Thursday, October 30, 2008

Get Me Started! - #1

*From Danielle Mari's first sentence.*

Jackson almost left Lucky Lo without reading the fortune cookie. If he had--if he'd just tossed his three dollar tip on the table, waved goodbye to the cute little waitress who never charged him for his drink, and slipped out the bottle-green glass door with its chiming trio of bells without attracting the attention of Madam Lo herself, nothing about his life would've changed. He'd be Jackson Pierce--ex-college football star who still drove the Chevy Nova he'd purchased when he was eighteen, still kicked himself for breaking up with Jenny when anyone could see she was perfect for him, and still played at being a private investigator while waiting for his real life to start.

He'd relived the moment a hundred times in the last hour as he lie curled up inside the trunk of Madam Lo's old white Caddy, every bump and pothole slamming his head into the metal toolbox wedged beside him and his spine into the trio of cinder blocks--he refused to contemplate their intended use--at his back.

He had tossed the tip onto the table, catching the waitress's eye as he did so and giving her a little wink. When she hunched her shoulders, looked toward her left, and scurried toward the kitchen instead of smiling in return, he followed the direction of her furtive glance and found Madam Lo, perched in her red silk embroidered chair on the dais behind the cash stand, staring him down.

"You no read fortune cookie, Mr. Jacks," she snapped, her ruthlessly plucked brows meeting in a V of disapproval over glittering black eyes.

"That's okay. Seen one, seen 'em all," he said and pulled out a ten as he approached her.

"Not okay. Violate tradition." Crossing her arms over her chest, she refused to take his money.

"What?" He placed his check and the ten on the marble counter. If he hadn't already left money on the table, he'd tell the old bat to give the change to his waitress and be out the door.

"Must read fortune cookie after meal. Tradition," she insisted.

He shook his head. "Not in China, it isn't. Fortune cookies are an American invention."

"You from China?" her voice rose, coated with fierce indignation.


"Then you know nothing." She dismissed his argument with a wave of one tiny hand, the glossy red polish on her fingertips resembling perfect drops of blood.

"Look. I already left the table. I don't feel like walking back to get it. I'll just ..." he trailed off as Madam Lo lifted a bowl of fortune cookies from behind the cash register. Sheesh, the woman took her so-called tradition seriously.

"You take one. Open now," she ordered.

Jackson made a production of rolling his eyes. If Lucky Lo's lunch buffet wasn't dirt cheap--and if their Pepper Chicken wasn't the best he'd ever had--he'd tell Madam Lo what she could do with her bowl of fortune cookies and never return. Since he did love their Pepper Chicken, and money was a little hard to come by these days, he reached into the bowl and pulled out a cookie.

"Open," Madam Lo said, anticipation and something like hunger glinting in her eyes.

He popped the plastic seal, slid the cookie out, and snapped it cleanly half.

"Read," she said.

"I'm getting to it." He pulled the crisp white sheet free, checked his "lucky" numbers--not that he had enough spare cash to throw away on the lottery--and flipped it over to read his fortune.

"Today, you die."

"What the--what kind of fortune is this?" He looked up at Madam Lo who smiled, a slow, triumphant stretch of ruby lips over sharp little teeth.

"The best kind. The true kind." She lifted a small aerosol can from behind the counter, aimed at his face, and sprayed.

The next thing he new, he was wearing duct tape around his wrists and ankles, and two men he'd never seen before were dumping him--rather carelessly in his opinion--into the trunk of Madam Lo's Caddy.

He gnawed at the duct tape on his wrists, for all the good it did him. He gnawed at the enormity of his situation as well, with even less results. He'd eaten at Lucky Lo's for four years. He'd never stiffed a waitress, skipped on a check, or made an idiot of himself. Certainly, he'd never done anything to deserve kidnapping.

The car slowed, swung into a wide right turn, and crunched over what sounded like gravel before coasting to a stop. Before Jackson could form a plan that didn't include screaming for help like a little girl, the trunk popped open and Madam Lo, flanked by the same thugs who'd tossed him in the trunk to begin with, faced him.

"What are you doing?" Jackson demanded.

"Giving you your fortune, Mr. Jacks," Madam Lo replied, her face lit with excitement.

"Okay, no. No! It's just a cookie. A wierd one, yes, but still, just a cookie. They make those things by the hundreds in some factory somewhere. The fortunes aren't true." He ordered himself to stop babbling.

She leaned toward him. "Yours is."

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Like A Potluck Of C.J. Facts!

Location: My comfy over-sized writing chair, hoping the rest of the crew hit their beds soon so I can write for an hour before going to bed.

Playing on my iPod: "With You" by Linkin Park

1. Tomorrow I work from 10 am to 9 pm.

2. If you're currently thinking something along the lines of "Oh, C.J. must be excited/happy/looking forward to that" please slap yourself until common sense returns.

3. If you missed the fabulous new heels coming out in Chanel's 2009 collection, go here and check them out.

4. Yes, the black pair would be an appropriate Christmas gift for me. ;)

5. Also, if you missed it, scroll down and check out the uber-cool Halloween cake my hubby made this weekend.

6. I took the kids shopping on Saturday to figure out the whole costume thing. We're going to have two rock stars (Starshine and Daredevil) and one Army Special Ops (Scientist). My hubby is going as a wizard. I've got the stuff to be either a witch or a Celtic princess but maybe this year I'll go as a novelist.

7. That way, I can wear my sweats and mutter things to myself as I jot notes on the back of my checkbook while people around me give me candy instead of strange looks.

8. I'm considering doing some short fic pieces and giving them away on the blog.

9. I think I'll do snippets of Alexa's life pre-Shadowing Fate. We'll see if I can fit it into my schedule.

10. I'm a little disturbed at how many of you chose the "goat" option on the recent survey.

11. Although I suppose if you have a goat, you don't need trash pick-up or a lawnmower, so that's a bonus.

12. You have to deal with the whole horizontal eye thing and total lack of respect for personal space or for humankind's strange aversion to being rammed from behind, but I suppose the trade-off is worth it for some.

13. We're getting our first freeze tonight. This means the scenery is going from pretty to gorgeous.

14. It also means the 9-4 is going to start each morning with great reluctance.

15. One of my co-workers (we don't see each other often) told me a few days ago that she always listens to my hubby each morning on her way to school.

16. Me: "That's nice."

17. Her: "I just love listening to him!"

18. Me: "That's good. I'm glad."

19. Her: "I can't stop thinking about him! I think about him all the time."

20. Me: "Hold it, sister."

21. It's such a weird thing when people I barely know (or don't know at all, for that matter) think my husband (and often me) are community property because of his job. I don't mind people admiring him. I admire him greatly. I do mind someone thinking it's somehow appropriate to tell me they have a fantasy life that stars my husband.

