• Damn You, Woody Allen! What Have You Done To Me?

    Finally went to see Woody Allen’s MATCH POINT. As I already noted in a prior blog, all W.A.’s movies make me sad. In light of this, I went into the theatre knowing in advance I would come out down in the dumps. And I did.

    But that’s not the point of this blog. In fact, MATCH POINT really isn’t the point of this blog. Well, okay, maybe peripherally–

    The movie was well-acted, the topical plot maintained my interest throughout, there was a neat twist at the end which I appreciated, good suspenseful elements, Woody astutely conveyed his message. THE MOVIE WAS GOOD!

    And I didn’t like the movie.

    Though the message itself was benign–that luck can go either way–his presentation left no room for a HEA, for redemption, for viewer vindication. The characters were not sympathetic or likable, and thank God, I didn’t identify with the soulless lot of them one iota. As I say, W.A. depresses me. BUT THE MOVIE WAS GOOD!

    And I didn’t like the movie.

    Exiting the theatre, I overheard a woman say to her husband, “That wasn’t very funny for a Woody Allen movie,” and I realized the movie hadn’t fulfilled her expectations. She had pigeon-holed W.A. into only doing comedic films, not allowed him to grow as an artist, and so the film and W.A. had let her down. On principle alone, I disagreed with this. Because comedic or not, change of style or not, W.A. had every right to follow his muse. AND THE MOVIE WAS GOOD!

    And I didn’t like the movie.

    “So,” says DH, “You need a HEA to enjoy a movie?”
    –Yes,yes, a thousand times yes!–
    “So, you don’t necessarily want to see a good movie, you just want to see a feel good movie. You know, they’re not one and the same. We’ve been talking about this damn movie since we went to see it–I’d say we got our entertainment money’s worth from the movie. How long do we discuss feel-good movies?”

    He made an excellent point–

    And I still didn’t like the movie.


  • Hurry up and leave so I can start missing you

    No, that’s not the title of a Country Western single, at least I don’t think it is. But, let me explain:

    While waiting to hear from grad school, 22 year-old middle son landed a stellar job in electrical engineering. He moved back home in December, having finished up his college courses a semester early, and though he has to wait ’til May to actually walk across the graduation stage, with a decent resume and security clearance as a result of that decent resume, opportunity came a-knocking and he opened the door and let his future in.

    I thought I’d have this kid under my roof at least ’til September, but as of yesterday, the house officially has a second guest bedroom.

    Yep, I’m now a two-thirds empty-nester. And like just about everyone else in our demographic, we’re thinking downsizing. Chucking everything into an extra-large dumpster appeals to me on so many different levels. Now, to persuade the rock star youngest son to pack up his bottle of powder-blue nail polish and take his gig on the road . . .


  • Progress Report

    This schedule is primarily for me, so I can keep track of the mess, but feel free to peek.

    The state of my backlist:

    (1) BITTERSWEET –releases with Loose Id on February 28th.
    (2) TOUCH ME –releases with Loose Id on April 4th.
    (3) SCREWING WITH PERFECT–releases with Samhain on July 18th.
    (4) CAPTIVE –edits complete.
    (5) THE ACQUISITION–edits complete.
    (6) SOME ROUGH EDGE SMOOTHIN’–edits done to page 193.
    (7) LOST ANGEL–edits done to page 84.
    (8) TAINTED LOVE–edits done to page 28.
    (9) PICK UP LINE–edits not started

    The state of WIP:

    (1) ON MOORSTEAD –finished. Needs one more fast edit swipe.

    There! I feel better.


  • A Thinly Veiled Analogy

    Anyone following the Olympics, particularly the figure skating?

    After the scandalous controversy surrounding the last Olympics, the skating committee established a new “foolproof” (read that cheat-proof) method of objectively judging competitors, whereby jumps, spins, footwork etc are assigned unique weighted numeric value. The higher the degree of difficulty, the higher the number, the better the likelihood of winning.

    Okay, I get it. I even approve–up to a point. That point for me is when the artistry suffers.

    Last night, I tuned into the Men’s Long Program, primarily to watch the losers. Because of the delayed broadcasting of the games, I already knew the Russian skater, Plushenko, would win the Gold, and more importantly why.

    For four years, Plushenko has exemplified the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger). The man is a jumping machine. He does quads (4 spins in the air) as if he never heard of gravity. One right after another BOOM,BOOM,BOOM he’s leaping up into the air, doing his centrifugal force thing. A techno style, people in the know call it.

    I’m not in the know, so I can call it something different.

    Boring.

