Sunday, November 30, 2008


While many of my author colleagues worked this month to write a first draft of a novel as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), my goal was to blog every day. I achieved my goal for the most part, blogging twenty-six days out of thirty (I left the last posting up for a few days since it took me an hour to make it all work properly). Like writing itself, daily blogging can become a habit if you DO IT every day. After a few days, you start to think differently. You notice things in the news, in the blog-o-sphere and in everyday life that are blog-worthy. You pay attention differently. You plan to blog, and so you do. At least that's how it went for me. Along the way, I noticed my daily numbers going up—ten, twenty, thirty a day. Some days more. If you build it, they will come. So I will continue to build it and hope you'll come.

Late last week, I read this heartwarming post from author Barbara Samuels on Romancing the Blog. It was called A True Connection, and it was about her parents' 50th anniversary. It's the story of an amazing marriage and family. It's a story worthy of a classic romance novel. I left a comment about my own parents' lovely marriage.

I've mentioned here and on other blogs about being a late-in-life football fan. I blame Line of Scrimmage for this new-found affliction. We were out earlier and I hustled my family home to be in front of the TV in time for today's 4 p.m. kick off of the Pats-Steeler's game. I think my transformation is now complete. I wanted to get home to watch the Pats. And Tom Brady isn't even playing. I am a fan. Shocking!

Alrighty, back to the last of the Same Time Sunday copy edits. We're in the home stretch, and of course I'm freaking out knowing this is the last chance to tweak. Oh the pain of separation! Does anyone else ever feel this way?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Books Make Great Gifts!

As the holiday shopping season begins this Black Friday, I thought it would be a good time to pass along some personal recommendations for your book buying pleasure. I've read just about all of these books and each of the authors is a good friend of mine. Peruse the list below and you will see, there's something for everyone on your list. Now, of course, I have to start with my favorite published book from 2008:

Line of Scrimmage
By: Marie Force
The Hail Mary play of a lifetime . . . An NFL quarterback has just 10 days to convince his soon-to-be ex-wife to give him another chance, and he has to act fast—she’s already engaged to her ex-boyfriend. Readers will laugh and cry and hope—that at the end of the day, these two lovers, who clearly belong together, will somehow find their way back to one another.

“With its humor and endearing characters, Force's charming novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, reaching far beyond sports fans.” —Booklist


Dating da Vinci
By: Malena Lott
A gorgeous young Italian, with nowhere to go . . .His name just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci. When he walks into Ramona Elise's English class, he's a twenty-five-year-old immigrant, struggling to forge a new life in America - but he's lonely, has nowhere to live, and barely speaks English . . .She knows she shouldn't take him home . . .Picking up the pieces of her life after the death of her beloved husband, linguist and teacher Ramona Elise can't help but be charmed by her gorgeous new student. And when he calls her "Mona Lisa" she just about loses her heart . . .

"Delightfully affirming romance!" —Booklist


Romeo Romeo
By: Robin Kaye
Rosalie Ronaldi is a woman focused on her career. She has no intention of ever getting married nor is she a domestic goddess—both major points of contention with her traditional Italian Catholic family. However, when she gets a flat tire and is stranded on the side of the road, a mechanic with a tow truck pulls over, and gives her a hand.
Turns out that “mechanic” is actually Nick Romeo, “Brooklyn’s Donald Trump,” a self-made millionaire and serial dater. He’s instantly attracted to Rosalie, even though she’s far from his usual type of girlfriends who are fortune-hunting sticks with breasts. He quickly realizes, though, that he would have no chance with her if she knew who he was—the multi-millionaire playboy who, back in his misspent youth, got her older brother arrested. So he neglects to mention that detail. Somewhat inexplicably to both of them, they click instantly (helped along by Nick’s protective instincts when Rosalie gets pneumonia), and Nick suddenly becomes her live-in caretaker, cook, housekeeper, and lover, all rolled into one. Looming over his head, though, is his hidden identity and the fact that his company is at odds with Rosalie’s.

“Wonderful Laugh Out Loud Humor, a sexy and precious love story with twists and turns until the very end. Do Not Miss This Treasure!!” —Single Title Reviews


The Wild Sight
By: Loucinda McGary
Cursed with the Irish clairvoyance known as "The Sight," Donovan O'Shea fled to America to escape his "gift." Fifteen years later, his father's illness has forced him to return to the family homestead where years earlier, Donovan's mother disappeared into the fens and was never seen again. Now the same fens are offering up secrets, both ancient and recent, and restoring a terrible legacy that just may drive him mad. And if this were not trouble enough, a beautiful woman walks into his life, claiming to be his half-sister.

Rylie Powell never knew her real father. Her mother would only say he was a charming Irishman who seduced her, married her, and then abandoned her and his baby daughter. But after her mother's death, Rylie finds tantalizing clues about her father that send her off to Northern Ireland and an archeological site on Dermot O'Shea's property, the man listed on her birth certificate as her father.

Did Dermot O'Shea father both Donovan and Rylie? What is Donovan's connection to the Celtic High King Niall of the Nine Hostages? And what secrets do the fens hold that invites murder?

"...brings elements of the supernatural into this smashing romantic suspense novel. ...McGary never shortchanges the sizzling romance... as she weaves in ancient legend and recent murders, building to a dramatic, memorable conclusion." —Publisher’s Weekly Starred review


By: Cheryl Brooks
Looking for something different? If you'd like a strong heroine, plenty of adventure, steamy romance, and hot, erotic sex with an irresistible alien lover who can purr, then this first book in The Cat Star Chronicles series is for you! Join Captain Jacinth "Jack" Rutland and Carkdakund "Cat" Tshevnoe on their rescue mission on a planet with facscinating world customs, danger, and a surprising secret!