22. Besides, telling me something like that just shows how little you know me. I'm not exactly the non-confrontational type.

23. Reader Question: Will you dress up for Halloween? If so, what are you going to be?

Ooooh, Shiny!

Peter Von Brown just sent me this link saying "Doesn't this just scream C.J.?"

Shiny fabulousness inside

Yes. Yes it does. I want a pair. I've always wanted to take over the world. Now, I can accessorize like I mean business.

Bat wing and eye of newt

Have I mentioned before that my hubby is brilliant and talented? Especially when it comes to cake?

Here's a cake he made this past weekend for a Halloween party. This is absolutely one of the coolest cakes he's ever made (in my opinion). After watching the video, would you rate it and comment on it so he can get it up to Featured Video status on Youtube? He's also entering this in a contest on Very cool!

Halloween Cake

Sunday, October 26, 2008

God Save The Queen

A message from the Queen:

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to manage your economy, or to nominate competent candidates for President and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

** Important, please read thoroughly! **

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary'). The M*crosoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.


3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.


5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.


6. The Former USA will adopt UKprices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.


7. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut.


8. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.


9. You will cease playing the hybrid game you call football. There is only one proper kind of football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Be warned, however, that if you try Rugby, the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, as they regularly thrash us.


10. Further, you will stop calling the event at the end of your baseball season the World Series, since so few civilized countries play the game. Since less than half of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.


11. In time, MI 5 will tell you who killed JFK.


12. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups and saucers, not mugs, with high quality biscuits and cakes; plus strawberries in season, with cream.

God Save the Queen!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Personal Motto For All Things Idiotic

1. Because I have a full To Do list tomorrow, I'm posting my Friday's Week in Review on a Thursday night.

2. This shows an astonishing degree of foresight and planning on my part and should in no way alter the usual helter-skelter daily blogging you've come to expect from me.

3. Want to know which authors made the most moola over the last year? Go here.

4. I'm truly surprised Nora isn't on the list. The woman publishes four books a year, at least.

5. Recently, my children have found opportunities to lament my various domestic shortcomings.

6. I'm a great cook. I keep a relatively clean house (as long as you don't enter the landfill that is the boys' room). I don't forget to feed the animals.

7. That's the extent of my domesticity. I don't have baked goods waiting on the counters every day. I don't mop very often. And you better believe, I don't sew.(That's a post for another day.)

8. Starshine explained to me today that he wishes I were more into cake, but he's glad his father makes up for it.

9. The Scientist lost a button on his pants. When I told him that was an easy fix (even I can sew on a button), he looked concerned until he remembered my mom was coming for a visit. When I said, "I can sew on a button," he replied "Like I said, good thing Grandma's coming."

10. I'm not going to discuss the fact that my mother did indeed sew on the button.

11. Today, I coached my children yet again on the virtue of turning off lights as they leave the room to save electricity.

12. The Scientist decided it would be much easier if we were Amish instead.

13. Immediately on the heels of that announcement, he issued a retraction because, in his words, "Wait. The Amish are farmers with no electricity. That means they just go to bed when it gets dark. Sometimes it gets dark at 4! Forget it!"

14. I went to see Max Payne with hubby and Paul today, and I really liked it.

15. I wanted a bit more focus on the supernatural element, but I was satisfied.

16. One of my friends hated it, but she went into it with preconceived notions based on her knowledge of Max Payne and I went into it going "Hey, Mark Wahlberg and some freaky supernatural creatures! I'm in! Now, who's Max Payne?" so perhaps I had the advantage.

17. My friend nomadicdragon has this site on Etsy where she makes customized lotion, bath salts, body spray, and shower gel. She made a scent just for me called (naturally) Stiletto. It's a yummy pomegranate scent (Which you can buy if you love something deliciously fruity with a hint of spice. Or if you love Bath and Body Works pomegranate stuff. Or if you've always had a secret yearning to smell like me. If the last option is true for you, kindly keep that to yourself.)

18. I got my package of products from her and can't recommend them enough. The lotion is absolutely amazing and all of her stuff is very affordable!

19. Also, here's a fun site for you ebay auction junkies (or those of you who love a bargain). This site pulls up misspelled listings on ebay, where there are little to no bidders, and helps you get stuff for next to nothing. (Try typing in a search for jewelry and see how many people misspelled their entry!)

20. If you missed the opportunity to give me a great first sentence for a piece of creative writing, check out the post below this one and leave me a comment. I'll start the pieces next week. =)

21. Reader Question: Surprise me with something I don't know about you. Yes, yes, I realize it isn't technically a question but you're able to get past that, right? ;)

Get Me Started!

Once again, I'm going to let you tell me what to write. Sort of. Here's the deal (for those of you who weren't following the blog last year):

1. You think up a cool/funny/interesting/challenging first sentence.

2. You post it in the comments section.

3. I take the sentence and turn it into a short piece of creative writing.

Last year, some of you threw some fairly challenging sentences my way, and I loved the writing that came from them. Very entertaining for all of us. :)

So, give me a first sentence and I'll go from there. I only ask that there be no profanity in it. Blood and guts are fine. =D

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Death By Camel

The Creation Museum in Kentucky has a petting zoo stocked with the usual suspects and a few exotic ones as well. There was a tremendously fat hog, a pen FULL of goats (Which, even though they're small, are sneaky animals who'll head-butt you or eat your pants off the second you turn your back.), a donkey, a baby zebra (who was friendly up until the moment he realized I had no food and then he lost interest), two llamas (Watch out! They spit! From both ends! Ack!), and one seriously stuck-up camel.

I've never had an up close and personal encounter with a camel. I don't think I want to ever again. I've decided the camel rivals the goat for Freaky Semi-Trustworthy Animal status.

This camel was, in short, a Diva. With large, flapping lips. She stalked around her pen, moving too fast for comfort, whipped her head toward me so we were looking eye to eye, and crowded her Wow I'm Big body next to mine against the fence.

Now, I should tell you the staff there have the good sense to keep everyone on the outside of the camel's pen (and the llamas, for that matter). I'm grateful. I've never heard of any incidents of Death By Camel, but having tried to pet one, I'm sure they exist. The camels just haven't left any witnesses.

This camel was all attitude. She swept up to the fence, dipped her head to stare at me, flapped her lips and made me wonder if camels are indeed vegetarians and if the shirt I was wearing made me look edible, and then whipped around to stalk the pen again. My dad wanted a picture of me next to the camel. The camel didn't think anyone should be in the picture with her. I tended to side with the camel.

