Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas exhaustion

Good Morning to everyone.
Hope your Christmas was filled with love and happiness.
I got the opportunity to visit with my Dad in Georgia.
Long trip by car...14 hours of stopping only to gas up and
potty. But it was worth it. It's the first time in the 20+ years
I've been with my husband that we've spent the holiday with my
Dad. It made him extremely happy. He was like a little kid on
Christmas morning. Not sure how many of us have small children
who wake up at the crack of dawn (usually five minutes after Santa
has gone to bed from struggling to put something together all night) then
they pull everyone out of bed to see what Santa brought. My two have
been past that for years. They sleep in. Well, try to explain
that teenagers just aren't that into waking up before noon to a man in his PJ's
going from room to room at 7 A.M. telling everyone Santa came, get up, get up.
Of course, I rolled over opened one eye and stared at my husband and said,
"Sorry Honey, I didn't know my Dad had lost his mind."
When we finally made it into the living room, he at least had coffee waiting.
Good man knows what gets the blood pumping and an eye open. My daughter
(16) dropped on the couch beside me and said "At least it's not the early phone
call we get every Christmas." as she laid her head in my lap.
I rubbed her head and told her "Look at the smile on Grandpa's face. Look how
happy you've made him by rolling out of bed and coming in here. You can always
take a nap later, he's like a little kid, you nap when he naps and you're safe for at
least an hour."

The trip home on Sunday was an adventure. Word to the wise, don't let the
husband and son (18) handle the GPS when it comes to choosing an alternate route
to an accident blocking the highway. We got to see a phenomenal dirt road that led
to nowhere because when we got to where their 'alternate route' said to turn, the
bridge was out. Had to turn around and go another way. But a least the countryside
in Virginia was pretty. Did you know that it's true or at least where we were side tracked,
people don't get rid of their old cars in that area, they just park them in the front yard and
use them as decoration. There must have been at least 20 broken down, rusted hunks of
junk in front of one trailer alone. That banjo song from the movie Deliverance ran through my head
and I couldn't stop laughing.
A belated Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!
May we all be healthy, happy and safe.
Tara Nina

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh the weather outside is frightful. . .

Well how about that? It looks like the Northeast will have a white Christmas after all! Living in New England, snow for Christmas isn't always a given. Some years we'll have a green Christmas and a white Easter, you just never know with Mother Nature.

The best thing about this snowstorm though was, it forced me to STAY HOME! You see, I spend just about every weekend in December running to multiple parties or events. It seems every time I turn around, someone wants to raise a glass of egg nog and celebrate the season. As many of you know, I seldom turn down free drinks or food, but by Christmas, I'm stressed out, exhausted, and potentially ready for a trip to the Betty Ford Clinic.

Last night, I watched a Christmas special with my daughters, played a board game, and wrapped all my presents. Today, we're going to make Christmas cookies, and if the snow keeps falling, I might just miss another party scheduled for this evening. Darn.

I've always enjoyed a good snow storm, but this year, it gave me the opportunity to appreciate the season just a little bit more.

So, to all of you, no matter where you live or what holiday (or lack thereof) you celebrate, may you find blessings and joy in the small things, such as staying in your jammies, making cookies, or just spending time with the people you love.

Happy Holidays from all of us in the Sizzling Scribes!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tis' The Season

Today someone told me there are only 10 shopping days left till Christmas. What the heck!? What happened to the rest of December? In fact, what happened to the rest of the year? The Christmas tree went up on the 2nd of December (since I was working the 1st) and I started my Christmas shopping on the 3rd. I know I said I'd start earlier this year but I say the same thing every year and I *never* do. Shopping in December never fails to make me lose my temper because everyone else seems to have lost their minds and their manners. You'd think I'd learn my lesson but I have been known to be shopping on Christmas Eve at 5pm. This year I have managed to finish a bit earlier. Today as a matter of fact.

But the horror doesn't end there, oh no. For now I have to steel myself for the worst Christmas task ever... grocery shopping a few days before THE day. Are fresh vegetables really THAT important? Can't we have frozen turkey? Or better still, can't we just order Chinese food for 10? Why do people feel the need to fill their trolleys like it's the day before Armageddon? The shops are only shut for ONE day for pity's sake! For now, I'll just pray to leave the store with all my fingers intact, as few bruises as possible and hopefully everything I need. But you know what? On Christmas day, when all my family are around me, when the food is eaten and the Christmas spirits are out of the bottle. When gifts are given and received. When I'm another year older. It'll all be worth it.

Won't it?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

those darn games!

Okay, I admit it. I’m an addict. I can’t get enough of my “fix” every day. I use it as a procrastination tool instead of writing, I use it when I’m talking on the phone just to keep my hands busy, I use it as a sleep aid at night to make me drowsy.

What is my addiction? Those silly, little, web-based arcade games. You know them. Bejeweled, Peggle, Jewel Quest, Dynomite. And when I get bored with those, there are always the Spider Solitaire, Free Cell and plain-old Solitaire to play. I’ll sit down at the computer, ostensibly to check my email, and decide to play “just one game” to relax with. An hour later my rear end is asleep and my mouse fingers are freezing and I’m still playing.

So there you have it. My guilty little secret. Those darn games suck me in every time. Granted, because they take so little brain power, the rest of my mind is busy turning over new story lines or working out a bit of dialogue between my hero and heroine. The story file is almost always open just underneath the game window. I’ll write for a while, play for a while (and think), then write for a while.

Of course, my husband always walks in when I’m on the “play for a while” moment…he thinks I don’t write at all. That I just play games every time I tell him I need to get some writing done. How does one explain that one is actually writing even though it just LOOKS like I’m playing Dynomite for the twenty-seventh time this hour?

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. How about you? Have a favorite game/time-waster? I’m always on the lookout for new ones…

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What are you thankful for?

Okay so Thanksgiving (the American version, anyway ;-) is over, and the Canadian version is even MORE over...and perhaps this is a rather cliche topic, but it seemed rather...timely. As my children grow older...and, unfortunately, I do, too....I look at my life and am more and more thankful every day for all the amazing people and blessings in my life. And I thought this was a good opportunity to acknowledge some of them...

I'm thankful for:
-a husband who loves and supports me. Whom I laugh with and have fun with. Who spoils me regularly and whom I respect and adore beyond all reason. Who is a good father and hard worker. And who is one of the best handymen I know!

-for 3 sons who have gone above and beyond all my expectations for my children. Who are fun to be with and who, in turn--even though they're well into their teen years--enjoy being with their parents. Who are affectionate and respectful and seem to know themselves and have a handle on their place in the world in a way I can only take partial credit for.

-for a job that is challenging and rewarding and that has allowed me to provide for my family, while at the same time allowing me the time and flexibility to be both a mother and author.

-for the sense of self and a confidence in who I am that I lacked in my youth. I am no longer the person my parents wanted me to be. I am who I am, and no longer make any apologies for it.

-to live in a country where my health care needs, as well as those of my loved ones, are provided for without worry or compromise. (I had very good reason to be grateful for this over the past couple weeks)

-for the opportunity to explore and experience a diverse and exciting world full of people from all walks of life, and a husband and good friends to do it with. Case in point in a couple of weeks I'm going along with some girlfriends to see the play "My Mother's Jewish Lesbian Wiccan Wedding." And I'm going with a Lesbian Wiccan friend. Ain't life grand? lol

And finally...I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to explore my dream and passion of writing. And to have had the incredible opportunity of actually having my stories published and have strangers read...and ENJOY them!

So, how about you? What are YOU grateful for? (make the list as long as you like. God knows I didn't edit MINE! lol)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Favorite Season

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. Why do I love autumn so much, you ask? There are a lot of reasons, and I'll share a few with you.

The colors. All the reds and golds and oranges of the leaves turning colors are simply breathtaking. I live in North Texas where only a few variety of trees actually change color in autumn. I'm surrounded by mountain cedars which stay green all year long. But those trees that do turn color...there is nothing more beautiful.

The cooler weather. Our summers are hot and humid. Most of us breathe in relief when the weather starts to turn cooler. Finally, we can walk outside without feeling as if we're hit in the face with a wet washcloth!

Football. Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter know how much I love football. I wait all spring and summer to be able to watch football again in the fall. And no, those tight pants the players wear have nothing to do with why I love the sport. Okay, maybe a little. :-)

The holidays. Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas. (I know Christmas is technically a winter holiday, but don't burst my bubble.) Those holidays mean fun for the kids and togetherness for family, lots of good food and laughter. Who doesn't love watching a child open a present on Christmas morning and seeing his or her eyes light up with happiness?

Christmas is the holiday where all of us are children again. And that's the most special reason of all to love autumn.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Blogging on...Blogging

I love the idea of writing a blog—mostly because I’m vain enough to believe, to think, that you and the rest of world not only needs to hear what I have to say but wants to hear it, that what I’m going to write is so clever or interesting that a light bulb will illuminate above your head, you’ll see the world in a different way and recognize my brilliance.

Then I start to write the blog and discover I’m not nearly as clever or interesting on paper (or the screen) as I sound in my own head.

As I fiction writer, I’m a good judge of my own writing, what’s working and what’s not. I might not always correct the problem but that’s usually from laziness or deadlines. Or the overwhelming realization that if I fix that one problem, I have to re-write the whole book so I make a decision to live with it.

