My daughter and her husband gave me the registration to the Windsor Green Race as a birthday present. I walked the 5k and finished just under an hour, pushing our granddaughter.

There were ten thousand people here today. I watched a ten year old cross the finish line. Girls That Run had 238 girls from 17 different elementary schools, all wearing green tee shirts. I met the Kitchen Connection, a group of ladies who get together and cook at each other's houses.

There were about seven hot air balloons. People cheered us across the finish line, whether we were walking or running.

These lovely ladies from San Jose were out for a girls' weekend. Their shirts say Run Now, Wine Later. Hola!
Since it was the day after the
world was supposed to end, some came with an attitude. This lady's tee read: Twin Moms, Twice the Fun and Twice as Fast.

We were serenaded by a mariachi band half way through. This guy treated us to reggae.

Someone ran with a bridal veil. All very good fun, and for a good cause: raising money for the Windsor School District. Afterwards the local firemen dished up pancakes and scrambled eggs, and lots of smiles.
Well, I stayed away from the pancakes, but couldn't help myself. This guy came in first, and was nice enough to pose for me.
Boy, the things we gotta do to get our stories….

Two Pages A Day

I've been stressing about getting some edits done. Editing is not my favorite thing. I like the writing part. When I first began my writing career, I was so inspired by Diana Gabaldon that I emailed her and asked her about her process. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So how do you edit your story without eviscerating the characters, losing the love for the story while you pay attention to all the technical parts of the words, of the craft?
DG: O.M.G. I LOVE the editing process. That's how I polish it up, reveal the real jewels of the story, find the buried treasure. That's where my story comes to life.
Me: So, how many pages do you write a day? What's your schedule?
DG: I get up to fix breakfast for my husband and then go back to bed, or answer some work-related items, get up again around 11 and write until mid afternoon. Then family activities, shopping, getting ready for dinner. I have dinner with my husband and after everyone is in bed and asleep, I go back to writing until 2-3 AM. Then I go to bed. I'm lucky to get 1500 words a day in.
Ahem. Clearly, I am no Diana Gabaldon. Now, she may have changed her schedule a bit since that little email some years back, but it became clear to me the two of us approach things in completely different ways. I can write 5,000 words in a day, and have done it many times. I've written 92,000 words in 30 days and 50,000 words in a month many times. She writes slow and loves to edit. Hmmm. And she sold how many books?

I had the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop with Margie Lawson at Asilomar on the beautiful Monterey Coast this weekend. I asked her where to begin applying all her lessons to my WIP. By the end of the weekend, it was beginning to look like a piece of stinky laundry. I told her that the thought of going into deep edits clearly with six different highlighters gave me a visceral reaction sending my blood pooling around my ankles like pudding. That was a pink, for those of you in the know.
She said to start with the dialogue, blue. Then do the emotional/visceral reations, pink. But to do one at a time. While doing the blue, you could recognize the dialogue descriptors and plump them up, then look at the pink and look at the appropriate power words…and then….and then… In other words, do them one at a time. Print out the assignments one at a time.
This morning I was at a meeting and I heard someone say they read just two pages a day from a book that helps them. Two pages. They stop in the middle of the word or sentence or paragraph and only read two pages. Because eventually, the whole book will be read cover to cover, two pages at a time.
So how will I attempt to do the deep editing of my WIP? One chapter at a time. I will apply all the lessons, one at a time, each color one chapter at a time. And eventually, the whole book will be deep edited.
I'll get out my prospecting clothes and big glasses, and look for all those jewels lurking. I know they're there. And now I have a method to find them.
Thanks Margie. Thanks Diana.
How about you? How do you tackle the hard part of editing your work in process, or some other thing you find tedious, looking like Half Dome in your mind?

No Flour, No Sugar, No Coffee?

I am so nervous to write this, but for today at least, I have given up flour, sugar. I can't give up coffee yet, but will by next week.

You know you have to do something when you don't like the pictures anyone takes of you, even though everyone else says they're great.
(“Wings” sculpture: bryantedrick.com)
I realize I'm been swimming around in a fog, a haze created by my addiction to these food items. It's frightening considering giving these things up for the rest of my life. But the truth is, I am allergic to them. I've just not been looking at it.
Someone once said, “The closer I get to reality, the better I do.” Funny, coming from a romance writer, who specializes in fantasy. Driving down the road with a book on CD, or my favorite music so loud I can't hear a darn thing except the thumping of my heart is one version of reality I can live with. It's actually harmful to me to just turn on the radio and take whatever they want to give me. I like having the choice. I'm good with creating my own reality for a story, a mood, setting a stage at a party or entertaining.
But I've been thinking about reality in other terms lately. Like the reality of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The reality of looking at my words and being able to say: this stays, this goes, like pruning in the garden, dead-heading. I will never be able to trust my own instincts until I see the reality of how I write.
After four days now, I can see how these little vices have run my life. I think about the finality of not having those things. And I think about perhaps leaving this earth with too much unsaid, too many books not published, readers to thrill. The giving up of flour and sugar is nothing compared to checking out before my time.
I know that if I fertilize and prune, I'll have more flowers and fruit. If I cut and polish my words, I'll be a better writer. If I eat more healthy and give up some sacred cows, I'll live longer.
What about you? Have you struggled with things you have to give up to achieve a goal, or improve the quality of your life? What did you do to help you overcome the struggle?

