Sunday, October 18, 2009

Painting your book

Just got home from vacation yesterday and I think that if you factor out the great spa and all the massages, if you can, the best part of the trip was the Norman Rockwell Museum. I went on the tour and really learned a lot about writing and how our craft is a lot like

Now at first that might sound strange, but if you think about it, writing and painting are closely connected. The painter is telling a story with his brush strokes much Ike we are telling a story with our keystrokes. And in both cases, it is up to the artist - whether it be the painter or the writer - to make sure that the details come out enough to tell the story.

Take this painting by Norman Rockwell. What do you see? A family dinner. Thanksgiving perhaps. It's actually one of the four paintings that compose Rockwell's majestic "The Four Freedoms" series. Maybe you'd stop a minute and look at the picture and then walk on. But let's look closely at this painting and "see" the story Rockwell is telling us.

In the painting is a large family gathered around their table. The occasion is probably Thanksgiving because of the huge turkey being served. Both the good china and the good silver are on the table. It’s probably Grandmother who cooked all day to make the feast.

The man in the center left is talking and everyone seems to be smiling in reaction to what he has said. The man in the lower right corner is looking at you, as though waiting for your reaction toe the comment.

Grandpa is at the head of the table and has his carving tools ready to slice and serve the turkey. Grandma is placing the turkey in its place. She is still wearing her apron in case something spills and ruins her dress. The turkey appears to be cooked to perfection.

The table extends past the bottom of the canvas, giving the perception that the viewer is actually at the table. The man in the lower right corner of the painting also seems to be inviting you to join in the feast.

Rockwell used white as the main color on the table. But look at the details; the ice in the water, the ironed-in creases still visible in the tablecloth, the light and shadows on the crisp white dishes and serving pieces.

Another painting that tells an incredible story “in the moment” is called “Moving In” it is a example of how Rockwell used his artwork to spark thought and intrigue. The image focuses on a moving truck parked in the driveway as some resident children greet their new neighbors. It seems like an ordinary scene, but it tells an entire story in the matter of one single instant. Look closely.

Both girls are wearing pink to indicate similarities. Two boys have baseball gloves, one a baseball uniform – common interests. The black children have a white cat; the white children a black dog. Do you see the separation on the sidewalk? Two children are ready to cross the line. Very typical of the time frame. Do you see six figures in the painting? There are actually seven. One is in a window to the rear left, peeking out and ready to report to the neighbors. What happens next? Who makes the first more toward friendship?

Norman Rockwell had the gift of inviting us into his work and allowing us to share the story he was trying to tell. Isn’t that what we, as writers, hope to do also?

The advice we can gleam from a Rockwell painting is this – the details are very important, but they should never tell the observer or the reader what he is to experience. The details need to be subtle enough to set the scene and allow the observer to share the story with the artist (or writer) creating it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Alex is back!

I have just come from being mesmerized by Dr. Andy Yablonsky on THREE RIVERS. Our own darling Alex O'laughlin first a hot undead guy and now a hot making sure no one is a dead guy doctor every Sunday night. The show is well worth the trip to the TV set

OK I admit, I miss the whole undead, is he going to bit me persona. But this new one -it ain't band.

The show was a hit from day one, so let's just hope CBS realizes it.

And while I'm thinking, you do know there is a gazillion vampire shows on now. Why did MOONLIGHT ever get cut anyway. It was better than most.

A close second in happening hunks on this show is scorching hot Asian doctor, Daniel Lee played by Daniel Henney. If Dr. Yablonsky is busy, I'd take a run at some Kung Pow Chicken with this guy.

But seriously check it out. It will have you thinking og Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare all rolled into one hunky ex-vampire.
Excuse me but I think I hear my hear skipping a beat and I need to get to Three Rivers. ASAP

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Tomorrow is the anniversary of one of the worst days in the life of Americans everywhere.

I remember the first time I went to Ground Zero. I had happily volunteered to help feed the rescue workers and was honored to be able to contribute in that small way. It was the least I could do. After all, I wasn't a member of the police, fire or rescue teams, I wasn't in construciton or clean-up. I just wanted to do something to help. I was ready, willing and able to dish out soup, deliver coffee, serve the meals, anything. I'd seen all the footage, was familiar with the sight of the rubble and the carnage. I was prepared.

Or so I thought.

Just seeing the hole in the skyline was troubling enough, but it was the smell of death that hit you when you pulled up at the site that really shakes one to the core. It was everywhere. No escaping the odor. Though you got used to it and the odor siminished, it did not go away. A newscast could not even begin to describe that aspect of the clean-up nor preapre you for it. It was disturbing after only one day there. Can you imagine being there every day?

When I got home, my husband could smell it as soon as I walked in the door. It premeated my clothes, hair and skin. It took a long shower, a lot of perfumed bath gel and a few spins through the wash cycle for my clothes to get ride of the smell. It was the smell of 9/11 and I'll never forget it.

I'm not going to get on my soap box and tell everyone to never forget. Some people will. But I won't. Never.

God Bless America.
picture 1 - ground zero
picture 2- dad and I getting ready to serve the meals
Picture 3 - dad, sis and I just before leaving - picture taken by a member of NYPD who dubbed dad "Soup Boy" and was making us laugh.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Ah, plotting. We’ve all heard the metaphor – plot is the skeleton on which the story is hung.


Plot is not something for you to drape your scenes upon, hoping they eventually tie together and make a good book. Plot is a concept that saturates every page of your work and draws the images, events and people together to make a good book.

This may be the hardest thing for beginning writers to come to understand. We are led to believe that the plot is an object and not a process. As we write and get better at it, we come to realize that the plot touches every word we write, organizing them into a sense of character, action and location.

Now that I’ve totally confused you, I’ll try to explain.

We all have stories to tell. A story is a chronicle of events strung together like links in a chain. These events make the reader want to know what comes next. A plot is more than that. A plot is a chain of cause and effect relationships that involve the reader in the question “why did that happen?” To makes our stories interesting, we need a strong plot.

As writers we are under tremendous pressure to be original, but the truth is, there are only so many basic plot lines. It is the writer’s style and way the plot is presented that makes it original.