When writing a blog, it's more real, more personal. And the words don’t sound like me. They don’t have the inflection or the pauses. I can’t jump into a character’s voice or describe actions. And sometimes, I just sound mean. Words that I speak out loud sound much more harsh when written. And in the end, I scrap the whole thing and write something less interesting, less controversial, less clever.

There are a lot of blogs out there but none that I return to time and again. The last blog I read consistently was of porn star and that was years ago before the term “blog” even came into being. She posted a weekly update on what she was doing and how many movies she’d done that week. The insights into her life were intriguing and it gave me a sense of “knowing” her. (And yes, out of curiosity, I watched one of her movies and realized, it’s still just porn).

I wanted my blog to be like that…to share with people my daily adventures, but you know, I don’t have that many adventures. I enjoy my life and have fun but can’t really imagine that most readers care that I’m knitting an Entrelac shawl. I certainly can’t compete with the adventures of a porn star (and wouldn’t really want to).

So, here’s the point where I normally start deleting. It’s not clever enough, or it feels like it’s a bit depressing. But I’m not going to. I'm going to post it as it. Well, I'll have to do some editing because that's just who I am. Now to wonder if I took out all the really good stuff...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Match Made In Heaven

“Oh…oh, yes…yes... ”

Heat rippled through her veins and settled in the pit of her stomach. This is what she had waited for. The intense moment sent shivers up her spine. Nothing at that very moment would ever surpass the thrill she felt. This is where she wanted to be…this is what she had needed for so long.

Hmmm….what do you think is going on? Maybe someone is about to have the big “O”? NOT! Well, if you love talking books, maybe so. Because that’s what I’m talking about—the thrill of discussing erotic books and knowing that your listener understands exactly what you’re talking about. No questions from either readers or other authors that don’t quite understand the concept of ‘Romantica’, Ellora’s Cave’s coined term for erotic romance.

Relationships…reader to author, reader to reader, author to author, and I was fortunate enough to experience this thrill last month and on all accounts. Hence the ‘match made in heaven’ theory. I’m talking about the Ellora’s Cave Romanticon in Ohio and the entire experience was close to the big “O”. No shit! If you don’t believe me then I would start saving right now and plan to attend the 2010 conference. I know I’ll never miss one.

All in all, the Romanticon was THE best conference I’ve ever attended. I’ve been to other writing conferences and yes, they’ve always been fun and informative, but I came away from Ohio with a renewed enthusiasm for the reading world that I’m so attached to. I think most attendees, readers and authors included, came to “feel out” the atmosphere, this being EC’s first stab at something like this. The company did a phenomenal job.

The venue was tight since the conference was only a three day event, yet if magically flowed from morning to night. I personally have never spent so much time just talking books and meeting fellow authors and readers who were specifically in Ohio for the same reason as me. They love EC, TLC, and CP books. Period. For the first time I felt that all the authors and wonderful readers were on the same level. It didn’t matter if you were standing in the hallway, out front having a cigarette, attending a seminar, eating breakfast or sitting in the bar. We were all there for one reason and an air of intimacy prevailed, something I’ve never experienced outside this conference. I’m not quite sure what fostered this familiarity between everyone—whether is was some unobtrusive thing the employees of Ellora’s Cave did or if the stars were aligned perfectly, but new relationships abounded and I’m sure everyone left with a sense of complete contentment.

So, kudos to everyone who was on Ohio. Thank you to the publishing company and thank you to the readers and authors who cradled my books and lovingly spoke about them. Whether you’re the author who wrote a book or the reader who relives moments within them, we all know those pages, those storylines, those characters are like family. Isn’t it great?

See you in Ohio!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hell in a hand basket

After reading Arianna's blog last week, I couldn't stop laughing.
I had taken my 16 year old shopping for jeans. It seems that Ari is right.
There are no jeans to fit the 'normal' sized women. My daughter is no slim jim.
I'm proud to say she takes after me, round and voluptuous. LOL

What has this world come to that women have to diet and exercise to fit some
golden mold? And what is considered the 'golden' perfect size? Who ever heard of
a size 0?

Wouldn't you think a man would want a woman he could hold onto and not one that a good
stupping in bed would leave battered and bruised?
I think we should start a campaign called 'For the Love of a Woman with Curves'.
So many times you hear about these young girls doing stupid things to their bodies
just to fit in. Self esteem is important at their young age. I'm not saying let's promote
laziness and obesity but good healthy living.
Not everybody's a size 0. I'm not and never plan to be.
On that note, I'm leaving ya'll with a recipe that's fun and tasty.
Don't count the calories on this one :)

Pumpkin Dip

8 ounces of cream cheese
2 cups confectioners sugar
15 ounce can of pumpkin pie filling
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

Mix together well, chill and serve with ginger snap cookies or graham crackers.
UHM, UHM tasty.

Oh and thanks to my friends, this isn't bad with a little Jeramiah Weed on the side to wash it down.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mission Impossible

Yesterday I embarked on a mission as hazardous, frustrating, and fruitless as any crusade in my life.

Yes, I went shopping for jeans. This is on par with going bathing suit shopping, except I KNOW a bathing suit won’t hide any sins, I expect more from a pair of jeans.

First, let me prepare you for the reason for my angst. . .

I am tall—around 5’9” tall, and a good majority of that is in my legs. I’m also rather large around the middle. I’m shaped kind of like an apple on two asparagus stalks. Finding a pair of jeans that are long enough involves digging through rack after rack of jeans. If I’m lucky enough to find a pair that won’t look like Capri pants, I then need to find a size that will fit around my rather rotund tummy.

I don’t know how many size 0, 2, or 4 women are out there buying jeans, but apparently, they must be legion, because those were all the sizes that were in stock at the stores I was visiting. Maybe the size 12 and 14 women had already swooped down and picked up the jeans in my size, I don’t know. All I know is, I could find one, maybe two pairs of jeans in my size after searching through mountains of denim. When I did miraculously find a pair in my size, the waist was so low, I had the mother of all muffin tops hanging out.

It’s enough to make a girl switch to mom jeans! (Because, God forbid, I actually diet and exercise.)

I wonder if this experience will translate to my next story? Perhaps my next heroine won’t be svelte and will have trouble finding clothes that fit. Maybe, just maybe, this experience will make me a better writer.

It sure didn’t help me get a new pair of pants!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Subject, subject, what's the subject...

So it's my turn to blog again and I have no single topic. There are lots of things I want to blog about this weekend but my mind just won't settle on one. It's not like I didn't have warning, my fellow scribe Lynn LaFleur has kindly set up a reminder on our yahoo group calendar for the more absent minded of us. Thank you Lynn! Speaking of that reminder... have I mentioned my love hate relationship with it? If I have my blog all planned out, then I am glad to see it and pat myself on the back every time it appears. Other times (and far more often) it appears when I am least expecting it and nags me like a disappointed mother right up to the last minute when I am still trying to think of a subject. Like this weekend.
So I am just going to tell you all about the things I wanted to mention. Some I feel very strongly about, some were just of personal significance.

My WIP. I have written 1000 plus words on it every day for a week when it's been months of no progress. Yay me! I just need to keep it going when I go back to work on Tuesday because work seems to suck all the creativity out of me and encourage procrastination.

RomantiCon. I wish I was there! Ellora's Cave held their first convention this weekend in Ohio and I can't wait to see the pictures and hear all about it!

X-Factor. If you are in the UK (or on Twitter) then you will know what I am going to say. SHAME on that judge for using that guy's sexuality to take away from a phenomenal performance. It doesn't matter if that's what you meant to do. At the time, that's what you did. If you want to look at it yourself go here:

Stephen Gately. 33 is too young to die, you will be missed. He was brave enough to come out as gay having been a member of one of the most popular boy bands in the UK. His band supported him by giving him a male partner in their music video despite risking their popularity. He was one of the first UK couples to have a civil partnership. It's testament to his character that in all the reports on the news today, not even the British press has anything bad to say about him. Hats off to you Mr Gately, may you rest in peace. My heart goes out to his husband, family and friends.

President Obama addressing the HRC. There are a LOT of strong opinions on this one and despite my own mixed feelings I still believe it was very a important speech.

The March For Equality. Suffice to say that if I were on the right side of the Atlantic I would be there to support the LGBT community. They are fighting for many of the things that I take for granted and it is time for a change.

So there you have it. The reasons I was unable to settle on a subject today. These are all issues that have had an effect me this weekend to varying degrees.
What about you?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Okay, I don't know about you, but I'm psyched! This coming weekend is Ellora's Cave's first every convention, the Romanticon! And I'm going to get to not only meet some of you wonderful readers, I'm going to get to see several of my fellow Scribes!!!

Okay, I know, enough with the exclamation points, Diana. Just calm down. They're only people, you know. Just people who happen to read and write some of the most fantastic erotic romance on the planet!!!

Oops. Did it again. I'll try to be better, honest. But when I think about getting to talk to fellow authors about using Second Life to promote their books, or when I realize I'm on a panel with Tawny Taylor AND Joey Hill???!!! And then there's our very own Lynn LaFleur who's in on the discussion of the Editor/Author marriage to start off the conference, and Ruby Storm talking about writing in historical genre to finish us off!!!! Sorry, the exclamation points just have to come out again.