My Mother’s Day Gift

You might ask why I would get a slingshot for Mother's Day. Living here in beautiful Northern California, we have acres of gardens and in the middle of our field, we have an abandoned pool from the years the kids were little. I have it filled with koi, and goldfish. It didn't start out that way, but, as things in my life have a way of doing, soon became the “big blue thing” I could see outside my kitchen window that got converted into something nicer. It's now one huge koi pond.

Life is indeed about taking lemons and making lemonade. The last thing I wanted to see was blue plastic in the middle of a meadow, but on the day we were going to remove it, it was filled with polliwogs–thousands of them. I knew that in time they would become little frogs. Over twenty years ago I brought 6 little green and yellow frogs from my garden in Sebastopol, let them loose near a natural pool and I've been serenaded by their ancestors all these years later. It just wasn't in my nature to destroy all these little lives. My husband had a different opinion about it all, but I won out.
But when summer came, and all the frogs had moved on and out of the pool, I got concerned about mosquito larvae. I bought some comets at a local fish store, and watched as they grew several inches that first year. I tried a couple tiny koi and the same thing happened. I put in water hyacinths and other water plants, added some minnows and then more koi.
Now they are having babies and I must have over 100.

My pond has defied all the odds. It is as green as moss. I don't clean it. I just put in bubblers, a little trickle of well water and feed the fish every other day in the summer. They eat about a Big Gulp's worth of pond sticks each feeding.
Their idyllic life started to change when we had a visitor. A great big Heron, almost five feet tall, decided this was his own private hunting ground. I watched in horror as he ate at least a dozen fish, some of them almost a foot long. I tried to get my dogs to notice, but the bird is smarter than they are.
But not smarter than my husband. So, for Mother's Day, I am armed and dangerous. And on a focused mission to protect the little eden I have created, by accident.
Happy Mother's Day from my garden to yours.

Do You Think I Can Fly?

I hired the talented Cindy Pavlinac http://www.CAPavlinac.com to help me design some author shots. Her stunning photographs of sacred places has charmed me into a journey and has inspired some of the scenes in my stories. I also participated in a Labyrinth Walk in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral last November. It was the highlight of the holiday season for me.

Heavenly Lover is being readied for release, and every time I drive by this stunning sculpture by local artist, Bryan Tedric, I'm filled with emotion. It is a sacred space for me. You can visit his website here: bryantedrick.com.

If you've been to Burning Man, this sculpture has been there too. These wings move back and forth in the breeze, catch light from all different angles at all times of the day.
When we shot this, the sky was initially gray, but as we continued shooting, the clouds parted, literally right there above my head, and we got wonderful striations and blue sky.
I've said before I'm a Christian with a bent antennae. I believe in good and evil and guardian angels everywhere, as well as much more. And so that's the story I was driven to write.
I don't dare to attempt to instruct anyone on anything religious, because it is to me something very personal. I'm not qualified to deliver a message. I'm creating a fantasy, something for entertainment. A movie in the mind. A world that might be, could be and is, in my mind only.

Warriors All

It isn't a stretch to imagine this little boy growing up to be a superhero in his chosen field. I think they are made inside the womb. Born of a different mold.

Of course, every child is born different, and special. No two are even remotely alike, even though they grow up in the same family. But those that choose a warrior's path, in the traditional sense of the word, are indeed, well, special.
That's why they call it Special Forces.
There's been a lot of talk recently in the media about the role of the SEALs and their job: doing things we sometimes don't want to talk about. Doing things no one else can or would want to do.
I'm a little uncomfortable about all the publicity, and know SEAL families feel the same. They quietly do, are completely dependable, don't boast and don't need the limelight. It isn't their way. Not what they are taught. Not what keeps them out of harm's way. Most of them won't tell you anything, even if you ask. Even if there are things worthy of praise. They don't need it.
We've seen some pretty incredible pictures recently. And we're going to see a lot more. Let's remember that some of these fine military men and women, don't come back. Not every mission is successful. It's easy to have a ticker tape parade when everything turns out great. Harder to be a fan when the mission isn't successful.
Jimmy's grill on Coronado has a wall for the fallen. I hope we never forget to say thank you. Even when things don't turn out so well.


