Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mom's last Christmas Gift

As of 7:30pm tonight we’d had 2.7” of snow. Why is this a big deal? We live just outside of Atlanta. Georgia. In the Deep South. According to a local news source, Atlanta hasn’t had snow that stuck since the 1880s. This winter we had a trackable snow on the 12th and now a full scale snow fall on Christmas Day. The first white Christmas in over 100 years. My son has been excited all day and nearly vibrating with interest in the cold white stuff.

Growing up in Illinois, you would think that white Christmases were the norm. They aren’t. Central Illinois doesn’t normally see more than a faint trackable snow in December. Trackable refers to the fact that if a rabbit ran through it, it would leave tracks you could follow. Our real snows don’t generally fall until January and especially February. So white Christmases were special for us, especially for my mother.

My mom loved all things Christmas. The weeks from Halloween to New Years were her favorite time of the year, culminating in Christmas. As a family, we women went shopping on Black Friday and it kicked things off for us. Christmas was very much about family and all things traditional Christmas. The tree went up on the Friday after Thanksgiving and came down New Years. Lights bedecked the house, indoors and out. Old movies such as Miracle on 34th Street were playing in the background on a continuous loop. And snowmen were everywhere. She loved and collected Frosty in all his incarnations.

My mom loved snow. She always dreamed of taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the falling snow. Each year she watched for all the folksy indicators and focused on the nightly weather report waiting to see if we would have a white Christmas. When I moved south she would call every time they had snow to ask if we were coming up any time soon. Once my son was born she was especially interested to know if we were planning on coming up for the holidays and even more vigilant about the weather to see if he would have snow for our visits.

My mom passed away a few weeks ago. It snowed heavily the day she died and we had five inches of snow in Illinois for her funeral. The flowers that were sent by those who knew her all shared the Christmas theme in honor of her love of the season. The topiary we picked out from the grandchildren was adorned with a stuffed snowman. I didn’t take my son. He’d just turned two and we felt he was too young for the 9 hour trip plus he was too young to sit through the funeral and all the planning we would have to do.

Today is Christmas and I honestly believe we all received her last Christmas gift. All of her children and grand children (except the ones who live in Florida) have had a white Christmas. My son played in more snow than he’s ever seen and there will be even more on the ground for him in the morning. So tomorrow, along with all his other Christmas gifts, my son will get to play again with his grandma’s last Christmas present—something that will make all future white Christmases, rare or not, even more precious.

***Update Even the grandkids in Florida saw flurries. Mom must have been working hard.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saddness among beauty

We recently took our son, Z, up to north Georgia to the lovely area around Helen. Helen is a tourist trap, but it’s a clean, nice place to be a tourist trap. We head up each year more to visit the stands that pop up along the roadside. They sell ciders of all types, apple, peach, muscadine, blackberry and many, many others. There are homemade apple fritters, apple butter, hand crafts and boiled peanuts K loves these, I detest them, even the smell makes me nauseous. Z watched the horses in the fields, the farm cats and dogs running about with wide eyes while we shopped and tasted.

Helen itself is a picturesque little Alpine style village in the North Georgia mountains. There are shops selling every little whatnot you can imagine, shirts, “old-time” pictures, real estate (buy or rent your own mountain cabin) and homespun art. One of our favorite places is Hansel and Gretel’s Candy Kitchen. They make the best goodies –salt water taffy, turtles, caramels, candied apples and more flavors of fudge than you could begin to imagine. The alpine feeling is enhanced by the horse drawn carriages that give rides to visitors. Z got to ride in his first carriage and feed the horse, Nelly, carrots.

While up there, we stopped at a place that purported to be a bear nature center, The Black Forest Bear Park. We expected to see one or two black bears (Georgia’s native species) in a nice tended area. We were horrified by what we saw. In this small building set off of Main Street, there are 16 adult bears in an enclosure that is smaller than half a football field. There are eight cement enclosures where half the bears are allowed out at a time. They look like the bottom of an empty swimming pool. We heard the guy on duty tell someone that the rest of the bears were in “dens” under the floor of the walkway that we were on. The walk way couldn’t have been 30 feet across.

Z was fascinated, but we couldn’t help look at each other in horror of how these bears were being treated. It was horribly sad to see these beautiful creatures humbled and humiliated into begging food from the visitors who tossed apples and slices of French bread. Sadly, the place isn’t breaking any laws. I can’t help but think that one day humanity will pay for it’s arrogance.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


A friend of mine made a statement on her blog that got me thinking. She said there is very little room for practicality in a creative person’s life. Now there’s not a lot that Jenn and I disagree on, oh a few things here and there that make each of us roll our eyes and shake our heads at the other, but this one stood out for me today in a big way.

