Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don't Cry

I'm going to be at the Romance Writers of America National Conference until Sunday. Sorry I didn't have my sh*t together enough to prepare posts in advance. You'll just have to muddle through without me. :) Feel free to check out the other blogs I have listed on the right to amuse yourself while I'm gone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sneak Peek

I'm hard at work on my third Be-Wished book, tentatively titled DOUBLE DARE. It's been a difficult book to start, but I've managed to get to Chapter Two. Here's a little look at the prologue. I decided to finally show part of the incident that started it all: the scene where the three women make their wishes...

“Your turn, Liv,” Mariah prompted. “What’s your wish? And it has to involve sex.” She took a gulp of her margarita like it was punctuation on her sentence.

“Yeah, sexy sex,” Paige added with a giggle as she examined the brightly colored bracelet that now adorned her wrist. “Slippery, satisfying, sucktastic sex.”

“Sucktastic?” Livvy asked.

“Yeah, like fantastic, but with lots of sucking involved.”

Livvy Campbell laughed. She and her two best friends were enjoying a weekend cruise to Mexico. Earlier in the day they’d all purchased woven bracelets from a street vendor, along with a card that promised a wish made when the bracelet was tied on would come true when the bracelet fell off. So now in one of the dozen lounges on board, the trio were declaring their wishes between margaritas.

“And why should I have to wish for sucktastic sex?” Livvy asked. “Why can’t I wish for world peace or a cure for breast cancer?”

Mariah rolled her eyes. “Because A, world peace and cancer cures are not fun. We’re here to have fun this weekend.”

“Here, here,” Paige said.

“B,” Mariah went on, “we wished for sex, so so should you. And C, you need to get laid more than we do.”

“Yeah,” Paige piped in again. “Like twice as much.”

At that moment, Mariah’s eyes went wide. “That’s it! You should wish for a ménage.”

“A ménage a trois?” Livvy burst out laughing at the thought. “As in me with two guys?”

Mariah nodded slowly. “Two guys at once simatainously. Two guys hot for your body. So hot that they’re willing to share you.”

A lascivious grin came over Paige’s face. “Oh, yeah. If you really wanna go wild, go for DP.”

“What the heck is DP?” Livvy asked. Mariah looked puzzled too.

“Double penetration,” Paige said under her breath, eyeing a couple of guys who were pretending unsuccessfully that they were not listening in. She gave them the evil eye. “Take a hike, guys. This is a private conversation.”

Livvy waited until they wandered away before she asked sotto voce, “Where did you learn about DPs?”

Paige, who rated hotels for a living, shrugged. “Hey, a girl gets bored once in a while, you know? The movies are free for me.”

“So you’re talking…” Livvy leaned forward and spoke in a whisper, “front and back.”

“Yeah, at the same time,” Paige confirmed.

“Oh my God,” Mariah said. “I dare you.”

Paige thumped her fists on the table. “I double dare you.”


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

At Your Service

I've worked as a Starbucks barista for over two years, and it's really opened my eyes about the service industry. You know how Israel requires all of its young men to serve in the military? I think in America we should require everyone to hold a job in the service industry for just a couple of weeks. That way they'd get an idea of what it's like to be on the other side of the counter.

Don't get me wrong. I actually really enjoy serving people. I think I'm good at it. In 98% of the cases, my smile is genuine, my wish to help you, sincere. (The only time I smile even though I don't want to see you is if you've been in before and are a pain in the ass, ungrateful, curt, or act entitled.)

But some people just need to get a clue. Like, what's with taking your drink without saying thank you? How is it possible to look at someone who smiles at you and not smile back? Do you not realize that throwing your money on the counter comes across as condescending? And, really, how hard is it to pick up your straw paper off the floor when you clearly see it didn't make it into the trash can?

Apparently, it's really hard.

So, I'm just wondering, have you ever worked a service job?


Monday, July 28, 2008

Joke: The Mystery Scot

The hero of my Work In Progress is a cutie of a guy, who--I just found out today--is Scottish. So, in researching kilts and such I found this joke that made me laugh out loud. I hope it gives you a chuckle, too. Oh, and here's a pic of Gerard Butler looking mighty cute.

Three Scotswomen are walking home at night (they are neighbors) and find a Scotsman passed out partially under a wagon. His upper body is under the wagon and they can't see who he is; however, they want to help him get home.

The first woman looks under his kilt and says, "It's not my husband."

The second woman looks under his kilt and says, It's not my husband."

The third woman looks under his kilt and says, "Why he's not even from our village!"


Friday, July 25, 2008

Artist: Paulette Insall

I found Paulette Insall serendipitously via my Google home page. I love the serenity of the faces she paints. The cool thing is that she teaches painting classes online. I might have signed up for one if there was one available right now.

The painting above is called "Follow." The butterfly is flitting behind her, and it's unclear to me whether she sees it or not. Her expression is somewhat dour, maybe even a little angry, and it seems to me that she needs to let go and follow the butterfly, to invite some chance into her life and be carefree.

