Sunday, December 31, 2006

I'm a book slut

I should be writing. I have a book due and a schedule I made out for myself... but...I've been reading all weekend. I'm a total book slut.

I finished Karen Rose's DON'T TELL and Pamela Clare's HARD EVIDENCE. Wow. Both were great books, but I really loved Hard Evidence, the characters, the setting, the suspense and the sexual tension. I also really fell into this book because human trafficking is something I totally loathe, and it always broke my heart when I would talk to Haitian children who were restaveks, forced into child labor and raped, abused and beaten.

It's been a quiet weekend. I've only wanted to be a hermit, but got out last night when we went to dinner with friends. It was good for me, I think.

Then DH and I today did lunch and stopped by a UBS. Okay, confession time... I love used bookstores. I always find great treasures there. I found Anne Stuart's much much older backlist and drooled on the carpet. Just kept stacking up the books. And then I did something that made me laugh, and cringe...

They had a whole slew of ancient (1976? is that ancient? sheesh!) Barbara Cartland books! I BOUGHT ONE! Call it a spring back into time from my early romance reading days, but I could not resist. Just to have it around. I might even read it, esp. the ending where the heroine was always "lifted up to the stars" by his towering passion when they finally did the horizontal nooky...

In other news, my ENTIRE backlist is out of stock, sold out, at Dorchester. Everything, from The Panther & the Pyramid to the second printing of The Cobra & the Concubine. Yikes.

Anyway, I'm wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year, and best wishes for all your hopes, dreams and wishes to come true in 2007.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Animals

Yesterday was tough. Very tough. I've lost loved ones, friends, but never a dog. Tia's death has hit me hard with grief as much as losing my mom did. I guess some people would scoff at that. Already someone told us, "It's just a dog."

No, she was part of our family, our daily routine, our lives. She gave love unconditionally.

Writing was near impossible, both at work and home. I felt like a zombie. At home, I tried to coax Tiger into playing with his toys. He actually did for two minutes, and things felt "normal." Then he stopped, stood still and looked around, again, as if feeling something was missing.

It was. Tia.

He ran off under the bed again and I felt like crying all over.

So I watched Africam. A watering hole on a game preserve that's viewed via webcam and streaming video. There was no action last night. But just seeing it made me feel peaceful. I don't know why. Today's action has featured gazelles and geese.

You can catch it here. Africam.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I "heart" Florida

My home state. Ferfe... are you with me? Just avoid the bad drivers gunning their engines and you'll be fine. As one commenter quoted, from George Carlin, "I love Florida. Everything is in the 90's... the temperatures, the ages, the IQ's..."

Only in Florida could I sit on my new patio on Christmas day, yaking to my bro in TN, when a big long black racer comes slithering out of the hole in the neighbor's gate toward my naked feet. I ran screaming into the house, bro asking, "WTH?" as I'm freaking out.

At least I don't wrestle naked with gators, though.

"Here's a reason to say no to drugs: Polk County deputies had to rescue a 45-year-old man who was naked and high on crack from the jaws of a nearly 12-foot alligator.It was one of several strange encounters with gators." from The Sun Sentinel, "Just another weird year in Florida."

I miss her...


She used to bark at the slam of my car door and run to greet me with her tail wagging so hard her whole body quivered. She jumped up in my lap because she loved attention and nothing made her happier.

This house seems empty and silent without her. I really miss her... :-(

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Donald gets cited over his big pole

Feeling melancholy about Tia today. I really miss her. DH and I had a fairly good Christmas… a friend came over after church and we toasted the day in the hot tub with mimosas. Fil came over for dinner and later we saw the light show at a local park. Tiger is still not eating great, but we’re trying to pamper him.

So to cheer myself up, I searched for interesting news headlines…

Man stops robbery by telling teenage punk, “For Christ's sake, it's Christmas!!!” Wonder if shouting out, “It’s Festivus!!” would have had the same effect.

Castro is just having digestive problems, a Spanish doc insists. Happens all the time when you’re dead, I guess.

The Donald forgets his feud with Rosie over suing the town of Palm Beach for $10 million because they cited him for flying too big of a flag. The town also said the Donald’s pole was too big. They really wanted to cite him for having bad hair on a windy day, but town fathers couldn’t find such an ordinance in the books.

The Humane Society of Jefferson County is selling calendars featuring naked women and animals. Miss December is featured nude, holding a very strategically placed pussy over her… breasts. A library last year featured nude librarians holding oversized books over their exposed body parts. I’d like to see an all-male librarian calendar of cute bibliophiles. Maybe one holding “Hannibal Rising” over his male part. Hmmmm. Fund “raising” idea for next year?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My quivering mound of love pudding


Thank you everyone who posted or emailed me about Tia. Your kind thoughts and expressions are much appreciated. It's been two weeks now... and I still miss her and see and hear her in every corner of the house. Tiger is not eating much, and keeps looking for her as well, so we're trying to coddle him and give him extra attention.

We're back from quiet time in the mountains of Colorado and I thought I'd share this photo of the local scenery. Shrinkage? What shrinkage?

A family health problem, a very big one, has surfaced, and I'm not sure how much I'll be online in the near future. DH and I are just taking life one day at a time, and enjoying each moment as it comes.

In the meantime, for a laugh I looked up the search terms on my website and someone typed in "quivering mound of love pudding" and landed on my site. Have no idea how that happened. Sounds like something the
Smart Bitches would use in their romance cover parody.

"Edgar thrust his great manly manhoodness into her quivering love pudding and got his just deserts when he discovered his blushing bride had been de-virginized already by his best friend's warrior love rod. While Edgar was being a rakish rake in London, his bride-to-be was being a ho. Together they sowed a garden of deceit."

Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season, and best wishes for a peaceful, joyful New Year.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tia is gone


My beautiful baby...

I did everything I could for her, cooked, gave her meds, worried about her. Now she's at peace and not in pain anymore. I honestly think God had a hand in it b/c my DH was so very very against putting her down unless it was absolutely necessary because he had to put his first dog to sleep. I was at work today and he got home and she was howling in agony.

He was very upset and had never heard an animal in that much pain before...esp. her. He called me on teh cell, and I just knew... he told me she couldn't walk We rushed her up to the vet and she was moaning a little kept shifting in my arms... I just cradled her and kept stroking her head and telling her what a good girl she was and how much I loved her. We got her to our vet, who had promised to wait for us... they closed at 5 and this happened ten minutes to five.

He checked everything and it wasn't an obstruction... he did an xray and showed us that the tumor had grown, it was huge and burst. I know how much agony that is because I've had a huge cyst explode and it's like someone stabbing you again and again... He told us he could put her on narcotics but it was only a matter of days before everything started shutting down. She couldn't walk because she was in that much pain... not because she lost control of her limbs. We could tell that she was still in pain and whimpering and shifting. So we stroked her head and whispered that we love her and the vet gave her the injection. It was like she just went to sleep...

All three of us were crying. He's such a good vet, and I thanked him. Frank and
I just clung to each other and sobbed in the car. She was a wonderful, good, loving dog who loved us so much... not a mean bone in her body... and all I can say is I hope she's in heaven with my mom and dad and the babies I lost... and like Dr. Grubb said, she's a puppy agian.

God this hurts... I had a feeling I'd lose her right before Christmas. I just knew. I always lose those I love around the holidays...she was diagnosed right at Easter and died right before Christmas.

I was going to post my good news today and this happened. How sudden life is... I sold two more Egyptian historicals to Dorchester and my wonderful new agent also got me a contract to write two paranormals for Nocturne. I was so excited about both deals, but all I can think about now is my beloved dog. Ironically, I had started writing the book I sold, Empath, right after Tia was diagnosed. It was my therapy, writing a story about a woman whose dog is dying from a mysterious disease, only in this story, she cures the dog.

This is why I write romance. Because I can create my own happy endings. Real life sometimes is just too damn sad. :-(

I'm going offline for a while and no mail.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Panther & the Pyramid is out of stock

found out yesterday the publisher is out. Nada. Zip. NO MORE BOOKS. Hopefully they will go back to press soon. This was only released in September!

You can still get it at your local bookstore, some grocery stores, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble online, but once they run out...

This is one reason I'm running a contest soon to celebrate my March Egyptian release and giving away my entire backlist, including my first two books, which are also out of print. Check for details coming soon on my website.