"A hugely remarkable first foray into the written word, SLAVE will enthrall and entice. The sexual tension and compatibility of the two main characters are hot enough to start a fire. Add in a thrilling new world and my reading experience was complete." —Romance Junkies


By: Cheryl Brooks
Action, adventure, sizzling romance, and another irresistible Zetithian lover are the hallmarks of this second book in The Cat Star Chronicles series. Join the powerful witch, Tisana, and Leccarian "Leo" Banadansk, a golden-haired Zetithian warrior, in their race to find two kidnapped boys and earn Leo's freedom from a lifetime of slavery! Plenty of laughs are provided by the local animals with whom Tisana can communicate telepathically, but watch out: This witch can set you on fire!

"Ms. Brooks masterfully combined Sci-Fi fantasy, paranormal elements, hot and sensual alien attributes and hilarity with characters that wiggled their way into my heart and dreams. My advice is to rush out and grab a Warrior of your own." —Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviewers


50 Ways to Hex Your Lover
By: Linda Wisdom
What’s a witch to do? 700 year young Jazz Tremaine lives the good life as a curse eliminator and driver for All Creatures Car Service even if ghostly Irma haunts her precious 1956 T-Bird convertible and magick bunny slippers Fluff and Puff make life crazy for her. Now her PI ex vampire Nick Gregory is back in town and needs her help with a serial killer of vampires that’s using dark magick. Can Jazz work with the sexy vampire without reliving the past? What do you think?

“With clever writing, a high sensuality factor and an unfettered imagination, Wisdom makes a sparkling entry into lite urban paranormals.” —Publisher’s Weekly


Hex Appeal
By: Linda Wisdom
Jazz’s life is never boring. Now she’s having disturbing nightmares that involve Nick and he’s having them too. Someone doesn’t want them together and to make matters worse, Jazz’s beloved magick bunny slippers, Fluff and Puff are accused of eating a carny were-weasel! Once again Jazz is doing her hexy stuff to find out who’s messing up her usually blissful dreams and who dared to frame Fluff and Puff when everyone knows were-weasels taste nasty.

“Bless Jazz Tremaine’s witchy, Prada-loving heart – she’s captured mine! I can’t get enough of Jazz and her vamp lover Nick. Kudos to Linda Wisdom for a series that's pure magic!” —Vicki Lewis Thompson, NYT bestselling author of Wild & Hexy


The Lady Flees Her Lord
By: Michele Anne Young
She’s desperate for peace and safety… Unfashionably plump Lucinda, Lady Denbigh, is running from a husband who physically and emotionally abused her because she has failed to produce an heir. Posing as a widow, she seeks refuge in the quiet countryside…
He’s returned from the wars, wounded and tormented… Lord Hugo Wanstead, with a wound that won’t heal, finds his estate impoverished, his sleep torn by nightmares, and brandy his only solace. When he meets Lucinda, he finds her beautiful, body and soul, and thinks she just might give him something to live for… Together they can begin to heal, but not until she is free of her violent past…

"This is a wonderful book. Beautiful historical background with two characters who just are not perfect. It makes the story so much more real when you can relate to them. I look forward to reading more from this author. Armchair Interviews says: Highly recommended for those who love historical romance." —Arm Chair Interviews


SEALed With a Kiss
By: Mary Margaret Daughtridge
Even a hero needs help sometimes… Navy SEAL Lt. Jax Graham is as at home in the water as…well, a seal, but he’s completely out of his depth when his ex-wife dies and he must find a caregiver for the son he hardly knows. He intends to let
Tyler live with his grandmother—until he spends the weekend from hell with the two of them, that is. One look at bright, bossy, and sweetly sexy Pickett Sessoms and Jax knows she’ll expect more than he has to give. But right now, he needs help with his sad and silent son, and she knows a lot about kids. What about Tyler? Well, Tyler is only four years old. He doesn’t know a lot about anything. But he's sure he needs a mommy who isn’t dead, a daddy he can trust, a dog, and a bed of his very own.

"With a hero who's not only a tough Navy SEAL but also an insecure, vulnerable father and a pretty but unsure heroine with a big heart and a huge amount of love to give, how can this story miss? It doesn't; it delivers in a huge way. Throw in a lost little boy and some great dogs and you get a heart-touching story that will keep you smiling and cheering for the characters clear through to the happy ending." —Romantic Times, four and a half out of five.


Books to Look Forward to in 2009

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ahh, The Teenage Years

My nephew Jesse turned 13 today. A cute, smart, thoughtful kid, he's one of the best people I know. Whenever he's at my house, he'll offer to help me with whatever I'm doing. He's fascinated by my writing and asks insightful, interesting questions about my process, where I get the ideas, and how it all comes together. Three of my dad's four grandchildren are now teenagers. "That makes me feel old," Dad said tonight. Good thing for us he doesn't act old! My 16-year-old niece Isabel passed driver's ed today and was walking on air. It seems like five minutes has passed since she was a baby, and now she's about to drive a car. Fortunately for all local drivers, she still has to get 50 hours of driving time in before she can solo. My dad is going to teach her how to drive. God bless him!

In other news, if you're a writer, READ THIS.

If you're looking for an agent, READ THIS.

Great advice in both blogs.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I have a confession to make: I miss the election. Is there a 12-step program for coming off a political season the likes of which we just lived through? No election in my lifetime has ever been as riveting or as important as this one, which is why I probably got so sucked into it. But the real reason, if I'm being honest, is I genuinely love all things political. I have neglected my laundry, my housecleaning, my writing, my children (kidding), and definitely my dear husband in my pursuit of just one more news program about the election. My TiVO was full to overflowing with shows I failed to watch in a timely manner. So I've spent the last few weeks reclaiming my life as election fever wore off. However, even though election is over and I'm thrilled with the outcome, I can't stop reading about it.

