Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Maybe I should write another sheikh story, this one modeled after Oded. Mmmmm. Isn't he dreamy? All the sudden, I'm not depressed anymore. I'm thinking silks billowing in a desert breeze as she enters the black tent, summoned by the sheikh who captured her. I see him sitting against a mound of plush pillows on a thick carpet, pouring warm oil scented like jasmine into his hands...a look of sultry wanting in his dark eyes...and after she slowly undresses and kneels trembling before him, his hands start to glide over her soft skin, caressing her... aw damn! Oven timer went off. Must get dinner ready. Reality intrudes again!  Posted by Hello

Still depressed, thinking about what we'll see next week in Nicaragua. Must cheer self up. I need to stare at the ocean a while. Yes, this will do nicely. Yup. Feeling much better now!  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Erotic romance and starving kids

Too damn depressed to blog much today. Wrote a report on water needs for Haiti I had assessed last month. A sad-faced woman told me their only drinking water is contaminated by animals crapping in it. It makes the kids ill. They can’t even afford fuel to boil the water to make it safe.

In the meantime, Haiti is falling apart. Canadian woman kidnapped and released last week showed reporters burn marks where her captors put lit candles to her bare soles. Not enough they kidnap you, now they’re torturing you as well.

Leaving for Nicaragua next week, same week my first story as Blair Valentine is released by Ellora’s Cave. I feel schizophrenic living two lives, writing humorous erotic love stories and then traveling to see starving children dying for lack of food and a little love.

I remember last time I was there, saw a skeletal baby lying quietly in a hammock, her little ribs jutting out like tiny hills. She was too weak to even cry. Some days it feels like no one cares about them. Some days I wish I didn’t. Maybe it would hurt less.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Two are better than one?

From FARK: a six-legged puppy with two penises was found outside a temple in Malaysia and considered good luck. Temple patrons are calling him Ong Fatt, the lucky one.

Figures. Must have been a man who named him that, thinking anything with two penises would be lucky indeed. Gives me an idea for a new story, though. Alien romance hero with two penises from another planet lands in suburban American city. When he starts to get cozy with heroine and she notices his dual action rods, he explains to her that one is like a spare tire. “You know,” he says in accented, but perfectly understandable English, “in case one goes flat, I don’t have to stop to jack it up.”

Oy. Note to self:
Less espresso on Monday a.m.’s.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Introducing the NEW kick-ass romance heroine... SHE-MAN. She-Man. More powerful than your hero's bulging pecs. Able to leap over several lusty muscle-man in a single bound. Look! Up there on the stage! It's a virgin? It's a whining heroine? Nope. It's She-Man!
 Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

Is this a hot cover or what? Pamela Clare's upcoming August release from Berkley, her first romantic suspense. I've read part of it. Handle with flame retardant
gloves, it's a scorcher! But would this cover meet the old RWA graphic standards? I wonder. And I can only hope the board will listen to its membership this time around before making judgment calls.
 Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 16, 2005


“The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.” Walt Whitman

Today I read on my RWA chapter loop that RWA has suspended their graphical standards. They created a committee to come up with suggestions, who will solicit opinions from the membership and report back to the board.

The building has burned down and now suddenly, the fire department has shown up.

The graphical standards disturbed me, especially because they came from a professional writer’s organization that is supposed to advocate romance, not censor its members. I still think RWA is the best organization for a romance writer to learn the craft, network and possibly get published. I got published through an RWA contest. Yet I seriously wonder what was in the board’s mind when they arbitrarily (seemingly) imposed those standards. And why they were so frantic to slap a brown paper bag over the genre that is flourishing (erotic romance) while ignoring the one that is dying?

I’m talking about the decline of the sweet romance.

Erotic romance is currently the fast-growing romance genre. Several publishers have started new erotic lines, including Avon. At the same time, romances featuring little or no sex are gasping for oxygen (except for inspirational romance). Yet there ARE readers out there who enjoy them (I’m one of them).

As a reader, I love having a variety of romance genres available. I write sensual books. I savor reading them as well, but sometimes I want a sweet romance with little or no sex. However, the market is declining, sales are dropping and my reading choices are limited. Harlequin is dropping two of its sweet contemporary lines next year.

Instead of rebuking the genre that’s thriving, why doesn’t RWA say, “Our authors who write sweet romance need help. Let’s find out what we can do.” It’s like a mother scolding one child for being well-nourished and ignoring the starving child begging for attention.