I just finished my first “paper” for the class I’m taking to get my master’s degree. It has been a struggle this week to find the time to do homework and work and family and me. I’m not sure I managed all of it with any kind of finesse, but it all has gotten done…almost, we won’t look at the big pile of laundry or the stack of tests I still need to grade.

So did I do anything creative? Yes. I planned out the performance tasks and lesson sequences for the next section my students will be working on. I squeezed in some reading for leisure around the edges. My mind has been making changes to a manuscript I have in the works, nothing written, but it’s in my head. I took my son to a football game that required a car ride of 45 minutes.

What? These don’t seem creative to you? They are, I assure you. Let’s start with the first. I had to develop and outline the real-life task my students will perform to show that they understand and can utilize the information in the upcoming expository and persuasive units of study. Go on, try it. What is the goal, the role the student will fill, the audience, the real life situation the student will be experiencing and what is the actual performance task outline? Got one for understanding expository texts? Okay, now do it again for persuasive texts. Now figure out how to maintain the attention of 150 7th and 8th graders while you present the information. See what I mean yet?

No? Try the next one. Reading for leisure. This is an easy one, right? The story fills your head and you transport yourself into the situation and you live, breath and move with the characters in the story. You feel as they feel, you experience what they experience…no? Then you don’t really know how to read.

But let’s try again. Come up with a way to entertain a 21 month old in the backseat of a car while you drive in the front seat of a car for 45 minutes…each way. No, videos aren’t an option. Getting it yet?

It is my belief that we need to learn to see our creativity differently. I know this isn’t the point that Jenn was making, but it got me thinking. Instead of bemoaning the unfinished painting, manuscript, sculpture, composition, etc. that you have, begin celebrating and recognizing all the ways you do exercise your creativity on a daily basis. By doing that, and adding a bit of creative time management, you just may find yourself motivated to finish that project that has you feeling like a creative failure.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The beauty of candles

My sister-in-law has started a small home business making candles. You see, my sister-in-law was diagnosed some years ago with MS. She's a young mother with four small children and over the past few years the MS has eroded her ability to work at any structured job to help her husband support the family. So with her fledgling home business, she can work at her own time and pace.

I encourage you to drop by the facebook page or blog to see what they have to offer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cliches and Contrivances

Cliches are cliches because they are fall backs because they were good ideas and fit with the genre they appear in. Cliches are not bad in and of themselves, they are only bad when they are a substitute for creativity and become trite and boring. A clever writer can take what appears to be a cliche on the surface and turn it around with a clever dealing.

One book I recall included every cliche in the sub-genre and none handled very creatively. I found the most interesting part of the book waiting to see just how many cliche's the author could squeeze in. Of course, contrivances are just as fun as cliches. Oh, don't worry, none of the negative aspects of the life the heroine has been cast into will ever come to pass because then it wouldn't be romantic. To avoid this the author creates a contrived and convenient set of circumstances that simply defy the ability of the reader to suspend disbelief.

Recent Reads

The Heart's Warrior by Leigh Bale "A heart broken~ Known for her healing skills, Kerstin, the Witch of Moere, is torn from the arms of her betrothed and forced into marriage with Jonas, The Beast of Hawkscliffe, her family's mortal enemy. Believing herself in love with another man, Kerstin cannot deny the fierce passion Jonas ignites within her nor the awakening of feelings she has never known before. A heart tormented ~ A warrior of duty, to ensure peace, Jonas will honor the kin's demand and wed the woman accused of murdering his elder brother. As Jonas faces Kerstin's wrath, the golden warrior longs for serenity and love, but doubts these yearnings will ever come true. Yet when he weds Kerstin, he finds his carefully guarded heart is overcome by desire and she alone can heal his damaged soul." ***

Loose Lips by Rita Mae Brown This is the story of Julia Ellen and Louise Hunsenmeir, two sisters navigating aging, married life and motherhood in a small town during the years of World War II. This is the third book in the series that follows the outrageous women who specialize in sibling rivalry and behaving badly. **

Bought for the Harem by Anne Herries "Thrown into a frightening and unfamiliar world after her capture by corsairs, Lady Harriet Sefton-Jones thinks help has arrived in the form of dashing Lord Kasim. But its out of the frying pan and into the fire... Kasim may once have been a n English nobleman, but there is nothing noble about his intentions to purchase Harriet for his master the caliph's pleasure. Harriet must resign herself to a life of enslavement. But Kasim has a plan of his own: charmed by Harriet's spirit and beauty, he's determined to claim her for himself!" **

Friday, July 9, 2010

Release Day

Today is the release day for From the Dark Side (see the trailer on the right). While it may not have cookies, it has some seriously terrific short stories and poem from a group of exceptionally talent authors. (No I'm still not sure how I ended up in it.) The anthology is a charity project with all proceeds going to the Offices of Letters and Light. This is the non-profit group who sponsors the Youth Writing Project and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)--an amazing and supportive event that encourages writers and those who want to be writers to complete a novel (for good or bad) in one month. The point of it is to get the thing down and as a writer I can tell you that sometimes that's the hardest part.

