Monday, January 31, 2011

Keeping The Party Going

Would you look at this place?

*Bo’sun strolls around the ship’s deck, kicking empty rum bottles out of her way, ignoring the black Ninja g-string hanging off the yardarm*

The least Barbossa could have done was keep his crew around long enough to help clean up the mess. That ink is never going to come out of the sails. There are boot prints all over the starboard side from the porthole hopping, and I’ve had to send the carpenter Hottie down to hang Donna’s hammock back up. Again. I’ll be lucky if he gets out of there before March.

Now everyone is hung over and I’m supposed to find some way to wake them up. Find something exciting to talk about. Hmmmm……what can I talk about?

*taps chin, contemplatively*


That’s right, and I’m not talking first draft. I mean, it ain’t perfect, but it’s revised and done and I can MOVE ON!!

To steal Scapey’s metaphor from last week, I feel like I just completed a marathon. One that started in October of 2009 and ended sixteen months later. I got sidetracked, but I didn’t give up. I love this story and these characters, maybe more now than when I first started.

But this definitely wasn’t a cake walk.

What I realized last week is that trying to turn a rough draft into a story anyone would want to read is like trying to sculpt the Pieta out of Jell-O. Talk about illusive. Change one thing here, and you have to change five things over there. Move an event back a few days, you better be ready to shift every page that comes after.

I like to think the next book will somehow be easier. And yes, Hellie, that is a relative term. It will NEVER be easy, but it’s a fact that I know more now, about writing and what works for me, than I did sixteen months ago. I know what I’m capable of, and even if I’m not there yet, I have faith in myself that I will reach publication.

Probably not with this one, but I will.

We’re getting fancy today. The champagne is popped and the Mimosas are ready. The bottomless blender is filled with Sangria Ritas, and I made sure the Hotties got a good night’s sleep so they’d be bright eyed and bushy-tailed today. (The crew isn’t happy with me, but they’re not going to shrivel up from one chaste night!)

I’ve brought Emma and Nate along today, so if you don’t like mushy, sappy, love-birds, you’ll have to ignore them. Raise a glass, think warm, sunshiney thoughts, and tell us the best thing that happened to you lately.
Sunday, January 30, 2011

RELEASE DAY! The Kraken’s Mirror is Available!

Party on the Revenge!

The deck of the Revenge, the wee hours of of January 31st. A tall, thin pirate comes aboard, trailed by a motley crew of vagabonds and hired help. Captain Hellion steps forward from the shadows around her cabin.

 -“Barbossa. I see you brought the workmen.” She eyes the raggedly group and sneers. “We have better.”

 -“I’m sure, but I don’t have yer charms now, do I?” He lifts an eyebrow at her. “And all yer smooth skinned lovelies be warming the bunks of the officers. This be scrub work, I brought scrubs.”

- Hellion laughs, “True and my treat is waiting in the cabin. Don’t damage my ship, Barbossa.”

- “Chance has made it plain the details ta make this party fer her alter ego…or would that be original ego?” He looked up at the tied up sails and tilts his head, then shakes it. “It don’t matter. The author be spoken fer, the bartender be where me sights are set. We’ll do this right! No fear. Where be the tender Chance?”

 - Hellion gestures toward the lights of Tortuga. “The Liquor Barn and then I think Ye Olde Bev Mo. She’s gonna buy out their rum stores.”

- “She knows her audience!” He grins and licks his lips. He’ll be thirsty before dawn appears.

- The Captain comments over her shoulder as she heads back into her cabin. “Maureen likely be showing up around 9am. Make sure those nasty lads be off my ship by then.”

- “Hellion, dearest? The rope is a bit tight…” The lilting tones of Captain Sparrow waft from her cabin. Barbossa sneers.

- “Coming, Jack!” Hellion disappears and the door slams shut. He hears the snick of a lock. As if he’d be interested in intruding. Sparrow, ugh!

- Barbossa looks out at Tortuga. “Wonder how she’ll get all that rum aboard?”

Hours later, the bunting is up, the bungee cord is secured to the tip of the main yardarm, the tables all spread with fire retardant cloth. The sound system is fully rigged for the renowned singer coming from Florida with the Coral Reefer Band. Until his arrival, a steel drum band is ready at the bow. Below, a full orchestra is set up for those who were looking to waltz and enjoy other delights in the dark recesses of the cavernous TARDIS-like hold of the Revenge.

Chance’s bar was expanded, every bit of silver and crystal shining fit to blind the crew as they come on deck and the morning sun hits the shelves.


Barbossa was beginning to wonder when Chance would make her appearance. The ship rocked violently and he took a step back as tentacles rose on each side of the ship. He cursed, then gaped as one by one, crates of liquor were deposited without a broken bottle in sight on the deck. A moment later, Chance slid down a tentacle to land near the bar. She grinned, turned to the sea and called out, “Thanks! I know Maureen is looking to make an entrance! You get over to Monterey and fetch her!” The bartender turned to survey the preparations.

-“I knew I could depend on ya, Hector. Looks good. Help me unpack the Kraken Rum, will ya?”

- He snorted before stepping forward and wrapping arms around her. “First, a kiss.”

- “You brushed yer teeth lately?” she asked warily.

- “Brushed, flossed and straightened per yer instructions. I even visited the skin doctor ya recommended. Now, kiss me!”

She laughed and enthusiastically kissed him before putting him back to work.


The crew rise with their assorted hotties and wander onto their transformed deck. Chance pops up from behind the bar, straightening her hair and adjusting her bustier. A moment later, Barbossa slides to the front, tucking his shirt into his breaches.


Chance clears her throat. “Morning! Crew! Guests! Gate crashers! Everyone is welcome! I have an assortment of Kraken Rum drinks. The blender is set for margaritas, another for daiquiris, the trays have no calorie chocolate bombs, the richest of pastries lighter than air and later, we have more substantial goodies to serve.”


The crowd looks around expectantly. Nothing happens.


A steel drum roll comes from the bow as a massive swell raises the ship. The crowd fights to keep their feet as a neverending tentacle rises from the starboard. Eyes rise to follow it as it goes up and up and up! Twice as tall as the tallest mast. It wavers a moment, then the very tip opens up to reveal…

The author! She spreads her arms and bellows. “I’M HERE!”

The crowd roars! She bows and laughs madly as the tentacle sweeps her off her feet and she slides down the spiraling slide to the deck. She lands with a leap and sweeps a drink from Chance’s hands, downs it in three great gulps, and shouts with gayety, “LET THE PARTY BEGIN!”


The Kraken’s Mirror went on sale at the stroke of midnight, at Decadent Publishing. This wild story features second chances, albino kraken, pirates, curses, time travel, a touch of zombies, some waltzing vampires and a Tortuga straight from my wild mind, with the help and inspiration of every member of the crew. I dedicate this book to… The Romance Writers Revenge!


Thank you to Decadent Publishing, to my editor, Kate Richards, my agent, Saritza Hernandez and all who have told me I am insane and this will never sell. So there!

Spend the day celebrating with me, we will be drinking, dancing, laughing and making mischief all day and into the night!

And I will give away three copies of my book to three random commenters, electronic for now. When the print version is released, I may do this all over again! Any excuse for a party! Let me know, what would you like to see at the print release bash? And who did you bring to the party with you? All characters welcome, btw! Well, no preaching teetotalers...
Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movie Recommendation Sunday & Party Monday

Thank Heavens, today is my last day to post hotties for a long, long time. (I almost said "do hotties" and remembered Janga's thoughtful post about choosing the RIGHT word in order for meaning not to be misconstrued....Thank you, Janga!)

This week, on my vacay day, I watched R.E.D. with sexy Bruce Willis and the gorgeous Helen Mirren, and boys and girls, this movie was hilarious. Laughed my ass off. John Malkovich stole every scene he was in. The dialogue was a scream. I loved all the characters. Funny stuff. And Bruce is just one of those guys who just keeps looking good. What is with that?

I can't resist a daddy and baby picture. I just can't.

