Monday, November 23, 2009

Moving On

Well, the holidays are fast approaching and life is also coming at me full-speed (not unlike it does to those folks in those insurance commercials). It's looking like if I want to manage an extremely high-maintenance teenager while also continuing to freelance and to write fiction - something has to go. Guess what's going?

That's right - this blog is going, going, gone.

I tend to think that most writers (except maybe Nora Roberts and Stephen King) are only alloted a certain number of words per day. And if those words all get used up on the blog, there aren't any left for what I like to think of as "real writing." I definitely can't find the time to update this blog weekly, so I'm calling it quits.

I'll leave it up here in case I change my mind or have some special promotional event in the future. I figure it'd be silly to delete the whole thing and then have to create a new one if some theoretical future publisher wants me to have a blog. But don't expect to see new posts here.

INSTEAD - Starting in 2010, I'll be blogging monthly at The Romance Studio's blog. (I'm also going to be blogging there on November 30th.) For the new year, I'll probably be doing a series on tips for aspiring authors there. I might also post the occasional entry at my publisher's blog site: The Wild Rose Press. And last but not least, I'll continue to do my seasonal newsletter, which will include reviews of favorite new books, news about my own writing, and even the occasional contest.

Be seeing you!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween, Like It or Not

Well, it's Halloween, a day I loathed and dreaded as a child. This is weird because many people will tell you that I have spent my life in a fantasy world and I'm pretty darned theatrical to boot. But all that dressing up on Halloween never appealed to me.


Well, you get to put on the costume, but you don't really get to live the part. You don't get to spend days or weeks or months as a pirate or vampire or Hermione Granger. Just that one night. So there just wasn't sufficient time to really enjoy the charade.

Second, and this is undoubtedly the most crucial reason, when I was a kid, we all had to wear those cheesy plastic costumes from K-Mart or the local drugstore. I had wild curly hair (still do) - which always got horribly tangled in the elastic band. This meant my mom had to cut the band later to get it off, which usually meant getting a chunk of my hair cut out too. As if that weren' bad enough, they had those stiff masks with the elastic band to hold it on to your face. Those eyeholes on the mask never lined up right so I was always tripping over my Cinderella gown. Plus the plastic was so non-breathable, it made my face sweat. I felt like Richard Nixon in those Kennedy-Nixon debates when I wore one of those masks.

Last of all, I was a very serious and (in my mind, anyway) a very dignified child. I was way above having to go up to strangers and beg for candy from them. Plus I didn't have much of a sweet tooth. And I was almost as neurotic as my son is now, so I was convinced the candy had been spiked with razor blades or LSD. Maybe both. My mother, saintly woman, didn't really try too hard to disabuse me of this notion. I think that was because she wanted my candy. In fact, I probably would've gotten to stop trick or treating even sooner than I did, except that she had such a sweet tooth. I wonder how many kids will be forced to dress up this weekend in order to satisfy some parental craving for Hershey's Kisses? Maybe Congress could investigate and see whether this violates child labor laws.

Anyway, I'm glad I don't have to dress up anymore, and even gladder (???) that my son isn't interested in trick or treating, now that he's 13. He is, however, very theatrical, so he'll be donning not one, but two costumes this weekend. His friends want him to come to a party as Harry Potter, but he's just so over Harry this year. He wants to be Michael Jackson. Which if you think about it, is way more appropriate to the traditional Scare-tastic approach to Halloween. He's supposed to be Michael for the first half of the evening, and Harry later on. Although he is threatening to combine the two costumes and become Michael Potter, an orphaned wizard who moonwalks and wears one white glove and has a predilection for plastic surgery. Now that's scary.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Newsletter and Contest

I switched my newsletter service from Yahoo to Vertical Response. I might actually remember to send the newsletter out more often now, since it's got all kinds of cool whiz-bang graphics and formatting I can play with.

Anyway, to celebrate the arrival of the new newsletter, I'm holding a contest for subscribers. If you subscribe to my newsletter, I'll enter you in a contest to win a $10 Barnes & Noble gift certificate. Winner to be announced on Halloween.

See that box over there on the right? No? Well, scroll down a ways and you'll find it. Just enter your email address in that box to sign up for the newsletter and the contest. I promise not to flood your inbox with junk, since the newsletter will only be done quarterly. Unless I suddenly become real prolific like Nora and have a new book to announce every week. But I am way too lazy for that. So no fear of junk mail - just occasional book news, reviews, writing tips and contests.

And if you're reading this at Amazon or elsewhere, here's the link to my contact page. You can also sign up there:

Medieval Noir Returns

Did I mention I read a lot this summer? I also watched a lot of DVDs and Hulu, but we'll talk about that some other time.

Jeri Westerson was nice enough to let me have an advance copy of her wonderful new novel, Serpent in the Thorn, featuring her wonderfully tortured sleuth, Crispin Guest. Crispin is a medieval Sam Spade, although he looks more like Orlando Bloom on the cover, don't ya think? ;-)

Stripped of his title and his lands and servants after foolishly getting tangled up in a plot against then 10-year-old King Richard II, Crispin now ekes out a miserable living as "The Tracker." In fact, he's a forerunner of Sam Spade, the cynical, world-weary private eye from Noir fiction. Jeri calls her books "medieval noir," and for good reason. In attitude as well as luck (mostly all bad), Crispin is the perfect noir detective. As in her first Crispin book, there's a mysterious femme fatale who might know more than she's telling, and once again, Crispin stumbles upon an international political conspiracy that almost costs him his life.

