Friday, November 30, 2007

Artists: Charles and Henry Greene

I adore the American Arts and Crafts art movement. If you've heard of the "mission style," it's the same thing. There is a house in Pasadena that embodies this movement so beautifully. It's called the Gamble House, and it's actually a museum in and of itself. The house and its furnishings were designed by Henry and Charles Greene in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter and Gamble Company. It is a California State Historic Monument.

Here is a picture of the "Tree of Life" front door. Have you ever seen a door more gorgeous than that? I shudder to think what would happen if someone slammed it.

Next is a photo of the living room light fixture. It doesn't look like it actually gives off that much light, but when it's as beautiful as that, who cares?

Finally, this is a picture of the staircase. Don't you just want to walk up and down these stairs with your hand on the railing?

If you're evern in Pasadena, go visit this place. You can take a one hour tour for ten bucks, or you can take the "Behind the Velvet Ropes" two and a half hour tour for forty.

Have a fantastic weekend!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday 3: Disney Heroines

There's a popular meme called Thursday 13 in which every Thursday you make a list of thirteen things. I did this for a few months, but I don't have time for thirteen! So, I whittled it down to Thursday 3.

This weekI'm naming my three favorite Disney heroines. There are quite a few to choose from.

1. Mulan is Chinese, like me. She's fiesty. She really wanted to make her father proud of her, something I've always longed for myself.

I love Ariel, too. She's a go-getter who knows what she wants. Too bad her prince's name was Eric. What kind of heroic name is that? Prince Eric. Ugh.

Finally, my very favorite heroine is Belle. The moment I found out she was a reader, I knew she was my kind of gal. Not only that, she had a damaged hero to transform. Those tortured heroes get me every single time. Too bad he looked girly when he finally became a prince. And that golden ball gown, she had? Lord, that was ugly. Still, at least she actually has a nose. LMAO.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not Your Average Roto-Rooter

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. My friend Anna J. Evans features Man Meat every Monday on her blog. If you ask me, the world can always use manly eye candy. So, here's my version...

Yes, I am a male model. In this manly photo of me, you can almost see my manly butt crack.

It occurs to me that if I ever tire of modeling, I can be a plumber.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Are You a Smart American?

You Are a Smart American

You know a lot about US history, and you're opinions are probably well informed.

Congratulations on bucking stereotypes. Now go show some foreigners how smart Americans can be.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Story: Their First Thanksgiving

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :) If you truly want to learn, it's best to have a copy of the story in front of you. (And no, I don't get a kickback for pimping the magazine here!)

Story: "Their First Thanksgiving" by Laurel Freeman from the November 20, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Bill had a feeling this might be the first of many Thanksgiving dinners with Kate...

In A Nutshell: A divorced man tries to cook Thanksgiving himself. When he gets help from a woman in the grocery store and finds out she's going to be alone for the holiday, he impulsively invites her to come to his house. Of course, she does.

Teaching Point
: One of the plot devices that can help your story feel nice and tight is to mention a wish at the beginning of a story and have it come true at the end. Then the reader can have that, "Oh, YEAH! I forgot about that!"/warm fuzzy moment. Ms. Freeman does a good job of this when Bill mentions that he loves homemade and at the end of the story, he gets his wish. This is also called "tying up loose ends." There are usually quite a few in novels, but in shorts like these, you're doing good if you have one at all! :)

Woman's World Standbys: This was a great Thanksgiving story. WW always publishes holiday themed stories, but it's tough to know how much competition you have in their to-be-read piles or if they've already filled those holiday slots.

The grocery store is always a good place for interaction. It's mundane and might give those single WW readers the hope that they might find their special someone there!

In My Humble Opinion: I always cringe when I see characters "smiling" their dialogue.

"I remember my first Thanksgiving," she smiled.

Best Part: I liked the guy, Bill. He's a go-getter, unafraid to take on a cooking challenge, despite the lack of support. I can relate, having two teenagers myself.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Artist: Susan Norris

It's Friday again! Art Day at Kate's blog. This week I'm featuring Susan Norris. After perusing her online gallery, I want to call her the amoeba artist. So much of her work makes me feel like I'm looking through a kaleido-microscope. This first painting is called "Primitive2." It looks to me either like micro-organisms or a colorful transit map. The colors appeal to me a lot, and I can't help but see this little happy face in the upper left corner.
This is called "Deco." I love how she can create something abstract that, at the same time, evokes the feeling of the Art Deco movement. I think some jazzy music would go well with this piece of artwork, something with a lot of sax.

