Friday, September 30, 2005

Temporarily Out of Order

My snarque, that is. I can't think of a single thing to bitch and moan about, and that's just NOT NATURAL.

Check out Monica and Barb, though. They've got some serious issues with a particular author who can't seem to keep her neuroses in check.

Kate's got a thing on red tape, bureaucracy and insurance that'll make your brain melt.

Shannon blasts a plagiarist. GO SHANNON.

And the Daily Kos is its usual vitriolic self on the subject of most everything right wing-y.

Coming soon, a shot of my cover--when I can get Blogger to post it without an error message, thank you VERY much--and a link to a mildly smutty excerpt.

In the meantime, happy weekend. I'm sure I'll find something adequately rage-provoking over the next couple of days to better fuel rabid bloggage, and if not, there's always FOX News. ;)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blatant Self-Promo

Remember that deadline against which I was frantically working at the dawn of the month?

"Congratulations to the following six authors! Their SHIVER submissions have been accepted for publication in the HeatSheet line at Phaze.

'Moondance' by Selah March**
'Erotique' by Alessia Brio
'The Invitation' by Ava McKnight
'Ebb Moon' by Emily Veinglory
'Fearfully Delicious' by Adrianna Dane
'Jack of Hearts' by Leigh Ellwood"

Congrats to all my fellow SHIVER authors. This line will be released in e-book form by Phaze in time for Halloween. I'll provide more info when I have it.

For now, here's the blurb on 'Moondance':

Zoey Ryder has made some stupid choices in her short lifetime. Her latest screw-up has landed her alone and broke at an isolated highway rest area in the middle of the night. Faced with two very different men offering assistance, she needs to choose again--and wisely.

Who will it be? The gorgeous, charming, golden-haired (and did we mention gorgeous?) truck driver, who seems to want to help her? Or the dark, scowling night manager with the creepy scar and the bad--if compelling--attitude, who plainly doesn't like her? Her head tells her to pick the cutie with the viable means of transportation. Her gut--and other parts of her anatomy--feel differently.

When the rising moon triggers bloodlust in a beast...when the rules of reality ebb and flow like the tides...when the consequences of her choice go from bad to worse...from cheap thrill to deadly seduction...

...will Zoey find a way out of her erotic nightmare?

Thanks to all who wished me luck on this submission. :)

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Monthly Rag--and No, I Don't Mean THAT

Yesterday, I received my copy of the Romance Writers Report (RWR), the monthly periodical published by the RWA for the benefit of its membership. The RWR is, in fact, one of my favorite RWA bennies. I love to curl up with a cup of joe and the latest issue, and peruse the Letters to the Editor, the Market Update, the Sold! column, and the laugh-out-loud words of wisdom that always grace Jenny Crusie's PROgress column. This month's issue was no exception.

Of the twelve letters to the editor, five of them were on the subject of the RITA/GH awards ceremony debacle, including one signed by the majority of the national Board of Directors apologizing to the membership at large for the mess. Although a certain contingent of bloggers and RWA members on various RWA email loops were vocal in defending both the event and those who organized it, none of the five letters published were supportive of the tone or execution of the ceremony. Perhaps next month's issue will contain opinions from the other side of the aisle, giving the "I really don't see what the big deal is" contingent the last word on the matter, but in the meantime, I'm sure you'll pardon me while I take a moment to do a restrained, ladylike Dance of Vindication.

Of the seven remaining letters on various other topics, the one that caught my eye came from a self-identified "grandma" commenting on the idea of other "grandmas" in general reading sexually explicit romance. Apparently, she finds the entire idea ridiculous, opining that most women of her generation think detailed sex scenes are one big yawn. I'm certain the "authors of a certain age" over at Ellora's Cave who are WRITING these steamy romances will be fascinated to hear this, as will the sexy seniors who make up a healthy percentage of their audience.

"Granny" went on to say that all we "steamy" romance authors have managed to accomplish is to give the loud-mouthed fucktards who bash us as purveyors of girlie-porn more grist for their mill.

In truth, I feel sorry for this lady--and not because she doesn't like sexually explicit romance. To each her own, baby--that's the whole POINT. No, I pity her because in all her years on the planet, she A) still hasn't managed to figure out that just because SHE doesn't enjoy something, it doesn't necessarily follow that OTHER people--even those in her own peer group--are necessarily going to dislike it, and B) still gives a hoot in the hot place what the loud-mouthed fucktards say. How sad for her. Here's hoping she gets over it.

Oh, and Nora Roberts bought a full-page ad in which she pretty much eviscerates our outgoing RWA President, but I'm sure everyone's heard enough about THAT to last a lifetime.