This painting is called "Tangled Heart." The text says "Somehow, she gave the tangle of her heart--that went out like a pair of wings." This message seemed perfect for me as a writer. I liked the idea that my books come from my heart and that when I publish them they fly away. But after that, my metaphor kind of falls apart. If they're birds, do they end up standing on statues, pooping? Do they just migrate south? LOL There's no way I can think of to connect the wing/bird thing to readers. So, maybe it's not so perfect after all.

This last one is called "See The Beauty." The text reads, "If your eyes are blinded with your worries, you cannot see the beauty of the sunset. --Krishnamurti" I thought it was interesting that the heart on her shirt has a tunnel on it, like a hole in her heart. Also her wings are so small. Perhaps that's because they're atrophied. Despite that, I feel hopeful for this woman. It's never too late to strive for what you want, what you dream of.

Dream big this weekend!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday 3: A Skilled Storyteller

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.

Based on a recommendation from Julia Quinn, I picked up a copy of Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady. It is superb. Here are three reasons why I'm in awe of this book and its author.

1. Annique's French voice is so smoothly done. There is a cadence you hear when she speaks and the way Bourne structures the could tell it was Annique speaking even if there were no dialogue tags.

2. Annique is a believable kickass historical heroinne. One of my pet peeves is when a woman is inexplicably able to repeatedly beat men in one-on-one physical combat, be it with swords, barehanded, or whatever. I'm always thinking, "Oh, right. His arms are so much longer than hers that she'd never be able to get a hit with that sword." But Annique's fighting abilities I never question because she's clever and knows her own limits. The author doesn't push those limits beyond believability and I love her for it.

3. Bourne is surprising me right and left, which (not to toot my own horn too much) is really hard to do. The very first huge surprise she springs on you, I never even saw coming. It was like when I saw The Sixth Sense. **Pauses a moment so you can remember the big Bruce Willis AHA! moment.** All the clues were there, but they were so subtle that when the "secret" was finally revealed, you smacked yourself upside the head for not seeing it before, but in a good way! Bourne has done that to me twice, and I'm only halfway through the book.

If you haven't read this book, you're in for a treat.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shame on Me Joke

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot a lot of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet.

He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.

This made him . . .

(Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good.)

...a super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My brother emailed me this photo of my fraternal grandmother (center), my dad (to her right) and my uncle (to her left.) It has always puzzled me as to why people never smiled in "old" photographs. I wonder when it was that it became de rigeur to smile for the camera. Maybe once movie stars hit the scene.

Do you know the history behind "saying cheese?"


Monday, July 21, 2008

Recipe: Grilled Shrimp and Lemon Kebabs

Here's a recipe I got from Real Simple, a magazine I enjoy subscribing to. I really liked the idea of the lemon wedges right on the skewers. Seeing that gave me an aha! moment, like why didn't I think of that? However, I don't like serving shrimp you have to peel, so I've simplified the recipe a little. If you'd like the original version, go here.

24 medium shrimp, peeled, cleaned (I get the ones that just require me to to slip the shells off.)
2 lemons, cut into small wedges
3 yellow squash or zucchini, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 sprigs fresh basil
16 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes (I use our metal skewers.)

Place the shrimp and lemon wedges on 8 skewers, alternating them. Halve the squash or zucchini lengthwise. (I would just fling the squash on the grill directly and don't bother with skewers. That's just more stuff to clean later. If you want to skewer the squash, you need to cut them into 1" pieces after halving them.)

Brush the kebabs with the oil and season with the salt. Grill the veggies about 3 to 4 minutes. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until the shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total. Serve the shrimp and squash with the basil, torn into pieces if desired.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

CALORIES 86(41% from fat); FAT 4g (sat 1g); CHOLESTEROL 55mg; CARBOHYDRATE 7g; SODIUM 540mg; PROTEIN 9g; FIBER 2g; SUGAR 3g


Friday, July 18, 2008

Artist: Melissa Craven Fowler

Quilting is something I have attempted to do before, but I've never finished. Perhaps after my kids leave home, I'll take a class. I've always loved the traditional quilts, but not until recent years did I find out that there are quilts that go WAY beyond the norm.

This is an example. It's called Collage 9: Tower in the Sky. I would have loved this as a painting, but am wowed by the fact that it's made out of fabric. Check out Ms. Fowler's other work here.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday 3: Never Too Much

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.

Here are three things I can NEVER have too many of.

1. Pens
2. Books
3. Recipes

Consider me a penookipeaholic (pronounced pen-OOK-i-pee-a-hall-ik).


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dumb Joke

A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident.

He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!"

The doctor replied, "I know you can't. I've cut off your arms!"


Monday, July 14, 2008

Tie Me Up?

I got a great/puzzling review on Hostile Takeover. Natasha Smith, the Romance Junkies reviewer, loved the book, which is terrific! However, she called it a BDSM novel. This was a surprise to me! I hadn't intended for it to be. My concern is that people who are into BDSM get it and become irritated when they find it's not an accurate depiction of the BDSM lifestyle.

However, the important thing is that she enjoyed the book. Yay!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Artist: Kay Nielsen

This Art Friday I'm presenting a work by a man named Kay (pronounced "kigh." According to Wikipedia,

Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) was a Danish illustrator who was popular in the early 20th century, the "golden age of illustration."

