Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Land That Loves "Arnold"


(First posted August 3, 2006)

When we were up late one night (Or was it early one morning? I don't know...All I can remember is that it was dark outside), a few members of our party, who were still adjusting to the time change, discovered that Italian television is a bit different than American TV. Several channels were titled Sex TV and tucked in between those channels was a channel with a catholic priest broadcasting mass. Yes, you read that right.

So, we found ourselves flipping through the channels quickly, trying to find something we could comfortably watch with family members of all ages. We all breathed a sigh of relief when a young Gary Coleman popped up on the screen. Different Strokes! Yay! None of us had seen that show since the 80s.

It was an episode I hadn't seen before, but the character "Arnold" was the entire show. I jokingly asked my husband if they had cut out the rest of the characters because Arnold really was the best part. Then the credits rolled and we started to crack up because it was now title "Arnold" and had a montage of that character and ONLY that character.

Later that day, my family and I were walking back to the train station in Florence and spotted the picture shown above in an alley. Guess the Italians really do love Arnold! I think it's sweet. And as warm, friendly, and incredibly giving as the Italians are to everyone, it doesn't surprise me too much that they love Arnold. (If you know something different about their connection to this character, then maybe you should just let me believe my little delusion. Oh, what the heck, tell me about it.)

Have you ever been in a place where you're surprised about who is famous there? And if you write a story that is set in that place, does it change the way you write about the people who live there?

Inquiring minds want to know...


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Sneaky Flying Snail Head Bug

In keeping with the theme of Italy, I'm posting another blog from my series after a family trip to Tuscany. :-)

Take care,


P.S. Let me know what you think about the flying snail head bug thing... Or creepy bugs in general. You need the killer-diller bug details in Tuscany for your story? Here you go. See the lengths I go to in order to help you out? LOL




(First posted August 1, 2006)

During our first full day at the villa in Tuscany, several members of our party rested in the shade of an umbrella while soaking in the amazing view of the valley and the Chianti vineyards below. We were all in this serene state of mind, sipping iced tea that tasted remarkably like a peach Jolly Rancher, when we spotted what appeared to be a baby hummingbird darting about the flowers. Zip, zip, zip. How cute! A baby hummingbird. I've never seen one before. Have you? It finally flew away to where we all imagined its mother to be, waiting for it to return home. Sigh. Sweet.

A few hours later, another member of our party, who had stayed at the villa the week before we had arrived as well, asked us if we'd seen the flying bug that sports a snail's head.

Waaaait. Whaaaat? Come again? Uh...No, thank God.

I immediately imagined something out of the Jurassic Era, something with a snail's shell attached to the head as it flew around, bombarding unsuspecting viewers of the Chianti vineyards. Gross. I don't WANT to see that. At this point, I was ready to sprint inside and shut the doors and windows, as well as zip up our luggage so the freaky insect couldn't hitch a ride home with us--or worse, lay snail head eggs in my clothing. ::shudder::

A few days later, the baby hummingbird appeared to us again. My husband grabbed his camera and captured an image of it as it hovered near a flower bed. When he looked at the photo on the screen. His eyebrows furrowed and he zoomed in on the image. "What the heck is that?!"

Yep, all of our little fantasies about the baby hummingbird vanished. It was the freaky snail head insect, but fortunately, no snail shell to be found. Later, we were thumbing through a guide book and found a picture of our friend, the Tuscan Hummingbird Moth. If only we had actually looked at the guide books we'd spent a fortune on before our trip. Sheesh.

And if that wasn't enough, just before we turned in for the night, my husband and I discovered a millipede climbing the wall in our room and another one making its WAY to our room. They were huge...At least four inches in length and the width measured a good inch and a quarter, if you included the legs (soooo many legs!). Boy, oh boy, that did cause me to keep our luggage zipped up tight. I even entertained the thought about putting the locks back on...just in case the insects were savvy enough to figure out how to unzip baggage. I didn't want to take any chances.