    I’ve seen Plushenko skate before and he does nothing for me. I love figure skating, but I didn’t even bother staying up to watch him win. Nothing against his skill, he’s a master at what he does–

    But he’s not a virtuoso at what he does.

    Where’s the artistic impression element of his performance?

    After a while, it’s ALL just jumps, too much of a good thing, and I lose interest.

    I want grace and elegance and musicality . . . I want the subtle movements that lead up to the jumps, the preceding tension that keeps me squirming on the edge of my seat–will he/she/they do IT this time–as well as the actual leaps into the air.

    I want the whole story.


  • Happy Valentine’s Day!

    water14-787808

    THE LADY OF SHALLOTT, 1894, John William Waterhouse (Pre-Raphaelite)

    I love the unabashedly romantic works of Waterhouse, which explains why I’ve used his art work on several of my covers. Although a 19th century artist, his paintings have a contemporary feel. Also, some of his pieces translate well for a subtle D/S theme–then again, that’s my erotic mind at work.

    Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d tell you what I’ve been pondering lately—-Solely within the context of a romantic relationship, is it better to love or to be loved?

    Consider, if you will, the hauntingly beautiful song I CAN’T MAKE YOU LOVE ME:
    (Artist: Bonnie Raitt; Lyrics: Reid Michael Barry & Shamblin James Allen II)

    Turn down the lights, turn down the bed
    Turn down these voices inside my head
    Lay down with me, tell me no lies
    Just hold me close, don’t patronize – don’t patronize me

    Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
    You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
    Here in the dark, in these lonely hours
    I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
    But you won’t, no you won’t
    ’cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

    I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
    The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
    Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
    Just give me till then to give up this fight
    And I will give up this fight

    Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
    You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
    Here in the dark, in these lonely hours
    I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
    But you won’t, no you won’t
    ’cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

    There is empowerment in loving someone, even if that someone cannot or will not return those feelings. If you believe, as I do, that feeling anything, even heartache, is a gift, then, aren’t there burdens and rewards for both participants in an unequal emotional relationship?


  • Batten down the hatches!

    winter-724466
    This winter has been relatively mild here in New England. In fact, I’ve been going through seed catalogues in preparation for an earlier than usual spring.

    All that changed in the wee hours this morning when the winds began to blow the shovelable stuff around.

    Yep, we’re in the middle of a nor’easter.

    I have some experience with wearing a hat and mittens in the house. Knowing its far better to lose heat at a balmy 68 degrees than at a chilly 60, I bounded downstairs at six this morning and kicked our antique furnace into high gear in anticipation of losing power.

    Again.

    I live in a rural town. A slow-moving and winding tidal river that empties into the the Atlantic Ocean borders the periphery. In 1690, Colonists built gristmills and sawmills on one of the many brooks. Farmers grazed their cows at the river’s edge, and harvested salt hay; shipwrights, working in boatyards and landings dotting the river, built sea vessels from groves of white oak and pine. With progress, came larger ships that the river could no longer accommodate, and so the shipbuilding era came to a close in the mid-1800’s.

    And the trees kept growing.

    Now, every time we experience any weather, those old white oak and pine topple onto the power lines, and we end up shivering.

    So far, so good today.

    Because of the storm, we couldn’t take our usual hike. Instead, I took a walk down to the stream to investigate the crumbling state of our dam. That’s me in the picture.

    WRITING NEWS: My publisher, Loose Id, inaugurates their newsletter either on, or close to, Valentine’s Day. In the first issue, I give my first ever interview. I can’t help but wish I were a more interesting subject, but I tried. No, not to be interesting–can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear–but I did try to answer the questions posed me as honestly as I could. Sign up for the newsletter, and read me make a fool of myself. I can think of no better incentive than that!

    While I write this blog, the youngest kid is playing his latest CD for me. His group is really “breaking it down”. Time for me to go punch down the oatmeal dough I’m trying to bake into a loaf of bread before the power flickers . . .


  • Sex and the Erotic Romance Writer

    Catch your attention, did I?

    I certainly hope so. If that title didn’t lure you in for a quick peek at this blog, I should consider a change of sub-genre. Maybe try my hand at writing sweet romances—

    Yawn.

    Upon telling my husband I intended to write erotica, he asked if he could look at the pictures.

    –No pictures– I smirked.

    “Oh.” He gave a knowing nod. “Women’s erotica.”

    –Yep. Exactly. No visual aids necessary.–

    I write with a female audience uppermost in my mind. I speak specifically to OUR fantasies, not to male fantasies, and I refuse to censure my thoughts when relating certain universal themes of the female sexual experience. However, my “voice” is fairly gritty and realistic, and I do, at times, create unpretty visual images.