Nightmares

Had a nightmare last night in which I was in Haiti with my friend, the photographer I used to work with. We were walking down this road and people started drifting toward us and I just knew something bad was going to happen. Then we saw a stream of them running, like ants, toward us, screaming and I knew we were in trouble. They were running away and G grabbed my arm and said we have to go Bonnie, NOW!

Then we saw it. Men running with scissors...sounds funny but these were razor sharp scissors with bright red plastic handles and they were bloodied. They used the scissors to cut people and kept cutting and cutting.

We had to hide because we knew we couldn't outrun the danger... we ran toward this batch of woods (which is ironic because few places in Haiti have woods left) and down this hill, and I wanted to stop but G kept running and I knew we weren't safe. And all the time I kept hearing the screams of the people in pain who got caught and the awful sounds of scissors and soft flesh tearing. I was terrified but we kept running because we knew if they caught us, the "blancs" we'd be in real trouble. They wanted only to hurt us, kill us. So we had to run away and hide.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Where's the beef?


Oh there it is... I'll have an order of that with fries, can I supersize him, er, it? :-)

Busy trying to get ready to leave next week, stuff for the petsitter, winter clothing to wear, etc. Also, have some news I can't share yet, but it involves new deadlines and writing, you know, stuff like that. I'm pretty excited about it, too. All thanks to my new agent, who has been super.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Writing

Got a great idea for a new story last night after finishing The Sword & the Sheath. Going to Starbucks this am., ordering a gingerbread latte and sitting down with the laptop to sketch it out, then resume writing the WIP.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Life goes on

Feeling better now, maybe a little more cynical and weary. Life goes on, she's dead, there's no use in thinking about it anymore. Haiti is practically dangerous as Iraq these days. Friends worrying about stepping outside their own front doors and getting kidnapped. Tortured. Killed after the ransom is paid. Gruesome stories too graphic to tell about here. Sad sad sad.

So what do I do? Quit my job? Doing something is better than doing nothing. Maybe I'm a fool, and some might think me so, but I can't stop NOT caring. It's a part of me. I just have to learn to insulate myself better, corral my emotions so they don't leave me drained and weary when something like this happens again. Because it will. I'm sure of it.

I took a day off as a mental health day and went shopping for our trip next weekend. Bought a winter jacket, sweaters. Felt good to think about getting away to a place that's frozen outside, not inside. It's been a hellish week, and some family health problems popped up today like a jack-in-the-box. Hopefully nothing serious.

In the meantime, finished page proofs YAY on The Sword & the Sheath and will mail those out Monday. This book is loaded with sex. My eyes popped out at some scenes. Forgotten I had written that. Sure sign of stress, when there's sex you've totally forgotten about, lol

In other news I heard a Colorado congressman said Miami is like a Third World country because of immigration problems. Thought about writing to said congressman and suggesting to him that Ferfe's DH can solve Florida's immigration problems if he got laid more often. Hee hee.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Insomnia

I deleted the last blog post, again, b/c I'm afraid. I know people there, and they're still at risk and my gut says I'm better off not blogging about the topic.

Can't sleep. Knew it would be that kind of night again. Keep thinking maybe it's time to quit. 13 years of this, and the heartache...what's the point? I could make more money and work less if I freelanced. Make a few calls to a few key people, spread the word. I figure I've raised more than $65 million the past 13 years. I'm damn good at my job, even if no one acknowledges it, and a friend last week told me that there's money out there to be made. She knows, she did it a few years ago.

Thing is, it was never about the money. Always about the heart of the work, helping the poor, planting those little seeds and watching them blossom, a hungry person fed here, an orphan helped there, a soul nurtured. I feel like I'm doing my small part to make the world a better place. Except on days like today when I feel crushed and beaten, and heartbroken. I always felt deep in my heart that God called me to do this work. But maybe it's time to quit. Take a break.

There's a lot to think about in the coming days. Then there's the romance writing. I love writing romance, and entertaining. I love creating a world where conflict is resolved, always, and I get to fashion the world. Shape it, shift it, weave it like a spider's web.

I hope I can get to sleep soon. I hope the bad images dancing about in my mind stop, and there won't be nightmares tonight. Maybe I can train my mind to think happy thoughts. Ferfe blogged about her DH telling her that if he got laid, he'd get more stuff done around the house. I think I'll go read her blog again for a smile at least. Not a laugh. No laughter today in this corner. Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Haiti, life and writing

Just got word the guy I know was released in Haiti, thank God! I had blogged about it last week, then removed the blog b/c I was paranoid that someone might read it, think he's associated with an author (money? sure, right, but they don't know that) and jack up the ransom. You'd be shocked at the connections these people have...and how fast they can move...

It happened right in the middle of a church service. Sickens me. Kidnapped at gunpoint, but he's okay now and home. He had stayed in Haiti because he couldn't bear to leave his country. I remember him saying how he was thinking about moving to NY, where he had some relatives.

I wish he had.

Haiti hasn't gotten better, only worse, in the 13 years I've visited there, worked there, raised money to help people. I try not to get discouraged, but it's so damn tough some days. I try to focus on the bright spots, like the girl in our orphanage who is now in an international baccalaureate program in Europe. I have high hopes for her. Maybe she'll be the one to help bring about change. In the meantime, what else am I going to do? Quit my job? Do nothing?

Doing something is better than doing nothing because at least I know the tiny seeds I'm helping to sow, like in our orphanages, can yield good fruit. Even despite all the rotten apples, the ones who have turned kidnapping good, decent people into a profession. Resume: Kidnapped xxxx people in xxx amount of time. Good with threats and guns.

I was going to spend the weekend working on the WIP, but the news of the kidnapping, a neighbor's house burning down last Wednesday (she's elderly and lives alone and is now homeless) and Tia getting sick again left me drained. I needed a break. I gave myself permission NOT to write. To mull over ideas, think about my hero's POV and his emotional character arc, and where the story needed to proceed. I think I have it now. I feel the itch to write, which is great.

I love writing romance, crafting worlds and relationships, in which love and a happy ending are guaranteed. Too bad it doesn't happen always in real life. Were I to write Haiti's happy ending, it would include a world without AIDS, slums overflowing with raw sewage where children play barefoot, mothers sobbing as their children die from starvation and the blank, empty hopelessness I've glimpsed in soft brown eyes.

My happy ending for Haiti would be the orphan in school, learning English, burning with the desire to better herself so she can, as she told me, "Go back and help my country." There is hope there. There is.

Maybe she will.

the sword & the sheath

Amazon finally has The Sword & the Sheath listed for sale. Only their release date is Feb. 27, 2007, not March 2007.

Okay.

This may, or may not, end up being my last Khamsin book. If it is, makes for a nice ending. I always wanted to tell Tarik and Fatima's story, ever since the first book.

Friday, November 24, 2006

OMG Ferfe!

I'm so glad you don't work at the Miami Herald building anymore. As of this moment, a former employee, a political cartoonist who got fired, is inside with a machine gun.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

FREE read of the Mad Bad Duke by Jennifer Ashley

I'm still melancholy over this morning's bad news, so in trying to cheer myself up, I'm eagerly anticipating buying my friend Jennifer Ashley's sequel to Penelope and Prince Charming. It's called THE MAD, BAD DUKE, and has a cool cover. You can read an excerpt here on Barnes and Noble. The book is in stores in December.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Writing & stuff

Erased yesterday's blog because it made me too sad. Tia is back to "herself" today, and it's a gorgeous 72 degrees out. She explored in the back yard, and then, nosy dog, wandered into the garage when I fiddled with the sprinklers, but I did NOT see her do this. Finally got the controls to work, switched off the light and closed the door. Headed to my Florida room (yay, I have my writing room back!) to write on the laptop and I hear this faint...

RUFFFF!

Ignore it, keep writing and it's there again. Get up and look all over the house for Tia. Calling for her. Tiger is on the bed in the computer room, dozing.

There it is again. RUUUFFFF!

She's locked in the garage. Open the door and she sprongs out, wagging her tail.