We also get to learn a lot more about how Crispin came to such a low state. In Serpent in the Thorn, we get to meet one of his former co-conspirators in the treasonous plot against the king. Only this conspirator escaped detection and now lives the high life as captain of the king's archers. Not surprisingly, Crispin is determined to bring this former friend down and restore himself to favor with the king. The mystery involves a holy relic alleged to be the very crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ. Jeri does a fantastic job of recreating the religion-obsessed atmosphere of medieval Europe, and of exposing the hypocrisy that lay beneath that era's obsession with religious icons and faith. She paints a vivid picture of life on the mean streets of medieval London - and those streets were truly mean! This is an absorbing mystery with well-drawn characters, so pick up a copy if you enjoy historical fiction.

Friday, October 2, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness

Hey everyone, just a reminder that October is breast cancer awareness month. Remember to do your self-exams every month and get an annual mammogram.

Promotion for Thirty-Nine Again is at last slowing down, and I'm hoping to get back to writing some new material soon. Mostly I'm still trying to catch up on things that fell behind while I was recuperating. The Man was a big help (the Teen Tasmanian Devil not so much) - but he did have to let a few things go. He wound up taking several weeks of saved up leave time to help around the house and be the Daddy Chauffeur and Crisis Counselor to the Teen Taz. At one point, Chauffeur Dad observed that he had pretty much had to quit his job in order to be me, only he had to be "Me Lite." His version of me did not also do freelance newspaper writing, publish a novel, and run two miles a day while chauffeuring, cooking and crisis counseling. I am also discovering the hard way that his version of me did not file things or pay bills very often or balance a checkbook!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alive and Kicking - and Reading too

Well, I've gotten through the initial phase of recovering from surgery. Now comes the "how the hell did they let the house get this filthy?" phase of the recovery. It should be noted that the phase which immediately follows is "I'm sure I'm well enough to mop these bathroom floors." And then comes the "Wow, that kind of hurt, I think I need to lay down" phase. The concluding phase is "Think I'll just have a short nap," which leads to waking up three hours later and being very annoyed at one's dismal energy level.

So, not doing a lot of writing or promoting right now - just focusing on not napping too much if I can help it.

I did a lot of reading and watching of videos while recuperating. The two most memorable things I think I read are these books:

I seem to be a sucker for young adult fiction, which is what these are considered. Maybe it's a sign I'm immature.

Or maybe, like all the adults who rob their kids' bookshelves to read the Harry Potter or Twilight stories, I've discovered a startling truth -- young adult fiction doesn't seem nearly as hung up on strict category rules as does other fiction. There may or may not be a love story; there may or may not be a happy ending. You just don't know! The stories are not rigid with formulaic conventions -- but they are stories that tend to emphasize likable characters and careful plotting. Those are two things all too often missing from so-called "adult" literature, which sometimes seems to replace strong characterization with an unrealistically perfect kick-butt heroine or a whiney, self-pitying hero.

The very limitations of the YA genre help guarantee that the author -- in this case, veteran YA writer Susan Beth Pfeffer -- will focus on developing a strong story. She can't fill the pages of her book with graphically weird sex or lots of cussing. Well, she could, but parents wouldn't let their kids read it. So she has to focus on an original story instead.

AND WHAT AN ORIGINAL STORY these two books present! They are companion pieces, not sequels. The first, Life As We Knew It, is the bleak, heartending tale of a teenaged girl whose life goes all to hell when an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it into a dangerously low orbit. A moment that was going to be a nifty TV-viewing science event turns into a catastrophe of literally Biblical proportions. One natural disaster follows another in rapid succession and young Miranda is forced to mature early and find a way to keep herself and her family alive.

The companion books, the dead and the gone, tells the equally difficult story of Alex, a boy in New York City who is living through these same events. While Miranda's world view is that of a very materialistic suburban agnostic, Alex is the devoutly Catholic son of a Puerto Rican maintenance man, attending a prestigious Jesuit academy on scholarship. When the disaster hits, Alex and his family rely on the Church's existing hierarchy to bring them news and help them stay alive.

I suspect the upcoming third book will unite the two main characters and that their opposing points of view will lead to much flying of the ol' sparks. I'm also really hoping NASA gets some kind of big moon-booster rocket operational -- but maybe that will be Book Four.

Anyway, I loved these two books and recommend them to anyone of any age who has an appetite for apocalyptic sci-fi. I'll probably post a few more reviews in the next few weeks, as I try to get back on the ball with writing, promoting and life in general.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Guest Blog at TRS

Roused myself long enough to do a guest blog for The Romance Studio. Here's the link:

See you there!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great Reviews

Taking a brief break from the exciting business of recuperating from surgery to announce that Thirty-Nine Again received a four-star review from RT Book Reviews (formerly Romantic Times Book Reviews)!!!

