Friday, May 29, 2009

The Fate Trilogy

Today, I put together blurbs for the next two books in the Fate trilogy so my awesome agent Holly could use them in the submission process if necessary. I'll post these with the following caveat:

Warning! Pantser in Progress! Plot subject to change for no good reason!

Twisting Fate:

Grace McLeod—half human/half monster out of Greek mythology, wife to math teacher Ian McLeod, mom to little Anna—is losing her mind to the one person who knows her better than she knows herself: her twin, Vincent. All the medication in the world can’t drown out Vincent’s sly cruel voice and when he begins attacking people through Grace, she leaves her family without explanation and goes into hiding, determined to cut herself off from those Vincent longs to hurt. Unswayed by her husband’s pleas or Vincent’s anger, Grace lives in a fog of anti-depressants and fear until one phone call changes everything: Anna has been kidnapped. And Grace knows who’s responsible.

Now Grace and Ian must work together, though their marriage is fractured, to rescue Anna from the monster who’s come to claim her bloodline. But rescuing Anna means allowing Vincent to be more than just a sadistic voice whispering in Grace’s mind and Vincent has an agenda of his own. Grace and Ian must unite to stop Vincent’s bid for supernatural power, defeat the monster who craves the magic running through Grace’s blood, and rescue Anna before she becomes the enemy.


Breaking Fate:

Meaghan Callahan’s supernatural abilities didn’t protect her from a childhood spent in foster care. They didn’t protect her from the men who wanted her teenage body for their own. But they’re going to protect the only person she’s ever loved—her adopted sister Leigh. Too old for foster care, Meaghan runs cons to keep a roof over her head and stays in close contact with Leigh, determined that her sister have the bright future Meaghan can’t see for herself. When Ryan Cutter comes to town, sporting his own set of supernatural abilities and knowing far more about Meaghan than any stranger should, she tries every con in the book to get him to leave. But when Leigh disappears without a trace in broad daylight, Ryan is the only one Meaghan can turn to for help.

Together they learn the rules of an ancient war where the currency is stolen Magic and the prize is death. Uniting with others who share the Magic running through their blood, Meaghan and Ryan discover that rescuing Leigh will open the floodgates to a bloody war they are ill-equipped to win. Can Meaghan run one last con to defeat a monster born out of Greek mythology, rescue her sister, and stop a demon army from taking as blood payment the only man she’s ever loved?

Top Ten Highlights From Our Foray Into Beech Bend Park



We spent a day at Kentucky's Beech Bend Park two weeks ago and it was a perfect day because it was just cold enough to keep most of the crowds at home. There were literally no lines for anything. Probably sixty people total in the whole park. Beech Bend is this really cool mix of modern rides (wooden coaster, log ride, other coasters etc) and vintage carnival rides like Bobsleds, Swings, and that ridiculous spinning sphere where those who enjoy revisiting their lunch pay for the privilege of whirling around so fast they destroy their equilibrium for the rest of the day. They also have a huge selection of kiddie rides and a cool water park so there's always something for everyone in the family to do. Here's the best of what happened while we were there.

1. The Ferris Wheel: I don't do Ferris Wheels. I know, it's sort of crazy since I'm such an adrenalin junkie with coasters, but Ferris Wheels don't inspire adrenalin in me. They inspire fear. There's nothing fun about willingly entering a cart that refuses to just hold still already. It's bad enough that there's no track beneath me, giving me the illusion of safety, but with a Ferris Wheel I'm stuck slowly savoring the height (which I actually hate, even though I can do it in coasters because it's over so quickly) when the cart stops at the top to let more riders in at the bottom.

This time, I was alone with Daredevil (the other two were with Clint), there was no line anywhere in sight, and so when Daredevil begged me to please go on it with him, I figured I was fairly safe. I didn't realize the man operating the Ferris Wheel was struggling with both a mile-wide sadistic streak and a healthy dose of boredom. In fact, I didn't figure that out until after I'd already allowed myself to be strapped in the brightly painted cart of death and the ride had jerked into motion. The operator took one look at my face (which, I believe, had not a shred of color left in it) and my hands, which had instantly and compulsively clutched the thin metal bar that stood between me and the ground as though somehow if I held it hard enough, it would actually be enough to save me in case of emergency and called out, "You're afraid of heights aren't you?"

I didn't have a chance to answer because we were heading over the curve toward the top. I reminded myself to breathe and fielded Daredevil's incredulous "You aren't scared, are you?" question and as we sped by the operator, I noticed the wicked grin on his face and realized I would need to marshall all of my fight or flight instinct into fight the second I disembarked because one of us wasn't going to survive this encounter.

He did his best to destroy me. We sailed through the air countless times, the advantage of not stopping and starting repeatedly to let people on offset by the fact that the operator didn't have to stop the ride until another person showed interest and there wasn't another person in sight for 100 feet. Just when I'd started to pry my white-knuckled grip off the metal bar and convince myself that while I might be meeting Jesus soon, it wouldn't be because of a Ferris Wheel, the operator stopped the ride.

While. We. Were. At. The. Top.