Good writing news abounds in blog land. Fefe labat is over her writing funk, glad to see. Fellow Dorchester author Carolyn Jewel (Crimson City series) sold two books to Warner (yay!) And of course everyone knows by now that Anne Stuart made the NY Times list with Cold as Ice. I have finally, Black Ice, in my hands to read but have to get pages done first.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

17 years ago today

In memory of the six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her 16-year-old daughter who were murdered 17 years ago today in El Salvador by soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion, trained in the USA’s School of the Americas.

May the faith and courage you exhibited to speak out against world’s injustices never die.


"suddenly i know i'm not sleeping
hello i'm still here
all that's left of yesterday"

Hello by EVANESCENCE

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Captive Mate by Blair Valentine


Blair got the news that the release date for CAPTIVE MATE, her erotic romance featuring werewolves, has been moved up to next Monday. Yup, it's being released Monday, November 20, as part of Ellora's Cave celebration countdown to their anniversary.

You can check out
EC books here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Worst album covers EVER

Great slideshow. I especially am quite fond of "The handless organist."

Yesterday


In the Everglades, walking along Shark Valley's roadway.

Me, spotting the tram coming and knowing the rules, that you must STOP when the tram passes by: "STOP. The tram is coming."

DH: "Yeah, stop, Bonnie. Do you see that?"

Me, finally seeing the 7 foot alligator on the roadside that is about 8 feet from my feet because I was too busy looking at treetops for BIRDS: "Holy (unmentionable)."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sex with Oded (dream warning)


Treated myself to a day off from writing (sorta) and went bike riding as I'm doing 10,000 loads of laundry, catching up on housework, cleaning toilets, cooking for Tia and trying to brainstorm the WIP.

I had a dream last night that Oded was my new housekeeper who was cleaning house dressed only in a frilly apron. He demanded sex instead of money as payment. Damn. I hate waking up. I'd even pay him if he scrubbed toilets.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Desert passion

Been wrapped up in finishing edits this week for The Sword & the Sheath. Now I have to wrench myself out of Egypt and back into the real world. In this book, which is set entirely in Egypt, Fatima's psychic vision and fighting abilities enable her to become the first female Khamsin warrior and Guardian to Tarik, the sheikh's heir. Tarik wants her in another position... in his bed.

Here's a scene from the book that I especially love, because it demonstrates the intimate bond of Khamsin life that Tarik and Fatima share, one that ultimately seals them together. This book is a March 2007 release by Leisure.

The Sword & the Sheath, copyright 2006 by Bonnie Vanak


Beneath the full moon, Fatima spread her arms wide. She whirled, long midnight hair flinging out as she pivoted in perfect grace. Sinuously, she undulated to the drum’s urgent pounding. Her hips rotated. The diaphanous gown outlined her body, displaying each sensual curve.

Desire flamed at the teasing sway of her rolling hips, shrouded by the gown’s virginal white fabric. He saw her naked beneath him, writhing in passion-drenched sweat. Her hips rising eagerly to meet his demanding strokes.

Caught in an eerie moonlit trance, his future Guardian performed a desert dance, arousing his deepest hunger. She moved as if in a dream, his dream, a Fatima mirage, a sensual being created from starlight and dark promises. Masses of wavy curls rode the wind as Fatima whipped her head around. Silver strands of moonlight combed the silk mass. Fatima’s head dropped back, exposing the long curve of her throat. A shapely turn of ankle flashed as her nightdress billowed out with each graceful pivot.

Tarik fully understood the wild desert call she answered, for his own heart thrilled to the beat. It roused to full flame as much as it responded to the Khamsin’s wild war call. They belonged here, the children of sand and dust and the sharp blue skies. Conceived in the heat of their parents’ desire, raised in a barren land made fertile by the passion of its people.

Arid heat warmed their bodies by day and a blazing Egyptian moon burned in their blood by night. Small wonder he’d felt sluggish in cold, mist-shrouded England. His blood and bones demanded heat. Their plaintive cry begged for the tactile sensation of sun beating upon his skin, sucking sweat from his open pores. Tarik surrendered to the ancient desert rhythms. He soared, his spirit joining Fatima’s. His soul danced with hers to the drum’s fierce pounding, the frenzied mating of his music to her movements.


He stroked the drum’s goatskin head, each rap a trembling caress across her naked flesh. Tarik drummed harder. Sweat dripped down his temples, licked by the cool desert breeze. Muscles contracted, tension thrumming through his body increasing with the drum’s thrilling cadence. His member hardened to granite as his burning gaze swept over the exotic vision of Fatima dancing. Dancing only for him, in the arena of towering canyons and ghostly moonlight. Ragged breaths tore from his lungs as he coaxed music from his spirit, to rise and mesh with each sway of her lovely body.

Panting, Tarik stopped. He backhanded sweat from his brow, watching with hungry eyes as she slowed, a dust devil whirling, then no more. Fists clutched the soft white gown.

Abandoning the drum, he stepped from the gray shadows, into her vision. “Fatima. Come to me.”

Monday, November 06, 2006

Living the author's dream

Mary Stella, who was at the Barnes and Noble booksigning with me at Altamonte this weekend (hosted by the Central Florida Romance Writers) blogged about Living the Author's Dream. Great post!

I thought I’d write a C&W song about my experience living the author’s dream this weekend…

Driving up the turnpike, Florida looks pancake flat
Dh going 90 mph, the bugs hitting the windshield going splat
I’ve got my notebook open, doing edits that I should have done
But it’s Saturday a.m. and again I’m on the run

Booksigning at 2 p.m. but we started on the road kinda late
Dog pooped in the living room, I think it was something Tia ate
We left the laundry in the dryer and the dishes in the sink
And now with three hours of driving, I have some time to think

Fatima in my story is riding with the men
Being a warrior heroine, her dream since she was ten
My editor wants to know why she was stabbed in the back
So I’m typing like a fiend, trying to resolve all that

Next I’m on the sex, she and Tarik are having nooky in his bed
I’ve got to explain a little more what’s going on in his head
I look up from the screen, as Fatima screams for more! MORE! MORE!
And see the tractor trailer swerving next to us, right toward my door

All thoughts of hot sex, pleasure and the Big O vanish in a snap
I’m thinking squished cars and me inside like a burrito wrap
We’re hugging the concrete barricade and I choke back a scream
Oh yes, here I am, living the author’s dream

We finally get to Altamonte and I’ve got three edits done
My hair looks like a wild woman’s and my panty hose has run
I have no make up on, my face kinda has this greenish cast
I wish they had a Jiffy Lube for women ‘cause this body needs a tune up fast

Get myself together and we speed over to the signing
No time to spare and my tummy is a whining
Had no time for lunch, but at the signing hope is there
My tablemate Dolores Wilson has Hershey’s kisses to share.

So that’s the author’s dream, I’m living it right down to the wire
Sometimes it’s fast and frantic, like my panties are on fire.
I love being a writer, and I’m learning more each day
This weekend’s lesson? No more edits on the highway.

Friday, November 03, 2006

booksigning



Tomorrow, Altamonte Springs Mall food court, from 2-4 p.m. I'll be signing copies of THE PANTHER & THE PYRAMID and perhaps THE COBRA & THE CONCUBINE. If you're in the 'hood, stop by just to chat. I may have stuff to give away. Like my DH. He's cute, very attentive and does electrical work. Naw, on second thought, I'll keep him. I'll give away pens and bookmarks instead.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

How much am I worth?

Suddenly, the pressure is mounting. Today at work our boss realized we have a slew of deadlines coming up... more work. The work is okay. But travel is now looming on the horizon before the year's end. Including a trip to Haiti.

Our destination may be Cite Soleil, depending upon how nutty it is at the time. Haiti is like the lottery. You never know what you will get. Ironically, just after that meeting, an acquaintance who lived there stopped by. She told me a relative was just kidnapped. Yup, Haiti's national pastime is still thriving.

Kidnapping foreign missionaries is also a new twist to this old profession. I think I can blend in.

So if I go, my big question isn't the usual... like will I puke my guts out again, have the kids, as they always do, run up to me, grab my hands and say, "Blanc, blanc!" Or struggle to contain my emotions as I'm interviewing people, trying to get the gut wrenching stories to bring back, write, so hopefully people will care.

It's this:

How much am I worth if I get kidnapped? Haitians love to barter. I hate paying cash. I mean, I'm AMERICAN. I live on credit.

I see a Mastercard commerical in the making.

