Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Buck (fifty) Well Spent

This Week's Recommendation: Woman's World Magazine

My good friend Lynne Marshall has a story in the March 14th issue. I recommend that you buy it on your next trip to the grocery store. Her story is called "A Good Husband," and I found it to be inspirational and a departure from their usual "first meet" stories.

She also has a book coming out this fall. Her Baby's Secret Father, a Mills and Boon medical romance, will be released in the UK in September, available online in the US a couple of months later. I can't wait to buy my copy!

Monday, February 27, 2006

From the Ashes

This Week's Trivia: The Phoenix

I spent five hours yesterday with my web designer, Jax Crane, working on my website. She's fabulous and you can check out her work by clicking on the link in the sidebar of my blog. I can't wait for the unveiling, which Jax assures me will be in the next week or so.

Anyway, because my Chinese name, given to me by my late Great-Uncle Jim, is Gum Foong (Golden Phoenix) I chose to incorporate that motif in my website. So, in honor of that, today I offer some trivia about the phoenix.

Said to live for 500, 1461 or for 12594 years (depending on the source), the phoenix is a male bird with beautiful gold and red plumage. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises. The new phoenix embalms the ashes of the old phoenix in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in Heliopolis ("the city of the sun" in Greek), located in Egypt. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible — a symbol of fire and divinity.

One inspiration that has been suggested for the Egyptian phoenix is a specific bird species of East Africa. This bird nests on salt flats that are too hot for its eggs or chicks to survive; it builds a mound several inches tall and large enough to support its egg, which it lays in that marginally cooler location. The hot air rising around these mounds resembles the turbulence of a flame.

I had no idea that the phoenix of myth had a designated life span, or that they had a nesting ground to return to, like salmon. You learn something new everyday!

Queen's logo has a picture of a Phoenix on the top part. The logo was designed by their singer, Freddie Mercury.

I found a picture of the logo (above left.) The lions look a little anorexic, if you ask me.

The fenghuang (Chinese Phoenix) is said to be made up of the beak of a cock, the face of a swallow, the forehead of a fowl, the neck of a snake, the breast of a goose, the back of a tortoise, the hindquarters of a stag and the tail of a fish. Its body symbolizes the six celestial bodies. The head is the sky, the eyes are the sun, the back is the moon, the wings are the wind, the feet are the earth, and the tail is the planets. Its feathers contain the five fundamental colors: black, white, red, green, and yellow.

This is quite an amalagamation of parts, sort of like the Chinese version of Frankenstein's monster. I think I prefer to think of it as a bird since I'm not crazy about having a fish tail or buck butt.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Get Yourself A Tissue

I usually take weekends off from blogging, but I wanted to share this video clip. It's nice to see something heartwarming when so much of the news is negative.

Friday, February 24, 2006

My Writing Process

I find that selling a story to Woman’s World motivates me to write more for them. Funny how that positive reinforcement works, huh! They weren’t just pulling my leg in Psych 101.

Anyway, I went into my “Woman’s World Ideas” file and here’s what I found:

-E-bay she buys something from him and sees he lives nearby. She wants to pick it up to save shipping.
-Host a UK coach?
-Jury duty
-"Sweet Tooth"
-"Yours Truly"
-Christmas lights -- friendly competition, santa sleigh and reindeer won’t fit on her lawn.
-Thanksgiving – meet the parents, he’s a cook. Kitchen fire? mom asks for specific recipe?
-School starting – shopping for school supplies? Retiring teacher turns to subbing.
-Raking leaves
-“Blast from the Past”

Yeah, it probably reads like gobbledeegook, but it makes sense to me!

Anyway, I decided to write a story that would fit in to a specific time of year. Thinking that they seem to schedule six to seven months ahead from when I originally submit a story, I chose to write a story in the fall. The “school starting” phrase caught my eye and I got an idea to write about a woman whose child is starting kindergarten. I had written one about a woman whose last child is leaving the nest to get married and thought I’d hit the same theme, but earlier in the “life cycle.” So, I’m halfway into “That Special Touch” (working title) and should be done in a week or so. Then, it goes to my infinitely wise critique partners. After they give me their comments, I revise and send, usually the next day.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Janet's Picture

Hey, Janet, here's your picture! Let me know when you snatch it up so I can delete this blog entry. :)

Stupid Blog

I'm frustrated. I try to keep ahead of the game by writing blogs ahead and saving them as drafts, but I found out that if I save it on Wednesday and post it on Thursday, it shows up as a Wednesday entry. So, today's Thursday entry - a recipe, as is my habit - is listed under Wednesday. I'll have to start writing them on a Word doc and posting them ON THE DAY. Unless someone out there can tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Stupid blogs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

For the Love of Pasta

Recipe of the Week: Mushroom Rigatoni

There was a time when I cooked this dish regularly, but I haven't made it for years because it's fattening. Still, maybe you have a faster metabolism than I do and can manage to eat this and not become rounder. It's a simple recipe with few ingredients and so delicious you could substitute it for sex.