Now back to my main schedule of events: rest, drink a lot of water, take a short walk. Rest, drink more water, take walk. You get the idea.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Hiatus

As you read this, I'm having surgery (or I just had it). Not a fun way to spend a summer day. I'll be out of commission for a few weeks while I'm recovering, so the blog is going on hiatus for the remainder of July. See you in August!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

Spending some quality time with the family, so no blog this weekend. Have a happy Fourth everyone!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Guest Blog

Guest blogging today at Allie Boniface's blog. Here's the URL:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Winner Is. . .

The winner of the Wild Rose Press gift certificate is Erotic Horizon! EH - contact me with your email address and I'll get your gift certificate out to you! You can contact me at

Thanks so much to everyone who posted with your own stories of stopping to smell the roses and your own words of encouragement.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet

The Wild Rose Press wants you to stop and smell the roses! Check out some fabulous books by Wild Rose authors, visit their blogs and win a prize. At the end of today's blog, you'll find a list of other authors participating in the Stop and Smell the Roses event. You can collect a lot of prizes, since there's well over a dozen authors participating. I'm offering a $6.00 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press online store, which is enough to cover the cost of most ebooks offered there. Ebooks can be read on Sony Readers, Kindles or even on your iPhone.

"Stop and smell the roses" turns out to be a particularly appropriate topic for me this summer, as I'm going to be forced to do just that. Turns out I have to have some unexpected and rather major surgery. Aside from the stress of facing the surgery itself, there's the knowledge that recovery will take six to eight weeks, during which I can't do any sort of strenuous activities. I admit to being pretty upset about the situation, but I've lived with the information just long enough to start finding advantages in it. Like, six to eight weeks of no doing laundry! Or carrying groceries! Hooray!

But seriously, an event like this forces a person to view everything in a new perspective. I signed on to do this blog before I found out about needing the surgery, otherwise I probably wouldn't have signed up at all. You see, I'm finding that listening to my son practice piano or planting some marigolds in the garden or tending to my own roses - all those things matter so much more when you don't know what tomorrow might bring. Or when you realize it could be months before you're able to do them again!

Ironically, the heroine of my TWRP novel, Thirty-Nine Again has survived a serious health challenge herself. In Thirty-Nine Again, breast cancer survivor Sabrina is still trying to reinvent her life when the Mexican Mob interferes with her plans. In the end, she outsmarts them and learns, in her own way, to stop and smell the roses, rather than trying to control every aspect of her life.

I hope you too will smell those roses, and that it won't take a huge health crisis to make you do it. Take some time to catch up on the books in your To Be Read pile or listen to your kid practice his music lesson. Maybe even sit in the garden and smell the roses!

Now for the contest: Post a comment on this blog and win a gift certificate for an ebook at The Wild Rose Press. 'm giving you until the end of the day on Tuesday, June 23rd to post your comment on my blog. I'll announce the winner later this week.

If you visit the other Wild Rose authors listed below, you'll find even more cool prizes up for grabs. All their Stop and Smell the Roses blogs should be up on their sites today.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Mini Blog Tour Continues

Today I'm guest blogging at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem. Here's the link:

Hope you'll stop by and say hi!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Guest Blogging Today

Visit my guest blog today at Night Owl Romance. In case the link doesn't work, here's the URL:

Check it out and leave a comment there!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chick v. Noir

So is it chick lit - lighthearted, sarcatic and funny? Or is it noir - dangerous and cynical and bleak???

The big day is coming soon - Thirty-Nine Again will officially be released in just a couple of weeks by The Wild Rose Press, although B&N and Amazon are already selling it online. People ask me what genre this book belongs to, and I've never known what to say. It's a bit of romantic comedy, some chick lit and a good dose of romantic suspense too. So I christened it "chick noir."

So what exactly is noir fiction? Real noir is much, much darker than Thirty-Nine Again. Although people die in my story and the heroine's in very real danger, her point of view isn't anything like the bleakly cynical attitude of Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett's unnamed Continental detective.

I think there's a reason there are no great female noir detectives and that's because women don't tend to develop that bitter, crusty, fatalism so essential to Sam Spade and his ilk. I don't know if that's a hormonal thing or a cultural thing. Possibly it's just because women rarely have enough time to themselves to wallow in their own disappointment! In Thirty-Nine Again, for example, Sabrina's view is realistic and maybe just a teensy bit bitter. But for good or ill, like most women, if she feels mistreated by life, she accepts it as her due and tries to make a joke about it.

At one point, my hero Evan, a Homeland Security agent, confesses to Sabrina that his superior wanted her brought in for questioning but Evan resisted, due to his own rather unprofessional attraction to her. Sabrina laughs at the very idea of having that kind of affect on a man and slaps him down (pretty literally, in fact) with a snide reference to Sam Spade and his ill-fated involvement in the search for The Maltese Falcon.

That's why Thirty-Nine Again is more "Chick" than "noir." Or at least, I hope it is!

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Here!

Although The Wild Rose Press won't release my book until June 12, 2009, those eager beavers at Amazon and Barnes and Noble already have it up for grabs.

