Thursday, December 27, 2007

To All New Things! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

This post is a little different because it's not about New Year's's about experiencing life.

We all get frustrated when the goals we’ve set aren’t reached, but sometimes we just have to realize it’s out of our hands, especially when health issues need to be addressed, computer problems arise, a day job gets in the way, volunteer work takes up much of your free time, or you just need a break or you’ll snap. It happens to everyone.

So, instead of focusing on what I didn’t accomplish in 2007, I like to focus on the NEW things I did over the past year, personally and writing related (although most of these can be referenced for research later).

For me, life is about learning and trying new things. So, here is my list of few Brand Spankin' NEW things that I experienced in 2007:

Jan. 1st: On the first day of the New Year, we always do something we’ve never done before. This year we toured the house that The Travel Channel's “America's Most Haunted” calls the number one most haunted house in the United States: The Whaley House in San Diego, CA. It was a great way to kick off 2007! (Didn’t experience anything unusual, though…darnit.)

April 5th-14th: This California girl experienced a New England winter during the spring and survived! LOL. Easter in Maine was colder than their Christmas, as winter got a late start. But fortunately, we packed appropriately. Whew. And we made it out of Boston hours before the Nor'Easter hit, so we were fortunate all around.

My paranormal trilogy is set in Maine, so it was the perfect chance to do a little research and gain some first-hand experience. And oh my gosh, it was gorgeous with the snow blanketing the ground of the colonial village of York (1652), which was where we'd stayed.

Ate Boston Baked Beans at Durgin Park Restaurant (1827)…Delicious, especially when you’re cold!

Ate Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker House (1855) where the delectable dessert was first created…it just happens to be my favorite desert. Coincidence? I think not. We also stayed at the hotel so we wouldn’t miss any B.C.P. ordering opportunities. I know, it just gets sad…

June 21st-25th: Visited the absolutely stunning state of Wisconsin for the first time. It’s amazing what rain and snow will do for a place! How wonderful to be surrounded by such greenery all summer long, rather than sticks that resemble trees and dried brush, all various shades of brown, as well as a high chance of fire—much like here.

We also visited the Swiss town of New Glarus and the Norwegian town of Mount Horeb (aka The Troll Capital of the World).

Oh, and Mount Horeb boasts the Mustard Museum—as seen on Mark DeCarlo’s “Taste of America” (The Travel Channel)—where I bought my Poupon U shirt. You know why, right? Because the museum is the campus for America’s College of Mustard, don’tcha know. Hey, we just happened upon’s not like we planned a trip there! LOL

Okay, so this is only a partial list…don’t want to bore you.

What about you guys? What new things did you do or did you learn this past year? I want to hear all about it! Tell me, tell me! :-)

Here’s to an exciting, healthy, and successful 2008 for all of us!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Looking For a Gift? Try an Author Signed Quilt

Still need to find a holiday gift for that someone special? I thought I'd bring this auction to your attention, especially since there are still a few days left!

Check out the authors who have signed the quilt/wall hanging...Pretty darn cool. They're all listed below. :-)

Happy Holidays!!




Quilt / Wall hanging

Autographed by 100 authors

CLICK HERE: Romance Quilt with Authors' Autographs

(clicking will take you to eBay)

The Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America®

is offering this quilt/wallhanging with autographs of 100 authors:

NYT Bestselling Authors in Romance

Suzanne Brockman, Kathleen Eagle, Kristen Hannah,

Kathleen Korbel, Jayne Anne Krentz, Jill Marie Landis,

Stephanie Laurens, Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Teresa Medeiros, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Nora Roberts


Crime Novelists Stephen J. Cannell & Robert Crais

Enjoy your favorite authors! Discover new authors! The entire list (alphabetical order):

Cherry Adair/ Rebecca Anderson / Jennifer Apodaca / Amanda Ashley / Madeline Baker / Jo Beverley / Elizabeth Bevarly / Pauline Bitten / Allison Brennan / Suzanne Brockman / Stephen J. Cannell / Kate Carlisle / Mary Castillo / Maureen Child / Kresley Cole / Robert Crais / Geralyn Dawson / Janelle Dennison / Thea Devine / Jacqueline Diamond / Christina Dodd / Gillian Doyle / Eileen Dreyer / Judy Duarte / Kathleen Eagle / Suzanne Enoch / Suzanne Forster / Rebecca Forster / Patricia Gaffney / Tina Gayle / Cindy Gerard / Rachel Gibson / Barbara Goodwin / Jennifer Greene / Lori Handeland / Kristen Hannah / Kim Harris / Lorraine Heath / Candice Hern / Lori Herter / Kristen Higgins / Sandra Hill / Madeline Hunter / Lisa Jackson / Tara Jansen / Linda O. Johnston / Sandra Kay / H.R. Knight / Kathleen Korbel / Jayne Anne Krentz / Jill Marie Landis / Stephanie Laurens / Julia London / Charlotte Maclay / Debbie Macomber /
Susan Mallery / Lorelle Marinello / Dinah Macall / Barbara McCauley /
Sarah McKerrigan / Linda McLaughlin / Teresa Medeiros / Pamela Morsi / Mindy Neff / Dee Ann Palmer / Janelle Pat / Sandra Paul / Diane Pershing / Carly Phillips /
Susan Elizabeth Phillips / Patricia Potter / Frances Ray / Shirley Raye / Christine Rimmer / Nora Roberts / Karen Rose / Lauren Royal / Charlene Sands / Meryl Sawyer / Jill Shalvis / Teresa Southwick / Susan Squires / Patricia Thayer / Vicki Lewis Thompson / Carolyn Valdez / Sherri Whitefeather / Caitlyn Willows / Maralys Wills / Taylor Wilshire /

These autographs were obtained from speakers at our chapter meetings
as well as at the 2007 National RWA Conference in Dallas.

OCC/RWA is a not-for-profit corporation serving fiction writers, published and unpublished.

