Friday, February 29, 2008

Hop, skip and leap

I'm sure you all know 2008 is a Leap Year. And today is, officially, Leap Day. Every four years there's a February 29th on the calendar, just to keep the calendar coordinated with the sun's position. Every year is actually 365 days and 6 hours long, so every four years an additional twenty-four hours accumulates. So, you see, the need for the Leap Day.

Hmm...I should have an extra day, then. Right? I mean, it's got its own calendar day and all, so the twenty-four hours is sort of like a little time gift, don't you think?

I don't know about you, but I'm tickled to have an extra day. And since I didn't plan on having it, not really, I think I'm going to use it wisely. Very wisely.

Hmm? What am I doing with my extra day? Let's just say I've got an adventure in mind, one that involves me and my husband, snow and hiking boots. And a thermos of hot chocolate. And maybe a camera. How better to spend a "found" day than on an adventure with the man of your dreams?

What are you going to do with your Leap Day? However you decide to spend it, I hope you enjoy it. Remember, it's going to be another four years before we get the next one. Let's use this Leap Day well. :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Along for the ride

Cash Cab
Do you recognize this guy? Or the vehicle he's leaning against? If you do, you and I (and about a million other people, probably!) have a common interest. We watch Cash Cab.

I've got to be straight with you. I hardly watch any television at all. I know that sounds weird but I just don't like it. Really. It doesn't thrill me. There are loads of other things I'd rather do than watch tv. I generally pop the weather channel on for a couple minutes here and there during the day, just to see when the next big snowstorm's scheduled to hit. Or, during the summer, when the next round of blackout-causing storms are due. And I peek at CNN in the morning, and for a few minutes around the time the market closes. Otherwise, it's a no-telly zone around me.

That is, unless it's Cash Cab time. Then, all bets are off.

For those who haven't seen the show and don't smile at the sound of the cab's music and Ben Bailey's laughter, I'll explain.

The Cash Cab is a Toyota cab that drives around New York City and picks up passengers. Just like a normal cab, right? I know, you're wondering what the big deal is to that, aren't you? Wondering, too, if I'm not a little more cracked than you first imagined, eh? Well sit tight, I'm getting to the fun part. The spice, as one of my characters is known to say.

When Ben and his light-and-music-enhanced vehicle picks up a fare, the unsuspecting passengers are given the chance to play for money in the Cash Cab. As they're driven to their destination they're asked a series of trivia questions. They've got two chances to ask for help. The first is a mobile shout-out, where they can call anyone and pose the question that's stumped them, hoping to get a correct answer from the other end of the phone line. The other, and my personal favorite, is a street shout-out. Just writing that makes me smile! The street shout-out involves hanging out the cab's window, yelling to some passerby and asking for help, then hollering the question to the person on the street. Only in New York, right?

I love this show for so many reasons.

Ben (yeah, we're on a first-name basis) seems to be a down-to-earth kind of guy. He's funny, and I like that in people. I don't know how he manages to keep a straight face sometimes -- some of those passengers give amazing answers. I know I'd be cracking up a lot. Probably driving into mailboxes and parked cars too because, really, who can drive while they're doubled up laughing?

I like the money part. It's not a ridiculous amount of money so there's a no-pressure atmosphere in the cab. I think if passengers' answers impacted their getting sums with big zeroes attached to them there would be tension. With the potential winnings being modest there's no anxiety. So many times people say, "We got in with nothing, so if we get out with nothing? Hey, at least we've had fun." I like that. A lot.

The fact that the cab's driving around in NYC appeals to me. I'm not sure I'd be as amused if it was on the streets of a different city. But driving past the UN or Radio City Music Hall, places I've been over and over again, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Really, it does. I get a kick out of taking a ride to Central Park or another familiar destination.

Cash Cab is on the Discovery Channel. Apparently it originated in England but now it's a New York kind of thing and I hope it stays that way.

If you haven't seen it I recommend taking a ride in the Cash Cab. It's fun, and fast, and you never really know where you're going to end up. Kind of like life, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Admission of guilt

Just a little something. That's all it was, really.
Nothing big. Not earth-shattering.
I certainly didn't do anything that would,
um, bring undue attention on myself.
Nothing that would be considered,
you know, less than socially correct.
I'll tell the truth.
So I had a little slip, a small moment.
I mean, don't we all have them from time to time?
An instant in time when you might --
just might, I say --
forget yourself?
Do something crazy? Impulsive?
Out of character?
So, I did.
I admit it, okay?
I did it.
Are you happy now?
I squea-
no, I screa-
no, it wasn't that, either.
I screeched, okay?
There, I've said it.
I screeched when I saw this.
Now, going in search of coffee.
With a big -- and I mean big -- grin on my face.


