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Dead Shot


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Blind Curve

Tell Me No Lies

Dead Ringer

Like A Knife


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cover Up Redux

Way back in January I posted about my cover struggles. All's well that ends well, I suppose, since the cover looks great. But in that post I mentioned an article about James Patterson in the New York Times Sunday magazine.

Several weeks later, as is their want, the magazine printed reader reactions to that article, and one resonated so deeply with me that I want to post excerpts from it here. The letter-writer, Joe Claro of Irvington, NY, had been an English teacher for 40 years and took umbrage with the article's criticism of Patterson and his readers for "not measuring up to some vague standard of literary worthiness."

Claro continued: "Why do self-appointed critics allow for popular taste in television, music and movies but drift into almost religious solemnity when discussing books?"

Well said, Joe, and I couldn't agree more.

Years ago I was in a book club whose members read mostly "literary" works. When it came my turn to suggest a book, I was a little out of my element. But I chose Elinor Lipman's Isabel's Bed, about a tabloid blonde who hires a bookish, risk-averse would-be writer to author the femme fatale's memoirs. It's a fun read with lots of inside jokes about writing--and Lipman, who is often touted as a modern Jane Austen, is hardly a pulp writer. But you wouldn't have thought so from the group's reactions. Some went so far as to call it "trash."

But when I asked them about, say, Who Got Mail or Grey's Anatomy--those they all loved.

Like you, Joe, I don't get it.

What IS is that makes people go all proper and still when discussing books but not movies?People expect motion media to be entertaining, and if that's all they get they enjoy the ride. But a book that's merely entertaining--there's something wrong with that.

And yet millions must disagree because even during this recession, romance is still selling well. And the James Patterson, Inc company has another book on the best-seller lists.

I guess the solution is to ignore the bluestockings. Oh--and when you buy one of "those" books, just don't tell your book club.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

To Be or Not To Be

Life has settled down a bit. At least enough for me to have a moment to catch my breath. My Internet service is finally back--I couldn't believe how hampered I felt without it. Hopefully all the bugs are out and connections will continue uninterrupted.


But at least I'm plugged in now.

On the book front, Two Lethal Lies has finally been given the editorial okay. The cover copy is done and the cover looks quite splendid, in my humble opinion. Now the only thing left is the rest of my life. Will it be more romantic suspense or something of a new and different variety?

That, dear reader, is the trillion dollar question to which I have no answer yet. I feel a bit like the cowardly lion--I need the wizard to give me some courage so I can jump off the cliff into Who Knows What Land.

My horoscope promises great things this year. But is it because I stick to what I know or strike out in a whole new direction?

Hamlet has nothing on me.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cover Up

I got the cover for my October release today. There's my name, nice and big, and--hallelujah!-- they even managed to include the word RITA-Winner below it. I asked them to include that on the last book and my editor balked. To say the least, I was annoyed, hurt, and pissed off.

All is forgiven now. Sort of.

It's the weirdest thing to have your name up there as if everything from cover to cover is yours. It's not, you know. Although the words between the covers are mine, the story would have been very different if it had been left up to me. It wasn't. Same with the cover. The publisher creates it and even if I have other ideas or objections, it's a done deal. Same with the back cover copy.

There was an article about James Patterson in the NY Times magazine this past Sunday. At one point it talks about James and his Giant Entourage meeting with the publisher to discuss marketing his empire. They showed him cover mock-ups to get his input. But that only happens when you reach Pattersonian heights. Otherwise, you get what you get.

Sour grapes?

Hell, yeah.

Okay, so it could be worse. I could have to self publish. Or languish around as I did for years, UNpublished. I should shut up and thank The Powers That Be for what I have.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And if you come a little closer I'll give you something to be thankful for. Right in the kisser...

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Monday, December 7, 2009

The Idea Contagion

Ideas are funny little things. Like germs they're invisible until they take shape in the form of a book, business, or bad cough. And like germs they kind of float around and land randomly.

Take, for example, the plagiarism lawsuit against Stephanie Meyer. It was brought by Jordan Scott, the author of a 2006 book called "Nocturne," which, needless to say, has not had the mega success of "Twilight." Scott accused Meyer of lifting plot lines and other elements to use in "Breaking Dawn," the 4th book in the Twilight series. The suit was dismissed last week, but I bring it up here only as an example of how ideas spread.