I nearly screamed but I'm not a screamer. Even in abject terror, I have to prove I'm tougher than my tormentor. Still, my grip tightened, Daredevil began soothing me with meaningless platitudes, and as he turned toward me and the cart rocked, my eyes latched onto the huge sign posted on the back of the cart in front of us. It said "For Your Safety, Do Not Rock The Cart." I pointed it out to Daredevil, ordered him to sit still, and then trembled when I realized that just breathing caused the stupid thing to rock. Why post that warning at all if not rocking your cart is impossible? A lesson in irony? A flimsy attempt to avoid legal complications if you dump a 35 yr old author on her head?

Perhaps everyone connected with the manufacture and operation of Ferris Wheels is required to have a sadistic streak? I don't know. I just know I sat there, as still as I could, forcing myself to breathe without hyperventilating until the cart lurched into motion (More cart rocking!) and swung down to a stop at the bottom. I couldn't get out of it fast enough. The operator was laughing until I gave him the Beady Eye. When Daredevil asked to go again, the operator looked at me and asked me if I'd like another trip. I asked if he required all of his limbs or wouldn't mind having a few of them forcibly removed.

He stopped laughing.

2. The Water Park: It was 60 degrees out with a wind blowing colder than that and the water park was open. Because boys are born with a natural indifference to minor inconveniences like goosebumps and hypothermia, they all wanted to go swimming. They were flabbergasted when Clint and I refused to join them in their Arctic excursion. They played in the pool for forty minutes, teeth chattering, bodies shaking, until we forced them out, wrapped them in warm towels, and over-ruled every single objection to us ruining their fun.

Boys.

3. Bathroom Visits: Because I didn't know it was going to be so cold out, I'd come prepared to participate in the water park fun by wearing my bathing suit beneath my clothes. After guzzling a Diet Coke on the car ride to Kentucky, I made the bathroom my first stop of the day and quickly realized the error of my ways. To make a bathroom visit at all effective, I had to take everything off. Everything. And the stalls at Beech Bend are those annoying ones with the one inch margins of visibility between the stall door and the surrounding walls. I believe I broke a world record in Speed of Disrobing. Also in Speed of Doing One's Business.

4. Daredevil's Cast-Iron Stomach: I knew Daredevil was made of strong stuff, but even I was taken aback and what that kid can do to himself without missing a beat. He ran from spinning ride to spinning ride, staying on multiple times in a row until at one point I figured out he'd been spinning more than standing for thirty of forty minutes and it didn't phase him. I don't know who he takes after but it isn't me and it isn't Clint. Part alien perhaps?

5. Daredevil's Big Mouth: I may have mentioned before that Daredevil rarely has a filter between what he thinks and what comes out his mouth. Often, this is a source of amusement. Sometimes (most notably the time he yelled to me across a grocery store aisle while pointing to a man's beer gut that he didn't know men could have babies) it's a source of praying for the floor to open and swallow us. This time, thankfully, it was amusement. As Daredevil whirled through yet another spin on a teacup-esque ride (his third time in a row) little girls were crying to get off, a man was slowly sinking toward the floor, his eyes shut tight, and two teenage boys were visibly heaving, about to lose their lunches. Daredevil was laughing. When the ride stopped, the crying girls ran past the operator toward their mothers, the man dragged himself along the fence toward the exit, the two teenage boys hurried toward the bathrooms and their looming appointment with the porcelain god, and Daredevil stood up in his cart, met the operator's eye, spread his arms wide, palms up, and yelled (in his best gangsta voice), "What now, people? What now? That's what I thought."

6. Bumper Cars: The Scientist refuses to go on rides where he isn't in control of his own destiny. After my Ferris Wheel experience, I think he may be on to something. He spends a lot of time riding the Bumper Cars and, as a result, has skills and strategy most of us never realize exist. In fact, I didn't even know you could have skills and strategy on the Bumper Cars until I got suckered into going for a round against the Scientist, Daredevil, and Starshine. Starshine spent the ride going in circles...sort of...and occasionally tapping us. Daredevil spent the ride slamming into anything he could. The walls. Us. The unmanned cars. The Scientist painted a glowing target on my back and came after me. It was eleven year old boy vs. his mother and his mother lost. Big time.

I'm fortunate I don't need a chiropractor after that.

7. The Magic Show: There's a magic show every two hours, complete with escape artist, and Clint took the Scientist (who loves practicing his own magic tricks) and Starshine while I supervised Daredevil's attempt to spin himself senseless. (What now, people?!) The magician picked Clint to be his lucky assistant. Clint agreed and ended up wearing a bra over the front of his shirt for his troubles. I don't think my boys have yet recovered from the sight.

8. The Kentucky Rumbler: Daredevil is my coaster buddy and we hit the Kentucky Rumbler--a wooden monstrosity that hurls you over the track at 65 mph--three times. I had to bribe him to come on it with me the first time (coughed up $5) but once he rode it, he was all about going on it again. And again. I don't mind the heights on roller coasters because, unlike the Ferris Wheel, there's no time to contemplate the risks or the strong possibility of your own imminent demise should a screw come loose.

9. Pictures: The Kentucky Rumbler has two cameras on the track and you exit through a gift shop which displays your expression of exhilarated terror for the world to see and for you to purchase for the moderate sum of Holy Cow! You Want How Much?! Once Daredevil realized he was on camera, all bets were off. We had to ride again. Immediately. And I had to point out the location of the cameras so he could monkey around for them and get the pose he wanted. No small feat while you're flying around a corner at 65 mph. When we returned to the gift shop to view our new pic, Daredevil grinned and said "Oh, look! They got my good side." Then he slanted his eyes toward me and said, "Oh, wait. It's all good side."