Here are the links:

Thirty-Nine Again at Amazon

Thirty-Nine Again at Barnes & Noble

Tell all your friends!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Darcy v. Heathcliff

A while ago, a friend and I were having a discussion about great heroes of romantic literature. I put forth my long-held theory that ALL romance heroes are one of two types, and that therefore all romance-loving women are one of two types too - either Darcy women or Heathcliff women.

No, I do not have any scientific research to back me up. But I do have a lot of anecdotal evidence. Over the years, I've talked to a lot of women about these two great romantic archetypes and the one thing I keep finding is that most women seem to go one way or the other. I never meet a woman who says, I love Darcy and I love Heathcliff too.

Nope, never happens. Someone inevitably says, Well, I suppose Heathcliff is okay if you like the domineering, manipulative sort, but oh, that Mr. Darcy! Or they might say: Darcy? That old stick in the mud? Give me a real man of feeling like Heathcliff any day!

To me, the reason is obvious. Heathcliff and Darcy are complete opposites. One is bitter and brooding and dangerously obessed with his woman; the other is aloof and unemotional but steadfastly faithful to his.

I think there's an underlying suspicion that Heathcliff will be the more passionate lover of the two, but personally, I doubt that. I think Heathcliff would probably be a real wham, bam, thank-you-ma'am type, to be honest. Because he's all about what he wants. And if he can't have Catherine, then he'll destroy anyone and everything in order to exact his revenge. In a way, it's flattering to know a guy wants you that much, I suppose. But I think it plays way better in a book than it does in real life. I've never been the victim of such obsessive devotion, and I hope I never am. I've had a few friends who lived with that kind of passion - mostly it just ended very badly, with lots of bruises and black eyes from their passionate but insanely jealous lover.

In some cases, age probably affects which hero you find more attractive. All that burning intensity in Heathcliff looks real exciting when you're very young. But after he's given you the third-degree for just speaking to another man a few times, that attitude can lose its appeal.

And that's when you start to see the merits of that old stick in the mud, Mr. Darcy. There's a lot to be said for that slightly snobby, aloof guy who doesn't fall all over you but shows up when your whole world is falling apart and bails you out of the mess. Then tells you to think nothing of it. Heathcliff wants to possess you; Darcy wants to take care of you.

And now I guess you can tell from my analysis which camp I belong to! So what about you? Are you a Darcy girl or a Heathcliff devotee?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thirty-Nine Again - the Trailer

Here's the fabulous Thirty-Nine Again trailer. I know I told you about it before, but it's up at Circle of Seven's YouTube channel now, which makes it a lot easier to embed and post here. Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Daring Are You?

It's been a hectic couple of weeks - I'm behind on some freelance assignments and also spending way too much time puzzling out answers to interview questions for some guest blogging sites. I definitely have more sympathy now for the people I've interviewed as a reporter over the years!

I promise to be a good blogger and return next week with some actual thoughts about romance, writing and whatever else I can think of. In the meantime, here's a quick blogthing quiz which raises the question - how daring are YOU?

You Are Bold And Brave

But are you daring? Not usually.

You tend to make calculated risks.

So while you may not be base jumping any time soon...

You are up for whatever is new and (a little) exciting!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Buy Stuff and Feel Good About Yourself!

In the current economy, everyone seems to be feeling guilty about spending money. Well, now you have the excuse you need to spend, spend, spend. It's author Brenda Novak's annual online auction to raise money for diabetes research. This is such a worthy cause and I so admire Brenda for using her fame and success as an author to do something so meaningful. Brenda's own little boy suffers from juvenile diabetes, so this is a subject very close to her heart.

I've donated a fabulous gift basket to the auction this year. This is a very girly basket that would be great for a high school or college graduation gift. It contains a whole boatload of yummy spa specialties - bath salts, mositurizer, etc. Plus there's also a pink iPod shuffle and an iTunes gift card. Go bid on this one for that special girl in your life.
I've also joined with over a dozen other Wild Rose Press authors to donate something even more spectacular -- a new Amazon Kindle. So if you weren't in the audience the day Oprah declared the Kindle her new favorite thing, now you can get one at Brenda's auction!
The auction lasts all through the month of May. Brenda has assembled a fantastic assortment of items. Editor and agent evaluations for you writers out there, and autographed books and even lunch dates with some top-notch authors for you book lovers. And there's also plenty of stuff for people who don't even like books -- I've heard such creatures exist. If you happen to know any of these oddballs, tell them about the auction too. There are gift baskets, custom jewelry, big screen TVs and state-of-the-art computers up for grabs. Something for everyone! Please take a look and bid on an item. Brenda will thank you for your generosity, and so will I.

Got Flu?