Now stay tuned for Monday when the Loader, our newly published 2nd Chance will be commandeering the day to celebrate her debut, The Kraken's Mirror, now available! See her invite below!

"Monday, January 31st. Aboard the Romance Writer's Revenge...come dance
and drink and be silly all day and into the night on the Revenge as we
celebrate the release of The Kraken's Mirror!

Free kraken rides! Slippery tentacles make for an exciting ride into
the turquoise waters of the Caribbean!

Bungee jump from the crows nest!

Flirt with resident hotties or beautacious ship's officers! Challenge
Quartermaster Sin to a knife throwing contest! Dodge the darts of the
newest member, the deadly Leslie Langtry!

Challenge me to a drinking contest! Throw your inner critics to the

And celebrate the release of my first book!

Maureen O. Betita"
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Leslie Langtry - Assassin Pirate!

BIG NEWS: New Pirate to Join Ranks of RWR, Introduced by the Fantabulous Captain Jack Sparrow

*camera zooms in and out, wobbly picture until we realize we’re staring at a close up of Jack Sparrow’s beard braids; camera withdraws and Jack smiles, teeth glittering*

Jack: Very good. I knew Hellie would figure out the camera eventually. Strange how she’s never able to get it to focus in the bedroom.

Hellie: Yeah, that is weird. Why don’t you focus, Jack, and introduce our new crew member?

Jack: She’s bossy in the bedroom, too, folks. Just a bit of trivia for the folks at home. Now, as I was saying I’m here today, as my fabulous, fantabulous captain self, to intro-- *hissing sound, then twuck; small feathered dart is sticking out of Jack’s neck. Jack pulls it out, stares at it in confusion* That can’t be good. *passes out with a loud thud*

*ruckus ensues on deck as someone swings from the Crow’s Nest, rappelling on Sin’s black ninja rope, and lands on the deck with a jaunty wave*

Leslie: *looking down at Jack who is lying on his back, eyes closed, a little smile curved on his lips* Sorry about that, but you know he’s infinitely more attractive when he’s not talking. You know that, right?

Hellie: You didn’t kill him, did you?

Leslie: No, he’ll be good as new.

Jack: *waking up, looks confused to be lying on the deck* What happened? Was there rum involved? *looks at Leslie* Leslie! When did you get here? I was just about to introduce you.

Leslie: How good of you! What were you going to say?

Jack: That you’re wittier than Hellie, funnier than Marn, and deadlier than Sin. I’m sure you also throw better parties than Bo’sun and mix better drinks than Chance, but we’re not allowed to say that because the Kraken gets cranky and spits on you. Takes forever to get the ink out of the lace. *waves a cuff at Leslie as another hfft of sound distracts him and he plucks another dart from his neck* Crap, it’s going to happen again, isn’t it? *passes out*

Leslie: *straightening* That should take care of him for now. Now onto business.

This Be Me Jolly Roger! Arrrrrrr!


And this be me Pug’s Jolly Roger!

Thanks be for the great intro Capn!   Ye be true scalawags… oh enough - I don’t think I could do that for a whole post.

Anyway, Damned Happy to be here on the Romance Writers Revenge!  I’ve been a guest a few times and this time, they’re letting me stay.  Oh, and sorry about Jack, Hellion.  He’ll come to.  Now, where is that cabin boy you told me about who looks like George Clooney?  Yes, that’s what you said when you lured… I mean invited me aboard!  He’s here isn’t he?  What’s that?  Oh, rum!  Yay!

Some of you know me from my Bombay Family of Assassin books:

And the rest!   

BTW - do you like my new covers for the e-editions?  Had a run-in with my publisher so Jana DeLeon and I stormed the decks and took our rights back just like pirates.  Well, in this instance, Jana was more the pirate and I was more like her Smee.  And like a true pirate, I sell these as e-books online and keep the booty for meself.  Gar.

I’ve loved pirates since Kevin Kline bared his chest in Pirates of Penzance.  And when the Pirates of the Caribbean came out, I was first in line to see them.  So when I decided to finally write a novel, I wrote a pirate historical set in Georgian England and France.   I titled it, BLACKHEART.

It sucked.

So I wrote a sequel about pirates and the slave trade in Africa.  That one was DARKHEART.

It sucked a little less, but it sucked nonetheless.

I was not cut out for historical.  My next book was a contemporary called THE ADULTERER’S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO DISNEY WORLD.  I didn’t think that one sucked, but publishers and agents said I couldn’t write books with adulterers as the heroes and they were pretty sure I couldn’t even mention (looks right, then left) Disney World. They said that would make their lawyers sad.

Then one night I had this weird dream about a woman named Gin Bombay who is an assassin and viola!  That one sold!  Apparently, serious pirate drama doesn’t work for me but funny books about a family that kills for the family business does.  Who knew?

So here I am, as a new member on a crew that seems to lack a cabin boy who looks like George Clooney for some reason (I was promised!).  Apparently, being able to make rum grog with blowfish poison is a valuable and needed skill on this boat. 

NOW!  Go to the Skull Generator and make yer own Jolly Roger!  And lift up your rum and drink up me hearties yo ho!

In honor of our Coxswain.

If you’ve not been paying attention, Coxswain Hal is in her last month of pregnancy.   As I just did the last month of hell, I feel for her.

In my last trimester, I had the world’s worst craving for these no bake cookies that I make.  They’re a lot of butter, a lot of sugar, chocolate, peanut butter, and oatmeal.  I boil them on the stove and then let them set up and they taste like heaven when they’re done.  With my first pregnancy, I craved mint chocolate chip ice cream.  But it was a particular brand—Turkey Hill Mint Choco Chip—that I had to have and it got so bad that my DH would call on his way home from work and ask if we had some in the freezer.  That’s love, my friends, that’s love.

But, of the two MS I’ve written, I rarely mentioned food.  In fact, I don’t notice food in a lot of stories I read.  Yet, my life pretty much revolves around sweets and good yummy food.  Right now I’m waiting on cinnamon rolls from the oven.  If food’s so important to me, why isn’t it as important to my heroines?  And if my hero likes beef jerky, that might add something to my story.  Like in Ocean’s Eleven, when Brad Pitt’s character is constantly eating.  I love that about him.

Same could apply to anything we think is important.  A reliance on coffee.  A reliance on Mountain Dew.  An affinity for handbags.  Shoes.  A love of the zodiac.  Whatever.

So what about you?  Do you use food in your MS?  Any movies where the characters wouldn’t be the same without their love of food?  Any foibles you could include in your characters?  Anyone eating anything good today?
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5 Things I Learned About Writing by Watching Football

When I was younger, I used to watch football on TV every Sunday.  We planned "the game" into our schedule like it was a holy ritual, with chips and soda our sacrament.  When the season was over, we didn't know what to do with that extra day in the week.  It was like being released from a religious vow.

Last month, I had the opportunity to watch the New England Patriots kick some football butt on TV.  It was the first time in a long while since I'd done that, and it filled me with nostalgia, making me realize how much I miss the whole Sunday ritual.

However, it didn't take long before I noticed some interesting parallels between a game of football and writing. 

1.  You get more than one try to reach your goal

The game starts with a kickoff.  The ball sails through the air, and everyone watches breathlessly to see how far it will go before it's caught.  It would be amazing if it went right through the goal posts, but where's the sport in that?  It's actually the start of the game, a long march to the goal line, and nobody expects that it'll be reached on the first attempt.  That's why each team gets four downs, four chances to make progress towards the goal. 

The same with writing, and getting published.  It's rare for a bestseller to be written the first time out.  It does happen, but it's the exception, because that's not how the game is designed.  It's slow, and steady, one foot in front of the other until the goal is reached.  It may not be your first book that gets published, so you just keep writing, and writing, and writing, until you make it to the goal.