Way To Go SEAL Team 6

Any wonder why these fine men are the true definition of hero? Quiet, unassuming, avoiding drawing attention to themselves.

I can't tell you how proud I am. I'm usually not speechless. But I am so grateful.
I lost the valedictorian of my graduating class in the 9/11 attack, Naomi Solomon. I lost another member in the U.N. bombing in Algeria, Chad Hamza. No one can bring them back, or all the others who have lost their lives all over the world, including the military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
And we know there will be more.
But today, there is cause for celebration.

Z is for Zenda

Z is for Zenda. Well, I had to think of something that started with Z, and it could have been Zoo, with all those animals all around, but no, it's Zenda.

When our two youngest children were little, my husband and I placed an ad in The Lady magazine in Great Britain. At that time, you could advertise for household help, and it was a great way to find well-trained nannies. Now the US has schools for this sort of thing, but at the time, we were impressed with the degree program in England, including child development and first aid, and wanted someone who wanted to spend a year or two in the States just for an experience.
It turned out to be one of the best things we've ever done. The advertisement generated some 200 applications, and we actually had a hard time choosing. We arranged a trip and interviewed our top 3 candidates, and their families. We wanted to make sure their parents were okay with where they were sending their daughters. And at that time, getting a 6-month visa wasn't difficult, if we agreed to sponsor them and take care of their health insurance.
Zenda was our first.
We came home from church one day, about 4 months after she started, and she had run off with an American guy and left us a note.
We telephoned our next in line, and she was delighted to come over, and actually stayed with us for almost 2 years. She loved American guys. I'll never forget my 4 year old son, who used to stand at the kitchen door and watch as a young man emerged from her cottage in the morning, and usually a different one each morning! “Why does Jane have so many friends? And they all are boys.” Even with this, she was a loving addition to our family and we were grateful we had found her.
This was the year that Charles and Diana got married. Jane and Angela (a girl we found for another family) were deathly homesick. So we got up early, waited on them hand and foot, poured mimosas and made them a gourmet breakfast fit for a king. They sat all day on our family room couch and cried. All day. Boy did they miss England.
Watching the royal wedding this morning, I thought back to that day, and I must admit, I missed my girls, those two lovely young ladies from England who helped our families out so much. My son had started calling a sidewalk a “footpath” with an accent. Asking to go to the “loo”.
I watch the pomp and circumstance, the proud heritage of this tradition going back over a thousand years, and it got me weepy too. I thought the commoners were very regal. It was moving to see the young couple. And every girls' romantic fantasy. Marrying a prince. A ceremony of a proud people. A refreshing change that I hope has touched the world.
I hope there is a happily ever after for them. I'd bet there will be. I'm grateful to spend a whole day honoring love and commitment. Couldn't be better for a romance writer, now could it?
And I hope Zenda, Jane and Angela are doing well. My one big regret is that we've lost touch.
What about you? Do you remember the other royal wedding? What did you think of this one? Did you get up early and watch?

Yes, I’ve Earned My Stripes Today

Forget rejection slips. Forget low scores on contests. We all work so hard to do our best, to write our best and manage our schedules as best we can. We help each other as writers, comment for each other, critique each other and encourage each other. That's what writers are supposed to do. Right?

And every single writer I've met has been this way. Coming from a competitive corporate world where I had to get my armor on, get on the telephone for three to four hours a day, cold calling and getting rejected 99% of the time, I saw the writing community as one big loving family. I could not believe how helpful and supportive everyone was. I was warned that it wasn't always that way. I was beginning to believe that the person who told me this, was wrong. “Not me,” I said. “Couldn't happen to me. I'm such a nice person.”
Well, I've removed the knife from my back and suddenly I can stand up straight and breathe. I got a bitter reminder today that you can't please all the people all the time. And it was naive of me to think so. **wince wince** this is part of the process. Darn it all.
Kristen Lamb has taught me more this year than perhaps any other blogger or teacher. I try not to miss a post of hers, and go through withdrawals when she's gone. Here's her address:
About a month ago, she had a post about the sharp-edged people around us that help polish us into the diamonds we are, instead of the rough stones we start as. Her point was that no one gets to be good without being able to withstand the knives in the back, the hurtful critique or harsh judge, or a friend who proves to be something of the opposite.
Life isn't fair. Things just don't work out sometimes. Sometimes some people are toxic. So you move away. But that's it.
Nothing stops because we're having a particularly bad day. My dogs didn't care. They came up and gave me loves just like they always did. My chickens still needed to be fed and the eggs collected. The garden had to be watered, AND I HAD A GOAL OF 20 PAGES TO COMPLETE TODAY.
And I did it! I even managed to stay out of the sugar and the flour: my refuge in times of trouble!
Being a good writer means you must be easy to start and difficult to stop. Like a locomotive. You start out slow, no matter how hard you put your foot on the pedal. After the engine is revved and you are gliding down the rails, you have momentum to keep you going. You could even take your foot off the pedal, and for a time, the train would continue.
That's what I want to be: easy to start and hard to stop.
I'm proud that I stayed the course and didn't let a bump in the road ruin my day or stop me from writing. In fact, I may have found a new villain!
Tomorrow's my birthday. I feel healthy and clean, and so happy to be a writer during these challenging times. I'm going to celebrate!
How about you? Any things you think about or tips you could share about how you overcome things that could stop you?