And in her PROgress column, titled "Rats with Islands: How To Survive Your Publishing Career," Jennifer Crusie did a spectacular job of making me laugh, think, laugh some more, and cry in the space of two pages. Truly, very inspiring--right up there with "There will be pork in the trees by morning."

I know I bitch long and loud about the RWA, but in the end, I feel much the same way about the organization as I feel about the United States of America. LOVE my country--not necessarily nuts about the folks who run it, or the policies they put in place. The people who educated me taught me that it's not only my right, but my responsibility as a citizen to stand up and point out the flaws in how the nation operates. The definition of a true patriot is one who stands by the country, NOT the government, or so said Teddy Roosevelt--a Republican.

To my mind, the definition of a true Member in Good Standing of the RWA is one who stands up and points out the crap BEFORE it hits the fan, AS it's hitting the fan, and as it slides down the walls of the ballroom. And keeps pointing it out until everybody quits holding their noses and pretending they don't smell anything. And then helps to clean it up.

So even though the current White House administration and Congressional majority make me want to tear my hair from my head and go screaming into the streets more often than not, I'll not be renouncing my American citizenship anytime soon. Nor will I be removing myself from the RWA rolls in the near future.

Because if nothing else, for a hundred bucks a year, the RWA can be VERY entertaining, even if all you do is read the damned magazine.


SHIP-HAS-SAILED question of the day:

President Bush and his cronies categorically refuse to roll back recent tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans to help offset the astronomical costs of Katrina and the war in Iraq.

"The Bush administration still hopes to make permanent tax cuts that are set to expire in 2008, such as the 15 percent tax rate on capital gains and dividends." (CNN)


KATRINA CLEAN UP PAID FOR ON THE BACKS OF SOLDIERS' FAMILIES THIS really the best way to "support the troops?"

Happy weekend, folks. For those of you in Rita's path, vaya con Dios. We'll be watching and praying that bitch simmers down.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Real versus Reality

I don't watch too much television. Between my domestic responsibilities, my writing habit, and this weird addiction to sleep I've developed over the course of a lifetime, I don't have the hours to spare.

But there are a couple of shows I've come to like well enough to remember to save on TiVo, and the paranormal thriller MEDIUM is one of them. It airs Monday nights on NBC at 10PM Eastern Standard Time.

Most anything with a spooktacular theme is enough to get my attention for an initial viewing, but MEDIUM is special. Not so much for its paranormal content, although the stories are fascinating and well-wrought, but for the rendering of the relationships.

Its lead, actress Patricia Arquette, is exquisitely believable as Allison DuBois, an Arizona soccer mom with a gift for dreaming of dead people that she uses to help the local District Attorney solve crimes. Arquette--and, by extension, Allison DuBois--LOOKS like a Mommy. She's got the haircut, the wardrobe, and the body type, God bless her. She's got "Mommy arms"--strong from hefting toddlers and bags of groceries, but not necessarily slender or toned. She's got "Mommy hair"--bangs too long and hanging in her eyes, ends slightly fried, because who has time for a salon appointment? And she wears "Mommy clothes"--an ugly-assed bathrobe over the tee-shirts and sweats she wore to bed the night before, and boxy, non-professionally tailored jackets to work.

Jake Weber--the actor who plays DuBois' husband, Joe--is equally believable as an average guy married to an supernaturally exceptional woman--a Darren Stevens for the new millennium, if you will. He plays the part by turns tender and stern, indulgent and exasperated. I've developed quite the crush on the character, but that may have something to do with the fact that he rather strongly resembles my own husband in both looks and manner.

In fact, the DuBois' marriage so closely mirrors my own in some ways that watching the show is sometimes a little painful. That's how well-written their relationship is--I recognize whole chunks of conversations and arguments from my own life. I've wondered on more than one occasion if the producers have bugged my bedroom and kitchen. Allison's ambivalent connection to her gift and the drive she feels to use it reminds me very much of how I feel about my writing. Joe's frustration with the time and effort Allison's work siphons away from their family life is much in keeping with my husband's feelings about the hours I spend at the keyboard.

And the kids? There aren't many shows out there willing to present kids in an unflattering light and not play it for laughs or make their dysfunction the center of the drama. In this case, the eldest DuBois child just happens to be going through an insufferably bratty stage, and is frequently called on her behavior, but is not made the focus of undue attention. The middle child is quirky, to the tune of being virtually unable to make friends. Gee...we have kids just like that in MY house. How...true to life. *checks under lampshade for bugs ONE MORE TIME*

My point is that while MEDIUM receives kudos for its nifty thriller plots, I think it's the writing of the family connections that make the show. The little details of married life...the pillow talk...the occasional love scene that can still be sexy, even if the participants aren't model-perfect specimens and have known each other long enough to produce three children together. It gives me inspiration for setting (non-glamorous) and dialogue (quietly witty) and characterization (strong and down-to-earth), and gives me hope that solid writing can prevail against what's passing for reality these days.