I'm gonna get to see so many of you! If you're going, leave a note here and let's see if we can't all get together (at the bar drinking Cosmos if Ruby has her way).

Yipee! Just a few more days!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great Beginnings

I belong to several Yahoo groups dedicated to writers and writing. There was an interesting discussion on one this week about opening lines of a book. It was such fun to read what the authors posted. My MasterCard wasn't happy since I had to make a trip to Barnes and on a shopping trip after reading so many of those great openings. Well, at least I earned a lot of points toward a B&N gift certificate. :-)

I decided to ask the Sizzling Scribes to contribute to my blog this week with their favorite opening lines of one of their books. They graciously agreed to help me.

He saw her standing with a group of three other women. Lust hit him with the force of a size thirteen combat boot rammed into his stomach.
One Night of Pleasure
by Lynn LaFleur
Ellora's Cave

"Mr. Coleridge, I'm Constable Anderson." The officer walked forward, his face and hands scrubbed clean, but his uniform reeking of smoke and dust and death. His eyes and his stench told the story long before he spoke. "I'm very sorry to inform you that there's been an accident."
Firefly Promise
by Nikki Soarde
Ellora's Cave

The corner of Jackson McCay's mouth lifted arrogantly as he stared across the room directly into a set of angry slanting eyes. Lowering his gaze to the barrel of the small derringer pointed straight at his heart, he reached for his own gun lying heavy at his side and lifted it slowly from the holster to set it carefully on the table before him. The sudden click of the silver derringer's hammer being pulled back echoed in the quiet room, an ominous threat as to what would transpire if he didn't continue to follow orders.
Perfect Betrayal
by Ruby Storm
Ellora's Cave

Kendra stood to the full stretch of her five foot seven inch height and glared down at the gorgeous man lounging in the visitor chair on the far side of her desk. "Brand, if you ever put your fangs on one of my friends again, I'm going to rip them out and make myself a pair of earrings."
Vampires and Donuts
from Ellora's Cavemen: Legendary Tails II
by Tielle St. Clare
Ellora's Cave

"Mayday, mayday, this is Rafferty Sloan of the Imperial Cruiser The Federation. We're caught in an unknown planet's orbit at the following coordinates." Sloan rattled off the coordinates and launched the emergency beacon. Feck, he hoped at least one beacon escaped the gravitational pull and made it into open space.
Sloan's Heart
by Arianna Hart
Ellora's Cave

Like the cover of a romance novel, the young couple lay intertwined with each other on a heart-shaped bed, modesty safeguarded only by the closeness of their bodies and the tangle of the red satin sheet. The gold of their hair and of the rings on their fingers glinted in the light from the candles that flickered over them. Clothes lay scattered around the room, and a table by the window held the remains of two meals. On the nightstand, an open bottle of champagne rested in a bucket of swiftly melting ice next to two empty champagne flutes.
Believe in the Magic
by Cait Miller
Ellora's Cave

This was such fun! My only problem with reading all these great opening lines is that now I want to read the whole books!

I think my MasterCard is in trouble again.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Low Tech Kind of Day

We all talk about how technology has invaded our lives…we’re strapped to our cell phones, the kids are always texting, and there is no place to escape it. I’ve started to wonder if anyone has a conversation these days that doesn’t involve hitting a button to send or connect.

But yesterday, I went to the Alaska State Fair and you know…it’s a lot like I remember it from when I was a child. Very low tech.

Oh, the cell phones were still present and a lot of people were on them…usually saying “I’m just down from the Grillin’ Challenge booth. I’m waving. Can you see me?”

I saw one TV…at the Direct TV sales booth…but beyond that everyone was engaged in the fair. I didn’t see one video game in a child’s hand. Even the ear-buds were gone from most ears.

Like most Fairs, our day was all about the food and the rides and the strange little booths you only see at the Fair. The rides have gotten a little scarier from when I was a kid but everyone still eats candied apples and cotton candy and the line for a pork chop on a stick was huge! My favorite food of the day was the Denali Cream Puff...5-inch diameter custard fill pastry with chocolate fudge topping. Yummy!

Going to the Fair reminds me of how low tech our lives can be—not all the time, but just to get away from it. The textiles displays are amazing. Admittedly, it was more my generation checking out the quilts but they are still pretty freakin’ impressive.

Over in the barn area, a pig had given birth the night before to 11 piglets. That grew quite a crowd from kids and adults alike as did the baby chicken section where you can actually watch them hatch and see the various growth stages. Including petting the baby chicks at the end. Sooo cute.

And the highlight of the Alaska State Fair…the giant vegetables. A 127-pound cabbage on display. New world record holder I believe. Here is when the tech came out…we all pulled out cell phones and digital cameras to take a picture!

(Note: the picture is the 2nd Place Cabbage...only 125.9 lbs. Same grower.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer's End

Not sure how everyone else's Summer has been but ours has consisted of 90% rain filled days. Does that predict a Snowy Winter in store for us? The old farmers in our area proclaim that it does. Yeah for my skiing and snowboarding teenagers. But for means possible delays in getting to work or better yet, I get to build even better Snowmen...maybe even a whole snow family.
Being originally from the south, we didn't get much snow as a kid so I do enjoy it from time to time.
But back to the end of Summer...
It's been extreme hot weather spiking between 90 and 100 the past week with horrific storms popping up all over. So to get over this odd change in climate, I've decided to ask all of you to share your favorite SUMMER RECIPE.
To start things off here's mine.
10 ounces Brandy
10 ounces Triple Sec
30 ounces Orange Juice
30 ounces Ginger Ale
7 1/2 cups of wine (red or white whichever you like)

This recipe equals one gallon of Gotcha Sangria
We call it that because it goes down easy and sneaks up on you quickly.
Looking forward to checking our your recipes and trying them!!!
Tara Nina
Hot Romance with a Sexy Attitude

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Does Office Max offer a 12 step program???

I admit it, I’m totally addicted to office supplies. I had to go into Staples to buy my children’s school supplies, and I found myself wandering the aisles going, “I’m sure if I buy the $50. desk organizer I will be much more efficient and more able to manage my life!”

I just love all the colorful sticky notes and folders and notebooks. I could spend hours coordinating pens and folders and colored pencils.

Of course, then I’d actually have to DO something with those office supplies, you know, like WRITE!

In all honesty, I have notes for stories written on the backs of receipts, the backs of announcements sent home from my children’s schools, in old college notebooks, and on folded up wads of paper stuffed into my desk drawers. For me, the ideas come when they come, and I don’t always have a handy-dandy notebook and matching colored pen to jot them down in.

Some of my best ideas for stories have been plotted out while doodling during meetings. I’ll get a song in my head and to combat boredom, I’ll try to make a story out of it. I’ve been fiddling around with a story that goes with SON OF A PREACHER MAN by Dusty Springfield. Don’t tell my husband, but that idea came while we were on a road trip and I was supposed to be listening to him vent about work. . .

I guess the moral of this blog is, just because you like all the accessories that go along with writing, doesn’t mean you NEED them to be a writer. All you really need is a writing utensil and a piece of paper—of some sort.

But don’t tell my accountant that, because I’m claiming those colored pens and nifty notebooks I bought today!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

How tweet it is...

It used to be "Do you yahoo?" then it was "Do you have a Blog?" closely followed by "Are you on Facebook?" but the newest craze to sweep the net is Twitter. Ok, maybe not so very new. It's been around for a while but I only discovered it a few months ago. For me, as wtih many people it's become a big part of my daily routine. It took me a while to find my way and to discover what the point of it all was. So, if Twitter is still a big mystery to you, here is what I've discovered.

Twitter is what you make of it.
It can be somewhere you visit several times a day, or once a month. Somewhere you post advertisements, new book releases, reviews or hold chats. It can be where you go to find out about all of those. It's a place to go to keep track of how your favorite author is progressing with their work in progress. Find out behind the scenes information about your favorite tv shows from the people who work on them. Touch base with your favorite actors or comedians. Find out what's happening in the world, sometimes before it hits the news. Or just make new friends and chat about your lives. In the few months I've been a member of the community I've done all those things and more.
So tell me, do you tweet?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Vacation anyone?

As my husband and I get ready to take our first vacation sans children, I find myself in a bittersweet place. In our years together BK (Before Kids), we didn’t take many vacations as we couldn’t really afford them, so we went only to places we could get to and come home from on the same day.

Once we had children (2 of them) we did the “staycation” thing long before it was popular. But all a kid really needs is a hose, a sprinkler and a hot day. An ice cream cone from the little white truck doesn’t hurt, either. Who needs to go anywhere?

Then my parents gave us their old pop-up trailer – the same one I’d camped in when I was a kid growing up. My husband’s family had camped as well and we found our feet itching to take the kids somewhere. Anywhere. It didn’t matter…just away for a weekend.

And so it began. Every year was someplace different. At first, we would only go for three-day visits, knowing their ability to handle long car rides had to be honed and refined before trying anything longer. So Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA and the North Pole on Whiteface Mountain with a stop at Frontier Town became our first forays. Zoos and “hands-on” museums were the order of the day and we had a lot of fun seeing who could build the fastest gizmo or make the tallest tower with the huge building blocks.