As romance writers, we need to take the plots and mix them with a healthy dash of love. When writing our “Great American Romance Novel.” we need to keep some basic points foremost in our plot:
The prospect of love should always be met with a major obstacle. The hero and heroine may want to fall in love, but they can’t. Not for a while anyway.
The pair is often not suited for each other in some way.
The first attempt to overcome the obstacle never works. Their love must be proven.
The characters must be unique and interesting and you must have deep feelings for them in order for the readers to also care. Love has many other feelings associated with it and these feelings must be fully developed according to the needs of the romance plot.
Make sure the hero and heroine are involved in the full test of love and romance. They need to be tested and retested until they finally get the love they seek. Love is earned, not just given.

Ronald B. Tobias gives a rundown of basic plots in his book 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them. Tobias says plot is more than an accessory that conveniently organizes your material. Thinking of plot that way has helped me tremendously over the years. I know I can’t distill his work into a few paragraphs, but I can list a few basic plot lines for you (with a reference to some of the illustrative examples Tobias uses in his book). If need be, find the one that can help your story come alive and tailor it to your needs. The trick is not to copy a plot, but to adapt it to your idea, always remembering in our chosen field to keep the romance level high.

Adventure – Your heroine goes out in search of fortune motivated by someone or something to begin the adventure and needing the hero to complete the task. (Any Indiana Jones movie).

Pursuit – Make sure there is real danger associated with getting caught, and in fact, your hero and heroine may even get caught or almost get caught before the end. Establish the ground rules for the chase, establish the stakes and start the race with a motivating incident. (Murder on the Orient Express)

Rescue – The hero, heroine and “bad guy” weave a journey of pursuit, separation, confrontation and reunion. (The Princess Bride).

Escape – Begin the plot with the imprisonment (of person, of mind or of concept), deal with the plans for the escape and make sure that these plans are almost upset at least one time until finally comes the escape or the liberation of the heroine’s heart. (Rapunzil)

Underdog – The against all odds plot. (Cinderella).

Temptation – This plot examines the motives, needs and impulses of human nature. The hero and heroine must learn something about themselves and why it is right for them to give in (or to not give in) into the temptation. A lot of inner turmoil, a lot of emotion in this one. (Adam and Eve).

Change – The change usually can only be accomplished through love. (The Frog Prince).

Forbidden Love – the hero and heroine defy social convention and pursue their hearts, often with dangerous results. (Romeo and Juliet)

Sacrifice – the sacrifice is often made at a great personal cost, often with a strong moral problem at the center of the story. Make sure the reader understands why the sacrifice must be made. (Casablanca)

Plotting a good book seems like a tall order, doesn’t it? Truth is, writing is work. Good writing is even harder work. But the end result of this entire struggle is a good book; your good book.
In closing, I wish you beautiful heroines, handsome heroes and 4-Star Reviews for what you do to them.

Happy plotting!

Friday, August 7, 2009


I am fortunate to have to pass the Reading Cinema on my way home from work everyday, so I can scope out the parking lot at 4:30 p.m. when new movies come out. If it is relatively empty I go; packed I don't. Today at 4:30, the parking lot was acceptable for me to scoot in and see G.I. Joe (Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity).

It was okay.

But what I did notice was that it was really the romance that drove this plot. I'm sure that a lot of people might disagree, but they are not romance writers. Trust me, without the romance, Duke and Ripcord would not have been able to save the world or set up the sequel.

Plus, as with my writing at least at times, the secondary characters are much more fun. I found myself wondering if Ripcord and Scarlet would get together in the end or, at the very least, if Scarlet would admit she was attracted to him. After all, I knew things would work out for Duke and Ann one way or another; it had to. Their romance was integral to the plot.

Don't get me wrong, the special effects were incredible and the movie did live up to its hype in a lot of ways. And personally, I found twisted satisfaction in the fact that Cobra attacked Paris and G.I. Joe had to save all those ungrateful French people (again). OK, G.I. Joe is supposed to be a mix of elite soldiers from around the world, but Duke, Ripcord and Ann definitely spoke with American accents.

Channing Tatum was okay, Marlon Jennings does a good job as the sidekick providing the necessary comic relief, and the girls, Sienne Miller and Rachel Nichols are both hot in their roles. I found it interesting that the good martial arts guy wore black while the bad martial arts guy wore white.

All in all it was all testosterone and a lot of blowing up things like Transformers, but not quite as good. I went because I also had to play G.I. Joe with my son when he was small. Only I never got to be a sexy villaness like Ann.

The critics will probably pan it, but most people will like it. It ends with the Black Eyed Peas "Boom Boom P0w" and that about sums it ip.

And all the Romance writers who see it will notice that the plot can't survive without a typical Harelequin-type concept to save the day

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stop the World. My Husband has a cold.

At least that's what he thinks is going to happen.

Every time the hub gets a sniffle, it's the same thing. He's the only one who ever had whatever it is he has or thinks he has, he's never going to fee well again and the world is going to stop turning. (Which would be very bad because we'd lose gravity and all fly up into the air at the same time).

The martyr in him also suddenly comes out.

Him (Hand on head, coughing for effect)- Don't worry about me. I'll just get some soup.
Me - Fine ( know where this is going, but I'll play along)
Him - (Taking one small step toward the stove) By the way where is the soup?
Me- In the pantry.
Him- (Now standing motionless and looking left and right) And where is the pantry?

Does it sound familiar to anyone?

Next he plants his germ infested body in the living room and struggles with the remote, because even if men are taking their last breath, they must be watching TV while doing it. Picture of charm, he is in his pj bottoms with a box of tissues on his chest and a garbage pail next to his chair so he can dispose of anything he feels will not advance him to a total miracle cure. He is now reclining, motionless, eyes closed. But even as I try to take the remote and change the channel, he says "I was watching that." Okay, I understand now. He has x-ray vision and can see right through his eyelids.

Then it's honey, get me a blanket. Done. Honey, can I have a pillow. Done. Honey, can I have some juice. Done. All this while I'm dusting, doing laundry, taking all the phone calls, cleaning up the dinner he asked for the day before and now can't possibly eat and trying desperately to write at least 3 pages in between royal summons.

After a few hours of noises coming from him that belong in a Stephen King movie trailer, I ask him if he wants to a few more cold tablets to help him feel better. It goes something like this.

Me - Honey, maybe it's time to take a few more cold pills.
Him - I didn't take anything yet.
Me - but you came home from work 6 hours ago.
Him - I was afraid it would put me to sleep.