Yes, we did get a huge snowstorm yesterday! It is gorgeous outside!
I'm still in my jammies but I'm grinning from ear to ear. I can see it all...

I see snowpeople, snowball fights, sledding and snow-shoeing. I see snow angels and head-back-mouth-open snow tasting. Yes, it's still snowing here. I see...

I see a cleared driveway. Maybe a path to the barn. Yeah, that'll take all day. I guess I'll have to see most of the rest of it only in my mind. It appears I've got an appointment with a snowblower. Still...

Yeah, I'm sure there'll be time for an angel or two. Or a dozen!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Have you noticed?

When I check my email there are little link lines at the top of the page. They change depending on what type of mail I'm opening but the first one of the morning is usually random, or news related. I never click onto them but I do notice them. How could I not? Like I said, they're right there, at the top of the page.

When I peek into my spam folder the top links lead to recipes using spam. Ugh.

This morning's initial link? It was --I kid you not-- a link that led to "directions" for the proper way to wear an article of clothing. Now if the item in question was something that someone might need coaching in I could understand the little link being useful.

Scarves. Scarves come to mind. I mean, those things can be wrapped or pinned a gazillion ways. Directions on wearing scarves? I could see that. Or...hmm, I don't know. There must be other clothing items which could, by some stretch of the imagination, warrant directing. Off the top of my caffeine-deprived head I can't think of any but I know there must be some.

But this? I know for sure the featured item doesn't require directions. Or if it does, the woman who clicks onto the link might do better if she rethinks her choices. Maybe switch to something that she can wear without getting instructions?

All I know is, no woman should need directions on wearing a thong. I've always thought they were pretty self-explanatory.

Off to find coffee...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Saturday

Yesterday I wanted this. Really, I did.

Nice, fat, fluffy clouds. Warm breezes. Bright light.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Instead, I got this. Notice, no fluffy cloud or bright sky in sight.

And just for the record, the breezes were definitely not warm.

It was so snowy even the turkeys decided to trot away.

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Color me thrilled!

Mambo. Merlot. Murder.

Who killed Milton Falls’ nastiest neighbor? And why? Anna Romeo, vineyard owner and librarian, wants to know.

Used to be doors went unlocked, neighbors visited on porches and gossip centered around who had the biggest zucchini. Now that murder’s come calling all bets are off. Arson, burglary and cryptic tea leaf messages fill Anna’s days—and nights—with love, mystery and adventure.

Can Anna unlock the key to the murder that’s got everyone on edge? And, more importantly, can she do it quickly enough for the annual Zucchini Festival to go on as planned?

Only time—and a bit of luck—will tell.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Numbers are pressed by memory rather than sight. Eyes turned to the sky, the phone rings once...twice...



"It started early!"

"I know. I thought I'd look outside and-"

"Me, too. I went to check and-"

"It started."


Silence. Several heartbeats' worth.

"Isn't it beautiful?"


"Cold there?"

Shivering, "Yeah."

"Here, too. Must be about sixty, sixty-five. There?"

"Six, seven maybe."

"But clear. The sky is clear, isn't it?"

"As a bell."

Silence. Breathing slows. Synchronizes.

"Go inside."

"You, too."

"Don't want you to get sick."

"You, either."

"But it's beautiful, isn't it?"


"'Night, then."

"'Night, Dad."

Between Florida and New York there's less distance than one might expect. Especially during a lunar eclipse. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Outside our window the world is frosted. It is gorgeous, all shimmery and pristine, but I'll bet the road is treacherous. Yes, a good day to stay indoors. Read. Write. Sew. Eat.

Um, did I actually say that out loud? Eat? I guess I did. Silly me. But here's the deal: I'm just finishing up work on a new cookbook and some of the recipes just make me hungry. I sit and type and remember the crumble of a particular cookie or the tenderness of a scone. Get it? The whole project makes me want to eat.

I'll be glad when I'm done and can send it off to my wonderful proof reader. Then, there'll be someone consumed by the idea of eating all the way on the other side of the world but at least I won't be dreaming of bread, biscuits or baklava. Hmm? Oh, the proof reading is taking place in Australia. Isn't the Internet grand? (Thanks Jude!)

