially a six day trip, but I'm happy to report that I rose to the call and finished all but one of the seven books I brought.

THE PLUG: Today, I read an excerpt of A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court by Marianne Mancusi and I've got to tell you, it's worth a look. I plan to hit the store on Monday to get my own copy of it. I'm a sucker for first person sarcastic heroines. Snicker. Maybe because I am pretty sarcastic myself. The heroine's mission for this book: "To write 500 words on the emerging trend of medieval garb in today’s fashions. " While the topic is NOT me (I'm more a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal m'self and have spent my life morning the day I grew out of Geranimals since it just seemed so much easier to buy 2 bear tops to go with the bear bottoms), I do love a good time travel! And I loooove a hunky guy. Oh yeah. So check it out for yourself, I think you'll see it's worth a look and a read!