The answer to that question, of course, is: probably not. This time of year, all that coughing and sneezing you or the person next to you is doing is just as likely to be a bad allergy attack. Yet many people I know and respect, including a few good friends and the Vice President himself, are getting a little panicky about this Swine Flu thingy. You'd think people like Joe Biden would be old enough to remember the last big SWINE FLU EPIDEMIC!!!! in 1976. My school closed down and they were vaccinating people like crazy. But that one turned out to be nothing like the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918, which truly was like something out of a Stephen King novel. In fact, one statistic I read about the 1976 Swine Flu stated that more people died from bad reactions to the quickly developed vaccine than died from the illness itself. Guess that might explain why our government isn't rushing to inoculate folks this time around. Take a look at this very dated PSA from that year:

Here's a dose of reality for all of us to bear in mind:

Number of deaths from heart disease in the US last year - 652,091
Number of deaths last year in the US from all cancers - 559,312
That includes the 40,000 cases of breast cancer that proved fatal. By the way, even women are now more likely to die from lung cancer than breast cancer.
Number of Deaths from Stroke - 143,579
Number of deaths from respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD, etc) - 130,933
Number of deaths due to accidents and unintentional injuries - 117,809
Like car crashes and falling off of ladders

Number of Confirmed Cases of Swine Flu worldwide right now - 331
Number of Confirmed Deaths from Swine Flu worldwide right now - 12

So here's what we all need to do:

1) Stop panicking

2) Wash your hands and take some vitamin C

3) Go do a breast self-exam, for crying out loud. Or schedule an EKG.

4) Don't drive so fast. And put down that cell phone. Yes, I'm talking to you.

5) Oh, and maybe have a buddy spot your hubby on that ladder next time he cleans out the gutters.

Now everyone, stop hiding in your house and go out and enjoy the Spring!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Guest Blogging for Marianne Arkins Today!

Check out my first guest appearance today at Marianne Arkins' blog! Click on the link below to visit me there, or cut and paste this address into your browser. I had fun answering Marianne's questions and I hope you'll enjoy reading my answers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today It's My Birthday!

Yes, today it's my birthday and the hubby has planned an entire weekend of celebratory events. Let's hope it goes better than last year, when I left everyone at my birthday party and spent the evening in the emergency room with my mom. To be honest, I'm really ambivalent about the birthday this year, and Mother's Day too. Mom always new how to make an exit, so she managed to arrange her final illness to begin on my birthday and end on Mother's Day. She did know how to be memorable. Not trying to be maudlin - just sayin'.

Anyway, I'd hoped to have a big batch of blogs pre-written to upload here for the next few weeks, but it never happened. Other crises interfered with my blog writing time - you know, family, job, novel writing. Sheesh, I know I should put the blog first, but what can I say???

So I'll get back to writing new stuff next week with some (hopefully) interesting thoughts about friendships, the writing biz, romance, and the one my friend Ann has been waiting for - my blog about Historical Hotties.

Ooh, in the meantime, here's something you should be watching. I just love me some Nathan Fillion and he is fantastic as egotistical but sexy novelist Richard Castle in his new series. Pants aren't as tight as they were in Firefly, but we can't have everything.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What Country Matches Your Sexuality?

Yes, it's been a busy week again out in the real world. So here's a bit of wisdom from the Blogthings gods. I don't think I can really add anything to their stunning wisdom on this one. . .

Your Sexuality is French

The average French person first has sex at age 17.

And the average number of partners is 8.

53% of French people are happy with their sex lives.

And 50% of France feels confident asserting themselves in bed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Blog About Shirtless Guys

The weather's starting to warm up, and with it comes the first true sign of the coming of spring. No, not the swallows at Capistrano or wherever, although I suppose those are nice. No, I speak of the far more fabulous Shirtless Guy:

As much as I enjoy the sight of a well-toned youth jogging along the trail in my direction, there is of course an ugly, dark side to the Season of Shirtless Guys:

Fortunately, the guy next door hasn't started mowing his lawn yet, so I haven't had a chance to feast my eyes on any wobbly mountains of flesh similar to the ones in this scary photo. If I'm really lucky, maybe the neighbor will keep his shirt on this year.

Here's hoping your Spring - and mine - is full of flat, well-toned abs!

Friday, April 3, 2009

What Are Your Roadblocks?

Today I have a lovely guest blogger - Cara Marsi. Cara's the author of Logan's Redemption, an excellent contemporary romance. She has some great insights into what might be keeping you from succeeding! Visit Cara at

We all have those pesky little roadblocks in our lives. You know what they are: those people or things that prevent you from doing what you want, or need, to do. Roadblocks are all around us, seductive little imps tempting us into throwing away our precious time. It takes a strong will to fight the imps. And sometimes those enticing little devils are us.

There are roadblocks in the corporate world and in our personal lives, but today we’re going to talk about those things and people that keep you, a writer, from writing.

What’s on your roadblocks list? What’s keeping you from sitting at that computer and writing? Why are you reading this when you should be writing?

When I worked full-time, my biggest obstacle was my job. A corporate drone and cubicle dweller, I was forced into a dreary existence eight hours a day when I wanted to be home in my imaginary world, writing. Darn day job interfered with my creativity. Despite that, I managed to complete five novels (two published so far) and two short stories (one published so far). It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fast, but I did it. I always told myself that if I didn’t have to work, I’d write more and I’d write faster.

I’ve recently been downsized from my job. No more cubicle eight hours a day. So, how am I doing with the roadblocks thing? Not so good. What are my biggest obstacles now? My husband and myself. Actually my husband isn’t so much a roadblock, but rather it’s my reaction to him that is.