To view more close-up photos, click here

Thank you to award-winning quilter Sandy Fields for piecing this quilt

and Sandy Brown (Sandra Kay) for all of her help with this project!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Checking In...

Hi all,

This is a quick post, as I'm in the middle of a deadline (my last Orange Blossom!), but I wanted to point out a fun blog posted by Bobbie Cimo on A Slice of Orange called "Eye on Hollywood: Our Holiday Turkey, Perry."

Bobbie has countless Hollywood stories and has started to blog about them once a month over on A Slice of Orange (starting next month, she'll be posting on the 13th). This one is about how Perry Como was a huge part of their holiday tradition...And how once she started working at CBS, she had the opportunity to meet him. It's GREAT story!! If you get a chance, I think you'll enjoy reading it.

I'm a sucker for all those Hollywood stories...Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Doris Day, Bing Crosby.

What about you guys? Do you ever get nostalgic for the older Hollywood specials?

Oh, and starting January 12th, I'll be joining A Slice of Orange with a monthly column titled "A Writer's Pursuit" where I'll be discussing the pursuit of reaching goals, learning craft, and doing research. I'll keep you posted. :-)

Hope you're doing well!


Monday, December 10, 2007


United Hollywood: Fighting for the Future has been posting these short videos on Youtube--acted out by celebrities--in order to demonstrate what happens to the movie/television industry without writers. To view all the videos and to learn more about the strike points, click


Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Little Holiday Cheer

So we finally put up our Christmas lights last weekend. What do you think? Not enough?

And the one below it is our neighbor's house. I think they toned it down from last year.

Okay, you caught me. That's Disneyland's Cinderella's Castle and the It's A Small World attraction. It just wouldn't feel like the holidays if we didn't stroll through the park a couple of times during November and December and take in the carolers on Main Street, the lights and decorations all over the park, the "snow" falling along town square, the cold nights when we can finally wear mittens and heavy coats, and the special holiday baked goods and drinks that are sold on every corner. It's a tradition my family and I have had for at least 20 years, if not more.

I also break out the holiday movies: Meet Me in St. Louis, White Christmas, On Moonlight Bay, Love Actually, You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and While You Were Sleeping.

I generally watch holiday movies over reading holiday fiction; however, this year, I'm making an exception for the writing goddess Maureen Child's (with Caridad Pineiro) latest Silhouette Nocturne: Holiday With A Vampire. Maureen's story is "Christmas Cravings," and combines two of my favorite things: the holidays and paranormal romance! Yay! Can't wait to read it. :-)

What about you? Do you prefer movies or books to help you get in the spirit? Or neither one--maybe music? Do you have any traditions, like returning to a certain place year after year?

Hope you're all doing well!


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dusting Off the Ole Diploma

Yeah, Baby! I knew getting a B.A. in 3 and a 1/2 years would come in handy.

Okay, so I don't really have a huge amount of faith in this particular Blog Readability Test because as my friend, J.K Mahal, pointed out in her blog, One Page at a Time, the results are given without any kind of criteria or reasoning.

So, I clicked on the other link she'd posted: Juicy Studio's Readability Test.

This one gave my blog a readability of High School level, which definitely sounds more my speed.

I'm just not buying the College Level (PostGrad) rating. I like the short words...And the shorter sentences. ;-)

By the way, if you have an Elementary School rating, then you're in excellent company because a lot of bestselling authors have this rating as well!

So, what about you guys? Has anyone else tried this?

Hope your weekend is going well!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Almost There

A few more key scenes and I will be finished with a solid draft of my single title, dark paranormal romance, THE PRENTICE LEGACY. Yay! I'm aiming to complete this by the end of next week...And then the layering and polishing will begin. :-)

With a lot of luck and determination, this novel will be ready to go at the beginning of 2008, and then it will be time to polish the proposals for Book Two and Book Three in the trilogy.

I'm thrilled at the way all my characters--but especially my hero and heroine, Cooper Landry and Elisabeth Prentice--took charge of the story and traveled to those dark places, really upping the stakes. Even when I wasn't sure whether I wanted "to go there"... they were right. LOL! I love them.

Do your characters ever tell you they want to do something other than what you had planned for them? Do you let them? And do you find maybe they were right?

Do I sound insane? ;-)

Hope your writing is going well!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Okay, this cracked me up...

I always thought Amy had it coming to her. And clearly, so does Meg Cabot.

Have you guys seen her retelling of this American Literary Classic...The way she thinks it should have been written? (Frankly, I agree.) In fact, anyone who has written a novel, or is in the process of writing one, might think the same.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Meeting Robert Crais

I’ve had this blog entry written for oh…well…over a month now, but I’m just getting around to posting it. Sheesh.

That’s because I’m focused on finishing my dark paranormal before the end of the year. Yay! (I’m sooo in love with these characters and this story.) But I do tend to tune everything else out when I get rolling on a story--except family and friends...and deadlines (those have come up, too).

However, even though I don’t post regularly when I’m in story writing mode, I do read your blogs every single day, as they jumpstart my morning. So, thank you!

Anyway, back to this post.

That’s Robert Crais in the picture…(Oh, and I’m standing next to him, but who cares, right? LOL) ;-)

I had the opportunity to hear him speak at OCC’s October 13th meeting, and he was absolutely charming. He certainly went out of his way to make others around him comfortable. And the cool thing was how he began his speech with how he’d struggled with numerous rejections for his first Elvis Cole novel, The Monkey’s Raincoat, but he didn’t allow himself to give up. Very inspirational.

He also spoke about how his family refused to support his choice to become a writer, at least not until he became a successful one (after he sold his first teleplay). And he offered up point-by-point how he worked damn hard to become the name he is today. Yeah, gotta say this endeared him to pretty much everyone in the room.

He’d written teleplays for “Hill Street Blues,” “Cagney and Lacey,” and “Miami Vice” as well. (And he mentioned the first show he’d worked on, but now I can’t remember the name…I want to say “Baretta,” but someone please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Anyway, I was first introduced to the name Robert Crais when his novel L.A. Requiem was required reading in a novel writing course in college, and that, of course, also became my introduction to the Private Investigator character, Elvis Cole. The setting, the suspense, the well-developed characters, the mystery, the voice…his books have it all. There’s a good reason Crais has jumped from struggling fiction writer to New York Times bestseller.

