Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today is the official release day of my seventh Egyptian historical, THE LADY AND THE LIBERTINE.

I like this book. I may like Nigel, the wicked hero, best of all. In this historical, a wicked earl plots to seduce a virginial beauty in order to steal the treasure she guards in Egypt. But will she steal away his heart, which he keeps as carefully guarded?

Or, if you want to read an interview I did at Dorchester with the wild and wicked hero, click here.

If you're attending the Romantic Times convention in Orlando in April, you can meet Nigel in person when he's portrayed by one of the cover models in the Mr. Romance competition.

You can read more about The Lady and the Libertine, and my other new release, Broken Souls in the Midnight Cravings anthology, over at the Silk and Shadows blog. Click here. Leave a comment to be eligible to win an autographed copy of Midnight Cravings.

Happy reading!

Monday, March 23, 2009

His name was Widelson Michel

He was five years old. This is him. His body was filled with so much fluid, he looked 8 months pregnant.

He was from Jacmel. His mother, Bienaise, 27, slept by his crib Wednesday night. She didn't really sleep because she was so worried about him. Instead, she watched, waited, while Widelson slept in her arms.

She told us, "I am afraid for him. I have no money. I don't know what I can do for him. Only God knows what will happen to my son. I cry a lot because I'm not able to help him."

A mother's worst fear... and she had no money. Her husband was injured in an accident while farming with a machete. So he can't work right now.

No money, a severely ill child.

Widelson is the little boy with the severe liver problem. The doctor treating him told us that his liver shrank to the size of a small plum.

The only thing that could save him was a liver transplant. But we had to do something. The doctor who was treating him said he could do surgery to drain the fluids from his body, but eventually he'd suffer from the same since his liver was failing. The doctor is a good guy, who cares.

We left Haiti and today I'm back at the office. I heard from our Haiti office.

The doctor did the surgery on Friday. Widelson died as a result of complications. The doctor said that with his condition, it was a miracle every 15 seconds he lived.

I heard the news, broke into tears and left the office to recover. I sat outside for a long while, trying not to think.

See, you think too much about stuff like this, little boys who never even had a fighting chance because they contracted hepatitis or they were malnourished and their immune system shot to s**t or simply because they were poor...

And you could just go nuts.

Sometimes it feels like it doesn't matter what we do. You try your best, and they die anyway. They slip through your fingers like tiny grains of sand, invisible to most of the world.

I felt like I had to mention his name here, post his photo, to validate his 5 years on this planet. To make him count, instead of being another sad statistic that's rattled off in a blizzard of sad statistics.

I realize some people want to read romance authors' blogs for the fun of it, to see what they're working on, to get an idea of what goes on, to celebrate the fun of romance. I know other authors have blogs where they talk about their WIP, or their contracts, or their kudos, their great news.

And I talk about kids I've met who died. This is the reality of my life... some days I really, really wish I wouldn't have the faces of little kids like Widelson haunting my sleep and hopeless feeling that what I do, some days, doesn't mean anything because they die anyway. Sometimes the futility of it all just overwhelms me.

I'm definitely taking a break from blogging. I have nothing good to report, and this blog is just too depressing, anyway.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Crazy ass road, The Lady and the Libertine contest

We returned to Bainet Thursday and saw the family we'd visited on our last visit. Brought a bunch of food and other stuff. The father was so happy to see us, and so grateful.

That was a good thing.

On our way back to PAP, our field manager, who was driving, opted for a short cut. It was supposed to take 45 minutes instead of taking the 1.5 hours the other road took to get to National Highway Number 2 to return to the capital.

I dubbed this road, of which photos are featured here, the "crazy ass road." It started out smooth, then got ridiculous. Instead of 45 minutes, it took us 2 hours! 2 hours to drive 37 kilometers.

Still, the scenery was pretty. Haiti has so much potential.

Then we saw this sign. Good Bye in French. We looked at each other like, Uh, good bye from where?

Where the hell were we? LOL

Eventually we made it back.

Now I'm home and exhausted. Tiger is doing ok after this past Monday's scare. I'm just glad I'm home so that when we have to do what we must, I'll be there and Dh won't have to face it alone like we feared he did on Monday.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I have an interview over at the UH blog about my April historical, my last Egyptian book, THE LADY AND THE LIBERTINE. Click here to check it out. I'll be giving away a copy of The Scorpion and Seducer.

