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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What is it about a book that appeals to you?

I guess I've never really thought about it much before, since I'd just peruse the bookshelves at the store and find one I liked.
But now, as an author, I'm wondering when I go into a store specifically to buy a book, what intrigues me enough to dig into my wallet and come up with the $6 or $7 dollars to make that purchase.

I think the covers play a big role. A cover that despicts the story goes a long way. And it could be anything from a clinch cover, to a cover with lace and/or jewelry to a cover with just a man or women's face or body. The cover should go hand in hand with the title. The two should blend so perfectly that when a reader picks up the book, there's no doubt about what kind of story is represented. That's not always the case though and it takes a good art department to make a dynamite cover that meets up to the standards of the book.

The other thing I do is always read the back cover blurb. Does it appeal to me as a reader? Does it intrigue me? Do I really want to read this story? Back cover blurbs are hard to write. I'm glad I don't have to do them. Although, I've been asked to help at times, since no one is closer to the story than the author. But a dynamic blurb can help sell lots of books.

Then there's the inside pages. I love to read the first paragraphs of a book. It's a tell-all to what type of writing and storytelling I'm getting into. Ususally, it's the deciding factor for me. So, hooking the reader from page one is ultra important.

And lastly, I think author recognition is key. Many people wait for and buy books from their favorite authors. I was guilty of this too. I don't think it's a bad thing, it like going to the same restaurants over and over again, because you know the food won't disappoint. But it's nice to venture out sometimes. Lately, because I've read so many books from the same authors in the past before I became a writer, now, I try to buy a book from an author I've never read. In fact, it's something I do without exception. Every time I wander into a book store or buy online, I make my choice by trying a new author and maybe even a new genre. Granted, I love romance and don't care for stories that have little or no male/female relationships in them, I do tend to buy books that are either mainstream romances or suspense with romantic elements. But I might try a new regency writer, or a new light-hearted contemporary as well.

It's all good, as they say.

Join Charlene for her comprehensive Online Class in June:
You know you're making a mistake if ....
For details and registration go to:

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


No, I didn't spell it wrong. I'm just going through withdrawals. So many shows that I watch, (which truly aren't too many) have or will conclude this week. American Idol (there, I spelled it right) will have its season finale tonight. I'm a big fan. I love the competition, seeing the different personalities and loving the challenges these young competitors have to meet. I can't say it's easy. Not many of us would have the nerve, the guts, the stamina to compete day in and day out.

So, last night, I stayed up until 11:30 and voted and voted and voted. There's a big difference between Taylor and Katherine, so I guess it depends on what kind of music you like. Personally, I've thought all along that the judges have been biased. They seem to really want a male winner. There has only been one so far. So tonight, we'll find out for sure.

I have to say I won't miss Randy's dawg talk, that gets old. Or Paula's repetitive comments. Where I used to think Simon was awful, now I see him as the only one that's real. But enough of that. I'll miss everyone. Lucky for me, Ryan Seacrest hosts KIIS FM in the mornings, so he'll still be around.

I guess, I'll just get more writing done in the evenings now. With no more new episodes of LOST, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, SMALLVILLE and MEDIUM, I'll be less inclined to turn on the television. That's a good thing. Maybe I'll even get out for a walk at night with dear hubby!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why do I write romance?

Yes, I'm a romantic at heart. I believe in happy endings. Maybe I always have, because today is my 32nd wedding anniversary.

I was a child bride -- well, almost.

And I do believe that two people can share a life, with ups and downs and everything in between and love each other nearly unconditionally for a long, long time.

So when I write my romances, I have my own life and love in mind. Though, my stories aren't anything like the heartwrenching ones I often write. I met my husband in high school. We were young and we dated and to this day, we honor the day of our first date with the same enthusiasm as we do our wedding anniversary. I have my own real life hero who inspires me to write these stories. Thankfully, my real life isn't filled with too many conflicts -- yet, conflicts have to be there in our romance stories, or we DON'T have a story.

But what's the same is that my heroes and heroines always find each other. They realize their love and bond a future together by the end of the book. I'd like to think of them celebrating their 32nd anniversary as well, with as much love and devotion in their hearts, living their own happily-ever-after.

Join Charlene for her comprehensive Online Class in June:
You know you're making a mistake if ....
For details and registration go to:

Monday, May 15, 2006

Being Adventurous Pays Off

My friend and hairdresser once told me that she and her husband don't look in the newspaper to see when a movie is playing, they just go to the theatre and watch whatever movie is playing next. This way, they come to the movie without any preconceived notions. They are open to seeing something new, something they hadn't planned on, something they might never have even considered seeing. And most times, she says, they enjoy the show.

What a novel idea! Being a little anal, a person who needs organization in her life, someone who always plans ahead, I have to give them credit. I would never do that, though. I couldn't. There are too many taboos in my movie viewing life. I don't like scary movies. I won't sit through them. I don't like foreign films. My husband doesn't like chick flicks. We're not open. We have definite preferences. We plan on the movie, sometimes, he chooses, most times, I choose. (he's so sweet that way), but we are usually in agreement.