I realize people ride these things. I'm sure someone, somewhere, has a one-humped, loose-lipped Diva named Fluffy as a pet. I, however, am adding camels to my list of Animals I Refuse To Tether In My Yard and moving on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Here's a cool site listing interviews with top publishers who spell out exactly what they're looking for right now. =)

*Thanks to Keli Gwyn for the link!*

You Can't Take It Back

A friendly word of advice to my fellow authors: publishing is a small industry. Blogs and loops are read by many authors, agents, and editors alike. If you feel upset or dissatisfied with something--be it a rejection letter, a suggestion for revisions, the outcome of a contest--you're much better off sharing that frustration with one or two trustworthy friends IN PRIVATE, than venting to the world at large via a loop or blog.

You have no idea who reads your words.

It's very possible the person you are venting against will read your post, alter their opinion of your professionalism (because what you're doing is NOT professional), and refuse to work with you. Others who read your words may wonder if you'll react so badly to them and won't want to work with you either.

So, here's the deal. Publishing is tough. You get rejections. You get bad reviews. You don't win contests. Suck it up. Be gracious. Take what you can from the experience to make your writing better. Then, be a professional, hold your tongue, and write.

Anything less will torpedo your career.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's All Fun And Games, Y'all!

Instead of my usual Monday list, I thought I would give you the inside scoop on my recent trip through Kentucky. We left Thursday around lunch time with the goal of reaching our destination (Florence, y'all!) by dinner. Florence is right next to the Ohio border, facing Cincinnati.

I've been to Kentucky before. We usually make an annual summer trek to Bowling Green (just a few miles over the border from Tennessee) to play at Beech Bend Park. I've always considered Kentucky to be a beautiful state but it took driving through the whole state to fully experience the, um, cosmopolitan flair that is Kentucky.

What? You think Kentucky isn't cosmopolitan? I beg to differ. Driving through Kentucky is like having a short tour of some of the world's international highlights. Here are just a few of the cities we passed:

English (not to be confused with French or Hungarian which, while they weren't listed along the highway, must surely be there somewhere.)

And, of course, our destination was Florence (y'all!).

As we passed one well known name after another, we began speculating that perhaps the founders of these fine cities in Kentucky were unaware that perfectly acceptable city names still remained up for grabs. Either that, or they had very high hopes for their little patch of earth.

As we neared Florence (y'all!), we saw a sign for a Big Bone Lick State Park. Now, I realize the names of state parks are probably sacred on some historical level but still, this is a name I'd petition to change. Honestly.

When we drove into Florence, we were greeted with a large water tower on whose side was painted the following: Florence Y'all!

It's a lovely place. Really. Gorgeous scenery, decent restaurants and shops, nice homes. But HOW can you take yourself seriously with that as your city motto??

I had bigger problems at this point, though, than trying to understand how any self-respecting city council could allow Florence Y'all! to happen. My left eye was burning with every blink. I figured I had dirt on my contact and that once we arrived at the hotel, it was an easy fix.

We checked it, got our suite, and I immediately removed the lens. There was no relief. I flushed my eye with contact solution and felt marginally better. We were ready to leave for dinner, so I washed my contact lens and popped it back in. Instant excruciating pain. The kind that made me want to gouge out my eye just to get some relief.

I wasted no time removing the offending lens and using my glasses in its place. It didn't take long, however, to realize the pain was still there and getting worse. My eye felt like something was lodged in it, though I couldn't imagine what.

That night, I could barely sleep. Closing my eyes didn't relieve the pain. I got desperate enough to slide my finger across the entire surface of my eye, searching for the problem. (Those of you who know me well will realize that this indicated a very serious state of affairs. I can handle blood, guts, puke, you name it, but eye stuff totally makes me sick to my stomach.) I found something. A crinkle of something stuck to the top of my eye, wedged securely under my lid and refusing to move.

I scraped. I pulled. I managed to pinch the skin of my eye, something I never dreamed possible, but it wouldn't come out. Finally, I resorted to prayer and just asked that either the offending object come out on its own or I lose all feeling in my left eye.

In the morning, the pain was less. We drove to the nearest eye doctor's office just as they opened (Wing Optical...fantastic people) and I told them my story. They hurried me to the back and three separate people pulled my eyelid up and had a look. No one could find anything. The doctor came in, grabbed a long Q-tip, told me to hold on to the chair (turns out he would have been better served to just strap me down) and then rolled my eyelid up over the Q-tip like it was one of those old-fashioned window blinds.

I hung on to my chair. I bit my lip. I frantically tried to distract myself with a running litany of all the things I despise about chick flicks. Nothing helped. As he held my lid away from my eye and examined me closely, my gag reflex kicked in. He's just lucky I'd been too tired to eat much that morning, otherwise the whole encounter would have moved from amusing (to him) to a clean up on aisle three.

In the end, he found a large area of scratched irritation and we determined that a piece of my old contact lens (I'd changed over two days earlier) had stuck to the top of my eye but had come out during the night as I was scraping and pulling. He gave me eye drops and strict instructions not to wear contacts for at least another day.

From there, we went to the Creation Museum, a really cool place with dinosaur stuff, a special effects theater that shot water in our faces and vibrated our chairs, a hay ride around the botanical garden, and a really cool video documenting the existence of dragons.

I suppose we'll return at some point. The kids had a blast. Perhaps next time we'll expand our horizons and take in the sites at Glasgow, Warsaw, and Sparta as well. If the city council at Sparta has any sense at all, their water tower reads "THIS Is Sparta Y'all!"

*As a side note, I just ran Google's spell check on this entry and realized that y'all is in the official Google dictionary. Wow.*

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Jobs" is a Three-letter Word

1. I'm posting my usual "week in review" on Thursday because I'll be offline all day tomorrow.

2. *gasp, choke*

3. I don't know how I'll survive.

4. My hubby showed me a video clip of Biden saying McCain's economic plan didn't address the number one issue facing the middle class--a three letter word---JOBS.

5. Daredevil instantly pointed out that "jobs" has four letters.

6. We told him that knowledge qualified him to be Vice President of the United States.

7. He wasn't interested.

8. He says it's because being VP sounds like a stupid, boring job.

9. We think it's because he clings to his dream of world domination and, to date, no VP has ever managed that sort of global impact.

10. The Explorer is fixed and back in action.

11. I'm still considering the vehicular arson option I mentioned earlier.

12. I know it's only a matter of time before the Piece and the 9-4 conspire against us again.

13. My parents are visiting until this coming Tuesday and we are all leaving for Kentucky in an hour to visit a theme park/museum/place that has life-size dinosaurs, a replica of Noah's Ark and other interesting things.