On a personal level, I, myself have been accused of idea theft. My 4th book, BLIND CURVE, is about a homicide detective who has a stroke that renders him blind. My book came out almost at the same time as the now-defunct TV Series, "Blind Justice." A reviewer on Amazon accused me of stealing my idea from the show. Never mind that my book had been conceived and written nearly a year prior to the show airing. But as I said, ideas are like that. They flutter around, and who knows where they'll settle next?

In my case, they've settled in General Hospital, where James Franco has taken up the role of "Franco," a weird photographer/artist who captures and creates gory crime scenes of homicides.

Anyone who's familiar with my book, DEAD SHOT, will see the similarities. So...should I sue ABC?
It's been interesting to watch how the soap has tweaked the idea for their own uses. Several of their lead characters are mob-related, so Franco has plenty of crimes to home in on. Does he, like my Dead Shot heroine, Gillian, have a death wish? Or is he just a voyeur who wants to get closer to the object of his affection? Is there a particular crime--one that's very personal--he wants to solve or avenge? It will be interesting to see how many more (or less) similarities to my book pop up.

In fact, GH created a piece for the art show opening I wished I had thought of for the book: an actual bedroom set up to look like someone had been murdered there, complete with blood and a chalk outline (which, of course, the police no longer use , but what's realism when it comes to TV?). In Dead Shot, all the scenes were photographed. It would have been cool to have Gillian, create a scene using actual furniture, like a set.

But hey--that idea didn't land on me.

So if ideas are out there, thick as bacteria, what makes something iconic? Do you have to be there first? Well, we know Meyer wasn't the first with the vampire trend. Why aren't they making movies out of Sherrie Kenyon's books? Yes, she made the top of the Times list, but I guarantee she's not a household name like Meyer.

Were there others writing Pride and Prejudice or David Copperfield? Maybe if we'd had the blogosphere and the media, Jane and Charles would have ended up in court, too.

Heard about other idea contagions? I'd be interested in hearing about them, too.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

The Name Game

Play the Name Game with me on the Grand Central Cafe blog. It's fun. It's fascinating. It's positively fantastic.

And, yes, I am a little over happy today.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Advice Worth Taking

Just a shout out to BookPage, a wide-ranging site that cover reviews and features related to good reads, from A.S. Byatt to, well, me. Every month Tom Robinson does an author forum on the site called Advice Worth Taking. I'm one of the group for October.

This month's question:

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Four writers, four different answers (natch). Together they make for an interesting, and, dare I say it, inspiring column. Frankly, I should take what the other guys say to heart.


Check out what we said here.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stargate Universe, The Review

Saw the new Stargate Universe last night. Since I am a huge sci fi fan, the new series was one I was looking forward to with great anticipation.

It didn't disappoint.

I will say at the outset that I'm not a huge SG-1 or Atlantis fan. Those shows get a C/B in my book. Watchable, but not addictive. I always found the writing too much on the nose. And I prefer my sci fi to be serialized, as Battlestar and Farscape were. That way you get sucked into the fantasy more. It always irked me that there was little emotional consequences from episode to episode in the previous Stargate shows. An enemy was defeated and the clock goes back to zero for the next enemy. The heroes never grew (except maybe Daniel in SG-1) or changed over time (okay, Amanda Tapping's hair changed). Even injuries, when they were sustained, never lasted from episode to episode. These shows were styled to be old-fashioned episodic dramas, like Bonanza.

But hopefully, Stargate U has taken a leaf from Battlestar's success. The pilot certainly hinted at that. The scenes shot in the present, on board the weird, damaged ship in the middle of nowhere, are lit with a lot of shadows and the set is nicely dark. Dr. Ross, one of the main characters, is equally dark and seems to hold a lot of secrets. Same with the commander, played by Louis Ferierra (who btw, plays the serial killer in Durham County with such creepiness you can hardly believe they're the same actor...). The Lieutenant with too much to handle was nicely out of his depth with plenty of room for growth, and he, too, has a secret. And secrets are the bread and butter of great drama.