2.  Just when you think someone is down for the count, they're not

I couldn't believe how many times during that game a player was stopped, by someone bigger and heftier, and everyone just kind of let their breath out, saying, "Well, that was still pretty good."  And then all of a sudden, the runner took one or two steps and they were free, flying towards the goal again.  Everyone had misjudged that situation.  Everyone.  The other team, the announcers, the fans.  Everyone except the player.  He was determined, and wasn't ready to get knocked down.  He actually ended up with the longest punt return in the team's history when everyone else was positive he would get knocked on his ass the second he caught the ball.

A writer is going to hit situations like that all the time.  But a determined writer keeps going when it looks like there is no hope.  No one would blame the writer for saying, "Well, that was still pretty good".  A bad rejection, a cruel contest judge, or even the slimy tentacles of self-doubt can derail a writer, or they can strengthen the writer's will to succeed. 

3.  If you can't go through, go around

In the above example, the player could have just gotten knocked down, and said, "Hey, there's still more downs".  And that would have been perfectly acceptable.  But sometimes the answer is to try something different.  If what you're doing isn't working the way it always has before, it's time to fall back a couple paces and look to see what's open somewhere else.  Obstacles can stop you, or they can give you a chance to see things in a different way, maybe even show you possibilities you didn't know existed.

4.  It's not over when you reach the goal

I love all the celebrating and high-fiving and ass-slapping that goes on in a football game.  Each small achievement is part of the bigger one, and they're definitely worth acknowledging.  However, as soon as the touchdown is on the scoreboard, and the dancing is done, everybody goes back to work.  It's time to go for another goal, and another one, until the game is won.

We should celebrate each achievement too, from hitting our word count goals to writing "The End".  You got a request for a full?  High five.  You finaled in a contest?  Shake that booty.  Everything we accomplish is worthy of our happiness and joy and strutting around with pride.  But then it's time to write another book.  And another one after that. 

5.  There are people around to help you out

When the player is running his heart out, trying to get to the goal, he's not doing it alone.  He has teammates blocking those who are trying to keep him from moving forward.  He has coaches helping him learn new skills to develop his natural talent.  He has devoted fans who believe he can do anything.

Writers are in a similar situation.  Their team can consist of an agent, editor, beta readers, crit partners, or devoted friends and family.  Some of them are there to cheer and some of them are there to increase the skills and abilities.  But they all have the same role: helping us become our best so we can attain our goals.

Rah rah sis boom bah!  I know there must be other football analogies to add.  Let's hear them!  Or use another sport if you'd like.  Let's get inspired! 


There is a new Pirate joining our ranks. With a rapier wit, killer skills, and a pirate’s pension for rum (among other adult beverages), this authoress Pirate is the perfect addition to The Revenge Crew.


Consider the bar raised and come prepared to raise a glass this Friday.


My friends, you will NOT want to miss this. In fact, you might want to bring extra ammunition.


PS: Our newest member will be blogging the last Friday of every month, but 2nd Chance will be here the rest of the month spinning yarns and mixing drinks. Never fear!
Monday, January 24, 2011

Make A Shopping List

Romance titles releasing today: (partial list)

Wild Man Creek (Virgin River Novel) – Robyn Carr

Marrying Daisy Bellamy – Susan Wiggs

Notorious Pleasures – Elizabeth Hoyt

When Beauty Tamed the Beast – Eloisa James

Deadly Heat – Cynthia Eden

Healing The Highlander – Melissa Mayhue

To Tempt a Rake – Cara Elliott

The Fallen: Raziel – Kristina Douglas (aka Anne Stuart)

In addition to the list above, recent January releases include books from Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nalini Singh, Sabrina Jeffries, Jayne Ann Krentz, Debbie Macomber, Lynn Kurland, Christie Ridgeway, Maggie Robinson, Jude Deveraux, Carla Kelly, a joint effort from Connie Brockway, Eloisa James, and Julia Quinn, as well as Sandra Hill.

My point in this quick fire Romance info dump is to show if you can’t find anything good to read right now, you’re simply not trying. The talented and generous group of authors over on the Killer Fiction blog ran a contest last week, during which they gave away lots of great prizes. I was fortunate enough to win not one but TWO B&N gift cards.

I know I’m getting the James and Hoyt books, but what else should I get. If you found yourself the new owner of $50 to spend in the bookstore, what would you buy? What books releasing in the next few weeks, or even few months, would you add to the list? What’s the best book you’ve read lately and is there a new-to-you author you want to rave about?

Today is the day to toot the horn for your favorite reads. Gush away!
Sunday, January 23, 2011

Writing the Blues Away

Today is an interesting day of the year. It’s Blue Monday; and tall drinks of rum are in order. Why? Because this is officially the most depressing day of the year. According to some guy’s complicated computations, based on weather, debt, failed resolutions, and time elapsed since Christmas, today is the pinpointed day of greatest depression. Probably also doesn’t help that we don’t have another major holiday until Memorial Day.

As ridiculous as the calculations are, I’m looking out my front door at the piles of snow, shivering at the bitter wind that’s whipping past me to raise my heating bill, and I have to admit: weird math dude’s gotta point. I’m not feeling especially hopeful right this second. I’ve huddled up in my apartment all weekend and accomplished only a new record for sleeping and eating. However, even in the most gray cloud there is a silver lining. He who calculated the most depressing day of the year also calculated the most happy day of the year, which coincidentally falls around the summer solstice. Basically the day of the year where we have the most sunlight, we’re the happiest. We just need to hang on about six more months.

So I’m assuming a lot of pirates are suffering from similar bouts of whining, shivering, eating, drinking, and sleeping. Any writing is lambasted with nasty criticisms from the internal critic until we learn to avoid our laptops altogether. Therefore, today, we’re going to do a little writing exercise to scare away the doldrums and the nasty critics—and this will work because it will not be a story that has hope and dream pinned to it. It will be a story written for the joy of writing. Bad grammar and verb tense and headhopping are all welcome here. Every trope will have its day. Purple prose will violet up the place. Bring it, pirates, I dare you. Let’s have FUN on this most depressing day of the year.

I will start us out.

I’d heard my share of wedding day stories: beautiful lovely ceremonies that only confirmed the love and cherishing that all my friends and cousins had found with their Prince Charmings. Today was my story; and Kevin was well on his way to trumping every story. As the minister read the familiar vows, Kevin smiled down at me, lifted one of my hands that was clasped in his, and kissed it. I could practically hear the congregation sigh. How could you not love Kevin?

“If there is any reason why this man and woman should not be joined, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

For some reason, I held my breath, which was ridiculous. This was Kevin. But I hadn’t finished holding my breath when the church door opened, and I and everyone else turned to see who would show up to a wedding ceremony this late.

A man strode down the aisle, looking like a tall, brawny tornado of menace and irritation. “This wedding is canceled.”

What? No. I stiffened. “Excuse me? Who are you and what are you doing here?”

The man glared at me and I was paralyzed beneath the stormy gaze of his slate gray eyes. “I’m Federal Marshal Evan St. James, and this man, Kevin Woods, is under arrest.”

Okay, that’s the beginning. Now fling in every cliché you can think of. Secret babies, secret wives, time travel, a kidnapping, werewolves, vampires, whatever—now’s your chance to excise your bad writing here so you can write the good stuff in your own work. You don’t have to go in order, you can just write some dialogue or a scene—or just tell us what you think happens next. Let’s make Blue Monday purple!
Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Not Always a Great Set of Pecs....

I go as weak in the knees as the next girl at a wide set of shoulders and firm, manly biceps; however, if you really want to make me swoon, have a voice to die for. Yes, Alan Rickman, I'm talking to you. If you can't find Alan Rickman or one of his movies you can fastforward to all his dialogue, you can always go here:


Here you have the option of having Joseph Fiennes (I've loved him since he played Shakespeare) and Greg Wise (I've loved him since he was Willoughby) and some other hot Brits I don't know but they make me suddenly VERY interested in the classics. It's not enough sometimes to see a still life posed picture of a man without his shirt off. I mean, sometimes it's nice, but the smooth tenor of a masculine voice reading to you, his gaze looking up now and again to see if he has your undivided attention, the scholarly fall of his hair across his brow, and the buttoned up smoothness of his clothes that makes you want to rumple him up if only he'd stop reading.