If you're interested (and I hope you are) in reading the first excerpt from Vineyard Mambo, it's posted over on the From the Pages page. I let Anna have the honor of sharing the first bit with you. We both hope you enjoy it. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On Monday she rested...

and it was good. Very good.

Yesterday morning I sent a file off to my wonderful (I love her!) editor. Oh, it felt so good to send it zooming off into cyberspace! (The file, not the editor.)

Then, I did...nothing. Well, I did as much nothing as I can stand to do.

I cleaned our bedroom from top to bottom, and the bathroom too. Washed the wood floors and staircase, and was shocked by the dust bunnies I captured. Ugh. Then, I did some laundry. Had to. It was either do laundry or buy underwear. Wrote out birthday cards, a few letters and a bill.

I did fiddle around with an old book file for a while but it was more fun than work. I wrote the story quite a while back and am now changing, um, well -- let's just say it's barely going to resemble the original when I'm through with it. Same characters and basic plot, but POV changes and quite a few other big shifts too. It's sort of like reworking a puzzle. You just find a new way to put the pieces together, one that's, hopefully, better than the first method.

But then I spent the rest of the afternoon sewing and it was fabulous! Perfectly relaxing and productive. I usually keep a few baby quilts on hand for gifts but my current stash is -- well, the stash was plundered at Christmastime so I'm working on restocking. Yesterday I pieced the top for a pink patchwork quilt. Then, since I was having so much fun, I began cutting the pieces for a blue and yellow applique quilt.

Yes, on Monday the blister-fingered writer rested. Say that five times fast. :)

1-2-3 Meme

Last Saturday Marianne tagged me to do this book meme.

The rules?
1). Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
2). Open the book to page 123
3). Find the fifth sentence
4). Post the next three sentences
5). Tag five people

Umm...I don't usually do these but since I've been up to my nose in edits I thought it might be fun. The book? The one I've got right here on my desk, Vineyard Mambo.

A first peek...

Let's see, page 123...

Okay, here it is:

“Morning, Martha. How’s it going?”

“Fine I suppose. I can’t believe we have a murderer in our midst. Isn’t there a book by that name?”

I found the third sentence, and posted the next five. So? I changed the rules a tad, what can I say? And I'm not going to tag anyone. Feel free to play along if you'd like! But please, let us know you're playing so we can come read your snippet too.

Let's Mambo!

Are you wondering what Vineyard Mambo is about? With its release date closing in, I thought it was time to finally share the secret...

Mambo. Merlot. Murder.

Who killed Milton Falls’ nastiest neighbor? And why? Anna Romeo, vineyard owner and librarian, wants to know.

Used to be doors went unlocked, neighbors visited on porches and gossip centered around who had the biggest zucchini. Now that murder’s come calling all bets are off. Arson, burglary and cryptic tea leaf messages fill Anna’s days—and nights—with love, mystery and adventure.

Can Anna unlock the key to the murder that’s got everyone on edge? And, more importantly, can she do it quickly enough for the annual Zucchini Festival to go on as planned?

Only time—and a bit of luck—will tell.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stranger than science fiction?

It's the stuff books and movies are made of. Have you all been keeping an eye on the satellite news story? This great big satellite (which was apparently never operational) is spinning through space and will --unless something's done about it-- crash somewhere on Earth sometime in March.

Wasn't that a movie? You know the one, where Bruce Willis dies at the end and Liv Tyler cries both tears of joy and sadness? Remember?

I hope someone does something about this big piece of spacejunk before it lands. I don't want it in my backyard, that's for sure! I've got a garden to plant, you know. And unless this thing looks good with a morning glory climbing up its side, it'd better stay out of my kitchen garden!

Casa BowWow

I'm in the doghouse. And I definitely didn't want to be. But I am.


It's a fact of life: when I'm nose-deep in writing or edits my friends end up in the back seat. Way in the back seat. Between writing, which is my job, and my wonderful husband and super family, there is hardly any time left for anything, or anyone, else. I try and juggle it all but sometimes...well, let's just say that my eyebrows haven't seen wax since Chapter 2, okay? Get the picture?

And I've actually got a big, painful blister on the side of my left thumb from hitting the bar on my computer when I type. If I could figure out how to type without spaces, I'd be fine. Until then -- ouch!

I feel badly for not having time to be a better friend but honestly, there are only so many hours in each day. If I could manufacture a few extra I'd gladly visit with friends, and have my brows waxed. But until I figure out a way to produce those exta hours? I do the best I can. And I figure true friends will understand. I hope.

