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Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

Affirmation is a very positive thing. Most writers need it on a daily basis whether in small ways or by grand gestures and anything in between. We writers are a lonely bunch, usually, sitting in our computer world, making up characters and conflicts and events. We don't get too many pats on the back. So we embrace any kernal of acknowledgement that comes our way.

This is where my Romance Writer's of America Chapter of Orange County, entitled OCC for short, makes strong strides. Our chapter acknowledges our writing and our endeavors. They give awards for selling your first book, and pins to the unpubbed for finishing a manuscript and submitting it. They acknowledge their volunteers. And for the published authors in the group, they give out beautiful silk red roses every time we make a sale. I have a lovely bouquet of them sitting in a leather boot on my desk, the theme going hand in hand with my very western, rustic office.

Those roses mean a lot to me. In them, I see hope. I see a dream that came true. I see a ton of hard work and I see my bouquet blossoming for the future. But each and every time I stand up there at the podium during my chapter meeting to accept my rose, I feel humbled, enlightened, grateful for the craft itself. The affirmation those roses represent, that yes, I've finally accomplished my goals and I'm being recognized for a job well done, is a glorious feeling.

I accept my beautiful red roses with honor and pride, knowing that they are far better than any slap on the back! So for that, I must thank my wonderful OCC chapter because a rose for any other reason, would surely not be as sweet!

My First 5 Star Review for Renegade Wife And keep your comments coming for a signed copy of Like Lightning!

Well, since Eharlequin is sold out on Renegade Wife, I've been detouring readers to and I found my first review up there with 5 Stars! *****
Here it is:
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

GOOD - CLEAN - SEXY STORY, March 19, 2006
Reviewer: M. Hartmann "abayyan" (Milan, Michigan United States)

Oh, yeah! Molly McGuire has come to Texas to wed Kane Jackson and have him help find her brother, Charlie.

Only Kane did not know anything about Molly until his ailing grandfather told him to meet her.

Bennet had searched almost 20 years, looking for his grandson and he finally found him six months ago.

Kane had been rescued by a Cheyenne warrior when he was a child and now was more Indian than a white man. He has a terrible past to live with, having lost his wife, Little Swan and taken to the trail of vengeance.
He has finally agreed to make a marriage of convenience with Molly, whom he calls "Little Bird" until they find her brother.
While his mind denies any interest in marriage or family, his body desires his wife. So he lives in utter conflict of mind and body.
Molly has no such problem. She falls in love with her "husband" and looks forward to sharing his bed. [or wagon as the case may be]grin.

Grandpa Bennet wants Kane to sire an heir for their ranch, and to have a happy family life. Maybe that will make Kane settle down. He thinks Molly is the woman for Kane.
Kane finally shares his secret with Molly of his Cheyenne family.

Wonderful story with plenty of sex within marriage. Molly has a very hopeful attitude toward winning her husband's love.
Great characters - great plot - move well within an emotional field.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Such a wonderful upbeat type of story/

KEEP YOUR COMMENTS COMING TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF MY NATIONAL READERS'S CHOICE NOMINATED BOOK: LIKE LIGHNING, 2005 SILHOUETTE DESIRE - Simply post a comment here then send me an email with your full name and address. First 5 comments will receive a free signed book! See previous blog for details!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Good News and Enter to Win!

Just a little excited here. My July Desire, Like Lightning, has finaled in the prestigious National Reader's Choice Awards. Five books in the Short Contemporary category will vie for the win and I'm pleased to say three of the five, are Silhouette Desires. Also included are co-writers in the Fortune's Continuity Series, Peggy Moreland and Heidi Betts. Pretty good showing, I'd say!

And to share my good news, just drop me a line here first in the comment section and then email me at with your full name and address and I'll send the first 5 entries a signed copy of LIKE LIGHTNING, just for posting a hello on this blog!

For those of you adventurous souls who haven't signed up for my "From the Heart Contest" -- check it out today too! It's new, up and running and I'll be adding to the list of prizes with more books and giveaways!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

The direction your story takes you!

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to spell Louis Vuitton. Well, since I spelled it right, you have to know that I've been perusing the pages of Vogue magazine. Writing about the rich and famous does have it's disadvantages -- unless, of course, YOU ARE rich and famous. So, for me, going to Rodeo Drive which is pronounced Row-DAY-O and not ROW-Dee-O, is an essential part of my research. I must admit, I haven't been there in almost one year and it's only a thirty minute drive away. But it's there for me whenever I have to think like the powerful wealthy. And for Fortune's and my CEO story coming up next, I DO have to be a fashion, power, in the big leagues now, diva.