So for tales from the dark side, scary creep tales that will make you sleep with the lights on, check out From the Dark Side at or

Oh, and it's not one of the stories this anthology but if you're looking for one of the best shorts I've ever read, while your on these sites check out Black Velveteen by Jennifer Hudock. Not only is Jenn the one who has worked so hard editing the charity anthology, but she's one of the best writers out there--especially when it comes to stories that will stick with you for a while. While looking for the link to the anthology, I found a link to Black Velveteen. I had the privilege to read this story in its infancy when Jenn was crafting it and it is an absolute must read. Smashwords or Amazon I promise this is the best 99 cents you'll spend on a story.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Recent Reads

Finished two sweet little romances the last few days. Nothing earth shattering that will have me craving to read it again or that I will probably remember, but nice little reads. Both are fairly chaste.

Shot Gun Bride by Lauri Robinson- Like most girls, Jessie Johnson will never forget the first time she met her mother-in-law. After all who can forget a shotgun pointed at them? Bartered for a dead horse at gun point, she either agrees to marry one of the Quinter boys or her brother will hang for horse theft. Jessie knows nothing about being a wife- other than the wedding will likely put her new husband in grave danger. After being knocked unconscious by his brothers, Kid Quinter finds himself surrounded by his uncouth family, the sheriff, a preacher, and an adorable young woman. Tied to a chair, he's given no choice but to marry Jessie Johnson. And that’s just the beginning of his troubles- it appears his pretty little wife has quite a past, including a notorious gunslinger looking for retribution.

Mother of the Bride by Caroline Anderson- (This is the first Harlequin I've read in many years. Many people will turn up their noses at the books by this publisher and they have a semi-deserved reputation for being cookie cutter and somewhat ridiculous. But with increasing competition in low cost romance novels, Harlequin is stepping it up.) Mother of the bride catches the bouquet! With just a few months until her daughter's wedding, Maisie feels butterflies at the prospect of seeing Jenni's dad, Rob, again after so many years. As parents of the bride they'll be hosting the wedding party at his stunning Scottish ancestral estate, and watching as their daughter says "I do." Whether it's nostalgia or wedding planning fever, Maisie's beginning to wonder, can she convince Rob that they have another chance at their own happily-ever-after?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I've always wondered why we celebrate the 4th of July and not the 2nd of July.

For those who aren't history geeks like me, in June of 1776 Richard Henry Lee, a delegate to the Second Continental Congress from Virginia, proposed the legal separation of the Colonies from England. The proposal was accepted by the Congress on July 2nd of 1776. That was the date of the legal separation of the American Colonies from the British Empire. That was the day we became a separate and independent nation. July 4th is the day the delegates approved the language draft of the written document that notified the world we were free.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rules of Toddlerhood

To my Momma:

Now that I have become a full-fledged toddler there are some rules than need to change around here. According to the laws of toddlerhood the following are now in effect:

1. If I want it, it’s mine.

2. If I can reach it, it’s not my fault if I play with it.

3. If you forget to lock the water and ice dispenser on the refrigerator, it is not my fault if I flood the kitchen.

4. What’s good for the dogs is good for me. This includes playing in the water bowl, crawling under the desk and chewing on things.

5. Those mashed vegetables you fed me that I gobbled down happily? Yeah, those days are gone.

6. Just because I ate it yesterday does not mean I will ever eat it again.

7. Meal time just became a much longer ordeal. I will eat with my fingers, my spoon and take my sweet time doing it. Have the drop cloth and the hose ready.

8. Remember how excited you were by each sound I made? The volume and pitch just went way up.

9. I reserve the right to express my feelings freely regardless of where we are or who is watching.

10. In toddlerhood, no means not right this second. It does not apply to the same action thirty seconds later.

11. If the television is on, it is my choice what we watch. Thomas and Friends and Curious George come before Law and Order marathons.

12. Safety gates are not there to protect me but are instruments of imprisonment meant to foil my plans. Be warned this means I have the right to try anything possible to over come them including shaking them, climbing them, biting them or throwing myself at them while I scream.

13. Any direction prefaced with the words “Do not” will immediately become my priority, only without the “Do not” part.

14. I have two speeds, full and stop. Have your running shoes ready.

15. All offenses are immediately forgiven with a hug and smile.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Coming Soon...A Trip to the Dark Side

July 9th is the release date for a charity anthology that I'm thrilled to be a part of. From the Dark Side will benefit the Office of Letters and Light. You may not recognize the name, but most writers will recognize the events hosted by this non-profit organization.

The Office of Letters and Light sponsors National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and Script Frenzy, along with the adult and youth writing programs that go with them. The Young Writer's Program encourages writing for teens and children by providing support to educators, home school families and youth librarians with lesson plans, curriculum materials and exciting community activities to promote writing. Many writers have completed their first novels as a result of the support and encouragement of NaNoWriMo.