Why can’t America’s largest romance writers organization start lobbying FOR authors instead of against them?

Why doesn’t RWA start taking action to encourage reader sales of sweet romances? Form a new chapter just for sweet romance writers and promote it heavily with a big dose of PR, even a splash at National next month? Devote ad space in RWR to promote sweet romances? Find a great PR hook and get the media interested in covering it. There’s a reading group named after Betty Neels. Why not create an award named after her (She died in 2001) to spark interest in sweet romances?

Let’s stop thinking censorship and start thinking support.

RWA may say all they want about how they didn’t mean to censor authors. Yet they prohibited an Ellora’s Cave author from signing her book in their booth at BEA because of its “inappropriate” cover. That’s censorship, plain and simple.

Censorship of books disturbs me on a very deep level. When an organization like RWA imposes standards of what they think is acceptable, it can lead to extremes such as book banning or even book burning. Where does it end? Am I making too much of this? I don’t think so.

Yesterday I was reading one of my favorite books. It contains some of the most beautiful language I’ve ever read. Some might call it purple. I call it lyrical. Here’s a sample: “I delight to rest in his shadow, and his fruit is sweet to my mouth… On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves – I sought him but I did not find him. I will rise then and go about the city, in the streets and crossings I will seek him whom my heart loves.”

And there is plenty of sex, violence, even rape, adultery, references of homosexual sex in the earlier chapters. Would some consider this book a candidate for censorship based solely on its content? Yup.

What’s the book?

The Bible

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Don't look! GASP! It's one of those ROMANCE NOVELS with a cheesy half-naked man cover!  Posted by Hello

King Tut

A friend asked today if I’m going to the King Tut exhibit in December in Fort Lauderdale. I was shocked. The boy king is coming to my area! I felt like a groupie who has just been handed two tickets to her favorite concert. Woo hoo! I can’t go to Egypt, but now Egypt is coming to me. A couple of weeks ago a long-time reader told me she had recently visited Egypt. I was pea green with envy. It’s a dream of mine to visit all the places I’ve written about.

I’m so excited at the thought of seeing the artifacts, though I’m not sure the mummy mask will be there. I’m inspired. I feel a new story coming on… maybe a time travel?

Romance author of Egyptian historicals time travels back to ancient Egypt while at King Tut exhibit and says to the boy king, “Hey, I know you’re not going to die from getting your head bashed in. They did a CAT scan and discovered it was probably an infection and some dumbass did a “whoops!’ during the embalming process.”

Romance author finds herself drinking beer and eating bread as her last meal as the boy king’s minions prepare to chop off her head for treason… and all she has to say is, “This beer stinks. Got a Corona with a lime?” Then she segueways into a WC Fields quote about beer, “’Beer: Helping ugly people have sex since 3000 b.c.’ Is this why you guys drink so much of it?”

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Dear Ms. Newsome

I am responding to your email of June 14, 2005 inquiring if I want to:

1) Have erections lasting at least 36 hours, GUARANTEED!
2) Not experience any side effects
3) Boost my sexual performance
4) Have harder erections and "quick recharge" (Am I a battery?)
5) Spend $3.99 per tab

The answer is, quite simply. No.

I do not presently possess the equipment to take advantage of your splendid offer. I must admit though, I find the the idea of walking around with a woody for 36 hours quite fascinating. Perhaps you should advise your clients to seek either medical attention after four hours or hire themselves out as coat hangers at a local homeless shelter if the condition persists?

Bonnie Vanak

Family I met last year in Candlelon, Domnican Republic, on the border. Haitians. They're killing Haitians in the DR, and authorities are deporting them "for their safety" due to a murder committed by a Haitian. I wonder if this family is still alive. This is the reality I deal with every day. No wonder I love reading romance. Just can't bring myself to keep reading THE FARMING OF BONES, the creative non-fiction book by Edwidge Dandicat. Great writing, compelling, yet because I know stuff like the massacre in the book still happens... guess I'll stick to fun reads for now. Leaving for Nicaragua in two weeks and bringing light books like Jennifer Ashley's CONFESSIONS OF A LINGERIE ADDICT. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 13, 2005

My husband, the romantic!

He just brought home a dozen red and yellow roses for me! "just because," he said. "I love you."

Sniff, sniff.

No wonder I can't stop writing romance.