PUT HIM TO SLEEP!!!! Wasn't that what we're supposed to do when we get sick? Hydrate, rest and sleep??

Deep breath. It could be worse. A cold is only going to last three days.

I'll be at the Holiday Inn until then.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Having a pair of Jimmy Choo's on your Bucket Lists Can Be Dangerous

So I have this Bucket List. I think a lot of people my age do. I’m preparing to turn another decade so I made it about two months ago. I admit I cheated and put on some stuff I already did just so I could cross things off. Like going to Iceland, getting elected to public office and writing a book.

There are things on there I may never do like skydiving (too scared), mountain climbing (too old) and losing 100 pounds (too lazy). But there is also stuff that I might get around to doing like visiting Greece, getting a facelift and holding my grandchild.

But I’m getting off track.

So on my Bucket List is “buy a pair of Jimmy Choo’s.” I’m sure you all know what Jimmy Choo’s are, but if, like me, sometimes you hit the delete button in your mind for useless facts, Jimmy Choo’s are exclusive and expensive shoes that are instantly recognizable. The leather is rich and the heels are high, but Jimmy Choo is synonymous with the 'red carpet' shoe of choice and I had to have a pair. Only so I could cross out an entry on my Bucket List.

Who am I kidding? I just wanted them.

Finally I get a pair and I stuff my size 9’s into them and get in the car. Never mind that I can hardly push the gas pedal or the brake because the heel is so damn high. Never mind that at my age, my legs are not designed walk or balance on a spike the circumference of a pencil point. Never mind that I should be 30 years younger to be allowed to purchase a pair of these things. But no matter, I’m doing this.

I make it out of my car in the parking deck, over to the elevator, down to the first floor, across the lobby, up to the third floor and get to the door to my office suite. All I have to do now is get to my office and plop my butt in my chair and I’m home free. So what do I do? I lean forward and miss the door handle. My center of gravity shifts because I’m expecting to grab onto something solid and I fall flat on my ass, coffee flying over my shoulder, purse going one way, briefcase the other in front of everyone who works on my floor because they all happened to arrive at work at the same time for some reason.

And you know what, not one of them believes me when I tell them how it happened. They think it’s all because I fell off my Jimmy Choo’s.

I had to take the day off, fill out an incident report, go to the doctor, get x-rays and spend the rest of the day putting ice on every body part below my neck.

So now I have another entry on my Bucket List. Actually WEAR Jimmy Choo’s and not kill myself in them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I got a phone call today that really made me smile. It was from an old friend; one I hadn't heard from or thought much about for a while. Just checking in and wondering how I've been.

This friend was very important to me in the past. He, and yes, it was a he, was attentive, thoughtful, interested, and, unfortunately married. But so was I, so we joked that we had something in common.

We worked in the same building but not at the same job, When we saw each other, we chatted and flirted and sometimes had coffee. He listened to all the things my husband didn't, noticed everything new and actually seemed interested in what I had to say.

And all these things I did for him.

Then we'd go back to work and home and do it all over again the next day for five days a week.

There were some very sweet, and and very tempting things he did. After listening, and actually hearing, how much I loved the Arthurian Era, for my birthday, he doctored a picture of himself adding a suit of armor and gave it to me in a card. That same Christmas he gave me a set of Christmas ornaments that had a king, a queen, a knight and a dragon. Who wouldn't think twice about exploring possibilities after that?

But it never went any further than a deep friendship.

Looking back now, I know for a fact that although he was handsome and charming and attentive, for me the fantasy was what I really only wanted. Reality would have meant heartache, lies, deception and mega problems.

So, like Jimmy Carter, I lusted only in my heart and eventually, I left the job and we lost the closeness.

Now some people would still not approve, and some people might say I may have still crossxed the line. But after that, believe it or not, because of this friendship, I began to love who I had at home even more. I can't explain why; I just did.

I have no desire to see my old friend any longer. It was nice that he called; he was in the area. But hearing his voice made me realize that just like Dorothy, when looking for my heart's desire, I needed only look right at home.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Transformers - More than Meets the Eye

I was never allowed to be an Autobot.

Transformers first appeared when my youngest son was around 4. He took to it like them proverbial duck to water. Them and the Gobots. But the Gobots never quite achieved the super star status as did the Transformers.

It all begins with the name. The heroes, Optimus Prime or Leader-1? Which has the better name? That also goes for the evil machines – Megatron or Cy-Kill? Need I even ask?

The Gobots had boring henchmen like Cop-Tur and Turbo and Tank. While the Transformers had (and still apparently have according to the $55 million opening day box office take) Bumblebee, Ironhide, Bluestreak and Sunstreaker if you are an Autobot. If you lean more toward the dark side you’re a Decepticon such as Star Scream, Galvatron, Shockwave and Buzzsaw. C’mon. You know these guys are way cooler just by what they are called.

It was a good thing I was into sci-fi and trucks from having three boys because these things became a staple in my house for a long time when they first were introduced by Hasbro.

Which brings me to why I loved seeing the Transformers movies. It certainly wasn’t the plots. There were none to speak of. The storylines jumped all around, some character lines weren’t tied up and finalized and mostly, things blew up and there was a lot of noise; for over two and a half hours.

And while Shia is not unpleasant to look at for that length of time, he’s no Hugh Jackman as Wolverine or Chris Pine as the current Captain Kirk.

But I digress.

In truth, I loved seeing the movies because they remind me of a time long ago when my son was small, innocent of what lay ahead for him and totally and unconditionally my best friend. We played Transformers in blanket-made caves on his bed, in kitchen pot hide-aways in the living room and in the alien-plant terrain of the backyard flower garden. We regularly blew up an awful lot of Tupperware and foiled the latest sinister plot hatched by the evil Decepticons. On Saturday mornings we’d watch the Transformers cartoon over cheerios and end the day with a book about the heroic Optimus Prime.

Back then I was never allowed to be an Autobot because my son was destined to save the world.

He’s only 26. Maybe he still is.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Celebrating 85 years of excellence

Dad's turning 85 this year.

So to celebrate, we book the Spirit of New Jersey cruise around Manhattan and got what's left of the family together. We lost two very important members last year; my youngest sister and my brother-in-law. My sister to cancer and my BIL to a brain aneurysm, Both are tough to deal with, and both became angels way before their time.