Until then, me and my throbbing thumb are in Casa BowWow.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happily Ever After

We've all got our own ideas about Happily Ever After. Mine? I delve into them today at The Lark Journals.

I've got to admit, my ideas about the HEA aren't on any usual-ingredients-for-happily-ever-after list that I've seen.

Why not stop by and share yours? I'm curious to hear what you think makes for a HEA. :)

Please welcome Marianne Arkins

I've got something special for you today. I've been fortunate enough to interview Marianne Arkins, who is on a blog tour promoting her newly released novel, One Love for Liv.

One Love for Liv is your first published full length novel. Did it feel different to write a long work instead of the shorter romances you're so well known for?

Actually, I’ve written more novels than I have short stories – it’s just terribly labor intensive to polish a novel for submission! I love to write shorts in between my novels, it’s such a great feeling to write “the end”, especially when you’re struggling through a novel.

Still, there’s a great accomplishment to finish a full length novel and edit and polish it to the point an editor thinks it’s good enough for publication. I loved writing Liv – it was my 2005 NaNoWriMo novel. It needed quite a bit of work before it could show it’s face in public, but I think it was worth it.

I've read nearly all of your Wild Rose Press stories. One of the things that always impresses me about your writing is your characters. They're realistic, with traits that make your reader feel like they're people they could--and maybe do--know. Where do you get inspiration for such interesting characters? Are they drawn from family and friends, or entirely from your mind? And I can't help but Liv completely fictional or is she based on someone you know? You don't have to tell us who Liv might be...unless you want to!

Aww… thanks! I prefer character-driven stories, so try to focus on my characters. I hope I manage to make them all individuals with both flaws and admirable traits. The hardest part for me is to make them all different. I think I have a tendency to like certain character traits over others, and when I think “hero”, I want all my heroes to have a particular trait. Obviously, that won’t work.

I’m sure I must draw on real-life examples for my characters, but no one character is based on someone else (well, except my heroine’s pet rat in a WIP – he is absolutely based on my own pet rat from years ago).

And Liv… what a hoot. Actually, I developed her as the complete opposite of most of my heroines. I noticed I was beginning to make all of my leading ladies tomboys, the kind who didn’t mind getting a little dirt under their fingernails, and lived in their jeans. That frustrated me, so I set out to make Liv as far opposite from that as possible. All my other heroine’s love animals? Fine, Liv hates them. They were all blue collar? Great—Liv became a wealthy, white collar businesswoman. The others cut their own hair with dull scissors and didn’t use makeup? Okay—Liv owns an upscale beauty salon and never looks anything but her best.

Of course, after setting her up that way, I had to throw her into a situation where she couldn’t be any of those things J . She wasn’t very happy with me.

What's next for you? Do you have any upcoming releases we'll want to know about (so we can mark calendars!). Are you working on anything now? Anything you'd like to share with us?

I have a 30,000 word story, “A Change of Heart”, coming from The Wild Rose Press—probably sometime in March, but I don’t have an exact date. I have another story submitted to Samhain, but due to an editor shuffle, won’t hear anything on that for a bit.

I’m working on getting my first mystery completed by the end of February, and also have two more light-hearted romances to polish and submit this year.

Thanks for visiting, Marianne! And good luck with the rest of your blog tour!

To keep up with what's happening with Marianne Arkins, visit her website at Or read Marianne's blog, Reading, Writing, & Stuff That Makes Me Crazy.

One Love for Liv is available at Samhain Publishing.

I've already got my copy. I'm about halfway through and am loving it. As usual, Marianne's written an entertaining story with characters that are so realistic they practically jump from the pages. But what about you? Have you picked up a copy of One Love for Liv yet? Hmm?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! Don't you just love this day? I do. Hearts? Love? Right up my alley.

Although I love Valentine's Day, I know there are those who do not. I'm fairly amused by the naysayers who scowl at the mention of Valentine's Day. "Commercial," they say. "Designed to sell cards. Flowers. Candy," they mutter. "A crock," they gripe.


Remember when you were a kid, and a few sheets of colored paper, some crayons, scissors and glue meant you could give anyone a Valentine? Remember glitter? Sprinkling it over the glue to form hard, raised lines that were so heavy they pulled the paper askew? But that never mattered -- your creation was perfect, hard, heavy lines and all. Remember that? More importantly, do you remember how it felt to be that excited, full-hearted kid?