And for now, I'm not blogging for a while. I need to focus on me, and concentrate on trying to regain myself. This was a tough trip and it's going to take a while to recover.

Back from Haiti

I'm back from Haiti.

This baby, who is a year old, we met at the hospital in Jacmel. She's got stage 3 malnutrition. Still, her chances are very very good. I have high hopes for her.

Not as high hopes for the little boy we met. The doctor who escorted us around is a really good guy. He made sure the little boy got the tests he needed, and gave him some meds.

But the news is pretty sad. His liver has shrunk to the size of a small plum. They're not sure until they finish doing all the tests, but it looks like unless he gets a liver transplant, he'll die.

So there we were, trying to help a child whom we know will probably die.

This job some days can break your heart.

I have other photos, but they're too disturbing for this blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's not fair

I'm sitting on the balcony of my hotel room, overlooking the pool. We stayed here last time as well, since our organization has a nice discount.

I'm looking at the tranquil seas of the bay, the jagged hills across the water, and down at the turquoise pool where a father is playing ball with his children.

I watched him trot down the steps to the pool with his son, who is about eight, and lovingly help him take his shirt off, and help him into the pool. You can tell how much this guy loves his family, his kids, he's playing and having fun with them, splashing around. They're giggling and acting like normal kids.

And I'm sitting here, feeling like I'm going to cry.

Earlier we were at the hospital. There was another father there, and a mother, sitting anxiously by the bedside of another child, who was about 6. This father's son had severe malnutrition.

His belly was so bloated, he looked 8 months pregnant.

He was in pain, crying, and had a fever. His arms were thin, his legs swollen. He's critically malnourished.

He could die.

They sat there, helplessly, keeping cool cloths on him, because they couldn't afford to pay for a doctor to examine him before. Finally they got the money, took him in today. We were all set to pay for his exam, to help this poor kid out.

But the part of the hospital that does the exams closed today. It's a government hospital, which means there are strikes sometimes, early closings, etc. because the staff seldom gets paid.

So there the father sat, and I imagine as I write this, he is there still, staring helplessly at the son he loves, trying to comfort him, wondering if he can be saved. He's poor and has no money.

While down below, another Haitian father, who is probably a good man, plays with his son who is healthy and carefree, a son who probably will never go hungry and if he is injured or hurting, will get only the best medical care because his father can afford it.

It's just not fair.

That's life. Sometimes I just take it for what it is, and I go on.

Sometimes, like now, it just makes me cry...


This is a mother and child we met yesterday at a hospital in Ti Goave. She has stage 3 malnutrition, as evidenced by the thinning hair, pot pelly (parasites) and twig-thin arms.

The mother is homeless and told us she's so despondent that she tried to kill herself last week. Her house was destroyed in the hurricanes last year and she now wanders from friend's house to friend's house, looking for a place for each night to stay with her daughter.

I'm glad we got there. Now the child is hospitalized and getting the treatment she needs and we gave the mom food. All they'd had the previous day, their last meal, was a cup of corn meal.

So many sad stories and sad faces, when you look into the eyes of a mother who tells you she saw no other alternative but a rope, it does something to you inside. She felt like no one cared, like she didn't matter.

I hope she realized yesterday after we left how much she DOES matter, and her child.

Haiti isn't all misery and starvation. I took this photo of a spectacular sunset as we drove to Jacmel.

And we saw two lovely incidents of fulfillment, mothers whom we had met on our last trip in Cite Soleil who now have houses. They practically beamed at us, they were so overjoyed. One of the mothers told me she looks at the house and thinks she is dreaming. And then she awakens and it's still there. It's like a miracle to her.

That made me smile.

Today we are headed up into the mountains where there are isolated cases of malnutrition. Our truck yesterday was loaded with food and meds, which are sorely needed.

I heard a story yesterday that some of the people in the mountains have walked more than 50 kilometers just to get a small bucket of food distributed by a local aid agency. Sigh...

On a brighter note, yesterday at the hospital a small SUV pulled up that read AMBULANCE. A guy jumps out, opens the back doors. Who is inside? A critical case? Someone in need of emergency medical attention?

Nope. He reaches inside and pulls out two... chickens. Trussed and ready to kill for dinner.

I guess sometimes, in areas where the hunger is really bad, delivering a meal by ambulance makes sense.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

But Mom, we don't WANT you to go!