The writing still has a bit of the Stargate cheesiness to it. There are stupid lines ("You knew, dammit, Dr. Ross!"), out of character speeches (Ross telling Chloe her father's death isn't his fault), and one-dimensional characters (the rep from IOA who challenges Ross's supposed promotion to Leader). Neither Cooper nor Wright have proven themselves to be subtle writers in the past. It will be interesting to see if they can tone themselves down for the rest of the series. Certainly the attack on the base with the whole "the planet is exploding, the planet is exploding" plot reason for the evacuation to an unknown gate address, was rushed and seemed contrived because of it.

BUT--what the hey. I still enjoyed it and can't wait for more.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Me Update

Me, me, me, me, me.

Am I warming up my throat with vocal scales?

Of course not. I'm writing this. And this, after all, is about


So here's the Me update:

Two Lethal Lies is on the editor's desk. I'm wondering what she'll change the title to.

I'm working on 3--count 'em--3 proposals at once. Never done this before. Always...mooched around after finishing a book. Shopped, movied, freecelled.

I have 2 inspirations for the new Me. Close to home, it's my friend Trish Milburn, aka, Tricia Mills. She's always got 2 or 20 projects going at once. She writes in two genres AND she manages to speak all over everywhere while still conducting a political career on the RWA Board.

Less close to home is everyone's wannabe: Nora. The New Yorker did a piece on her (gawd--the New Yorker no less...) and she puts her butt in the chair for, like, 8 hours a day. Can you imagine? Like it's a, well, a job.

Sheesh. Give me a large break.

Okay, okay, so, here I am. Trying to live up to my idols.

Or at least, one of them.

I hope it hasn't gotten past you that I'm blogging, not working on my proposals. The Great and Munificent Nora doesn't blog.

But, hey--Trish does!

Whew. I'm good.

But you there. You, reading this. You have two choices. Ask yourself: WWND? or WWTD?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nothing To Do

Still away from home. Very early this morning. Gloomy from rain. We are all up, but it is sleep quiet nevertheless.

Hubby is getting ready for business meeting. Son-in-law for his day of work. Daughter is writing and rewriting. I have nothing to do.

She offers a book, but I have a book. I have magazines, computer games, gameboy, sudoku, Morning Edition on the radio. But all that is nothing to do.

I have only a hard seed of an idea. A series. It rolls around in my head and sprouts only questions. Who? What? Why? There are no answers. The thing is greasy. I reach for it and it slips out of my grasp.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meet Me in St. Louie, Lewie

My mother always pronounces it: St. Louie. Then again, she's from Brooklyn. I've been told it's a great faux pas to say anything but St. Lewis.

In any case, that's where I am--in St. Louis with the newlyweds.

The football is on, though muted, and we are talking about people who throw their cigarette butts on the ground. Larry wants a bumper sticker. Here are some suggestions from the group:

Butts are not attractive

Butts are garbage, too.

Littering is punishable by death (and that means you, cigarette smokers)

We all decided the last one was too long for a bumper sticker.

More later from the exciting life here in the gateway to the Midwest.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Specials

Hey, y'all! It's Friday, and, as promised, my "healthy writer" blog is already up and running. So click on over and let me know what you think about body issues and adressing them.

Changing the subject: Tonight the Jewish New Year begins at sundown. The holiday, Rosh HaShana--Rosh, meaning "head" or "beginning" and HaShana, meaning "the year"--celebrates the birthday of the world, or at least that's how they phrase if for the kinder (children).

You can't have a holiday without food--oh, wait a sec, if you're Jewish, you CAN have a holiday without food because the next one coming up, Yom ("day") Kippur ("atonement") is supposed to be a fast day, but never mind--MOST things Jewish come with food, and Rosh HaShana has its own epicurean traditions.

First and foremost that means sweet things, so that the coming year will be sweet for you. Traditionally that means apples dipped in honey--not my favorite. Now apples dipped in caramel--that works. But so messy.

Another tradition, at least if your family tree resided in eastern Europe, is brisket. Usually baked with a ton of caramelized onions, carrots, and a dab of ketchup. Several years ago I served this to my husband's fantasy baseball league, and the guys are still talking about it...

This year I'm eschewing all familiar tradition and posing as a Syrian (Iranian, Moroccan, you get the picture). I'm making Roast Chicken with Dried Fruits and Almonds.

You can't pretend to be middle eastern without couscous, so that's my side.

And for dessert, I'm substituting apples for the nectarines in this Nectarine Golden Cake, which is the kind of cake a non-baker like me can do.