Take this article in today's Washington Post: Much to His Chagrin, 'Plain Old Barack' Is Gone. It details the huge adjustments Obama has had to make to the routine that reportedly keeps him sane now that he is President-Elect. How confining it must be to have to travel in a 20-car motorcade to get anywhere when you're used to walking around your neighborhood unencumbered. However, I'm relieved to hear that such enormous effort is being made to keep him and his family safe.

On the other side of the aisle, came this story about the "bruising" year White House Press Secretary Dana Perino has withstood. It can't be easy to be her right now. As a former reporter and media junky (second only to politics and pop culture on my junky list), I found this story to be fascinating.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bad Sex or No Sex?

What's your preference when reading a book? Bad sex or none at all? I read this article today about an award given for bad sex scenes in otherwise literary novels. Some of these writers would clearly benefit from spending a little time with us romance writers. We'll show em how it's. . . ahem. . . done.

Here's an example of what qualified as bad enough to be nominated for the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award:

"He wasn't sure where his penis was in relation to where he wanted it to be, but when her hand curled around it once more, and she pulled him towards her, it felt right," Alastair Campbell writes. "Then as her hand joined the other on his neck and she started making more purring noises, now with little squeals punctuating them, he was pretty sure he was losing his virginity."

Quoting from the article:
Paulo Coelho for his novel Brida, in which the act of sex – on a public footpath – is described as "the moment when Eve was reabsorbed into Adam's body and the two halves became Creation".

"At last, she could no longer control the world around her," Coelho continues, "her five senses seemed to break free and she wasn't strong enough to hold on to them. As if struck by a sacred bolt of lightning, she unleashed them, and the world, the seagulls, the taste of salt, the hard earth, the smell of the sea, the clouds, all disappeared, and in their place appeared a vast gold light, which grew and grew until it touched the most distant star in the galaxy."

That is what we writers refer to as purple prose. Writing sex it hard (no pun intended). Many romance writers say it's the most difficult thing to write. But under no circumstances should your sex scene include seagulls. No matter what!

I also enjoyed this blog post today on Murderati about why we write and who we write for. Powerful stuff.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Buy A Book, Save An Author

The book business needs you this holiday season. Like every industry in America, publishing has taken a few knocks lately, so you'd be doing me and all my writer buddies a huge favor if you could include a few books in the gifts you give this season. Books are an inexpensive way to provide hours of entertainment for someone you love. Whether the people on your list love a good scare, a great romance (Line of Scrimmage), a thriller/mystery, or an intriguing biography, you can help me and my friends by buying just one book. I'm not saying you have to go out and buy my book (Line of Scrimmage). Any book will do (but Line of Scrimmage is pretty good, if I do say so myself). And when you and your friends are done with the books (except for Line of Scrimmage, which you should keep forever), consider donating them to your local library. I thank you, and my writer friends thank you!

Today, I ventured into the maelstrom of Christmas shopping madness. I actually made a decent dent in my list on the first outing. While my teenaged daughter and her friend burned through their report card earnings on their own, my son and I trudged through the mall. He was a pretty good sport for a couple of hours. Then he finally looked up at me and said, "This has been fun and everything, but can we go home now?" So we called his sister to say time's up. I had just talked to her, so I knew she was fine, but she didn't answer her phone. So I called back. Still no answer. Can all the parents out there appreciate what goes through the mind of a mom in those five minutes between no answer and her breathless call, full of apologies, didn't hear the phone, etc.? After her friend went home, she asked me if she was in for a "talking to." I simply said what my mother used to say to me—I hope I live long enough to see your kid scare the hell out of you. My mother didn't live long enough, but I'm sure she's up there saying, SEE, it's no fun, is it? As always, Mom was right.

Finally, a moment of silence in honor of the 45th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy. He lived and died before I was even born, but I've been fascinated by him and his family my entire life. If you're ever in Boston, I'd recommend a trip to his presidential library. It's well worth your time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Divergent Goals

My work-at-home buddy, Consuela and I went for a walk at lunchtime today, even though it was 25 degrees out, and I had an ice cream headache the entire time. She and I frequently take a mid-day stroll to emerge from the bat cave and get some air. I've decided that our walks mean different things to each of us. While I'm looking to get some exercise and get the blood moving, she's out to sniff as many trees, fences, sign posts and inanimate objects as she possibly can. Her goal is to obsessively mark the trail to let the dog world know "Consuela Was Here."

Now this dog is pushing 17 years of age (yes, you read that right) and has lived with us 16 years as of next month. The sad thing is, she has never developed any semblance of leash manners. Three times today on our two-mile walk, I went left around a street sign while she went right, clothes-lining herself. Back I go to unwind her. I gave her the full lead on the leash and kept on going, thinking maybe I might actually get my heart rate up before she has to stop again. Inevitably, I run out of leash before she's done sniffing, and for a 25-pound dog, she sure can dig in when something (usually nasty) gets her attention. Cliff Claven questions which one of us doesn't have good leash manners, claiming the clothes-lining doesn't happen when he walks her. Whatever!

On the way up the hill, she has this funny little boogie-skip jog she does in between sniffing stops. On the way back, she tends to stay closer to me as her energy starts to flag a little. When we got home, I went back to work while my lucky pal took a nice long nap. It's a dog's life. (BTW, she doesn't like being held the way I'm holding her in the photo. She was NOT happy with posing. In fact, she was spring-loaded and ready to bolt the whole time!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mystery Solved

Yesterday, I mentioned that the body of Joseph "Joe Onions" Scanlon had been found here in Rhode Island, 30 years after he was killed in a mob hit. Today I found out where he got that nickname. Apparently, Joe made all the girls cry! LOL! Don't you just LOVE that? As a fiction writer, that's something I wish I had thought up. Truth is, at times, definitely more entertaining than fiction.