I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet him, and it’s always a pleasure to put a warm and friendly personality with well-known name.

Have any of you read his books? Or have you had the opportunity to meet Crais?

Take Care,


Friday, November 02, 2007

Online Class with Judy Duarte: Matchmaking 101

Hey, I thought some of you might be interested in this online class called MATCHMAKING 101: A Yenta's Guide to Creating, Sustaining, and Overcoming Conflict.

The information on the class and the award-winning author, Judy Duarte, is below.

Happy Writing,


******* permission to forward***************

OCC/RWA November Online Class

A Yenta's Guide to Creating, Sustaining, and Overcoming Conflict

November 12 to December 9
(4 weeks)


Class info:
Judy Duarte, award winning author of 25 books, will share her method
of creating a compelling hero and heroine who must overcome all odds
to earn the right to fall in love and live happily ever after.

Learn how to handpick the perfect couple and develop backstories that
will provide a strong, believable conflict. By the end of the class,
you can expect to have the beginning of a solid synopsis that will
jumpstart your plot.

About the Instructor:
Judy's first book was released by Silhouette Special Edition in 2002.
Since then, her stories have touched the hearts of readers around the
world, winning her a National Reader's Choice Award in 2005.
Mulberry Park, Judy's first women's fiction novel and the book of her
heart, will be released in trade size by Kensington in April of 2008.

Enrollment Information:
Cost: OCC members $20 and Nonmembers $30
Enrollment deadline: November 10, 2007

For more infromation, see the website
or e-mail online class moderator Lori Pyne at

******* permission to forward***************

Monday, October 29, 2007

Check out Jennifer Apodaca's Contest

Hey, two posts in one day! Amaaazing. :-)

Just letting you know that my good friend, Jennifer Apodaca (the one who always gets me in trouble at board meetings by making me laugh), has a contest over at Murder She Writes. She's giving away a signed copy of her newest Brava release, Extremely Hot, and a $10 Barnes and Noble G.C. to 2 different commenters who answer her fun question on today's blog (But you have all week to comment! So be sure to hop on over there).

I loved the mystery, the suspense, the romance, and of course, the strong, sexy characters--Luke and Ivy. Don't miss Extremely Hot.

Book Description From AMAZON:

The Rules According To Ivy York:

1. Never Trust A Bad Boy.
2. Never Make Decisions With Your Libido.
3. Disregard Rules #1 And 2.

Ivy York became an accountant because numbers don't lie and cheat. Too bad the same can't be said of the men she's met. Now, as the wildly successful host of the radio show, "The Economic Sex Hex," she advises women to take control of their money and to spot the bad boys before they get too close. And the ultimate bad boy Sex Hex is the Urban Legend, a man known for lovin' women (exquisitely) and leavin' while chasing down stolen property for a hefty fee. No one knows who he really is...but every woman he's ever pleasured would happily take him back for more...

Luke Sterling likes being the Urban Legend almost as much as he likes bringing thieves to justice. And right now, he's on the trail of two stolen figurines famous for conferring sexual prowess--and the trail leads straight to Ivy. Posing as her personal assistant should be a piece of cake, but Luke didn't count on Ivy's own brand of Sex Hex. That good girl game coupled with fierce smarts wrapped around one luscious, curvy body is making him want to prove to Ivy that the Urban Legend more than lives up to his top billing. Suddenly, the hottest show in town isn't on the air--it's between the sheets...

Good luck for the Red Sox?

So, my family and I have been to Boston twice now: once during baseball season in 2004 and once when the Red Sox opened at home this past April, 2007 (we just happened to be in Boston).

Both years they've won the World Series.

I'm just saying... ;-)

Hmm, maybe we should apologize to the Angels. Yikes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How creative people view every day tasks

Yesterday, I told my husband I was going to go grocery shopping and asked him if he wanted to come along--fully expecting a "thanks, but no thanks" answer.

Instead, he grabbed my camera and said, "Let's go."

I glanced at the camera then back at him.

He shrugged. "It's got a time lapse feature."

"Okay. Just don't let me forget the iced tea this time."

This short video (I swear, it is) proves that creative people--writers, artists, photographers, or what have you--view every day tasks differently than non-creative types. As writers, we observe the various behaviors of the shoppers and employees at the store. And the shapes, colors, scents, and sounds jump out at us and demand our attention: seeing yellow margarine tubs, wishing you'd worn a sweater in the frozen food aisle, breathing in the scent of freshly baked bread, and listening to the announcements of sales over the P.A. system. Maybe a certain score from a soundtrack runs through your head as you meander through the produce department? Perhaps you create your own lines of dialog (in your head again) for the elderly couple over by the apples?

Of course, we store these away in our memories (or jot them down somewhere if your memory is as bad as mine), only to pull them out to use in a story later. At least, I do. :-)

So how about you? What do you do to see the world differently? Do you view every day tasks in a different light, from a different angle, than others?

Happy Writing,


MUSIC: "Flora/Fauna" by Anamanaguchi from the album Power Supply. (It's upbeat...It'll get you going! LOL)

Kaleidoscope of Consumerism from eric cwiertny on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's official...

...I'm addicted to this soap.

And get this: It contains caffeine!

Yeah. So, for poor saps, like myself, who can't drink coffee to get their buzz going in the morning, here you go.

Caffeine Soap. You can pick it up at your nearest Basin or order it online. There might even be other stores that carry a similar product as well.

Of course, I have no idea how much caffeine is actually in the soap. Could be next to nothing. In fact, the employees at Basin could be tricking me into handing over my $5.99 plus tax and psyching me into a buzz.

Hmm. What does that say about me? Wait. Don't answer that.

Oh, well. It releases an invigorating scent and wakes me up so I can write!