It's nice to know I'm raising a confident kid.

10. Goats: That's right. Goats. And not just a few. An entire herd and then some. They know I'm on to them so they've begun congregating en mass at locations they expect me to be so they can give me a taste of the coming Goat Apocalypse.

Daredevil wanted to go to the petting zoo. I realized there would be a few goats there, but expected to see various other representatives of the barnyard variety as well, making it possible to avoid the goats.

I was wrong. There were goats (I stopped counting at 32) in every conceivable nook and cranny. Baby goats looking deceptively cute and helpless. Billy goats slamming their horns into other goats, walls, rocks, and people willy nilly. Granny goats perched on rocks, bleating their orders for world domination to their many minions. My non-goat petting options were limited to two roosters and a goose.

Two roosters. And a goose.

Have you ever tried to pet a rooster or a goose? You'd be lucky to have all your fingers intact. Not to mention that petting a goose is like sending said goose an embossed invitation to forcibly explore body cavities you'd rather remain goose-free.

I began to wonder if perhaps Beech Bend Park was marshalling their own army of human-hating animals. Who knew the bid for Zombie Goat rule would originate in Kentucky?

I was stuck with the goats and Daredevil who, though he wanted to go, was having serious second thoughts as the goats converged upon us. No, I am not exaggerating. We were quickly surrounded on all sides by goats and herded toward a rock where a granny goat perched, eyeing us like dinner.

I tried to reassure Daredevil that the baby goats around us weren't all that threatening when they attacked. Tiny horns jabbed my calves. Vicious little teeth ripped at my pants, my handbag (Back off, Horizontal-Eyed Demon!), and when I bent down to gently shove their heads aside, a large mama goat went for the Girls.

The day I let some rude mama Goat bite a chunk out of my cleavage is the day I turn in my stilettos for crocs. I grabbed her head and turned her entire body to the side, shouting at Daredevil to stick with me. As we pushed and shoved our way toward the exit, the billy goat noticed us.

This was a very bad development.

He gave up butting his fellow goats and came after us. Daredevil screamed and jumped behind me. I yanked the billy's horns aside and he proved his innate devious goat nature by pretending to lose interest. We made it nearly to the exit when I was rammed from behind.

Hard.

I had a brief moment to be thankful it wasn't the goose since billy goat heads don't usually fit bodily cavities, and then I used my handbag to my advantage and beat the goat off while we made our escape.

As we stood outside the goats' barracks (For truly, I could no longer call it a barn), the little old lady who tended the petting zoo smiled at us and said "They haven't had a lot of visitors and were a bit excited to see you, weren't they?"

I think that was code for "Darn it, now I have to lure in other visitors or what will my Zombie Goat babies eat?"

We're going back to Beech Bend at the end of the summer. We'll hit the water park, the Bumper Cars, the magic show, and the Rumbler. But under no circumstances, unless I'm duct-taped and knocked unconscious, will I willingly enter either the Ferris Wheel or the petting zoo from hell.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Redneck Tank Top



Take a close look. Note the extra seam where a seam shouldn't be unless you have family jewels to arrange.

There are so many things wrong with this, I hardly know where to start.

First, the obvious. What woman in her right mind substitutes men's tighty-whities (or not-so-whities) for a tank top? Or, for that matter, substitutes men's tighty-whities for any article of clothing? Especially in public.

Second, the underwear in question has been clearly altered. On purpose. As in Not By Accident. Someone looked at them, thought to themselves "Hey! Without that pesky crotch in the way, these make a pretty fine tank top!", grabbed their scissors and hacked away.

And I do mean hacked. The cut is uneven, the edges are jagged, there's been no attempt to make the neckline look like anything other than a sabotaged crotch. Perhaps it's too much to expect a woman who chooses to wear men's underwear upside down and crotch-less to take a modicum of pride in her tailoring but ... still.

Third, were there no flannel shirts available? No hoodies? No t-shirts to cover this faux sports bra? I have to seriously question the mental health of any woman who runs out of shirts for the day and raids her man's closet ... for his underwear.

Unless, of course, this is the ultimate example of redneck recycling. Does your man keep wearing out the crotch in his tighty-whities? Are you tired of relegating scraps of cotton to the landfill but you know you don't need more dust rags? Don't toss it, wear it! Introducing the new way to Go Green!

Finally, I have to wonder about the view from the front. The posterior of a man's underwear was not built to lift and separate. Where's the support? The anti-jiggle underwire? Most importantly, the Avoid A Wardrobe Malfunction extra lining? Perhaps we should be grateful we're only getting a view from the back.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Starshine vs. The New Tattoo



1. No, this pic isn't indicative of how my weekend went. :)

2. Especially since we all know alcohol and C.J. are a bad combination.

3. My hubby got my initials tattooed on his ring finger yesterday.

4. He's allergic to metal and can't wear a wedding band so he decided to do this instead.

5. My kids, every last one of them, tried to talk him out of it.

6. Cries of "Just get a temporary tattoo!" and "Don't do it!" filled the air until my hubby and I looked at each other and said, "Isn't this opposite the natural order of things?"

7. Our kids also tell us to turn our music down...

8. After my hubby left the house, Starshine wandered in looking for him. When I told him where his father had gone, Starshine threw his hands up in the air and said, "Great! Now my dad's going to come home looking hideous!"