X Marks The Spot Where Jack London Wrote

There are some places that are filled with the ghosts of the past, and I was at one today. Our eclectic multi-genre critique group meets every Tuesday morning. Today, we met at the old Grist Mill, where Jack London used to write in an apartment over the mill. We sat out on the patio and had a wonderful catered lunch by Yeti's Restaurant – Nepalese food. With the sunshine pouring over our red umbrellas and a soft breeze whispering through the trees, we read our stories, sipped tea, ate wonderful curry dishes, and felt the presence of Jack London amongst us.

These are the same windows he looked out of when he penned his best-selling books. Once an apartment, it now is the upstairs to a new restaurant re-opening soon. It would be a wonderful place to read or do an author signing.

Can't you just see London working at his table, listening to the gigantic waterwheel turning in slow rhythm, the opulent trickling of water? What a place to let one's imagination grow.
In my former life, as a Realtor, I sold a home for a relative of his, and held in my hands some of his books, probably written right here. Today was like the past and the present all coming together. All six of us hope to be best-selling authors some day. We have helped each other tremendously in this group that has been going on for almost three years. And now we have Jack.
Our critique session was over too soon, and we were off in separate directions, like leaves scattered in the parking lot. Words read, suggestions given, ideas shared, laughter and warm friendship. Everything has faded, except the sharp pangs in my stomach from the deliciously rich food I loved eating, but that haunts me tonight, just like Jack.
How about you? Do you have any special places “haunted” with dead writers or inspired by creatures otherwise? Do tell!

W is for Write Every Day

This is a do-over. Just a short post to remind you to write every day. I interviewed JR Ward at RWA Nationals in D.C. two years ago, and she told me she had written every day except for three in the last three plus years.

I asked her about dinners and family events, vacations. No. Everyday, she told me. And I saw that that's what it takes to be successful.
It's been said that you have to write 1,000,000 words before you start getting good, or before you can start to write. I think I believe that now. But when I was just getting started, I thought I was so brilliant, the world was my oyster!
And I still think the opportunities are there, but I'm more realistic. Talent is overrated. You must write and write and write, get rejected, and write some more. Keep writing. Write every day, and the rest will come. It's about putting it out there.
And don't wrestle with any pigs. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it!
How about you? Do you write every day? What do you do when you don't feel like it?


Don't go away just yet! I promise I won't bore you with vampire lore, if you're not a fan, or have gotten tired of them. I think they will be here to stay. Fact is, we've been writing about them since 300 AD. I understand early Hindu writings incorporated vampire lore. They lived in trees, caused mysterious deaths, especially to unsuspecting children and non-believers. Don't know about you, but that's more chilling to me than the ones that are dark and sexy, that heal quickly, are the strongest things on the planet (just about), and have a libido that most humans would envy.