Have you tried Caffeine Soap? Or are you one of those coffee drinkers? ;-)


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oh, Jane and Mr. Rochester...Sigh

Okay, this is my new favorite movie! Have you seen the 2006 PBS version of "Jane Eyre"? If you have...Why didn't you remind me to watch it sooner?! LOL

And for those of you who reminded me at dinner last month...Thank you! I can't believe it has taken me this long to see this movie. Sheesh.

As I hadn't been able to catch a replay of it on TV, I finally broke down and ordered it from Amazon a few weeks ago. And now that I've finally seen it, I'm just going to come out and say it...This version of "Jane Eyre" is up there with the 1996 A&E version of "Pride and Prejudice" (Colin!)...Is that sacrilege? I have a feeling it's not going to be leaving my DVD player for a while. It's definitely one of those movies I can play in the background while I write or work on the computer. There really aren't too many movies with which I can do that, as I tend to get distracted quite easily by bright lights and loud noises. ;-)

So have any of you seen this PBS version of "Jane Eyre" ? Do you ever get obsessive like this with movies, too? Or is it just me?


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What are you reading?

Hi All,

So, despite the fact that I had pre-ordered J.R. Ward's Lover Unbound, I still haven't had a chance to read it. And yes, that's even after I tried to bribe an author who had read the ARC; however, she refused to give over any details--she was very good. Me? Not so much. I'm ashamed. ::shaking head:: ;-) (I owe her an apology for having to endure my teasing--LOL!)

Also, at the top of my TBR list: Demon Moon by Meljean Brook. I read Demon Angel and I'm definitely in the camp of the readers who loved the epic premise of the constant battle between Heaven and Below. I think this story spoke to me because I studied Milton's Paradise Lost for an entire semester during my senior year in college and Brook gives Milton a nod in her story.

But I also enjoyed every scene with the sexy vampire character, Colin, and Demon Moon is his story. So, I have the book...I just need to sit down and read it!

Oh, and if you haven't checked out Chris Marie Green's Vampire Babylon trilogy (it kicks ass)...Check out Book One: Night Rising. The Vampire Babylon trilogy is published under Ace, which is a Urban Fantasy imprint. I just thought you should know since the other books mentioned above are considered paranormal romance.

Anyway, I'm trying to make a dent in my TBR pile, but I've been writing, plotting, and working on an article. And did I mention I've been working on my stories? I'm really excited about that part. :-)

What have you guys been reading or writing?


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Christmas in September

You know, I’ve been pretty darn lucky lately. I’ve read some damn fine paranormals, two of which are from one of my all-time favorite authors, Christina Dodd. I’m hooked on her Darkness Chosen series.

I just finished the first two in the series, Scent of Darkness and Touch of Darkness, and can’t wait for the final two to hit the shelves, which will be in July and August 2008. (Dang it. Write faster, Christina. ;-) Tee-hee.)

What I love about her writing, and this thrilling, shape-shifter series in particular, is the detailed mythology she creates that carries through the entire series. What is it, you ask? A 1000 years ago, a warrior ancestor of the Wilder family made a pact with the Devil...and now the Wilders need to break that pact. But the problem? The more the Wilder men shape-shift into a wolf or a hawk...or whatever else Christina has planned for her sexy, Alpha heros...the closer they come to turning pure evil and the closer they come to acting as savage and ruthless as their Ukrainian relations. So, they must use their power wisely.

You know, I’ve been reading Christina’s historical romances for years and years (a big shout out for The Runaway Princess—woo!) and what sucks me into her paranormals is the mix of historical elements, the contemporary storyline, the mythology, the suspense, the chemistry and emotion between the characters, and, of course, the paranormal premise. This series has it all and she does it well.

Another favorite author who can hook me and reel me in with her paranormals is Maureen Child. I know. I read these books several months ago, but she also knows how to add just the right mix of elements and swirl them together perfectly--as evidenced by her Nocturnes, Eternally (11/06) and Nevermore (2/07). And she wrote historical romance as well! (And made me cry several times with this one. On Christmas Eve. Thanks a lot, Maureen. ;-))

And guess what? It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! And I didn’t have to tackle the mailman yesterday and say, “Where the hell is my box from Amazon, buddy?”

Okay, I wouldn’t really do that. I think he carries pepper spray or mace, or something. Besides, he knows where I live.

But J.R. Ward’s Lover Unbound has arrived and there’s much rejoicing. Well, at least by me. Who’s with me? Huh? Huh?

Vishous! Sigh.

But first, I must write. I have my own paranormal to finish. :-)

Happy writing and reading everyone!


P.S. To see an interview with Christina Dodd on Romance B(u)y the Book, click here:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where Stories Are Born and Other Miracles

So while I was writing on my laptop, my husband turned away from the Angels game and suggested we plan another trip to England and Scotland. Possibly next summer.

ME: Yippee! Jane Austen's House!
HIM: Uh, no.
ME: But...But...Jane Austen's House.
HIM: No. Been there. Done that.
ME: But Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy merchandise.
HIM: Definitely. Not.
ME: (a moment later) Where did the Bronte sisters live?
HIM: Why don't we go to Spain instead?
ME: Oooh! (fingers flying over the keyboard)
HIM: What are you doing?
ME: I'm Googling Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Don Quixote, baby!

Yeah, the poor guy can't win. :-)

The following was posted after our first trip to England...

The Miracle of Jane Austen’s House (and gift shop)

Originally posted on The Writer’s Vibe, August 2006

Yes, my friends, it was indeed a miracle! Three miracles, in fact. The first one being that we walked around without a map until we finally stumbled upon the tiny, picturesque village of Chawton where Jane Austen had lived. (We knew we were close when the houses started to sport thatched roofs).

Yeah, yeah. I know what my friends are thinking: Michele didn’t have a map of the entire area in her trusty file folder? Nope, no Google Earth either. Not this time, folks. We’d set out of London that morning, knowing an adventure waited for us near Alton…Somewhere.