9. Here's a pic:



10. On the docket this week: interviewing Jeaniene Frost and Lisa Mantchev, being interviewed by MeanKitty, and researching/plotting Twisting Fate and shiny new idea.

11. Yes, I said plotting.

12. No, I haven't become less of a Pantser. I think. But I've got a definite idea for where the story is going (Second in a series, I have plot arcs to hammer out, people!) so I'm trying my hand at a loose synopsis.

13. Very loose.

14. Lots of "something bad happens here followed by something WORSE" entries, I'm sure.

15. And shiny new idea is so FREAKING cool I can't wait to start it too.

16. I realize I fell off the blogging bandwagon for a few days last week and missed my Friday Top Ten list.

17. I'll hit it this week, I promise.

18. I discovered Elizabeth Taylor (Yes, THE Elizabeth Taylor) is on Twitter and in reading her tweets, discovered that she's a fan of the movie Twilight.

19. Somehow that seems strange to me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Dangers of Silicone Valley

Last night, on American Idol, Kara totally showed-up Bikini Girl by joining her onstage and proving, without a doubt, that she can sing little miss Oops I Left The Rest Of My Outfit At The Store under the table.

Bikini Girl was mad. Humiliated. Uncomfortable.

It was a moment.

I found myself feeling a spark of compassion for Bikini Girl as she stood there flaunting her newly paid-for breasts and the tiny triangle of fabric she must have super glued to her skin to avoid a wardrobe malfunction. She was totally set up. She thought she was being given an honest award for best attitude (which shows just how far into the land of Oblivion she lives) and a chance to finally showcase her, um, talent for America. Instead, Kara took over and finished the song with a voice that made Bikini Girl's sound like the weak, shaky, non-musical instrument it truly was.

My spark of compassion flickered and died, however, when I remembered Bikini Girl's behavior over the course of the season. I think the nail in my sympathy's coffin was the moment she preened in front of the four judges at her first audition and accused Kara and Paula, who were--rightly--questioning her lack of musical talent, of being jealous.

Jealous.

When she didn't make it through Hollywood week, she blamed that on women's jealousy too.

In fact, Bikini Girl's entire outlook on life can be summed up in just one sentence: I'm hot in a skimpy bikini and that's why women don't like me.

I'd like to address that glaring misconception. I don't like Bikini Girl, but it has nothing to do with jealousy. Would I love to look that great in a swimsuit? Sure. But there are plenty of women who look better in a bikini than I do and I don't despise them. What's the difference?

The difference is Bikini Girl's attitude that a) she could get what she wanted by flaunting her body and b) she was entitled to success simply because she'd paid to have enough cleavage to hide the entire island of Puerto Rico.

That's why women--intelligent, strong, talented, hard-working women--despise her. We've struggled for decades to be seen as something more than a pin-up poster. We've fought to have the right to vote rather than be seen as empty-minded little delicate flowers. We've battled our way up corporate ladders, political hierarchies, and industries, demanding equal job opportunities and pay without resorting to sleeping with a man to get it. We've looked the male-dominated fields of science, film-making, literature, and art in the eye and said, "Move over, Mister, let me show you what I can do."

And we did it because we had the talent, grit, and heart it took to get it done.

When Bikini Girl walked into her audition, preening like a playboy bunny, and simpered her way through her introduction, all the while making eyes at the men in the room and ignoring the women, she disrespected all the women who'd fought for us to be viewed as more than a man's plaything. She operated on the assumption that she didn't need talent if she had boobs and that because she looked great on the outside, the fact that her inside showed a distinct lack of intelligence and integrity wouldn't matter.

It made me sick. It still does.

So, no. I don't feel compassion for her getting a comeuppance last night. I feel disgust that she would think her body is her only commodity. I'm glad she couldn't find a way to trade it in for a spot at the top. I doubt she learned her lesson but I hope other girls, little girls, who watch AI did. I hope they compared her to Allison Ireheta, who blazed through the competition on talent and heart alone, and see that a pretty face hiding a shallow, scheming mind remains nothing more than a pretty face.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yay For Prizes!



Query Tracker is turning two and they're having a carnival to celebrate. Enter to win a truly amazing prize--your own website designed for FREE! =) Go here for the details.

Romance University

A new blog, called Romance University, is kicking off today with a fantastic interview with NYT's best-selling author Brenda Novak. I've linked this blog to my sidebar and encourage authors, both pubbed and un-pubbed, to check it out. Some great stuff on their calendar this week!

It's Alive!



1. I used this pic today because my writing To Do list has teeth. At least for today.

2. If I finish everything on my list today, I will feel significantly less stress and tomorrow will be a fun research TF, SK, and T10 day!

3. Yes, those are the next three novels I'm working on, though most of my time and effort is going into TF since I'm hoping to be under contract for the Fate series soon.

4. This past weekend was jam packed, although mostly with good stuff.

5. Weekends, for me, start on Saturday morning since I work Friday nights.

6. And speaking of work--FYI to the gentleman sporting the mullet and the Real Men Drink Tennessee Whiskey wife beater who ate in my section and bemoaned your inability to find a good woman: You've already got two strikes against you. Wadding up your chewing gum, smooshing it onto the table, and announcing you're saving it for later is the nail in the coffin of your marriage prospects, my friend.