Maybe I could trade them my old laptop instead. Or how about a week in Florida, expenses paid? The Holiday Inn is still reasonable this time of year, and it's on the beach. I'd even throw in a coupon for happy hour at the local bar. Not Barbancourt, but hey, the local rum will suit you fine.

Okay, back to work and edits... I'm way far behind. My editor wants to know if the virgin they threw in the Nile back in ancient Egypt was an annual sacrifice. Yup. Virgins always had it rough in the old days. Much better to be a 'ho and make $$$$.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I want to be a WRITER

In The Wall Street Journal, Toby Young wrote a sarcastic review of David Goodwillie’s summer release, Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. Mr. Goodwillie is a writer who chronicled his post-graduate struggles to pursue his literary dreams after arriving in New York with $10,000 from his father. Kirkus called it “A memoir of bilious excess, related with humor and just the right amount of acidic sadness.”

I don’t know why I’m in the mood for some bilious excess. Maybe because I’m saddled with edits for the upcoming book, finishing new proposals, working FT in a day job, and a booksigning out of town this weekend to help raise money for literacy. I want Mr. Goodwillie’s book. In my ordinary world, I want to read about a man searching for meaning in his life while working at Sotheby’s doing baseball card auctions and struggling to fulfill his dream of becoming “a writer.”

Notice the quote marks. This is because in the literary world, although I’ve published four (five in March) mass market paperbacks, and three e-books, I am not considered a ‘writer” because I write (gasp!!!) romance novels. You know, those sex books.

I want Mr. Goodwillie’s book because I’ve never pursued the bohemian dream to become “a writer” because I was too busy doing mundane stuff like working to pay the electric bill. I’ve never lived in the Big Apple or squirreled away my life experiences like acorns to bind them together in print. I suspect Mr. Goodwillie’s book will fuel my secret dream to abandon all my responsibilities (like the mortgage) and leave it all behind to climb a mountain in Tibet and smoke dandelions while staring into the sky, listening for the ghost voice left behind by the Dali Lama.

I too, have a bleeding heart, but it’s not gushing blood. Instead it weeps, clotted over by my pragmatic knowledge of how the world works. I work in a job that raises money to feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for orphans. One of those orphans who lives in Haiti has a bright future ahead of her, which is the roundabout way of how I chanced upon David Goodwillie. He’s a graduate of the college the girl is considering. My bleeding heart weeps for this orphan to attend college, and fulfill her dreams.

As for me, all sarcasm aside, I’ve always wanted to BE a WRITER. Live those literary experiences like William Sydney Porter (O. Henry), travel and stay at seedy hotels while pounding away at my keyboard, sweat out the dream in dim, smoke-filled rooms where writers sip whiskey and philosophize about words while experiencing “My Struggle” to write them. Maybe even have sweaty, squeaky anonymous sex on a thin mattress in a room with onionskin walls.

I want Mr. Goodwillie’s book because perhaps if I can’t live the dream of “becoming a writer” than I can fulfill this desire through his words. Besides, his last name makes me smile.


Mr. Young, the critic, also wrote a memoir that was released this summer, called The Sound of No Hands Clapping. It is with a glimmer of amusement that I notice that
Mr. Young’s sales rank of said book on Barnes and Noble is much higher than Mr. Goodwillie’s, meaning that Mr. Goodwillie’s memoir is selling better.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Seasons

It's nearly 10 p.m. and I'm feeling slightly melancholy. Maybe it's because another Halloween has passed, the holiday that so much reminds me of childhood. Maybe because it was Tia's last Halloween and the knowledge that she won't be with us this time next year hurts more than I admit. Or maybe it's just the herald of another year's end approaching, the seasons changing, and time marching on.

Some friends were going to come over, but they were grilling out and passing around the wine, and anyway, everyone here but me is asleep now. DH had major dental work done today and he's passed out, poor baby. Tiger got scared at the doorbell ringing; Tia got simply exhausted from running to the door to see who was ringing the doorbell and "should I bark? Is it a stranger? Someone i know and should lick their knees?"

We had about 60 kids this year, more than last when I sat on the driveway and passed out candy, warning them away from the massive tree blocking the sidewalk. this year DH and I went all out, decorated, I even bought a skeleton mask and ended up scaring some poor little toddlers who screamed, and ran back to their moms. One mom joked, "MOMMY, MOMMY, BACK TO THE WOMB! BACK TO THE WOMB!"

I took off the mask to assure them it was okay, showed them my face and told them , "See? This is my REAL mask. Scary, huh? Oh yeah."

Maybe it's because I usually get melancholy this time of year... because 11 years ago it was when mom was diagnosed with cancer, and began her journey toward dying. The holidays since then have been sprinkled with joy amid bitter sorrow, like sucking on a chocolate covered lemon. Bad analogy, but as time marches on, and I lose more people I love, I have to remember the sweetness among the bitter taste of watching those close to me pass on. Because of the memories, they're all that's left sometimes.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll post fun photos of today. But for now, it's just me and my slightly melancholy self, a half filled bowl of candy sitting by the door, the ghost decorations gone dark, and another Halloween left to memories.

The perfumed garden's manstick

Jennifer Ashley's comment about reading The Perfumed Garden caught my interest, and here I am at lunch, scanning it for a quick read. The chapter about what a man's manly stalk is named caught my eye.

The Perfumed Garden is lovely, lyrical text. The names of the manstalk are ... interesting. Here you go.

El dekeur, the virile member
El fortass, the bald one
El kamera, the penis
Abou aïne, he with one eye
El aïr, the member for generation
El atsar, the pusher
El hamama, the pigeon
El dommar, the odd-headed
El teunnana, the tinkler
Abou rokba, the one with a neck
El heurmak, the indomitable
Abou quetaïa, the hairy one
El ahlil, the liberator
El besiss, the impudent one
El zeub, the verge
El mostahi, the shame-faced one
El hammache, the exciter
El nâsse, the sleeper
El bekkaï, the weeping one
El zodamme, the crowbar (is there a Jaws of Life?)
El hezzaz, the rummager
El khiade, the tailor
El lezzaz, the unionist
Mochefi el relil, the extinguisher of passion
Abou lâaba, the expectorant
El fattache, the searcher
El khorrate, the turnabout
El hakkak, the rubber
El deukkak, the striker
El mourekhi, the flabby one
El âouame, the swimmer
El motelâ, the ransacker
El dekhal, the housebreaker
El mokcheuf the discoverer (charting new territory)
El âouar, the one-eyed

Okay, enough names. Must go now haul my perfumed proposal to the post office. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tiasaueress


She's looking as if to say, "Must I wear this stupid thing? Please, please, I thought you LOVED me and you're mocking me. I am a dog. I am not a T-Rex. But if you do not remove this ridiculous costume from me right now, I will show my teeth like a T-Rex. Now go, be a good human and stop this foolishness."

What we do to the pets we love...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Size doesn't matter...

Shopping today.

Them, overheard in dressing room:

HER: "Does this dress make me look fat? Oh, it DOES make me look fat!!! Oh MOM!!!!! I'll NEVER get back to a size FOUR!!!!! I knew having that baby would make me FAT!!!!!"

HER's mom: "Dahling, you look boootiful. That red is just GORGEOUS ON you! It's a designer six and it fits just right! It will look booootiful next to Don's tuxedo! And I'll loan you my fur wrap, you'll be a smash at the parhtee! You don't look fat!!!"

Me:

Me, to sales clerk as I'm holding a Chris Madden designer lamp next to my never-will-be-size 6 body: "Excuse me, but does this table lamp make me look fat?"

Sales clerk: "Um, er, no."

Me: "Good! I'll take it."

Friday, October 27, 2006

From Scrotal Vengeance to Semolina

Horror actress who starred in Scrotal Vengeance miffed because she was left off some Big Hollywood Acting List.

Scrotal Vengeance? Sounds like it could be a romance novel. Or a Jerry Springer show.

“He gazed passionately at her as she held the axe, ready to commit scrotal vengeance upon him for boinking her best friend’s cousin’s mother-in-law’s next door neighbor’s poodle. But she nixed her plan as she lustfully glimpsed his bulging… biceps after he took her into his strong embrace and declared to all that his DNA would be the only DNA invading her love tunnel to become her baby’s daddy.”