Dolce and Tiger lodge a silent protest by lying near my suitcase as I pack for Haiti.

Leaving for Haiti

Sunday. Warm outside, the breeze drifting through the opened windows of the Florida room. I love this room. It's where I do most of my writing, sitting on the flowered couch, looking at the garden. In the summer, it's far too hot, but now, when it's still winter, even when it's warm outside like today, it's lovely.

Sometimes the dogs join me. Dolce will sit on the couch, looking at me to pay attention to him. Tiger, featured here, will lie on the tile, dozing in the sun.

We got some very bad news about Tiger this week. Like Tia and Rainey, the two other Shih Tzu's we had, he also is dying of cancer.

He has cancer of the spleen. So while we were concentrating on trying to save his sight from glaucoma, it was a losing battle anyway. We suspect the cancer has gone to his brain as he's been having seizures.

I can't believe I'm losing another beloved pet to this horrid disease.

So I do what I can. He's on meds to try to make him comfortable.

Tomorrow I leave for Haiti, leaving detailed instructions with the pet sitter, God bless her, she loves animals as much as we do. We'll be in the mountains again, in an area where there are more starving children.

I finished The Savage Wolf, and emailed it to my editor. I'm feeling a sigh of relief that I was able to finish it before deadline.

Next up, are revisions to Unwrapped, then the proposal for the next Nocturne. I have an historical out in two weeks, and the novella in Midnight Cravings. No time to promote these books. I just don't have any energy, either.

I'll be offline most of the week, away from email as I'll probably be without internet access. If I can get wireless, I may post from the road.

Have a good week, all.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meet artist Rachel Piering

Today I’m talking with talented artist Rachel Piering from South Florida, whose first solo exhibit debuts tomorrow, March 13. This young artist has a dynamic, lively style that resonates with life and beauty.

Rachel's artwork is categorized into three themes: Art for Life; Ladies Series and Enviro-Art. "Art for Life" is an expression of living, learning and loving. Her tag line sums it up: Love to Live. Live to Learn. Learn to Love. Intrigued by sociology, particularly the role of women, the "Ladies Series" embraces femininity and incorporates female portraits as the portal for expressing thoughts and as a reputation of beauty. Lastly, the "Enviro-Art" series is a tribute to our responsibility of environmental preservation.
In all three series, principle features of simplistic forms and figures are created by contrasting bold and often times metaphoric colors.

Rachel has called Florida home for the past 20 years. A self taught painter, she excelled in drawing, ceramics, and print making while studying fine art at Stetson University. Although art can serve as an escape, her artistic expression is embraced as an endeavor to share a thought and potentially provoke reflections of encouragement and optimism.

Bonnie: How did you get started with your art?

Rachel: I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I would draw cartoon characters non-stop, my favorite being Garfield or Heathcliff. At every grade level, art has been a positive experience. My teachers gave me a lot of support and emphasized that I had a "talent." Talent or not, art has been an integral part of my life. It is a side of me that refuses to be ignored.

Bonnie: What drives you to express yourself creatively this way?

Rachel: I'm driven by the notion that I want to be an artist when I grow up. The people I admire most are artists. Artists are unique individuals. It's one thing to "walk to the beat of a different drum." It's another to not even need a drum. Painting, specifically, is a great medium because of the vibrant colors and the ability for clean and exact lines. I chose acrylic because it dries really fast and I can add several layers for texture.

Bonnie: Is there an inherent message you like to display in your paintings?

Rachel: I like to think my paintings, as a female artist who paints "feminine" art, provokes thoughts of empowerment for other women. The biggest compliment is when someone can relate to one of my paintings. It's a bonus, if they have a story to share that exemplifies what I was "trying to communicate."

Bonnie: What are you hoping people walk away with after seeing your paintings?

Rachel: Besides a painting, I hope people leave happier then when they arrived. There's so much negative in this world and I hope people view my paintings as a breath of fresh air. I also hope people are intrigued enough to tell others and incorporate my artwork in future conversations. What? How else am I going to become a famous artist one day?

Bonnie: Tell me about the show and what people will see.

Rachel: The show is the result of a grant I received through the Broward County Cultural Division. I applied for the grant after being inspired from the Artist as Entrepreneur Class through ArtServe. The show is my first solo exhibit and I'm excited to have all of my paintings on display in one venue. Three suites within the gallery will display the three themes: Art for Life; Ladies Series and Enviro-Art Series. Having all the paintings in one place makes my style more recognizable.