7. I am soooo going to write a series set in the south. There's way too much comedic material available to pass it up.

8. Saturday morning, I taught a workshop on writing authentic characters using three schools of thought from theatrical acting to the chapter meeting of MCRW.

9. It went well and I have to thank Danielle Mari for being an incredible source of info. Most of the workshop's success is due to her.

10. Saturday evening, hubby and I attended the Elton John/Billy Joel Face to Face concert.

11. He's always wanted to see Billy Joel in concert. I can't stand Billy Joel's music (Except for Piano Man). *shrugs* However, it was a chance to have a date night and so I went.

12. There were very entertaining moments and truly those two are a dying breed: the singer/songwriter/musician extraordinaire you rarely see anymore.

13. I will admit to a few moments of sardonic sacrilege on my part.

14. Like the time Elton was belting out Crocodile Rock and the entire crowd (minus yours truly) was chanting La, la, la, la, la, la and I turned to my hubby and said "Somewhere in the world, bin Laden is watching a tape of this and banging his head against the wall screaming 'Why can't we just annihilate them already? It should be so easy!'"

15. But Elton can rock pink satin and rhinestones like nobody's business, Billy Joel is talented at getting the crowd to feel like it's a small, private venue, and on the songs I didn't know or just didn't like, I tuned out and got some pretty amazing plotting done on my upcoming WIPs.

16. We spent all day Sunday at Beech Bend Park in Kentucky as a family.

17. It was a great day and I'll share the highlights as this Friday's Top Ten list.

18. Now, I'm off to put in another load of laundry and start checking off the many items on my writing To Do list today.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Top 10 Weirdest Items For Sale

1. One wad of (slightly used!) gum: Who wouldn't want this? It's colorful. It's unique. It looks amazing in its crystal bowl. And everyone knows germs don't live in saliva so it's totally safe!



2. An Electronic Yodelling Pickle: Because everyone knows yodelling and pickles go together like...like...like Snoop Dogg and opera!



3. Moose Poop Nugget Necklace: Because really, what girl doesn't want to accessorize with petrified animal poop?



4. Cheeseburger In A Can: When Spam just won't cut it.



5. Pistol Egg Fryer: For those who like the start their mornings with a bang.



6. Shocking Tanks: It's like laser tag with a kick! Tired of shooting at your opponent only to have him claim you never hit him? Now you can shoot your opponent and every hit scored with cause his hand-held remote to shock him! Hours of fun. Might be best if you avoid playing in the rain, however.

*My favorite part of this toy is the warning label on the package stating that the toy might not be suitable for children under the age of three due to choking hazard.*



7. Brain Gelatin Mold: For the Zombie in all of us! And yes, I'd love to own this...



8. Portable Rotary Phone: Tired of your small cell phone? Sick of using T-9 for texts? Want to carry a phone that makes a statement? Then you want the portable rotary phone! Haul this baby around with you and amaze your friends with your mad dialing skillz.



9. Insta-Poop: Be the life at every party with Insta-poop. It's wet. It's realistic. It's not at all a harbinger of death to your social life. Who doesn't love the idea of poop in a can?

*If I'd known poop was such a marketable commodity, I could've been rich from the moment my boys were born.*



10. Remote-controlled tarantulas: Because there's nothing creepy about spiders who obey your every whim.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today is Release Day!

Today is the day Lili St. Crow's STRANGE ANGELS officially hits bookstore shelves. Scroll down to see a trailer for the book. Head to her website for more SA fun. Take my word that if you love her writing as Lilith Saintcrow, you'll love SA and go buy it already.

(No, she isn't paying me to do promo for her. I volunteered because I really enjoyed the book. However, there was some mention of her possibly making lemon bars...)

It's All Fun & Games Until The Words Stop Flowing



Writing is fun. Except when it's not. Some days the ideas flow so fast, I need three files open on my computer just to keep up. Some days, I sit and glare at my blinking cursor which, despite multiple death threats against it AND it's mother, refuses to just write something already.

Sometimes, the dry spells, the I-dread-sitting-at-my-computer spells, last. They fill up a day, spill into the next and the next and before I know it, three weeks have passed and I'm still struggling with a chapter that stubbornly resists my every attempt to find it's shape, texture, and weight.

Sometimes, my characters stop speaking to me. Sometimes they hover just out of reach and nothing I do brings them closer.

I'll be honest. I don't like the times when writing isn't fun. I don't like struggling for the words, knowing when I re-read the next morning, most of what I wrote won't be worth keeping anyway. I don't like wringing dialogue out of reluctant characters whose true voice eludes me for the moment.

But those dry spells never last. One day, I wake up in the middle of the night, electrified by a new idea, or the perfect conversation between two characters who've decided silence is no longer a virtue. One day, I sit down at my computer and the words race across the page and I've got that spine-tingling certainty that this is what I'm meant to say here.

So yes, writing is fun. Even when it isn't. Because I know the words will come back, the characters will speak, the conflicts will bloom, the world inside my head will become real enough to touch and the joy of creating will steal the sleep from my eyes. And even though I know another dry spell will hit, the sheer excitement of seeing what's in my head come to life on a page makes the roller coaster ride worth it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

From The Mouth Of Daredevil

Daredevil has thick hair with gorgeous ringlets and waves in it. He used to wear it short but decided a while ago he wanted to grow it out a bit. As a result, we spend time every morning trying to tame his hair (think Harry Potter!) with water and a hairbrush.