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots (about 6)
1/2 lb. mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/c cup heavy cream
3/4 lb. rigatoni
Parmesan cheese (optional)

In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and mushrooms. Cook, stirring 3-4 minutes until vegetables have softened and mushrooms have released their juices. Add wine; cook until evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook 4-5 minutes. Stir in cream; simmer uncovered 2 minutes.

Bring large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, return to pot and mix well with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.


A Blast from the Past

When I was fresh out of college, I worked as a personal assistant for R. Kenton Nelson, a commercial illustrator. He designed promotional materials for the Century City mall, and illustrated menus for El Torito, among many other things. It was a fun job. His studio was in the old Helms Bakery building in Culver City and lots of other artists and designers had studios there.

So now, twenty years later, he doesn't do commercial art anymore. He creates fine art shown in galleries, even in Austria! I adore his work and am planning a trip to see his exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. If you met him, you'd see that he himself is like a blast from the past. He dresses (or at least he used to) like a man from the forties. Think Gene Kelly slick and sophisticated. His art reflects that same nostalgic feel. He also used to say stuff like, "Golly!" which I found to be really endearing.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Kickin' Ass and Taking Names!

I sold another story to Woman's World magazine! I am seriously over the moon with excitement. This makes the fifth sale to them out of sixteen stories submitted and upped my percentage of success to 31%. Proud? You bet!

Goin' out to dinner to celebrate!


Gobble, Gobble

Recommendation of the Week

My kids love bacon. Who doesn't? They would eat a pound of it each if I let them. Unfortunately, it's not that healthy for you and it's expensive! Luckily, my husband's cousin introduced us to Louis Rich turkey bacon. It's excellent.

-Crisps up wonderfully
-Tastes yummy!
-Is low cal
-costs about half what bacon costs

We still have pork bacon once in a while, and that still rocks, but turkey bacon is our regular alternative. Give it a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


Sunday, February 19, 2006


Weekly Trivia Topic: Chocolate!

Luckily I grew out of my childhood chocolate allergy. If I hadn't, I might have gone into a downward spiral and killed myself by now. I now have chocolate everyday, usually in the form of a Hershey's kiss. So, in honor of my daily indulgence here are a few interesting facts.

U.S. consumers eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate annually, representing nearly half of the world's supply.

This doesn't surprise me. The candy makers have a special offering for every holiday and season, don't they? Wait, I don't think I've seen St. Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo M&Ms yet. But then, March is only a couple of weeks away.

Chocolate syrup was used for the blood in the famous shower scene in the Alfred Hitchcock movie 'Psycho'. The scene lasts for about 45 seconds in the movie, but took 7 days to film.

You know, I've never seen this movie.

Chocolate does not aggravate acne. Experiments conducted at the University of Pennsylvania nd the U.S. Naval Academy found that consumption of chocolate -- even frequent daily dietary intake -- had no effect on the incidence of acne. Professional dermatologists today do not link acne with diet.

And now I find myself slightly bitter about all those years of listening to my mother harp on me for not eating candy bars. Think I'll go eat one of the espresso chocolate malted milk balls my hubby gave me!


Friday, February 17, 2006


I just got word that the Hearts of Carolina Romance Writers want me to present my online class on How To Sell to Woman's World Magazine. Their 2006 calendar is already booked, so I am scheduled to teach in February, 2007. Having sold four stories to that publication, I felt I had some insight to share with other aspiring romance writers. Hopefully someone will sell to them as a result of what they learn from me. It's a real thrill to get paid for a short story you wrote, especially when your longer work can idle on an editor's desk for sometimes a year.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dijon Mustard Parmesan Chicken

Recipe of the Week

A friend of mine cooked this at a writer's retreat and I loved it. Mostly because it was an amazingly simple recipe and I have everything in my pantry already. No special ingredients to remember to buy except the chicken.