But Dad's still here and that's a good thing.

We began with a limo ride for 15 of us. This may sound weird, but a stretch Hummer is not very comfortable. Who knew the legroom was marginal and most of the inside would be taken up by a bar?

But we got there and met the rest of the family and friends. After we boarded my greatest hope was that none of my family fall or get pushed overboard. Both were a distinct possibility. (I found out later that there was also a pool by the cousins to see how long it would take for my youngest son to piss me off. Well no one did that day so dad got the money).

The food was good, the cruise was wonderful marked by some very important moments.

When we sailed passed the Statue of Liberty, God Bless America began to play and most of the people around us started to cry, me included. It was very moving going by the Lady and hearing that song. For me it was partly because I come from a very patriotic family; we tend to bleed red, white and blue, and partly because after 9-1-1, every Sunday in church for a year, we ended the service by singing God Bless America.

Then the hosts announced dad's birthday, gave him a crown and a dozen roses. He looked a little like Miss America in drag, but the people on the ship gave him a standing ovation. Okay, so I cried again. I'm a wuss. I admit it.

But the best thing about the day was watching the family interact. Cousins pushing cousin, aunt and uncles yelling at them, everyone kissing everyone, story telling, one upsmanship and a lot of "remember whens." It got me thinking - It doesn't get any better than that!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Life gets really sucky sometimes

The week started off bad and got worse.

I had to buy my dad a car. He's 85, but more like 65. He and my stepmom are very active and cannot be without wheels. So I sucked it up and, with my sister, bought him a car.

Then the next day, he got chest pains and had to go to the hospital. He's fine. Turns out his chest pains were due to three straights days of Sloppy Joes for dinner and not something medical. Wonder if he knows about fish.

Then I had a huge fight with #1 son who came out here from Arizona to go to Dad's 85th birthday party which we are having on Sunday. I thought he should have done one thing; he thought he should have done something else. So then I had to apologize to him because I got worried about dad and didn't want my last conversation with my son to be yelling. We love each other rather loudly sometimes.

Then it rained and the river came up and I was afraid we were going to get flooded again, so I told my husband I wanted to move and we fought via telephone off and on until the rain stopped and I finally read that the Flash Flood Warning was for low lying areas and not river basins which were not expected to be affected. I guess I'll have to actually make dinner tonight.

Then my boss annouced she was going to retire and that our office was getting combined with another so I have no chance of getting her job because her job is being eliminated as a cost saving measure once she goes. Hell, I've been waiting for that job for 18 years.

Now what?

I still have a dad who is smiling because he has a new car, my son and I have made up, my house is dry, my husband is doing the dishes and I still have a job. I guess that's what.

Ok, never mind. I guess the week is ending up OK after all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


When I first started using the computer to write, both video games and computers were in their infancy. Okay, maybe they were toddlers, but still nothing like today. We had Pong and we had Word Star or a basic word processor. Both pretty straightforward with none of the bells and whistles and graphics of today.

Maybe we tried a game of Pong before we typed away on our conventional IBM Selectric where the Return key was pressed and the line of text was stored on a cassette tape. One cassette held roughly 20 pages of text, and could be "played back" (i.e., the text retrieved) by printing the contents on continuous-form paper in the 1200 typewriter's "print" mode. The stored text could also be edited, using keys on a simple, six-key array. Basic editing functions included Insert, Delete, Skip (character, line), and so on. The labor and cost savings of this device were immediate, and remarkable: pages of text no longer had to be retyped to correct simple errors, and projects could be worked on, stored, and then retrieved for use later on. We thought we were in heaven.

But time goes on and everything improved and got more distracting.

Now we have Hidden Object Games, Magic Match, Luxor and Apple Computers and PC’s. We have every gadget and gimmick available and the lure to use them before we write is almost an addiction.

Come on now. I know you have your routine; I have one, too. One game of Magic Match (yeah, right, ONE game), find a few objects in the Temple, clear a level by shooting some brightly colored balls as they roll toward the opening of the pyramid, THEN you can get to the pages. Check email, Twitter, Facebook, update your blog and all of a sudden it’s midnight and time to go to sleep.

How do you resist? Not easy. I’ve turned my “routine” into a reward. Write four pages and then I can Duel the Guardian in Magic Match. Edit the last scene I wrote and then I can make a run for the Temple.

When I do that, I find that the writing had progressed and often puts me in a spot I find more interesting than shooting the colored balls in the Valley of the Kings. My “new” routine had helped me get the last four books to the editors on time (and find the chalice in the beach scene!).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why Can't I Spell?

It seems I am cursed to remain the Typo Queen of the Universe.

I try, I really do. I spell check. Edit. Pause. Reread. Look at every red underline I find, yet typos still get into my post.

I remember one book I submitted that I thought was the absolute most perfect thing ever. My editor called me and suggested I hire a proofreader because the thing was riddle with typos.

I don’t get it. Do I read in tongues or something? Maybe Martian? A language I’m making up?

I know I can see and read. I can spot a 50% off sign in Macy’s a mile away. I can dig out a 20% off coupon to add to that from the black hole of my handbag in a power outage. I can spot a hottie who looks like Hugh Jackman or Zach Quinto or Keanu Reeves three blocks away and them cross the street without being hit by a car so he can pass me on the sidewalk and I can enjoy what his mama gave him. J.

So why can’t I see typos?

Someone told me that people who write a lot see what they think is right. If the first and last letter is correct, those between them must be also. It’s the only explanation I have.

Maybe an exorcism.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Pink Famingo Wars

They begin Memorial Day weekend and end around Labor day. I'm not extacly sure how they started, I only know they must be fought.

All summer, a pink flamingo gets hidden in the neighborhood and we all take turn either giving or receiving.

This year, I fired the first volley. I found a foot tall pink flamingo at Home Depot and hid it in my neighbor's lanscaping. The little pink head peeked out from underneath her Japanese Maple. It looke cute among the red leaves, but she found it fast. I guess I was a little obvious.

She put it on the pool ladder of the person directly across from us. Must have been in the dead of night becasue I never saw her. Wonder if she painted her face in camaflouge and wore back.

You laugh, but the Flamingo Wars are very serious business.