Then suddenly, the miles we had endured in our pilgrimage and the soreness in our tired legs and aching feet was all worth it because finally on the right hand side of the narrow road was Jane Austen’s house and gift shop. And they took credit cards! Did I mention all the merchandise—photos, bookmarks, ect.,--with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? Okay, I didn’t actually purchase said merchandise, as my husband was with me on this journey. Awkward!

Anyway, this was the 17th century house she’d lived in when she wrote and revised her novels. I stood next to the writing table she'd used, hoping to soak in some of the creative aura around it. Hmm…Can inanimate objects have an aura? Well, whatever it was, it worked because I bounded out of that house eager to write and I’ve been on a tear ever since that day. Miracle Number Two. Can I get an Amen?

The third miracle came about when my family and I realized we still had enough stamina to walk another seven miles around London that day, which we did. Thus, we knew it truly to be The Miracle of Jane Austen’s House (and gift shop).

I had a similar experience a few years back when I visited Louisa May Alcott’s house in Concord, Massachusetts. Well, not the walking part, as we had a car on that trip, but the thrill of being in a place where one of my favorite stories had been created. (I seem to recall hovering near her writing desk as well). That excitement kept me going until I finished my first novel. But I didn't stopped there, as several more stories are on their way!

So what about you? Who wrote your favorite novels? Have you visited the places where those stories were born?


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I Believe I Can Fly

This summer, I realized I can fly. Do you ever have one of those moments when you think, You know what? I can do this. That happened to me.

With the help of some awesome OCC friends, I plotted out one of my paranormals and now know exactly where I'm going with that one (I'm so excited about this story and hope to be finished by the end of the year!!). And I have outlines for the next two in the trilogy, which I'll write as proposals.

I also have two more stories that need a bit of revising and polishing, and then they're ready to go. And three more ideas completely outlined and ready to be written as proposals.

If I set my goals, focus, and work my butt off to reach those goals...Then I'm going to experience lift-off, my friends. I'm ready!

I'm so fortunate to be able to surround myself with people who set goals and reach them, as it's such a motivator as well. Those friends truly, truly inspire me (not to mention give me a swift kick in the arse when I need it!). I'd be lost without them and feel I owe them so much for their generosity and guidance.

And as difficult as it is for a writer to become a published author, it's reassuring to look around and see so many friends who are published. Of course, if you want to be successful and fly, you have to work hard, you have to have the talent, the perseverance, and plain ole good luck to help you along.

Oh, and speaking of flying, talent, perseverance, and hard work, we went to the U.S. Women's Soccer (gold jerseys) match against Finland (blue jerseys). It was the last game in the U.S. before they left for China to contend for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. This team is ranked #1 in the world, and some of the players are wives and mothers...a few are as old as I am! (gasp). These women inspire me.

Watching this video makes me think I should probably join a gym or at least get off this chair and go out for a walk, or something. ;-)

USA VS. FINLAND from ericcwiertny and Vimeo.

The video was shot with our older point and shoot Sony Cybershot DSC-T33 and the still photos were shot by our Nikon D70.

Music: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes covering "I Believe I Can Fly"

So what do you believe you can do?


P.S. 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup opener, USA vs North Korea, begins September 11th. Go USA! :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Online Class: And Then What Happened? Scene, Sequel and More with NYT Bestseller Jill Marie Landis

Hi guys,

I'm back to this blog after a summer vacation hiatus.

And as I've been hanging out with most of you, you know I've been alive and kickin'... I even met some of you at the RWA conference in Dallas (Hi Spyscribbler!), which was so cool! :-)

So, as I'm easing back into posting here (don't want to throw too much at you too soon, LOL), I have the information for a fantastic online class titled And Then What Happened? Scene, Sequel and More.

You can bet Jill Marie Landis has some great advice and suggestions to offer in this class!

Happy Writing,



And Then What Happened? Scene, Sequel and More.
A four-week online class featuring
New York Times Bestseller Jill Marie Landis
September 10 – October 14

You have characters. You have a plot. You might even have a synopsis! You’ve written three terrific opening chapters. Now what? Now it dawns on you that sitting down day after day, keeping those pages rolling, isn’t for the faint of heart. Now you’re feeling stymied, panicky and overwhelmed. Sound familiar? Then join New York Times bestseller Jill Marie Landis for a four-week online class designed to help you push through to the end. She’ll help you increase productivity, tighten each scene for more impact, and make your scenes come alive with action and emotion.

About Jill
OCC member Jill Marie Landis is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 romance novels. Her work has received many distinguished awards, including RWA’s RITA, and has earned her a slot on the nation’s top bestselling lists. You can find her at

Enrollment Information:
COST: $20 for OCC members $30 for non-members

Enrollment deadline: September 8th, 2007

For more information about this class, please click or e-mail moderator Marianne Donley at with any questions.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Little Viral Marketing

Whenever I enjoy the writing of an author, a new show on television, or a film, I'll tell anyone who will listen to me all about it.

So this is my new favorite show on HBO. It is created by and stars the New Zealand comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords (Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie). In the show, Jermaine and Bret are in a struggling, two-man, digi-folk band and they're trying "to make a name for themselves in their adopted home of New York City."

My husband and I are huge fans of British/Australian/New Zealand all it's deadpan delivery splendor, and we were crying from laughing so hard. (But if you're not a fan of that kind of humor, in all it's quirkiness, then I don't want to oversell the laughing till you cry bit).

BUT!! The best part of this show: They break out into song!! Yep, it's a musical. They pick a style, such as Pet Shop Boys or Black Eyed Peas, and start singing in the middle of their conversations. I LOVE it.

Here's an example from the episode "Bret Gives up the Dream" :

This show is so different from everything else that is out there. Variety in writing is a good thing, don't you think? It doesn't matter if it's a novel, a show, or a movie. In the network world of Reality and C.S.I./Law and Order shows, it's refreshing to find a series that not only focuses on comedy writing, but takes it a step further with the music videos.

