Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fight for all the right reasons

This is Jocelyn. She’s four years old. Doesn’t walk. Sit up. Talk. Stand. She nearly died from starvation, but the nutrition center sent her immediately to the hospital when she arrived there, after Jocelyn’s grandmother brought her to the center.
She has an excellent chance of not only surviving, but walking, talking and almost being normal, but for the brain damage suffered from her poor little body lacking nutrition in her formative years. The kids always get to me the most.

We were in Matagalpa today, northern Nicaragua. Very productive day. Odd, how it started out. The hotel we stayed at lacked a/c current and I don’t have a converter. So at 6:15 a.m. I was sitting in the little living area by the kitchen, which is open to all guests and the family who owns the hotel, editing one book and listening to Nickelback’s Fight for all the wrong reasons. Good song to write by, and it made me wonder.

I hope I'm fighting for all the right reasons. Isn’t raising money to buy kids food and medicine to keep them alive a right reason? I sure hope so.

Anyway, I go from editing a scene just after the hero/heroine make love, to the nutrition center and seeing little Jocelyn. I didn’t get emotional, I guess I’ve seen too many cases like this. It doesn’t mean I’m indifferent or cruel, just practical. She isn’t the worst case, by far. And fact is, the people at the center are very dedicated and will do all they can to restore Jocelyn to health, both physically and mentally. Kids get very depressed when they go through a crisis like this.

We visited lots of families today, families living in adobe huts where scorpions, spiders and even coral snakes slither through the cracks in the mud. One woman had a scorpion fall on her face as she slept and it stung her in the forehead. She couldn’t talk; her tongue was too swollen. I kept shuddering as I took notes. There’s a very vivid scene in my May historical, The Scorpion and the Seducer, featuring lots of nasty scorpions. It’s fiction and these people live with the real thing. We’re doing a project to build them new homes with concrete walls. No more creepy crawlies.

I also met a woman with an extremely sad story. Her 16-year-old son died in the civil war years ago. He was "recruited" to fight for the Sandinistas. He was sitting on a park bench when a truck filled with Sandinistas came by and forced him in, to fight for their side. It was very common in Nicaragua’s civil war; taking children to fight against their will. The horrid reality of the child soldiers continues today in African countries besieged by civil war. This woman’s son was killed in action, a war he didn’t want to fight in, a war he was forced to participate in. She doesn’t even have a photo of him, and got very emotional talking about him.

I asked her, "Is the war over yet for you?" She said no. She misses her son dreadfully.

Anyway, I have a limited internet connection and have to sign off. I did figure I have two days to do the page proofs for The Scorpion and the Seducer when I get back home, so it’s back to the romance writing job after I leave Nicaragua. Some days I feel like a pancake being flipped back and forth from the sad reality of poverty with the gentle people I meet living in crude mud huts with no food and little hope, to the fantasy romance of fiction with its tight deadlines. Life is very strange.

Monday, January 28, 2008


So here I am in Nicaragua, in Estelli, a city north of Managua. I actually have an internet connection. Thanks to wireless.

Tomorrow we're visiting people living in adobe huts in desperate need of real homes.

I called DH (cha ching!) and he tells me a box arrived from Dorchester. My cover flats for The Scorpion and the Seducer. YAY!

And the page proofs. Due back, like, ah, next week. Just as I am returning.

There's a big problem here.

I'm in another country. Page proofs in Florida. Does anyone else see the disconnect here?


Until later. If I can still get wireless...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Your Majesty, I do so admire the warmth of your testicles...

I'm taking a writing break for a few minutes to ponder my trip to Nicaragua next week for the day job.

Haiti two weeks ago, now Nicaragua. I ping pong from French and Creole-speaking countries to Spanish. I'm lousy at both languages. I know a little bit of both, enough to ask the essentials.

Bano is a definite essential. So is cafe con leche, coffee with milk.

There are phrases I should memorize in Spanish when traveling in a foreign country, especially one that's experienced civil wars in the past. Such as "Can you direct me to the nearest airport that hasn't been taken over by armed rebel forces?" Or "Yes, my, you do have a big Uzi. I trust it works. Now can you direct me to the nearest airport that hasn't been taken over by rebel forces?"