I laugh whenever I hear the comments, “Vampires are out.” Just like I laugh whenever I hear, “Angels are too controversial.”
I wrote Honeymoon Bite because I had a crit partner who was writing vampires, and I decided to try it. I'd read all of Anne Rice's books, and loved them. Found them very sexy. Except their plumbing didn't work, and I just knew Anne would write some raging love scenes if she hadn't written herself and her characters into a box. Talk about unfulfilled! I learned later on that she wrote erotica under a pen name.
But what she did was bring the dark, brooding vampiric characters to life in memorable ways, and without her, I doubt the Sookies and Bellas would have been created. And now as I read Kressley Cole, Nailini Singh and Larissa Ione, their characters have become a hybrid of several species, even brothers, as in Larissa Ione's Underworld General stories, with different species, depending on their parentage. I like that about paranormal. There are so many things you can do. I have a fallen angel who was a vampire, turned into an angel by accident in the 4th book I'm working on. Why not? It gives us a good basis for why he's got a chip on his shoulder.
I'm itching to get back to the edits on this book so I can send it to my agent. But I have to finish my contemporary first, from a request.
Indulge me. Read my first few paragraphs, and ask yourself if you like this story, would you keep turning the pages, and then go ahead and post your reactions. You're not going to get a nasty comment back, even if it isn't your cup of tea…
Anne looked down on the sleeping form of her new husband and, God help her, he looked like the first man she would murder. Nestled into his arms was the naked body of her Maid of Honor. It was the second time today the bride had caught them. First was at the reception. In the bathroom. Monika’s dress and his tux were splayed over the chair and floor, trampled, along with a spilled bottle of champagne, cream satin shoes, a long taffeta slip, a hot pink pushup bra and Robert’s new black socks. “Not exactly what a bride wants to see on her wedding day.” Anne spoke the chilling words in soft lilting tones, like she had recited her wedding vows that afternoon. It caused the reaction she hoped for. Monika bolted up, her eyes crossed but wide, clutching a sheet to her chest. Robert was scrambling to the floor. “Don’t bother to put your pants on.” “Honey—Anne—,” he said in his I’m-so-sorry-I-got-caught voice. His tanned face used to melt her insides, like when he smiled and the sun came out from behind the clouds. But today it wasn’t going to work. Everyone knew it. The bride had murder on her mind. “I’m so glad you’re all right. We were…” Robert began. “I’m fine. I can see how worried you were. Touching.” Amidst rustling taffeda and satin, Anne reached down to the handle of her wardrobe roller, stuffed to bursting with brand new clothes for her honeymoon, most with tags still on them. She made sure her money, passport and airline tickets were still zipped into the top pocket. “Your dress, Anne,” Her former best friend pointed to the red stains down the front. “Is that blood?” “Catsup.” Anne saw them both flinch. “Not blood. Not yet.” “Now wait just a minute.” Robert climbed back into the bed and put his arms around Monika, but his body was tucked safely behind hers. “I’m sorry about all this, Anne. I’ve been a fool.” Monika turned around and looked at him in a drunken gaze. Maybe she was wising up already. “No. It wasn’t going to work, you asshole. Don’t you think your timing sucked? Couldn’t you have done it before we did all this?” Anne lifted her skirts as if to curtsy. Robert relaxed and hung his head on Monika’s bare shoulder. Anne grabbed a black rain slicker and rolled her trousseau out to the hallway. Whispers came from her bedroom. Unzipping her bag, she extracted the red and black outfit she had planned to wear on the plane—the one with the plunging neckline. Locking herself in the bathroom, she shimmied out of her bridal gown and slipped into her new things. Her feet found a comfortable home in her favorite pair of black crocs, the ones decorated by her bachelorette buddies with little bride and groom charms surrounded by red hearts. No way. She grabbed Robert’s toenail nippers from the vanity and snipped off both the bride and groom, but left the red hearts there. Romance wasn’t dead. But her marriage sure was. Robert stood in the hallway in his shorts. “Where are you going?” “On my honeymoon. I planned it. I paid for it. I’m going.” She descended to the ground floor of her apartment building and realized her wedding gown was still draped over her left arm. A convenient row of black plastic garbage cans, out at the curb for an early morning pickup, became the gown’s final resting place. The nuclear tufts of stained and shredded white organza looked like tissue paper stuffing for a tall wedding present.
My heroine's luck goes from bad to worse, because she does get bitten on her honeymoon. And her life changes forever.Do you like vampires? Do you like humor in those stories? Characters that find themselves in impossible situations? What do you like about vampires? Or dislike?

Understanding The Writing Business

When I first started writing, I began going to writers' group meetings, and discovered I liked happy endings. I was told I was a romance writer.

At one of my first RWA meetings, I met a new friend, Karin Tabke/Harlow, who gave me the definition of romance: “The woman always wins. There's always a Happily Ever After.” No wonder I liked writing love stories. I could create a world where everything turns out the way it's supposed to.

It's a simple concept, but not so simple to execute. People have told me, “Some day I'm just going to sit down and write a romance,” like it's learning a second language or something. I tell them I hope they do.
I've been learning the rules by making mistakes. A lot of them. Then I pick up a book that violates those rules. The fact is, when you're successful, you can do almost what you want. When you are trying to get published, you have to write something fresh, without breaking the rules.
Now with the self-pubbed revolution going on, there are several new ways an author can become successful. But it's trial and error as well. I've downloaded my WIP several times, had to delete it, reload it, and still not be able to get rid of certain formatting issues. I could hire those things away, I could hire artwork for the cover, hire an editor, and pretty soon I am doing a sort of quasi vanity published book I'm paying out of pocket for.
But I like one basic thing about it: the results are more in my control. True, I don't have a big marketing arm and thousands of printed copies shipped to bookstores, but that is becoming less of a factor as the ebooks become more and more popular. I can adjust my price up or down, change my cover multiple times, if I want. I can write under a pen name to try out a genre, find readers on my own, and be responsible for promoting the books, like most publishers expect authors to do anyway.
In an age when people are watching their pennies, it makes sense to come out with fiction that is cheaper, where sequels are delivered faster, and that have unique twists and turns perhaps not found in traditional-published works. I buy hard copies of books I really like in eformat. Good books are what readers buy. The readers get to decide.
No one knows where it all will shake out. But what I really like is the choice.
What about you? Do you read ebooks? What genre do you read and why?