Good times.

There has been some discussion (read: whining) among the pirates about putting the hotties on hiatus (they are overcrowding the ship a tad) and doing something else with our Sundays. Perhaps have a book club once a month; maybe have a writing prompt inspiration blog; and of course, the occasional hottie of the month or something. To those of you who are ready for some change, I don't think you'll be disappointed. To those of you who are groaning that your hook up with half-naked hotties has been reduced severely, you'll get over it. It's not like we're taking them away forever.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Docking In Texas Hill Country with Meg Benjamin

*Lights come up on a small ship’s cabin, hammock swinging in the corner and a collection of whistles under glass centered on the back wall. Bo’sun Terrio looks out from her director’s chair and smiles for the camera*

Bo’sun: Good morning, Revengers, and welcome to another scintillating edition of Romance Writers Parley.

Hellie: It’s Parlay.

Bo’sun: No, it’s Parley. Look it up, I’m right about this one.

Hellie: Bullshit.

Bo’sun: *shoving Hellie out the door and turning back to camera* Where was I? *takes her seat again* Oh yes, today we have one of my favorite writers of the 21st century. The author of an amazing series of books set in a little Hill Country town in Texas called Konigsburg. The characters who populate this town are well-developed, entertaining, at times conniving, and downright irresistible.

Hellie: *through the door* Kiss ass much?

Bo’sun: *throws an empty rum bottle at the door* Won’t you help me give a warm welcome to Meg Benjamin! [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much for joining us today, Ms. Benjamin.

Meg: Sure, glad to be here. *tries to move her chair closer but it’s bolted to the floor*

Bo’sun: Sorry, that’s sort of necessary around here. The Romance Seas aren’t always smooth.

Meg: Tell me about it. Romantic seasickness is an occupational hazard.

Bo’sun: For those fools who’ve yet to read your books, could you give us a short intro to the Toleffson brothers and tell us how you came to tell their stories?

Meg: Okay. Well, the Toleffsons are from Iowa but they’ve all moved, one by one, to this small town in the Texas Hill Country, Konigsburg. The first to show up was Cal Toleffson, a vet, who’s the hero of Venus In Blue Jeans. While I was writing his story, I blithely mentioned that he had three brothers without thinking too much about who those brothers were or what they did. The next thing I knew, all three of them were yelling for their own stories. Pete showed up in Wedding Bell Blues, which was actually the story of Cal’s sort of disastrous wedding (not the marriage, mind you—that’s going great). The other two brothers, Lars and Erik, also came to Texas for the wedding, although it wasn’t exactly a family reunion. Lars broke up with his scary wife, Sherice, at the end of the book, and it turned out Erik was sort of the black sheep of the family, whom nobody was all that happy to see. Lars got his story in Be My Baby, where he rescued the heroine’s baby from some really nasty kidnappers. Erik had joined the Konigsburg cops by then and he played a big role too. And then Erik’s story was Long Time Gone, in which he became chief of police and finally earned his brothers’ respect (and the hand of the requisite fair maiden).

Bo’sun: *sigh* I’m a sucker for these big men. Since all the brothers were paired off, you brought in the cousin of the heroine of book one and gave her a HEA in book five. Who is up next and how many more do you see in this series?

Meg: Next is Nando Avrogado, a Konigsburg cop who first showed up in Wedding Bell Blues and had a large role in Long Time Gone and Brand New Me. He had a relationship in Long Time Gone with Kit Maldonado, but it didn’t end well. This time it ends better. After that, well, there are also some new characters in Book #6 whose stories need to be told—a chef and yet another cop. All of this, of course, depends on whether my esteemed editor Lindsey Faber likes what I’ve done with Nando this time.

Bo’sun: I’m sure Lindsey will love them. And I thought Nando might get his own story. That's going to be fun to read. You’re a Contemporary Romance author with an e-publisher (Samhain Publishing) better known for Erotica and Erotic Romances. (Though that’s changing, clearly.) Did you ever worry that your books might go undiscovered among this hotter crowd of books? (Not that Meg’s books aren’t hot. OMG! Are they hawt.)

Meg: *clears throat* Um…thanks. No, I didn’t worry much. I was just glad they liked my books! And, as I say, I have a wonderful editor in Lindsey Faber.

Bo’sun: Everyone here dreams about having her own call story someday.

Chance: *from somewhere overhead* I HAVE A CALL STORY!!

Bo’sun: *throws an empty rum bottle at the ceiling* Don’t mind her. Won’t you share your call story with us?

Meg: Okay, well, I sent Venus In Blue Jeans to Samhain where, of course, it ended up in the slush pile. Lindsey picked it out, read it over, and thought it had some possibilities. She sent me a long, thoughtful rejection letter that was actually one of those, “fix this and send it back again” letters. I worked that MS over to a fare-thee-well and then sent it back. A couple of weeks later they offered me a contract. I had an afternoon to celebrate until my husband came home with the news that he hadn’t been given the promotion he’d been promised, which led to his taking another job, which led to our moving from Texas to Colorado. But that’s another story. Anyway, even though I only had an afternoon, it was a great afternoon.

Bo’sun: *sighs starry eyes then realizes it’s her turn* That’s a wonderful story.

Gunner Marn: *through a porthole to the left* You’re embarrassing yourself and the rest of us. Would you please stop fawning? I’ll pay you.

Bo’sun: You’ll have to excuse this crew, their manners could use some adjusting. *shoots evil eye at Marn* One last question, could you give us the coordinates for Konigsburg?

Meg: Well, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s somewhere between Fredericksburg, Marble Falls, Johnson City and Mason, Texas. Which means it’s probably sitting on top of Enchanted Rock! But hey, that’s sort of appropriate, isn’t it?

Bo’sun: I’ve been enchanted since book one so I’d say that’s perfect. (Okay, that might be a little corny, even for me. Sorry.) We here at The Revenge are quite proud of our drink menu and like to add a new concoction for each of our guests? Is there one you’d like to suggest? Something they would serve in the Faro, not the Dew Drop. A Konigsburg Kicker or better yet, a Tall, Dark, and Toleffson?

Meg: Okay, those guys mainly drink beer and wine, but at my blogging group, Nine Naughty Novelists  we put together a recipe book to celebrate our serial, The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy’s Secret Werewolf Babies. My contribution was a Bloody Good Margarita. I’d give you the recipe, but it’s just as easy to send you over there so you can download the whole thing and see what my naughty sisters contributed.

Bo’sun: Consider it done! Now, do you have a question for the crew and castaways to get things going?

Meg: Hmmmm. Maybe just what it is about Konigsburg that y’all like—so that I can keep doing it! Thanks for having me.

Head in My Way

So, I've been working on all manner of stuff for my story.  I've been plotting (natch) and I've been evaluating motivations.  I've been trying to sort out the suspense part of my plot.  Very complicated.  I've been working on whether I'm going to do flashbacks.  I've been considering using italics (something I generally try to avoid, not sure why).

I've been doing everything but writing.

I'd like to think that all this preparation is helping me, but I'm not sure it is.  If I didn't know myself better, I'd think I was avoiding writing.  But I sit and struggle to write a lot.  Yet, when I put fingers to keyboard, something happens in the translation and I don't feel like the story's ready yet.

So, all this manic plotting seems to be all I can do.  Because if I don't plot and try to figure out what I'm doing, then I'd really be doing nothing and I'm not sure I can deal with that sort of static-ness.

I'm not new to the beginning.  This will be my third story.  I know my usual pitfalls now.  This, I don't think, has anything to do with my story and everything to do with me.  I'm preoccupied.  When I sit and I write, I don't give it as much of my attention as I should.  I should be able to dive into those characters, into that plot, but when I sit, I think of a hundred other things.  "Is that the baby crying?" (I write late after they go to bed)  "Is he cold, maybe?"  I worry about the older one.  "Did I remember to pack his bag for school?"  And off I go.  Even when the DH takes them on the weekends and I have time to myself, I can't focus.