What I found really cool was her artist's statement: "The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision. " Maimonides...... Don't be afraid of choosing the wrong color, or of taking that first stroke on a new white canvas. There is no way to do art wrong - just paint over it and try again. Usually the pieces that are accidents are the best. And above all else, be joyous with the gift of creation.

I think that philosophy can apply to so many areas of life. Indecision is something I struggle with constantly. I hope that you conquer it yourself and do something daring this weekend.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday 3: Name That Movie!

There's a popular meme called Thursday 13 in which every Thursday you make a list of thirteen things, but I don't have time for thirteen! So, I've whittled it down to Thursday 3.

This week I am listing three quotes from one of my favorite movies. Do you recognize them? Hint: They're all spoken by the same character, a man with the intials, J.C.

1. "Dammit man, the Doobie Brothers broke up! Shit! When did that happen?"

2. "What did you do, wake up this morning and say, 'Today, I'm going to ruin a man's life'?"

3. "My minimum price for taking a stranded lady to a telephone is 400 dollars."

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Music Mindreader

A friend of mine turned me on to this amazing music A group of musicians got together and classified songs according to a gazillion attributes. The result? Personalized radio discovery.

Go to Type in a song or artist you like. The website creates a "radio station" of music that is similar to the song or artist you chose. It is SO COOL.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Review: CK's Kwips and Kritiques

My story, "A Man of Vision," appears in the anthology, Ellora's Cavemen Seasons of Seduction, Volume III, along with five other erotic tales. Jennifer A. Ray of CK's Kwips and Kritiques adored my story and gave the entire anthology 5/5 clovers!

Kate Willoughby is the only author in this anthology who was new to me, and I more than loved her story! "A Man of Vision" is a contemporary romance that somehow manages the feel of a historical romance. Perhaps it is the Old World setting that accomplishes this nostalgic feel.

Although this romance begins with two people used to remaining detached from everyone around them, Delphine and Cristoforo find a connection early on. Even while they try to ignore it themselves, it is more than obvious to the reader. It doesn’t take long for them establish a more personal connection, at which point Cristoforo’s secrets begin to unravel, threatening everything they could have together.

Didja see that "more than loved her story" part? :D Wahoo! *does the happy dance*

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Story: Love on the Menu

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :) If you truly want to learn, it's best to have a copy of the story in front of you. (And no, I don't get a kickback for pimping the magazine here!)

Story: "Love on the Menu" by Beverly Giroux from the November 13, 2007 issue.

Tagline: He wanted to meet the young woman behind the deli counter. She wanted to meet the young man who'd been coming in for lunch...

In A Nutshell: Carrie works at a deli. She wants to meet Steve, a regular customer, and vice versa. While Steve is away on business, both realize that they want to take the next step, and when he returns, they do.

Teaching Points:
1. This story is unusual in the fact that it goes back and forth between POVs three times. Most of the time, WW stories remain in one point of view. Just goes to show you that they will accept stuff that goes against the norm.

2. WW characters tend to be less aggressive than those in your contemporary romance novel. The audience may be the same audience, but with different expectations. Here, the heroes and heroines are more shy and "traditional."

For example, in this story Carrie is "brave" when she actually speaks with Steve. Steve wishes he'd had the courage to ask Carrie out. This hesitancy also allows you as the writer to show character growth.

In My Humble Opinion: I think the second point of view change could have been smoother if Ms. Giroux had let us know Steve was in Phoenix right away, instead of in the third sentence in that paragraph.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Artist: Angela Anderson

Welcome to another Friday Art Exhibition at my blog.

This is "Robin Nest" by Angela Anderson. It's hard not to enjoy such a simple image. There's a fluidity to the nest that I adore, how the bits of straw and such flow and intertwine to form a strong home for the delicate eggs. She has an entire series of nest paintings. (See blog link below.)

Angela Anderson is from Russellville, Arkansas, USA. She grew up in Palm Springs, California and has been painting professionally and teaching art classes for over 16 years. She and her husband, Mark, have three boys.

Ms. Anderson says, "I often like to take all background distractions out of my paintings and focus in on the part of my subject that I find most interesting. There is simplicity that results which I find very appealing. I would categorize my paintings as somewhat Impressionistic in style, but they tend to have a sense of realism about them as well. A customer once commented that my paintings were "soothing". I thought that was a lovely compliment. I hope that those who view my art feel the same peace and love for God that I feel when I am painting. If I've made someone feel good then all my efforts are worthwhile."