The anthology includes short fiction and poetry by twenty contributing writers each taking a look at life on the dark side. The ebook will go on sale July 9th through Amazon and SmashWords.

The anthology includes one of my short fiction pieces entitled Shadow's Embrace.

Life is often painful and unkind, but just when she feels she can't go on, he is always there. He is perfect in every way and he adores her as no one else has ever done. If only his world were the real world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

An Historical tabloid?

(Let me just say I know current style uses "a" before "h" but I just can't do it. Too many years of drilling into me that "an" comes before "h".)

I love historical novels, and especially those set in the age of the Tudors and have for many years. I love stories of highland heroes and English noblemen. Historical or Regency, I adore them whether they are based on completely fictional characters or real, historical, ones.

It's interesting to image the lives of those who lived before us and especially those whose actions changed the world around us as many of the royals and royal hangers-on did during the Tudor time period. The varied points of view on individuals is interesting to see as well. Sometimes we see Anne Boleyn as the evil seductress out to ruin everything to get what she wanted. Sometimes she's an innocent girl who is manipulated by her father, uncle and brother to earn the king's favor and then betrayed by the same family. Or sometimes, and probably closer to the truth, we see her as a clever young woman whose family gave her all the encouragement and rope she needed to see to it that she finally hung herself.

But I do wonder at the fairness of taking real historical figures, people who actually lived and taking them too far. For example, Sir Thomas Seymour, Uncle to Edward VI. Now Tom Seymour has been portrayed as a light-hearted everyman and as a calculating scoundrel. He's gone from the long suffering man, in love with Catherine Parr and denied her love by King Henry VIII who took her as his sixth and final wife. He's been portrayed as the roque who, when he couldn't get close enough to Edward VI, being held back by his brother; sought to seduce his way into a better position first with Princess Mary, then the Princess Elizabeth and finally the Dowager Queen Catherine with whom he was successful, and back to Princess Elizabeth. Again the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

But a novel I recently read portrayed Sir Thomas Seymour as more than a grasping climber. It portrayed him as the lowest of men, as a rapist. It's my opinion that goes too far. As writers we can play with motives, play with intentions and even play with actions and words of those who are long dead. But I think we do have a responsibility to remember these are real people we are talking about. Now if history has concluded that Richard III was responsible for the deaths of his nephews, and we write a story including that, it's one thing. But to take a real person from history and make that person guilty of an act they have never been accused of committing, let alone seem in history responsible for, is simply wrong.

I wonder if it's the distance between the years that makes us feel better about this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Zombies. I just don't get zombies.

From the myriad of zombie movies to the increasing number of zombie themed books it seems as if Zombies are the next vampires. Classics like Pride and Prejudice have been reworked to include zombie themes. Young Adult books with zombie themes are exploding including a series by Daniel Waters called Generation Dead. Suddenly teens who die start coming back as zombies. No one knows why, but the politically correct police are on the case. The living-impaired go to school, play football on the team and even date the cool Goth chick.

I've read one at the recommendation of one of my students and I still don't get it. Zombies are reanimated dead bodies. They are decaying, smelly and gooey. They eat you alive. Ewww.

I just don't get it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old standbys can grow stale.

We all have our go-to authors, the ones whose books we wait for and pick up regularly because we've come to love the characters in their series or just the writing style that makes opening the book feel like falling into a comfortable old chair with a warm cuppa. But when does that familiarity start to breed disconent if not contempt? I recently picked up books by two of my go-tos with mixed results. I'd been avoiding them recently because I was starting become a bit impatient with them.

Rita Mae Brown:

While this is the same Rita Mae Brown who wrote Rubyfruit Jungle and caused a good deal of gasping and fainting among the old Southern elite, I've always been drawn to the mysteries that are "co-authored" by her tabby cat, SneakyPie. The first several books were awesome. I enjoyed reading every moment of them even if she sometimes left me rolling my eyes over her handling of gay men. (Yes, I am aware of her sexual orientation.) In the early years they were generally the villains, though she did back away from this later.

Her main character, Harry, lost interest for me when Brown stopped playing about with her sexual ambiguity and singleness. In the end Brown reunited Harry with her errant husband who had learned his lesson. Once Harry became the happy little homemaker again, the series went flat. She wrote out or minimized characters that added pizzaz and sparkle like Miranda and Boom-Boom.

I recently picked up Cat of the Century. I wouldn't say my love has returned, but I definitely would say that this book redeemed Harry a great deal in my eyes and I'm once again likely to pick up a Mrs. Murphy mystery.