They kids grew and so did the length of time we stayed away from home. The Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut and whale watching, Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower one year, Colonial Williamsburg in Virgina the next (and if you’re looking for a great deal, get the year-long pass, even if you’re going to be there only a few days. We figured the kids would be able to handle two days max – and they kept begging to go back. We ended up spending five days wandering the town and participating in lots of activities, including raising a barn! Of course, it didn’t hurt that we slipped in a day to Busch Gardens as well).

And then came Disney. With friends and family scattered throughout the Sunshine State, we combine our trips to Florida with family reunions and stays at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness. Gotta love a trip where one can walk out of the campsite, take a boat and be in the Magic Kingdom - all in half an hour! We’ve now been there a total of four times and will probably go back again in 2010.

So what’s different this year? When my husband’s sister died suddenly last year, her insurance policy listed her mom as the beneficiary. She and my husband’s mother had always planned a trip to Alaska – which they never got to take before Chele’s passing. So my M-I-L decided to use that money to fund a trip for her remaining children and their spouses, plus a niece to help her with her wheelchair.

A bittersweet trip to be sure. First one without children in nearly twenty years, first one on a guided tour rather than us doing our own thing. It wouldn’t even be happening but for my sister-in-law’s accidental death.

And yet….it’s freaking ALASKA!!! We’re going to see glaciers and Denali (Mount McKinley to those of us in the “lower 48”)!!! I’m going to cross two things off my list of Ten Things to do Before I Die list (I’m going to get to see mountains with permanent snow on them and I’m going to see the sun not set. Well, almost not set. It gets to twilight and then it comes back up again, but I’m counting it!). I’m going on a CRUISE, for crying out loud! All the food I can eat and then some. Swimming pool and nightly music. Cue Doc and the Captain, Julie, Issac and Gopher! (and if you know who those people are – um, our ages are showing!).

It’ll be hardest leaving the kids behind. They, on the other hand, can’t wait for Mom and Dad to leave. My son tonight realized he’s going to get seven full days in the house all by himself after his sister leaves for college. I could see the wheels start turning in his head the moment he said, “Sweet!” in response to my affirmation that his math was correct. No, they’re not going to have any trouble at all with Mom and Dad leaving them alone.

And the two of us? My husband and I are looking at this as the honeymoon we wanted but couldn’t afford. We’re soon to be empty-nesters and I can’t think of a better way to reconnect with the man I married. Sappy? Probably. But I am SO looking forward to it!

The one part of this trip that might not come off is a hoped-for booksigning. Because we're on a tour, our free time is limited and scheduling one will be difficult. But I'm still hoping to see fellow scribe Tielle St. Clare at least (waves furiously and hopes to meet for lunch!).

If you live in Alaska, drop me a line or leave a note here. I'd love tips on what to see and do in Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Seward, Ketchikan, Haines and Juneau. And who knows? Maybe I can steal away from the group for a lunch with you! Although I might just have my wonderful husband in tow and you might have to put up with us making goo-goo eyes at each other .

Play safe everyone! See you in a few weeks!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Writing Partnerships

I recently joined up with two very good friends of mine to co-author a series for Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press called The Tarot Cafe. Randi Monroe and I write for EC, Micqui Miller and I write for CP.

Turning Point, the first book of The Tarot Cafe series written by Randi and me, released on June 26th. It took us almost a year to write that book. We had delays due to family, personal crises, other writing obligations, you name it. If there could be a problem to stop our writing, we experienced it. But finally, we typed The End and were so excited to have finished our first project together.

Micqui and I are plotting out our first book we want to submit to CP. Micqui writes romantic suspense instead of erotic romance, so her books contain lots of characters and plot and suspense. She has one book out now with CP, Morning Star, a very powerful book about a mother's love for her children.

Randi and I are currently working on our next two books we plan to pitch to our EC editor. She's finishing up the edits on one while I work on the first draft of the second one. Turning Point is Randi's first published book, but I'm sure it won't be her last. She's very talented.

I never thought about working with a writing partner, much less two! But I'm having so much fun with them. We work well together and it's great to bounce ideas off another writer instead of having to work out everything by myself.

The Tarot Cafe and its owners, Synda and Leandra, were introduced in my book, Premonition, from Ellora's Cave. You can read the first chapter and a
sexy love scene on my website, And check out our special website,, for info on our books and yummy recipes.

Randi, Micqui and I have lots of ideas for future books. We hope our readers will enjoy the adventures at The Tarot Cafe.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Time Passages

As authors, we have existing, immutable items that mark the passage of time. Our books sit out there, unchanging even though we continue to evolve.

Two things recently occurred to make me think about this.

This week, Ellora’s Cave is re-releasing Kissing Stone. I wrote this story back in 2003 with the intention that it would be one of three in an anthology. On Monday, it’s being released as a standalone story. Without the opportunity to edit or re-write any bits of the story, I made the choice to have the story reissued. Bracing myself, I picked up Kissing Stone and re-read it, hoping I didn't cringe at what I'd put on paper six years ago.

I didn't cringe. I did learn my style’s changed a lot in six years. Kissing Stone is still a good read. I enjoyed reading it, liked the characters, liked the story. But I think about how I would write it today. The dialogue would be a little different and I’d probably throw in a second hero (since most of my stuff these days involves two guys and a girl). I discovered several places where I used words or phrases that I liked, that I don’t think about using today. Parts of the story seem almost “sweet”…though I have to say I think the whole thing is pretty dang hot.

Having re-read Kissing Stone, I can see my early style and how it’s developed into the voice I have today.

This past week, I had another book release—Dragon’s Prey came out in print. This book is two or more years old and it was one of the most difficult stories for me to write. I struggled with plot and characters and my memories of the book are frustration and dread. So, with it being released onto a whole new group of unsuspecting readers, I went back and looked it over again.

Time has smoothed the memories. A few years’ distance and I can enjoy it again. The characters, the adventures, the hot scenes between the hero and heroine are new again. So new in fact, I had to go back and re-read parts because I couldn’t remember what I’d done. That might not be so much the effects of time but aging.

There are still those stories that I go back and read and cringe, wondering how I could have written it. But I think time is kinder with writing than in much of life. At least for me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

King of Pop VS King of Rock 'n' Roll

Not sure how many out there LOVED Elvis the way my mother did.
She played his 'records' on an old stereo system and sang his tunes
every chance she got. Before I got my own stereo at the ripe age of
twelve, I didn't know other singers existed. LOL
To say she loved Elvis is cutting her infatuation with the man short.
When she was sick and dying of pancreatic cancer, I was fortunate enough
to spend the last week of her life at her side. Every morning when I arrived
she would tell me that she kept hearing Elvis singing to her at night.Towards
the end of the week, she'd had enough and asked me to find the source and turn
it off. But I didn't hear it. I thought the pain meds made her hallucinate so
I simply soothed her soul by saying I'd find it and turn it off. Of course, I
didn't because I didn't hear it. The night she died, I left her room and stood
outside with my family until a nurse called me back in to retrieve her things.
When I entered the MICU, I froze. Out of one of the rooms near her, I heard
Elvis. It was low but since there were no other background noises I could hear it.
I started laughing and crying at the same time. She wasn't crazy on meds, she actually was hearing Elvis. I have a feeling, she's stalking him in heaven :)

To hear Elvis being compared to a pop star kind of knots my gut.
Sure Michael Jackson was talented, could sing and dance, but Elvis
started it all with the sexy shake of his hips.

Got any great Elvis stories?
I'd love to hear them.
Thanks for sharing,
Tara Nina

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day!!!

Happy Father’s Day!!!

I had thought about a few things I could blog about. I could go on and on about my TBR list, or just blab about my personal life, but I decided not to do that.

Why you ask?

Well, because all of that is pretty boring, and besides, it’s FATHER’S DAY!

I don’t think I appreciated my dad that much until I had a child of my own. . .shocker. Suddenly, all those words of wisdom he’d given me over the years seemed much more relevant than they had when I was in my teens.

Once I realized my old man wasn’t the idiot I thought he was when it came to raising children, I started to reconsider some of his other pearls of wisdom. And what do you know? Some of those gems make a lot of sense. For your education, I’ll share some of my favorites.

Never believe what you hear, and only half of what you see.

A crack on the ass never hurt anyone. (I beg to differ. . .)

You may think you can be rude to your mother, but don’t you dare disrespect my wife. (his wife is my mother, they’ve been married for 43 years)

I don’t care what your husband looks like or does for a living as long as he treats you well. (and is a Red Sox fan)

Find a job you love or you’ll be miserable half your waking hours.

Having a lot of money never made anyone healthier or a better person.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. (or in my case, fool me six or seven times and someday I’ll finally learn and dump your ass.)

And my absolute favorite. . .

It’s noon somewhere.

For all you fathers out there, enjoy your day! To all of you who've lost your fathers, I hope some of my dad's gems reminded you of your own dad.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

A week late...

...but not a dollar short. At least, not yet! My apologies for being so long in getting this post up. Life has a funny way of getting in the way sometimes. In fact...let me share with you what my week's been like...