You can view more of her artwork at her website.

Have a terrific weekend.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday 3: From My Pen

There's a popular meme called Thursday 13 in which every Thursday you make a list of thirteen things. I did this for a few months, but because my time is precious and I have been known to be lazy, I whittled it down to Thursday 3.

Three Paragraphs

I'm currently working on A Wolf at Her Door, the second in my Be-Wished series for Ellora's Cave. A year ago, Paige made a wish to spend a hot night with a werewolf. Imagine her surprise when a Universal Wish Fairy grants that wish!

It's been fun writing my first shapeshifter book. I hope you enjoy these three paragraphs.

1. Unfortunately left to her own imagination, Paige pictured a rough mountain man with a hairy back and dog breath. With that image in mind, she decided against changing clothes. Her jeans, turtleneck, and shearling jacket were good enough for coffee at a nearby bakery. According to the terms and conditions pamphlet that Davina had given her, Paige wasn’t obligated to go through with the wish. So if this man resembled Old Yeller in any way, shape, or form, she was washing her hands of the whole thing.

2. Adam's nostrils flared as the breeze brought him a sharp scent, one that caught his immediate attention. Above the brine, the coffee and pastries, the exhaust from the cars, and dozens of other smells, he detected a tantalizing, feminine perfume. It put his body on alert, like he’d gone from a personal Defcon 5 to Defcon 4, or maybe even 3.5.

3. Adam jumped when Davina appeared right in front of him. She was wearing butter yellow silk pjs, Tinker Bell slippers, and a very determined expression on her face. Right on her heels came two more fairies, also in pajamas.

So, if you're a writer, share a short paragraph from your own WIP. If you're a reader, which paragraph intrigued you the most?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hot Man Haiku: Jude Law

As clavicles go
This one's tops. Wish I could see
All his other...bones.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Recipe: Sauteed Corn, Bacon, and Scallions

You know, I staunchly believe that anything with bacon must be tasty. Here's a good example!

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
4 cups corn kernels
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
2 to 3 scallions, sliced

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add corn kernels; season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until corn is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in scallions. Serve immediately. Serves 4.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Story: Hearts Collide

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :) To get the most out of the teaching points, it's best to have a copy of the story in front of you. (And no, I don't get a kickback for pimping the magazine here!)

Story: "Hearts Collide" by Stephen D. Rogers from the November 6, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Pamela had a feeling that Mark's minor accident would have a major impact in her life...

This is the first time ever that the tagline made me laugh. I'm not sure whether editorial or Mr. Rogers wrote it, but well done! It set the scene for more humor throughout the story.

In A Nutshell: Pamela works at the police station. A boy she loved from afar walks in, having just been in a fender-bender. As they complete the accident form together, they reconnect.

Teaching Points:

1. In these very short 1000 word stories, you never have much room for description or backstory. Every word counts. (Ha! No pun intended.) So, note about a third of the way through the story you get this bit of info:

"I felt as though high school had ended yesterday instead of 15 years ago."

And bingo, you get an idea of how old the characters are.

2. Dialogue tags are your friends. Phrases such as "he said" and "she asked," are necessary to help your reader understand who is speaking, however, they should be used judiciously. Mr. Rogers does an excellent job NOT using them. This helps keep to the 1K word count as well as step up the pacing of the story. It can be a tricky skill to develop if you're new to writing. Make sure it's clear who the speaker is just by the words coming out of his/her mouth. Rule of thumb, you should probably not go farther than three or four lines of dialogue without identifying the speaker either with a tag or an action.

Woman's World Standbys: Old Flame, Car Accident (off stage)

Best Part "I'm not sure if I'm free to fly to Paris today, but I can talk to my supervisor." That was HILARIOUS.

In My Humble Opinion: I could find absolutely nothing to pick on in this excellent story.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Artist: Amedeo Gennarelli (1910-1976)

I tried to find biographical information on Amedeo Gennarelli, but was unsuccessful. However, that didn't deter me from posting photos of this sculpture from the Jennmaur Gallery in San Francisco. If you're a regular visitor of my blog, then you probably know that most of the art that I like engenders feelings of optimism and happiness. This is no different. This woman embodies joy in every part of her body. The sculpture is called Carrier Pigeon, perhaps because she is sending a heartfelt letter to her lover, or vice versa. I'm glad I was able to find photos of the front and the back.