God bless the readers

Whose emails cheer me on days like today. I'm home sick with a stabbing sinus headache, feeling guilty because I'm not at work and decide I need to DO something, so I write. I'm writing a short vampire story and I think it sucks, not literally, but sucks big donkey donuts. I feel depressed. Then I made the mistake of wandering out to the patio and blurting out to the bird, "Do you think my writing sucks?"

He answers, "Yeah."

Of course he'd respond "Yeah" if I asked him, "Do you think France will ever agree to ratifying the constitution of the creation of the European common market?" Or if I queried him, "Did J Lo ever Botox her lips?" or "Is Prince William still a virgin?"

And then I read email from a fan who wrote just to tell me how much she loved reading all three of my books. And I start thinking, "Gee someone likes my writing!" I feel my spirits lift, like they did that time in eighth grade when I had a chance of scoring a date with Deiter Karowitz, before I realized he was madly in lust with Mary Beth and she was a cheerleader and I could never equal her perky, peppy GO RAMS! chortlings, but at least he smiled at me once in a while in the hallway.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Oh baby baby, you and your hot fuschia infused skin, you turn me on. Come to me, you red hot mama. Posted by Hello

America's sweetheart isn't wearing panties again.  Posted by Hello

Always wanted me a metalhead for a lover. Hope his batteries don't run out tonight. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Clean porn

I'm trying hard to reduce my naughty words.

Chapter One continued

Sitting in a tree did nothing to get him excited. Especially seeing Buffy stroke the tree limb made Stephen feel inadequate. The other three men sitting on the thick limb looked like large, white naked whooping cranes as they stared at Buffy.

Briefly he wondered if this were such a good idea. Perhaps he should have opted to sit at home and wank off while watching yet another Wonder Woman DVD. Wonder Woman was his ideal female, what with the patriotic red, white and blue uniform, and besides, there were the bazooka sized knockers.

He shifted his weight to get a better position on the tree limb and winced. A very large, sappy knot dug into his bottom. It felt like that time when his GP had snapped on the rubber gloves and uttered those three words every red-blooded male dreaded: “Bend over, please.”

Luke, whose mother had named him after conceiving him during a Star Wars matinee, glanced over. “Got a problem, there Stephen?”

"I’ve a knot up my butt.”

“I’m getting one waiting here to get laid,” complained Hank. Hank was a good-ole boy who met Buffy at a line dancing contest. He drove a Ford truck with a big American flag waving from the bed. The truck had brass balls hanging from the undercarriage. Stephen privately thought men who drove trucks with balls were overcompensating.

“We can’t do her, as you say, without making some decisions,” Charles announced.

Stephen disliked his prissy English accent. Charles sounded like one of those boring Masterpiece Theater narrators. He glanced at him. No, Charles didn’t have it up, either. And he thought the English were always stiff. Well, not in all departments.

“What kind of decisions? I’m primed and pumped and ready for action,” piped up Timmy. Timmy was the youngest, only 18, with a peach fuzz face and a permanent state of arousal. Stephen disliked him, too.

“Well, who gets what part and where? All of us on Buffy at once is not a smashing idea. We might fall out,” Charles said.

Timmy snickered. “Once I get in, I never fall out.”

Hank hit him on the arm. “He means the tree, dumbass.”

The teenager whined. “Don’t call me dumbass.”

Charles held up a hand. “Gentlemen, please. Let us resolve this. Perhaps we should have numbers and wait our turn, you know, for service.”

“I’m not a deli counter,” Buffy grated out.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I think the solution to my author angst is to quit writing romance, and go straight to writing porn. No holds barred, full steam ahead sex stories. NO romance in them whatever, so they're NOT erotic romance or erotica. Just straight sex sex sex sex. NO more romance, no emotional investment, no ripping my guts out and agonizing over my characters. What the hell, I’m already accused of writing porn by people who don’t read one word of my books, might as well charge straight into it! Of course, I need a new name. Think I’ll call myself Snidely MacKenzie. Nice Scottish flair. My first book will be about a foursome in a tree. No, make it a “fivesome.” One woman and four guys. I’ll call it SPLINTERS.


Chapter One
Copyright by Snidely MacKenzie

She had seen THREE MEN & A BABY, but Buffy Snopes had never done four guys in a tree.