Now, that's worthy of a little word-of-mouth marketing, right? Oh, and before I forget...Speaking of marketing..."Flight of Conchords" and other shows that allow bloggers and MySpace users (ect.) to embed part of their programs on their blogs seem to have their fingers on the pulse of their marketing demographic. So, if you stumble upon a show that causes you to jump up and rejoice, then spread the word to keep it on the air. That's what they want. They want the campaign to catch on like a virus.

So, how about you? Have you seen this show? Do you have favorite book, show, film you want to talk about?


P.S. As fiction writers, how can we participate in viral marketing or create our own viral marketing campaigns? Do we need to become "Interactive" (trailers, videos, commercials)? Or is there another way? Any ideas? What have you done?

I know David Morrell is a master at viral marketing. For example, when the paperback of his novel, Creepers, was released in October of 2006, Morrell didn't tour (as he did for the release of the hardback version), but actual paperback copies of his book were sent out on a national tour. Copies of Creepers were tracked on a message board hosted by by readers who picked them up at coffee shops, donut shops, parks, train stations, and malls. Then the readers were able to log in and win prizes, such as an advance copy of Morrell's next release Scavenger. Oh, and they had recruited volunteers from several message boards to help them out at the various locations, so word spread quickly about the "Creepers Book Tour" and the contests.

I never did hear how well the marketing campaign worked for him. Although, I'm sure he did just fine, as he has such a loyal following.

Anyway, that's just one example of viral marketing for fiction writers. :-)


Monday, July 02, 2007

Just because it's Monday...

...doesn't mean you can't have fun.

Who couldn't use a good laugh today? This 5 second clip Cracks. Me. Up.

I fear I will never tire of the Dramatic Chipmunk. But it is my birthday, so I guess it's all right for me to goof off a bit today, right?

Have fun, everyone!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Online Class: Mauled Men, Drowned Dames, and Crispy Critters: A Body Disposal Primer for Writers

Hey, need help disposing of a body? (Ahem. In your story, of course.) Then, this just might be the class for you! Jeanne P. Adams, a postmortem expert, will be teaching OCC/RWA's July online class, Mauled Men, Drowned Dames, and Crispy Critters: A Body Disposal Primer for Writers.

It sounds like a really informative and interesting class! Okaaaay...I know. I sounded a little twisted there, didn't I? But aren't most writers...just a little? Yeah, I know you know I'm not alone. It's all in the name of fiction, folks. LOL.

Here's the information for the online class so you can sign up, too!

Happy Writing,


Mauled Men, Drown Dames and Crispy Critters: A Body Disposal Primer for Writers
A four-week online class featuring:
Jeanne P. Adams
July 16, 2007 to Aug. 12, 2007

Dead bodies piling up in your books? Learn how to dispose of them the right way in this four-week online class featuring writer and postmortem expert Jeanne P. Adams. You’ll learn what happens to bodies after various causes of death, what really happens inside the morgue, information about real autopsies and all the facts about different kinds of funerals and the laws regarding body disposal.

Jeanne P. Adams is a multi-published non-fiction writer and marketing consultant with credits in magazines such as Forbes and Nature. She worked in the funeral business, both for a cemetery and several funeral homes, for 12 years. In her reading, she’s winced over a variety of mistakes dealing with the story’s dead guy (or gal.) An RWA Pro member and a 2006 Golden Heart Finalist, she’s actively seeking a home for both romantic suspense and paranormal manuscripts.

Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCC members $30 for non-members

Enrollment deadline: July 14, 2007

For more information about this class, please click or e-mail moderator Lori Pyne at with any questions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

For those of us who've always wanted to live in a 1940s movie...

About once a week, I receive updates from the Lively Arts History Association, which lists social events ranging from An Evening in the Colonies to learning the dances of English Regency period to finding antiques and vintage clothing at the Rose Bowl Swap Meet. These events are a great way to get some "hands on" research! Oh, and by the way, if you're a history buff and live in the SoCal area, then I highly recommend subscribing to this fantastic list ; however, I'm sure other areas and states have similar associations as well.

This week, though, I found something I hadn't expected on the list of Upcoming Events...

It is an announcement for this Sunday, July 1, from 6:00 PM - 11:00 PM at Maxwell DeMille's Cicada Club.

From the June 26th, 2007 e-mail of LAHA/Social Daunce Irregulars:

"An elegant 1940s night club evening featuring Dean Mora and his orchestra."

I LOVE Big Band music! But here's the really cool part: Check out the website for the Cicada Club!

The club has retained many of the original art deco fixtures, and the atmosphere inside the building, including the music and clothing of the guests, is period as well. How cool is that?

I hadn't heard of this place before today, but I've always wanted to be in a 1930s or 1940s movie and this is probably about as close as I will ever get...Unless I write an early 1940s-style movie and get a bit part, or something! Hey, I better get busy working on that.

Have fun,


UPDATED TO ADD: From what I can gather on the Cicada Club website, the Cicada Restaurant is a permanent fixture in the Art Deco Oviatt Building, but Maxwell DeMille's Cicada Club is considered a special event. At least, that's the way I keep reading it. I only hope it's not every 17 years like the real cicadas! :-)


Monday, June 18, 2007

Pumping up Your Creative Energy

What do you do to keep your creative energy pumping?

My husband and I are both in creative fields. In fact, he's a Creative Director in an advertising and design firm. See? "Creative" is in his title! No pressure there. LOL.

If any of you work or know someone who works in advertising and design, then you know the incredible amount of hours and stress that goes into each day/week, with meetings, brainstorm sessions, designing ads, deadlines, presentations, more deadlines, photo and commercial shoots, and post-production sessions. And that's just the creative team, not the accounting, media, traffic, and management teams. It can get crazy.

So with the amount of stress and workload they carry, how do the teams keep up their creative energy and blow off a little steam? By taking an hour or so a week (usually at lunch time) to do something fun, something that bonds the entire company, like going to a Go Kart track...or pretending to be human robots at work (see video below set to music).

Gimme Some Robot...on Vimeo

Which brings me back to my question: What do you do to keep up your creative energy?