There have been flamingos in rain gutters, on roofs, on swing sets, in hanging plants, attached to flagpoles, on fences, in fountains and even lounging on chaises. Nothing is safe during these twelve weeks. It's bigger than the war in the Mid-East.

Once I saw one neighbor's dog trying to bury it. But I think that was becasue someone put it in his dog dish and it smelled like Milkbone.

As far as I know, it's still across the street in the azaleas, but that's only because those neighbors haven't come home yet.

It's only a matter of time before the little bugger finds his way back home.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guyliner vs. the Guy next door

Hurrying to get this in, but I can't wait to see who wins American Idol tonight.
Adam has the voice (and the smile and the eyes)

Kris has the good looks and the shy smile you just want to kiss right off his face.

Adam would make a better Idol than Kris. I can't see Kris on tour. I can see him in a small venue packed with adoring fans though. His soft, cool sound is more atuned to that venue.

Adam - well he's just showy and noisy and really, really sexy at times. At others he's downright scary. Someday when he grows up he's going to be a very handsome man, with big holes in his earlobes. I guess that's what plastic surgeons are for.

Good luck Kris, Good luck Adam.

I like the bad boys, so Adam, it's me and you and Itunes!.

PS - Gay, not gay - who cares with that voice

Friday, May 15, 2009

I confess, I am a Reality Show Junkie

Somehow I got in to reality Shows. Survivor, America's Next Top Model, Top Chef, Hells' Kitchen, American Idol (see also my book CYNTHIA AND CONSTANTINE), I love them all.

I think the right person won Hell's Kitchen and the wrong people came in first on the Amazing Race. I think Kris should have not made it to the finals and that Danny Gokey is much better. but let's face it, Adam's going to win American Idol.

I honestly thought about trying out for the Amazing Race. Had an audition video all plotted, but knew I couldn't get off the time I needed to participate. BTW my officemate knows Mirna and Charla from one of the season's of the Amazing Race, She even went to Mirna's wedding. Mirna says it's hard to have a camera follow you arounf 24/7. Yeah, well she should try to work in the public sector sometime. I bet I can top anything that happened to her. Do you know a lady called the other day and asked why the bank hasn't cashed her check yet? I work for the government for God's sake, not the Banking Oversight Committee.

Yet, I digress. While I love reality TV, know I would not made a good candidate for any of the shows. I hate eating bugs and being dirty, so I would vote myself off the Island at the first tribal council.

I can't sing, so ther goes American Idol.

I hate to cook - no Top Chef or Hell's Kitchen.

Top Model - maybe Top Plus-Size Model and I would have to bitch slap Tyra for some of the things she says to those poor skinny girls.

So I guess that leaves me with my real reality. The here and now.

Good, because I kinda like my life anyway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I got yelled at today for not posting. I know, I know, but I'm busy. Then I paused and thought about who yelled. Irene. And then I thought - slow down. Enjoy.

Irene and I went to High School together back when we used to do the lessons on cave walls. Well, maybe not that far back, but far enough. We lost touch for a while, but since we reconnected, I don't know how I managed without her.

We write together, critique together, plot together (both our books and what we intend to do to the next editor who rejects one) and just laugh. She loves pointing out my typos, of which there are many, and I enjoy laughing about it because I usually think the post is perfect. It usually isn't.
She is the cynical voice of my conscience at times and the encourager of my evil deeds at others. If we were superheroes, I would be happy to be her sidekick and fight evil and bad people alongside her.

But now Irene is fighting the battle of her life. I wear a pink ribbon for her and think of her every day. And once again, she niggled my conscience and said if I was going to blog, I should blog.

And you're right, as usual, Irene. So this one is about you. I love you to the moon and back. Don't you dare go any where!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek

Just got back from seeing Star Trek and OMG it was awesome. All the trekkie purists out there will get the nuances and there are plenty of them.

The whole gang is there - Scotty, Bones, Sulu. It was great to see how they all got together. The chemistry with these young guns is incredible.

But there is quite a aurprise with Spock and Uhura. Never saw it coming.

Leonard Nimoy's part as the senior Spock is both wonderful and really non-obtrusive to the story. By that I mean, it all makes sense and it's not like his part has been plugged in.

It's definately a see-again-keeper.

Live Long and Prosper

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wolverine v. Gambit

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge Hugh Jackman fan. Wolverine is the reason I keep going back for more X-men.
Origins was no different. I settled in to enjoy my bad-boy dose for the day and WHAM--- half way through I was hit with one hunky ragin' cajun.

Gambit (Remy Etienne LeBeau) played by Taylor Kitsch - had me dreaming of New Orleans and card games for days afterward. Gambit possesses the ability to manipulate kinetic energy, as well as a hypnotic charm. (Ya think!)
Just look at him. No, never mind, don't. I don't want to share.
Not that I'm entirely jumping ship. Wolverine will still have a place in my comic book reading heart. It's just that now I seem to have acquired a taste for cajun as well.
Can't wait to see Origins again

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cynthia and Constantine - excerpt - Chapter One