I've got insulin (hypoglycemia) problems.  Sometimes, when my insulin is off, I can get distracted and tired and a little down.  I've decided to start eating the way I need to fix that again.  I'm also going to start some yoga, hoping to get my internal feng shui right.  This weekend, I scheduled a trip to the mall.  A little retail therapy.

I'm hoping these things get my focus back.

Have you ever had periods in your life when everything else seems to get in the way of your writing?  Maybe it's literal things or maybe it's just your frame of mind?  What did you do to get your inner ying and yang back in cohesive working order?  Do you think this is avoidable or is being distracted by life part of the human experience?  Ie, is this something to panic about or do I just grit my teeth, do what I can, and wait for things to let up?
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In the Swing of Things

Weekly Influences: Seiran (the lost Prince from Saiunkoku), my top 25 played in iTunes and decaf Mint Green Tea.

This is not a post about the hotties and unmentionable body parts that swing to and fro. (Though, we can talk about that today if you want. I'm not above objectifying men for my own selfish happy ways.)

No this is a blog about trying to get back into a groove, a writing groove. Some semblance of a routine.

Whoever let me take the month of December off needs a severe ice picking experience.


*crickets chirping*

*spot light focuses on me*

Oh. That was my bright idea. Lovely.

*groans* Who knew that getting back to writing with the intensity that burned me in November would be THIS difficult. I'm having a writing hangover. Nothing I write seems to work anymore. Or interests me in the slightest. I'm a fickle creature by nature. Even diamond encrusted ice picks seems to lose my interest after the sparkle has worn off. In three weeks I wrote over 50k. In those seven weeks afterwords, I can't boast more than 2k. If you take the month of December out of that equation (since I granted the time off due to my success in NaNo and December being a holiday month) 2k in three weeks is still a horrible number.

Terrible. Awful. Petrifying. The very thought I can't conceive of another wonderful, awe-inspiring descriptive sentence to save my soul from hell, scares the living hell out of me.

I have plenty of ideas. Have I managed to do any of them justice? Hell no. I consume way too much Manga and Anime. Right now the only thoughts of fiction in my head are fan fiction. Things that won't get me any closer to my goals. So I set my mind out to working on the beginning of Kiki's first story again. It's in my mind. I can see it playing, rolling as if I were the director sitting behind the camera. Yet, the words escape me.

Take a deep breath. Relax. Assume Zen like state. *smacks Chanceroo* No chanting.

I hear bits and pieces of Cin narrating from her story, thinking about her daughter. “History always repeats itself. Time will always tell.” I see this story so vivid behind my eyelids. I hear her voice so strong with determination inside my head. Words fail me on the page.

So how bout it everyone? How does one conjure up the words when word block seizes you? Do you have a favorite happy place you like to go to? A place you like to procrastinate? Do you just keep trucking along regardless if the words fail you? Anyone else having a hard time getting back into the groove of things or is it just me?
Monday, January 17, 2011

Word of Mouth Right Again

I don’t review books. Probably harkens back to all those years of doing book reports in school. If anything feels like homework, I don’t do it. The fact that the book I’m reading right now has moved me to break this policy should tell you how good it is.

Another thing I don’t typically do is read Harlequin Super Romances. NOT because I’m one of those who derides Category Romances, but simply because I’ve never gotten into them. It’s the classic “So many books, so little time.” Short shelf life combined with my overwhelming TBR stacks means they rarely make it on my radar.

But as we often say, word of mouth is the most powerful form of promotion. When that word of mouth is coming one of my most respected friends, I take notice. A few months ago, I followed Janga’s advice and picked up a Meg Benjamin book. I’ve since read Ms. Benjamin’s five book series and am anxiously awaiting book six.

And thanks to Janga, I’ve found another new author to glom.

Karina Bliss is the author of no less than seven Super Romances and I have a feeling I’ll be hunting up the other six once I finish this one. WHAT THE LIBRARIAN DID is simply wonderful. A perfect example that anything is possible in a story if you write it well enough. Here’s the blurb from her website:

Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn't know who Devin Freedman is?

No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel's refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention.

Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase 'sex, drugs and rock 'n roll'.

Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she's kept hidden for years.

It's up to this librarian to find out first-hand just how 'bad' he really is. Because her secret - and her growing feelings for a man who claims he's bent on redemption - depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems.

Which is really, really good.

Yes, you read that right. The heroine is a librarian and the hero is the much-maligned, oft considered irredeemable, rock star. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard the silly rule “You can’t sell a rock star hero.” Ms. Bliss proves this to be utter bunk, and boy does she do it with style.

It goes without saying that Devin Freedman is hot. Really, really HAWT. I mean, he’s a rock star, this is a given. But beyond that, he’s sensitive, suspicious, forgiving, generous, self-deprecating, funny, sweet, confident, and vulnerable. All this and a sexy dragon tattoo. Be still my heart.

And Rachel Robinson is not your typical librarian either. She dresses in 50s retro clothes, something that drives Devin crazy, and has a soft spot for outcasts and lost souls. She also has a pretty big secret that eventually blows up in her face, collecting several of those closest to her in the fallout.

This story includes a well-known Romance Trope that I typically avoid. Even in this, Ms. Bliss wins me over. There’s humor that made me laugh out loud, and heartbreak that made me ache for these characters. Scratch that, for these people. They are real and practically dance off the page with life.

This book was released last March so you’ll have to find it online, but I promise you, it’ll be worth the effort. I haven’t even gotten to the end yet, but I have every faith Ms. Bliss will have me sighing with satisfaction while hating to say goodbye to Devin and Rachel. Thank you, Janga. Once again, I owe you.

Your turn. Read any good books lately? Found an author that made you like something you didn’t think you liked? Let’s keep this ‘word of mouth’ thing going.
Sunday, January 16, 2011

Once Upon a Time

I used to love beginnings. In fact, I naively thought I had a knack for creating the right beginning for a story, but actually what I had a knack for (if I had a knack at all) was having an opening hook and a cliffhanger ending to the chapter.

You see, that I can do. I can make something absurd...or perhaps even suspenseful, and then end the chapter with an ironic sentence or a funny bit of dialogue. If that's all it took, I could give practically give lessons on it--but it's not. You have to be able to build on the opening you created and carry out the promise your ironic little cliffhanger gave. And most of all, you have to make sure any secondary characters you've unwittingly introduced to your mess don't hijack your entire tale and make your readers wonder about THEM instead of your hero and heroine.

Which is incidentally what I've done for the hundredth time with this stupid story.

I started off with my new plan with high hopes, had my "beginning" with its ironic cliffhangers, and was immediately frustrated because my secondary characters were being a bit too...much. But I couldn't live without them, could I? The story needed them, right? I shared the situation with Bo'sun, who pointed out what I knew but wouldn't admit: the secondary characters were hijacking the story again.

So if I couldn't have that chapter, then frankly, perhaps I needed to cut the other chapter too. I'd tried to build on that particular chapter about a thousand times to no avail. Perhaps I should call a spade a spade already and just bury it. So I removed it as well, and where am I again? Back to the beginning.

I don't mean to be ironic. I'm literally back to the beginning of the damned thing. I'm now understanding Sin's complaints that she has to rewrite her beginnings a billion times before she can proceed. I thought she was exaggerating, allowing perfectionism to bog her down. And maybe we are allowing perfectionism to bog us--first drafts are supposed to be sloppy and awful. Still, having your secondary characters take over your manuscript in chapter 2 is a sign. A sign maybe you should start over before you get to chapter 30 and realize you have to start over.

I suppose the first thing a writer needs to figure out where to start is to decide whose story this is. Well, I've got that. I know I want it to be my hero and heroine--and not the secondary characters, even if I think they're funnier.  So the beginning needs to begin with them, period. Easy to do.

The beginning also needs to shake up the status quo--though we may not know what the status quo is right away. It must be an incident that propels the characters on a road of no return. The beginning needs to hint (or reveal) the wants/desires of the main characters, and hopefully, present opposing goals so they're in conflict. Or if they're working together, make sure it's reluctantly.