I happen to go for a walk when I find I'm stuck on a scene. Getting that blood moving, clearing my head, certainly helps my thinking process. I also love to watch films in which their unique storytelling techniques sweep me away and drive me to be a better writer, a film like The Illusionist (NOT the Hugh Jackman one).

What do you do?


Monday, June 04, 2007

Blog Contest at A Slice of Orange

Hey everyone,

Thought some of you might be interested in this blog contest over at A Slice of Orange.
The contest starts today, so get your stories about your "Last First Date" in quickly. Below is all the information for you...

Happy Writing and Good Luck!


Announcing a new blog contest on A Slice of Orange!!!

Tell us about your "Last First Date"!

OCC member and USA Today Bestselling author Susan Mallery wants to
hear the stories of your last first date for the latest contest on our
blog, A Slice of Orange.

She's looking for stories of the first time you went on a date with
your spouse or main squeeze. We want it all! The good, the bad, the
funny, the romantic!

Contest runs from June 4 until June 15. Blogs will be posted every
day, including weekends. Susan will judge all entries and announce
the top three on June 22.

The first place winner will receive a signed copy of Susan's June
release, "Her Last First Date," and a Starbucks gift card.

Send your submissions to Louise Knott Ahern at Please include your full name, address and phone number so we may contact you if you win. (Address and contact info will not be posted on the blog.)

*A Slice of Orange editors reserve the right to edit or reject submissions.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Butterflies 5/26/07

On Saturday, my family visited the L.A. County Museum of Natural History and one of the exhibits is the Pavilion of Wings, which is the Butterfly exhibit (live ones, that is).

My husband took some video of the beautiful and unique experience and set it to music (Luigi Boccherini - String Quintet in C Major, Op. 30, No. 6). Here is the result...

Please enjoy!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Online Class: Crime 101 with Jan Burke

Hi guys,

Here's the information for an online that sounds really cool for writers. From what I understand, New York Times bestselling author Jan Burke teaches a terrific and informative class. So many writers I know rave about her programs.

The info is posted below...

Happy writing,


************************permission to forward************************

Crime 101 with Jan Burke
June 11 to July 8

Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCC members $30 for non-member
Enrollment deadline: June 9, 2007
Moderator Kitty Bucholtz at

About the class:
Whether you're just toying with the idea of writing a work of crime
fiction, considering including elements of crime fiction in your next
work, or seriously at work on a mystery or thriller, this course is
for you.

The goals of this course are to make you feel more confident about
writing a novel of crime fiction, to help you create a better
manuscript and avoid common mistakes of new writers in the genre, and
to guide you to additional resources.

You'll get an overview of the genre, so that you'll become familiar
with the many types of works that are included in the wide embrace of
crime fiction, learn how they differ from one another, and how those
differences may affect choices made by the writer.

We'll talk about character, plot, and setting and how they work
together within the structure of these novels; how to build suspense;
how to devise clues and red herrings; common pitfalls to
avoid; "playing fair" and other "rules,"; researching, including
some essentials of police procedure and forensic science; how to
network and connect with the world of crime fiction writing and where
to learn more.

A New York Times and USA Today bestseller, Jan Burke is the author of
twelve novels and a collection of short stories published by Simon &
Schuster and Pocket Books.

Crime 101 with Jan Burke
June 11 to July 8

Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCC members $30 for non-member
Enrollment deadline: June 9, 2007

For more information please see the website or email moderator Kitty Bucholtz

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Because I'm just not fast enough...I've been tagged

Erica Orloff tagged me on her blog, so now I need to write down 8 random things/habits about me here. Thanks, Erica!

Also, I need to post the following:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

1) I firmly believe the person who decided to sandwich bacon, lettuce, and tomato between two slices of toasted bread is a frickin’ genius.

2) I think this SNL skit is “SOFA KING” funny. I also want to “go on the dam tour” and “take all the dam pictures” I want (National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation, 1997). Oh yeah, I’m easily amused.

3) My taste in music is so eclectic, I can’t name a favorite group or genre because I have too many favorites—anything from Mozart to Queen to Oingo Boingo to Muse to Bee Gees to Depeche Mode to Ennio Morricone to Barenaked Ladies to Keane to Green Day. But the only music I can write to is classical music or Audio Visions (New Age) on XM. And my eclectic taste surfaces when it comes to movies as well—Silent, musicals, noir, blockbusters, foreign, BBC, and 80s mini-series.

4) I love roadside attractions. We happened by The Clam Box in Ipswich, MA a few weeks ago, during our trip to New England. The restaurant looks like an open container of take-out! So cool.

5) Folks look at me askance when I tell them that I love to vacation with my family, my husband’s family, and my brother-in-law’s in-laws—all at the same time. That’s a lot of people (at least 17), but we all get along great and travel well together. It truly is a blast. So far, we’ve vacationed in a houseboat on Lake Powell, in a Victorian house in Maine, and in a Villa in Italy.

6) I love strawberry-flavored things, but not strawberries.

7) Love the smell of coffee, but can’t drink it. (Yes, Erica, I’m an alien. LOL)

8) Necco Wafers are the best candies ever! (If my dentist happens to be reading this…I don’t bite them. I let them dissolve slowly. Promise.)

It was difficult coming up with different facts than the last time I’d been tagged. Click here to read those facts, if you wish.

Now, I tag…Jen A., Gillian, Spy Scribbler, JKMahal, Maureen, and Kate

(If you want to play, that pressure. You'll notice I didn't follow the rules and tell you that you've been tagged! LOL)

Take Care,


Monday, April 23, 2007

The most watched nature video on YouTube

Sometimes you just need to know you're not floating along alone in life.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out these otters holding paws, or "rafting." It's sweet to watch. The video of Nyac and Milo was taken at the Vancouver Aquarium by Cynthia Holmes in 2002, was posted on YouTube in March 2007, and has had millions of hits.



Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Nice diamond. Is it your great-grandmother?