In other news… (notice the not-so-subtle transition I’m making here…from scrotal vengeance to white stuff?)

Semolina covers town in white stuff. The Great Yarmouth is cream-oh-wheated.

In other news, I want to head to Ferfela’s for Halloween. She has wine and caramel apples. And the Great Pumpkin. Cool beans. All I have is leftover meat loaf and doggie biscuits.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sonja Larson

In three hours, he’s going to die.

At exactly 6 p.m. in Starke, Florida, he’ll be executed by lethal injection. I’m not mentioning his name here, because he’s already received enough publicity. I don’t want him immortalized, which is why he says he killed. I’d rather remember the kids whose lives he brutally stole.

Tracy Paules, 23. Christa Hoyt, 19. Manuel Taboada, 23. Sonja Larson, 18. Christina Powell, 17.

Sonja Larson was just 18 when the killer stabbed her to death, 16 years ago in Gainesville.

Back then, I was a reporter sent to interview Ada Larson, Sonja’s mom. The Larsons lived in my beat. I didn’t want to talk to her, intrude on her grief and privacy, but I went. It was one of the toughest assignments of my journalism career. I wasn’t that much older than some of the killer’s victims. And Gainesville had been my home, my school, my turf. I had been graduated from journalism school at UF.

In fact, I had lived in an apartment complex barely a mile from one of the murders.

I talked with Ada Larson, a gentle woman who was remarkably composed, and very open about her only daughter. Sonja adored children and wanted to be a teacher. She was active in her church. Ada showed me some of her artwork. She gave me photos of Sonja so we could run them in the paper.

I left her house, feeling grieved and wounded, as if I had known Sonja myself. How could anyone do this? Her only daughter, her baby, her little girl. Sonja’s whole future was ahead of her, like a shining beacon in the distance.

The killer snuffed that beacon out with a knife.

I’ve been wondering this week what Sonja’s life would have been like had she lived. She’d be 34 now. Married with kids? An artist, or a teacher? College is walkway to the future. What path would she have pursued?

She never had the chance to set the first footprint.

I returned those photos to Ada, leaving them in a sealed envelope. It was the last I saw of her, for the Larsons soon moved. Maybe the memories were too much. Sonja in every room, Sonja laughing in the kitchen, painting in the bedroom.

Sonja never coming home again. The house must have echoed eerily with her silence.

Inside the envelope I left a small keychain for Ada with a note. It was a keychain with a small dove, signifying peace. I wrote in my note to Ada that I prayed she’d be able to find peace. Some day. Some how.

16 years later, I hope that Ada has found a modicum of peace.

I certainly don’t wish it for the killer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hurricane Wilma:


Ok, this is NOT storm damage or from the hurricane last year that partly wrecked my home, but i got so damn depressed looking at all those wreckage photos and thinking about the crap we've been through this year with damage, insurance, repairs, our insurance being cancelled, trying to find another company to cover us, paying lots of $$$$$$$$$$ more for Citizens because they are the ONLY ones who will cover us, that I had to post this. I'd rather look at naked men than hurricane wreckage.

Besides, mattresses are essential to protecting yourself in a hurricane. They say to pull one over you should the roof collapse on your head. Does the mattress come with him?

Hurricane Wilma: The tree that could have killed me


I had been standing in this room moments before the tree fell on the house, watching the storm. When I saw how bad it was, I knew I had to get into a safer place. Had I been standing here when the tree fell, I'd have been conked on the head, maybe killed. One of my co-workers was killed in a hurricane last year.

I swear I must have a hard working guardian angel. One who looks after stupid blondes who think just because they have been through 10,000 hurricanes, this one won't hurt them. Sheesh.

We also had a 50 year old tree fall in the front yard. It blocked the street. Thank God it didn't fall on the house or I'd be homeless, too.

Hurricane Wilma, one year ago today...






Did this...







Bitch. It's all better now. But I still miss my trees. I miss my hammock strung between them, reading in the cool weather. Our back yard and hot tub are still a mess. But the roof is fixed and the Florida room replaced. Much more than some people in my area, who are still homeless or have blue tarps on their roofs.




Monday, October 23, 2006

Cold as Ice, brilliant!

Busy weekend. Bought AND read Cold as Ice. Amazing how I manage to sneak in reading time. Read it in the car on the way to Jupiter . Read for 45 wonderful, precious minutes at Blowing Rocks nature preserve, a serene stretch of 75 acres of preserved shoreline, not a single towering condo in sight. I was filling the well, as Julia Cameron calls it. Then we had dinner with my friend, and her positive, bubbling energy was wonderful. How refreshing it was to be around her, and laugh.

Cold as Ice was brilliant. It sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. I’ve never read such a gripping anti-hero before who manages at the same time to be protective. What I liked best was Stuart’s ability was to show the conflict through the dialogue, and Peter’s tenderness through his actions. I keep hoping this book does terrific in sales because as I told DH, it will open doors for publishers to begin publishing very different, even risky, books. Stuart’s book has a hero who can be bisexual to get the job done. That’s risky for a mainstream single title romance, trust me, especially since some publishers won’t even let you write the word “rape” in reference to a character’s past and some readers won’t even pick up a book that has oblique homosexual references.

Plus I admire Stuart as a fellow writer and I sincerely want her to do well. But I was miffed that Books-A-Million only stocked 3 copies (I went to two BAM stores) and annoyed that they failed to stock Black Ice. Barnes and Noble had a very nice selection of Cold as Ice, stocked in the display rack as well as the romance section, but no Black Ice. Damn. I’ll have to order it online. It’s very frustrating for readers when an author has a new book out and very little backlist on the shelves. It’s very frustrating for authors, too, as I know too well from last month when Panther was released and in stores, but The Cobra & the Concubine wasn’t on any shelves.

Worked on my proposal and it’s jelling. I’m excited about how it’s shifted into a story that I CAN get excited about. That’s the best part of writing, when you capture the joy again in creating, and remember why you started writing in the first place. I wrote yesterday morning, then in the afternoon we rode our bikes and went to dinner at a friend’s. I brought a pitcher of rum runners and made everyone very merry. After dinner, we very merrily went to our church’s pumpkin patch. Halloween promises to be fun, especially since we won’t have a 50-foot tree blocking the sidewalk like last year after Hurricane Wilma and hey! We’ll have electricity as well, a very good thing. I think I’ll use a temporary hair dye and do flaming red streaks. Pretty. Like it’s on fire. Maybe someone will try to roast marshmallows over my head.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My talking crotch

So this a.m. at work, power's off for three hours. As I sat in the rising heat in my office, I used the cell to call DH and let him know in an emergency to call the cell. Realize the cell's battery is low. Keep it in my pocket to remind me to recharge during my lunch hour.

Lunchtime, go to Publix. My trusty talking pedometer shoved deep into my right pocket, dying cell in the left. As I'm buying chicken for Tia,I accidently set off the talking pedometer. It blares to the world.

YOU HAVE BURNED 102 CALORIES!

Sounds like it's coming directly from my crotch. Someone checking out the meat turns and stares. I leave, but not before the cell phone starts beeping, signaling the battery is almost dead.

Talking crotch announcing I've burned 103 calories. Sheesh. I can't begin to imagine what that guy thought. My crotch burns up 103 lousy calories and then the battery dies.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The tale of two writers

Bonnie Vanak: Spent last night doing dishes, talking to her agent, feeding the dogs, trying to work up energy to write by thinking dark thoughts about dark characters, failing that, watching TV while thinking dark thoughts about dark characters, then hitting the sack, only to get out of bed and stay up until 2:30 a.m. because Tia was having a very bad night. Finally gave her a half tab of Valium upon which she snoozed on the bathroom floor (the dog, not Bonnie). Results: Bonnie got 3 hours of sleep and feels this a.m. like a hockey puck in a Panthers game.

Blair Valentine: Spent last night daydreaming about her upcoming Ellora’s Cave December book called Captive Mate, admiring her nails, lusting after Gerard Butler in her heart, (the model for Surrender the Night, her vampire quickie), and thinking Bonnie needs to lighten up as her writing is too damn dark and she needs a shotglass of humor in her life. Woke up to discover Surrender the Night received a very nice review (5 cupids) from Cupid’s Library, which she is urging Bonnie to paste below. Blair is pouting because Bonnie won’t cave in to her demands to write funny erotica anymore.