While we're on the subject of Rhode Island, tonight on one of the entertainment shows, they featured this fabo new hotel in Dubai, which was described as "a city the size of Rhode Island." Cliff Claven LOVES when people compare things to the size of Rhode Island. It happens more often than you think. Let me know the next time you hear it. I don't get why no one compares things to Delaware. They're not exactly Texas, either.

Today I got the copy edited version of Same Time Sunday from the publisher. Now, let me tell you, as a copy editor my own self, it sure is stressful to get your baby back after it's been through someone else's review (Note from the copy editor: "my own self" is not proper English and should not be mistaken as such). I'm pleased to report that the editor commented on how "clean" it was. YAY! Cleanliness is very important to a copy editor. It may even be more important than Godliness. I'm just saying...

Also today, I got totally cool fan mail (from a real live person who I do not know—this is still an amazing thing even after it's been happening for a while). This is what my new BFF in Virginia Beach had to say about Line of Scrimmage:

A Wonderful Read
Hello Marie,
I had to e-mail you after reading Line of Scrimmage. I love Sundays when I can curl up with a good book as my husband and sons are downstairs watching football. I couldn't put your book down and stayed up past midnight to finish it. I'm 52 years old and have been married for 32 years; I have also read quite a number of romance novels in my time. Your novel was a story that really touched on the characters emotions, feelings and lives, separately and together. It was so easy to relate to them. By the end of the book I was cheering for Ryan and his Susie and felt as if they were friends, not characters in a story. I'm looking forward to reading anything else that you write and wish you all the best in this well chosen endeavor.

If that doesn't just make your day, I don't know what will. Thanks for taking the time to write to me, Marilyn!

Moonrat posted a hysterical story today about the goings on in her office building. I seriously laughed out loud. Check it out.

Finally, Yahoo reported on five TV characters who really have to go. Izzy Stevens on Grey's Anatomy was one of them. THANK YOU! What did I say last week about that damned Denny ghost floating around Seattle Grace? Just too weird for words. I cringe at the notion of them getting it on tonight as the previews suggested they will. EW EW EW! I'm pleased to report that as I suspected it would be, the story line is being universally trashed. I wish the writers would check with me before they air this stuff. I could tell them it isn't going to work. If you happen to talk to them, please give them my number!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Only in Rhode Island...

Big news tonight that the body of Joseph "Joe Onions" Scanlon may have been found 30 years after a mob hit. I want to know how you get the nickname "Joe Onions," or maybe I don't. Also an interesting article in the paper today about 300 murder convictions achieved without a body. I love this true crime stuff. I gravitate toward the crime news in about six daily papers, and some of it finds its way into my romantic suspense novels. I've decided a slightly twisted imagination is critical to writing romantic suspense. What does it say about me that I love to write a nice, juicy murder?

Another Rhode Island story caught my eye tonight. Our governor had to pay a fourth ethics fine, this time $2,500 for hiring his niece. Actually, she's the niece of his wife, and he tried to call her his niece-in-law. Guess what? That didn't fly. Duh! The biggest little state in the union is known for some out there corruption, and these stories are often met with a collective yawn. Personally, I find it amusing that a governor in office nearly eight years thought he'd get away with something so obviously wrong. Again I say DUH!

Watching the depressing news about the auto industry tonight has gotten me thinking that this might be a good time to replace my nine-year-old Honda. Hmmm, do you suppose they'd be willing to cut me a deal? Off to go do some online car shopping!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Had a fun lunch today with a writer buddy. It's so great to talk about our processes, what works, what doesn't, how the thinking changes over time, etc. I was late in joining the Romance Writers of America (RWA). I had already written my seventh book, Line of Scrimmage, when I joined, so I don't have a huge network of writer friends the way others do. My network has definitely grown and expanded in lovely ways since I joined RWA, and the discussions with other writers are great fun. I think we both walked away feeling a little less alone in this solitary pursuit, and I thank her for being a regular blog reader!

There's a great post today on Writer Unboxed by Therese Walsh, whose book "Unbounded" will be out soon. She's starting to feel that panic that sets in when you realize real people—people you know and see every day—will actually be reading your sexy, R-rated book. Been there, done that! I left a comment on her blog encouraging her to enjoy every bit of the great experience of welcoming her debut novel to the shelves without allowing detractors to take anything away from her huge accomplishment. I've experienced the disapproving vibe a few times since September. You know what? I honestly don't care. Before the book came out (when I still had time to put it out under a pen name) I told my dad, my husband, my children and my boss that the book was sexy. I asked them if they'd be embarrassed by that. Each of them said the same thing: they were proud of me and would be proud of my book, too. In fact, my dad said, "Who cares what anyone thinks? You'll be laughing all the way to the bank." Having that kind of support from those closest to me allows me to say "who cares?" whenever that disapproving vibe resurfaces—and actually mean it.

I found this post today on a new-to-me-blog by agent Rachelle Gardner, who makes an interesting point about maintaining the passion for our "calling" as writers. I love how she asks her writer friend if she feels genuine passion for her husband every day. Well, not EVERY day, the friend replies. Then why do you expect to feel that passion for your writing every day? Good question, great point.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Delayed Gratification

The other day, I posted the following on the Casablanca Author's Blog. I'm interested in what my blog readers have to say about this. Let me hear from you!