And aside from checking out fashion magazines, hot sports cars and upscale restaurants, I also have to get real. With Fortune's Vengeful Groom, my hero is a rodeo rider (that's easy for me) turned rolling-in-it oilman. That's not so easy. So I tuned into a show on cable called Dirty Jobs and lo and behold, we had a real life accounting of what it means to be a roughneck on an oil rig. The host of the show does every part of the muddy, grimy job and explains how it all works. I found that very useful and watched the show, with pen in hand, taking notes. So now, my hero does sound like he knows which end of the Kelly is up. Impressive?

I never mind learning a thing or two about parts of life I may never encounter otherwise. And I never know what direction my writing is going to take me.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Deal or No Deal?

I don't know how many of you watch Deal or No Deal on NBC, but I'm told by the casting director whom I met yesterday that it's the top-rated show on NBC right now. I've always liked Howie Mandel. He makes me laugh and I think he's perfect for the show. And this show isn't regimented like Wheel or Jeopardy or Price Is Right.

Nope, this show brings the Howie out. At least, I think he's the one coming up with crazy ideas. For instance, instead of using the models to open the cases with money amounts, one time he brought a family of eight up onto the stage to do the models' work. Another time, he brought 26 contestants from the Miss USA pagent in to open the cases. And sometimes, when a contestant come up initially with thoughts of using the money they win, say for a Hummer, -- they entice him with not only the banker's offer but a brand new Hummer -- to take the deal.

So why am I blogging about this show today? Two reasons and both have to do with writing and romance. To me, what makes this show unique is the fact that there are surprises! Most game shows don't do that. There are the same old, same old, day in and day out. Which is fine for most people and in non-prime time. But audiences are more sophisticated now. They want more. And this show provides more. The same, one might say, relates to writing. We need to surprise our audience, to make our stories unique, to remove the cliche and go for something more daring. More interesting. I know I'm constantly trying to up the ante, to stun the reader, without copping out on my characters, because we always have to stay true to who they are. It's not easy, but when we accomplish it, it can truly make a good story, great.

And the second reason I'm writing about Deal or No Deal is the fact that they constantly bring in romance in some shape or form onto the show. The other night, a very lovely young man spoke about his girlfriend in such glowing terms, (she was sitting in the family box onstage) and right before he was to make his big deal, he called her over, got down on one knee and proposed to her. Was it staged? Of course, but the sentiment was real and true, the audience ate it up and then as a couple, they made the decision together about the deal.

Now that's romance!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The End of the Book


It seems like it wasn't so long ago that I started Fortune's Vengeful Groom and now I find myself coming to the end of the story. It's always bittersweet for me as I write these characters I've come to know so well, have learned about, lived with and now, it's almost time to say good-bye. As silly as that seems, it's true. While a part of me thrills at getting to the end of the story, making it all work, tying up loose ends, creating that happy ending, the other part of me, the very sentimental part, feels a little bit sad at losing these people who have been in my life for several months.

And I realize that for those of you who don't write, but love to read, it's the same feeling. When you read a good book, you can't wait to finish it, to see the outcome and feel that sense of completion when the story ends. But at the same time, you hate coming to the end of a good book. You'll revel in the story for days, miss the characters, think about them and that sensation hums through you for days after. Right?
I'm pretty tenacious when it comes down to my last two chapters to write. I can't wait to get the story out of me, to get it down on paper. Can't wait to see the completion. I find that I think more about the ending of the story than any of part. With Fortunes, I have thirty pages left to write before I say farewell to Reese and Eliza. Being a continuity, even after I turn my own story in, Book #3 of the 6 book series, at least I know that I'll be involved in the stories via the other authors. My characters will live on in their books and we'll confer and trade scenes to make sure our characters hold true in each book. That's the fun of writing and reading continuities, seeing the characters both past and present continue on.
And speaking of continuities, I've been reading the Desire Elliotts since January and loving each and every story! Heidi Betts' Mr. and Mistress is next, coming in May. Look for Bridget Elliott(my character) in her book and then I hope you'll all get a chance to read Bridget and Mac's story after that, coming this JUNE in HEIRESS BEWARE!

Now, off the finish Reese and Eliza's story ... and say goodbye

Monday, April 10, 2006

Traffic in LA. You don't want to know!

Okay, so I'm going to write about it anyway. It's mindnumbing to say the least. And anyone who broaches this subject, says pretty much the same thing -- how did it get so bad so quickly? Traffic in and around the county perimeters never used to be like this. Never! It's only been in the last few years that it's a crap shoot and a test of your luck that day, whether you'll get to your destination on time.

There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.

The devil in me thinks that it's about time for another earthquake, to keep people from moving to California in general, and my area to be specific, but I'm not the devil, so strike that thought. Yet, everywhere I look, there's new construction going up. Even in the smallest particles of land, someone is building something! And people are moving in.