Sherrilyn Kenyon:

I guess it might be surprising that the most awaited Kenyon book, Acheron, was responsible for making me back away. It was overblown and not pleasant to read. The first two thirds that told of Acheron's history were a stark abandonment of the style that made Kenyon, Kenyon. The final third, the Acheron gets his girl part, was the only part of this book that held any redemption and is the only part I will ever read again.

I picked up Bad Moon Rising simply because No Mercy is coming out soon and I had been avoiding the Fang-Aimee book. Just not interested in it, but I was looking forward to the story of Dev and Samia. The book wasn't as bad as I feared. It was exactly that comfortable Kenyon feeling that I'd missed in Acheron. I'm glad that's back and my passsion for her Dark-Hunter world has returned.

I also had a pleasant surprise when I picked up Kenyon's YA offering The Chronicles of Nick: Infinity. I'd been wary since Nick was the character I was most disappointed in through the series. He began as this indearing smart-ass kid and ended up in the adult version of the series as a whiny idiot who just needs to be b-slapped and told to man-up. But this series has brought the adult readers back to the Nick we loved and introduces YA readers to a a cast of very cool characters they will come to identify with and enjoy.
I've often credited Kenyon with reminding me that after years of required reading in school that reading was supposed to be fun. I really think the Chronicles of Nick will bring that home to a new generation of readers.
Up next for me is a little non-fiction. American Conspiracies by Jesse Ventura. I anticipate a few good giggles and eye rolls.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The World-Cup: Who knew?

During the last World-Cup a friend of mine who lives in England, but who would be the first to explain to you that he is not English but Irish, tutored me on the finer points of football. I actually followed lightly but didn't take it too seriously. Since then we have started a soccer program at our school and our girls have dominated the district since with a string of championships. I also have a sister-in-law who is rather enthusiastic about the sport and especially the Mexican team. (Since she was born in Mexico, I'm assuming that's part of her passion.)

Flipping through channels today I came upon the Argentina vs Nigeria game. I suddenly realized part of the appeal. I mean, have you seen these guys? The Argentine team looks like a collection of romance cover models. I know a lot of women discovered football/soccer with the arrival of David Beckham, but frankly, I never got it. He wasn't my cup of tea. He always seemed a bit crunchy-like someone needed to introduce him to soap and deodorant. Not that clean sweat of a man who's worked hard and played hard, but the icky dirty of a man who forgot to shower after the last game or two or three or four or... ewww.

But these guys? Very nice. Need proof? (Argentina is on the left.)
I think just became a lot more interesting. Of course, being an American I have to admit that the US team (below) isn't to be overlooked.

It looks like soccer/football just found a new spectator.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Reading

One of my favorite parts of summer vacation is more reading time. I’ve had the opportunity to finish two books over the weekend and today. My “to read” list had been getting very big. There are a lot of them I’ve been meaning to get to that I just haven’t had time to.

I’ve been enjoying the more and more books from Wild Rose Press. I just finished Nothing to Commend Her by Jo Barrett. "The Earl of Pensby lost his wife in a fire, one tht left him scarred in more ways than one. He's surly, brooding, and acoording to half the ton, a monster. Except to Agatha Trumwell, she sees so much more than his scars. But with a pitiful dowry, unfavorable looks, and a tendency to speak her mind, she h as nothing to commend her, or so she believes. Can these two lonely souls find love amid the gossiping beau monde while someone plots to tear their fragile world apart?"

The premise of the book isn't entirely original, the too old bluestocking who earns the love of the scarred nobleman, each thinking their looks prevent the other from loving them, isn't exactly untried in the Regency world. The "someone" trying to tear them apart is fairly obvious, but the why is definitely a new twist.

Yet, it's a good read because the characters are so wonderfully drawn.

Babies in the Bargain by Mona Risk: "With only one year left to complete her training in Neonatology, Dr. Holly Collier vows not to let anyone mess up her sacrosanct schedule. Especially not the drop-dead gorgeous Dr. Marc Suarez who broke her heart seven years ago. When a tragic accident transforms the carefree playboy into a dedicated novice father to his nephew, Holly gives in to her maternal instincts and turns her structured life upside down for the orphaned preemie. But can she learn to trust in Marc again and believe in true love?"

This was a delightful book. The characters were engaging and endearing, though at one point the reader does want to smack their heads together and tell them to stop. Risk does pull you into the world of her doctors and this is guaranteed to charm readers.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day began in the late 1800's when General John Logan declared a nation wide holiday, then known as Decoration Day. Logan was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Republic and wanted to honor the soldiers who had died during the Civil War. Most southern states refused to recognize it.

It wasn't until the Federal govt. created Memorial Day in 1967 that it became an official holiday to honor all the veterans.