Yesterday I had lunch with a new-ish friend who read and loved Line of Scrimmage. The last time we dined together she asked if she could read another of my books. I said sure and sent her my latest, a romantic suspense. Today, she asked if we could talk about the book. She had so many questions about the process and the origins of the story. (She also mentioned that my brain must be a busy place. Personally, I prefer the word chaotic.) Did I want to talk about the book? You betcha!

As writers, we wait FOREVER (or so it seems) for our work to see the light of day. It can take years from when we finish a novel until the day we hold it in our hot little hands as a real, live book. "Same Time Sunday" will be out in the Spring of 2009—only 10 years after I had the idea and three years after I finally wrote it. In many other creative fields, the gratification comes a little sooner. Write a song? Here, let me sing it for you. Complete a painting? Put it up on a wall for all to admire. Finish a book? It's kind of hard to shove 400 pages at your visitors and say, LOOK! I wrote a BOOK! So we wait months, sometimes years, to learn whether the story that touched our hearts will touch others as well. That takes perseverance.

I've been very lucky to have a corps of dedicated, enthusiastic readers who have read every word I've written and who kept me going during the long road to publication. Some writers shudder at the idea of showing their work to readers prior to publication. I'm not one of them. I've been asked if I worry that no one will buy the book when it comes out in print. Every one of my readers bought copies of Line of Scrimmage for themselves and everyone they know. I signed scads of copies for each of them. Most of them re-read it as a book and found the experience—as I did myself—to be entirely different. Their reactions, their comments, their passionate response to my stories and my characters have provided me with my own focus group over the years. Without them, I probably would've given up long before my seventh novel became my debut book. I think it takes a lot more courage to show our work to people we know than to put it out there for the masses. Our writing is a window to our soul, one most keep closed to others their entire lives. We choose to expose ourselves and our innermost thoughts and imagination to the world. This takes courage, and it takes perseverance.

I'm closing in on the end of my twelfth novel. And like a proud mom, I believe in and have high hopes for every one of my dozen "children." Each of them has taught me something new or forced me to go places I'd never been before. I've delved into alcoholism, chronic illness, murder, ethical dilemmas and family dynamics. I've ventured into romantic suspense and learned that while I love the outcome, the process is draining. After I finished the first one, a book I called "The Wreck," I was a wreck! I didn't write a word for three months while I recovered. I've written two series, which taught me a whole other form of storytelling. The first series began with the book of my heart, "Treading Water." This is the one that if and when it is one day published, I will be able to say NOW, now I have achieved the goal of my lifetime (other than raising two healthy, productive human children, of course). Every mother has a special affinity for her firstborn. It is no different for writers. While many may come after it, none are ever again quite the same. As I hope for the opportunity to share more of my stories and characters with readers, these experiences, along with the friends I've met along the way, sustain me.

What sustains you during the long wait from finished novel to printed book? Do you allow non-writers to read your work? If so, why? If not, why not? To the readers out there, do you like reading a book in manuscript format?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Make New Friends But Keep the Old

Last night, I went out with four high school classmates under the guise of starting to plan our--GULP--25th reunion. That's such a HORRIFYING number! LOL! We agreed it just doesn't seem possible that nearly a quarter century has passed since we departed high school. We also decided, in the six or so minutes we spent talking about the reunion, that we want something casual and simple next summer, perhaps at a bar by the beach. Sounds good to me! In planning our 20th reunion, I became good friends with a classmate I hadn't known all that well in high school. We traveled in different circles back then, but today, with daughters the same age (who even spent a year in the same 2nd grade class), we found that we have so much in common that we laugh like two fools who've been friends forever whenever we see each other.

I was struck last night by the "anything goes" tone to our conversation. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, was off limits. On the way home, I wondered why five women who haven't spent all that much time together over the last quarter century found it so easy to share things we wouldn't tell most of the people we are closer to today. I decided there's comfort in having known people so long you can't remember not knowing them. Maybe you weren't friends "back then," but you shared a common experience in a time and place that, like it or not, binds you for a lifetime. Five women with nine children between them, a menagerie of pets and husbands, one divorced, one who's had significant health problems, united by a common factor--we were members of the Middletown High School Class of 1984. And judging by the screams of laughter that attracted more than a few stares from others in the bar, the reunion promises to be a good time. My classmates were thrilled to hear that I'd become a published author since we last saw each other. Two had already read Line of Scrimmage and the other two were planning to buy it today. Their support and enthusiasm were overwhelming, and it was fun to share it with them.

I got home last night and realized I totally forgot to blog yesterday! DOH! And here I thought I was getting into the habit! In other weekend news, my cousin Jen called yesterday afternoon to invite my kids to sleep over. She had her teenaged niece for the night and her own son (my son's great pal). There's good news and bad news, she told the kids. The good news is I want you to come sleep over. Yay! The bad news is we're going to church at 5. "What kind of sleep over is that?" my son Jake asked, crestfallen. My husband and I snickered behind our hands and sent them on their way to church! I let Jen know that her sleep over approval rating hovered in negative numbers before it even started. Jen, being Jen, was just fine with that!

Jake got even by getting up at 5:18 a.m.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Authors Promoting Authors

Line of Scrimmage is featured today on Authors Promoting Authors where you take the book that was promoted before yours and post it to your personal blog. So here is a fellow author's book:

Crash Into Darkness, Suzanne Perazzini

Amber has no reason to leave the daily turmoil of life aboard a prison ship, created to house those with the violent Cleaven gene. Though now rehabilitated, she has chosen to stay and counsel the inmates who struggle to come to terms with their imprisonment. Possessing extraordinary gifts - an ability to assess situations with perfect clarity and to feel the emotions of others - her skills are in great demand in the volatile environment of the ship.

Jaden, also rehabilitated and with the special gift of mind reading, ploughs the seas on board the boat that delivers supplies and prisoners to and from the ship.