Grow up Blair. That’s life.

Both Blair and Bonnie thank Luisa of Cupid’s Library for the very lovely review.

Surrender the Night by Blair Valentine
Review by Luisa at Cupid’s Library


"When I read the description of this book, it looked like just another vampire story. Let me tell you, the description from the publisher does not do this book justice. It doesn't say what a fun, unique story this is. Surrender the Night is a completely different vampire story, with new twist to this genre and not your skinny size two heroine! I had a wonderful time reading this one; it was fun to read without being over the top. Even if Lily is a vampire, she is easy to identify with. This may be a quickie, but it doesn't lack anything.....


Blair Valentine has a quirky sense of humor, that shows through in this book. This is her second release from Ellora's Cave and I hope to read more of her work in the future.Paranormal and vampire lovers will love this totally different and sexy vampire story. If you're looking for a quick and fun read don't hesitate to pick up Surrender the Night! "

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cheney, the rock star


Some kid today said she thought of Dick Cheney as a rock star, so I did this. Gave him a purple streak, too, but he looks more like a demented Amish guy than a rock star. Paint sux. I want Photoshop.

One of those days...

So I go home for lunch, dreaming of a cute little wicker chaise, which I have, adorning my writing space. The chaise is outside. DH dragged it out there to put wet laundry over it Sunday, and forgot to bring it in. I'm thinking about dragging it back in when Tiger...

Waltzes up to the chaise, and lifts his leg.

The dog PISSED all over my writing space!

Sheesh. Then I'm driving back from lunch, I circle the corral (parking lot) and there are NO PARKING SPACES. None. I say phhhhfffft, drive to the bank, cash a check and return, and see a lone space about 5 miles away from the building. I walk. I have on my new pedometer that tells me how many miles/steps I've walked, and calories burned.

then I get into the building, all is quiet.

Oh Shit.

Staff meeting. Everyone is in a staff meeting. I forgot.

I remove my shoes, TIPTOE through the hall, put down my purse in my office and tiptoe back to the room to quietly observe the staff meeting from the hall. Someone is talking about feeding the poor.

I go to sit down, hoping no one notices me, and my talking pedometer SCREAMS out ...

92 CALORIES BURNED!

Everyone turns around. I'm red-faced.

Hells bells, is this day over YET?!!!

Writing retreat


You can rent rooms or an entire cottage here. Cozy little cottages in upstate New York, designed as quiet, solitary writing retreats to nurture a writer's soul. My soul needs a nosh of nurturing, lately.

There's no TV, no evil World of Warcraft.

Not even an empty pizza box in sight. Just you, books and your writing. And those crazy monkey thoughts racing about in your head that eventually can make their way onto paper or your laptop. No distractions, like phones or laundry or dogs or husbands or yard work. Or "Grey's Anatomy." Or "House."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Slumming

DH and I spent our anniversary paying bills. Tres romantic. The weather was meh Saturday, so we put off celebrating until yesterday, and jaunted to Miami and Bayside, where we absorbed Latin music while sucking back alcohol and then took a boat ride that loops around Star Island.

We saw Puff Daddy’s digs, shrouded by a healthy canopy of palms and foliage, Rose O’Donnell’s quaint little multi-million $$ cottage and Shaq’s little shack that cost him ONLY (cough, cough) $14 million. There’s an adorable foot-high statue of the Miami Heat star on a piling, in case you thought the boat captain was lying about the location of Shaq’s home. Next door there’s a mansion for sale; where they filmed Scarface. Remember that famous line? “Say hello to my LITTLE FRIEND!”

If you have $20 million in spare change, the Scarface mansion is yours, complete with 2 guesthouses, three fountains, etc. etc. Plus you get Shaq as a neighbor. I think they may also toss in a Japanese gardener who trims the grass with a nail clipper. Real estate being slow as it is down here, it wouldn’t surprise me.

I told DH that even if I had more money than Bill Gates, I wouldn’t live on Star Island. No privacy. Shaq’s place is cool, and the Scarface mansion is big enough for all our trains, but I’d like to lie out on the lawn reading and not have tour boats passing every hour, with gawkers like us. I’d be tempted to moon every one, and that’s too many times to show my nekked ass.
“Say hello to my little friend!” I’d scream.

Plus you probably don’t’ get a lot of kids trick-or-treating on Star Island. I adore Halloween. Each year, but for last when everyone was too busy eating Spaghettos out of cans thanks to Hurricane Wilma, we get lots of kids in our ‘hood. I put up the gate, the dogs rush up at the blare of the doorbell and the kids pause for a nanosecond in their candy harvesting to admire the “doggies” before rushing up to snatch up more stuff to rot their teeth. This year is Tia’s last Halloween, and I’m hoping we get lots of kids at the door.

Yet it was fun seeing Star Island and seeing how the other half live, especially since to leave Miami’s Bayside we had to tour through a city street where dozens of homeless people were lying on the sidewalk. What a sad, sad contrast.

I’ve always wanted to travel to exotic locales for book research. Visit fascinating places, hey, like Egypt. Would be nice. Take notes, ride a camel, do all the things the characters do in my books (except have sex on the sand, gahhh) and live the life of an Author Doing Research. Then when someone asks, “Where were you?” I could reply, waving my hand in languorous indifference: “Dahling, I was hobnobbing with the camels and pyramids in Egypt.”

Judith Gould is one of those Traveling Authors. “She” (a.k.a. authors Nick Bienes and Rhea Gallaher),
tells all about “her” adventures on her website. “Gould” Visited Miami for one book. Visited, my stress on the capital “V”, instead of doing what I do, visit, which means parking at Bayside and running amok for a few hours, because I still have two loads of laundry to do and the dogs are crossing their legs and once they get done peeing all over the nice dry sheets hanging outside, they want to be fed and I have contest stuff to mail out because I can’t get it done Monday as the day job calls.

Anyway, on Gould’s website s/he says of its Miami visit to research The Greek Villa, “I had to make yet a third trip to Miami to investigate “In” clubs like Kiss. And, since Tracey’s fiancé has a sleek high-performance yacht, and to get a really close look at Star Island, where his family has a waterfront mansion, I actually chartered a yacht and in the process studied that super-exclusive billionaire’s enclave from Biscayne Bay. Bonuses were getting a good view of the house used in the remake of the film, Scarface, which starred Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer—and zipping down and seeing Vizcaya and its stone “galleon” from the water—all magical angles most people never get to see, and for which I thank my lucky stars.”

Gould charters a yacht to see the Scarface mansion. DH and I paid $17 each to see it while seated next to an annoying couple who guzzled down Coors, burped loudly and left cans strewn in the back of the boat. Some day, maybe, I’ll be like Judith Gould (although hopefully not too much as I have no desire to morph into two guys with beards who sip fruity drinks, although I’m green with envy over their
gardening proficiency, check out the flowers in those photos!) and rent yachts and travel to glam locations to research my books. For now, I’m just a midlist author who’s an armchair daydreaming researcher with lots of Egypt books in my cases.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

11 years ago today


We did this...

Then after, the church steeple got struck by lightning. Our friends still say it was the best wedding they ever attended, and they had the hangovers to prove it.

Still love him like crazy. Even if he never does and never will read my books. :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anne Stuart


is my hero for this week. I swiped this quote from Alison Kent's blog because it's an inspiration and a reminder of what writing is really all about:

"My New Year's resolution is to focus on the book and forget all the crap that surrounds the writing business. To lose myself in a story, and not give a damn if it makes any lists, has a good sell-through, gets glowing reviews on Amazon, pleases my editors, hell, even pleases my readers. I want to love what I'm writing so much that none of the rest of it matters, and if I don't, I won't write it. Life's too short to abuse the muse." Anne Stuart

I’m itching to read Cold as Ice just because the hero is bi-sexual. I admire Stuart’s attitude in publishing, her guts in writing what she wants to write instead of writing to please the crowd. Plus she adores Japanese rock and she’s 58 years old.

From Publisher's Weekly: "Stuart courts controversy with Jensen's lack of emotion and total body control, allowing him to use sex as a tool for disarming both women and men; her hero's sexual flexibility is bound to turn off some readers, just as it's bound to entice others. Those who take the plunge shouldn't be disappointed: Stuart knows how to take chances, and this edgy thriller shows how well they can pay off."