Chapter One

“My lady! He comes.”
Ignoring the anxious shout of her handmaiden Jane, Cynthia of Abertaine stared out at the distant hills. The morning breeze caught her hair, sending the golden strands dancing around her face. She brushed them back with her hand and tucked the tendrils behind her ears even as her blue eyes continued to scan the horizon. The morning sun had not yet burned off the mist that clung to the low lying fields, making the area surrounding the castle look draped in magic. In the foreground, a rider cut through the haze on his way to the village.
If only that rider would be Sir William retuning, Cynthia thought, then the madness would stop and calm would return to Leybourne Castle.
Cynthia! Please! Come in from the balcony. He…”
The sound of a light scuffle roused Cynthia from her reverie. Even before she turned, she knew who would be there.
“If you wish to jump, I’d suggest the north tower. It’s higher.”
Any time she heard it, the sound of Lord Simon’s voice grated on her, but today it was particularly revolting. “I would not give you the pleasure,” Cynthia countered, “or the satisfaction of a legal claim to this manor. William will be here soon enough to claim both his bride-to-be and his home.”
“A man who leaves his property unprotected just to ride off to take up the foolish charge of an irrational king is either mad or has been bewitched by a heathen Druid,´ Simon scoffed.
“Neither,” Cynthia said, quickly rising to William’s defense. “William set off to join Arthur’s knights in their noble cause by his honor.”
Simon laughed. “Arthur’s noble cause is nearly at an end. Even as we speak Mordred gains allies.”
“You among them.”
“Indeed.” He loosened the clasp of the cloak across his shoulders and let it fall to the floor in a dark purple puddle. Turning slightly, he kicked it carelessly in Jane’s direction. When Jane hesitated in gathering it up, Simon took a step toward her and raised a gloved hand, angling it to her face.
Cynthia quickly stepped forward. “Lay a hand on her and I swear you’ll wish you had not awoken this morning!” Disgust darkened her eyes.
Simon looked from her face to Jane’s. Both were set with a defiance and determination that made him slowly lower his hand. His gaze raked first across Cynthia’s body and then Jane’s. “I tolerate the child only because I desire the woman. Perhaps one day soon you both will wish you could watch the sun rise from my bedchamber.”
Cynthia ignored the innuendo of his words and walked to the fallen cloak. She snatched it from the floor and held it out to Jane. “Take this down to the kitchen and have one of the maids brush it clean. We wouldn’t want Lord Simon to tarry longer than necessary.”
Reluctantly Jane took it from her. “I don’t wish to leave you alone with him.”
“Lord Simon will be leaving anon,” Cynthia replied.
Jane nodded and quickly left the room.
Simon waited until the heavy chamber doors closed before speaking. “So, I see a fire burns in the lady.” Slowly he removed his leather gloves and circled Cynthia as he slapped them repeatedly into the palm of his left hand. “I am very good at taming wild stallions. Passionate women are no different, I’m told.”
“Then I would indeed make use of the North Tower.”
“As you wish,” he said, no vestige of caring in his voice.
As he moved around her, Cynthia watched him carefully. A tall man, he was well proportioned and solidly built. With his dark curls and equally dark eyes, many ladies undoubtedly even considered him handsome. But she knew his heart and no measure of comeliness could disguise what lay there.
“A woman of substance would serve me well,” he continued. “Are you ready to acknowledge that Sir William is dead and you have no protector?”
“Nay,” she said firmly, trying to step around him. “Sir William will return home and I will honor the covenant made by my father.” The conviction in her words hid the doubt in her heart.
She was a child when her father betrothed her to William. The next day they both left to join the knights of Camelot and swear their swords in allegiance to Arthur. She was twenty now and a woman, and had only seen William once since that day. He’d returned when she was fifteen to bring her father’s body back to the pyre after his death in battle.
William had treated her well, more like a sister than a wife-to-be, but still making it clear to all that when he returned from the quest, she would be the lady of the household. And from that day, no man in court dared treat her with the insolence Simon had shown today, or dared to look upon her with the desire she saw in Simon’s eyes.
When William left the next day to return to Camelot, she had hoped he would return again quickly. But she had not seen him since, and all word from him had stopped nearly a fortnight ago. Although she was fast becoming concerned, that was something Simon would ever see.
Simon stepped in front of her cutting off any escape. “Come now, Cynthia. Do you tell me you wait for a ghost and that you do not get lonely?” He reached out and touched her face with the back of his hand, a gesture so intimate in nature that it made Cynthia step backward. His hand shook as he lowered it. “The money left by your father for your care is fast running out and, being unwed, you have no claim to any assets here. It would be wise for you to take a husband.”
Cynthia did not know what angered her more; the reminder that she was nearly penniless or the choice he seemed to be offering her. Both were equally disturbing.
“I can make my own way,” she said icily. “I need no help from the likes of you.” She saw anger explode on Simon’s face the minute her words were out.
“My patience is wearing thin,” he said, grasping her shoulder and digging his fingers into the soft flesh he found there. “Soon you will have no choice.”
Cynthia clenched her teeth in anticipation of the pain as she jerked her body backward. As she did, the shoulder of her gown gave way, allowing her to escape his grasp. She rushed out of the room and down the stone stairs to the safety of the rapidly filling courtyard.
Simon watched her leave, anger and arousal warring inside him. As always Cynthia managed to heat his temperament as well as his body.
Someday he’d bring her to task on both.

Just as Jane put her hand on the door of the castle keep when Simon grabbed her from behind. His purple cape fell from her hand as she struggled to free herself. “Let me go,” she said from between clenched teeth, wincing at the way his fingers dug into her flesh.
“Your lady was not very cooperative today, wench. Perhaps you will be more so,” he countered.
Simon jerked her forward by the arm, his face a leer. He leaned forward intent on closing the distance between them when the distinctive hiss of an arrow slicing the air passed his ear. It hit the stone wall next to his head with a ping before falling to the ground.
With a curse, he released Jane and stumbled backward. He steadied himself and turned to find the archer. Ten paces behind him stood Cynthia with another arrow readily aimed in his direction.
“My Lord, I pray you were not grazed,” Cynthia said in a firm voice, her gaze lined perfectly down the shaft of the arrow. “I fear my sense of balance is a bit off today.” She shifted the bow to the right and then quickly returned it to aim.
Simon looked to where she had gestured. A target-draped mound of hay with four arrows dead center sat in front of the stonewall. His eyes flared.
Cynthia pulled the arrow tighter. Light spangled along the taut bowstring like the rays around the edge of the sun. She dropped her gaze to the garment at his feet. “My Lord, I see that your cloak is ready.”
One side of Simon’s mouth pulled into a sneer. “One day I will teach both you and your handmaiden your places.”
“But today you will retrieve your cloak and leave us,” Cynthia said.
“You have little time left to be so bold,” he countered. Snatching up his cape, he spun on his heels and stalked off.
Jane let out a breath she did not realize she was holding and walked to Cynthia. “Thank the Almighty your aim is as true as it was the day you won the tournament in the village.”
Cynthia lowered the bow and allowed the string to slacken. She shook her head. “Nay, it is not. I was intending for his head.”