I say we give construction paper and crayons to the scowly-faced Valentine's Day haters, and see what happens.

Me? I love the day. Love all it stands for. And the whole card, candy, flowers, commercial, fatten-the-cash register tripe? Pfft to that!

The last I knew, it was free to turn to someone and say, "I love you."

From Oprah

A Valentine's gift of sorts, from none other than Oprah. You know, the woman who needs no last name! :)

Suze Orman's book Women & Money is available in both English and Spanish as a free download at Oprah's website. All you've got to do is go to and download the book by either 7 or 8 this evening. Easy. Free. And quite possibly something that could prove to be very useful.

So Happy Valentine's Day, from Oprah and Suze!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Finding a day?

I've got a confession to make. Yesterday morning when I wrote my Valentine's-or-bust post I believed that today was Valentine's Day. Yes, that's right, I really, truly thought today was hearts-flowers-Cupid's arrow-pink confetti day. That's why I was so crazed about having left the darling man's gift to the last day.

Only, it wasn't the last day. But you all knew that, didn't you? You probably just figured it was Crazy Writer Syndrome propelling me into a frenzy, didn't you? Come on, you can admit it. I know that's what you thought. It's what I would have thought had the slipper been on the other foot.

The good news's not Valentine's Day. Just thought I'd clarify that here and now. Don't want any of you to think I've dropped a sandwich from my picnic basket. I know, unequivocably, that it's not Valentine's Day. No hearts. No flowers. No Cupid's arrow. Not until tomorrow.

The better news is...since I believed I was on the big countdown to the love-in, I shopped for my darling husband. And I found perfect gifts for him! I've got to tell you, I'm tickled about what I've got hidden in the bottom of my closet. Now I wish I could just spring it all on him today. It's going to be tough waiting until tomorrow... hmm? Pardon? Oh, you want to know what I bought? Hmm...I'm going to have to take a pass on divulging the lovey-dovey details, if you don't mind. I mean, it's only one day until the big reveal so I'm going to make everyone wait. I'm not accusing anyone of being a blabbermouth or anything but hey, you never know when someone might let something slip, do you? (Yeah, you know who I mean. I do have a blabbermouth friend but I won't divulge that name, either! *G*)

Okay, the best news is...I found an extra day! Don't you love it when that happens? I thought today was going to be Thursday, and that yesterday was Wednesday but neither of those was fact so today is, in fact, an extra day! YAY!!

I am thrilled to find this extra day because, honestly, I need it. So much to do, so little time to do it all. March is bearing down on me like a runaway train and I've still got tons to cross off my ever-growing to-do list.

An extra day? Yeah, that works for me. Especially since I've got Valentine's Day gifts to wrap now!

Have a good one!

Brownie Bonus

Just to help you all gear up for the big day tomorrow, I'm posting a recipe for brownies on my From The Kitchen page. Called Brownies for Lovers, these brownies are to die for, they're so yummy. And, an added bonus, they're a snap to make.

I'm going to whip up a batch today. What about you? Have you got any favorite recipes that you like to make around Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Quickie

On the run this morning, heading out the door bright and early. Around here you've got to fly in and out between snowfalls. Or ice storms. Or the ever-popular, always-present howling winter wind. Dash out, stock up, fly back in. Yeah, that's how we do it in the hills.

Oh, and I've got to pick up a Valentine's Day gift for my husband. Yes, I did leave it for the last minute, didn't I? I'm such a Type-A personality that it's weird for me to leave anything undone but this time, I'm unprepared. But I'm not worried. Hey, I've still got almost a day to find the perfect gift for the most wonderful man in the world. No biggie. I mean, really, how hard can it be? I'll just...then I', maybe if I try...well, I could go... Crap. Now I know why I don't leave stones unturned, packages unwrapped and shopping till the last day. What the heck am I going to get the darling man? Hmm? Any ideas?

Hope you all have a good Tuesday. Me? Don't ask. Just don't ask...


Happy Release Day Marianne!

I'm thrilled to announce some great news!
One Love for Liv by Marianne Arkins
releases today from Samhain Publishing!

Congratulations, Marianne!
You can get the full scoop here, at Marianne's blog.
I know this is going to be a great read.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Phyllis A. Whitney

An institution has passed away. Phyllis A. Whitney, one of my favorite authors, has died. She was 104.

From the New York Times:

"Phyllis A. Whitney, a prolific best-selling author of romantic mysteries, young-adult novels and children’s mysteries for more than a half-century, died on Friday in Faber, Va. She was 104 and lived in Faber."