The other day, while we were working on his hair before school, we had the following conversation:

DD: Why do you have to brush my hair with water every time I get ready to go anywhere?

Me: Because it's thick and curly and gets all tangled up.

DD: Why do I have to have curly hair?

Me: Because you take after me.

DD: *long pause* So...you're saying I'm weird?

Adorable, isn't he? *snorts*

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Strange Angels

Go here for one of the coolest book trailers I've ever seen. The book totally lives up to the hype, too!

Holy Lack Of Divison Skills, Batman!

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to pick up, oddly enough, groceries. When I was finished, I scanned the available checkout stands and decided I would do self-checkout since I didn't have my usual I'm Feeding Three Boys Don't Judge Me amount of food in my cart.

I easily scanned my bread, peanut butter, cereal boxes, and crackers but hit a snag when I tried to scan my carton of milk.

When two more swipes across the scanning screen didn't solve the problem, I looked at the bar code and realized it had a wrinkle in the middle. Upon further investigation, I realize the wrinkle was permanent.

I looked at the young man supervising those of us crazy enough to try to check out on our own and motioned him toward me. The conversation went like this:

Me: The bar code for the milk isn't working. Can you just manually input a gallon of milk for me?

YM: Um, it isn't?

Me: No.

YM: Are you sure?

Me: *heroically resists both eye roll and sarcasm* I wouldn't have called you over here if I wasn't.

YM: *wanders back to his register and flips through a laminated book, presumably looking up the code for a gallon of milk.*

YM: *looks up* Do you know how much it was?

Me: They're on sale 2 for $5.

YM: Oh. *flips through book then takes out a calculator.*

Me: *tries to figure out what YM needs a calculator for*

YM: *fiddles with calculator some more*

Me: Um, do you need some help?

YM: I'm just trying to figure out...see, you're only buying one.

Me: Yyeess...

YM: *fiddles with calculator some more*

Me: Even though I'm only buying one, it's still $2.50 a gallon.

YM: *looks up, relief evident on his face* Oh, I was going to ask...so $2.50's okay?

Me: Yyeess...

YM: Okay, then. *puts calculator away* We'll just say it's $2.50. It's easier that way.

Me: Sure. Yeah. Whatever. *wonders how on earth YM ever got promoted to checker in the first place.*

Sometimes people worry me. They really, really do.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Look Before You Leap



1. I had a very nice Mother's Day.

2. Earlier that week, NOT in the context of giving gift ideas for Mother's Day, I told my hubby I really, really wanted an electric pencil sharpener.

3. I despise our current manual sharpener because the end is too big so you never really get pencils anything more than sort-of sharp and I like very sharp pencils.

4. So...the first present I opened on Mother's Day was an electric pencil sharpener.

5. I have no one to blame but myself.

6. If I'd rhapsodized on and on about wanting, say, a new bookcase or a new pair of stilettos, my day would have gone much differently.

7. What does it say about me that I was totally jazzed to get the pencil sharpener?

8. Oy.

9. Starshine wrote a Mother's Day poem to me which included the phrase "You are smooth like butter."

10. Apparently something needed to rhyme with "mother."

11. On Saturday morning, Starshine woke me up by handing me Spastic Kitten.

12. Spastic Kitten was oddly damp.

13. Starshine then proceeded to tell me the following: "Sam needs a bath. She jumped into the toilet while I was peeing."

14. *pause for appropriate motherly over-reaction*

15. Hopefully, I've impressed upon him the dire importance of alerting me to Spastic Kitten's unfortunate situation before shoving her into bed with me.

15. I read Lilith Saintcrow's (writing as Lili St. Crow) new YA novel STRANGE ANGELS this weekend and absolutely adored it.

16. The heroine had a strong, unique voice, the characters came alive off the page, her world-building was superb (as always), and there was so much action, I couldn't bear to put the book down.

17. Reader Question: Read any good books lately? Which ones would you recommend?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Top Ten Most Ridiculous Action Figures EVER

1. The Crazy Cat Lady: Just what every child wants. A reminder of their crazy Aunt Bertha and her menagerie of hair-ball producing felines. And is it me, or is this a man wearing a wig?



2. King Henry VIII (Pose-able!): How any toy maker thought it was a good idea to make England's most violent, unprincipled king look like a cross between a quarterback and the Burger King icon is beyond me.



3. The Lunch Lady: I noticed she doesn't come with wart removal cream. I think that's a serious oversight on the part of the toy makers, don't you?



4. Vanilla Ice: Yeah...no. Even during the 2.3 minutes of his ridiculous popularity...no.



5. Eddie & Bella: They're so...big. Really, really big. Like monster Barbies but without the wardrobe options. And where's the sparkle?



6. Michael Jackson: Look, I know this guy still has fans. Rabid ones, apparently. But still, don't you think a fan would want a more true-to-life doll? This one is missing his surgical mask and his skin looks dark. Plus, he still has a nose.



7. Osama Bin Laden: Yes, this isn't truly an action figure. Still, bobble-heads count. Sort of. What are you supposed to do with this? Use it for target practice? Put it in your car's back window so other drivers can use it for target practice instead?



8. Snoop Dogg: Look, everyone! It's Harvey Two-Face! Oh...wait. It's just a wanna-be gangsta with poor fashion sense and a belief that any two words in the English dictionary can be combined if one simply knows how to apply the letter "z."