So, for Mother's day this year, we decided to put this to the test. Not with a movie, but with a restaurant. We drove down the street and found someplace we had never tried before. Of course, the restaurant had to have an A rating. That's the only stipulation. But we found this adorable Chinese place, with the nicest waitress and all thirteen, (my sister's family joined us) had a wonderful authentic family-style meal in an adorable setting and were pleased with the result. I have to say that it worked and now, I'm hoping to do this again. Just walk into a new place, without knowing anything about it, and hopefully, enjoy the meal.

Sometimes, we get into a rut. Sometimes, we aren't willing to try anything different. I have to commend my friend for her insights. I'll always want to Pick the movie I see ahead of time, but maybe I'm not so fussy about food. Tomorrow, my friends and I well try a new Mexican place for a birthday luncheon. I'll keep you posted. There really may be something to being adventurous!

Join Charlene for her comprehensive Online Class in June:
You know you're making a mistake if ....
For details and registration go to:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

American Idol -What Happened?

I should probably be writing about writing, but today, I thought I'd express my thoughts about American Idol. What happened to Chris? I couldn't believe it! I have said all along that I thought Chris and Katherine would be the last two standing. And after Tuesday night's performance, my hubby and I who love Katherine too, decided she needed our votes. So, we voted 20 times, hoping to keep her in the running. Whether you like her or not, she does have a wonderful voice and can sing. Did any of you feel she'd been sort of sabotaged by the "Elvis" night. Don't get me wrong, I love Elvis. I'm probably one of his biggest fans, but even Simon said that Kat was coming into the night at a disadvantage.

So, maybe others like myself, thought we'd better pick up the phone and vote, vote, vote. I never thought that Chris (whom I think has the best male voice) would be ousted. Never. He was the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas. But maybe everyone knew that and felt like I did, that he had a strong enough fan base to keep him in.

Okay, so I'm making a big deal out of this. But what I love about our country and about American Idol, is that we have a voice, a say-so as to who should win and whose life will be dramatically changed by our choice.

It's hard to see anyone go off the show after going on the journey with them. All are different. All are unique. All can SING. I'm even considering going to their summer tour, when it comes to my area. But most definitely, it won't be the same without Chris and those beautiful brown eyes.

Join Charlene for her comprehensive Online Class in June:
You know you're making a mistake if ....
For details and registration go to:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Navy Seals -- They are for real!

Last week at a woman's club meeting I was invited to I had the priviledge of meeting a real Navy Seal. Not only was he an amazingly gorgeous man, but he was articulate, polite and humble. The cropped blonde haired, blue-eyed uniformed Captain Smith is everything we romance authors write about, when we write of war heroes -- a man having truly served eight tours in Iraq. The SEALS which originally stand for Sea Air Land, count 2500 today and it's as elite a club as anyone might guess. They are always looking for recruits, as only 10% of highly skilled, sometime Olympic athletes, can make the grade.

These men are the cream of the crop, and not just in the character they show, the stamina they have, but in the sacrifice they make to our country each and every day. We were shown a film narrated by Gerald McRaney about their lives, what they do, the training they take and the missions (in general- they can never be specific) that they accomplish. Autonomy plays a big role, so often their heroics go unnoticed by the average citizen, but they are out there, protecting us at every turn, in almost every major country in the world.

As a romance author, who loves to read (but haven't written) about these men in our romances, I have a much better understanding of just who these guys are. I'm in complete awe. And so grateful to have met Captain Smith and to know that we as writers do them justice by portraying them as the heroes they truly are.

Join Charlene for her comprehensive Online Class in June:
You know you're making a mistake if ....
For details and registration go to:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

2005 Headlines -- For Fun!

Look at some of these headlines for a laugh!


> Crack Found on Governor's Daughter

> [Imagine that!]

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

> [No, really?]


> Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

> [Now that's taking things a bit far!]


> Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?

> [Not if I wipe thoroughly!]


> Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

> [What a guy!]


> Miners Refuse to Work after Death

> [No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so!]


> Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

> [See if that works any better than a fair trial!]

> War Dims Hope for Peace

> [I can see where it might have that effect!]


> If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

> [You think?]


> Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

> [Who would have thought!]


> Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

> [They may be on to something!]


> Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

> [You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?]


> Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

> [he probably IS the battery charge!]


> New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

> [Weren't they fat enough?!]


> Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas

> in Spacecraft

> [That's what he gets for eating those beans!]


> Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

> [Taste like chicken?]


> Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

> [Chainsaw Massacre all over again!]


> Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

> [Boy, are they tall!]


> And the winner is....


> Typhoon Rips Through

> Cemetery; Hundreds Dead


> Now that you've smiled at least once, it's your turn to spread the

> stupidity

> and send this to someone you want to bring a smile to.

> (Maybe even a chuckle).

> We all need a good laugh, keeep laughing it will keep you

> young....