Oh, that handsome guy in his sailor suit is my grandfather, Harry B. Edwards, Jr. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. His tour was in the Pacific and he experienced the hospitality of a Japanese POW camp. And the cool dude below is my stepdad, Danny M. Neubig, who served in the Air Force's K9 Corps.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bad Mouthing Romance

I was surprised again recently when I heard writer Anny Cook describe the reaction she got at a writer's convention to the fact that she writes romance. I don't know why I was surprised, it's not new. It's the same old elitist nonsense that continues to rear it's ugly head again and again among writers. But it also reflects an opinion held by many in the general public.

I guess what continues to surprise me is how the attitude flies in the face of the data and statistics from the publishing world. According the data from RWA (Romance Writers of America), romance fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales in 2008. The genre was the top performing category on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. Recent surveys show that 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008.

The romance genre continues to hold the lion's share of the consumer market in 2008. The $1.37 billion out earned all other genres with Religion/inspirational and mystery coming in distant second and third with $800 million and $668 million in earnings repectively. (And most of those have romantic subplots.)

The truth is the romance genre with all it's subgenres out sell all the others and surveys show that romance novel readers are among the most prolific readers. Romances are part of what's being published for most age groups. JK Rowling, as her readers aged, flirted with some innocent romances. Young adult writers Riordan, Meyer, Patterson, McDaniel, Cooney, etc. all touch on the romantic. Adult authors like Dan Brown even build their tension and suspense with romantic subplots. Romance, the tendency of humans to form close and caring relationships, is everywhere.

Maybe the problem is that people don't understand when they're reading romance. I mean, after all, romances can't even begin to compare with literary classics. Or can they? A wide spectrum of what we consider "classic literature" have a their heart romance. Don't believe me? There would have been no Iliad without Paris and Helen. Wuthering Heights? Yeah, a sick little love story but for Heathcliff and Kathy a love story nonetheless. And would the illustrious Masterpiece Theater waste their reputation on tawdry, raunchy romances? Well, they have done versions of almost all of Jane Austen's works not to mention the Brontes. Even Brahm Stoker knew the importance of a romantic element in his work.

So should I be ashamed that I write stories about men and women who meet, fall in love and struggle to make the relationship work out with some hope of a happy future? Why would I?

Sunday, May 9, 2010


...never boring.

It's amazing how one small human being can make you feel both 100 feet tall and totally incompetent at the same time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Creeped Out by 14 year old boys

Threats against my family, my livelihood and my reputation are taken seriously.

This original post was removed due to a threat received in the comments section . The post, the comments and the IP addresses of those who commented (and all are saved whether you call yourself anonymous or not) have been forwarded to my attorney for review.

Thank you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shadow of the wind

I just finished Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Shadow of the Wind. This is a much touted literary "masterpiece".

I will agree that technically it was beautiful. The prose, the language, the style was carefully and skillfully crafted. One could easily lose themselves in the beauty of the prose. However, I found that that seems to be what happened to the story. The story line was not compelling and seemed to play second fiddle to the prose--to the "crafting" of the words.

Maybe I'm just a simple person with simple tastes, but I have to find the storyline the number one draw to the book.

I was reading the remarks from a friend who attended a writer's conference and she remarked on how romance writing still isn't really accepted as "real" writing. I blame this on the transition that happens to people about middle school to high school where we start to put emphasis on "classic literature". In doing so we tend to suck the fun right out of reading.

In middle school and high school I remember the guilty pleasure of sneaking a Harlequin romance. They were fun to read. So were comic books. But these were looked down upon as not real reading by those who are in the position I hold now, a reading/ELA teacher. We read Animal Farm, The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, etc. in the seventh grade and I used to think that was an awesome thing.

It is in some respects. There is a certain body of literature that everyone should have a passing knowledge of and the three works above are among them. In the WIP I have going, which may turn out to be a YA novel, the protagonist is bemoaning her third trip to the land of Chaucer. Yes, we all need to have a passing acquaintance with The Canterbury Tales, but by focusing entirely on those kinds of works we are at deep risk of sucking the fun out of reading. I mean, come on, how many of you who have read Chaucer, enjoyed it? Not many. We may admire it, we may appreciate it, but enjoy it?

Classic works are a must. We need to know, understand and be familiar with great works of literature. But thank goodness for writers who know how to keep reading fun. I'd lost the fun in reading until I picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to figure out what the hype was all about. I devoured it in a few hours and went back for more.

Yet still, it seemed that fun and adult literature were forever to be separated until I attended my first DragonCon (the SciFi-Fantasy-Horror convention in Atlanta). I saw a panel with Sherrilyn Kenyon-dressed in pigtails with bright red yarn fluffed through them and horns. (I had no idea at the time she was dressed like the demon Simi from her books.) I'd never heard of her before that day, but was drawn by the vampire-goth theme of the panel. She was hilarious and fun.