It actually all started on Thursday, June 4th. I'm on my way to my day job, just as I have been for the past twenty-five years. About a year ago I started taking a different route as I was pretty bored with the orginal one (Boring? Twenty-three years traveling the same route day in and day out becomes mind-numbing!). The sun had just peeked over the horizon to my left, the sky was cloudless and all was right with the world.

...Until my car hit something and came to an abrupt halt in the middle of the road. Not until I saw the deer flying threw the air did I realize what I'd hit. My car stalled (I drive a standard) and I shook for several seconds as I fished my cellphone out of my pocket and debated, "Do I call my husband first or 911? Or a tow truck? Triple A? I can't remember!"

Now, I'm not usually a dither-er, but this particular time, I just couldn't think. Yes, I said "this particular time." You see, in these twenty-five years of traveling thirty miles to work and thirty miles home every day, this is the third deer I've managed to slay. In fact, Deerslayer is now the official name of my car at the shop, since two of those deer I've gotten with this car.

Unfortunately, this is the first deer I've hit that wasn't killed on impact. His back leg was broken and he crawled to the edge of the road and fell into the ditch. He couldn't get out the other side and I felt terrible. I'm not a gun owner and am not used to gunshots, so it wasn't fun asking the sheriff who came to go put the deer out of it's misery. But I knew it was for the best and I turned my back and didn't watch. Even though I was ready for it, I still jumped when the gun went off.

As for my car, we thought it might end up being totaled, but since the airbags didn't go off...which, by the way, I'm of a mixed mind about. I mean, I'm glad they didn't go off as I'm not tall and have the seat fairly close to the steering wheel so I can reach the pedals. If it had gone off I'd have ended up with a broken nose and smashed glasses. On the other hand...if they don't go off when I hit a deer broadside...will they EVER go off????

Anyway, since the airbags didn't deploy, they didn't have to total the car. It did, however, take them the week to repair. The collision shop did a great job (you can't tell it was ever in an accident), but that meant I had no car for a whole week. An entire week of begging a ride from someone in a neighboring town who had to go out of her way to pick me up and take me home every day. An entire week of juggling schedules so four people could share one car (I love the fact that both my kids are at the driving or learning-to-drive stage of their lives. Now if only they could afford their OWN cars!). An entire week of having my writing schedule totally thrown out of whack.

...and that's my excuse for not posting when I was supposed to. I wasn't hurt or in shock or anything like that. Just a case of real life getting in the way of good intentions.

Till next safe!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

watch this space!

I spent the weekend at the cabin relaxing instead of creating the blog post I was supposed to be writing...mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa (and with that, I reveal my own religious upbringing! Nikki's not the only one with antiquity and tradition in her background!).

Anyway...I promise a post by tomorrow evening! I'll be witty and pithy and clever and...

...maybe I'd better stop at I promise a post by tomorrow evening.

:) Play safe!


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Electronic violation

It had been my intent to blog this week about the beautiful sunny weekend. It's been a perfect sunny 25 degrees celsius since Friday and in Scotland this is an event worth celebrating. I went to the beach twice and took my dog for a drive along our lovely coast. However yesterday there was a cloud ruining my fun. A telephone call from my credit card company asking me if I had just spent almost $600 in a Walmart in America a few moments ago. Sitting in my car in Scotland my heart sank along with the sunset I had been watching. After a run of security questions my credit card company told me it was all fine. They had cancelled the card, I wouldn't be charged for the false transactions and they would have a new card sent to me in a few days. Really all it will cost me is the inconvenience of changing any charges set up for the old card over to the new one.
So why do I still feel angry and violated?

I am angry that right now someone is sitting enjoying $600 worth of stolen goods and will very likely never pay for it. I am angry that someone took the trust I gave them by using my credit card and violated it by selling my details on to god knows how many other people. I am very glad and thankful to my credit card company for their vigilance which has prevented any more fraudulent use of my card and making this process as easy as possible so far. At the end of the day, it will only be a little inconvenience...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

You know you're a Mennonite when...

In keeping with the rather...religious theme of my new release, ESSENTIAL SEDUCTION, and the fact that I've recently started reading a book (A Complicated Kindness) written by a woman who, I swear, has lived at least part of my life as a Mennonite and has now set it to paper...I thought I'd give you all a little glimpse of life as a "Modern Mennonite." i.e. the kind who use electricity and are allowed to wear jeans. It is a past I have thankfully left far behind, but there is no denying it is a part of me. So, here goes...

You know you’re a Mennonite when:

You have learned to laugh politely when someone asks where you parked your buggy. So original. OMG! I can’t contain myself. Ahem. Moving on…

You find elaborate hand stitched quilts to be quite passé. I grew up maneuvering around the quilt frames that were constantly being set up in major living areas in my house. My cousins and I used to make a game out of crawling around under the quilt and batting balls and blocks in a crazy game of “quilt soccer.” Btw, I tried quilting many times. I suck at it.

You have a “potluck kit” ready to go at a moment’s notice, for all those special church basement moments.

You’ve had your feet washed by a relatively casual acquaintance…also in the church basement.

You have drunk grape juice at communion rather than wine, because alcohol is verboten!

You have eaten cook cheese (fermented skim milk that has the consistency of mucous. Actually quite tasty with caraway), straema pie (I have no idea if that’s spelled correctly, but it’s basically applesauce pie) and cream dressing on your iceberg lettuce. Mmmm….and so healthy, too!

You have eaten butter bread dipped in maple syrup rather than flavored oils. (Now that IS nummy!)

You have played card games such as “Rook” or “Dutch Blitz”.

You have debated whether those card games were appropriate to play on a Sunday.

You know what crokinole is.

You have roller skated to the likes of Amy Grant and Petra. Because it’s okay to roller skate to Christian rock, rather than dance to the Devil’s music. (I guess the Christian beat is somehow less corrupting, and you can’t swing your hips as much when you’re on wheels.)

You can swear like a sailor…only in Pennsylvania Dutch.

I could go on and on... but I'll leave it at that! Does anyone share any of these little idiosyncracies? Any questions? I'm here to educate!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Power of Music

I graduated from high school in 1974. (You do the math.) All through high school, I listened to The Beatles, The Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Bread, Bobby Sherman. (I had SUCH a crush on Bobby Sherman! I even had a huge poster of him taped to the ceiling over my bed.) Yep, I was a pop music junkie. While most of my friends had their radios tuned to country stations (this was Texas, after all), I bebopped around my bedroom to The Partridge Family.

I've always loved music. Any job became easier if I could listen to my favorite songs. When I started writing, music naturally went along with it. The type of music depends on what I'm writing. Sometimes I want to bebop along with those great 70s tunes. Sometimes a movie soundtrack will put me in the exact mood I need. Classical, rock, pop, soft instrumental... It all depends on the scene and the characters.

Imagine a funky bubblegum song playing instead of the "da dum da dum" you expect when Jaws is in the water. Doesn't work at all, does it? It's the same with writing. The music has to be right or the mood is broken.

I write erotic romance for Ellora's Cave and Avon Red. I have to really concentrate when I write a love scene for I want it to be right. I want the reader to *feel* everything my characters are feeling...every sigh, every kiss, every whisk of fingertips over bare skin. Listening to songs with lyrics distracts me during those crucial scenes, so I turn to New Age instrumentals. The strings, harps, and flutes all go along with the sexy mood I'm trying to convey. "Da dum da dum" definitely wouldn't work while writing a love scene.

Does music play an important part in your life? Tell me about it.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Tours

We’ve all heard about them. Some of us maybe have actually done them. Most of us have imagined them. And every author I’ve ever talked to who has done one, dreads them...the Book Tour.

It seems glamorous doesn’t it? Going from bookstore to bookstore, talking about your book, signing copies for adoring fans, the booksellers wining and dining you (or at least providing cookies and tea).

Recently (as in last week), I got the opportunity to peek in on the book tour of a NYT bestselling author. A friend of mine, James Rollins (best known for writing international thrillers with a scientific twist) was on book tour for his YA novel “Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow.” I happened to be in town and he let me tag along for a day.

We started out at 10:00 AM and drove for ninety minutes to get to the first stop. The escort picked us up at noon and we headed off to the first presentation/book signing. After that was finished, the escort drove Jim around the Bay area going from bookstore to bookstore to sign stock. The schedule was well laid out by the escort but distance, travel time and traffic put us in a bit of rush. Several hours and four or more bookstores later (I lost count) we returned to the first location, where Jim did another presentation and signing before the return drive. We finished that signing about 7:30 PM.

This was a “short” day on Jim’s tour.

At no point during the day did we stop. Not for lunch or snacks. And the imagined leisurely moments of lingering amongst all those lovely books turned into glancing at the end caps as I tried to find the bathroom before we took off for the next store.

I can understand now why authors dread these days. Many of us have introverted tendencies so being cheerful and “on” all the time, is draining. By the time we got back in the car to head home, I was tired, hungry and crabby and I didn’t even have to be nice to people.

I'm glad I got to go for the day. The company was good, I got to go across the Golden Gate Bridge, and it gave me some insight into a different side of the publishing world.

Just from my short experience, it seems like chatting with readers and booksellers one on one is the best part of the tour. The travel part is the worst. Still the whole process intrigued me enough to give me something to aspire to…write a book that my publisher (and readers) think is worthy of a book tour.