I love Nicaragua. The people are friendly, the children sometimes break my heart with the poverty and living conditions, and the potential I see in the people is enough to keep my hopes afloat. I do wish I spoke decent Spanish, but I think part of me is afraid I'll botch it.

I've heard enough tales of woe from friends who did botch it.

Such as a friend who was traveling in a Spanish-speaking country with a tour group that consisted of a Spanish-speaking bishop. My friend, who truly admired the bishop's work in the poverty-stricken country, wished to express said admiration in her bastardized Spanish. So she blurted out, "Your Majesty, I do so admire the warmth of your testicles."

Don't. Ask.

Languages are funny. Even funnier when someone thinks they can communicate and assumes everyone can understand. Like the time I traveled with a man who speaks fluent Portuguese, and since we were at a Brazilian restaurant, even though it was a SPANISH-speaking country, thought he should order dessert in Portuguese. "The languages are so similar," he insisted.

Okay dude. I just enjoyed watching the waiter blanch and whirl around in shock when this man, thinking he was ordering bread pudding, asked instead for breaded asshole.

So next week when I'm in Nicaragua, I'll use what little Spanish I know to break the ice a little. But I sure won't be ordering dessert or expressing admiration to any religious figures.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hump Day Hunk

Haven't done one of these in a while. I've fallen behind in blogging, as I'm trying to get things done before I leave for Nicaragua next week for a work trip. This is Victor Webster, who played Phoebe's (I think) boyfriend on Charmed the last season. Definitely hunk material.

I'm crushed about Heath Ledger. What a talented, vibrant young actor. I loved his role in The Patriot, and the scene where he rides off with ink on his teeth was just too sweet for words. Too young. Too damn young. :-(

Saturday, January 19, 2008

To Love a Hero

One of the coolest things about being an author is the chance to work with other writers, give them the same kind of help you had when you were unpublished, and then watch like a proud mom when it's finally their turn to have a debut book.

Such is the case this week with me, and a fellow chapter member, Mona Risk.

Mona's book, TO LOVE A HERO, debuts at Cerridwen Press this week. A while ago, Mona asked me to critique the first few chapters. I recognized Mona's skill and talent, and immediately loved the hero, a very cool and sexy Russian general. The premise was different and engaging and I couldn't wait until she announced her news that she had sold her very first book.

And the cover is very hot. Here's a blurb:

Dr. Cecile Lornier is an ambitious chemist who fought hard to win and keep her first international contract. She travels to Belarus to coordinate the environmental cleanup and literally starts her contract on the wrong foot as she stumbles on the broken escalator at the airport. When a muscular chest cushions her fall, she finds more chemistry than she bargains for in the arms of the handsome Major General of Belarus.

The widowed Sergei has pledged to clean his country of the pollution left by the Chernobyl disaster. With a glass of vodka in his hand and the lovely Cecile nestled in his arms, Sergei has more on his mind now than nuclear pollution, and Cecile soon learns that chemicals are not the only things that generate heat.The general doubts he can fulfill his mission if he surrenders his heart while Cecile fights his chauvinistic officers to perform her contract.

Soon she will have to choose between betraying Sergei's trust or abandoning him to the evil plot of his hateful ex-father-in-law.

Congratulations Mona! May it be the first of many sales, and much future success.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This made me laugh...

The whole flocking idea... posted over at Ferfe's blog.

Anyone who knows us, knows DH and I are flamingo fans. I got him a purple flamingo, with outfits, as a gag gift for Christmas.

See? The raincoat is for hurricane season.

My blog photo is me with our giant flamingo. Yes, we have giant blow up flamingoes. It's two flamingoes and recently when we held a party, friends called them the copulating flamingoes.

dirty minded friends...they were just two friendly flamingoes cuddling.

I wish someone would flock us, but I'd be tempted to keep said flamingoes. They're pretty rare these days since the OFFICIAL flamingo factory shut down and closed up shop.