14. The kids are excited to stay in a hotel tonight.

15. Last night, at work, I had a string of incredibly rude people.

16. Sometimes it just works like that. I had two tables stiff me (although they got great service), one table told me how wonderful I was and how much they enjoyed having me as their waitress and then rounded up their bill to leave me 4 cents, and a man took seven boys out to dinner (and don't think I didn't run my feet into the ground for that crew!) and left me ONE DOLLAR while he gave each boy $5 to spend on candy out in the store.

17. I wanted to go throw the dollar back in his face and tell him what I thought of him (which would have certainly cost me with my manager) but cooler heads prevailed.

18. I was discouraged and upset and then I went to pick up my credit card tips and realized I had $13 more than I should.

19. Turns out three of my friends felt so bad about my night, they all gave some of their tips to me.

20. Just when I begin to lose faith in humanity in general, the people who love me do something like that to restore it.

21. Reader Question: They're planning a remake of My Fair Lady. Do you think this is a good idea? Bad idea? Why?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'd Like To Buy A Vowel

Not long ago, I promised to tell you the story of my failed attempt at securing a spot as a contestant on The Wheel of Fortune. I grew up without a television for most of my childhood, but my grandparents owned one, and as they lived five blocks away, I was often at their home for dinner.

My status as cherished granddaughter did not, however, give me control of the remote. Dinner time meant one thing in my grandparents' house. Wheel of Fortune followed by Jeopardy!, that nefarious concoction of Merv Griffin's designed to make its audience feel either astronomically foolish (I'm supposed to know which general died first in the second skirmish preceding the War of 1812?!) or incredibly irritated with the oh-so-pompous Alec Trebec.

I much preferred Wheel of Fortune.

I was good at Wheel of Fortune.

WoF is all about words. The ability to spell. The instinct to know which letters are the most probable combinations. The skill to take pieces of a phrase and quickly fill in the gaps.

I gave everyone a run for their money.

So, when I went to college at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Ca, a short drive from the Burbank studios housing most of prime time's shows, it was only natural that I come across a flier soliciting college students to audition for WoF.

I was excited. I soooo had this in the bag. Nothing but words, letters, and the ability to seem outgoing and fun. I was ready.

The day of the auditions, I arrived at the studios and stood in a ridiculously long line. Apparently, many other college students felt the same kinship with vocabulary and money as I did. I had to fill out paperwork with my name, next of kin, and the reasons I would be an asset to their show.

I was perplexed about the whole next of kin thing. Was I in danger? Did the wheel have a history of flying off its axis and beheading hapless contestants? Did Vanna bite?

Some would-be contestants were disqualified at this point. I'm not sure what official reason the producers gave but a quick survey of the DQs revealed them to be the sort who lived in a cave and rarely, if ever, participated in basic human rituals like conversation and personal hygiene.

The next phase of the audition was a simulated WoF game. The producers crammed fifty of us into a room, set up a faux wheel against a wall, and drew a blank puzzle on a whiteboard. Then the fun began. One producer was in charge of choosing contestants. She told us she was looking for fun, camera-friendly folks who would engage the viewers at home with their wheel-spinning style.

Randomly calling on would-be contestants, she worked her way across the room. Most people fizzled under the pressure, choosing one letter (and NOT one of the standard R,S,T,L,N,E that everyone knows you're supposed to choose first) and then freezing when it came to making their next decision. A few got through two.

Then, she called on me. I leaped to my feet, allowed my sparkling personality to do the engage-viewers work for me, and made it through four letters before I chose a dud. I was elated. I'd shown up the rest of the room, in both letter selection and basic fun factor. The producer double-checked my name before letting me sit down. The other producers were smiling at me.

I was a shoo-in.

The producers culled the group of fifty to a measly twenty-five and herded us into the final stage. The written test stage. The stage where all my hopes and dreams came crashing to the ground.

Not because I'm not good at written tests. I am. Not because I'm not good at WoF. I am. Because this written test was just plain wrong.

WoF involves choosing letters, watching them fill up a phrase, choosing more based on the letters already there, buying an occasional vowel if necessary, and getting the phrase to the point where intelligent guesses are possible.

This test had puzzles with nothing but a few letters in place and the category listed beneath it. There were no opportunities for additional letters. No opportunities to buy a vowel. It was, in short, a nightmare.

Here's an example:

__ __ __ E (category: thing)

W__ __ T __ __ __ T__ __ __ I__ __ __ __ O__T WI__ __I__? (phrase)

And we were timed. There were twenty of these tiny torture devices. I raced through them, solved three. Raced through again. Slowed down. Studied them. Willed myself to think. Realized that if my brain hadn't already provided a suitable answer, none would be forthcoming.

I glared at the producers for giving me something that was clearly not WoF. In the real Wof, I would be able to buy a vowel. Ask for more consonants. Get some freakin' help with filling in the blanks.

Alas, I solved only three. Others, I'm sure, solved more. They must have. Ten of us were moved to the spin-the-actual-wheel round of the auditions. I was not one of the ten.

And there ended my dreams of being a game show contestant.

Btw, the puzzles I listed above are the only two I remember from the actual audition sheet. I didn't get either one but they gave us the answers afterwards. Bonus points for you if you can solve them. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008


Today, on Swords & Stilettos, I discuss how artistic people can avoid becoming caricatures of themselves. Come over and leave me a comment on your thoughts. =)

What Happens When Pumpkins Drink?

1. It's official. Johnny Depp signed on for Pirates Four and the story is completely about Captain Jack Sparrow.

2. Yes, that noise you hear is me doing my Happy Dance.

3. Midnight showing? Dressed as a pirate? You betcha.

4. I'll even bring the rum.

5. You'll recall the 9-4 recently misbehaved and spilled an entire tank of gas all over the highway before costing us a pretty penny to fix.

6. Not to be outdone, the Explorer (otherwise known at The Piece...long story. Hilarious. I'll have to post about it.) just broke down and we received the unhappy news that it will cost over $700 to fix.

7. Since I don't know where that money will come from and I absolutely have to have a car next week to start my new job, I'm advocating taking it out back, shooting it, and putting in an insurance claim for a new one.

8. Anyone own a bazooka?

9. Starshine wandered up to me on Saturday and announced that, just for the day, he was going to be an eyeball.

10. I no longer question these sorts of proclamations. I just roll with it.

11. I did, however, advocate that he avoid all pointy objects.

12. My schedule for the foreseeable future is a mess.

13. It will be a glorious opportunity for me to forgo sleep (like I don't do that already) and demonstrate that when I say a writer needs to make time to write, I mean it.

14. Speaking of which, good progress on the rewrite/scene additions to Shadowing Fate. If the world would leave me alone for three days straight, I'd be finished.