The entire obituary can be read here.

“Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too). Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.” -- Phyllis A. Whitney


It's been horribly windy, snowy, icy, blizzard-y here these past few days. The wind has howled so loudly it's almost unsettling. That is, if you're the easily unsettled type. Me? I'm not, so I've enjoyed winter's last (hopefully!) big bang. Yes, I do mean bang. Crash, maybe. Yesterday afternoon we had a tree fall in our poplar grove. It snapped, cracked, then crashed.

*Sigh* I liked that tree.

But what to do when the wind comes crashing, er, calling? Read, of course!

I did not know that Michael Landon, Jr. wrote. Apparently he does. Very well, in fact. Yesterday I read One More Sunrise by Michael Landon, Jr. and Tracie Peterson. It is the story of a man who receives a very unexpected wake-up call. The story takes place in 1950s rural America. A heartwarming, emotionally gripping read, it was good enough that I forgot about the wind for a few hours. Definitely not a bad way to spend a stormy Sunday afternoon!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Swimming in the pool

You've heard of the gene pool? Secretarial pool? Swimming pool? Tidal pool? Car pool?

This week I'm swimming in the Editorial pool. Um, shouldn't that be a small "e" instead of a capital? editorial pool? Except now, at the beginning of the fragment, it should be capitalized, right? A big "E" don't you think?

Or, er, um, well...and while we're on the subject, the punctuation issue. How many commas are too many? Not enough? Just right? Oh? What? You didn't know we were on the subject? Hmm, well, it can be confusing but once you jump into the Edito-edit-E, um, e--

Well, once you jump into the damn pool you've just got to go with the flow! Swim, I tell you, just swim! No time for connecting the issues, just take them as they come. You've got to be fast, frantic, furious. Wild, witty, wonderful. Astute, adept, a--what's that? Too much alliteration? But I was on a roll. What? You don't like rolls, eh? Fine. I'll tone it down, but just a notch. I mean, you wouldn't want my flair, finesses, f--what? Alliteration again? Hmmph. All right. But I don't know how wise it is to interrupt a sleep-deprived author when she's on an f-roll. Just saying.

So I'm swimming in the pool. Without a life jacket.

Anyone have one of those donut things they can throw in for me?

Or is it doughnut? I can never remember...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Nerves of Steel

You think Superman is the only one with nerves of steel?


Um, just saying that superheroes might not be the only ones equipped with the neurological enhancement. Who else needs steely nerves, you ask?

Ha! Ha!

Authors, of course! Um, especially those with an upcoming release. Nerves of steel? Yeah, that fits. Standard equipment, I think.

Tomorrow, steel goes lower...

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Does he? Or doesn't he?

It was a dark and stormy morning...

I couldn't resist. It is. Dark and stormy, and raining so hard it sounds like an orchestra of tiny hammers. I love days like this. Not all the time, mind you, but every once in a good storm works for me.

This morning I'm mulling over a topic most of us don't give much thought to. Like so many things in life, on this front either we do or we don't. That's it. No middle ground. You do. You don't. No way around it, really.

The topic? Do or don't what? Oh, right. Sorry about that. I just figured you'd know straight off what's on my mind. After all, we do visit almost every day, don't we?

Nicknames. I'm thinking nicknames.

Let me tell you how this became a do-or-die topic in our house. Yesterday I began sketching a story out in my head. I've got a wisp of plot and a few characters. I have bits of dialogue. The usual beginnings of a novel, all just floating around in my head. When I thought about the hero, I penciled in (my mind, still working in my mind here) physical attributes. Hair (black and curly). Eyes (deep, dreamy brown). Voice (full and rich, like hot coffee with just the right amount of cream in it. You know the kind, the way it tastes as it slides over your tongue and -- oh! Sorry, got carried away on the voice, didn't I?). But when it came to naming this guy, I drew a blank. A real name? Or...could it be? Does this hero need a nickname?

The names-that-aren't-really names say so much about a person, don't they? I went to college with a guy everyone called No Neck. No, No Neck didn't appreciate the nickname but it fit him to a tee. My husband and I know someone who's referred to, even in polite circles, as Halfwit. Again, it's not the most flattering moniker but again, it fits. Really, really well. I learned early in our marriage that my husband has a cousin the family calls -- are you ready for this one? Don't have anything hot in your mouth, do you? All right, then. The family calls this cousin Itchy Balls. I'll let you think about that one on your own. And no, I'm not commenting on whether or not it's a fitting name for the guy. Uh uh. No way.