Friday, May 05, 2006

1900 Ladies Home Journal Predictions!

Let's see how many of these came true!

In a 1900 Ladies Home Journal magazine these were the predictions for 2005:

There will be no C, X, or Q in the Alphabet because common phonetic spelling will make these letters obsolete. (Oh really?)

Those new fangled automobiles will replace all horse-drawn vehicles. (How astute!)

Hot and cold air will be available inside the house, much like hot and cold water. (Thank goodness for that)

The US Population of about 76 million will zoom to 500 million. (Missed it by 225 million)

Exercise will be so popular that anyone who doesn't walk 10 miles a day will be regarded as a "weakling". (Hand me the Wheaties, please)

People and events around the world will be brought into living rooms, seen and heard in real time through electronic connections of circuits and cameras. (Right on the money here)

Strawberries as big as apples and raspberries the size of baseballs will be common and will convince children they must eat healthy. (Wouldn't that be nice?)

English will still be the first language spoken in the USA, but Russian will be second. (No habla Espanol?)

"Flying machines" will carry powerful telescopes that beam back to Earth photographs "as distinct and large as if taken from across the street". (Super Shuttle anyone?)

I'm amazed at how many they got right here! But I'd never be one to predict the future in 100 years. I can't even keep up with the technology on my cell phone!

And announcing:
You know you're making a mistake if ....
Join Charlene for her comprehensive Online Class in June. For details and registration go to:

Thursday, May 04, 2006

No Job is Secure -- LOST

I'm a huge fan of the TV Show LOST and have been watching it since the beginning. And I have to say, it's innovative and mind-boggling at the same time. No one is safe on the island, so beware of getting too attached to the characters.

I recall an interview with one of the major cast members who said that they never know who's going off the show. No job is secure. I would venture to say that Matthew Fox will be around a long time, and maybe one or two others have some degree of security, but last night's episode really blew me away. Just when we get to the point that we begin to "like" a character or at least understand them, they kill them off. Or they just disappear. Last night, we lost two characters and I didn't see it coming until a second or two before it happened. I said "uh-oh" and sure enough, two cast members lost their contracts and their roles on the show.

I guess, keeping the audience guessing also keeps the show fresh. This show is unlike all others in that respect.

And another show that keeps us guessing is American Idol. I'm going to miss Paris. But my predictions so far are holding true. I think Chris and Katherine will be the last two standing. Who will win, is anybody's guess.

You know you're making a mistake if ....
Join Charlene for her comprehensive Online Class in June. For details and registration go to:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Announcing my June ONLINE WORKSHOP for aspiring and new writers: FORGIVE ME, DAVID LETTERMAN – TOP TEN WRITING MISTAKES . You know you’re making a mistake if ....

For those of you who have made some writing mistakes and don't know where you're going wrong, if you've been rejected time and again, if you're new to writing romance and need helpful hints and guidance, or if you're simply trying to hone your skills, this workshop is for you. In a hands-on approach, I'll help you wade through these blunders to shine up your manuscript and catch the editor's eye. Take it from an expert -- in making mistakes. I can honestly admit that I've made every one of these mistakes in the past. The trick is to learn to recognize them and never make the same mistake twice, thus leading you to getting published faster.

Here's a brief synopsis of this month-long class:

After recently polling both editors and authors alike, Charlene has
compiled a checklist of writing mistakes that bog a manuscript down. Some are classic taboos in the writing world and others are mistakes that a writer can easily overlook in their manuscript while trying to get the story right. Learn to recognize these mistakes BEFORE you make them and learn how to FIX the ones you may have already made.

In this workshop, you'll hone your skills on description, dialogue, plot, characters, emotion and much, much more. Charlene will give you hints and tips on writing a compelling manuscript as well as help you recognize flaws in your writing. Be prepared to work on conflict, hooks and putting the romance first!

To register go to:

Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Where is Spring?

I guess we are spoiled in California, because we are used to such great weather each and every day. Even when it rains, usually the sun sneaks out from behind the clouds at some point. We've had our share of rain this season, but no sun and it's taking its toll on all of us who thrive on sunshine.

We simply aren't used to it. Everywhere I go, the subject is the weather. "How is it out there?" the bankteller asks and we grumble for a minute about how we are missing our spring. The same holds true of the grocery clerk, the salespeople in the malls, waiters, teachers. Everyone has weather on their minds.

Yesterday was the exception. The sun came bursting through the dawn and we had sunshine all day long. All DAY. Everyone was outside in my neighborhood, washing cars, working on their lawns, gossiping with neighbors. Heat and cloudless blue skies brings people out, socializing. We relished it. Ah ... spring, though late is finally here. The temperature soared in the high 80's and nobody complained. We loved it.

But we had a false sense of security. We were granted one day of glorious sunshine, but this morning, fog has set in. The sky is a gloomy murky gray. Our moods match. It's the beginning of May, spring is halfway through, and our patience wanes.

We are creatures of habit. We are spoiled. We have moderate temperatures, but it's not enough. We need our sunshine.

Where is spring?