My only advice…pack a lunch.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Pre Summer Everyone!

FINALLY! It’s finally warming up here in northern Minnesota. And boy has it been a long time coming. We experienced one of the most grueling winters we’ve had in a long time. LOTS of snow and many, many days of below normal temps.

I remember the days of yore being this way when I was a child. Huge snow banks, artic winds blowing, and spit freezing before it hit the ground. Of course, back then my body was a mass of youthful joints and muscles and my brain surely wasn’t at full capacity. We spent many days outside playing when it was -20. (That’s the ‘not at full capacity’ kicking in.)You simply bundled in layers and did what you had to do. The big game was to see how quickly your chin would freeze – well, not actually freeze, but it would stiffen up, making it a bit more difficult to get your face muscles moving properly. Then me and my cohort playmates would laugh our asses off because our faces would be a mess as we tried to smile and our words jumbled because our lips didn’t move.

We were always looking for something to do. The times were perfect for kids who were always looking for something new to experience since there were only four channels on the television, no VCR’s, DVD players or Playstations, and we really had no choice because our parents shoved us out the door and said, “See you at suppertime.”

My sisters and I had the greatest dog when we were young. Spike was a combination of about every big breed of canine you could imagine. And that crazy idiot loved to retrieve. Didn’t matter if it were a rock, a ball, or a cantaloupe. As long as you threw it, he’d chase it. So one day we got this bright idea of implementing his animal-god-given talent. We tied a flying saucer (remember those?) to the back of our toboggan, then spent the next thirty minutes rolling snowballs and loading up the front of the sled. Finding a harness, we hooked the dog up, loaded our little sister onto the saucer and climbed aboard the toboggan. We spent the next thirty minutes screaming in joy as we whipped one snowball after another and Spike just kept up the chase. We were given the rides of our lives around town as we clung on tightly with one arm and kept the stream of snowballs airborne.

Then along came the advent of snowmobiling. Not the same machines that are sold now but a safe little 10 horsepower chunk of metal with skis and a hard vinyl seat. Perfect for tying a long rope to as one of us drove and the other strapped on old alpine skis. It makes me shake my head in wonder that we’re all still alive. We took out more trees, hit more parked cars, and took more headers than should have been allowable. I remember once we found some cardboard so we came up with the bright idea to have two people sit on the cardboard as one held on tightly with one hand, using the other to wrap around the person in front of us. The job the person in front had was to hold the rope tightly as we were pulled around. Sheesh. We never did get more than a five second ride on the cardboard because immediately we’d fly off it but weren’t smart enough to let go. So down and around we’d go, sliding on our ass and screaming in delight.

Oh, hey. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the cold, cold winter we experienced the past year. So easy to get off track. So now as an adult, I’m thinking I experienced childhood with a helluva lot more enthusiasm and imagination than the kids of today. But we’ll talk more of that later. I just got out of the hottub. I had to soak my sore joints. Wonder why my shoulders, my hips, and my knees ache all the time? Well, I’ll figure it out when I’m sitting in the chair watching my taped shows. Oh hell, I could go out and sit in the sun since it FINALLY WARMED UP!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Men and Women--different sexes or different species?

My older sister once said to me that marriage was a barbaric institution and men and women were really never meant to live together. At the time, I was dating and in the midst of new love so I thought she was just being an old married woman.

After twelve years of marriage, I have to wonder if she might have been onto something. . .

Let me preface this by saying, I have a wonderful husband whom I love with all my heart and I think we have a pretty solid marriage based on mutual respect and values not to mention good sex.

That said, there are times when I could happily beat him with a stick.

Men and women just think differently. They have different meanings for the same words and a totally different understanding of time. Now, this may be generalizing a lot, but it’s my blog so I can do that!

Let me give you a few examples. . .

Men- I’ll be back in ten minutes. This really means, I have no idea when I’ll be back, but I think it will be less than an hour unless, of course, I run into someone I know and we have to solve the world’s problems.

Men- Just let me watch the last two minutes of the game. This really means the last quarter/half/two innings etc. and will take upwards of half an hour and at least two more drinks.

Men- I just had a beer or two with the guys. This really means I had less than a case of beer and you should be glad I didn’t end up on stage with the stripper like my buddy did.

Men-I cleaned the kitchen. This means, I put my dishes in the dishwasher.

Men- I was watching the kids! This means, I was asleep on the couch, but in the same building as the children when they set fire to the cat.

I think the divorce rate would go down significantly if all married couples lived in duplexes—men on one side, women on the other with common rooms in the middle. Women could decorate with all the girly frou-frou things they wanted and put up towels no one can use with the soap no one can use and men wouldn’t be mystified by items in the medicine closet. Men would be able to burp and fart and watch TV in their underwear while leaving towels on the floor and eating directly out of the carton/bag/box. Everyone would be happy.
What do you think?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Itchy Feet

Once again it's time to exercise my itchy feet: at stupid o'clock on Tuesday morning I am leaving for Orlando Florida! Going from a sunny, but cool, 10 degrees in Bonnie Scotland to a hot and humid 27 degrees. I love my home town and my beautiful country but every once in a while I have to get out of it and travel, to see and do something different. In this case I will be visiting the magical world of Disney and as many other theme parks as I can squeeze into the first week. The second week is reserved for the annual Romantic Times Convention - an event that I look forward to with more anticipation every year.

Truthfully though, the destination isn't the be all and end all for me. What I love is the whole experience. Even the terror of the Trans-Atlantic flight. I love the planning of the trip - even when I procrastinate so often that I have to do a last minute rush. Buying new clothes and trying to fit everything into your suitcase (I do NOT understand the concept of packing light). I like researching things to do and see, the anticipation of it, the excitement. Everything that comes before you actually get there and experience it all first hand. I'm not lovin' the fact that I have to leave the house at 2.30am to check in for a 6.30am flight but what the hell, I probably wouldn't sleep anyway (see previous note about Trans-Atlantic terror).

What about you? Do you share my feelings? Or is the thought of travel and everything that goes with it just a nightmare you wish you never have?

Hope to see many of you at the Romantic Times Convention in Orlando this year whatever your feelings.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Of clutter and escapes...

With a new release coming next week (STRESS RELIEF on April 17th; no cover yet or you know I'd post it), I should be going full-tilt into promo-mode – getting my name out there and letting readers know there soon will be another Diana Hunter novel for their enjoyment. And I will – just as I’ll let know people know I’m a finalist in the Best Writer category at the Bondage Awards (if you want to vote, you can, by the way. Just go here and scroll to ‘Best Writer’ and choose me from the drop-down menu. You can vote once a day).

But recently I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the crush of online information. For example, I like my Twitter account, but decided I really didn’t care what some people had for breakfast and so stopped following about a dozen people. I belonged to a list-serve for my day job that only seemed to clutter the email address I got just for them. The flaming and sometimes unprofessional attitudes only served to tick me off –and for what reason or to what avail? None. Bye-bye list serve!

The level of stress in my life has dropped dramatically this past week because, besides these actions, I’ve also unsubscribed from several lists I wasn’t really following anyway. I went no-mail on a bunch of others and added others to my RSS reader instead of getting the emails to further streamline my time. I truly feel so much less burdened. It isn’t that I don’t care about any of these topics, rather that I just am spread too thin and as a result, am not able to go deeply into any of them. My interest can only be superficial and time-consuming and that only leads to frustration. If it is true that, “where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise,” then I’m choosing to be blissfully ignorant of some issues regarding the state of publishing today, the machinations of educators who can’t be professional, and what people ate for which meal.

So what have I done with all this time? Believe it or not, I gave myself back nearly an hour a day. I’d like to say I’ve spent it writing a new book and next week, I promise, I will. But this week I went for a walk in one of my favorite worlds: Uru. Telling a story in a non-linear fashion has always fascinated me and the Myst series remains one of the most well-done examples of this budding genre. It was a wonderful escape and makes me long to write the fantasy I started a while back.

Which brought me to a decision: after I finish my current work-in-progress (which should be by the end of the month), I’m going into a world of my own creation for the summer. I’m immersing myself in a story that has been niggling at my brain for too long and is now insistent. At this point it’s a fantasy with erotic elements rather than a straight erotic romance, so who knows where it’ll end up once it’s done. But I’ll worry about that later. For right now, I’m planning to leave the real world behind and live in my imagination for a while.

And to think – authors are not only allowed to do this, but we’re encouraged to! I love being a writer!

So what about it? What are your favorite de-cluttering activities – and your favorite escapes?

Play safe,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why Write a Series?

I spent some time on the Ellora's Cave fan chat group a while back and "met" someone who had never read any of my books. She asked me some questions, I assume to get to know me a bit better before spending her hard-earned cash on a book by an author she didn't like.

One of her questions had to do with series and why an author decides to write them. Great question, and it made me think about my own books. When I got the idea for Rent-A-Stud, I never thought about writing a series that would include books about the other two Cooper siblings. I wanted to tell Jade and Zach's story. I figured I would type "The End" and go on my merry way with a different set of characters in the next book.