Frankly the beginning is much more important than I ever gave it credit for. I thought the only real importance the beginning ever had was to lure the reader to keep reading. It was the shiny fake bait, not the catch. But the beginning is the foundation of the building; and your characters are the cornerstone. If you don't lay a solid foundation and proper cornerstone, you're going to end up with a cracked place to live in.Without a solid foundation, your walls will shake and your roof will fall off. Who wants that?

Not all beginnings are as difficult as I'm clearly making this one. The beginning is almost always the exciting part of book writing where your fingers are typing too slowly for your muse and all these scenes are pouring forth onto the page. But as much as the beginning of a project is exciting, it's always like panning for gold to figure out what the true beginning of any story really is. Where your story really lies.

What do you like best about beginnings? What do you find most frustrating? Do you find yourself creating a bunch of dead end beginnings to a draft before finding your true foundation? Do you have secondary characters that cause problems for you?
Saturday, January 15, 2011

How Many More Weeks Do I Have To Do This?

Okay, I'm doing this before today's writing meeting so I have even less time to whine about this duty or be clever.

So here's the theme.

Something old (as in pictures I've posted as hotties before, not the age of the hotties in question)

Something new (new hotties)

Something borrowed (Donna, you can't keep Richard all to yourself ALL the time)

Something for Q.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

What is A Blog, Exactly?

Fifteen blogs since October 25th. Five of them part of the Decadent Publishing publicity family, one of them a blog party that lasted five days.

Publicity is fun, but it’s also hard. Of those fifteen blogs, two were short stories and one was a repost of one of those short stories, so that chops off three when it comes to nattering with skill. (I hope I do it skillfully.) There was some minor introducing going on and one of those blogs was a three day visit. So let me shift those numbers around. Ten – three + two + four = thirteen. And the five Decadent blogs? Well, three of them were nattering. Thirteen+three=sixteen!

Gah! I hate math. As I write this, I have ten more scheduled by the beginning of March. And the book doesn’t even have a release date yet!

What amazes me about these blogs isn’t the nattering. I can always read my own scribble and find it fascinating. (I do worry about how repetitive I get, how long can I repeat the story of nearly dying before everyone knows and it is old hat?) I do put some real thought into what I’m writing for where I’m going and I religiously check into the blogs I guest at. Okay, I obsessively check into the blogs I guest at.

Like an author on submission watching her e-mail.


But, what I’ve discovered is that not all blogs work like the Revenge. In fact, few seem to. The Revenge gets a dialogue going and I love that about this ship. The crew members, in general, chatter to each other. Make comment, at least one, when each of us blog. And if a guest comes? We go all out to visit and hope the guest plays as seriously – or insanely - as we do.

I belong to another blog that in pleased with the number of hits, but the other bloggers? Very little support for each other when it’s not their day. Hell, they seldom come back and respond to their own comments.  It is frustrating for an interactive junkie like me. I want to know what people think of what I write/blog. I want to start a conversation. I want to chat!

For the most part, there hasn’t been a great deal of that on my guest stints. I hear the number of hits are good, but there are a hell of a lot of lurkers in the world! I don’t really mind that, but I do get a bit lonely when I’m off ship and blathering to the blog-o-sphere and only hearing my voice echo back at me. One of these days, I may invent a second persona and see if I can start a convo with myself at one of these guest stints!

Some blogs, like review blogs, aren’t really about response and I totally get that. They operate on hits. It’s best not to get into some shouting match with a reviewer or author or fans about anything one disagrees with. Just read them, mild comment if any and move on. Understood. As some of the authors of Decadent Publishing have faced negative comments, there have been discussions among us about how to handle that inevitability. I’ll be ready to play blind.

But I find it very curious, the way different bloggers handle their blogs and how many people don’t comment. I know there is also the risk with checking things out when at work. One often can’t risk a conflict with their employer by actively taking part in a blog on company time. My sister is a lurker for this reason.

I admit, the Revenge was the first blog I began to check regularly and eventually to comment on.  The few others I’ve checked out…well, if I comment and the author of the blog never returns to reply to me…I’m not likely to return myself!

The places I’ve been visiting have been real hit and miss. Sometimes people come back, sometimes they don’t. I answer questions, or comment on their observations and I might receive a response or I might not.

Which leaves me to question, what is a blog? Is it supposed to be interactive? Is it up to the individuals who publish the blog? If they are content to simply publish and walk away, then who am I to question? I can always find a blog that makes me part of the discussion. Like the Revenge. I know we are interested in welcoming newcomers and playing with guests is part of the package!

But meanwhile, it’s been a real eye opener for me to discover all of this on my journey through the maze of internet publicity and make peace with it.

How do you like your blogs? What do you expect? What attracts you and makes you come back?
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A step-by-step guide to seducing a woman

Sexual tension. The lifeblood of romance novels and romance writers everywhere.

I was watching a marathon of "Bones" last night. Some older episodes that just crackle with sexual tension between Booth and Bones. This current season, for me, has been disappointing because that sexual tension is gone. I miss it. I miss the way they got right in each others faces and yelled. I miss the way they would hold each others eyes just a split second too long. They way he would touch her, casually, when it wasn't necessary.

Those are visual signs of sexual tension though -- great for TV but not as far as we can go in writing. We can go into all sorts of details of thoughts and doubts. What she feels when she first meets his eyes; what he thinks when he first brushes her hand. The questions zipping through both their heads, as they wonder what the other is thinking and feeling.

I looked around for a list of signs of sexual tension. I stumbled upon a site giving men advice on how to take sexual tension and turn it into sex. A step-by-step guide for seducing a woman.

I found this freaking hilarious. Be subtle, yet suggestive. Or how about, Casually look over her body when you can do so without being too overt. They even give advice on when to move in "for the cuddle."

So how about it pirates? We're romance writers and/or readers. We know sexual tension like few others. So if you were writing a step-by-step guide for the clueless hero, the one who's caught his heroine's eye and now has no idea what to do next, what would you tell him to do first? Let's see if we can get a round-robin going with everybody adding on their idea for the next step!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wait, That Can't Be Right

Some readers are such sticklers for accuracy they will stop reading, or even throw a book against the wall, if information isn't presented properly. 

And when I say, "throw a book against the wall", I am of course talking about print books.  I'm not sure how one expresses disgust with an e-book.  I would guess the book would be deleted, but how is the vehemence expressed?  Holding the delete key longer than necessary? Scowling while doing so?  Making a pretend throwing movement and THEN hitting the delete key?

Reading is obviously a subjective activity, which is why I frequently love a book that everyone else ignores, and why I'm puzzled when everyone loves something I find less interesting than the owners' manual of my curling iron.

So I'm intrigued by what will make a reader respond a certain way when it comes to inaccuracies.

For instance, I read a book that said the heroine used finely-ground coffee in her French press coffee maker.  This is wrong.  Majorly wrong.  I know because I make French press coffee almost daily, and have done so for years.  If you use finely-ground coffee, it's going to be tough—nearly impossible--to press the plunger down.   And how do I know this?  Because once I was forced to use the only coffee I had on hand—finely-ground coffee—in the only coffee maker I had on hand—a French press.  It beefed up my biceps, but I nearly wept when it seemed I might not get to drink coffee that particular day.

However, this faux pas did not make me foam at the mouth and declare I would never read this author again.  It could have, because the heroine was a foodie, and her career was in the food business, so this little piece was presented as a "fact" of how French press coffee is made.

To me it was an annoyance, and it pulled me out of the story for just a moment--but not any more than if my phone rang and I glanced at the caller ID hoping to see "Christine" listed, or if somebody at Starbucks interrupted my writing to ask if I was a writer and then started yakking about the book they were going to write someday.

For someone else, though, that little factual boo-boo with the coffee might have been the inciting incident for a permanent mental meltdown, or a scathing letter to the author, or even a blast on a public forum.