    No apology. As I see it, gritty realism in no way detracts from the romance; in fact, a little reality testing can enhance the romance. If any of you have visited my website you will already know I am an avid gardener. I do not wear white gloves while working in the perennial bed.

    Or, while writing a sex scene.

    In order to get the job done, I dig my hands in, get my nails dirty, and celebrate the sight and texture and scent of earthy life slipping between my fingers. Just as a heaping shovel of manure produces a better flower blossom, a heaping dose of truth will produce a better lovemaking scene.

    Truthful does not mean raunchy. Well, not all the time anyway. I will use raunch if my plot requires raunch.

    “But raunchy is a good thing,” my husband said when we recently discussed this subject. “Gross is bad, but everything else is good. Huh? Why are you looking at me like that?”

    Men. They’re wonderful, but they just don’t get erotic romance.

    My historical romances usually contain dark thematic elements, while my contemporaries tend toward the comedic but, because I write for women, both . . . ahem . . . cum with an erotic edge.

    And emotion.

    Lots of emotion. When I write my stories, I feel what my characters feel; when you read my stories, my heartfelt goal is for you to feel something too. I love to hear when one of my books has elicited an emotional response from a reader. Any emotional response. Anger, frustration, joy . . . all delight me. I want the reader wrung out. Tears are very much appreciated.

    I try very hard not to write flat stories. I try to create a scenario with characters who seem real because of their flaws and who become heroic when they rise above those human failings and frailties. I try . . . well, I try in many different areas, but what I need is the assurance of a happy ending. Life is sad enough without paying for tears. Which is why I write explicit, happliy-ever-after love stories.


  • If this is Thursday…

    Then I must be working on LOST ANGEL.

    Friends, don’t try this at home. Don’t, for the sake of your precious sanity, put yourself on a grueling schedule of re-editing your 9 book backlist while finishing up a new manuscript and then actually try to adhere to that schedule.

    I am not the most organized of people. The perfectionistic gene passed me right by. Obsessive? Not particularly. Forced to pinpoint my most dominant personality trait, I would categorize myself as inattentive to detail. This is not to be confused with ADD, as my attention deficit is entirely intentional.

    In other words, I’m a proud and happy slob.

    Since this is an author’s blog, let’s talk about how this personality trait impacts my writing. Not the process of writing, that’s a subject for another blog, but the nitty-gritty logistics.

    Let’s start in my kitchen.

    No, I don’t write in my kitchen, but my MO in my kitchen and my MO as a writer are remarkably similar. (When I painted, my MO was also eerily similar. As an aside within an aside, I used to compare my brush strokes to frosting a cake) I can only conclude from this that a person’s manner of working is a person’s manner of working. That personal style carries through no matter what one does.

    Back to my kitchen–

    Open up the cabinet housing my eclectic pot and pan collection and, on any given day, you might see the smallest and weakest amongst them situated on the bottom, middle, or even, accidentally, on top. The larger and heavier pots–particularly, the huge cast iron skillet I use for baking Irish Soda Bread–usually gravitate to the uppermost position, where they balance precariously in a sort of, oh, I dunno, an inverted pyramid formation, I guess. Since I tend to fling the lids like Frisbees, all sizes of pot toppers lie scattered about inside the same cabinet.

    The same lack of functionality shows in my kitchen drawers. Occasionally, you might bump into a spoon in the correct compartment–believe me, pure happenstance.

    On the counter top, I used to keep a spice and herb rack. A wedding gift from someone who doesn’t know me very well, the rack came alphabetically arranged. You can’t see me, but I’m rolling my eyes. I got rid of the rack first, then chucked the individual glass bottles in favor of those little tin containers. They stand up better to non-alphabetical tossing.

    Those plastic containers that store neatly inside one another like Russian nesting dolls? I don’t do that. Oh, I own plenty, I just don’t nest them. They’re everywhere, all as topless as sun bathers on the French Riviera.

    Under the assumption that if I don’t notice the clutter, I won’t notice the orderliness, from time to time, my poor, long-suffering DH, who also cooks, tries to make sense out of the kitchen chaos by neatly organizing things. While I appreciate his helpfulness, the disorder soon returns. I like my slobby habits.

    How does this translate into the logistics of writing . . .?

    Well, overwhelmed by all the edits on my backlist and research work on the WIP, I finally asked DH for some PC help.

    Last week, he cleaned up my desk top, which looked remarkably like my kitchen cabinets–clutter everywhere–by creating individual folders. He did the same for my mile-long list of “Favorite Places”. Everything is now alphabetized.