He’s retired and home all day. Underfoot, one might say. Not a book lover, he can’t understand my passion for reading and writing. Although he doesn’t say it very often, he’d rather I spend my time with him than at the computer. So I feel guilty. And the very fact that he’s around distracts me. It’s a balancing act between family and writing, and one I’m still trying to work out. I could write all day, every day, and never come up for air. But then I wouldn’t have a life. And I probably wouldn’t have a marriage. So I try to compromise. A little writing, do stuff around the house, spend time with my husband. I think we all agree that family comes first, yet for our mental health and well-being, we have to make time for ourselves, including pursuing our passion for writing. I wonder how other writers handle the family versus writing thing.

Another obstacle: my husband and I share one computer, my laptop. Some days when I’m working at the computer dear hubby paces the room, asking how much longer I’m going to be because he needs to check his email or the Internet. At the end of February I bought him a mini-laptop for his birthday. It’s not set up yet, but once it is, the two-people, one-computer problem will be licked. I hope. I highly recommend more than one computer in a household.
For the past year my laptop rested on the breakfast room table--a very busy area filled with distractions. When I found myself suddenly home during the day, and writing, I knew something had to give. We converted the guest room into an office, complete with fresh paint and a new desk. Having my own space to write has helped tremendously.

A smaller roadblock for me is housework. The thing I hate about housework is that you need to keep doing it. For God’s sake, can’t the dust stay off the furniture for at least six months? My husband does his share of work around the house, but there’s still plenty for me to do. I can hear everyone saying, “Housework? Who does housework?” I know, but when the dust bunnies commandeer the bedroom and attack the cat, I’ve got to do battle. So housework cuts into my writing time.

My biggest roadblock by far is myself. When I worked and had less time, I learned to make every minute count. You’d be surprised how much writing I could get done on a one-hour lunch break. Now that I have lots of time, I find excuses not to write. I check email, peruse the Internet, make a few phone calls. And I’ve added another time gobbler—I’ve just joined Twitter. Having too much time can be bad, very bad. I tell myself, “I’ve got time. I’ll write later.” But sometimes later doesn’t come. I wonder how other writers fight this particular demon. I need a schedule, but I was on a schedule during my years of fulltime work. I’m sick of schedules. However, I work best on deadlines and schedules, so I will get organized. I promise. As soon as I dust the living room and check Twitter.

Many writers find that their families and friends sabotage their writing time, sometimes subtly, sometimes openly. I once knew of a woman who was said to be an excellent writer. Everyone who read her work predicted she had the talent to have a successful writing career. But her husband and children resented the time she spent writing. And they were openly hostile about it. They wanted her at their beck and call. She gave up writing. This is not an unusual occurrence, especially for women. If you really want to write, you’ve got to fight the family attempts at sabotage. Some female writers, perhaps out of inborn guilt, won’t assert themselves and say no to family and friends.  

Some spouses and friends are very good at finding subtle ways to undermine a writer’s time. The husband just happens to make plans for them to do something together on the very day that the writer needs to sit down and work on a project. Or friends call constantly, just to talk, or cajole the writer to go shopping or out to lunch. When friends and family know you’re home during the day, they feel your time is their time. This is where we writers need Caller ID and an answering machine. And we need to learn to say “No.” Firmly. Don’t answer that phone unless it’s the State Police telling you there’s a chemical leak and the neighborhood has to evacuate.

I did a poll of writer friends and asked what roadblocks kept them from writing. A few said lack of confidence in their writing or their need for perfection keeps them editing and editing and not moving forward. They feel that whatever they’ve written is never good enough. This is a real hurdle and one that will take work and determination to overcome. But it can be overcome.

I understand the role fear can play in keeping us from completing and submitting our stories. I’ve just finished a paranormal romance that I should have submitted to editors and agents months ago. I keep tweaking it and coming up with reasons why I have to wait just a little longer. I’m afraid to let my baby go because that means the rejections will start coming. I know I’m supposed to think positive, but in my mind I keep seeing those rejection letters or rejection emails. I plan to stock up on red wine and potato chips, my comfort food of choice.
Negativity can be a real obstacle. One time, in an effort to enlist Fate’s help to sell my books and wipe out my negativity, I performed a ritual using a Native American sage stick. I got the sage and the idea from a shaman, who also happens to be the woman who waxes my eyebrows. At her instruction, I lit the stick and waved it over pages of two manuscripts spread on the bed. I asked that all bad vibes be cleansed from the manuscripts and only good and positive thoughts cover them. I dropped the stick while it was lit and almost set my bed on fire. Not a good sign. One of those manuscripts did get published, but the other is locked away forever. Did the ritual work? Maybe, maybe not. I’m willing to try almost anything once.

Other writers are struggling to write while holding down fulltime jobs and raising young children. My son is an adult now, but I didn’t start writing seriously until he was eleven. I don’t know if I could have written when he was very little. Many women with small children make the time to write. It takes a lot of work and perseverance for these writers to continue and they deserve our respect. An obstacle for some stay-at-home writer moms is volunteering. They’re committed to volunteering at their children’s schools, or in their communities. It’s important that we give back to our schools and our communities, but at times volunteering becomes another roadblock. Busy moms, who refuse to let the dream of being a published author die, yet find time for volunteering, also deserve our support.