Online Class: "Hooks, Lines, and Stinkers"

Here's an upcoming online class entitled "Hooks, Lines, and Stinkers" with bestselling author Rhonda Pollero. It's only a two-week class, which means it's less expensive, and it focuses on the beginning of your story.

Hope this is of interest to some of you... Below is the link to the enrollment information.

Good luck with your writing!



June 2nd, 2008 – June 13th, 2008

"Hooks, Lines, and Stinkers"

With Rhonda Pollero

Workshop Description

Never give your reader an excuse to stop reading. There are many
ways to hook the reader from the opening line – action, humor,
dialogue – but that isn't the end of it. Every subsequent line,
scene and chapter has to keep that hook firmly embedded. That can be
accomplished by employing certain techniques – like dropping the
reader into a dangerous situation – or you can sabotage yourself by
relying on information dumps and clich├ęs, (do you really want the
phone ringing to break the sexual tension or is there something else
you can do?). We'll define types of hooks and those stinkers that
are almost guaranteed to get your manuscript rejected or your book
tossed across the room. Food for thought – 84% of people who stop
reading a book do so at the end of a chapter (Barnes & Noble). More
food for thought – people make their buying decision in less than one
minute based on reading the opening three paragraphs while still in
the store (Barnes & Noble).

About the Instructor

Rhonda Pollero sold her first romantic suspense, LEGAL TENDER, in
1993. With more than 4 million copies in print, her books are
distributed worldwide. Pollero has penned more than 30 novels; won
numerous awards and nominations; landed on best-seller lists
including USA Today, Waldenbooks and the Ingrams' Top 50 List. She
has received numerous Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice
Awards, an Affair de Coeur Contemporary Series Award; and two Career
Achievement Awards for Romantic Suspense.

In June, 1995, Pollero developed the wildly popular Rose Tattoo
series for Harlequin Intrigue ™. These novels ". . . offer the best
of her unique ability to seamlessly blend romance and mystery."
Romantic Times goes on to say that she "is a master of the romantic
suspense genre." Affair de Coeur says that her "humor and dialogue

In 2000, Pollero developed a second series for Harlequin Intrigue™,
The Landry Brothers. This 7 book series has received both critical
acclaim and established her as one of Intrigue's top-selling
authors. In addition to writing for Harlequin, 2005 saw the release
of her first title from Ballantine, KILLER CHRISTMAS, excerpted in
the December, 2005 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine.

2007 saw the launch of the Finley Anderson Tanner mystery series with
the debut hardcover title KNOCK OFF. Garnering both popular and
critical acclaim, including a starred review from Kirkus, Kensington
Books will release the second in the series, KNOCK 'EM DEAD, in March

Pollero is a sought-after lecturer and workshop presenter as well as
a much-requested media guest. She has been featured in The New York
Times and The Washington Post, among others and makes frequent
appearances on both radio and television. She founded The Writers
Workshop at Anne Arundel College in Maryland and was the lead
instructor in their craft and genre writing courses for three years.
She is considered an expert in why women read and write crime fiction
as well as an excellent authority on plotting and structuring the

Pollero is a member of The Author's Guild, Mystery Writers of
America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, Romance
Writers of America, and Florida Romance Writers, Inc. She resides in
south Florida with her family. You may contact the author directly
at Rhonda@..., or visit her on the web at or

Enrollment Information

Cost: $20 non-members / $10 IRWA members

For more information, please visit:

Monday, May 26, 2008

What Doesn't Kill You, Makes You Stronger

So, right now I've nearly recovered from mental and physical exhaustion, as my family and I have been haunting the outside hall and a room in the ICU for the past two weeks (and in the past two days, a regular hospital room). Fortunately, things are on the upswing for one of our young family members and we can breathe easier. Thank God for Brilliant Doctors, as well as the power of prayer and good thoughts.