15. Since that's about as likely as Jerry Springer winning a Nobel Peace prize, I'll have to fit it in around out of town company, running kids in three different directions, job training, a jaunt to Kentucky, and whatever else gets thrown into the mix.

16. I've decided if I'm ever as rich as J.K. Rowling (Hold your laughter, dang it! It could happen!), I'm going to pay off the mortgages of all of my friends.

17. We have birds nesting in the ventilation shaft of our downstairs bathroom.

18. Today, they got into a fight.

19. Few things are as disturbing as entering a restroom, becoming indisposed, and then hearing two birds do their best to kill each other right above you.

20. It's no wonder I rarely sleep.

21. I added a Hangman Game to the bottom of this blog in case you're at work and would rather do something...educational instead. =D

22. Reader Question: You're making me a mix tape (okay, okay...a mix cd) and want to introduce me to three bands/artists you love but are pretty sure I've never heard of. Which three do you include?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Starshine the Multi-Cultured

Tonight I took Starshine with me to pick up Chinese food from our local restaurant. Because we're adopting a baby from China, we've been learning simple Chinese phrases. Starshine has mastered one.

When we walked up to the counter, the proprietor looked at us and Starshine said, "Ni-how!", which means "hello" in Chinese.

The proprietor smiled and asked "You know how to speak Chinese?"

To which Starshine replied, "Si."

Hey, it's not every seven year old who can conduct a conversation in both Chinese and Spanish, right?

Interview With Author Peter Von Brown

Peter and I met online via a mutual blogging friend (Danielle Mari). The first time I checked out his site, I was immediately captivated by the cover of his first novel, Peter Pan's NeverWorld. We began a conversation about that novel, and about writing, and I was so excited about his concept, I asked him to be a guest on my blog.

When did you start writing novels and what made you choose to pursue publication?

Though I remember myself as always writing, I had to admit my penchant for being verbose in middle school. However, my first novel of note came about in high school. Short stories are not my forte. My short pieces exist, but I’m not entirely happy with them. Maybe with some expansion…

When word gets out one is a writer, a variant of the question “Oh, have you published anything?” invariably follows. So my publication endeavor is partly a result of encouragement. I figure the notion of being able to make a living doing something you’d be doing anyway would appeal to anyone.

You are known as an avid fan of Peter Pan. When did your fascination with Pan begin?

As a child, naturally. Peter Pan is difficult to avoid. Like many kids, the boy enthralled me. Even to the extent of pretending to be Peter Pan. When a story haunts me, I gravitate toward the original. I’m a purist at heart and my research into Sir J.M. Barrie generated special respect for his work.

In fact, you loved Pan’s adventures so much, you wrote a sequel to Barrie’s original story. Can you tell us about it?

True, my love of Pan’s adventures influenced my decision to write a sequel. However, another reason took precedence. Barrie pondered another Pan adventure himself. Once this came to light for me, my college credit research into the modern mythmaker flew in another direction. I could not have prevented myself from writing the novel. I relished searching for tidbits from Barrie’s notebooks, hunting for clues in the original stories and musing on Barrie’s musings about his character. All in the relentless pursuit of fitting a puzzle together. I incorporated other elements such as Barrie’s photographs, historical facts and his unused screenplay. I devised a story from the shadows he left behind.

I’m astounded by the number of discrepancies in other derivative works of Barrie’s creation. In my view, remaining true to the original stories is of utmost concern. As I wrote in my Foreword: Certainly I am not suggesting this is what Barrie would have written. But, just as assuredly, his thoughts have been included for the first time.

Peter Pan’s NeverWorld is available for purchase now but you are actually pursuing a publishing career in a different genre, aren’t you?

I may or may not have switched genres, depending on how one classifies Peter and Wendy. Generally I compose Urban Fantasy. I see the tale of the Boy Who Never Grew Up as one of the first Urban Fantasy books. True, much of it takes place on a magical isle with inhabitants such as fairies and mermaids. However, the island is not another world like Oz or Narnia. Plus, one of the most salient aspects is Peter Pan intruding into the urban land of London, bringing fantasy with him. The ending takes place in the city as well, promising the enchantment of Peter Pan will return. But yes, I am seeking publication of other UF novels.

Describe your latest novel and tell us where we can read a sample.

What If It’s a Trick Question? is my spin on the “Jeepers, I found another world” plot. The story takes place over the month of October. Each chapter is a day in the life of high school freshman (and wannabe skater) Jeremy Strache. Jeremy finds himself frequenting a mysterious, magical Courtyard. Soon he’s entangled with rival warlocks from another world vying for control of ours. Can he cope with his troubles at school and home, his ADHD diagnosis and all the magical mayhem afoot? He’ll have to…and he’ll have to act fast. For unless he intervenes, both worlds will end at midnight on Halloween.

The entire book is available to read online. It’s posted on the HarperCollins site Authonomy. You can find it here.

What do you find most rewarding about writing novels?

The discoveries made along the way. I’ve always found pleasure in research. And characters have a way of interjecting. It’s delightful when unforeseen developments unfold.

Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

What If It’s a Trick Question? grew out of a real life experience of walking by what at first appeared to be an architectural impossibility. I pondered who might live there. Why were they important? What if…and the next thing I knew Jeremy wouldn’t shut up. Obviously I am inspired by other works. Perhaps music? Out of the blue. Anywhere. I ask a lot of questions and then play “What If?” with the answers.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give aspiring authors?

Well, I’ll tell you, but it will sound cliché. Never give up. If you’re writing from compulsion, then keep pursuing your passion. No matter what happens, you’ll have created a world on the page. And that’s pretty cool.

Okay, now for some random fun stuff: =)

Coke or Pepsi?

Cola is Cola to me. I barely drink soda pop anymore.

Secret (or not so secret) vice:

Potato Chips. I can’t let myself buy them.

If you could live in any time period, which would you choose?

I’ve always been drawn to the 18th Century. Which is odd, since I hate to dress up.

The one piece of technology you couldn’t live without:

As reluctant as I am to say it, the proverbial “computer.” It truly is a magic box.

Muscle cars or classics?

Good grief. I’m not a car person.

Music or art?

A very cruel question. But I will have to pick music. I believe music is one of our greatest achievements. If you’ll pardon the pun, I feel it strikes a chord more so than other art.

Would you ever get a tattoo? What would it be?

It’s never been in my plans. But if I had to choose one, my first instinct is the Triforce emblem from The Legend of Zelda on the top of my left hand. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

What historical event would you go back in time to witness?

December 27, 1904. Opening night at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. I’d like to be sitting next to Barrie when the curtain goes up. An answer not related to Peter Pan: The building of Stonehenge. I really want to know what went on there, don’t you?