In the 1930s went to work for The Walt Disney Company, where his work was used in the "Ave Maria" and "Night on Bald Mountain" sequences of Fantasia. He did some work on "The Little Mermaid", but it was almost 50 years before this reached the cinema. His final years were spent in poverty.

Right is an illustration called "Then He Carried Her Home," from the story "The Lassie and her Godmother." I think the image is terribly romantic. I adore the whimsical trees that are almost like vines. To me, they seem to be like graceful sentinels witnessing this happily ever after in progress. The horse is just beautiful, with it's plaited mane and majestic hooves. The art deco feeling, too, is lovely, and what fair maiden wouldn't want to be cradled like this? If you would like to view more of Nielsen's work, click here.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I have always liked collecting things. I do and have collected stamps, souvenir spoons, *recipes, *the state quarters, *the presidential dollars, teapots, and *Santa Christmas tree ornaments.
The problem with collections is that you have to have a place to house them. I stopped collecting the spoons when I was going on my third rack. They're not that attractive on the wall, so right now the two racks and my vast collection (people would bring me spoons from THEIR vacations) are in the garage. My stamps are long gone. I collected those as a teen. I filled many a summer hour floating stamps off bits of paper and finding their places in my international album. I do still need a folder for collecting the presidential quarters, of which I have four.

Do you collect anything?

*Still collecting these items


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In-N-Out Burgers!

I recently bought this book, Eat This, Not That, and found out something that makes me very happy! An In-N-Out hamburger is 100 calories less than a quarter pounder. :D That's great news because the last time I splurged on a quarter pounder, it was horrible, having obviously sat for quite a while in the warmer. In N Out burgers are always made fresh to order. So get out there and eat a burger without guilt. :D


Monday, July 07, 2008

Writerly Wonderings

I recently finished writing a novella set in an alternate world that I created. I had so much fun. I'd never done that before, but having read a gazillion fantasy and science fiction books when I was a young(er!) woman, I had a good idea of what was necessary.

I borrowed a good deal from the Japanese culture, which has fascinated me ever since I saw the mini-series Shogun on TV in the seventies and then read the book. I made hot baths a central and social activity in the lives of my Shinwa people. Any names or words I made up had an Asian feel to them. Their society is feudal, but somewhat matriarchal. And my main characters wear robes, called yukata, the actual Japanese word for robe. I may change that though and just make a word up. My editor, Suz, and I have yet to get to the editing stage.

Anyway, I'm infatuated with my world and I want to set more stories in it, and I wonder if this is normal. After I finish my current Be-Wished series for Ellora's Cave, I want to explore the Shinwa world some more, which would mean writing more menage stories. (The Shinwa people form triads, not couples. Conception requires two males and one female.) So, I'm wondering if Sherrilyn Kenyon, Angela Knight, Nora Roberts, etc. experience that same pull. It's a lot like when I became obsessed with beading and I made dozens and dozens of bracelets. I would make a pretty pattern and color combination and then get an idea of how to do that same thing but with a slight twist, like variations on a theme. I ended up with no two bracelets exactly the same.

Also, I am concerned about my voice. My Shinwa voice is so different from my Be-Wished voice. I worry that my readers will be upset/disgruntled if they expect one and get the other. **sighs**


Friday, July 04, 2008

Artist: Liz Revit

Happy Independence Day!!! I chose this image in honor of the holiday. I especially liked the idea that Lady Liberty was (sort of) letting her hair down. Must get tiring standing in the harbor all the time welcoming tired, poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It might be fun to write a story about Libby coming alive and living it up. Hope you're partying somewhere today.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thursday 3: Happy Things

Here are three things I'm happy about this week.

1. I'm getting new blinds installed in my kitchen. We've had nothing in the one window for so long and with the summer sun heating up that room, I decided it was time to take action! There will be sage honeycomb blinds in the small window and bamboo-type textured verticals for the slider. They're going to be installed today and I'm so excited!

2. I sold more copies of Hostile Takeover in two months that I did the other two titles at Liquid Silver in the past three years. My first check is going to almost pay for my blinds. How cool is that?

3. My son is now getting a C in his summer algebra course. He had been near to failing and we were considering pulling him out of this condensed version of the course and letting him take it at normal speed in regular school. But he's doing much better now. What a relief.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Words of Wisdom?

1. It is important that a man helps you around the house and has a job.
2. It is important that a man makes you laugh.
3. It is important to find a dependable man who doesn't lie to you.
4. It is important that a man loves you and spoils you.

5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Review of Hostile Takeover

Hey, here's an excerpt from a review of Hostile Takeover. :D

"hot, hot, hot!"

I really liked the intensity of this book. I have never read a work written by a female author that can capture the male frame of mind so well. The innocence of Fiona...reminded me of what it felt like to be an innocent in the presence of someone you are very attracted to. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to remember that rush, and feel a lot of extra heat!

Reviewed by Dawn Epton on 5/11/08

Good reviews always make me smile. And I'm really jazzed to hear that she thought I nailed the male frame of mind, even though the reviewer is a woman. It's something I work hard on in my writing. Here's a link to the whole thing if you are so inclined.