Authors get to give their characters any names, and nicknames, they choose. And, as in life, once a character gets one, he or she has it for good. It just is. Or isn't. Now while I'm sure Mr. Warm My Insides With His Voice won't be called "Itchy" anything, I do believe this will be a character who answers to a nickname. Why? Just because it feels right. And that, in the end, is the way I write. I write what feels right, be it name, place or conversation. I write with my heart as much as my mind. My heart's saying "Nickname! Give him a nickname!" Unfortunately my heart isn't giving away the appropriate name-that-isn't a name. I guess my head will have to figure that one out.

Pardon? Me? A nickname?

Well, I do try to be honest with all of you. And this is a professional, marketing venue for me so maybe letting you in on the nickname isn't ... oh, what the heck. It's not as if it's Itchy Ba--well, it's nothing to blush over. I don't think.

Sweetheart. My husband calls me Sweetheart.

I've told. Now it's your turn. Do you have a nickname? And if you do, what is it? Please share with us. That is, unless it's something like Itch--well, you know what I mean. Unless your nickname is something wild and wooly, or deeply personal, or not for the under-17 crowd, please share. We all want to know.

I'll let you know how my new hero makes out in the name game. It may take a while, but I'm sure the guy will eventually get a handle...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tuesday's News

Good morning everyone!

I made sure I'm not running late this morning. Hopefully I can make it up to you for leaving you hanging yesterday. Dru and Marianne were wonderfully patient when I cut and ran. Thanks! I didn't mean to bait and bail...the time just seemed to fly yesterday morning. I guess we all have mornings like that. Anyway...

My news? Over the weekend I was offered a contract from Whiskey Creek Press for a novel I wrote last summer. It is called Last Chance and is a historical western romance. Needless to say, I am thrilled! I've been walking on air since I got the email from my publisher and you know, I'm still skipping a foot or two above the floor!

Last Chance is a story that warms my heart for a number of reasons but there's one in particular that really makes me grin. You see, this book would not have been written at all if my husband hadn't turned to me one morning and said, "Hmm. Last wouldn't that be a great name for a book?" Then, he turned and headed off for the barn, leaving me standing in the middle of the yard shaking my head and thinking. Oh yes, the darling man shoved my brain right into gear with his keen observation.

Last Chance? Yes, that would make a good title for a book, now wouldn't it?

And that's exactly how this book came to be. A random thought brought to life. Now, a contract that will bring Last Chance full circle. I can't wait for my husband to hold this one in his hands!

Yeah, I knew February was going to be a good month...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Big News

Didn't I tell you February's going to be a great month? It's already looking so much better than -- well, than that other month. You know the one.

I've got some big news to share but unfortunately I'm like Anna this Monday morning--running late. The news will have to keep until tomorrow...or later, if I get back to the computer today.

Sorry Mom. I know I said I'd dish this morning but, well... I guess I've been hanging around with Anna Romeo too much. Late is as late does, and all that...

Happy Monday!

Anna Romeo makes an appearance... the From the Pages character page. She's the heroine in Vineyard Mambo, the first Anna Romeo mystery. We're lucky she's come to introduce herself early. I'm hoping she stops back often enough that we all know her, at least a little bit, before Vineyard Mambo's March release.

People have asked if this book will be available in print. Yes, all Whiskey Creek Press titles will be available in both electronic and print versions on the day of their release. That's just one of the many things I love about being a WCP author. So if you'd like a print copy of Vineyard Mambo it will be available the same instant the electronic version goes on sale. Good news, eh? :)

I've also been asked if Vineyard Mambo is available for pre-order. Now that's something I don't know but I would think the contact link on the publisher's website could provide the correct answer to that question. I know their customer service staff is really nice and very helpful so if you'd like to pre-order this title, or any other upcoming WCP release, I'd give them a buzz. I know they'll assist readers with that, and all other, questions.

And to those who've asked about pre-ordering Vineyard Mambo--thank you! You've made my day!

I hope you'll go over and visit with Anna! At From the Pages, remember? She's waiting! :)

Saturday, February 02, 2008


It's Saturday and I thought I'd catch you up on what I've been reading. Nothing as thought-provoking as last week's offering but highly entertaining nonetheless. I've filled up the long, quiet afternoon hours this past week sitting beside a roaring fire inhaling contemporary romances. Avons, Kensingtons, Harlequins...I've read a few from each publisher.