Surprise me with something unexpected about you:

I can wriggle my nose like Samantha Stephens in Bewitched.

To learn more about Peter Von Brown, visit his site. You can purchase Peter Pan's NeverWorld here. Please leave questions or comments for Peter and he'll check back during the day to answer them. =)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear Mr. McCain, Mr. Obama, and President Bush,'s definition of the term socialism is this:

Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

Socialism is the slanted ground between capitalism and communism.

To see the end results of socialism, please visit China, North Korea, Cuba, or the debris that is now Russia.

The fact that you assume I, as a middle class American, am too panicked by the constant media frenzy over a potential economic meltdown to understand a sweeping piece of socialism when I see one is insulting.

The economy is in trouble because banks speculated too much and gave loans to anyone with a paycheck and a pulse. Since I bank at an FDIC insured institution and have less than the $100,000 insurable limit in my account, their crisis is not mine.

The economy has slowed down because a) recession happens and b) bankers were idiots and tied up all their profit in bad debt.

I understand this. I realize we need to pull together to create jobs and liquidity in the financial industry. I also realize that it is not the government's job to hold the hand of failing banks. I don't want the government owning a large chunk of our economy. I've seen how successful you've been with public education and social security. I sincerely do not want that "success" repeated with my money.

Mr. McCain, you voted for this ridiculous bailout. This 700 billion dollars of buying up bad debt with taxpayers' money. Now you say you want to allocate $300 billion of that to buying individual mortgages from people who are in trouble. Are you serious? Does ANYONE really want the government to own the home they live in? This is a serious escalation of the scope and role of the government and does little to help right the economy. You are simply responding to the outcry of those who think the government somehow owes them the bread they eat.

I encourage you to re-read your Constitution, bone up on the definition of capitalism, listen to economists rather than pollsters, and try again. A leader doesn't pander to the loudest group with band aids that don't fix anything. A leader assesses the facts and makes the best decision for the group, even if the decision is difficult. You're a war hero. You know that. You've just forgotten to apply it to politics.

Mr. Obama, you voted for this bailout too. And you were the first to suggest the government put its sticky fingers all over individual mortgages. You claim the way to help our economy is to raise taxes on the rich and call it their patriotic duty to pay more. This shows, at best, a serious lack of understanding of fundamental economics and at worst, a dangerous disregard for our Constitution (a disregard apparently shared by a majority in Congress). Those who make over $200,000 a year already pay the vast majority of taxes, most of it going for services they'll never use. We have a system where 20% of the people shoulder over 90% of the tax burden. Before you pat me on the shoulder and tell me that the middle class deserve a break, allow me to do my own calculations. The tax code limits the middle class to paying 15% of their income in taxes. I consistently pay 4%, and that's without cheating or finding shady little loopholes.

I don't need a break, Mr. Obama, and I don't believe you plan to give me one. Over-taxing the very people who have the capital to create jobs cripples the economy. Stop trying so hard for my vote and look at logic instead. Taking from the rich because those who don't have as much are clamoring for more is the anti-thesis of capitalism. It's socialism. Besides, you've repeatedly voted to raise taxes on the middle class and the many promises you are making have to be funded somehow. I smell another tax hike in our future.

I encourage you to re-read your Constitution as well. There are rights listed therein. Many of what you promise to somehow fund for us as our rights aren't listed in the Constitution at all. If you believe in making those things rights, go about a Constitutional amendment and then we'll talk.

President Bush, shame on you for pandering to panic within the financial institutions. Get rid of capital gains tax to make investing more lucrative and enticing to those who have capital, and you instantly generate movement within the housing market. Listen to economists who have no election on the line and work on rates, tax breaks for businesses who keep jobs in the U.S., and increasing the FDIC insurable limit for account holders. Flushing 700 billion into bad debt is just plain stupid. If the debt was bad to begin with, buying it with taxpayer money doesn't suddenly make it good. This isn't a loan that will ever be paid back. This is an albatross around our necks.

I'm disgusted with the rampant disregard for our Constitution, for capitalism, and for good, plain common sense. I hope one of you, Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama, can pull your head out of your polls long enough to look up the definition of socialism and take a stand.

If You've Got 'Em...

When I was studying at Pepperdine for my teaching credential, I had the joy of student teaching at a local high school. This involved me taking over a classroom of students, most of whom looked about my age, and executing a fun, informative lesson plan under the eagle eye of my lead teacher and often the intense scrutiny of my credentialing advisor as well.

Since I planned my lessons well and am an interesting teacher (gestures, sense of humor, an effort made to entertain while I teach), these observed teaching periods didn't phase me.

Until the day the one contingency I never thought to plan for happened.

I was teaching a unit on Antigone. I'd divided the class into teams, one for each main character, and given them the responsibility to list and defend their character's actions while simultaneously giving a logical reason (based on the text) for blaming the outcome of the play on one of the other characters (they got to choose their scapegoat). My kids were excited about the assignment, I'd prepared well, and my lead teacher was complimentary of every lesson I'd planned that week.

What could go wrong?

I woke up that morning and dressed in a new outfit (my credentialing advisor noted not only lesson planning and execution, but professional appearance as well). By new outfit, I mean I'd purchased it a day before and this would be its debut.

It was a simple outfit. Navy pants. Button-down, short-sleeve white shirt. Professional yet approachable. Plus, wearing tailored clothing helped me look more like a college graduate and less like a high school junior.

The bell rang. I grabbed the kids' attention, divided them quickly, and began wandering the room, giving praise and prompting deeper thinking when needed. Keeping a firm eye on the time, I called them to attention with fifteen minutes left in the period. Time to list their arguments on the board and assign the homework of writing a rebuttal to any group who'd given the blame to their character.

My lead teacher was beaming. Her class was engaged, excited, and thinking. My credentialing advisor was beaming. Her student was handling a rowdy class of thirty juniors with ease.

I turned to the whiteboard and began listing each group's arguments. As I solicited their opinions, I added my own, gesturing as I talked my way through their ideas. At one point, I flung my arms out to encompass the class and saw everyone's eyes go wide.

I hammered my point home, seeing students sit up straighter, stop their fidgeting, and zero in on me with gratifying focus.

Impassioned by the lively discussion, encouraged by their rapt attention, it took a minute for me to realize that the previously stuffy room had become a bit breezy. It took another moment for me to register that I was experiencing the breeze where the breeze was never intended to go.

I glance down and saw that my last gesture had done the unthinkable. Every single button on the front of my new white blouse was undone. Every. Single. One.

My shirttails were flapping, I was three sheets to the wind...well, two, anyway.