9. Marie Antoinette: With. A. Removable. Head. I don't think anything else need be said.



10. Obsessive-Compulsive Man: I'd love to talk more about this one, but I need to straighten my keyboard and go wash my hands. Again. Be right back.



And, today only, a special bonus entry!

11. Tom Cruise: That's one way to achieve a colonoscopy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Google Your Little Heart Out

It's time for another in-depth analysis of which scintillating search terms brought hapless new readers to the high-brow, sophisticated entertainment that is this blog.

1. U tube sharks eyeballs: While I don't recall posting anything about shark eyeballs, I have hosted several riveting discussions on the optometric (Look! A new word!)short-comings of goats. Perhaps those were helpful? No? Well, then next time you do a search, try actually typing out the entire word "you." Most websites don't use text-speak when crafting a domain name.

2. Milk pills: Oh, seriously. Again? This means there is more than one person out there actively trying to avoid drinking milk in its liquid form. Unless you're an astronaut or a believer that you must live in a bunker, without refrigeration, to avoid the impending Zombie Goat crisis, milk pills do not need to take up space in your pantry.

3. Hershey selling reasons: My friend, *speaks gently* Hershey doesn't need to sell reasons. For 99% of the population, chocolate is reason enough.

4. Zombie Goats: You, dear Googler, display the kind of mental acumen and common sense that is most welcome on this blog. Welcome home.

5. Oh, no she didn't!: Oh, yes, I did. Twice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pirates, Faries, & Cake - Oh My!

Two new, impossibly cool YA authors I've met recently, both with books coming out soon.

Lisa Mantchev: Every time I visit her page, I find more to love. I swear her book is one of the coolest concepts I've ever seen. AND she's currently running a contest that involves fairies, ARCs (Advance Release Copies), and cake!

A.S. King: You know I'm not going to pass up a pirate book! Especially when I can tell the author has a fun sense of humor.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

Hello, my name is C.J. Redwine and I'm obsessed with Pirates of the Caribbean. Join me?




Fabulous




Because people on Twitter wanted to see the stiletto cake my hubby made for my birthday, here it is. He made the shoe out of chocolate. Isn't he talented?

Go Medieval!

Friend, amazing writer, and fellow Pixie is celebrating the release of her debut novel today. Kris Kennedy won the historical fiction category in last year's Golden Heart and her novel, The Conqueror, has been steadily garnering a solid collection of stellar reviews. If you love medieval historical fiction where the author sinks her teeth into the history as well as the characters, you'll want to snatch up The Conqueror and give yourself a treat!





After seventeen years of a civil war, things are about to change.

Reluctant hero Griffyn ‘Pagan’ Sauvage is single-minded in pursuit of his mission: overthrow England. He has vowed to reclaim his beloved home, lost seventeen years ago in a coup of the English crown, and wreak his vengeance upon the man who stole it, John de l’Ami. He disavows anything related to a destiny, as he has rejected everything connected to his brutal father.

He veers from his quest only once, to rescue a brave and beautiful woman from a midnight abduction.

Guinevere de l’Ami, countess of Everoot since her father died two weeks ago, is equally committed to only one thing: redemption.

Then one fateful night changes everything. A midnight rescue on the king’s highway results in a single night of unforgettable passion, making them risk everything for the despair-defying connection neither ever hoped to find.

Their explosive reunion, a year later, follows betrayal and a bloody invasion. Now cold vows of revenge, the lure of buried treasure, and a deadly enemy closing in threaten a love that could unite a realm, or bring it crashing to the ground.

To purchase a copy of The Conqueror, go here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

HP 6

I saw this preview today. Midnight showing, here I come. Costume? Maybe.

Hot Dogs + Cream Cheese + Pancake Mix = ?

This is a seriously cool site. Input as many ingredients as you happen to have in your fridge and pantry and it gives you a list of really cool recipes you can make instantly for dinner. Love it!

And Stay Out

I just returned from watching Wolverine with Paul and Dusty. You have no idea how accurate that statement is. I watched Wolverine. I would love to say I watched and listened to Wolverine, but that would be an overstatement of enormous proportions.

Why?

Because two idiots decided it would be a fine idea to take their toddler with them to the movies. To a PG-13 movie. With nary an animated character in sight.

To make matters worse, these two idiots decided to manage their poor decision by sitting on opposite ends of the aisle that bisects the lower portion of the theater and allowing their delightful little spawn free rein over the entire theater.

She ran. She climbed. She giggled. She screamed. She yelled repeatedly for her Daddy.

No one responded to her. No. One. We were sitting at the very top, scanning the sparse afternoon crowd (of maybe 15 people) for any adult to make a move toward this child and none did. We became worried the child was lost and had somehow wandered out of Monsters vs. Aliens and into Wolverine and somewhere her very concerned parents were frantically searching for her.

Then, I noticed that she launched herself onto a woman's lap and it all became clear. The idiots were used to tuning out their daughter's sound-barrier-defying shrieks. The idiots didn't care that the rest of us were not.

You will, of course, not be at all surprised to know that I am not the kind of person who sits and seethes in silence. Neither is Paul.

When the people sitting behind Idiot Number One got up and moved to the opposite end of the theater (not that it made a bit of difference since the child's voice carried over every single sound effect...perhaps DTS should use her for their annoying little pre-movie commercial?), we took action.