Research. My reading selections are actually research. How? I'm getting a "feel" for what each publisher, and their various lines, looks for in a manuscript. It's much easier to get a manuscript considered for publication if you adhere to a simple rule of thumb: Give them what they want. Really. If you're serious about having a novel accepted at a particular house, find out what they publish and do your level best to give them that sort of submission. Granted, it won't guarantee acceptance. Nothing guarantees acceptance, unless you've got a huge body of work and a headline-making name. (I trust you know I'm referring to my favorite author, He Who Need Not Be Named.)

Why the research? Why not? How better to hone skills than by immersing myself in my chosen field? Besides, romance goes so well with snowy afternoons, doesn't it?

What are you reading?

Shadow Spotted!

Punxsutawney Phil - Watch Phil's prognostication (this link will open in a new browser window)

Yes, that's right. It's Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil, the oldest marm0t on the planet, has done the deed at Gobbler's Knob. The furry Prognosticator of Prognosticators has seen his shadow. You know what that means, don't you?

Yep. Six more weeks of winter.

If the prediction didn't come from such a cute little guy I might be peeved. Instead, I'm simply amused!

The Punxsutawney Phil website is here in case you've got a hankering to get the scoop on Phil.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday is Lark Day!

I almost forgot to remind you...Friday is my day to blog over at The Lark Journals. Do you all still need reminding? Probably not, but I'll do it anyway. For a while longer, at least. I've noticed quite a few familiar faces over at the Larks, and not just on my days either. Thank you all for visiting with the Larks. Debbie Wallace, Kathleen O'Connor and Margaret Blake are certainly wonderfully interesting company to be in, and I am thrilled to be part of the group.

Today I'm blogging about something that affects a lot of people today. A lot. What is it? You'll just have to head on over there if you want to know...

Have a great Friday!

Have I mentioned it's February? :)

From the Pages with Anna Romeo

Vineyard Mambo, my first mystery novel, releases in March. I'm, of course, thrilled that this story is coming to life. It is my fervant wish that it is as well received as Snowdance has been. Fingers crossed!

Just wanted to let you know that in the coming days Elinor, who's been monopolizing the From the Pages portion of this blog, is going to have to share the Pages with some of the characters from Vineyard Mambo.

I know for a fact that Anna Romeo, librarian and amateur sleuth, will be coming by to introduce herself. Vineyard Mambo is the first Anna Romeo mystery so Anna is definitely psyched to gab with all of you. I think Anna's grandfather-in-law, Antonio, will be stopping in also. Antonio, or Nonno as he's called, isn't nearly as predictable as Anna is so I can't tell you for sure when he'll drop in. You know how men can be...Nonno will get to the Pages when he gets there, I guess. He may be on his own schedule but he is, I assure you, a loveable old gentleman.

I hope you'll stay tuned to the From the Pages blog page and give these new characters a warm welcome. That is, if Elinor gives them a chance to speak! I may have to have a word (or two!) with her...

Ah, the sweet scent of February!

Ta ra ra boom de ay, ta ra ra boom de ay...It's February! Wahoo!

Okay, I'm just thrilled January has come and gone. No more discussion of the lousy month, just happiness about it being behind us.

To start February off with a bang, I'm going to announce the winner of the January "Talk to Me" Contest. Thanks to all who commented, who spoke to me and made me feel less lonely here on this blog. I've loved reading all your comments! So many witty, wise remarks. You're a fabulous bunch of blog readers and I sincerely appreciate the way you show up day after day to spend a few minutes with me. I am humbled, and thankful.

Now, without further ado, the random winner of an autographed copy of Vineyard Mambo, my second novel which releases in March, is....


Congratulations, Pam, you've been chosen to receive an autographed copy of my upcoming novel Vineyard Mambo! Email me at with your snail mail address and I'll send it out to you as soon as I receive my first shipment of books.

Vineyard Mambo is about a small town, a large Zucchini Festival and a murder.

When librarian Anna Romeo seeks answers to the question, "Who killed the least-liked resident of Milton Falls?" things in the usually quiet community begin to heat up--literally! Arson, break-ins and an unscheduled trip to Florida keep Anna's days--and nights--full.

Can the vineyard owning, book loving Anna solve the mystery of who killed the nasty neighbor? And can she do it before anyone else is killed? More importantly, can the mystery be solved in time for the Zucchini Festival to take place?

Thanks to all who entered. There will be more contests in the coming months!