Excited beyond belief, the blond-haired, blue-eyed sex demon from a remote New Jersey suburb reached for the nearest man. Gosh, thought Buffy as she wrapped her hand around his big, thick length. He's so large! How will I ever cope! She stroked the massive member, shuddering in delight at the rough, knotty texture. So long and hard.

"Buffy?" Stephen asked. "Why are you caressing the tree limb?"

Disappointment stabbed her. Fuck, Buffy thought. I have to learn to lower my expectations. Severely.

Then again, I’m still torn. I mean, I love writing romance and reading it. So maybe I should do a “clean” version that is RWA approved. And I really don’t know if I can write porno. Maybe I can write clean porno?


Chapter One
Copyright by Snidely MacKenzie

She had seen THREE MEN & A BABY, but Buffy Snopes had never (done fucked screwed made wild nookie done the mattress dance had wild monkey sex with) met four guys in a tree.
Excited beyond belief, the blond-haired, blue-eyed (sex) love demon from a remote New Jersey suburb reached for the nearest man. Gosh, thought Buffy as she wrapped her hand around his big, thick (length third leg raging love pole purple passion love rod

baby making stud machine) thingie. He's so large! How will I ever cope! She stroked the massive (member) love thingie!, shuddering in delight at the rough, knotty texture. So long and (hard) durable.

"Buffy?" Stephen asked. "Why are you caressing the tree limb?"

Disappointment stabbed her. (Fuck) Gosh darn it!, Buffy thought. I have to learn to lower my expectations. Severely.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

HIM: My darling, I love you. You are my life, my soul, my heart.
HER, thinking: Oh shut up already and just bite me.
 Posted by Hello

Blood, sweat & fears

I’m reserving comment on the whole RWA controversy until after the national meeting next month. In the meantime, for anyone wanting to keep up with news, check out Jordan Summer’s excellent blog.

Today I’m brooding over how precarious publishing is, and how much depends upon what others think of what you wrote. Not reviews, mind you. Bad reviews sting, but they’re like gnat bites. I wince, and move on. Sometimes I laugh at what reviewers write in their snark. This business is so subjective, I know what I write not everyone will love. Vice versa. Reader feedback is more important to me. What matters most is getting a letter, as I did recently, from an elderly reader who apologizes for her poor handwriting, but despite her arthritis, she had to write and tell me how much she enjoyed COBRA.

The worst part of being an author is the angst I’m feeling now. Writing a book that makes me bleed as I wrench each scene out, and being uncertain it will even see publication. I did this with my option book, which is Rashid’s story. His character affected me more than any other I created. When I finished his story, I mentally felt like a carpet hung on a clothesline and beaten with a heavy stick. Even my physical energy was drained. (Rashid is the secondary character in COBRA who was abused as a small boy)

I didn’t feel compelled to write his story. I felt obsessed. I couldn’t stop writing it. It was as if all the mad writing demons were cackling and forcing me to keep writing. Rashid is complex, intense, difficult, ruthless and vulnerable. There are scenes in his story that made me weep as I wrote them.

So now I sit here, wondering if my editor will buy it. The horrid doubts creep in. I love this book, but so what? Just because my gut says it’s the best book I’ve ever written, it doesn’t guarantee anyone else will care.

I have to invest myself emotionally with writing for the day job. That’s what I do – bringing to life the suffering of the needy, who watch their children die from hunger, who are flooded out of their homes, whose pain is reflected in their despairing faces. Sometimes it makes me an emotional wreck when I journey to Haiti, see children with sunken faces and hungry eyes, and recreate their torment to raise money and help them.

But it’s a part of the job I learned to accept. Part of the hazards, like being a hockey player and knowing you’ll get broken teeth or smashed into the ice.

What’s harder now is the romance writing. Before I could, with some effort, separate myself from my books. Not this book. Not Rashid’s story. He’s as real to me as those sad, pleading faces I saw in Haiti three weeks ago.

I know the signs of needing to distance myself from my writing. But damn, it’s like chopping off a limb and saying, “I can work without it. It won’t make a bit of difference” as I find myself bleeding all over my keyboard.

On days like this I want to quit romance writing. But I can’t stop writing. Maybe I can quit writing stories that emotionally batter me. Perhaps I’ll retire Bonnie Vanak and morph permanently into Blair Valentine and write funny, sexy paranormal romances that are fun and frivolous, but ultimately, don’t rip up little pieces of my heart.