* * *

Constantine had ridden long into the night to deliver the terrible news and was not eager to find the lady whose heart he would surely break. As he cleared the forest surrounding Leyboune Castle he pulled up on the reigns and brought his horse to a halt. The Castle was dark save for some light coming through the arrow-loops on the towers and from guard posts on the wall walk.
Constantine leaned forward and patted the horse on the side of his neck. “Easy boy,” he said as the horse took a few steps backward. “I agree. Too late to disturb the lady tonight. This news will keep. You need rest, and so do I.” He pulled back and the reigns and the horse turned. Gently, he heeled the steed in the ribs and headed back into the woods.
There was a path open enough for him to see his way in the moonlight. It sliced its way uphill through the forest to a crest where he could see the glimmer of the village lights. Then it turned downward again until he rode out of the forest and onto a more level plain in which sat rows of houses and shops.
He slowed the horse to a trot and followed the sound of loud voices and bawdy laughter to a large double building near the village center. Dismounting, he spied a lad of what he guess was about ten years, and motioned for him to approach.
“Do you know a place where my horse can rest and be fed?” he asked the boy.
“For a price,” was the reply.
Constantine reached into his saddle pack on his horse and pulled out a black velvet purse. From inside he took a coin and flipped it to the boy.
After catching it with both hands, the lad took the coin between two fingers and held it up. His eyes widened. “’Tis gold.” He looked up at Constantine. “Stolen?”
“Nay. Earned. Is it enough?”
The lad nodded. “Aye. Enough to bed the steed for many nights.”
“How much then for a man?” He handled the boy the reigns.
The lad tossed his head. “If you have more, there’s food and drink inside. And a place to stay if the owner takes a likin’ to you.”
Constantine patted the horses rear quarter as it passed. “Then I shall make sure of it.”

* * *
Cynthia’s mind was filled with fright. As each day passed without word from William, Simon grew bolder. It would only be a matter of time before he tried to make good on his threat. She vowed that she would be prepared when that happened.
Jane came in with a tray with milk, cheese, peaches and grapes. “You haven’t eaten all day. You are the lady of the manor and must keep up your strength.” She set the tray on a small table.
“You’re right,” Cynthia said, taking some grapes. “This place is my home insofar as I have one. Remember when I first saw you? You were standing outside the watching me through one of the arrow slits. Every time I caught your eye, you’d duck back behind the stonewall. It became a game.”
Jane smiled. “Each time I peeked around the stones, you’d be closer. Then all of a sudden, when I looked into the opening, you were right there.”
“And we both laughed so hard that we cried!”
“That day changed my life, saved my life. I had no family, no home. You took me in, and now I have both.”
Cynthia glanced out the window. She could see Simon in the middle bailey with a small contingent of his soldiers. “It was once peaceful here.” She looked back at Jane. “And I swear, it will be that way again.”

* * *

The Boar’s Head Inn was alive with the anticipation of the May Day celebration. Men and women gathered around crude wooden tables sampling the latest batch of ale. Constantine sat at the back finishing a plate of carrots and fish, watching the interaction of the villagers.
“Another round?”
He looked up. The innkeeper’s wife prepared to pour more ale into the wooden cup in his hand. Constantine straightened and declined with a polite shake of his head, the motion freeing the medallion around his neck from.
The women set her pitcher of ale on the table. “I know these markings,” she said fingering the pendant. “You be a knight?”
Constantine took the medallion from her hand and tucked it back inside his tunic. “Perhaps.”
“Then you best be keepin’ that to yourself. ‘Tis dangerous for a knight,” she glanced around the inn, “a knight alone here in the manor.”
Constantine raised his cup, wishing to continue to engage the woman in conversation and knowing it would cost him a penny and some ale to do so. ”Then I hope, good lady, that you also will be keeping my secret safe.”
“I make no promises,” she replied, filling his cup. “Lord Simon has pledged his sword to Mordred and would not take kindly if he thought I be harborin’ one of Arthur’s knights.”
“Lord Simon?”
“Aye. Lord of the manor and all the lands surrounding for a hundred miles.”
Constantine raised a dark eyebrow. “I was told these lands belong to Sir William Kent. Did I take a wrong turn in coming?”
The innkeeper’s wife shook her head, her brown hair dancing around her round face. “Nay. Once was his. No more. Lord Simon come and took it all.”
“And the lady of the manor?”
“Poor child. Lady Cynthia puts up a good front, but she’s a prisoner. Nowhere to go and no means to get there if she did have a place. Much like all of us.”
“I have a message for her, from William.”
The innkeeper’s wife shook her head. “If William is not deliverin’ it, then I fear he is dead. As you will be also if you try to bring it to her. His lordship fancies her for his wife. Don’t allow her visitors.” She looked him up and down. “Especially ones with eyes like heaven and a body fine enough to take a woman there.” She started to say more when a loud voice rose from behind her.
“Woman, more ale for the thirsty!” Large hands spun her around. “Unless you be wasting it all on that one.”
Constantine rose, noticing the large hands on the waist of the innkeeper’s wife matched the size of their owner. His matted mass of hair hung to his shoulders, blending with the beard that framed his face. A stained tunic and brawny arms distinguished him as either a blacksmith or herdsman, a man worth respecting. He did not want to call attention to himself, but chivalry demanded a lady in distress be rescued. As the innkeeper’s wife struggled against the grip that held her fast, there was no doubt chivalry must be served.
“Good sir,” Constantine said, I was just talking to the lady. I did not mean to keep her from her work.”
The large man laughed. “Lady? Where?” A few of the patrons broke into laughter.
“Right here,” Constantine replied, bowing and kissing the back of the innkeeper’s wife’s hand. He lifted his gaze back to the man holding her. “Are you a bargaining man?”
“What kind of bargain?”
“Let the lady go, and I’ll spot the hard-working men of the manor to a pint of ale.”
The man didn’t hesitate. He spun the innkeeper’s wife out of his grasp and gave her a hardy whack on her backside. “Off you go. You heard the man. Ale!” The patrons erupted into cheers as the man threw his arms around Constantine. “I think you be getting’ the short end of the bargain.”
Constantine grimaced with the pressure of the bear hug. “You’ll need both hands for the ale.”
The large man laughed. Soon the cups were full and the men folk happy.
Constantine took a healthy swig of warm ale and contemplated his predicament. In light of what he had just learned about the manor, it appeared that making a vow in battle would be a lot easier than keeping it. A commotion near the door interrupted his thoughts as two soldiers came into view and headed straight for him.
“Stranger. State your business,” the taller of them demanded.
Constantine drained the last of the ale and set the cup on the table. He slowly lifted his head and locked his gaze with the soldier but said nothing.
The soldier’s hand went to the hilt of the dagger on his belt. “I ask you again, state your business.”
A group of man crowded around them. Constantine knew he would have no allies among the villagers. His mind spun with a means to calm the growing tension.
“I come from Devonshire,” he replied. “Looking for work and a place to stay for a time.”
“Then you best be goin’ back. His lordship hires no vassals for his lands, preferring to administer to his court and his fief, himself.” The soldier’s hand gripped the dagger at his belt tighter.
“I be wantin’ to liven up the place,” the innkeeper’s wife suddenly said from across the room. She walked to a vat of ale and picked up a lute lying on the floor next to it. “Here, minstrel,” she said tossing Constantine the instrument. “Sing for yer supper.”
Constantine caught it, and in a fluid motion raised it to his chest and began to play. Grateful that his mother insisted her children learn the gentler aspects of life along with the skills of knighthood taught by his father, he strummed the beginning to one of her favorite songs. Soon the gentle sound of the lute drowned out the loud voices around him.
He began to sing, his voice mellow and soothing. Walking around the inn, he stopped at tables, the song telling a tale of quests, battles and love. It ended amid cheers.
“Another!” a patron soon shouted.
“A love song,” said another
“Nay, battle songs,” suggested a third.
“Soon enough,” The innkeeper’s wife replied, bringing Constantine another cup of ale. “For your parched throat, minstrel,” she said placing emphasis on the last word.
“I owe you much, good woman,” he said.
“Aye, you do.” As he began to drink she whispered, “You can have the room at back end beyond the curtains until you do what you come to do. But best you do it quickly and be on your way. Until then, another song as payment for the room.”
Constantine began to strum once more, looking around the room. The soldiers had gone. Thanks to the quick thinking of the inn’s matron, his identity was safe for now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Music and Writing