Rachel Piering’s solo exhibit, VISUAL HEART, will be at the Uncommon Gallery, 2713 E. Commercial Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale from March 13 to April 4, 2009.

The show opens with an art reception Friday, March 13th from 6pm to 11pm. She will be painting live at the gallery on Saturday, March 21 & and March 28 from noon to 4pm.

For more information, visit her website at www.rachelpiering.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Creative validation

From Wiki: "...validation is the reciprocated communication of respect which communicates that the other's opinions are acknowledged, respected, heard... they are being treated with genuine respect as a legitimate expression of their feelings, rather than marginalized or dismissed."

Today I was talking with a friend at work and she told me how her best friend had a booth at an art fair last weekend and sold a few photographs. Said friend was delighted. "She felt really validated in her art," my friend told me.

Validation. It really struck me how important it is to us as writers, artists, musicians, photographers and creative people in general. As writers, when we're unpublished, or go long periods without publication (one friend went 7 years, I admire her dogged determination and grit!), we can feel run down, resigned, even hopeless.

We can feel like a voice crying in the wilderness that is not heard, while other "voices" are being lauded, admired, getting published, winning contests, hitting those best-seller lists, landing the four-book "very good deal" contracts announced in Publisher's Lunch, having their editors treat them to dinner during conferences, having fans fawn over their books, or have long lines at signings.

While we sit at home, writing, slogging through writing, editing, hoping, dreaming.


I think this is where it's so important to have support as a writer. Whether you're unpublished, pre-published, published and struggling or just need that assurance, friends or chapter members of your local RWA or online group can really help. They can help validate your creativity in general. They can make you feel it's all worthwhile, and encourage you to keep writing despite it all.

I'm all for validating creativity. One of my distant dreams, if I ever had oodles of money, is to start a foundation for creativity in which artists, from writers to photographers to, well, artists! would get small grants so they could take time off from their day jobs or their part-time jobs, or hire baby-sitters, and concentrate on their craft.

It's a dream, but it would be nice to see it come true some day.

In the meantime, when I meet creative people, I do my best to try to encourage them, spread the word. Later on this blog, I'm posting an interview with the very talented Rachel Piering. Rachel has a show coming up this weekend in Fort Lauderdale called VISUAL HEART.

Here's her website: www.rachelpiering.com

In other news, some sad sad sad news. Tiger was just diagnosed with cancer of the spleen. The vet, such a great, great guy who really cares about animals, found a mass on his spleen. He has maybe 6 months to live.

We could operate, but we suspect it's already spread, as he's having seizures and he's not eating. We don't want to put him through the misery and pain of opening him up. So he's on meds to make him comfortable.

This means we'll have lost three dogs from cancer. I've lost my mom, relatives, friends all from cancer.

I meant it when Sandy from the Good, Bad, and the Unread asked me what my least favorite word was, and I said, "Cancer."

Next week I'll be in Haiti and mostly offline. But please, stop by later to meet Rachel. She's a gifted artist whose art will make you see the world with a different, livelier perspective.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hump Day Hunk

Yeah, I think Sawyer is cuter than Jack. Plus that bad boy edge that's so appealing. Taping LOST tonight, my new addiction.

Good news about our older dog! Right now he doesn't need very expensive eye surgery. The meds are working. Depending upon what happens at the vet's exam tomorrow with him, I will probably be at RT next month. My plan is to attend only for Friday and Saturday (the booksigning). Since The Lady and the Libertine, my April release, is probably my last Egyptian historical, I think I should do a signing.

Right now I'm buried with the day job, trying to schedule a Haiti trip for the next two weeks, dog health issues, and writing the Nocturne due very very soon.

I have mixed feelings on halting the Egyptian historicals. I love writing them, but I'm exhausted this year and something has to give. Since the day job is my bread and butter, that something had to be romance novels.

In other news, my website is in the process of being updated, and will include an excerpt from The Lady and the Libertine. Also, the Nocturne authors in the April anthology MIDNIGHT CRAVINGS will be doing a book giveaway in April. Lori Devoti, Karen Whiddon, Michele Hauf, Anna Leonard, Vivi Anna and myself all have stories in this trade paperback, and on our respective blogs, we'll be holding a contest. Stay tuned for more details!