Other writers have told me they get leg and back pains from sitting at the computer so long. This is a problem that I’ve not encountered, but a potentially serious one, on many levels. Imagine if you could only sit for a short period every day. How much writing would you get done? Your health is important, and whether or not you have a bad back, you need to get up from that computer during the day and move around.  

I’ve told you what some of my roadblocks are. What are some of yours and what have you done to resolve them?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Check Out My Book Trailer!

Here it is! My very hip, with-it and cool book trailer, courtesy of the very talented Brenda Urquhart and Circle of Seven Productions. Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Squeeing About Coffee Time Romance

I'm very excited to report that I just received an advance copy of Coffee Time Romance's review for Thirty-Nine Again. Delane Davis had this to say about my story: "Sabrina . . . has strength and tenacity in abundance. With the guns, bad guys, and sexy men, Thirty-Nine Again is a wonderful and exciting read." CTR gave the book 5 cups, which is their highest rating. The review is not posted at their site yet - it will go online closer to the book's release date, but I just had to do a little bragging right now. Here's hoping this is a good omen for future reviews!

Come very soon, I hope to have my incredibly cool, very snazzy book trailer uploaded here too. It's being designed by the super-talented Brenda Urquhart for Circle of Seven. Yes, I know you can make them yourself, but only if you like sticking bamboo shoots under your nails - which is how it felt when I tried to do one myself. Trust me, you'll be glad I let Brenda do this - it's looking great so far.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Adapting Noir to the Middle Ages

Today I'm excited to have the very talented Jeri Westerson as my guest blogger. Jeri is the author of Veil of Lies, a brilliant medieval take on the noir subgenre of detective fiction. While I refer to my own Thirty-Nine Again as "chick noir," the truth is it's voice is a lot more "chick" (as in chick lit) than it is "noir." But Jeri has perfectly nailed the voice of noir fiction and done a remarkable job incorporating it into Veil of Lies.

Here's what Jeri has to say about adapting that voice to a story set in the Middle Ages. . .

Noir, to me, is at once milieu and emotion. It’s quite literally the black and the bleak. It’s shadows and the dark longings in the soul. The medieval period seems perfect for this set-up.

My debut medieval mystery, VEIL OF LIES, is styled a “medieval noir,” dealing with the grittier, darker side of the Middle Ages rather than the grandeur of palace life with its furs and jewels. These are the bleak streets of London, the seamier side of things, and what holds the story together from sinking into drear oblivion is its strong protagonist, Crispin Guest. Heathcliff meets Sam Spade meets Brother Cadfael, I suppose. Though Crispin is definitely no monk. He’s the dark and brooding type because of his circumstances. In such a rigidly defined society, he stepped out of line by committing treason against the newly enthroned Richard II, and instead of the expected execution, his life was spared, but little else. His knighthood was taken along with his wealth, title, and status. With just the clothes on his back, he was exiled from court and forced to make his way on the mean streets of 14th century London. He could have become an outlaw. He could have become a henchmen. But he chose instead to reinvent himself as the Tracker, a sort of “private sheriff,” solving puzzles and righting wrongs for sixpence a expenses.

It wasn’t hard to adapt the trappings of noir and hard-boiled pulp to a medieval setting. Keeping the language and sensibilities strictly in the Middle Ages (no gats, no car chases), we can still translate the milieu, the hopelessness of noir to that era. The darker shadows and the people who populate them--the thieves and whores--thrive. There are femme fatales who use sex to get what they want from our hero, and because he was raised as a knight, his knightly vows urge him to protect when he might be better off backing away. They also prevent him from fully succumbing when he finds himself falling for a woman far below his former rank. It’s walking that fine line from what might be expected from a storyline and what was expected of the medieval mind, that makes it both fun and a challenge to write.

Getting into Crispin’s mindset is sometimes tough. But it’s as much getting into character as an actor would do, finding motivation, backstory, and making your character feel feelings that are as far from one’s own experience that can be had.
Crispin is a complex man but he is a man of his time. Making that work for a modern audience means getting the reader on Crispin’s side right away, and that means showing qualities that are universal: loyalty, bravery, and, let’s face, stubbornness. With subtle and not so subtle introductions to medieval life, his stage is set and the reader doesn’t have to worry about what it means to have a hard-boiled detective in the Middle Ages. They can appreciate the candlesmoke standing in for cigarette smoke, that light from a cracked shutter might be that venerable shading from the hatching of Venetian blinds, that knives and swords are used instead of guns, and chases can be had on foot or on horses.

Deep down, the people are the same. Loyalty is the same. Murder, my sweet, is the same.

Read the first chapter of Veil of Lies on my website

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Me

Last week, I reached the end of my rope (at least for now) with the historical paranormal I began a couple of months ago. I had a very sexy hero, a wicked cool courtesan heroine - but really, I had no story. I had an idea of a possible germ of a story, but not really a plot per se. That's not all that unusual for me in the early stages of a story. But usually the story seems to pull itself together at some point and tell me what the heck to do with the characters. This time, it just wasn't happening. Trying to work on that story was becoming more dread-filled than a visit to the dentist. So I packed it all away. Got a great big box, threw all the notes into it and decided I would take a sabbatical. This week I would spend on getting some craft and gardening supplies. I would exercise another part of myself.