When I first thought about submitting to Avalon, I knew the emotions of the characters had to be expressed more deeply in the words because of the PG-13 rating.

But how can we as writers put on paper an emotion or reaction to a situation we have never fully experienced and still make it viable to the reader? Love, hate, fear, passion, sadness. I think I can safely say we all have gone through something in life and have felt these basic emotions to some degree. But we write about so much more – Revenge, betrayal, terror, unrequited love, abandonment, ecstasy, rapture. How can we experience these at the time we need to write about them?

Enter music.

Using music, we can experience emotion almost on an as-needed basis.
Music is a powerful medium to express and experience emotion. It recreates aspects of lives that are recognizable and can be experience to some degree just by listening. By recreating patterns associated with human emotion, it recreates the emotion. Then listening, we are able to grasp the emotional content, and react emotionally to it. As an embodiment of the emotion, we are able to perceive it directly.

For instance, a piece of music may be quick moving, expressing energy, purposefulness, or excitement. When we listen to a piece like that, more often than not, we can feel the emotion. And when we feel the emotion, we are more able to put it down on paper in a way that can be felt and experienced through our writing.

I know you all have a particular song that makes you cry, or gets you to remember certain periods in your life. Now let’s take those songs and stash them in the USB drive in your mind. When necessary, hit the play button and use them next time you get stuck in a scene that is flat and lacking the emotional response you need to get the reader to turns those pages.

I’ve listed a few of my favorite songs that help get me from blank page to emotional genius. Well, maybe not genius; maybe just not one dimensional.

Here goes –
Abandonment - ­I Who Have Nothing by Tom Jones
Loving someone from afar – Invisible by Clay Aiken
Pain of Loss – Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
Love – Let Me Love You –Tim McGraw
Passion – Keep Coming Back - Richard Marx
Intense Attraction – Touch of Heaven – Richard Marx
Despair – Unbreak my Heart – Toni Braxton
Lost Love - Even Now - – Barry Manilow
Questioning your Heart – Measure of a Man – Clay Aiken
Losing a Love – Somewhere Down The Road – Barry Manilow
The First Time – Somewhere in the Night – Barry Manilow
Unrequited Love - – Melody for a Memory – Hall and Oates
Hopelessness – What About Now – Daughtry (Chris Daughtry)
Regret – I Go Crazy – Paul Davis

When you have time, take one of your favorite songs and listen for the emotion. Tag it, bag it, and save it for an emergency. You’ll be glad you did!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hi and Welcome to My Life

When it comes to blogging, on a scale of one to ten, one being cave painting and ten being a true techno purist, I think I'm at a minus four, so bear with me.

I began writing with number 2 pencils and crayons when I went to Catholic School. The nuns gave me that yellow double-lined paper and no instructions on how to use it. So I wrote in the small lines and used the bigger ones for spaces.

Big mistake.

I washed the blackboard for a week that year. First grade and already I was in trouble.

But needless to say I kept on writing and here I am umpteen years later with eleven books under my belt. I write contemporary and career romances for Avalon Books and romantic comedy for Wings Press, and have big plans to win a Pulitzer for something. Now if only I can get someone important to cooperate on that.

But until then I am excited about my latest book from the Wild Rose Press. CYNTHIA AND CONSTANTINE is set in the Arthurian period. I've always loved Camelot, but we've heard enough about Arthur and Lancelot. I mean there had to be other knight, right? If not I made one up and I think he's pretty hot.

Here's the scoop on it:

Cynthia And Constantine Beyond Camelot - Brother Knights - Book 1 by Kathye Quick

Lady Cynthia of Abertaine is trapped. Not only has her fiancee. Sir WilliaM Leyborne, not been back to the castle for over ten years, but she’s also not a titled Lady. Lord Simon of Cowell, a renegade warlord aligned with Mordred against Arthur and his Knights, has declared himself sovereign over Leybourne Castle and everything that once belonged to Sir William - including Cynthia. Sir Constantine, Knight of the Round Table, has come to the shire to give Cynthia the news that her fiancee has fallen in battle. With him is William’s oral will giving all he owns to Cynthia as though they had been wed. But when he finds Cynthia and discovers that the shire under the control of an evil warlord, he knows he cannot leave without first driving Simon and his soldiers from the land. Drawn together by an attraction older than time, Cynthia and Constantine soon discover that though a vow made by a knight’s honor has brought them together, it may just also cost them their lives.

The Wild Rose Press
February 2009 – digital
March 2009 - Print


“Cynthia and Constantine is simply a Classic Romance, one you will read over and over again.” Noveltalk

So anyway, if you're curious about it, go on over to my website and heck out an excerpt -

TY - be back soon!