Amber and Jaden are thrown together when the prisoners rebel and an explosion breaches the hull of the ship during a storm. Together they battle the elements, a new, cold-eyed prisoner who has Amber in his sights and their traumatic pasts which sent them to the ship in the first place.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Suspension of Disbelief

My shows tonight are populated with ghosts. Denny Duquette is back on Grey's, and Dr. Mark Green shows up tonight on E.R.—six years after he died of a brain tumor. Yeah, it's a flashback, but still. . . I'm having trouble suspending the disbelief. I prefer stories, in my books and on T.V., that don't require a huge suspension of disbelief. A guy compacted in a garbage truck coding on the table? That I believe. The ghost of her dead fiance following a doctor around the hospital? Not so much.

Other random thoughts:

--Who else is ready to see Sarah Palin's 15 minutes come to an end?

--Here are 50 things you probably didn't know about our next president. Entertaining reading!

--Does the month of November suck the life out of everyone or is it just me? The short days, the long nights, the gloomy sky, the stench of decaying leaves (actually, I don't mind that one so much). It's hard to be awake, let alone productive. Yet, we slog on knowing that we have to pay our dues in November to get to July. At least the writing is going well!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On Writing

Someone asked me today what part of writing a book is my favorite. Is it the beginning when everything is new and anything is possible? Is it the dreaded middle during which we fight the battle of the sag? Or is it the climatic finish? Before I answer that question, I want to reminisce back to the first book I wrote, Treading Water. That book started and finished with a bang. I remember reaching the point where I had to write the middle and not being all that excited about it. However, that section was very necessary to raise the stakes for the final act. It had to be there, but I had to make myself write it. Now, when I read through that book, it's my favorite part. It's not explosive like the beginning or end, but rather it's made up of small moments that combine to turn a group of people into a family.

Like other romance writers, I most look forward to writing the scenes that involve my hero and heroine interacting with each other. Because the romance usually takes hold in the middle of the book, I'd have to say that's my favorite part. I'm writing a middle right now. I'm working on book 2 in a series that features the same hero and heroine in each book. My challenge in book 2 has been to keep their relationship fresh and conflicted. They're already in love and committed to each other for the long haul, but they're still working out the boundaries and the challenges of accommodating two very public and demanding careers. This is the first time I've written a book that continues a hero and heroine's story from a previous book. At times it has tried me like no other book ever has, but it's been a joy to write this hero and heroine I've come to love so much. He's about to find out that she kept something big from him, so I've got to get back to them. Talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hats off to the Veterans

Taking a moment today to honor the veterans in my life! My dad served in Korea after the war, working on helicopters. He was drafted into the Army and found his life's work in the aviation maintenance profession. My father-in-law was a Flying Tiger in World War II. He was shot down over China and fought to survive for more than a month before being rescued. To this day, he refuses to eat rice. My husband is a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer who served three tours of duty on aircraft carriers: the U.S.S. Saratoga, the U.S.S. Forestal and the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, as well as tours at the Naval War College, Lajes Field in the Azores islands, and Rota, Spain.

I got to trot around with him for his last ten years in the Navy. We lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida. I met lots of veterans and their spouses who serve their country every bit as much as the active duty members do. Military people spend months and sometimes years separated from their loved ones to defend the freedom we take for granted every day.

Thank you to all who've served—past, present and future.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

Favorite T.V. Comedy
Two and a Half Men

Favorite T.V. Drama(s)
Brothers and Sisters
Grey's Anatomy
Private Practice
Lipstick Jungle

Favorite Movies
Pretty Woman
Sex and the City (now firmly in 2nd place after a 2nd viewing)
Sound of Music

Common theme? Romance! (Well, except for Two and a Half Men, which is just flat out hilarious, and E.R., which sprinkles plenty of romance in with the blood and guts.) I admit it, I'm a romance junky. I love it on T.V., in the movies, and of course, in books. Is there anything better than a gripping romance that grabs you by the throat and takes you along for the ride? Is there anything more satisfying than the guarantee of a happily ever after?

I watched the Sex and the City movie for the second time this weekend. I loved it even more this time. The relationship between Carrie and Mr. Big is one of the great cinematic love affairs of our generation. Yes, I really can say that. This is my blog! :-) When he proposes to her in the amazing closet he built for her, I swooned—both times. In the second to last episode of the T.V. show, Big tells Carrie's friends that he loves her and begs them to help him. Miranda's line, "Go get our girl," is one of those lines I wish I'd written. Sigh... There's nothing quite like a good romance.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mindless Tasks

Mindless tasks are my friend. I've had some of my best plot breakthroughs while doing dishes, taking a shower, drying my hair or vacuuming (a particular favorite). Today, it was raking leaves. I hardly ever do yard work. That tends to be Cliff Claven's department, but I needed to trash my dying impatiens, and it was a perfect day for getting outside. As I worked, I puzzled some plot issues I've been having with my WIP.

True to my process, whenever the plot stops coming, I read the book from the beginning. I did that this weekend, and as usual, it got the juices flowing again. After I was done reading, I sat in a quiet room for a while and thought my way through the remainder of the book. I made a mental list of things that need to happen. I thought about the romance between my hero and heroine and how I wanted it to progress in book 2 of their series. Today, while raking leaves, I came up with the absolute perfect ending for this book. Now I can't wait to write it.