Have a fantastic weekend. Try to do something that makes you feel like this sculpture.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday 3: Lasts

There's a popular meme called Thursday 13 in which every Thursday you make a list of thirteen things. I did this for a few months, but because my time is precious and I have been known to be lazy, I whittled it down to Thursday 3.

I also get ideas for Thursday from a different meme called Friday5. This week's hijacked theme is "lasts."

1. What was the last thing you baked? - I baked a blueberry cheesecake for my mom's birthday.

2. What was the last thing you tried on for size? - I tried on a top at Macy's that I wore to my cousin's wedding this weekend. I really love that top!

3. What was the last thing you purchased on credit? - Vaccuum cleaner bags.

How about you?
What was the last thing you baked?
What was the last thing you tried on for size?
What was the last thing you purchased on credit?


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hot Man Haiku: Freddie Ljungberg

Let me assure you,
That is not a banana.

Can you handle it?

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Five Hearts!

Tina at Love Romances and More gave me 5 hearts! Here's a little of what she had to say:

ALL IN is the first in a Be-Wished series and this reviewer must say it’s off to a great start! Ms. Willoughby has created an intriguing premise around a wish-filled bracelet. Her characters will capture you in their dilemma immediately...and just when you think you know what will happen; she cleverly throws in a twist or two.

ALL IN has this reviewer anticipating the arrival of the second book and hopes Ms. Willoughby can create another captivating storyline and two more delectable characters.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Story: Two Little Kittens

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "Two Little Kittens" by K. McCrite Deiser from the October 30, 2007 issue.

Tagline: As Kate handed over the lost kittens, she wondered who had rescued whom...

In A Nutshell: A woman is under her porch searching for her new neighbor's kittens. He had seen them dart under there and was too big to rescue them himself. After she saves both kittens, he invites her over to his place for a breakfast of appreciation.

Woman's World Standbys: Lost pets show up a lot in WW stories. This also falls under the "woman to the rescue" theme that's common as well.

Teaching Points: This story wraps up with just one sentence and the reader finishes with a warm fuzzy feeling because Kate and Brett have just met and are going to have breakfast together. I call this a soft Happily Ever After (HEA). There's no marriage or proposal, like you expect in full length romance novels, because there isn't room. In a 1000 word story it's better to aim for just the promise of a future romance.

If you're familiar with the three-act structure, you know that the climax of the story usually occurs near the end of act three, but often in these very short stories, you can mix that up a little. I think this is mostly because even when you begin reading the story, you're only a couple of minutes from reading the end! So there's little danger of losing your reader. Anyway in "Two Little Kittens," the climactic moment is when Kate grabs something that is not a kitten! Yikes!

Best Part: "I hadn't showered or brushed my hair. Worse, I hadn't had my coffee." Oh, that's funny. I can totally relate.

In My Humble Opinion: I think this is probably an editoral/proofer snafu, but try as I might I couldn't understand this sentence:

As I lay there, I saw that I was eyeball to boot.

However, I thought the story read fresh and I enjoyed the humor, too.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Artist: Edmond Aman-Jean (1858-1936)

Aman-Jean was a French painter, pastellist and printmaker who specialized in pictures of languid young women turned in profile to the left or gazing into space, but I chose a different image of his.

This painting is called "Hesiod Listening to the Inspiration of the Muse." Isn't it beautiful? It soothes me. It makes me want to hum something softly while enjoying a glass of wine. I want to write a story around it, which I think is very telling. I think a painting really speaks to me if it inspires my own muse.
Why do you think the muse needed to speak to him?


Thursday 3: Take It and Run

I live in California near where some of the fires were. Luckily, we were never in serious danger of evacuating, although several families we know had to leave their homes or were on the alert.

This week I'm listing three things I would take out of my house if we ever are evacuated.

1. My photo albums - This might count as 16 items, but these visual chronicles of my family (1993-present) are priceless. Absolutely everything else could burn to the ground and get replaced.

2. The computers - For obvious reasons.

3. My journal - I've been so consistent with my ten-year journal that I would hate to see it go up in smoke.

It's interesting to discover that there isn't that much in my house that I couldn't live without. Of course, losing your house and all your possessions would be devastating, but if I had at least the first two items, I'd get over it.

What would you save?