A check of my local library showed they had her novels and I, again, discovered the fun in reading. Now I embrace my romance reader side. It took longer for me to embrace the romance writer side of me. My first novel, Access Denied, was written without a clue on my part that it was a romance until one of my friends gave me a reality check. It had been declined by a couple of publishers when Courtney said, "Duh, you're sending it out wrong, you don't have a sci-fi novel on your hands, kiddo, you have a romance."

I was shocked. I'd written a romance? Yes I had. The story of James and Leah was definitely a romance. Not your typical one, he's a difficult kinda guy to warm up to, but it was definitely a romance.

I don't have aspirations as a writer to write the great American novel. Like Leah, who reminds me a great deal of Lizzy in The Rainmaker, my dreams are much more simple. I just want people to have fun.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A little bit of exercise feels good.

I don't mean the type of exercise that makes you sweat and makes your physical muscles ache. I mean the type of exercise that you do with your mind, your imagination and creativity.

I've been writing fairly steadily the last couple of days. A mere 4,200+ words at the moment, but it may just be a good start that leads to a good finish. Writers will tell you, we all have stories we started that we never finished. We all have stories we finished but which just sit there and don't ever find a home and often for good reason. Some are just never ready to be out their on their own.

This little story I've started recently has been brewing in my head for a while. It seems to be coming fairly easily and most promisingly the hero is very demanding. That is generally a good sign. When my hero is uncooperative, pushy and demanding it usually means the story will at least get finished. He won't let me not finish it.

How is he pushy? Well I had decided after a great deal of research just what name I was going to give him. You know that look someone gives you that says, "You have got to be out of your f'ing mind?" Yeah, that's the look I got. No, seriously. That's how he looked at me. Then he informed me that if I wanted to know his name I should have asked. It's Gideon by the way. And this is what he looks like.

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Exercise in Randomness

Caution: Today's blog is an exercise in randomness.

Television used to be a rarity in our house, but I confess that is changing, mostly since we got cable. We got the cable as a bundle with the high-speed internet and because we did want Z to have access to Discovery, the History Channel, Animal Planet and PBS.

Oops…tangent. Can you have a tangent in randomness?

The much touted 100th episode of the Fox television show Bones aired last night. I’ve seen a few episodes, but sometimes it can be a bit ripe for me. Ditto CSI. But as I’ve watched the commercials it occurred to me that all of these folks owe their success to one man. Jack Klugman.

Yes, Jack Klugman. Klugman (and yes, he's still alive) has portrayed several iconic characters over the years including Oscar Madison --who while he didn't inspire Oscar the Grouch was later given a nod by Henson and pals. Sesame Street paid homage to the other famous Oscar by giving their trashcan residing grouch a best friend named Felix the neat Grouch.

After his time on The Odd Couple (which came after years of impressive parts in movies including 12 Angry Men), in 1976, Jack Klugman gave life to the original forensic scientist/crime fighter--Dr. R. Quincy, ME.

Originally conceived as part of the rotating NBC Sunday night mystery theater that included McCloud, McMillan and Wife and Columbo, Klugman's Quincy was so popular that he was quickly given his own weekly show. Using the skills of a medical examiner Quincy used 1970's forensics to solve mysteries. The seven year run of this show opened the door for shows like Diagnosis Murder (1993-2001); Crossing Jordan (2001-2007); CSI and all it's spin-offs (2003-present) and Bones (2005-present).

I remember watching Quincy, and not just because my grandmother liked it. I liked it. I found the way Quincy used medical science to solve crimes fascinating. I found the secondary characters interesting and enjoyable. It was a terrific show. Or maybe it was just that in 1976 I was 11 years old and found it the mark of being a grown up to watch the 9:00pm (CST) grownup show. It was the same with M*A*S*H*. I didn't actually understand many of the jokes, but being able to stay up late to watch was a mark of adulthood.

I find myself writing again recently. I thought for awhile this was going to turn into a YA story. I'm not sure of that now. The heroine is young, just how young I'm not sure yet. Somewhere between 16-20 so I guess that is YA. And it's paranormal. Part of my world, but an aspect I've only ever touched on. It will be interesting to see how and if it develops.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Death of the Road Trip

I just returned from a trip to Florida for our spring break. We drove down to my mother-in-law's house so that she could see Z. She'd not seen him since last October because he came down with bronchitis around Christmas. No slight meant to my mother-in-law, but I was actually relieved. I have this thing about wanting to keep the major holidays for just our little family. But that's not what this blog is about. It's about the fact that the days of taking road trips are over for me, and though there is some denial involved here, for my SO as well.

The trip to Ft. Myers is between 11 and 13 hours long depending on road construction. It was a hop in the car, drive and keep going until we arrived. Now, things are different. The trip is a two day event, an event marked with frequent stops and a great deal of Barney and Elmo. Yep, such is the reality of driving with a toddler.