I watch the TV show, Psych, which is supposedly set in Santa Barbara. While I have never been there, I have been to several other cities and regions of California.  I might be convinced Santa Barbara is actually being depicted in this show. . .except there are a majority of scenes where it is raining AND the characters' breath is visibly frosty AND there is not a palm tree in sight.  I actually know they are filming in Vancouver, BC (where there is an abundance of rain, it is definitely cooler, and they have a ton of evergreen trees).  

Still, it doesn't take away from my enjoyment of the show, nor do I feel like they're pulling a fast one on me, even though they are, because I know it has more to do with production budgets and tax incentives rather than carelessness or sloppy research.

The same with the TV show Leverage.  It's supposedly set in Boston, and they mention the city constantly, and show overheard shots of Beantown, but it's Portland, Oregon.  I've been to both places many times, and Portland looks nothing like Boston. 

Yet if this were being done in a book – saying it's set in Boston, while the author describes Portland – there would be a lot less indulgence by the reader.  Is it because we know there is smoke and mirrors involved with TV and film, and we're willing to buy into that?  If so, why the higher standard for books, which involves creating out of thin air just like TV and film? 

So I'm curious what you think.  Tell me what kinds of things you can forgive when it comes to reading, and what is impossible to forgive.  What makes something an annoyance and something else a wallbanger?  How anxious are you about this happening to your books?
Monday, January 10, 2011
That’s the title I’ve come up with for my current manuscript. Yes, friends, that’s the best I could do. I stink at coming up with titles. Ask any of my friends who’ve asked me over the years to help title their books. Clearly, it’s not one of my fortes. I have several friends who are absolute marvels at it. I keep saying I don’t want to bother them but I’m afraid I’ve no choice in the matter.

 I started out with another title that was very clever indeed. So clever, in fact, it was a catch phrase of the popular sitcom, ‘Seinfeld’. Naturally, it was the episode that centered around food. No, it wasn’t the one about the elusive marble rye. And, no, not the one with the mouthwateringly delicious chocolate baklava.

 It was the soup Nazi episode and its catch phrase - No Soup For You. That was the working title of my manuscript.

Catchy, right? And it fit so perfectly.

My book is about a cutting edge female chef whose innovative café is effectively shut down by a review she assumed was penned by a no-nonsense – albeit hot - and slightly rigid food reviewer. My chef, Nola, lives her life in the kind of fancy free way which, along with her bewitching smile, drives my ordered food reviewer, Val, slightly insane. Val lived his life in an ordered, methodical fashion and sees Nola as his complete opposite in every way.

They spend most of the book annoyed with one another. Wouldn’t you be if the man you are falling in love with had a hand in breaking your dreams? Never mind that you broke his leg. And just how do you stop someone who frustrates you to no end from claiming your heart? Her friends love her. Your eccentric family loves her. Even that brute of a bartender loves her.

Do you want the high concept angle? Here it is.

Think Ryan O’Neil and Barbra Streisand characters from What’s Up, Doc?. Think Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby. Or Grant and Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story for that matter –except Jimmy Stewart’s character develops an unexpected sinister quality. (More on that another time.)

Still, with all those high concepts, I remain flabbergasted. I know my brilliant ship mates can come up with better titles than I can. They’re a clever bunch with or without the rum.

Well, gentle potential reader, given what I’ve stated here, can you come up with a better title than I did? I sure hope so. I’m about ready to let this one out of the proofing oven.
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why Was I Given Control of the Hotties Again?

Seriously I only remembered I was supposed to even post the hotties ten minutes ago. I even have it written in my calendar, but I haven't checked that for a few days. I am fighting off a cold, which hasn't decided if it wants to fully arrive or not. I've been in denial about it--coughing and sneezing--but I think it might be here to stay. It would explain some of the sleep. I'm a sleeper, don't get me wrong, but this sort of sleeping is different.

But the few minutes of the day that I'm not snoring uncontrollably (it's really awful, what the hell), I'm reading my newest find at the UBS: Monica McCarty's Highlander Untamed. McCarty is my 2010 "new author find" and I've been glomming her as much as possible. It's been a long time since I've read a Highlands-set novel that I've enjoyed this much. I'm constantly raving about her books. Ask Bo'sun. Ask my co-workers. Ask complete strangers.

And if you ever get the chance, you should do this:

Robert Burns' birthday is January 25, and Scotland celebrates his birthday every year with some haggis and several pints. So if you want to see some kilted men in the flesh in your home town, that's your best opportunity to do so! Check out to see if your town hosts a Burns night near you.

And if you need something for your TBR pile, add Monica McCarty. You won't be disappointed.

Now let's hope I remember Monday's blog as well....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Six-Word Memoirs for 2010


I planned this blog for New Year’s Eve, but the Captain wisely decided it would be a week of little play and reran the Pirates Christmas Carol. But, I’m not one to waste a blog I had fun putting together! So, a little late, but it never hurts to consider the year before!

Yup! Some weeks ago we were all bi*ching about the epitaph thing. Well, this sorta links into that. I have this book, bought a few years ago, called “Not Quite What I Was Planning - Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.”

Some examples?

You got it!

Sebastian Junger: I asked. They answered. I wrote.


I loved this one, by Deepak Chopra: Danced in fields of infinite possibilities. (I want to have written those words! I think mine would be I wrote worlds of unbounded possibilities.)

How ‘bout this? Brought it to a boil, often. Mario Batalli!

Or this… Revenge is living well without you. Joyce Carol Oats.

Stephen Colbert wrote Well, I thought it was funny.


Ok, and this. Fearlessness is the mother of reinvention from Arianna Huffington.

I can really get where she is coming from, considering the journey she has taken!

So, we’re a week into 2011. I could make this a really hard blog and ask you to compose an haiku of your latest MS. (I did this, it’s sorta fun!)

But a haiku takes a while. I’m gonna be kind and stick to the epitaph.

Try this challenge…Six words to sum up the year. Or to sum up the current writing progress. To sum up the month…? Just six words!

Or, since this is playing on the 7th, how about six words to sum up what you are planning to manifest for the year. Only six words now!

Here’s mine… The Kraken’s Mirror, first sale bliss!

For 2011… This year piratepunk rises to conquer!
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It’s Not Really You, It Only Looks Like You

I’ve been wrestling with my hero for months.  It’s not that he’s one of those unruly heroes who doesn’t do as I ask.  It’s that I couldn’t SEE how he should act.  Honestly, he was just coming off as the regular arrogant, high-handed alpha.  And I wasn’t feeling him.  At all.

Then, last month, right before Christmas, as if by way of holiday present from above, he suddenly came to me clear as day.  I started writing snap shots of him, seeing things he was saying.  The calculating yet still charming look in his eye.  All charisma and intelligent manipulation delivered with a smooth smile.

He fits my heroine.  She’s been through a lot, has lost the fun and thirst for adventure in her life.  With good reason.  And my hero, well, let’s just say he grabs each experience by the throat, he relishes a good challenge, and he accomplishes it all with a devilish smile and wry wit.  He’s the perfect match for her.

I went Voila!  I won’t lie, I danced about a bit.  I smiled like a fool in the grocery store check out.

Then I realized that he reminded me a lot of my father.

Yeah, creeped me out too.

My self image took a tale spin.  What did this mean about my relationship with my father?  Did I have some dreaded “Latent Daddy Issues?”  Should I call a shrink, SOS?  Was there a need for me to contact Dr. Phil?

I paused in all the panic and took a look at myself.  I’m a happily married mom with two seemingly normal children and plenty of healthy relationships and loving friends.  I have close relationships with my family, have developed close relationship with my hubby’s family.  I seemed to be just fine.  I’m a pretty happy person, relatively optimistic and resilient, and on most days, I consider myself incredibly lucky.

In short, I didn’t think I was in need of immediate psychological care.

So, what’s with dear old Dad showing up in my hero’s slot and squicking me out?

I thought about it some in the midst of the holiday chaos and I realize my dad was a bit of a hero.  A Vietnam veteran, he had a toughness about him that said he saw some stuff that wasn’t nice.  But he was still one of the most positive people I’ve ever met.  He faced the world head on, didn’t shirk.  The man always had a plan, was an entrepreneur through and through.   He was loyal to those he loved and would have destroyed anyone who thought they could hurt me.