Here's what you need:

chicken thighs
dijon mustard
olive oil
parmesan cheese

You just mix equal parts of dijon mustard and olive oil together. How much depends on how many pieces of chicken you are making. Slather the mixture on your chicken and sprinkle the cheap kind of shake-it-out-of-the-jar parmesan on it. Bake it at 350 for 40 minutes or until done. It's delish!!!


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fab Designer, Mine All Mine

I got the most fantastic news today. If you read my entry from February 4, you know that I recently sold another book to Liquid Silver. Part of the publishing process includes the author submitting a detailed questionnaire about what she might like to see on the book cover. I count myself truly blessed that Liquid Silver works hard to collaborate with its authors on this, and I think the effort shows in their above average designs.

Anyway, the fantastic news is that Jax Crane, a great friend and artist, has just been hired by Liquid Silver to be a staff designer. Not only that, but she's been assigned to do my new cover! I'm so excited. I can't wait to see what she does for Ben and Charlotte, the main characters of the book.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman

Recommendation of the Week:

The boys and I really enjoyed reading this kiddie thriller. It's about two kids, Meg and Aidan Falconer, whose parents have been wrongly imprisoned for treason. The kids are trapped in a juvenile detention center and find themselves on the run from the authorities. In their quest for proof that their parents are innocent, they encounter setback after setback. Korman keeps the suspense going throughout, so if you have kids that enjoy a fast-paced read, get this. It's the first in a series.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Come out of Your Shell!

Weekly Trivia Topic: Hermit crabs

We have one of these little critters. He's small, about the size of cherry tomato. He spends a lot of his time under the sand or up in the little plastic palm tree in his habitat. If you ever wanted a pet that requires almost no care, the hermit crab is for you. The most important thing you have to monitor is the water. They need a humid environment. Otherwise, they eat so little that you only need to check food once a week or so.

Anyway, on to the trivia which I got from hermit-crabs.com:

The name 'hermit' is misapplied to our little friends -- they are quite gregarious and like to be around their own kind. In the wild, they travel in packs of up to 100 crabs, scavenging the beach for food and shells. The reason they travel in packs is simple: Where there are more crabs, there are more shells. Researchers have found by putting one clean, empty shell on the beach, they can initiate a "cascade" of shells changes: One crab changes in to the new shell, another changes into his old shell, and another changes into the other empty shell, and so on.

It isn't enough that hermit crabs make the neatest sound, a cross between a creaky bed, a rusty door hinge, a croaking frog and a chirping bird.

Believe it or not, after it molts, the crab (after its claws have adequately hardened) will eat its old skin. The ‘old’ skin is full of nutrients such as calcium and especially the important skin-hardening agent chitin.

The best diet for a land hermit crab is basically what you feed yourself (with a few additions and exclusions). Land hermit crabs are omnivorous and therefore eat just about anything. You can feed them meat, fish, vegetables and fruit (yes even citrus fruit!).


Friday, February 10, 2006

I Need a Shrink

Did you know I'm schizo? I have two distinct writing personalities. One side of me is sweet and romantic. Her name is Kim Crawford, and she writes tame, heart-warming stories of love for Woman's World magazine, where the most racy thing that happens is a lingering glance or first kiss.

My dark side emerges in the form of Kate Willoughby. Kate revels in juicy stories of love in which the characters revel in the pleasure they can give each other in bed and often out of it. No holds are barred in Kate's stories, but they always end happily.

Now, the strange thing is that even though they say that sex sells, Kim Crawford has made about twenty times more money than Kate.

So, what's that about? LOL


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cajun Burgers

Rachael Ray gets the credit for this. These are the best burgers I've ever made. If I can't find andouille sausage, I get any kind of Portuguese sausage.

3/4 pound andouille sausage, removed from casing
1 pound ground pork
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp hot sauce

Cut sausage into large chunks and place in food processor. Grind sausage into crumbles and combine in bowl with pork, vegetables, thyme, hot sauce, and a little salt and pepper. Form mixture into patties and cook 7 minutes on each side.

She makes a sauce to go with it, but the burgers are so tasty they don't need sauce.

1/2 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sweet red pepper relish

Oooh, I'm hungry now.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No Talent?

Here's a quote I'll bet many writers can identify with:

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.

--Peter Benchley, author of Jaws

Would that I could experience that same ephiphany. I already, at times, think I have no talent (like when the rejections come.) I'm just waiting for the fame part.