Whoa Nellie. Stop clattering your sabers. Holster your sidearms. Turn off your engines. Click off the TV. Put down your beer. Freeze frame.

I'm floored with how many good writers (I put myself in both camps) can't send an email message without pissing off the whole world.
Yes, WRITERS. We are communicators. We should be the ones who write the pearls that make sense, not cause enemies. When someone said the pen is mightier than the sword, boy was that the understatement of our civilization!
Being a writer comes with it a set of rules. Be respectful, only make people cry if it is good for your story, get people mad at the characters, but not you, the writer, or anyone else. Push the envelope, okay, but don't push those other writers and readers off the cliff.
My first manager, when I was in sales, used to ask me not to send memos to the office staff, because I made them cry. I was blamed for one or two quitting. You can imagine how I felt, all 50 other people in the office looking at me like I had leprosy of the fingers. It isn't important whether or not–well, it is, darn it. I did make them quit. There, I've said it. Trying to be honest, here. (There's another rule).
So, as I said before, there are rules, but no hall monitor. No one to say, “Oh, this is this and that is that.” Everything is opinion. We judge our results with some numbers, like sales and numbers of readers, but the largest portion is through opinion, a much harder thing to judge.
I once complimented a new coach of my daughter's volleyball team after a “successful” tournament. We lost 50% of the games we played, but these were 12-year-olds, most of them looking like baby giraffes who had just been weaned, unsure of their bodies, and the enormous height they had at such a young age, towering over some of their teachers but certainly all the boys. He asked me:
“How so?”
I told him: “Because we won some games we shouldn't have, lost some we shouldn't have. Everyone got to play. You managed not to piss off any parents or send any girls to the bathroom crying.”
Now, can we talk? You've seen the emails, the crash and burns and long accusatory rantings by people who should have seriously thought about another job other than writing. The names are not important, but you've felt your flesh crawl like a good horror story, burst into tears when someone left an unkind, I mean out-of-the-way unkind, review of something you thought was half good. Not saying everyone has to like everything I write, but unkind is not just in the eyes of the beholder. You've seen the group dynamics of one dissenter being piled on. I thought we got over that in Jr. High. I never want to go back to those times. But some people haven't grown up.
Before you send that steaming email, think. There's another T word. Don't finish your sentence and end it with the send button. It should end with a sigh, about ten proofs and a little contemplation. And then send it if it still holds up.
Let's take a little time out and agree to be decent, people. There's a new thought: Try A Little Tenderness. Now those are a couple of great T words for today.

Stimulus Package

I loved the idea of the double meaning of this, so used it on an erotic short I wrote, called The Stimulus Package. An idea whose time has come, as Werner Erhard used to say. I liked that it was positioned in e-pub format right next to the Congressional Stimulus Program, and for a time, my short sold more copies.

But this isn't going to be about erotic writing. This isn't even going to be about my short, or my erotic pen name. Not about politics, either. It's about what stimulates me, as a writer.
So many great words begin with “S”. Or, maybe I notice it because of my first name: sensual, sexy, something special, sultry, satisfying–the list is endless. But then there's also stupid, stormy, selfish and self-serving. Seasick does it all with the double “S” sound. I get seasick every time I take a cruise, for the first day or so.
There's salesmanship, and I was one of the best. There's savings, and that one I should have had help with. Spending, shopping spree–all things I used to do and now don't. There was my beautiful S-class Mercedes I gave up. I now drive a pickup truck. I was just thinking as I came home from the feed store today, buying hen scratch, egg-maker pellets, sawdust and black oil sunflower seeds, how much I enjoy my old pickup. I can get it dirty and it seems to like me even better. All things pass. My cars are now passed down to people who want to pay to have a–you guessed it–another “S” word: STATUS SYMBOL.
There's Smith Magazine: http://www.smithmag.net.