Nuh-uh. Michelle and Brent, Zach's sister and brother, wouldn't leave me alone. They demanded that I tell their stories. Well, when my characters start making demands, I'm gonna listen! Michelle's Men was born, the story of Michelle and the two men who fall in love with her.

While I was writing about Michelle happily making merry with her guys, Brent was standing behind me, impatiently tapping his foot. "Write MY book," he told me. "Hey," I told him back, "I have contracts for other books. You'll have to wait."

Brent wasn't exactly patient. He kept bugging me until I finally HAD to write his book so he would leave me alone.

So two years after the release of Michelle's Men, Brent now has his own story--Almost Perfection. I had a lot of fun redeeming the "bad boy" of Coopers' Companions. He needed a strong woman to tame him and show him how special the love between a man and woman can be. Robin is that woman.

I didn't mean for Zach's book to be the first of a series, but I truly enjoyed writing all three books. Will I do another series? I plan to. I love reading them, and loved writing a series more than I thought I would.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Packing for Nome

It’s that time of year when most of the country is starting to actually believe that Spring might be just around the corner…and here in Alaska we’re watching, tracking and in some cases (mine) obsessing about the Iditarod. It’s an 1100 mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome. There were 67 mushers (yes, that’s what they’re called) who started the race a week ago. The winner is expected to arrive in Nome, Alaska sometime Tuesday night.

I’ll be there. Not because I’m a big enough fan to have to be at the finish line but because my day job includes TV coverage of the start and finish of the race. We’ll do a one-hour live broadcast of the finish no matter when it occurs. Last year that was at 2:45 in the morning. We’re hoping for a daylight finish (makes so much better TV).

But packing for Nome isn’t like going on most trips. My attitude when traveling is “if I forgot it, I’ll just buy a new one”. Can’t really do that in Nome. You can get the basics but it’s expensive and you probably don’t want to arrive and find you’ve left all your undies at home. There’s no Target or Wal-Mart near by.

There is a Subway (attached to a movie theater). I think that’s the only fast food place in Nome.

And the weather is changeable. It’s on the southern coast of the Seward Peninsula in Northwest Alaska. Last week, the temperatures were in the 20s. This week, the highs will be around -5 with a wind chill of -35. Suddenly my plan of wearing jeans and long johns doesn’t seem like it’s going to be warm enough.

So for three days, I’ll pack as many clothes as I would for week in the Lower 48, not so I have the variety but so I have layers. Walking the ten minutes from our production site to hotel could be an extremely uncomfortable trip.

But still, despite the cold and the lack of amenities, it’s a great experience. Seeing that first musher and his dog team arrive is thrilling. It’s amazing when you think about what they accomplish. For nine days, they run across the state, camping, sleeping when they can, resting only when they have to. They carry almost everything but food with them, melting snow for water, cooking over a propane fire.

And I can’t figure out how to pack for three days in Nome. More power to them.

Well, better go finish up. Don’t want to forget my undies.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Is writing therapeutic and life saving?

As writers, have you ever sat back and realized that our environment plays a part in our manuscript's characters? On a snowy day, without thinking, we may have placed our character's in a warm, cozy shack with hot chocolate (spiked of course)and no way out of this private haven until the storm passes.
The mood can go in a selection of several different ways, all of which I feel are dependent of your own mood. If the environment surrounding you is serene, then your characters have a chance at a quite, romantic escape filled with hot sex. But I've found that it's almost never 'serene' in anyone's household. If the writer is angered (let's say by a lovely, no-it-all 17 year old) then this scene can twist into a full blown argument or fight without the author realizing it until the re-read. But as writers, we have the ability to rearrange the words and bring that fight back on track and end our character's up in a romp of purely erotic sexual release due to the high emotion caused by the argument.
Ever wondered if you in author mode (we have to be clear here so no one ends up in lock-up for murder) Killed someone off because you were angry? Did the dead character take on physical aspects of the individual you were angered by?
Does this mean that writing is therapeutic and saves lives?
I believe it is. Because in real life, we can't just kill people off. But on paper...
Can you tell I've had enough of winter and want spring?

Monday, February 23, 2009

If wishes were horses. . .

I have been reading a lot lately. Basically, it's a form of procrastination. I don't want to exercise, I don't want to diet, and I REALLY REALLY don't want to clean my house, so instead, I MUST, ABSOLUTELY MUST finish this book. And then the next one, and the next one, and the next one.

I love to lose myself in a good book. I love that heavy sigh feeling I get after finishing one with a happy ending, and I love it when the author is so good I think about the story for days afterwards.

I'd also love to be one of those authors!

My Irish grandmother always said "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." And boy is that ever the truth, though in my case it would be, "If ideas were books, Ari would sell!" Every time I finish a good book, about a million ideas pop into my head for books of my own. Every time I hear a good song on the radio, I start thinking about characters that go along with those songs. When I eavesdrop and people watch while waiting for my children to get out of school, practice, dance class, etc, I come up with stories, stories and more stories.

When I sit down at the computer after work at night, I fall asleep.

If there was a way to get all these stories that are spinning around in my head into the computer without me actually applying butt to chair and fingers to keyboard, I'd be in literary heaven. . .or at least romance writer heaven. Unfortunately, writing takes time and energy and a lot of work. It also takes determination and the ability to turn those ideas into stories people want to read.

Someday, I'll have the time and energy to write again. Lord knows I have the determination. The ability, I'm still working on. . . In the meantime, I'll keep thinking up stories and jotting them down on whatever paper is handy.

But if anyone invents a direct connection between brain and computer, let me know!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good Riddance Valentine's Day

And so another Valentine's Day passes like murky water under the bridge. Bah Humbug! Or something :) Okay, after that, I suppose it's obvious that I was single this Valentines Day. Again. But I'm not bitter... much. So I have spent much of this cardless, giftless, flowerless weekend coming up with reasons why it's good to be single on the 14th of February.

No flowers died for me.
No chocolates = no extra calories.
No hours of indecision over what gift to buy.
No need to succumb to the inflated prices for dinner out.
No disappointment when your significant other doesn't live up to their end of the bargain.

It does help to know that I am not alone but I am just as glad that I was working and busy enough not to think about it too much. I am also glad it's Monday and there is little danger of me hearing that question again. You know the one? It's the question that inspires huge levels of emotion at this time of year, be it dread, anxiety, anger or excitement...
"What did you get for Valentine's Day?"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How many have YOU read?

Every so often someone or another comes out with a list of books everyone MUST read, dahling. I have to admit, such claims always make me picture plump, snooty women holding their lorgnettes and and round, bald men in evening wear all looking down their noses at anything they haven't deemed "literature".

But this month's list by the staff of The Guardian, London's daily paper decided they didn't want the same old list of DWMA (Dead White Male Authors). While some of those works certainly should be read by everyone, the staff decided they needed a broader range of genre and authors on their list.

And how many books should they include? Well, if one reads a book a month his or her entire life and then throws in an extra book (because, after all, some books are really very short...) and lived till the age of would have read a total of 1000 books.

A thousand books. I look around my own personal library and know I have about that many (probably more) in just this room alone. Granted, some of them are Nancy Drew mysteries and a LOT of them are plays. And no, I haven't personally read all the books in my personal library. My husband's philosophy books from college take an entire shelf -- up high because no one's looked at them in years -- and I'm in no hurry to take them down and spend a torturous month with any of them.

I think of my mother-in-law who reads voraciously. She's widowed and doesn't drive, so she's mostly housebound. She reads a romance a day, on average. Sometimes it takes her a day and a half. Most months she manages 28-30 books. At this rate, she'll have read 1000 books in 2 years, 7 months.

So although a thousand books sounds like a lot at first glance, it's very do-able, and I suspect most of us already have finished off (or surpassed) that number already. What makes The Guardian's list different from our own reading?

For one, they broke the list into genre: War & Travel; Science Fiction & Fantasy, Love, Crime, State of the Nation, Comedy, Family Life. For two, they didn't require the authors to be dead. Or white. Or male. And for three, the list is representative of many cultures and many ideas, broadening horizons as good literature (or good lists) should.

Of course the first thing I did was go down the list and see how many I'd read. You can find the list here in the original posting at The Guardian, or here in list form (where I downloaded it...warning: there are 46 pages of it, so if you print it out...go get a cup of coffee and come back). The second list has the advantage of being collated by a mathemetician and also includes a companion list showing how many times an author appears on the original list. Jane Austen, for example, is mentioned six times as all six of her novels are included.

For my total, I counted all the books I'd started, whether I finished them or not (Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man -- I just couldn't get through it. I tried. I really tried. Counted it anyway). It was also somewhat distressing to see authors I'd read, but not the particular book I'd read by that author. Chaim Potok is on the list with two books, but The Chosen, the only book of his I've read, is not one of them. So I didn't count him.

My total? A dismal 101 books.

Now, if I went with the attitude "No, but I saw the movie..." I would be able to check off several hundred more. And this week, partly because of the list, I finally read Kate Chopin's The Awakening. So I'm officially at 102 now.'s my challenge: Go check out the list -- how many have YOU read? And are there any on the list that surprised you?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tid Bits

Because I was COMPLETELY un-inspired this week (as you can probably tell by the lateness of my post) I've decided to use the blog as my personal mini-vent!! There were a few news items that I caught wind of on the net over the past few days that just really irritated me. And I'm wondering how you guys feel about them...