She writes a blog with Eileen Dreyer and Jennie Crusie about writing THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES. Check out Anne’s profile photo. Gotta love a woman who dresses as a nun and writes bi-sexual heroes. Classic.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Valium & writer's block

Tia is okay. I’ve got such a wonderful, caring vet (thank you God!) He gave me Diazepam (Valium). For her. I had to obtain it at the local pharmacy. He wrote the script for me and added (for Tia). The pharmacist labeled it: Bonnie Vanak: Take two daily for reduction of anxiety. This drug may also be used in treatment of alcohol reduction.

I looked at the instruction sheet and quizzed the dog. She was panting and made these little “hee hee” noises.

Me: Tia, are you pregnant, breast-feeding or could you possibly be pregnant?
Tia: hee, hee

Me: This can be used to treat alcoholism. Are you dipping into the Myers rum?
Tia: hee, hee

Me: Well, I think you’ll be okay now that the vet visit is over. BTW, was that rather large deposit you made outside the vet’s door an opinion?
Tia: hee, hee

Now that I can rest a little easier about Tia, I have to address the other major concern this week: Writer’s block.

Happens to everyone, but this week it’s a concrete barricade. Writing is challenging as I write for the day job AND I write romance novels at night.

At work writer’s block presents a real problem, because I have projects Due NOW. So I surfed the ‘net for writing inspiration sites.
Found this one. Definitely not applicable to a corporate work environment. Like these suggestions:

Turn on some music and dance naked for a few minutes. (Dress code violation)

Pick something around you, like the telephone, lamp, or pen. Talk to it and tell it how much you appreciate having the electricity to turn it on (Another HR violation: “Bonnie, why are you talking to lamps? If you insist, then do it on your lunch hour.”)

Add strong smells to the room. (Do my co-workers cube farts count?)

Look at bold and bright colors for a few minutes. (Pretty, pretty, PRETTY! RED-RUM! RED-RUM!)

Write an e-mail to a friend to tell him or her what you want to accomplish. If you are stuck, say so and ask for help. (Dear co-worker, I can’t finish this project so since I have more seniority, I’m passing the buck to you. Oh, if you refuse, I'll tell how you’re the one who put Oreo crumbs on the boss’s keyboard, ruining his Powerpoint presentation.)

Hire a virtual assistant to do some typing so that you can stay focused on writing. (Hmmm, I want a virtual cabana boy clad in an electric blue Speedo, oiled, glistening abs, pec and biceps, typing away as I dictate copy about how many children in Haiti die each year before their 5th birthday. No, make that a real cabana boy. Yeah. That’s it. That’s it. I’m done. Block over. Good-bye)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Captive Mate

I have to drag poor Tia to the vet, she's got problems, so I'm handing over the microphone to Blair Valentine, that evil twin of mine. She's posting an excerpt from her upcoming Ellora's Cave werewolf erotica called CAPTIVE MATE. It's out this December. I've been ignoring Blair, who keeps whining for attention. Blair isn't very creative these days. She says being creative under all this pressure is like a pimply science geek trying to get an erection with the cute captain of the cheerleading squad. You WANT it to happen with all your might, but buddy, it's just going to be a limp noodle.

Captive Mate
copyright 2006 by Blair Valentine


Her body tightened in anticipation even as her mind rebelled. He was a massive male, standing a good six feet three inches. Broad shoulders stretched as wide as the doorway. His body was heavily muscled. Steely dark brown eyes locked with hers. His full, sensual mouth was unsmiling. A small bruise darkened one cheek. Assorted other bruises and scrapes dented his thick arms.

Her gaze dropped to the faded denim jeans he always wore. They hugged his muscular thighs. Alyssa’s breath caught in her lungs at the massive bulge at the crotch.

Ready for her.

Moisture pooled between her clenched thighs. Making her ready for him.

His nostrils flared. A pulse beat wildly at the base of his throat. Testosterone and adrenaline levels elevated during the fight with the other males had released the primitive male. The aching between her legs intensified. Her nipples tautened.

She inched farther away until her legs connected with the bed. Alyssa sat with a small woof!

Spurs on his boot heels clinked as he crossed the room over to her. Dimly she thought Granny would frown upon him scarring the oak. Marcus advanced until he stood over her. A hank of damp, dark hair hung over his forehead. Her senses caught the smell of aroused male mingling with fresh soap, clean skin.

He had showered before coming to her.

Trying for levity, she considered, “You look like you got trapped in a cattle stampede. Really, you should try to play nice with the other boys, Marcus. Give peace a chance.”

The corners of his mouth twitched in a ghostlike smile. “I would if they would. But I couldn’t let any of them claim what’s mine. You.”

Bristling, she narrowed her eyes. “I’m not yours, Marcus. I’m not anyone’s.”

“You’re mine, Lyssa,” he countered softly. “Always have been. I just waited for you to grow up and Change. Do you think after all these years of protecting you I’d let another male mate with you?”

The bed squeaked in protest as he sat. Marcus reached up, fingered a strand of her long blonde hair. “So beautiful,” he murmured, lifting it to his nose and sniffing. “You smell like wildflowers and honey on a warm summer’s day.”

She gave his deep chest a small push. “You smell like tacos.”

It wasn’t true but his nearness rattled her. She couldn’t mate with Marcus. He was too overwhelming, too intense. Too imprinted on her brain with the erotic thoughts she’d entertained of him recently.

His large fingers grasped a gray velvet box. Marcus handed it to her without flourish. “For you.”

The traditional mating gift. Taking it meant acceptance of her fate. Alyssa hesitated. His dark brows lifted. “Consider it a gift between friends.”

Well, that couldn’t hurt. After all they were friends. Had been anyway. She opened the box. The slim silver band studded with tiny turquoise stones glinted in the light as Alyssa lifted it from its velvet nest. Crying out in delight, she cradled it in her palm. Choosing it took a great deal of thought.

“Silver went better with the turquoise than the traditional gold did. And humans think werewolves can be killed with silver. Ha. We sure fooled them with that old myth,” he remarked.

Marcus grinned and slipped the band onto her right ring finger. She flashed him a grave smile. “Turquoise is my favorite.”

“I know. I wanted to get you a cute little turquoise collar as well but the pet store didn’t have them in your size.”

She started to sputter, caught his amused look and gave a good-natured growl instead.

“You’re so cute when you growl, Lyssa,” he teased.

His expression turned intent once more. Marcus brushed her cheek with a brief kiss, sending a small tingle up her spine. “Get undressed, Lyssa. I can’t wait any longer. If I do, I won’t be able to control myself and it’s your first time. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Well, then I’ll save you the trouble.”

SPRONG! The bedsprings squeaked as she jumped up, bolted for the door, fumbling for the latch. Freedom was just outside…so close.

Hot breath on her neck, but while Marcus was strong, she was nimble. Alyssa cleared the door, slammed it shut.

The lock clicked home. Locking him inside.

A relieved sigh escaped her lungs. If she had mated with Marcus…

From the other side of the door she heard a low chuckle. And a deep male voice clearly saying, “Ha.”

The groan of metal bending snapped her out of her astounded daze. Alyssa stepped back, watching in slack-jawed amazement as he ripped the two-inch thick steel door from its hinges and set it aside.

Marcus stood on the threshold, lifting a dark brow in mock amusement. “Bends steel with his bare paws. You always did call me Super Lupus when you were little. Remember, Lyssa?”

Pivoting, she turned to run. Two large hands that had torn apart steel caught her with surprising gentleness. Easily he slung her over his shoulder, ignoring her screaming curses and fists hammering at his broad back. Marcus marched to the bed and carefully deposited her onto it.

She shrank back as his gaze burned into hers.

“Don’t fight me, baby. Don’t fight your nature. Surrender to it,” he said softly.

“I don’t want this mating, Marcus. Don’t make me do it.”

“I won’t force you. When I make you mine, you’ll be begging me for it, Lyssa. You want me as much as I want you. I can smell it on you, baby. You’re wet between your legs. Hot and wet with the wanting. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or fear. It’s nature’s way of preparing you to take me inside you.”

Alyssa bit her lip, preparing a retort. Wordlessly, she stared as he yanked off boots and socks. Marcus reached back, tugged his T-shirt over his head. It dropped to the floor.