And from the "Offered Without Comment" files:


Friday, September 16, 2005


So, about that conference...

Orchestrated by the Southern Tier Authors of Romance (STAR) chapter of the RWA, it was held at the Holiday Inn in Ithaca, New York. The gathering was small--around fifty attendees, I believe, not counting speakers, editors and agents--which allowed a casual, "we're all in this together" kind of atmosphere not found as often at larger cons.

The highlights:

Friday night kicked off with a lecture at the Lost Dog Café in which I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the Romanov murders--where and how the various members of the last Czar's family were shot, bayoneted and bludgeoned, how exactly the bodies were disposed of, why acid was used to burn away their facial features, why the four daughters didn't die as quickly as their parents, and how long it takes to burn a human body as it lies stiffening in the mud. Fascinating, every bit of it, but I was glad I hadn't overdone on dinner, because I'm a HUGE wussy about that stuff unless I'm the one who's making it up. We also heard all about the unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, a famous 1920s film director, which was somewhat lighter on the gore, but included a reference to one of my favorite movies of all time: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (pic)

Saturday morning began with a talk by NYT bestseller MaryJanice Davidson on "The Knockout Punch." Basically, MJD promotes the idea that you need a fantastic, hooky, grab-'em-by-the-throat-and-don't-let-go opening line that will insure your manuscript/book gets read by an editor or agent or bookstore browser, and not tossed back into the pile or onto the shelf. You could practically hear the wheels spinning as every member of the audience recalled their various opening lines and cringed. I know I did. My first lines tend to be...uh...less than unforgettable. But I think it's good advice, so when I got home, I did what I could to punch up the opening line of book I'm prepping to submit.

A lovely lunch was accented by NYT bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon's keynote speech, "There Will Be Pork In The Trees By Morning." (Original quote: The Lion In Winter. When Richard says to Eleanor "When pigs have wings!" she replies, "There will be pork in the trees by morning.")

Lordy, was Ms. Kenyon's tale one of ultimate triumph in the face of endless woe. Seriously, if you tried to make this woman's experiences into a book, an editor would tell you that you were over-selling the pathos--suspension of disbelief only gets you so far, and nobody's life sucks that hard. When Ms. Kenyon could not get a new contract to save her soul, and had lost pretty much everything but her will to write, and her RWA membership was about to expire, and she had to borrow money to buy paper for that last proposal...and her father was dead of cancer...and she lived a roach-infested apartment from which she was about to be evicted...and her agent had dumped her...and Christ, the baby had COLIC...

And folks, this was AFTER she was already a multi-published author.

I dunno about anybody else, but I was worried about the state of my mascara. Who knew I'd have to go the waterproof route for a romance con?

Take home message? PERSEVERE. No matter what, keep going. And when they scoff and say you'll make it when pigs sprout wings? Tell 'em you spy a flock of Bacon Bits on yonder horizon. Thank you, Ms. Kenyon.

As mentioned in my previous post, I also attended a workshop with a lovely agent who did, in fact, have a lot of good things to say about author promotion. I don't even necessarily disagree with her about the whole "don't be controversial on your blog" thing--I'm sure what I say here will, in the end, lose readers. And the fact that I don't care more about that may make it harder for me to find an agent or even an editor who's willing to work with me. I don't think it's bad advice. I just don't think it's the right advice for me.

And now, because I simply can't let a day go by without stirring the shit, my quote and links for the day:

"You could say the new Iraqi Constitution is going to be a bit short on rights for women. You could also say the Arctic in January is brisk." Will Durst

"Between 2001 and 2004, 4.1 million more Americans slipped into poverty while the upper 2% of the country's richest became 55% wealthier. So, say what you will about Bush's policies. They're working." Will Durst

And finally:


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Of Levees And Hummers And Ships That Have Sailed

Update (9-14-05): A Congressional report requested by judiciary Democrats--but compiled by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service--has been released that clears Louisiana Governer Kathleen Blanco of the charge that she did not call a state of emergency in time to save the stranded citizens of the city of New Orleans and surrounding Parishes. It states, in part:

*All necessary conditions for federal relief were met on August 28. Pursuant to Section 502 of the Stafford Act, "[t]he declaration of an emergency by the President makes Federal emergency assistance available," and the President made such a declaration on August 28. The public record indicates that several additional days passed before such assistance was actually made available to the State;

*The Governor must make a timely request for such assistance, which meets the requirements of federal law. The report states that "[e]xcept to the extent that an emergency involves primarily Federal interests, both declarations of major disaster and declarations of emergency must be triggered by a request to the President from the Governor of the affected state";

*The Governor did indeed make such a request, which was both timely and in compliance with federal law. The report finds that "Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco requested by letter dated August 27, 2005...that the President declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period from August 26, 2005 and continuing pursuant to [applicable Federal statute]" and "Governor Blanco's August 27, 2005 request for an emergency declaration also included her determination...that `the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster."