Better yet I wish someone would flock the neighbors who manicure their lawn with nail scissors and pride themselves on their tasteful landscaping.

I bet they could use a little flock or two... maybe it would loosen them up? Maybe I should go over there and casually suggest, "Hey, you know what? You need to be flocked. You're both too tense. Flocking is really good to relieve stress. It can make you laugh, you can have fun and it will bring joy into your life. And if you're too embarassed to flock in the front yard, do it in the back yard where you can have privacy."

Us? We'd flock in the front yard. Because as our friends know, we're shameless and flock in the open. In public. We thought about being tasteful, but decided in the end to say "flock it."

Long live fun flocking.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A day in a life without hope

Posted today over at Unusual Historicals. Click here.

We are cold weather wusses

I can't believe it. It's 56 degrees out and we're all shivering. It's the typical Florida reaction to cold weather. The Canadians are all running around in shorts and tank tops, scoffing at us, secretly saying, "WUSSES!" and we're acting like someone transported us to the Artic in our birthday suits. Even the dog is wearing a sweater.

DH and I once braved blizzards and ice and now we don thermal gear when the temps drop below 60.

Such is life in Florida when your blood thins out...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sometimes, NO electricity is a good thing...

I'm back from Haiti. This is Cite Soleil, and the children in the photo are flying kites made from plastic garbage bags. I spent most of the week here. This is the area of PAP where the killings and violence were worst; before the UN came through and cleaned out the gangs. As we drove down streets we clearly could see bullet holes pockmarking the sides of buildings.

The hunger and malnutrition are rampant, worse than 5 years ago when I last visited. I met a little girl who cried as she told me she has no hope because she sees her little brother and sister weep from being in so much pain from hunger. I met a 10-year-old boy who confessed he's afraid to fall asleep sometimes because he's so hungry he fears he'll die in his sleep.
But the good news is this area was very peaceful, quiet and we can work there once more, without worrying about the violence driving us out for safety's sake.

Cite Soleil has no electricity. Houses are doll-sized structures jammed up against each other, wearily holding each other up. Sluggish rivers of foul algae-choked water move in a network of open canals that comprise the sewage system.

Electricity is funky in Haiti even in the best areas. Most hotels have generators. So I spent a week in a ghetto where residents have NO electricity and come home to electricity and catch up on email and there's a blizzard in romance about the Cassie Edwards issue to the point where I have an RWA alert in my in-box.
I can't even recall when I last had an RWA alert.

My head whirls, kinda like that move Linda Blair pulled off in The Exorcist. I'm not commenting on anything, except one fact that I note with wry cynicism. The article about said issue in the NY Times.

Anyway the first sentence of the NY Times article on the Cassie Edward's issue is, and I quote directly here, "Who says romance novel fans care only about ripped bodices and manly men?"

All the controversy and the hue and cry and all and it boils down to that single sentence of how a respected newspaper views romance. Because as anyone in journalism (former reporter here with a degree in journalism) will tell you, the lead sentence is the most important one the journalist writes. So the NY Times perception of romance = ripped bodices and manly men.

Sigh... I wish I had avoided logging onto my computer. Sometimes NOT having electricity can be a good thing...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Haiti tomorrow

A sudden change of plans and I'm off to Haiti tomorrow for work, a trip I wasn't expecting, but... there I go. I'll be visiting a formerly (I hope) violent area we hadn't been able to work in before, when all the kidnappings and tensions were at their zenith.

Offline for the rest of the week. Have a good one!

Happy New Year - wild monkey sex?

Happy New Year! I'm finally surfacing... after an "interesting" month. Also had edits on the May book that I had to complete.

Weird news of the week: Scientists studying monkeys found out males pay females for sex by grooming them. "On average, females had sex 1.5 times per hour. But this rate jumped to 3.5 times per hour immediately after the female had been groomed by a male -- and her partner of choice was likely to be the hunky monkey that did the grooming," the article said.
3.5 times an hour?? Gives a whole new meaning to the idea of "styling." And what happens when a female has a bad hair day?