We prepared for the event as much as possible including breaking down and buying a portable DVD player for the car. Though we try to avoid television in our house, my son has gotten hooked on the purple dino and the little red whatsit. This I could deal with, even after hours of "I love you, you love me, ...etc." The glitch is the fact that evidently a toddler has a much more limited tolerance for sitting still. *insert eye roll here*

We'd been taking breaks, snacks, drinks and diaper changes. However, as bedtime approached, Z decided he was done, punctuated by projectile vomiting brought on by crying and refusing to be comforted until he'd worked himself to a sick. And like the two highly educated adults we are with five university degrees between us, we caved. And I must say the trip back home was much more enjoyable. We stopped at a hotel, had dinner, watched television and then slept.

Now why does this prompted a mournful blog about the death of road trips? Because as nice as it was, there is a loss of freedom here. There is a destruction of the youthful dream of being able to just hop in the car and go. This is gone.

So dear, dear road trip...RIP.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I just finished reading a YA novel called SisterWife by Shelley Hrdlitschka. It's the story of a three young women linked to an extremely conservative Christian community that practices polygamy. In Unity, men are assigned multiple celestial wives by The Prophet. The group believes in eternal marriage that puts a whole new spin on the idea of forever. Girls, upon reaching the age of 15 are given in marriage.

Of the three young women, two are born and raised in Unity. One, Nannette, is steadfast and almost militant in her faith--her youth and immaturity making it hard for her to accept frailty or questioning in others. Especially the questioning of her sister Celeste who, a few days from 15, is wondering if there isn't much more to the world than being a plural wife and having children. In the mix is Taviana, a young street girl who was rescued by a member of the community and has found a way to reinvent herself and become more than she ever was in the "real" world.

The ending has proven to be controversial among others I know who've read the book. I admit to being undecided as to how I feel about it, but it was worth the read.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Computer returns!


We got our computer back tonight. It was a faulty power unit and we were able to save all our information. The guy who worked on it was wonderful and the cost was reasonable. Hurray!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Computer Woes

Our desktop computer has decided to take a vacation of undetermined length. It seems to be stuck in hybernation mode. The little green power light keeps flickering, it won't respond to any attempts to wake it up. Even turning it off and on just results in it continuing to flicker once turned back on.

Our old Dell is a few years old, ancient in computer years. The sad part is that even if we replace it, if the repair guys can't pull the data off this one, we could loose a lot. Stupidly we didn't have a backup. We didn't think we needed one on the family computer. We did. All of Z's pics, my writing, lots of things of import are on that hard drive.

I have my flash drive with what I'm working on now, but it would be horrible to loose copies of my published books, the original manuscripts, etc. Worst of all, the pics of Z since he was born. We've kept up his baby book, but not kept up with hard copies of pics in photo albums.

All I can say folks is cross your fingers we can fix this puppy and spring for a backup.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Second day of catch up with the movies and I went to see Avatar. I saw the 3D IMAX version and I have to admit it didn’t live up to the hype. It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. The effects, the technology was definitely awe inspiring. The story however, wasn’t. Oh it was a nice plot, but the action—not explosions or fighting, but plot action—was a bit thin on the ground during the first two thirds of the movie. And even worse, it was not all that inspiring from a science fiction/fantasy point of view..

This isn’t a story I will remember as long as I remember the movie. It was predictable and preachy. Colonialism is bad. The rape of the natural world is bad. It’s more of a matter of someone turning the art department loose with an unlimited budget while skimping on the writing. Yes, I know Cameron was at least partially wrote the screenplay. But the result is an A+ visual with a C+ script.

Friday, February 12, 2010


While those along the mid-Atlantic are probably so over the snow, but here in Georgia we finally got a real snow fall. Our front yard ranked up 1.5-2" Z was having a blast in the snow until he stepped off the driveway into the real snow. It was cold, wet and up over his shoes. After falling in it he decided he did not like it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple, yet again.

Once more Apple reinvents the wheel and takes credit for it.

On January 16, 2008 Steve Jobs of Apple declared that Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader would fail. In the New York Times he was quoted as saying:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Now two years later Apple has jumped into the ereader market with both feet. The new Ipad announced today will do more than just play games, surf the net and show movies. Apple is touting it as an e reader and is developing aps that will include subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

So I guess what Steve Jobs meant to say was ‘If I didn’t think of it, it won’t work. But when I release my version of the technology, it will be the most brilliant and insightful advance in the world.’

Steve Jobs. Yet again proves he talks out both sides of his face and is essentially an egomaniacal tool.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Broken Resolutions

According to some sources as many as 50% of all adult Americans make New Year's resolutions. But we aren't so good at keeping them. Nearly one quarter of those resolutions will not last out the week. Fifty percent won't make it beyond the first month. I'm not criticizing, mind you, my resolution didn't even make it out of the starting gate as you can see by the last date I posted on my blog. I had wanted to set a goal to blog on a regular basis. Yeah, that worked really well.

So I'm curious. How are your resolutions going?