So give me props for experimenting.

Happy 5770 everyone.

May your year be filled with the sweetness of heart, mind, and body.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sin in Book Clubs

As you may know, I ran a photo contest last month. You had to send in a photo of yourself (or your Barbie dolls, cat, dog, whatever) with a copy of One Deadly Sin. At the same time, I spoke at a friend's book club and told them about the contest. They all quickly gathered themselves with the book and snapped a picture.

Things being what they are...the photo never got sent.
Until now.

So, no winnings, but they do get a special posting. Here they are--the book club ladies Sinning away.

By the way--if you're interested in reading one of my books for your book club, let me know. I'll be happy to call and chat with your group about the book.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Learning

I'm almost through with the third book in my reading spree. The second was by Daniel Silva and this one is by Mariah Stewart.

Silva writes international thrillers with a continuing character, an on again-off again Israeli agent. Set in Europe, the book hops between countries--England, Switzerland, Italy, Spain. The story not only bobs between places but between plot points: chapters consist of many, many short scenes. Most are from the hero or antagonist point-of-view, but some are from the POV of more secondary characters.

The book didn't engulf me, although the hero has a haunted past that makes him interesting. But I didn't feel as though there was much at stake. Since the hero is a continuing character, no matter how badly he's beaten, you know he'll survive. And if he didn't, and his mission failed, the world wouldn't end. Injustice would prevail, but there is always the sequel...

Compounding the low-end stakes was the fact that main threat in the book--to a world-famous musician--never materializes into an actual attempt at killing her. In the end, the assassin decides not to do the deed after all, though he is in place and close enough to carry out his mission. I wonder if Silva found himself liking her too much to kill her off. Maybe she or the assassin will appear in another book?

But I liked the way he moved around the story, cutting scenes off, even sectioning off long scenes into shorter ones without changing POV. I've had several instances in my current wip where I wanted to do that but wasn't sure how. Now I know.

I'm two-thirds into the Mariah Stewart book. The book was hard to get into. Beyond the prologue, the writing appeared thinner than I like. But as I kept on I began to see the advantages of the style. It's mostly dialog with almost no interior monologue. This gives the book a super-fast pace. Again, the story isn't the most innovative or remarkable on the planet, but I suspect her fans don't care. Violence happens off-screen, the main characters are neither dark nor tortured, and the murders happen to strangers we don't really care about. All of which makes for a safe read. And I've met readers who don't want their mysteries to be too intense.

I've also met readers who don't like to read anything but dialog. I spoke at a book club a few weeks ago and one of the members reiterated this opinion. Stewart's book would be perfect for her.

As for me, it made me think about my own dialog to internal monologue ratio. Sometimes I write pages and pages of dialog and it feels wrong somehow. Too expository, and, well, icky. And by icky I mean, boring, cliched, unclever. But reading Stewart I see how it works.

I've got 2 more books to go after the Stewart book. I think the next will be by Laura Lippman. It was so intense my husband stopped reading it. It should be an interesting change from what I'm reading now. Wonder what I'll learn?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Heads Up

Just an advance notice: I'll be blogging on Trish Milburn's Healthy Writer blog on Friday (this Friday, Sept 18, 2009). It's all about dressing your body, no matter what shape your body's in. So tune in and tell me what you think.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

After the Ball is Over

What a weird feeling. Yesterday I sent my book off to New York and today I'm without meaning and purpose...

It's a strange thing writing a book. Living with the story, the characters, the struggle of putting it all on paper--and then poof! It's done. It's...gone.

Move on. Snap out of it. Enjoy the freedom.

Bah. Humbug.

Can't live with it; can't live without it.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday on the Mark with Jane

It is Sunday, the hump of the long weekend. My daughter and her new husband are here and I'm looking forward to spending a glorious day with them.

To begin, we are watching the BBC production of Jane Eyre with Timothy Dalton. It's stilted and play-like, but the best adaptation of the book I've ever seen. Whole sections of dialog lifted from the book and spoken so beautifully and perfectly by the actors that the 19th century words sound normal. "She sucked my blood. She said she would drain my heart!" So speaks Mason after being attacked by his sister. "You long to recommence a life more worthy of an immortal," says Rochester. "My little mustard seed," he calls Jane after she agrees to marry him.

Sigh. Little mustard seed, indeed.