In the great debate of plotters vs. seat-of-the-pantsers (that's me), my friend Kristan Higgins recently made a great point. Everyone plots. Some do it on paper, some do it with storyboards, and others, like me, do it in their head. As I pulled plants and raked leaves, I was plotting. I didn't realize it until I got back to the computer and the words were just there, to the tune of 3,000 words for the day. The end is in sight. I've got my mojo back. Oh, and the front yard is temporarily free of leaves. Two birds, one stone.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fans I Never Expected

Several of the "older ladies" in my life have told me recently how much they loved Line of Scrimmage. I have to admit that after they said, "I read your book," I braced myself for the comments about how sexy it was. But the first part was followed each time with "...and I loved it!" WHEW! My dad's cousin, age 75, told me today she plans to read it again. I ran into my aunt, age 77, coming out of church tonight and after she told me how much she loved it she said she bought some extra copies for her friends. "I told them it was sexy," she said, "and now they can't wait to read it." Another friend of ours, age 81, has read all of my books and clamors for more. To be honest, I wasn't expecting the over 70 crowd to embrace LOS and my romance writing career the way they have. However, I couldn't be more delighted to count them among my enthusiastic readers.

My favorite question from Aunt Betty tonight? When will the next one be out? I'm still waiting to hear the exact date that Same Time Sunday will launch, but I think it's May 1. I'll keep you—and Aunt Betty—posted!

Friday, November 7, 2008

News from the Blogosphere

The Bachelorette has broken off her engagement. My faith in reality TV dating is once again shaken. Here's a link to my favorite Bachelor/Bachelorette update site, I Hate Green Beans. Lincee is hilarious! Deanna and Jesse are history. Now a two-time loser in reality love, let's hope Deanna has learned her lesson: maybe you really CAN'T find love by dating 25 people at the same time. However, those of us with nothing to lose will continue to tune in. Hope springs eternal. And there's always Ryan and Trista who have proven that it really CAN happen. For one couple. Out of like 30.

Interesting news from the publishing world thanks to Moonrat today, who ably explained the October meltdown that occurred when book sellers returned massive quantities of stock to raise capital to supply the shelves for the Christmas season. Moonie asks us all to go out and buy a book or ten this weekend. I'll be happy to do my part for the cause. Get out there and help us out! Buy books! Books for everyone! Books for Christmas!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today I got in the car and tuned the radio to my favorite classic rock station in Providence, and guess what they're playing? YES! ALL CHRISTMAS ALL THE TIME and it is NOVEMBER SIXTH! I say STOP THE MADNESS! No wonder we hear of cases of holiday rage! The season seems to start earlier every year. My friend went to get a last-minute Halloween item on Halloween. What was she thinking? They had already switched over to Christmas. Can we get THROUGH Halloween people? Please?

The Christmas season used to start the day after Thanksgiving, but with three of my favorite radio stations going All Christmas All the Time in EARLY November, I say there oughta be a law. Who can I see about this? The FCC? Can they BAN Christmas music prior to Thanksgiving? We need a grass-roots movement. Who's with me? Thank goodness for my iPod and the handy-dandy adapter I bought for my car. Looks like it will be getting a lot of use between now and January 1st—that is if the stations actually go back to business as usual after New Year's Day.

On the plus side, I paid $30 today to fill up my car. Can't remember the last time it was that cheap. That ALMOST took the sting out of the Christmas music. Almost.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After

I'm glad (and relieved) that Barack Obama won. I'm hopeful that he'll bring youthful energy and excitement back to our country, two things we badly need. I was touched by the tears rolling down Jesse Jackson's face last night. I'm not a fan of his, but he fought the good fight in the Civil Rights Movement, and I could only imagine what last night meant to him and so many other people who remember a much different America than the one we live in today. I salute John McCain. You can't be an American and not be compelled by his story. And, like most people, I'm glad the longest election EVER is over! During the primaries, my son kept asking me, "Do we have a new President yet?" I would reply, "Not yet, Jake." Over and over I answered that same question. Today, I was finally able to tell him that yes, we have a new President. It's truly a brand new day.

RIP Michael Crichton, creator of ER, one of my all-time favorite T.V. shows. I've hardly missed an episode in 14 years.

I'm reading "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" by Julie James, who I shared a cab with at RWA Nationals this summer. It took a while to get going, but now that the hero and heroine have met, I'm looking forward to some sparks flying!

And I'm working on book two in my romantic suspense series. This book is realllllly making me work for it, but I'm hoping the end result will make it all worthwhile. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day!

Yes, of course I voted! It was easier for me than most since the polling place is within walking distance of my house. Jake (my 10-year-old) went with me and came right into the booth with me to watch the whole thing. This is the first election our kids have had a real interest in. Going back to the endless primaries, Jake kept asking if we had a new president yet. He just couldn't believe the whole thing took this long (neither can the rest of us, right?) Emily watched the debates with interest and asked intelligent questions throughout the process.

Both the middle and elementary schools held elaborate mock elections. In both cases, Barack Obama was the winner, which is not surprising in this very blue state of Rhode Island. While most of us are thrilled the endless campaign is over, it has been an exciting election. We can only hope that better days are ahead for our country.

Update from yesterday: I finished Catch of the Day by my friend Kristan Higgins. I laughed, I cried, I LOVED it. Make sure you pick up a copy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What I'm Reading

I'm about half way through CATCH OF THE DAY by RITA winner (and my friend) Kristan Higgins. I love it! If you haven't read it, I'd recommend you run right out and buy it. COTD is a great story about an unlucky-in-love heroine who has one disastrous date after another while nursing a very public crush on the local Catholic priest. After a few laugh out loud dates, she stumbles into a relationship with an unlikely hero. I can't wait to read Kristan's other books!