Monday, June 06, 2005

More RWA

I don't have time today to write about RWA's new graphical standards issue, so here's a link to a very good blog that has more info. Last week someone told me she didn't want to read the love scene excerpt from THE COBRA & THE CONCUBINE because she didn't want to read "porno." I was pretty pissed off (oh dear did I say "pissed?") because she prejudged my work without even reading one word. That scene doesn't even have sex in it. It's a critical scene because it's where Kenneth begins to break down Badra's fear of making love.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of porno is “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.” It’s explicit sexual writing for the sake of nothing more than sexual stimulation. The same dictionary defines romance as “a love story.”

It was one thing to hear that I write porno from a woman who was ignorant of the romance genre. It’s another to see that the very organization I belong to is saying the books I write for one publisher and their dust jackets lie along those lines as well. The very organization I belong to that is supposed to advocate romance writing is setting "standards" of what is unacceptable. I'll write more on this later...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

RWA & Man Nipples? By now many have heard of the controversy over RWA. The RWA board proposed rules for chapters that link to their site who link to authors who have objectionable covers. One of the new no-no�s is a cover that shows exposed female nipples. But what about exposed MAN NIPPLES? Are they okay? This is what I call my nipple biting cover for my second Dorchester book. I love it. But oh, those exposed MAN nipples, I dunno� maybe I should drape the hero in a Holland sheet and have the heroine embrace a horse instead?
 Posted by Hello

Friday, June 03, 2005

It's hard to cook when there's a train running over your head. Once the train derailed and fell into the sink, nearly hitting me. Can you imagine the 9-11 call? "Hello, 9-11? My wife has been hit by a train... in the kitchen." Posted by Hello

Some good reads

Some good reads I’ve devoured lately are Catherine Anderson’s BRIGHT EYES, Janet Evanovich’s HARD EIGHT, Stacey Klemsten’s THE SILVER SPOON, a great erotica by Alice Gaines called Telesians 1: The Siren's Challenge and Maeve Binchy’s ECHOES. I won't give them grades, I'm not into "grading" books. ;-)

And I'll firmly stick to my habit of not listing books I didn't enjoy, and my vow to never publicly "diss" another author. Reading is so subjective. What I might dislike someone else might love. And vice versa.

The Binchy book wasn’t a romance, just as Stacey’s book wasn’t either, but Stacey’s book ended on a high note, unlike the Binchy book. The ending of ECHOES left me depressed. But I love Maeve Binchy’s writing, her flair for character depth and the settings in Ireland. It makes up for a depressing ending. Stacey’s book is about aliens invading a diner. Linnea Sinclair highly recommended it. She was right, it’s terrific. I zipped through this book in 2.5 hours.

I still have a stack on my TBR list, including Jennifer Ashley’s first contemp, CONFESSIONS OF A LINGERIE ADDICT and Linda Broday’s REDEMPTION, which I bought over the weekend, and the Stephanie Plum series I plan to buy. And I broke down and bought another Catherine Anderson book in Barnes and Noble.

When DH and I went to B&N, I saw PAGES magazine in the racks. There’s an article Julie Sturgeon did on me for her romance column! Woo hoo! It’s about how I wrote THE COBRA & THE CONCUBINE during one of last year’s hurricanes. Speaking of hurricanes, it’s June and the start of the season. DH wants to buy a generator. I’m afraid I’ll blow the place up.

One book I’m slowly reading is THE FARMING OF BONES by Edwidge Danticat. She’s a Haitian author whose work has been highly lauded in the literary world. It’s set in 1937 in the Dominican Republic and deals with the horrific massacre of thousands of Haitian immigrants in the DR. She’s extremely talented, and her writing is crisp and fresh, but I guess I’m having a hard time reading this book because it’s non-fiction disguised as fiction.

Maybe a little too real for me. Thousands of Haitians are now being deported from the DR. I wrote a newspaper story last year on Haitian immigrants illegally living on the border of Haiti and the DR. Some swore they would never go back, and they feared going into town because they would be deported. And this week the honorary French counsul was gunned down in his car in Haiti near the airport. He died later. It happened in an area I was just in two weeks ago. I think I need an escape from real life. But I will pick up the Danticat book again. Maybe in a week or two.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Finally feeling better! Guess it was food poisoning I picked up in Haiti. Since I've been offline for a whole week and haven't blogged, thought I'd offer this treat. Yes, briefs can be sexy too.  Posted by Hello