Here's a link to the report. Warning: it's a PDF file.

And here's a decidedly PARTISAN statement released by Representative John Conyers of the Michigan 14th regarding the report:

"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability by shifting the blame to the Governor of Louisiana for the Administration's tragically sluggish response to Katrina. It confirms that the Governor did everything she could to secure relief for the people of Louisiana and the Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."

Thanks to the Daily Kos for the linkage.


I attended a conference this past weekend put on by a local chapter of the RWA, and there I met a lovely young woman who works as an agent in the industry. This woman had many smart and savvy things to say about author promotion--how to present oneself to one's best advantage, and how to avoid the pitfalls of that same presentation.

One thing she strongly suggested was that an author not put anything in her blog that she wouldn't put in a cover letter to an editor, or a brochure advertising her work. No controversy. No overtly political opinions. Nothing that might turn folks off, whether those folks be potential editors, agents or readers.


I guess, short of going back and deleting pretty much every one of my previous posts--except maybe the one about the lovely summer morning for which I was so grateful--that ship's pretty much sailed, huh?

I've been quiet over the last couple of weeks partly because I'm a little overwhelmed with work--both of the domestic and professional variety--but also because I'm so filled to the brim with anger and
grief that I every time I sit down to post to my blog, I keep coming back to the same topic: the incompetent, inept, criminally bungled handling of Katrina and her aftermath. I don't want to keep hitting the same note over and over and, for example, OVER...but neither do I feel comfortable chatting amiably about what I'm writing or the imminent change of seasons or the latest cute thing my kid said. Plus, so many other people are doing such a good job of keeping the debate lively that I don't see much point in adding to the conversation.

I WOULD like to talk about the writing conference I just attended, and I'll probably do that tomorrow. In the meantime, I will simply drop in a link sent to me by
Barb Ferrer, who got it from a friend of a friend. I found it fascinating reading.


I'd like to point out in the above timeline the entry under Sunday, August 28, titled:

"Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow."

And also:

AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: "'We were briefing them way before landfall. ...It's not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.'"

And another link to

And finally, what President Bush had to say to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning, America on September 1:

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

I'm not going to comment, except to say that I recall a lot of folks insisting the reason they came to hate Clinton was because he went on national television and lied to the American people when he said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

The only difference I can see in this situation would be the loss of life involved. Far as I can tell, nobody drowned or died of exposure or had to be put down like a dog because Bill got a hummer in the Oval.

Yep. That ship is SO gone.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Decisions, decisions...

Write paranormal smut...label new lunchboxes, backpacks, jackets, and sneakers for the spawns' first day of school...or drown in a thick, black sludge of impotent fury and heartsick grief...?


I am, again, writing and editing down to the last second of a deadline. Bad habit, I know. If only I'd let things age/marinate/stew in their own juices a bit, I'd likely find them much improved when it comes time to send them out into the world. But an adrenaline junky I am, and always shall be. The upside, of course, is that I'll find out fairly quickly after submitting my story whether or not it's been accepted--unlike those well-organized, well-modulated souls who got their entries in within a week or two and have been waiting ever since. Me? Not so good with the waiting. I suspect I'd make a bitter, profane, and ungracious refugee. Which is maybe why I can relate to the angry faces I see on my TV screen.

I'm sure I'll be up and wielding my black Sharpie marker on those lunchboxes at five tomorrow morning, after writing till midnight to make my deadline, with CNN on in the background, telling me about the many Gulf Coast residents who continue to suffer and die. It's a very weird place, where I am--trying to concentrate on infusing a story with the right amount of sexual tension, whilst counting out No. 2 pencils and lacing up new Nikes, and trying not to let my sick rage overwhelm suck me down.

This would be the place to post links to where folks can contribute, donate, work for the common cause...but you know what? You've already seen them. Chances are excellent that you--like me and everybody else with a conscience and half a working heart--have already given what you can, and plan to give more WHEN you can.

God bless the givers. And God bless those who wait in the dark, hanging on to the hope of a better day, for they are stronger than I would be in the same circumstance.