Her heart thudded an erratic tattoo against her chest.

Muscles rippled over smooth, bronzed skin as he flexed his biceps. A dark thatch of hair covered his powerful chest, narrowing to a line marching past the waistband of his jeans. He watched her stare.

Her tongue darted out, licked dry lips. Thoughts of escape evaporated.

Marcus leaned over, bracing his arms on either side of her, trapping her between them. He inhaled deeply, watching her. Then he nuzzled the top of her head, ran his nose down to her temple, gave it a small kiss.

The courtship dance.

Cupping the back of her head, he leaned forward and kissed her. Alyssa’s eyes fluttered shut at the light, authoritative kiss—his warm mouth moving slowly over hers. Her lips parted. Oh he tasted wonderful, like warm honey. Intrigued, she opened to him.

He slipped inside, his tongue exploring, touching, inviting, her into a deeper kiss. Against her better judgment, she accepted, boldly tangling her tongue with him, drinking him in, craving his taste.

Marcus broke the kiss as suddenly as it began. A knowing smile touched his mouth. Alyssa swallowed hard as he stepped back, fingers unbuckling his belt, sliding it off. Slowly he unzipped his jeans, slid them past his narrow hips.

No underwear.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Editors

Tia kept me up half the night because she was feeling uncomfortable, poor baby. I can tell...though she's good at hiding it, usually. She licks her paws and whines a little. It's so damn frustrating because I wish she could "talk" and tell me what's wrong.

Instead I'm left trying to guess. I figured out it was her stomach, gambled and gave her another half of the stomach meds the vet prescribed, and sure enough, an hour later she finally slept. Now I'm glad we decided against the surgery because I honestly doubt she'd have pulled through...and if she did, she'd have a hard time healing. I think the cancer has spread to her intestines, something the ultrasound didn't pick up.

Thought I'd post a link to Ferfela's blog about her interesting post on editors dissing on authors. Be sure to read MJ Davidson's comment...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Romance novels & stress

Interesting link... saw this on a loop I'm on. Good article, for once it was respectful of the genre and not snidely snickering about how women read them for that Big MANLY part passion.

What I found most fascinating was Eloisa James' comment that she counts Vietnam vets recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder as her readers. The article states that RWA stats say men make up 22 percent of romance readers.

I know I have a few male readers. (Not DH, he never reads my books and when his female co-workers ask, 'Did you inspire page 242?' he has NO idea what they're talking about. Hee hee. )

The whole PTSD thing struck a note with me because I sometimes have Present Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mild version from the day job. I just finished writing about a mother I had visited in Haiti with TWO crying babies in her shack, who cry ALL THE TIME from hunger. She gets so depressed she admitted to wanting to kill herself. She prays hard, instead.

I started reading romance because of my PTDS. I always did love romance novels, but they became more of an escape read than anything else after I started working in the Third World. I needed that happy ending, needed a book that I could finish, set down with a smile instead feeling even more depressed. And that's why I started writing romance as well.

I bring this up because last week I read a book that left me feeling depressed. It was Christian fiction. The blurb indicated there was a romance in it. Great! I read it because I was in the mood for a orgasmless romance. I've read Christian fiction before and some of it is very good. My favorite is Robin Hatcher's THE FORGIVING HOUR.

Anyway, this particular story was good, the writing smooth and the characters engaging. But the book left me flat, and I disliked the message threaded through it because it came off as preachy. But my biggest disappointment was... no happy ending. In fact, NO ending, period. Then I realized you had to buy the NEXT book to find out how the romance was resolved. I felt cheated. I especially resented feeling cheated because my reading time is so precious these days.

I needed a happy ending. I needed to know that, despite overwhelming odds, conflicting backgrounds, personal tragedies, the characters resolve their conflicts, strengthen their relationship and love conquers all. Corny, sentimental? Yup. That's what I needed. I needed a book that lifted me up, that was a "feel good" romance. Instead I was left with a book that left me empty, even feeling drained. If I want to end a book on a low note, hell, I'll read Vinegar Hill. Great writing, gripping story and totally depressing ending. Gahhhhhh

What I needed was a ROMANCE. Even the darkest romance I've read ALWAYS RESOLVES the story and I get my happy ending, damnit! Even this book, which left me crying (ironic title there) left me feeling hopeful and uplifted despite the mountain of Kleenex it created. Even though I suspect she wrote it more as a mystery than a romance.

That's why I read romance. In a crazy world where anything bad can happen, and often does, I want to escape into a world where love does conquer all, with or without orgasms. :-)

For Toni, again


And for me... Tia is having problems, again, and I just spent 20 minutes cleaning the carpet...sigh... I could write more, but I've been too sad lately and I'm trying to be more cheerful. So Toni, here's more eye candy for while you're recuperating... and for me, as a Monday pick me up. It's Victor Webster again.

Don't you wish he'd drop the towel? Let's chant now... DROP it, DROP it, DROP it...QUICK, PICK UP THAT SOAP!!! Hee hee.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Innocence lost

I’m sitting here studying a photo of two little girls in Guatemala, ages 4 and 5. In the photo, the girls are chubby, laughing and hugging each other. They are slowly healing from the horrors of their past.

One year ago, they were brought to an orphanage with unspeakable mental and physical injuries. They had been starved, beaten, burned with cigarettes, tied to the front porch and left without food or water. Their faces were haunted, their huge eyes filled with the pain of what their caretakers (father and grandmother) had done to them. The gentle innocence of childhood had been brutally ripped from them.

I honestly can’t comprehend how anyone can do anything evil to children. Yesterday they buried 4 of the five Amish girls who died after being shot by a man who simply walked into their simple one-room schoolhouse, took them as hostages, and then shot them in the back of the head. A deeply disturbed person took their lives in cold blood and then ended it by turning the gun on himself, but saying first, “Pray for me.”

It’s been simmering in the back of my mind all week. I get this awful, gut-wrenching feeling each time I think about it. My only solace is knowing how the Amish are; forgiving, stoic and unwavering in their deep faith in God. That and their tremendous sense of community will help them cope.

My family used to take trips to Lancaster County, where Nickel Mines is. It was only a two-hour drive from our home in New Jersey, and an enjoyable weekend trip. I especially loved it as a child, driving past farmlands in the crisp chill of fall and buying large orange pumpkins to bring home and carve for Halloween or swinging by gift shops and admiring the quilts and crafts. I still have a dollhouse-sized Pennsylvania Dutch rocking chair mom bought for me.

My last trip there was before we moved to Florida. Mom and I went to Bird-in-Hand, barely 6 miles from Nickel Mines. We stayed at the Amish Country Motel, a serene motel surrounded by verdant farmlands. I walked down the road in the early morning as fog rolled over the misted hills, and felt a sense of peace that’s so difficult to capture in today’s hectic world.

As a child, I was fascinated with Amish; their crafts, simplicity and their charming, peaceful way of life.

As an adult, I am humbled by their absolute devotion to God and the deep wellspring of faith that allows them to forgive those who have wronged them.

I don’t know if I could forgive the father and grandfather who wronged the two little girls in the picture on my desk. And I have no connection to these girls, other than by trying to raise money to nurse them back to health.

Today the media released the information that one of the Amish girls, Marian Fisher, told the gunman, “Shoot me first.” Only 13, ready to face death, trying to give the younger girls a chance to escape. Such bravery, and conviction in her faith.

My mother’s name was Marian Fischer.

She was also brave, and had deep faith. She died of cancer 11 years ago this Christmas. She knew she was dying as the cancer ate its way through her body, but chose not to receive treatment. Instead, she relied on prayer and faith to keep strong enough so she could walk down the aisle at my wedding, her family totally oblivious. She wanted my wedding to be a happy occasion. It was her last, and most precious, gift to me.

After she died I found a variety of Catholic leaflets in her purse. I know she was praying hard and relying on her faith to sustain her.

The parallel between the Amish Marian Fisher and my mother, Marian Fischer, is very strong and I think there must be a significance to it somehow. What exactly? I don’t know.

All I can do is keep doing what I’m doing. And hope and pray that, like the two girls in the photo before me, the Amish community in Lancaster County will also heal from the horrors of this week and will regain the peace and gentle innocence that was wrenched from them.