Well, I got to exercise another part of myself, all right. The part that kneels on the bathroom floor cleaning up Tasmanian Devil Boy vomit. And other body fluids too, come to that. In fact, cleaning up body fluids that really aren't even supposed to be fluids. For five days I have been serving jello and then, a few minutes later, cleaning up the jello when it makes its rapid and very unpleasant re-entry into our world.

My poor Taz has been sick with one thing or another since early February - first a respiratory flu, then an ear infection, and now the mother of all stomach flus. He is a bright and generally cheerful kid, but just loaded down with weird obsessions and anxieties - these are part of the package with someone who has Asperger's Syndrome, which he does.

This is what taking care of a mildly sick person with Asperger's is like:

Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is the most accurately Asperger-y person I have ever seen on TV. Truthfully, he probably has a worse case of Asperger's than my son. But his obsessiveness is right on target and a fine example of what every day with The Tasmanian Devil Boy is usually like.

This past week, however, Taz been so sick that he hasn't had time to fret over how many questions are on the math worksheet or whether we will eat dinner at 6:00 versus 6:15. That part of his illness was actually a little restful. Too bad the trade-off for losing his anxiety was becoming violently ill! He really had me scared for a few days there, but now he's getting back to his usual exasperating self. I guess that's the good news.

I'm just glad I didn't have any writing deadlines to meet this week. Guess I was right to shelve that book for now. But I'm not making any plans for gardening or doing crafts next week though - I wouldn't want to tempt fate twice!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We Have a Winner!

The winner of the two pairs of earrings is MINDY! Come on down, Mindy. Or better yet, email me your address and I'll ship the earrings off to you as soon as possible! Thanks to everybody who entered the contest!

I haven't been blogging much in February. I've been busy taking two classes and trying to get back to writing some more - hard to find time for all that when you're also trying to scheduled reviews and interviews for the first book. Geez, I thought people were kidding when they said writing the book was the easy part! They weren't. Publicity and self-promotion takes an enormous amount of time and energy. Some day, when I have time, I'll write a blog about it!

Oh, and caring for two sick males also doesn't help the blog productivity. The big Daddy Bear is almost well now, thank God. Unfortunately, I've discovered something worse than a sick grown male: a sick preteen male. All the helplessness of a sick adult male with a big dose of preteen sullenness and attitude thrown in for good measure! Now I know why the British invented boarding school for kids from age 11 to 17.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hey everybody - I'm running my first solo contest this month!

I decided that we needed a little bling to brighten up February, so I'm giving away two lovely pairs of glass beaded earrings with silver hoops via my newsletter.

To enter the contest, sign up for the newsletter or just shoot me an email at:

The contest will run all month, and I'll announce the winner in my newsletter and here at the blog on February 28th.

Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's and a bright and blingy February!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Squee!!! - It's My First Blog Award!

Wow! The lovely and talented Anne Carrole has nominated my blog for the Lemonade Award. As in: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." So now it's my turn to tell you about some of my favorite blogs out there in cyberspace.

Of course, there's Anne's - which is great because it's so educational. I'm learning so much about the rodeo thanks to my friendship with Anne - and discovering that those rodeo riders sure are mighty easy on the eyes. Click here to check out her blog.

Another fave blog is Susanne Saville's Caffeinated Natter - a blog about caffeine, cats, and John Barrowman from the talented author of a very cool story called The Wiccan Kitten.

A fabulous new discovery: The Goat Rodeo. Fascinating reflections from a dynamic woman who writes, raises four kids, performs at Renaissance Festivals and has a great sense of humor.

Leeann Burke is a Canadian author who's written a nifty romantic suspense novel called Deadly Secrets. And like me, she's going to be donating a portion of the proceeds from her book to breast cancer awareness charities - so check out her blog.

A big lemonade award to Marianne Arkins, whose blog introduced me to the insidious joys of blogthing quizzes!

Ann Whitaker is just getting started with her blog addiction, but I expect her obsessive nature to lead her to outstrip everyone on the Internet when she really gets going with her new blog. Ann's also my book twin - her book Dog Nanny releases on the same day as my Thirty-Nine Again.

LL Bartlett may be dazed and confused, but she writes great mysteries with a paranormal twist and her blog makes interesting reading about a writer's life.

And a batch of very cool historical blogs. I'm a history buff, so I love checking out the intriguing tidbits of history these ladies unearth.

At History Undressed, Eliza Knight blogs about costumes and customs from assorted eras in British history - from Regency riding habits to medieval cookery.

If the Regency era is your thing, check out Michele Young/Ann Lethbridge's wonderfully detailed look at that period in history, Regency Ramble.

Last but not least, Jeri Westerson is the author of the "medieval noir" novel Veil of Lies, probably one of my favorite books of 2008. She also pens the fascinating Getting Medieval blog, where you can learn about everything medieval, from the forging of swords to the celebrating of medieval Hannukah.

Thanks to Anne Carrole for nominating me as one of her faves - and for making me think about some of my own faves. Now tell me about blogs you like to read, so I can find new ways to avoid getting any work done!