They are the crew that do the 6-word Memoir books, with great quotes like: For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn. (Ernest Hemingway) or Long Walks. Fast Cars. Slow Kisses. (mine). I once had fun with some ladies thinking up a story where all the dialog was 6-word emails.
I won their 100-word Pregnancy contest with my true story, posted on pickle jars. And Rick's Picks are darned good pickles, too. He even told me he likes to read romance, and I'm impressed because he's Ivy League. I understand our President likes the People's Pickle best. But I'm just trying to make up for the Stimulus thing (notice he doesn't say it anymore on TV?). I'm dying to hear him say, “Stimulus Package” on air like he used to. I think he'll smile. Ohhh! That's another “S” word.
Okay, I like showers, too. A buddy like this to rub soap all over my skin.
My husband actually does a very nice job, and he is my real life buddy of choice, although we do a lot more laughing and spraying water in the shower than kissing these days. But I'm not complaining. I love him dearly.
I love Syrah. I love strawberries, squash, snapdragons, sushi, salmon and See's candies. I even like skydiving.
In short, I just think life is worth savoring. That's where I get my inspiration. Watching people, participating, showing up.
So, what do you have to share?

Rodrigo Santoro

I have to admit to having a crush on Rodrigo Santoro. Yes, I'm happily married, but if this man came to my front door, it would break my heart to say no. And because there's no danger this will ever happen, I don't have to think about it very much.

When I began writing Angel, there was a character I'd seen somewhere who matched the vision I kept having. I dreamed this blonde Guardian angel fell in love with a handsome, Latin man, who was soft spoken, with a smooth exotic accent. My character was striking, but almost embarrassed at how women fell into his arms so easily. I like writing Alpha males. This one was/is a painter, and I decided he should be from Brazil, and be fearless the way he loves.
I began writing the story December 15th. On Christmas Eve, I was watching one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, which has become somewhat of a tradition in our family, and, sitting next to my grown children and husband, there he was. My hero. Karl, Laura Linney's love interest. The actor was Rodrigo Santoro. When I searched his background, I found he was from Brazil.
I collected a series of Brazilian love songs (I don't speak Spanish or Portuguese) and jazz, watched exerpts of his almost-love scene, where they undress, after I'd stretched the three minute segment using super slow mo on my computer, to a whopping fifteen minutes. I could see every ripple of his gorgeous washboard chest, the way he smiled, the twinkle in his eye when her dress got caught, how he carefully but commandingly kissed her. Laura Linney either did a really great job of acting, or she was into it. Big time. Slow motion doesn't lie…
And then I found this ad he made with Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5. My story has a happy ending, a true romance ending, but other than that, this was my story, with different characters. My female is Claire, a Guardian angel, fair and angelic, but a rebel, bored in her station of life, looking for a little adventure, not knowing she was missing true love.
Did you notice the Director begins his narrative with an angel in the lower left corner of the screen? In my version of Heaven, not all angels have wings. On weekends they have a golden playhouse that only plays the same piece each week, with different actors: a musical version of Peter Pan. And Tinkerbelle is the lead in Heaven's version, a much coveted role.
How amazing when I heard a translation of an interview with this actor, telling the audience he'd love to bring a children's Peter Pan production to Brazil.
There are several other circumstances that make this magical story one I am preparing to launch. But the purpose of this post isn't really to self-promote. It is to share just a kernel of where all the passion and desire to tell this story came from.
Because as a writer, we sometimes do fall in love with our characters. I certainly did. How about you?


I'm probably dating myself. Do you remember that TV program? Some of you might think reality TV is tacky, that our standards have diminished from lofty heights. You never saw Queen For A Day, then.

Five contestants would tell their story. I forgot the announcer's name, but he later appeared in several Hitchcock TV movies. Each woman's story was sadder than the next one, until finally, they got someone who had truly been dealt a bad luck hand. It was usually the woman with 8 kids whose husband abandoned her after her boss fires her and the bank repossess her car. But all she really wanted was a new vacuum or something so she could at least keep a clean house. They would have some kind of audience voting system (way before internet and phone voting), and the sympathy factor was displayed on the screen with an arrow that looked like an old-fashioned scale.
The woman chosen would be whisked away by two beautiful bathing beauties, a crown placed on her head that always seemed to fall off. She was presented with a velvet robe lined in ermine. She had a staff, and was handed a bouquet of roses that usually fell too. She cried and cried, so grateful to be made Queen for A Day, sitting on her throne, with the announcer singing the theme song to organ music with lots of rips and trills. It was pure spectacle.
My grandmother liked to watch it when she came to visit. Being a minister's wife, I would have thought her tastes would have gone to some other sort of escapism. My grandparents heard stories like these every day at the parsonage.