I've also recently enjoyed books by my Casablanca sisters: The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary, Romeo Romeo by Robin Kaye and Dating Da Vinci by Malena Lott. What do these books and COTD have in common? They're all contemporaries and are what I gravitate to as a reader and a writer. Some of my friends write paranormal, and I buy the books to support them. I read them and usually enjoy them, but if I didn't know the authors, I wouldn't be tempted. I've decided that it's my suspension of disbelief muscle. It's the one muscle in my body that's well toned. I have trouble making the leap from the world I live in to the paranormal world. Even though it's not my genre of choice as a reader, I have tremendous respect for paranormal authors because of the work that goes into the building a believable make believe world. I'm looking forward to reading my friend Kendra Leigh Castle's second book, Dark Highland Fire, next.

The other book I've really loved recently is Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas, who I met at RWA Nationals this summer when she signed my copy. This was Lisa's first foray into contemporary, and while it wasn't a true romance (until the very end) I really enjoyed the book. I'm looking forward to reading her second contemporary, Blue-Eyed Devil, soon.

What are you reading? Do you tend to gravitate toward one genre to the exclusion of all others? Or do you genre hop?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Little Devil

We went out last night to a lovely party celebrating the 50th anniversary of our dear friends, Bob and Arlene Bouley. They are my dad's best friends and are extra parents and grandparents to me, my brother and our children. They thought they were going to a family dinner and were surprised by 60 of their family and closest friends, including a daughter, cousin and granddaughter who flew in for the occasion. Their daughters put together an amazing photo and home movie show that entertained us all evening. It's nice to see that some things do last. Happy anniversary Bob and Arlene!

We came home to find that sixteen-and-a-half-year-old Consuela the Wonder Dog had been VERY busy in our absence, devouring half of Emily's Halloween candy. Wrappers, including that of a full-sized Snicker's bar, were scattered about the living room. I was proud that Emily (age 13 and more evolved than she would have been a few short years ago) was much more worried about her dog than she was about her lost candy. We put what was left of the candy up on a low counter and went to bed only to wake up to the same scene! Somehow Willy Wonka had managed to get a bag down from a three-foot counter (the dog is two feet tall on her best day) and went to town AGAIN on the candy without anyone hearing her!

Since she hadn't croaked from the first dose, all we could was laugh. At her age, we're glad to see she's still got that spark of the devil we've enjoyed in her for as long as she's lived with us. She has no doubt that she's in trouble, but she's walked around all day with a smirk on her face, as if to say, "It was sooooooo worth it." And for once, her breath is pretty sweet, too! Let's face it, there's a whole lot less candy to tempt the work-at-home mom when everyone goes back to school/work tomorrow, so my little buddy did me a big favor.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Place Where I Live

I live on an island, surrounded, as all islands are required to be, by water. I grew up here and lived here for twenty-six years before getting married and moving overseas for a few years with my husband. When we returned to the states, we made stops in Maryland and then Florida. Ten years after I left home, I came back to stay and noticed something that never struck me before. The water is literally everywhere. Travel down any main road, and you'll glimpse snippets of the river to the east and the bay to the west. I took that for granted the first time I lived here. After a decade spent elsewhere, I notice it every day.

Walking just now from the high school football game, I had panoramic water views of the river and the northern most point of the island. From my back porch, I have a pie-shaped piece of the river to look out on year round. I use that scrap of water to judge the wind, to see if there are white caps, to notice that every day the river takes on a different shade of blue. In the winter, after the leaves fall, we have a winter water view that stretches for miles. The only way I would ever move again is for a spectacular year round water view. I dream about a having a writing grotto that looks out over the water. However, I worry that I would wile the day away staring out at the ever-changing view. The water resides in my soul. Before we were married, I told my Hoosier-born husband that I could never, would never live in Indiana and even then he understood. After twenty years in the Navy and now six years here, I don't think he could be landlocked again either. Don't get me wrong, Indiana is a beautiful place, and I love to visit there. But the Wabash River is no substitute for my beloved ocean. When we lived in Maryland, I was under the impression that we lived close to the ocean—until the day we set out for Ocean City and discovered it was three hours away. I cried all the way home.

We experience the depths of every season—from biting, frigid cold in the winter to life-draining heat in the summer, from the soft promise of spring to the earthy decay of a spectacularly colorful autumn. You can be born, grow up, go to college, get decent a job in the defense or other industry, and never have to leave my island. In fact, many people really never leave. I've heard talk of a man in Newport who has never been over the "new" Jamestown Bridge, which opened in 1988. I believe it. Three bridges, one on the south end and two on the north, provide the only ways off the island by car. On the south side, you must cross two bridges to get to mainland Rhode Island. Those bridges, the Newport Bridge in particular which graces the banner of this site, are symbols of home to me. No matter how far I travel, they mark the way home. Yet our island is big enough that it is easy to forget you're on an island, unlike Block Island to our south, which has not a single traffic light nor a bridge to connect it to anything. You must fly there or take a ferry or private boat. We are known here on Aquidneck Island as the home of the City by the Sea and the Sailing Capital of the World. We're also home to world-famous mansions, a ten-mile Ocean Drive, and spectacular beaches.

My father grew up in Newport, the southern most of the three towns on my island. My mother was raised in the north in Portsmouth, so it was no wonder that I was brought up in Middletown. A compromise if ever there was one. Today I live in Portsmouth, the town we loved to hate as Middletowners. My 10-year-old son worries that when he plays high school sports I'll root for Middletown over his team. Maybe I will, but he'll never know! We live on Education Lane, at the corner of Conjunction Junction (okay, I made up that part). The high school sits at the top of our hill. Excited PA announcers and marching band music from football games dance through the air of our neighborhood on crisp fall Friday nights. I tell my children that kids brought up on Education Lane are expected to be world-class scholars.

My husband and I once teased my brother about never living outside the state of Rhode Island. Sitting on the back of our father's boat in picturesque Brenton Cove, my brother gestured to the breathtaking view of Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge. "And go where?" he asked. After going there and coming back, I couldn't have said it better myself.