I turned toward the board with a coolness to rival Bond, James Bond, buttoned up, turned back around and said, "See why you shouldn't skip English? You never know what you're going to miss."

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Piece of History

1. Yesterday was Kelly's birthday (Paul's wife, one of my best friends).

2. I was going to say "one of my bffs" but I just cannot bring myself to use that particular piece of lingo.

3. Anyway, my hubby made a cake for her. A pink flip-flop (the girl doesn't like stilettos...I still don't understand it). Here's a video of the cake, start to finish:

4. Today, an original copy of the Declaration of Independence is at the Nashville Public Library until 2 pm.

5. I'm taking the kids out of school early so we can all go see it.

6. This week I have another author interview, a fun creative writing post, and whatever else happens to run through my busy little brain while I'm blogging. =D

7. I'm still working out, showing that sassy little Wii Fit who's boss.

8. I finally wrote my way past a really difficult chapter. I don't know why it was so difficult except that I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle the subject matter, and I wasn't confident I nailed the pacing.

9. A CP assures me it isn't nearly as butchered as I feared so that's good news.

10. I would sincerely love to have just a pinch of Mary Poppins's power.

11. If I had a dollar for every time I've wished I could just snap my fingers and watch my house clean itself, I'd have replaced the 9-4 years ago.

12. I'd love to find a pair of cammoflauge stilettos.

13. Preferably for less than $100.

14. Otherwise, my only option is to drool from afar.

15. I've been thinking about how we as artists avoid becoming a caricature of ourselves.

16. I may head over to Swords and Stilettos and put up a post.

17. We have a new manager on loan to our store for the next month.

18. She and I are not going to be friends.

19. This is because A) she thinks managing people means ordering others around while she refuses to lift a finger and B) she looks down on those doing the work she refuses to do.

20. I don't respond well to either one.

21. She knows that now.

22. =D

23. Reader Question: What's the most interesting job you've ever held?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Good morning, Starshine!

Starshine has had a busy weekend. He made a youtube video with his friend in which the two fight a light saber duel to the death. They titled it "You Shall Die."

No, I don't worry about my kids.

Also, Starshine and my hubby were playing a game of catch with a football when Starshine grabbed the ball, ran for a touchdown, and tackled himself.

Yes, you read that right.

He seemed to forget we were even there, grabbed the ball, began a sport's announcer's running commentary, hiked the ball to himself, called the play, tackled himself, got up, ran, tackled himself again, and managed to get up and make it across the goal line before being tackled by the entire opposing team, who mercilessly threw him onto the ground several times and pummeled him until he lay still.

We just watched in awe. It's not every child who can play every member of both football teams plus the announcer without assistance.

Today, Starshine received a bandanna at church and was allowed to write his name on it in blue puffy paint.

That was fine.

He then decided to wear it. On his head. When I picked him up, I complimented his accessory (even though Paul thought it made him look like a mini-Aunt Jemima) and approved the spelling of his first name across the top of his head only to be informed that he'd written his last name too.

When I inquired as to the location of the additional seven letters of blue puffy paint, I was told they were on the flip side of the bandanna.

The one currently pressed against his hair.

Yes, the paint was still wet.

Yes, it stuck to his hair.

Yes, I've cut a large swath of hair off the back of his head and he still has blue paint on his scalp.

I've assured him that warriors of old named Picts would paint themselves that very shade of blue before heading off to battle so he looks like a scary soldier from the Middle Ages.

Starshine the Pict. God help us.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Holy Mutinous Muscles, Batman!

Playing on my iPod now: Sounds Like War by P.O.D.

1. The weather's changing here. We actually need a light sweatshirt at nights, even though the days are warm enough for t-shirts. The leaves are changing and we're gearing up for fall. Tennessee autumns are the most beautiful autumns I've ever seen.

2. The results of last week's poll are interesting. 12 voters said Dragons used to exist. 9 felt they are nothing but myth.

3. Naturally, I voted that they used to exist. =D

4. I've worked out five times in the last three days.

5. Today, I rolled out of bed and realize my muscles had staged a mutiny.

6. Something along the lines of "What are you, freakin' CRAZY?"

7. Also, they questioned the wisdom of having our bedroom UPstairs.

8. I'm going to finish this post and do another workout just to show them who's boss.

9. As you know, I rarely watch tv. Fringe is the only show I'm watching at the moment. I like to keep it to one show so my time is free for other things.

10. Plus, I have very little free time, so the show has to really dazzle me or I can't stand to sit still.

11. I'm considering, however, adding House to the list. It comes on before Fringe (which I tivo so I can watch it during my lunch break the next day) so my tivo gives me the last few minutes of House and the preview of next week's episode.

12. I've noticed that House's humor seems an awful lot like mine. The preview for next week's episode confirmed it. House finagles his "former" friend to drive him to his father's funeral and while they're driving (and arguing), they get pulled over. As the officer approaches the car, House's cell rings. He answers with the following:

13. "Make it quick. I don't want to miss the anal cavity search."

14. Some girls, you get at "hello". Me, I can't resist a deliciously sarcastic line delivered in its place.

15. I think I have the job thing figured out now. It's not firm yet, but I think I'll be picking up day hours at my current job at a guaranteed rate of pay (which means NOT relying on humanity to tip decently for excellent service).

16. This is a win-win situation because I don't have to learn a group of new people and this is a place that understands I'm a mother first so if I need to come in a couple hours late because I have a sick kid at home and am waiting for my hubby, it won't be a problem.

17. I need to go through the kids' clothes and pull out all the stuff that no longer fits.

18. I'm hoping that little exercise will still leave them enough clothes to get through the winter without a shopping expedition.

19. Those of you who love reading paranormal, will want to check out fellow Pixie Kerry Allen's blog where she's posting a chapter a week from a novella (or loooong short story...something like that) for free. She's posted the first two and I am so hooked! Scroll down to the Beyond The Darkening posts.

20. READER QUESTION: What makes a blog worth returning to every day?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Alexa's On The Map

Someone recently found this blog by Googling Alexa Tate. That has to be a benchmark of some sort. =D

Debut Author: Beth Trissel

When I finaled in the 2008 Golden Heart, I joined a loop with the other finalists and met a group of amazingly talented, supportive, FUN women. We began sharing our milestones on the journey to publication--agent requests, finaling in other contests, finishing our WIP, and, of course, sales.

Right out of the gate, fellow-Pixie Beth Trissel announced a sale to The Wild Rose Press (a really cool e-publisher that has EVERY genre you'd ever want to read in an instant-gratification format!). We congratulated her. Then she announced another sale. And another. And another. Four sales in the space of a few weeks, all to The Wild Rose Press.