As I focus on family and catch up on my own writing, I'll probably re-post a few blogs here, especially since I have so many new blogging friends now. And I'll continue to post writing information, like online classes and contests and whatnot. Pretty much anything I find that's writing, author, or book related. Oh, heck... Who am I kidding? I'll post pretty much anything. :-)

I hope you all are doing well!


(First posted August 26, 2006)

Scooter gangs rule the streets in Italy. They seemed to travel in packs and appeared fearless when nearing any car. It was like a game: cars vs. scooters. And they’d get bonus points when a pedestrian screamed and jumped back onto the sidewalk.

Yes, I added to the bonus points total over and over again. Every time I stepped out onto the street I had to keep my eyes peeled for scooter gangs. I swear, they’d materialize out of nowhere. I’d start to cross when there wasn’t any traffic, but then PRESTO, there they were…aiming for me. Does that sound paranoid? I tend to think that way. A lot.

But what struck me most was that we never knew if it was going to be a student with tattoos, a scooter chick dressed in Italian chic, or a business man in what my family and I liked to call a “scooter suit” (seen in photo above). But we learned to look out for one another, so when someone shouted, “Watch out--Scooter suit!” or “Careful--Scooter chick!” we knew exactly who was aiming for us. And that, my friends, is how we survived the mean streets of Firenze and Roma.

We also turned the noun “scooter” into a verb while driving the roads. We had walkie-talkies in each car as we caravanned (is that a word?) from town to town and more than once someone in one of the cars would declare into their handset, “We’ve been SCOOTERED!” This meant that a scooter gang had darted out in front of the car and separated it from the other two cars in our party. I’m not sure why they felt the need to do this…Perhaps to weaken us. But it never worked, as we managed to reunite and become more seasoned, aggressive drivers, like the Italians.

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right? Hmm. That can also be applied to the life of a writer…

Take care,


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Some Writing Contest Info...

This just arrived in my inbox via the rwacontest loop and I thought some of you might be interested in the information. The finalists are sent to an editor and an agent for placement, which is a little different than other contests, and it's open to published and unpublished alike.

For more info, please see the Northwest Houston RWA website.

Below, I've pasted what has been sent to me.

Good luck!


****Permission to forward granted****

Presents The Sixteenth Annual


ENTRY FEE: $20 NWH members; New lower fee! $25 non-NWH members
ELIGIBILITY: Competition is open to published and unpublished authors.
ENTER: First 25 pages, including prologue, if any. BOTH POSTAL AND E-MAIL ENTRIES ACCEPTED.

All entries will be sent to three first round judges: two published authors
and one unpublished author. The lowest score will be tossed and final round contestants will be chosen by the combined total of the final two scores. FINALISTS WILL BE SENT TO BOTH AN AGENT AND AN EDITOR FOR PLACEMENT.

Final judges:
Inspirational Category:
* Editor - Charlene Patterson, Bethany House Publishers
* Agent - Mary Sue Seymour, The Seymour Agency

Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Category:
* Editor - Ami Russell, The Wild Rose Press
* Agent - Taryn Fagerness, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

New this year! Young Adult Category:
* Editor - Karen Chaplin, Puffin Books
* Agent - Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency

Single Title Category:
* Editor - Lindsay Nouis, Penguin Group
* Agent - Carolyn Grayson, Grayson Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense Category:
* Editor - Patience Smith, Harlequin Silhouette
* Agent - Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

Contemporary Series Category:
* Editor - Faith Black, Avalon Publishing
* Agent - Pam Strickler

Historical Category:
* Editor: Hilary Sares, Kensington Publishing
* Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency

Important Dates:
Deadline: Sent via postal service: Post marked by JUNE 6, 2008 for mailed
entries; sent via e-mail: by midnight CST JUNE 6, 2008.

Finalists: Announced August 8, 2008.
Winners: Announced October 25, 2008 at the Lone Star Conference, Houston, Texas.

FMI: _
( or Melinda Porter at _bdogs80@aol.com_ ( .

****Permission to forward granted****

Monday, May 12, 2008

Strolling Through Cemeteries...