::takes a sip of coffee and stares out the window::

Still waiting. LOL


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Heat Wave by Eden Bradley

A good friend of mine, Eden Bradley, is also a writer. She is on the brink of really breaking out into the big time and it's exciting to be able to be one of those people who will say, "I knew her when..."

This is her first published story and I really recommend it. If you like your romance hot and, literally steamy, then pick up this little gem at Phaze.com. You won't be disappointed.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Shhh...It's a Secret (Service!)

I was attempting to watch Chasing Liberty last night, a movie about the first daughter and how she longs to be a regular girl without the secret service dogging her every step. Don't bother renting it unless you're a teen. Anyway, the U.S. Secret Service is an organization that interests me. So, here's some Monday trivia about it.

I had thought until recently that their only job was to protect current and past presidents and VIPs, like foreign dignitaries. But that's not the case. According to the official Secret Service website:

The Secret Service has primary jurisdiction to investigate threats against Secret Service protectees; counterfeiting of U.S. currency or other U.S. Government obligations; forgery or theft of U.S. Treasury checks, bonds or other securities; credit card fraud; telecommunications fraud; computer fraud; identify fraud; and certain other crimes affecting federally insured financial institutions.

Their origins really had to do with money, and the protection of the presidents didn't come into play until much later.

1865 The Secret Service Division began on July 5, 1865 in Washington, D.C., to suppress counterfeit currency.

1902 The Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for protection of the President. Two operatives were assigned full time to the White House Detail.

Agents must go through a heck of a lot of training, but that's not surprising.

Secret Service agents receive the finest law enforcement training in the world. New agent trainees are initially sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco, Georgia, where they are enrolled in the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP). This 9-week course, designed to train new federal investigators in such areas as criminal law and investigative techniques, provides a general foundation for the agency-specific training to follow.

Upon successful completion of CITP, new agent trainees attend the 11-week Special Agent Training Course at the Secret Service Training Academy, Beltsville, Maryland. This course focuses on specific Secret Service policies and procedures associated with the dual responsibilities of investigations and protection. Trainees are provided with basic knowledge and advanced application training in combating counterfeiting, access device fraud and other financial criminal activity, protective intelligence investigations, physical protection techniques, protective advances and emergency medicine. The core curriculum is augmented with extensive firearms training, control tactics, water survival skills and physical fitness.

A neighbor of mine moved away last year, and it wasn't until after they were gone that I found out the husband was a Secret Service agent. Silly me, I got a little thrill from that bit of knowledge. Like, oooh, that guy is trained to use guns and stuff like in the movies! It all of a sudden made sense that he was so taciturn and macho. Though the downside is I heard that when he was away on assignment, his wife couldn't be told any information at all and that she'd just be biting her nails the whole time he was gone. That's gotta be tough.


Saturday, February 04, 2006


I just got word that Liquid Silver Books wants to publish another one of my stories. It's a novella called Losing It. I'm so thrilled! I'm not making the big bucks yet, but I think if I build, what they call in the business, a strong backlist, that eventually the hard work will produce some continuous royalties.

Okay, so two titles isn't exactly a strong backlist, but it's a start!


Friday, February 03, 2006

Fallen Angels Review

I just got another nice review by Tewanda of Fallen Angels Reviews. Here's an excerpt:

Kate Willoughby’s Carnal Devotions is an enticing tale that will charm the reader from the first word. Nathan and Annie are dynamic characters that you will not soon forget. The sexual chemistry between the two is electrifying and is balanced by the emotional bond the two soon form. I enjoyed that Ms. Willoughby takes the reader on a tumultuous ride as the couple finds love, fight a threat and find their way back to one another. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Willoughby.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Peanut Butter Madness Pie

Sorry about the lapse in entries. My internet connection was down for three days. Oh, the horror! But, like the Terminator, I'm back. Since it's Thursday, Recipe Day, here's something to tempt you. It's probably a zillion calories a serving, but hey, you only live once. You could make it and have a bite every day for like a year. Right? Or you could eat a piece and run a marathon. Or, just forget it and enjoy.

Peanut Butter Madness Pie

1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (20 cookies)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Grated chocolate or chocolate cookie crumbs (optional)

Combine crust ingredients and press into a 9" pie plate. (This actually makes enough filling for two pies. Or, you could make it in a springform pan and probably be okay.) Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Gently spoon into crust. Garnish with chocolate or cookie crumbs if desired. Refrigerate. (8-10 servings)