What a great way to start this day.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009


Warning: Rant Coming

Once my SFD (see below) was complete I promised myself I would take a week off and read. Ironically, since I began writing full time, I have stopped reading novels altogether. So this was to be an experiment. Could I could pick up the habit again? And, as an added component, I thought I would dip my toes into the sea of literary fiction and find out what the supposedly better half was doing.

My first choice was Atonement by Ian McEwan. I picked it because I usually like books set in the past. My brother loved it. And so did a million other readers, including those from La La Land. I finished it yesterday. What an amazingly written, engrossing, horror of a book.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

A day later, I am still furious. How dare he call the book Atonement when there is none? How dare he trick his reader into thinking all will be well, when it won't? How dare he lead us all down the garden path of happy endings, then pull the proverbial rug out from under us? That book is exactly why I write romance.

Are the deaths of the lovers more realistic? Perhaps. But who needs realism? Just turn on CNN. Is the cowardice of the liar more true to life? Perhaps. But surely there are people out there who would face what they'd done and ask for forgiveness. Is the long, prosperous, and hypocritical (re: philanthropic) life of the perpetrators unusual? No. But, as McEwan says at the end, the writer is God. He can manipulate the truth any way he wishes. Why, then, did he choose to create such a heartfelt and ultimately cynical book?

Clearly, he is not a Buddhist. There is such thick, deep suffering in the book, but it is not redemptive. And he is not Christian. There is no hint of death being the portal to "a better place." And he is no Jew. Jews must face those they've wronged, actively seek forgiveness, and work to right whatever harm they've done. I don't know much about Islam, but I'd take bets he's not Muslim either. So what is McEwan?

A coward. That is his religion.

He's a coward for not being brave enough to give his tortured lovers an ending that overcomes or makes sense of their suffering--which he clearly wanted to do. A coward for not braving the sneers of his fellow "serious" writers, who would call an "emotionally satisfying ending" a trip down sentimental lane. A coward for the slick, dirty joke he pulls at the end.

And now I need to wash my mind out with the brave words of my own kind. At least we don't play games with our readers.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yawn, Stretch, Open Eyes

September is here, and the long sleep is over. Why I referred to the last month as if I were hibernating, I have no idea, since I was working my butt off. But who can know the intricate workings of a writer's mind? Certainly not me.

Had things gone the way I'd predicted my book would be off to my editor today. But in the great wide world of publishing things don't always go as predicted. Turns out my next book has been pushed back a month, giving me 4 more weeks to fidget and worry and revise, revise, revise.

In fact, if I'd been thinking, I would have revised all those dozing pictures to ones of furious output, which is what I was really doing, much to my surprise.

The other day I was commiserating with my friend, Jenny Fields, who writes literary fiction and is currently working on a book about Edith Wharton called The Age of Ardor. We were talking about how much more fun it is to revise than anything. That Shitty First Draft, as Annie Lamont calls it, is the hardest part of writing for me. I know you're supposed to just vomit something up but all that stuff at the bottom of my innards usually doesn't want to come out. I eke out those pages like hunting for water in the desert. Some days it flows. Most days it doesn't.

I did something different this past month. I wrote the last book, One Deadly Sin, at Panera's. I couldn't get back into the rhythm of that for this one. Instead, I got up early and while it was cool, sat on my screened in porch and finished the manuscript. I don't know why home worked better for this book than the last. But it did. Odd how place is important to writing. I won't be able to continue out here when the weather turns. Wonder where I'll go next.

Does every book need its own place? If so, I'm in deep doo doo. I'm going to start running out of places to go.

Most writers have offices. They write everything there. I have an office but I avoid it. It's too small, too messy, too overwhelming with...stuff.

Anyway, now that the SFD is done and I've gone through it a couple of times, I feel like I'm waking up to a spring thaw. My schedule is breaking up and I've got a little time to do other things.
Like this.
So, howdy world!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Garden State

I've been in New Jersey for a couple of days now. It's not an unfamiliar state; we had family in West Orange, and, as a kid, I went there often for holidays. We also vacationed on Long Beach Island. I have such fond memories of that place I set part of my first book, Like A Knife, there. And, of course, there's always Tony Soprano and his gang.

All that gives one a certain impression, and that impression is not necessarily of old and quaint New England towns.