I'm blogging over on A Slice of Orange today and talking about how whenever we travel we enjoy strolling through the old burying yards and cemeteries. Sounds morbid, right? LOL

But the history, the art, the architecture, and the stories of these places always draw us in, and we truly appreciate the amount of time and expense others have spent honoring those who have already passed. In Southern California, we really don't have the ornate, movie-set style cemeteries that you'll find on the east coast or in Europe, so it is something amazing for us to see them outside of a Disneyland attraction or a Hollywood back lot. (At least for us it is.)

Anyway, if you get a chance, hop on over and check it out...I'd love to hear from you! Or if you prefer, comment here, instead. :-)

Talk to you soon!


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What's on your list?

Okay, so I'm totally late to the "Twilight Saga" party, but I'm here now! I just read Stephanie Meyer's Twilight last Friday, and I've got to tell you...I'm addicted. I honestly don't read a lot of teen books, even paranormal ones; however, Bella and Edward's relationship had me turning the pages until 3:30 in the morning. So, I've ordered the second and third books, New Moon and Eclipse, and will be reading them soon. Very, very soon.

Actually, I first found out about this series through my ::ahem:: "obsession" with the rock band Muse. Many of Meyer's fans commented on various Muse videos about how she listens to the album Absolution (just like me!) when she writes...So, of course, I had to check her out.

I'm so glad I did.

(New Moon cover in sidebar)

And I've been looking forward to the third and fourth books of Christina Dodd's Darkness Chosen series since...when? August? July? Too long! I can't wait!! I love Christina's stories. My friends are probably sick of me saying that...Shoot, Christina is probably sick of me saying that.

Bring on the Wilder family of shape-shifters! These next two in the series will be released in July and August. Oh, and Touch of Darkness, the second book, has been nominated for a RITA. Yay, Christina!

Fellow OCC member, Chris Marie Green, has a new anthology coming out August 5! I'm thrilled about this one, as I love her dark urban fantasy trilogy, Vampire Babylon (Ace). :-)

I'm also looking forward to this anthology because it features Meljean Brook, whom I'm now a fan of after I had read her epic paranormal romance, Demon Angel, a while back. Anyone who gives Milton a nod, gets my vote. And I'm fairly certain I called my little dog "Sir Pup" for a good week, at the very least.

And, of course, Phury's story! I've gotta know what happens next in J.R. Ward's The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. No question about that. What's going on with the Lessers? Will there be a huge battle soon? Will questions be answered?! Book 6 of the series comes out June 3rd. Hmm. I think I have enough to hold me over until then...Maybe. (I know writing-wise I have plenty!)

I'm sure I'm missing some, but those will have to be another post.

So, what's on your list? Any genre, non-fiction, music? What?


Sunday, May 04, 2008

"That's Why They Call Them Business Socks"

Okay, this picture of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement cracks me up! How awesome is that? Anyone else just a bit bummed that the second season of Flight of the Conchords on HBO isn't returning until 2009?!

At the end of this month, E and I are seeing their live show at The Orpheum Theater (stoked!), and we watch season one of the series on DVD quite often. Oh, and did you know their album with the comedy music from their live show is available on iTunes? Their album debuted at #3 on the U.S. Pop Charts. Although, the hilarious song from the HBO show, "Cheer Up, Murray," isn't on the album.

Yeah, big fan, I I've mentioned here. I've always admired anyone who can write comedy, but the fact that they can also deliver it in that trademark deadpan manner--classic. Also, FOTC posts some of their live show clips on their MySpace page, so there's one embedded below for your viewing pleasure: "Business Time."

Yep, this isn't really so much about writing today. But it's the weekend and I've been keeping my head down and pouring over a couple new proposals (and reading) while my other proposal is out there right now doing its job. :-)

And some parting words today...Whenever you're angry and feel like giving into some violent tendencies, just dance!



P.S. Anyone else a fan of Flight of the Conchords?

P.P.S. How's your writing going? Any news?