He had his flaws.  I won’t innumerate them here, on the internet, as he’s gone and I preferred to harass him while he was still here.  No, he wasn’t perfect.  But those things above?  They seem pretty heroic to me now.  Why shouldn’t my hero be like that?

Honestly, I realize my hero isn’t exactly like my Dad.  He just has some of his characteristics.  But I’ve got to give my father the credit.  If I hadn’t known him, I probably wouldn’t have thought to put those characteristics together in quite that way.

Do you think it’s okay to base characters after people you know?  Have you done it before?  If not or if so, why?  Do you think this is some sign of crazy psychological issues (as if you needed further questioning that I’m a little nuts)? You know….  Wait.  Don’t answer that one.  I’m not sure I want to know.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In Another Life

Influences this week: Christmas Tree snack cakes, Cavo's song “Nameless” and Makoto and Nephrite fanfiction. *hangs head in fangirl shame*

I don't believe in happily ever afters.

But I do enjoy a good love story.

I've spent years in the fandoms of several of my favorite series. I'm a reader by trade. My eyes consume, almost slave away over the written word of authors who hide behind fictitious names and silly idealistic worlds created for us to play in without permission. The fact I don't have permission to write something only makes the rebellious imp in me want to do it more. The fact that you can take characters of someone else's imagination and make them do something else interest me. I'm also interested to see what others think about when they read these characters. So in some terms fan fiction and fandoms are a chance for me to study the human nature as a collective creative group.

I've often mused if you gave the same sentence to each of the pirates and asked us to write something revolving around that sentence, each of us would come up with our own unique story. Creativity is like that. Someone will always find a way to make something in someone else's possession better. It's how progression works. The same formula is used, but twisted to our personality.

I never put much thought into release dates when I was younger. I wasn't the type of person to wait patiently (alright, impatiently) for the next book to be released. I mostly waited for the library to finally get a new book on the shelf and I eagerly whipped it off the shelf and into my backpack. I didn't think past the words on the page. I didn't think of the characters in any other context other than how the author decided to write them. If I didn't like how the author wrote a particular book, I didn't read it. In fact, I probably didn't bother to read the author again. My attention span is short, as is most of the reading population. Like baby birds awaiting their next feeding, readers chirp and fidget and obsess about their next fiction dosage. And when you know it's not coming in the form of how you want it, you have to release that obsession somehow or let it fester into something ugly and detrimental to your creative person. Fandoms give this outlet. This obsession with characters, with a world and a lifestyle that feeds your brain into almost a comatose state of creativity is allowed to come out and play in the most fantastical way. As a collective whole, fandoms feed of each other. Allow characters to wander down the road not taken. It's most as if you can see your life changing direction when you breathe life into a character that lies dormant in another's mind.

I love romance. I love the thought of others falling in love, sharing a life, building a world to live into together. It reads so romantic. To watch it unfold is timeless. I love even more when the author takes it away. Gives you a glimpse of what could've been and crushes it. Shows you a different lifetime, gives you the love you've been missing and then show's you how it was destroyed. My first real fandom love was just like this. Naoko Takeuchi wrote one of the most famous (and to this day, almost two decades later) Shojo manga's called Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon is a manga about a moon princess born again into a regular Japanese teenager (who is still the moon princess) and doomed to repeat history all over again. The manga work is absolute beautiful. Heartwretching. Entrancing. I fell in love with Makoto's story (Jupiter) and her doomed Prince Nephrite, general to the great Earth Prince. To kill your lover by your own hand. To fall into a pool of his blood, crying out his name only to have your own life taken from you in hopes when history repeats itself the battle will go differently a second time around. The story of love and how it's lost. I think of how their story could be different the second time around. The third time around. Even a tenth time around into Crystal Tokyo. But they would still die in the end by my hand because I don't believe in Happily Ever After just the road that takes us there.

I totally went off on a tangent. Again. *sigh* Did you ever daydream of how things would end up with characters after you finished reading with “THE END”? Imagine where the character's life might have gone, where it could go? Did you do anything about it? Know anyone who did something about it? Did it inspire you to write your own love story (or mystery, suspense, urban fantasy, historical, contemporary.. seriously, the list can go on and on.)?
Monday, January 3, 2011

Facing The Test

I’m a firm believer in positive thinking and karma, and have been fortunate enough to benefit from both. In the last four years, I’ve experienced a life-turnaround of nearly epic proportions, at least for me.  

I’m also a believer in signs. And if this weekend is a sign of how 2011 will be, I may go into hiding.

My weekend included, but was not limited to, canceled flights, missed flights, new destinations, one cheap motel, wearing the same clothes two days in a row, new tickets purchased, late night arrivals, and one lost suitcase. Not only will I not be recovering from this anytime soon, my credit card is in traction as I type.

Four days ago, I was a ball of positivity. This was going to be a big year with a fully revised MS, maybe two, lots of fun projects on the new house, and one awesome trip to New York City. My first, in fact. Add in high hopes in lots of other areas and 2011 was looking good.

Now, not so much. In fact, at some point on Sunday I imagined myself a character in a book being written by a very sadistic author. You know that thing about “make your character’s life bad, then make it worse?” I’m not sure exactly who was writing my story, but she was kicking the crap out of that “make it worse” bit.

And so the test begins. Do I let this lousy beginning set the tone for the rest of my year? Do I go back to my old negative nelly ways and undo all the progress I’ve made? Abso-friggin-lutely not.

This writing gig is one constant test after another. You think, “Once I get this book written and revised into something good, then I’m on my way.” Seven books later, there’s a good chance you’re still searching high and low for an agent and continuing to second guess every word you put on the page.

Then there’s the delusion that once you get a contract, it’s all smooth sailing. Right, you better hope your sales are good and your publisher doesn’t go through a major shakeup. Any number of authors can tell you less than pleasant stories of trying to remain among the published. One, two or even ten contracts are not a guarantee another one is coming.

This is one of those times that separates the women from the girls. The writers from the wannabes. When the Courier New meets the blank page. Big girl panties are officially in place. Bring it on, 2011. Bring it on.

What do you do to stay positive? Any tricks to bouncing back from a significant hit? Ready to take on 2011? What do you want to accomplish this year? In writing and elsewhere?
Sunday, January 2, 2011

Startin' the New Year Off Right!

I know it’s the start of the new year and we should start off with something purposeful and writing-inspired, but they say you should start off a new year with how you want the year to be like. Therefore, with that in mind, I believe we should kick off the first blog of the year with a party.


Now, yes, Bo’sun’s birthday was the last day of 2010 and therefore last year; however, as anyone with a December birthday knows, one’s birthday gets disregarded in comparison to the other parties and holidays. Seriously how can your birthday compare to Jesus’, am I right? My Dad also has an end of the year birthday, and though it’s nice to have fireworks and lots of yelling on your birthday every year, it sucks to try to throw a party when everyone else wants to go out and party in the streets rather than be sensible and stay inside and eat cake. Who passes up cake?

So let’s start off this year right with a party—and drink up to the best Bo’sun this ship could ever have!

All right, so it’s a new year: what do you want to do this year? What do you want to do for your birthday this year and who would like there? And what drink would you like to make for the Bo’sun’s Birthday Drink?
Saturday, January 1, 2011

I Wanna Drive Fast

I'm glad Bo'sun reminded me about the hotties. Not that I didn't do the blog; I did. Only the *(#(!)@*#()$#( blog disappeared. Thank you, Wordpress.

Anyway, whatever intro I had for the original blog has been lost and I'm too tired and irritated to recreate it for you. Just let's say that it was about being fast and driving and hot men. Oh, and my guilty pleasure: Top Gear America. So the questions of Sunday are: What really irritates you? What's your guilty pleasure (on TV or whatever)? And do you like to drive fast? (What's your guiltiest driving habit?)

And the inspiration for this week: Tanner

Happy New Year!