Michael Phelps is caught smoking pot.
Well, that's self-explanatory enough. But what really irritated me about this "news" story was the sheer SCOPE of it all. Pages and PAGES were written about Phelps' "disappointing" behaviour. His "poor judgement." And how this one blew me away..."let down the world." PARDON me? He let down the WORLD?? Somehow I doubt people in Africa and India really give two hoots whether Phelps partied it up a little harder than usual. And, seriously people. How hard up are North America's young people for role models, that one tiny misstep by a man who has proven himself to be a dedicated, capable and supremely talented athlete, is enough to shatter the hopes and dreams of the lot of them? And let's put this into a little bit of perspective, shall we? Michael isn't beating his wife or going out to bars engaging in brawls. He's not abusing young boys (like some other Michael who seems more than capable of maintaining a fan base despite his suspicious behaviours). He's not even smoking CIGARETTES which are, by all accounts far more addictive and damaging to your health. I just try to remember that anyone with a "spotless" reputation...probably just uses a better detergent.

Jessica Simpson looks HUMAN! Not that she's one of my favourite singers, by any means. Frankly I'm hard-pressed to name even one of her songs. I know her best for her appearances on The View and in the Dukes of Hazzard movie. But I certainly saw enough of her face--or should I say her cheeks--in the last few days to last me a lifetime. And all because she had the nerve to eat a couple of cheeseburgers! Will the media make up its mind? In one breath they're scandalizing super-models for their eating disorders and looking like walking skeletons, and in the next they're criticizing a beautiful woman for moving up from a size "0".

Now this one you have to see for yourselves to believe:
Now...from what *I* saw of this woman's performance on the pole, it was about as sexy as an aerobics workout. I've seen FAR more sexual content on "So You think You Can Dance America" (or whatever that's called) or "Dancing with the Stars" than I saw on this stage. Her ONLY offense was to have the nerve to use a metal pole...a piece of equipment that is normally "associated" with strip clubs and bars. But this woman wasn't stripping, was she? She was promoting a fun and innovative route to good aerobic health, but god forbid we promote anything that has ANY association with sex or sexuality. Next thing you know they'll be talking about sex in the classrooms!!

ANy thoughts? Any interesting or irritating news stories on YOUR MSN network this week? Share!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rejections Can Be Good

I recently uncovered some of my older books. And I'm talking way older, like from 30 years ago when I first started writing. When I wrote them, I thought they were the greatest books anyone ever wrote, and couldn't understand why I kept getting rejection letters. What was wrong with those editors! And form rejection letters, no less! My words of wisdom at least deserved personal letters from the head editor, not a form letter from some associate. Sheesh!

Wow, those books were bad. I can read them now and know why an editor didn't accept them. Passive writing, two points-of-view in one paragraph, head-hopping, lack of plot...all those things an author has to learn as she or he grows as a writer.

I know some authors who have sold the first book they ever wrote. That's wonderful, but it's rare. I believe an author learns from rejections, learns by going back over her/his work after it's turned down by an editor or agent. That rejection hurts, but it also tells the author that even though Aunt Mary loved it, it still needs some work for an editor or agent to love it.

Did I give up? I'm too stubborn to give up. With each rejection, I cried a little, ate some chocolate (okay, a lot of chocolate), filed away the letter, and got back to work. I joined the Romance Writers of America, went to a local chapter, joined a critique group, attended writing conferences. My book didn't work when I submitted it. That didn't mean my next book wouldn't be exactly what an editor wanted.

I kept submitting, kept getting rejections. Then, a friend of mine told me about a new e-publisher and I submitted a book to them in 2001. They liked it! They really liked it! I had three books published with them before I moved on with Ellora's Cave, and then Avon Red.

Did I keep all those old rejection letters? You bet I did. They're a part of my growth as an author. An author never stops growing or learning. There are always new characters to create, new worlds to build, new happily-ever-afters to write.

And if I get another rejection, that's okay. I'll cry a little, eat some chocolate, file away the letter, and get back to work.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions Check Up

Now, I’m not a big one for New Year’s Resolutions. They always seem so strict and really, do you want to start off the New Year denying yourself all the things that made the old year fun?

On the other hand, I do think the turning of the calendar is a good time to refocus and put some extra effort into making positive changes. For 2009, I decided to reenergize my efforts to get fit (comes in two parts) and to focus on my writing more.

We’re almost three weeks into 2009 and now is that time resolutions start to crumble and we remember why we didn’t do all the things we’ve resolved to do. They are usually hard and not as much fun. Still, it’s a good time to check up on your resolutions (if you made them) or if you just wanted to make some changes, are they still happening?

Here’s my check up…

My two-part plan to get fit, not surprisingly, involves losing weight and being more active.

So, after almost three weeks, I’m going strong on the weight loss/better eating. Now’s when boredom sets in and I’m going to have to shift menus so I don’t revert back to poor habits. I had forgotten how much more organized you have to be when trying to lose weight. Can’t just run out at lunch (fast food is NOT my friend) or grab a scone (ooh flour and butter) for a snack. On the upside, I already feel sleeker. Don’t know if it’s real or not but I’m letting the happy little fantasy live in my mind.

Working out/being active isn’t quite a habit yet. I still have to drag myself to the treadmill (too cold/icy/slushy/wet to be outside) but I’m using DVDs to keep me going longer. I have a collection of Murder She Wrote and Queer As Folk to entertain me on the walks to nowhere (how’s that for extreme ends of the sexy spectrum?).

As for my writing focus…it’s a little fuzzy. I gave myself a hard deadline to finish the two werewolf books that have been lingering in my mind. Wednesday they go to my editor (hopefully with much rejoicing) and then I’m going to plan my writing year. I’ve got a few projects off my normal scope that will take some time but I think I’m ready to put in the effort and stretch myself a bit.

How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions? Did you make ‘em? It’s a good time to check in with yourself—no blame, no guilt, just a little refocus.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Well everyone, the day I’ve dreaded for a long, long time is looming on the horizon. In a week’s time, I will be an official ‘empty nester’ and I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with it.

I’m certain there are those of you out there who have celebrated that moment when the house becomes yours again, because doesn’t it mean that you are finally your own person once more? Someone who has been released from physical parental duty? I say physical because I don’t imagine we ever quit worrying about our children no matter what their age may be.

I’ve been through this twice already. You know the routine—you watch as your child enters the world and hope like hell you did a good job and raised a now responsible adult. But watching my two sons leave and head out on their own is totally different from watching my youngest—who is my only daughter—light out on her own.

The situation is a bit different. My boys moved only a few miles away. It was both their choice to remain close because they love the rural setting we’re in, are sportsman and never had the urge to fly far. In fact we’re now in business with them and enjoying the fact that we’re all working towards a common goal.

My daughter? Well let’s back up the train here. Twenty years ago I traveled to Bogota, Colombia to adopt a beautiful little two-year old. I won’t go into it but she had a rough first couple of years and the urge I felt to protect was stronger than anything I’d ever encountered. She was an unexpected gift to say the least. I can shut my eyes and it seems like yesterday that I walked into one of Colombia’s adoption agencies only to find this tiny shivering body who was scared out of her wits. Big brown eyes were almost unblinking as she stared about in confusion. It was with teeth gritting that I made it through that first long afternoon of signing papers and tending to political details when all I wanted to do was pull her in my arms and disappear with her.

You know, we had an instant bond. Sounds like a movie, doesn’t it? But that’s how it was. That first evening I wanted to cuddle her in the hotel bed with me but instead I pulled her crib tightly against my mattress and through most of the night we simply stared at each other through the bars. I can’t tell you how my heart flooded with love in that semi-dark room as she handed me a little plastic toy with a fleeting smile she tried to hide. I think it was probably about five in the morning before we both succumbed to sleep. And ever since that first day we’ve been tight as can be and I’ve always counted my blessings to have such a wonderful little person so willing to share her spirit of life with me.

I always thought about how the day would come and she would leave but never thought that time would pass so quickly or that she would be moving across the country. So here I am, only days away from doing what I know is right but still is so hard to imagine that I won’t be able to reach out and touch her. I will support her fully. I will let her spread her wings, let her discover the world without me by her side and hope that she will always be safe. Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do? I am so proud of the woman she has become.

To my daughter: Have a good life, have a happy life and know that I will always love you with all my heart. I will miss your daily presence, your quirky sense of humor and mostly your hugs but I can’t wait to watch you grow on your journey.

Love, Mom

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What's spare time?

If anyone could tell me what spare time is, I'd love to know. I've heard
rumors that it exist but does it?
I truly don't have a second to relax anymore. I thought as you got older
things were supposed to wind down.
But they haven't. I am not complaining. Please don't get me wrong.
I'm busy with my teenagers, work, the back-pain/gout ridden husband and
a writing career that I'm hoping is on the upswing.
It's hard to wear so many hats and remain sane. My characters are screaming to
escape, the husband complains about the house (like I'm the only one capable of cleaning,sheesh)
and editors dropping bombshells about a release date I didn't know was looming.
That's the reason I'm late in posting to the blog.
I hope someone out there can share with me the intricacies of spare time.
I'd love to learn how to gain some.