You don't get to that level of accomplishment without discipline, talent, and years of hard work. Beth's first novel, Somewhere My Love, hit the digital bookshelves last Friday. I couldn't wait to get her on my blog to talk about writing, her beloved Virginia mountains, and the all important Stiletto Vs. Flip-Flops question.

When did you start writing novels, and what made you choose to pursue publication?

12+ (I don’t like the number 13) years ago, I ventured beyond the short vignettes of country life I’d penned, into the vast realm of historical romance. This came about as a result of my intense absorption with the past and research into my early American English/Scots-Irish roots. And my being a hopeless romantic. The long time pursuit of publication came about as a natural urge to share my stories with the world.

You are one of the most prolific authors I know. How do you manage writing so much (and across different genres too!)?

Once I’m into a story, both the research and the writing, I get obsessed. Some friends and family might call it ‘possessed’ but I stick with it like a tenacious sled dog until journey’s end.

One of your greatest strengths as an author (in my opinion) is your ability to write breath-taking descriptions. What do you use as inspiration for these?

From the very first RWA chapter contest I entered, where the bemused judge told me I broke every rule, I’ve been complimented on my descriptions. I think this ability flows from my knowing so well the places and people I’m describing. So far, my settings have been Virginia and the Carolinas, particularly my beloved mountains. In Somewhere My Love, the setting is an old Virginia plantation home. Not only have I visited a number of these, but I grew up making frequent treks to our old family home, called Chapel Hill (circa 1816). Also, I have a natural feel for early America, in addition to having done copious research, and in Virginia we are steeped in history, so it’s second nature to me.

The Wild Rose Press recently released your first novel. How does it feel to be a published author?

Mind-numbing. But exciting.

Can you describe your novel for us?

Somewhere My Love is a murder mystery/ghost story romance with flashbacks to early nineteenth century Virginia and Hamlet parallels. I like to think it’s unique.

Your work is available in digital download, the technology that is currently taking the publishing world by storm. What formats are available?

Initially the Wild Rose Press reserves its new releases for sale exclusively at TWRP site for the first month or two as digital downloads. These are available in Adobe (pdf) MS Reader (lit) and Web (HTML). To download Somewhere My Love on a laptop or pc, go with the pdf format. After its debut at TWRP, ‘Somewhere’ will journey on to all the major online booksellers, including Sony with whom TRWP has recently signed a deal and will also wind up as Kindles at Amazon.

Having played with a friend’s Kindle, I can tell you it’s as easy to use as a paperback, with the added benefit of being able to enlarge the text, highlight or do searches for passages, and instantly download more books without ever leaving your couch! What are some benefits you see to digital downloads?

Many. They are usually cheaper than print and can be downloaded anywhere in the world, saving on prohibitive shipping costs. They are ‘green’ and save on paper. Because traditional New York publishers are so particular as to perceived market trends, many talented authors who don’t fit their notion of marketability are going to companies like The Wild Rose Press. This allows for a refreshing diversity of romance genres that NY would balk at. If you hunger for a time period, oh say, like Colonial America, and wonder where all those romance books have gone, come on over to TWRP. Their motto is if it’s a good romance, then it fits, and they find a niche among their many lines for well-written stories of all lengths and heat levels (or the lack there of.)

Can die-hard paperback fans get a copy of your book that way too?

As of 2009, print books will be available in three months after the digital download comes out. Right now, the wait is six months. I have this wild and crazy notion that my fans should buy both. :)

I know you signed a contract for four books (wow!). What comes next?

I’m not sure if my Revolutionary War Romance novel Enemy of the King comes next or if my light paranormal romance novel, Daughter of the Wind, with a strong Native American element, will follow. They are both in final galleys. Through the Fire, my Golden Heart final, set in the colonial frontier at the height of the French and Indian War, is just heading into galleys. Let me just say that signing for four novels fairly close together and all the resulting editing, and, and, and, is a lot of work. Whew.

Okay, now for some random fun stuff:

Coke or Pepsi? Ginger ale is my soda of choice.

Secret (or not so secret) vice (mine is hot tamales!): Dark chocolate in any way, shape, or form.

If you could live in any time period, which would you choose? Colonial America. Big surprise there. I’m also taken with the Edwardian era.

The one piece of technology you couldn’t live without: My laptop and I are attached at the hip.

Stilettos or flip-flops? Fuzzy pink slippers and I love cozy socks. For out of doors, I’m a fan of various types of clogs.

Music or art? Music lover, particularly of stirring soundtracks from historical films or Celtic/New Age stuff that takes me from here to ‘there.’

Would you ever get a tattoo? What would it be? Never, I crave no unnecessary pain.

What historical event would you go back in time to witness? The angels filling the heavens and singing at the birth of Christ. I love angels.

Surprise me with something unexpected about you: I love random wit and am a huge fan of The Office.

Please leave questions or comments for Beth. She'll be checking in throughout the day. =) To learn more about Beth's writing, visit her site. To purchase Somewhere My Love (which is on a 10% off SALE right now!!), go here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mid-Week Madness

Random facts you don't yet know about me (unless you're one of the few who read my thoughts on a regular basis):

1. C.J. is not the name on my birth certificate but over the last few years, it's become the name almost everyone uses for me.

2. I get asked often what C.J. stands for and, of course, I tell the truth: Calamity Jane.

3. One of my friends started calling me Cieje (pronounced "siege") because apparently the last "ay" sound is just too much to get out.

4. The other day, someone at work called me the Ciejinator and that is taking Ridiculous to previously unexplored heights.

5. I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in fourth grade and loved it.

6. I wrote my first story in second grade.

7. I was the last kid in the first grade to learn how to read.

8. While I've never run with scissors, I have, on several occasions, nearly put out an eye.

9. Usually someone else's.

10. I like pepper more than salt.

11. I think white chocolate is one step above green beans. Nasty.

12. I almost always have a candle burning in my kitchen.

13. I played clarinet in junior high and high school band and was once invited to play in the state band.

14. I once played the part of a Holocaust prisoner in a theatrical rendition of The Hiding Place.

15. I was also one of the "Pick-A-Little" ladies in The Music Man.

16. I've seen Phantom of the Opera twice (in L.A.) and would love to see it again in NYC.

17. I don't understand the motivation to bungee jump.

18. When I write poetry or song lyrics, the entire thing either flows out within five or ten minutes or it never happens at all.

19. I love eating pomegranates.

20. I once tried out for Wheel of Fortune and failed...but that's a post for another day.

Which Crayola Crayon Are You?

Today is Creative Writing Wednesday at Swords & Stilettos. We're using color to describe ourselves. :) Come play.

Harry Potter Trailer & More!

The final trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has been released, and I'm not going to lie. I get choked up every ti...