Paul called out "Seriously?" and "Shh."

The guy who moved called out "Shh" repeatedly.

Being older than both of them, I've had more practice dealing with idiots and I know subtlety is not their strong suit. I yelled "Get your child to be quiet or leave the theater."

Twice.

The idiots came to life. They realized their spawn's noise-level was disrupting others. They took their precious child out of the theater amid much apologizing...

Oh, wait. I'm sorry. For a moment there, I forgot myself. That's what should have happened. Instead, they told their little girl to "shh" and then ignored her antics for another five minutes. When more yelling from us commenced, the mother picked up her child and walked around with her. This did absolutely nothing to quiet the child in the least. The solution? Put her down and ignore her antics again. Or, even better from a "how-fast-can-I-warp-my-daughter?" parental strategy, point to the screen as if to say "Be a good girl, now, and quietly watch that nasty man get blown to bits inside that helicopter. Isn't that interesting?"

Paul left to complain to the management. The guy who moved complained twice, for all the good it did us. The manager was all of seventeen years old and terrified of confrontations.

I don't share that fear.

When nothing was done, either from the management or the idiots, and the movie ended, I expected the parents to rush out before any of the irate crowd could confront them. They didn't. Paul took one look at my face, pointed to the stairs closest to the couple and asked, "Are we going out that way?"

Oh, yeah. We were.

We headed down the stairs to the idiots, who were totally oblivious of the death glares being dealt to them from every single patron around them. I told you--subtlety is lost on idiots.

I walked up to them, leaned close to the mother, and said in a polite but firm tone "I was unable to enjoy the movie because of all the noise your daughter made."

The woman responded with "Well, I'm sorry but at least you didn't hear her screaming."

Huh? What planet were you visiting for the last two hours? Please.

I leaned closer. "Yes, I did. We all did. It was distracting and it ruined the movie for all of us. Next time, take her out and stay out. It's what I would have done because it's the respectful thing to do."

She opened her mouth to respond but I walked away. There was nothing I wanted to hear from her. And the key to managing a confrontation without it escalating into ugliness is to say your piece politely and know when to leave.

I didn't ask for a refund because Paul got us in for free anyway. But I hope I opened that woman's eyes, just a little, so that next time she either takes her child out or, better yet, doesn't bring her to such an inappropriate movie in the first place.

Toast Intolerant



1. Spastic Kitten has taken to curling up in front of me while I type and shoving her head into my armpit.

2. This cannot be normal behavior.

3. I have a ridiculously long to do list today (of course...it's Monday) but will break it up in between with a trip to the theater to see Wolverine with Paul and Dusty.

4. I've been told Wolverine is nothing but urban fantasy cotton candy...entertaining but forgettable.

5. I'm willing to make the sacrifice.

6. What I'm really excited about, though, is seeing Johnny Depp and Christian Bale together in Public Enemies this month.

7. Yesterday, hubby brought home a new bag of cat food and left it sitting on the dining room table for a moment while he dealt with other groceries.

8. As soon as his back was turned, Tinks hopped up onto the table and ripped the bag open with her teeth.

9. No, she isn't starving.

10. Yes, she had a nice full bowl of food I'd recently poured for her.

11. This had nothing to do with hunger and everything to do with her adamant belief that no packaging made by man can keep her from investigating the contents.

12. As proof of this theory, I found her in our master bathroom ripping through a package of toilet paper.

13. We now have rolls of toilet paper with chunks shredded or chewed out of them.

14. Yesterday, Starshine informed Paul that he is toast-intolerant.

15. As we had no clue what prompted this remark, we chalked it up to pure Starshineyness.

16. My hubby is spending a weekend in L.A. soon courtesy of a network that wants him to pimp their show on air next fall.

17. They offered to send me too, but finding someone to watch the boys for three days proved impossible.

18. I'll be sorry to miss a visit to our old stomping grounds.

19. Now, before attacking my writing goal for the day, I'm off to do some laundry.

20. Do try to contain your shock.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fun Contest - ANYone can enter!

You don't need to be a professional writer to win a copy of A.S. King's fabulous new book. Just go here and get the details. :) You can read my entry in the comment trail.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Calling All Questions!

This month, the gracious best-selling paranormal author Jeaniene Frost has agreed to be interviewed on this blog. I've been gathering "Inquiring minds want to know!" questions for her on Twitter. Now, it's your turn. Besides the obvious "Are you a were-llama?" question, what would you like to know?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Were-llamas Are The Coolest Shape-shifters Around



1. Unlike were-wolves and were-cats, were-llamas refuse to travel in packs--they much prefer to be rogue hunters.

2. They are often invited into petting zoos by their unwitting prey--the humans.

3. Their teeth can cleave muscle from bone.



4. They are adept at killing their prey using only the Beady Eye.

5. A bite from a were-llama doesn't turn you into a were-llama because they have too much pride to turn prey into predator. Instead, you become this:



And start schlepping people across the desert for a living.

6. Nobody expects a were-llama and we all know how important it is to maintain the element of surprise.

7. They have their own spokesperson.

8. When they say they spit in your general direction, they mean business:



9. They once took on Chuck Norris and won using nothing but spit and attitude.

10. They have their own theme song:



And that's your Friday Top Ten list. Were-llamas--coming into their own whether you like it or not.

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