Saturday night, we picked up my cousins and gave ourselves a good three hours to get to Angel Stadium in time to see the Yankee/Angel batting practice, have a nice dinner and relax a bit, before the game started. Now, Yahoo and Mapquest say it takes about 55 minutes, but that's how the crow flies and not considering the LA traffic. My cousin believed that's plenty of time. School is out, it's spring break here, a lot of people are out of town. Gas is up to almost $3.00 a gallon. The Dodgers weren't playing in town (we pass their stadium to get to Angel stadium) so we thought we were in the clear.

Until we got on the freeway. Bumper to bumper traffic. What normally takes 20 minutes to drive out of our valley, took an hour and the rest of the way was the same. For more than 60 miles, medium to heavy traffic, stop and go, most of the time. I kept asking myself, where are all these people going? If only, I could be a fly on the car door panels, to find out! Needless to say, we didn't see batting practice, didn't get a nice relaxed meal before the game and we just made the National Anthem! Wasn't fun.

Okay, I rationalized, but it's always a breeze getting home. We'll be home in less than an hour -- no traffic at 10 PM, even though we pick up Disneyland traffic too, on the way home. Great, we thought. Until we got on the freeway only to find that there had been a 3 car collison blocking 3 lanes! Took a while to clear up the mess, luckily no one had been seriously injured, except my husband, the dear man, who hates traffic more than mushrooms, who stressed out before and after the game. And when all totaled, we spent more time getting to and from the game, than seeing actual play time. Isn't that something? At least the Angels won that night!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Skittles the Wonderful Cat!

To all who know her, she's truly the "devil" cat, but to me my black and white tuxedo feline is a joy. She sits atop my computer, where she barely fits anymore, gazing down at me with those big yellow eyes, purring contentedly, keeping me company on a very lonely writing day, befriending me and speaking when spoken to. Yes, she talks ... to me. She lets me know what she wants and sometimes she's very vocal. She has her rituals, as many cats do and those make me smile, like when she meows wildly by her food bowl, until I bend down and pet her while she eats, (something my hubby spoiled her with as a kitten). She needs our attention and love when she eats! She's affectionate when she wants to be and she's always with me. If I'm writing, she's in my office. If I'm reading, she's laying by my feet. If I'm outside in the backyard, she wants the same. She even travels well. She loves the car, riding in it, doesn't freak her out. And lately, we've discovered that she likes to be vacuumed. Yes, vacuumed! With an attachment that combs as well as cleans her coat. I've never seen a cat who'll stand still for that.

But as I said, to everyone else, beside my family, she's the devil. She doesn't like anyone invading her territory. When we're home with her, she hides when there's company in the house, but when we're away, she attacks the friends and family who I've commissioned to feed and look after her! One might say, she bites the hands who try to feed her. Not only does she attack, physically, striking with claws and hissing with gusto, but she makes growling sounds so deep in her throat, one might swear it's an exorcist sound. I almost didn't believe it, because rarely does she behave this way when I'm home, but I've seen her strike at my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew, among others. She's surely a Jeckyl and Hyde cat. With dual personalities and a fierce need to protect what's hers. I won't even go into how she treats our older cat, Snickers. That could take days.

Yet, to us, she's a loving adorable baby girl with a sweet face and matching personality. She's truly a bafflement. Or is she? Are there other cats or animals out there, who behave the same way?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What Does Love Mean?

Leave it to the kids to give us the real answers to hard questions. A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint
her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne
and they go out and smell each other."

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French
fries without making them give you any of theirs."

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip
before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of
kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and
Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss"

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening
presents and listen."

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend
who you hate,"

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked
at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.
He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."

"My mommy loves me more than anybody
You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is
handsomer than Brad Pitt ."

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone
all day."

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old
clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars
come out of you."

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you
mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked
about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an
elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy
said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry"

Monday, April 03, 2006

Happy April!

I can't believe it's April already! Time for spring break, Easter and Passover holidays. For birds chirping outside my window, for fluctuating weather, especially in California, highs in the 80's, lows in the 40's. Baseball!

And since it's the beginning of April, our new 2006 Spring From the Heart Contest will up an running. Here's a look at the prizes. Be sure to enter and check back for other new and exciting contests and giveaways happening soon. Don't you just love my new June cover?

Did any of you get fooled on April Fool's Day? I love to hear those stories. When I was younger, I would try to think up silly things to say, but I'd always get caught. I'm a BAD liar. And I can't keep a straight face. I remember a prank pulled on my girlfriend and me that really had us stumped. As we left the movie theater, we were gabbing as girls do until we reached the parking lot and where we thought the car was parked. It wasn't there, so we continued searching for my car -- couldn't find it. We hunted and tried to recall where in heck I parked my car. We really tossed this back and forth. It was here. No, it was there. Then, when we couldn't find it we thought for sure, my car had been stolen.

Stolen? Yes, it had been, by our chuckling husbands, who had decided to move my car to another location and watch us try to find it from their hiding spot. Oh, they'd had a good laugh over that one!!