When my little brother and I visited grandma and grandpa, we'd sometimes be moved to the living room couch in the middle of the night when a woman and perhaps a couple of children would need a place to stay, and usually it was to get away from an abusive husband. I learned at an early age about these kinds of stories. I considered myself lucky my family didn't look like any of that.
I also heard stories about traveling bands of homeless men during the depression always knowing whose house to stop by and ask for a meal at the back door. They used to leave a mark on my grandparent's front yard or fence, that told others there was a kind-hearted family that lived there.
I often wonder what became of those women who appeared on the TV show. Did their lives change because of the generous sponsors who gave them new furniture, a new wardrobe, toys for the kids and sometimes a new washer dryer? I always wanted to know the whole story, not just what was on the TV.
I was a budding novelist way back then. I've learned since that not everything is real on TV, just like I learned they can't see you when you're naked. Those were the days I used to think crosswalks were made so if you got hit by a car and you were in that crossing zone, the state would pay for your funeral.
I'm glad to say as I grew up, I never lost my compassion for the human condition, or failed to see the humor and wonder of it all.
What about you?

Peter: My first love at Age 6

Peter was my first love. His mother was a model, and a woman so beautiful, she took my breath away every time I looked at her. I felt like I should pay money to someone, she was that striking. My mom was beautiful too, but in a natural way. Peter's mom wore lots of makeup, and was the first woman I'd met who got her nails done. She also modeled with an apricot poodle named Bijou.

Okay, the poodle wasn't really apricot-colored. She had him dyed. He went to the groomer I think once a week. Had his toes painted pink too. Peter hated that dog, and so did his sister. So did my little brother. So did everyone on the block. So did Peter's father (we heard them arguing about it all the time).
Peter and I had a song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” We used to make up stories about how I'd be tied up by the bad guys in his tree house (before I was old enough to think up something really fun and erotic like now), and he'd come and rescue me. I didn't mind being rescued. He didn't mind being the hero. But my little brother and his little sister got tired of playing the bad guys. “Can't we rescue each other this time?” my brother would ask.
The answer was always the same: No. He had the unhappy fortune to be born younger. It would never change.
Shortly before we moved away, Peter and I had the brilliant idea we should put my brother, Peter's sister and Bijoux in Bijoux's dog house, close the latch on the door, and roll it across the yard. And so we did.
That woman used to love making me look like Marilyn Monroe with her makeup. Even my little brother got his makeup done too. But after that afternoon with the dog house, she never looked at me the same way. I was a demon child to her. A bad influence on her son.
I don't know what possessed me to do this. We even put our dog, Barney, in our clothes dryer and turned it on. He wasn't hurt, but luckily my Mom got there in one or two revolutions. Barney wobbled his way out to the backyard, looking much the same as Bijoux did when Peter's mother ran screeching and let him out of the doghouse. I noted how she was far more concerned for his safety, than Peter's little sister. Poor Bijoux.
I guess I was going through a phase of wanting to do adventurous things. I'm not a bad person. I was experimenting. Just shaking things up. I never considered it would be bad for them.
Peter and I vowed to write, but never got addresses. We vowed to marry when we were old enough, and never met again. I wonder what he thinks of me, that tomboy who was always getting us into trouble.
What about you? Do you have a first crush, a special childhood friend, either real or imaginary?

Oh The Places You Will Go

One of my friends retired and was leaving for a very long vacation, sailing around the world. He'd been planning this trip for his whole life. Part of it included some volunteer work in Thailand, I think.

We gave him the Dr. Seuss book, Oh, The Places You Will Go, and each of us took a page and signed a personal message to him. It was the perfect gift. I wish I had that book now to be able to quote from it, but all my children's books are still packed, having set them aside in storage during our house re-build. Since my children are all grown, I gave 13 boxes away to our local library. Now that I have grandkids, time to dust of the favorite ones I saved, start reading them all over again. Ah! That amazing cycle of life…
I love traveling, going places and being surprised. If I could afford it, I would travel every month to some exotic place. One of my writer friends, James Garcia, blogged yesterday about going to a Caribbean island or mountaintop resort for inspiration, like some famous musicians do. That would work for me.

In between my writing spurts, I could get a massage, be brought some fresh grilled seafood sprinkled with fresh lime and salsa, sip on fresh squeezed juices, and work on my tan.

The reality of this actually happening to me is practically nill, but I'm not dwelling on this. I'd have to become another Stephanie Meyer (I'm working on it, though). But the idea inspires me: traveling to fabulous places to write.
I copy pictures from online travel magazines and frequently look at them. I think about what story I could write there, let my mind wander. Nice thing about this is I go there without spending any money! I meet imaginary people, act out imaginary love scenes on horse-drawn sleighs, rustic cabins, or in the warm sand at midnight under the moonlight. Each picture tells an adventure I have in my own head, something perhaps I could bring to the page and let readers experience in their own way as well.
Reading a good book takes us not only to a place, but a time. It takes us away from our everyday lives, and for little money, takes us on a journey of the author's mind.
As wonderful as these photographs are, the journey of the written word is much more epic. Imagination has no limitation in time and space. All it takes is just a little time, and a good couch or chair to sit in. And enjoy.