Yep, you read that title right. Not "is it your great-grandmother's diamond" as in "oh, how nice that you have a heirloom to cherish and remember her by...but "is it your great-grandmother" as in "okay, thaaaaat's kinda creepy." (At least to me it is. What do you guys think?)

Have any of you heard about this process of pressing the ashes of a loved one into a synthetic diamond? A company in Switzerland will do this for you and you can read about it this article: "Woman loses battle to turn dead dad into diamond" (Reuters, April 3, 2007). Apparently she couldn't prove that her father wished to be turned into a diamond.

What would you do with it? Would you wear it? Display it? What if you lost it? Hmm. This is just an option I'd never even considered...


Friday, March 23, 2007

"I don't know. What do you want to eat?"

Tired of having the same conversation over and over with your friend or loved one when it comes to deciding what to eat? Now you can just use this fun website for those WHAT-DO-YOU-WANT-FOR-DINNER-I-DON'T-KNOW-WHAT-DO-YOU-WANT dialogs! It's easy and it takes up less energy (energy you can devote to your own writing).

All you have to do is enter your name, the name of your friend, your favorite food, your least favorite food, and your favorite number and an entire dialog is generated for you in mere seconds. Then just print it out, hand it to your friend and your decision of where to eat has been made for you (kinda, sorta)! So easy.

But if anyone can tell me why the favorite number thing is thrown in there at the end, then you'll get a cyber pat on the back. LOL

Have fun!


Monday, March 05, 2007

Internet Tennis

For those of you who get bored easily at work, or for those writers who do not like to stare at a blank screen while plotting or writing your stories, I have a website that will keep your clicking finger occupied while you either pretend to work or decide what happens next in your story.

Click here to play Internet Tennis and a whole new world will open up to you. LOL


P.S. I know, even PONG had more action!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Proof it pays to read

If you're like me, then you also have someone in your life whom if you should ever come home and find this person quietly reading a book, then you'd swear you'd just entered the wrong house.

Well, now you can point to this news story and prove to that loved one that it pays to read. Did you hear about the toddler who had her babysitter buy her a book in a thrift store for $.25, and after the babysitter bought it, she opened the book and discovered $1300 had been hidden inside?

That's one intuitive toddler! (And a lucky babysitter).

You can read the full story here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Creativity comes in all forms

Have you seen this on You Tube? This guy from Norway films himself playing one note at a time on a drum set and a piano, and then edits together a decent song. His name is Lasse Gjertsen and he claims he can't play either instrument.

I love it when people don't let anything stand in their way because they feel compelled to create, and I don't just mean not knowing how to play musical instruments, but also learning to deal with severe dyslexia in order to write stories or overcoming health or social issues (or anything else that may be blocking their path).

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy this short video. :-)


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car

That’s my favorite law EVER!

Did you know that Massachusetts has that one on the books? According to Dumb Laws, Stupid Laws: We Have Blue Laws, Old Laws, and Just Plain Weird Laws it does! LOL

What a fantastic site to find story ideas, don’t you think? So many strange laws are still out there, and reading about them on this website kind of reminds me of the SEINFELD finale. You know, the one where the group is arrested because they violate the “Good Samaritan Law” by laughing at and video taping the victim, instead of helping him.

I think my second favorite law is another Massachusetts one: "At a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches." Man, was that such a problem that a law needed to be passed? Wow.

Once on the website you can click any of the states and the dumb laws for that state will be listed. Also, next to some of the laws, a link to the full text and an explanation is available.

I’ve copied and pasted some of my personal favorites below.

Do you have a favorite?



Dumb Laws in California
*Sunshine is guaranteed to the masses.
*Women may not drive in a house coat.

Dumb Laws in Hawaii
*All residents may be fined as a result of not owning a boat.
*Coins are not allowed to be placed in one's ears.

Dumb Laws in New York
*Women may go topless in public, providing it is not being used as a business.
*Citizens may not greet each other by "putting one's thumb to the nose and wiggling the fingers".
*A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting.
*It is against the law to throw a ball at someone's head for fun.
*The penalty for jumping off a building is death.
*New Yorkers cannot dissolve a marriage for irreconcilable differences, unless they both agree to it.
*A person may not walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in his/her pocket.
*While riding in an elevator, one must talk to no one, and fold his hands while looking toward the door.
*Slippers are not to be worn after 10:00 P.

Dumb Laws in Massachusetts
*At a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches.
*Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.
*An old ordinance declares goatees illegal unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public.
*Taxi drivers are prohibited from making love in the front seat of their taxi during their shifts.
*All men must carry a rifle to church on Sunday.
*Hunting on Sundays is prohibited.
*It is illegal to go to bed without first having a full bath.
*A woman can not be on top in sexual activities.
*No gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car.
*Tattooing and body piercing is illegal.
*Children may smoke, but they may not purchase cigarettes.
*Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder.
*Quakers and witches are banned.
*Bullets may not be used as currency.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Three Episodes of THE OFFICE Last Night

Ah, I love Thursday night. Dwight. Pam. Jim. Michael. Angela. THE OFFICE

That's one of those shows that I can watch anytime. Repeats? No problem! And we were graced with THREE EPISODES last night. Woo-hoo! Bring on the DVDs. Where's my Dwight Bobblehead?

I can so relate to Pam. I've confused 28 DAYS and 28 DAYS LATER. Which one has Sandra Bullock again?

And Jim said yes! Does that mean anything to anyone, or just me?

And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all the pranks Jim and Pam play on Dwight and Andy. Did you see the one where Jim was sending faxes to Dwight from "Future Dwight"? LOL

Or the one last week where Jim and Pam hid Andy's cell phone in the ceiling, and then called it so that it rang "Rockin' Robin" with Andy singing all four parts? Too funny.

If you click this link, you can watch featured episodes, showing right now is "The Return." You can also read Dwight's blog. :-)

I have tremendous respect for anyone who can write comedy, especially writing that makes an audience or readership laugh and talk about the work for months, even years. That's talent.

Anyone a fan of the U.S. version? How about the U.K. version?

Have fun,