Which is one of the reasons I've enjoyed my stay here so much. My future SIL toured me around Basking Ridge, Peapack Gladstone and Bernardsville, and the area is lovely. Much more built up than it was when he was growing up, but still bucolic despite the new office parks and strip malls. Lots of little towns separated by swaths of bare woods that will plump up green in the summer but now show the trunks of tall, straight hardwoods. The forsythia are in full bloom and deer crossings over the highway are draped in bright yellow.

There's a lot of wealth in the area--not only the upper middle class kind, but the kind that comes with horses and acreage. The King of Morocco had a home here, there is a Steeplechase every October, and the American Golf Association is headquartered here.

Of course I can't go anywhere without thinking about stories, and there's dozens here. Blair's Den, a creepy, decaying mansion high up in the Bernardsville "mountains" (my Canadian husband would scoff and call them hills), is said to be the setting for a honeymoon tragedy whose ghosts linger on; a part of the country road nearby is called Jacob's Ladder because of the seven large humps in it--each one the mound of a nun's grave; there's the nudest colony, the school for delinquent boys, and the Great Swamp, the perfect place to hide a body.

And, like much of the northeast, there is great ethnic food. I've had terrific Mexican at Casa Maya, and wonderful Thai at Thai Thai. I checked out the Short Hills Mall, too. Whew! Talk about rich... Fun to look at the clothes and try to imagine what it would be like to afford them.

Today is the shower, and I'm looking forward to seeing my sisters, my mom, plus friends and family I haven't seen in years. And to meeting the women who will make up my daughters new family.

New Jersey is the butt of a lot of jokes, but I found it be an attractive, interesting place. Just goes to show ya--personal experience is everything.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Alas, no pics from the retreat have been forthcoming. One of these days I'll remember to take my camera.

I'm working on a masthead for my website, so you should be looking for that. Once again, it involves a decision and, as I've said, I'm decision-averse. On the same proverbial day I remember to take my camera, I'll also take the plunge and pick a look for my site.

Meanwhile, the ARCs for One Deadly Sin are out, the book can be preordered at all the usual places (Amazon, B&N), and I'm starting to get excited about it. I'll be doing some stuff for the Romantic Times conference--an online promotion by my publisher, Grand Central, putting some cool background info about the genesis of the book on my website, and, of, course, giving a copy away.

In fact, if you're in a hurry to read it, the March prize on my web contest is an ARC of the book.
So--what do you think of the cover? In the words of Ed Grimley, I must say I enjoy the blue and black coloration. And I love, love, love those cemetery gates. Not so certain about those two up top. They sure look like they're getting it on, though, don't they?

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Verbally Yours

As long as I'm doing nothing, why not blog? Weird how that word has been verbalized. To blog, Has blogged. Will blog.

I've got one more fiction-writing class to teach, and I think, among other things, I'll talk about verbs. If you write you tend to use a lot of them.

He ran off.
He dashed off.
He raced off.
He careened away.
He jolted away.
He hurtled off.

Very cool how a single word can increase or decrease intensity.

Verbs. Gotta love 'em.

Do you keep a list? Hate to admit it, but I do. Since I write a fair amount of action it's good to know you don't have to have your heroine "run" away constantly. She doesn't even have to jog or sprint. She can jolt, careen, or charge.

So, any listmakers out there?

If not, got any favorite verbs you'd like to share?

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back to the Salt Mines

There's nothing sweeter than a father and his baby, alone of a morning and out on the town. Yes, I'm back at Panera's after a valiant, if unsuccessful, attempt to take the entire month of December off. And there's that cuter than cute tall, gangly, ball cap-wearing guy, feeding his one-year old a juice box and crackers for breakfast. I stare and smile and try vainly to pretend I'm not supposed to be figuring out what the @#$u* to do about my next book.

Ever see the Ricky Gervais TV series, Extras? He wrote a scene that could be lifted from life, (whose I won't say) and I've spent the last half hour searching the 'net (and avoiding writing) to share it with you. Alas, no luck. But, I will say it's with his riotous and useless agent, Darren, and it's about Andy's (Gervais) idea for a movie or TV show. Suffice it to say that by the time Darren finishes "tweaking" it, the original idea has morphed so far from the original, it's not only unrecognizable it's hilariously ludicrous.

Ah, me, the creative life.

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