    So far, so good. I’m not tossing stuff hither and yon on the desk top. I’m keeping similar files together. I’m stacking things in folders according to weight of importance. I’m maintaining alpha order.

    Most importantly, I’m trying to like the orderliness.


  • A completely inappropriate topic for a writer’s blog

    Please forgive me. This is a writer’s blog, and believe me, I know I should stick to astutely articulated authorial discourses on the subject of writing: Literary Devices. POV. Transitional Elements. Prologues. Denouements. Character Arcs. Story Arcs. Joan of Arc.

    You know, important stuff like that.

    But honestly, and in all modesty, wouldn’t you really rather know a little something about me? Maybe, like, how I think? The deep, philosophical profundities that bounce around inside my head and make me who I am? Maybe learn the deep, dark secrets of my psyche . . . or psychoses?

    Sure, you would!

    Here goes.

    I have the world’s worst hair, and it’s destroying my universe.

    Far from my best asset, my hair is a pain in my ass-et. Refusing to hold a curl or take a perm or cooperate in any way, poker straight, my hair just sits there flat at the crown, each lifeless strand hanging down from the scalp, stubbornly resisting any sort of outside mediation or intervention beyond shampoos, blow drys, and combing. No styling. No products. No futile attempts to turn my hair into something it is not, namely something decorative, something to be proud of during those first impression occasions.

    Apparently suffering from some sort of obstinate/defiant disorder, my do is a definite don’t. When I remember . . . or my sister complains how I’m letting myself go to the dogs . . . I cover the gray with a rinse. Temporary, not permanent; any color that will outlast my next change of mind is too much of a commitment for me. Then, every couple of months when I remember . . . or my sister complains how I’m letting myself go to the dogs . . . I get it all lopped off. A blunt cut, I think my hairdresser, Lorenzo, calls it.

    Lorenzo. I’ve been going to him for years. He’s the only hairdresser–and I’ve been to a few–who has never insulted my hair. When I sit in his chair at the salon, we talk about other things, any subject under the sun.

    Except my hair.

    With the instinctive sensitivity of a really good hairdresser, Lorenzo understands my hair is a sore spot and so we just do not discuss it. We talk around it.

    Two weeks ago, in a daring attempt to try something new, I asked Lorenzo to change the part from it’s usual off-center location to the side. He looked at me askance, but said nothing to dissuade me–the man knows me so well!

    A quarter inch to the left, and I looked like a different woman. My hair? Incredibly gorgeous!

    Until the next shampoo.

    DH motions to the left side of my head. “What’s up with that?”

    Now, I’m scared. When a man and woman have been married for as long as we’ve been married, who looks at one another any more? (I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl! Another day. Another blog.)

    DH is still staring at the left side of my head. Figuring this has to be monumental, a growth of some sort that erupted overnight, we talk.

    –Whatd’ya mean?–

    “Your hair. It’s hanging all-wrong. Kinda lopsided.”

    I run into the bathroom, gaze into the mirror.

    He’s right! My new part is all askew. Like a bad comb-over, stray pieces of hair from the right side of my head traverse my scalp and hang down about an inch lower on the left side.

    I straighten out my new part, and return to the kitchen.

    “Looks better,” DH says.

    I nod. –It’ll take time to retrain my hair. That’s all–

    But even then, I had a sick feeling in my gut.

    Every day, for the past fourteen days, in a last ditch effort to keep the new part, I’ve been lopping off stray pieces of straggly long hair on the left hand side.

    But I know, this isn’t working. My hair has won.

    Every time I go to the Stop&Shop, I talk to the bakery lady. (Ask my kids, I talk to everyone) One day, as I picked out muffins, I complimented how nice she looked–the bakery lady had obviously just returned from the salon and her white hair was all fluffed and curled.

    “Don’t matter about anything else,” she said. “When my hair looks good, I feel like I can take on the world.”

    I laughed in agreement, even though I had no idea what she meant.


  • LOST is losing me

    Another repeat episode. Again.

    Have the producers LOST the script? Is there even a script to lose? Or, are the writers making up the plot as they go along? Do I even care?

    At first, I tried to deny my waning interest, even to myself. When I fell asleep during the program last week, a new episode, I didn’t complain about the storyline not holding my attention–I blamed myself. Long day, tired eyes, a glass of wine with supper. Then, I accepted the sad truth, the show just didn’t grab me. I hate when that happens! I started off loving the concept of LOST.

    Note to LOST producers: I like symbolism, but please don’t hit me over the head with artistic invention until I’m comatose. A little subtlety is much appreciated. Oh, and while I’m on this particular rant–don’t start, then drop story threads!

    Dunno. Maybe that’s disappointment, dejection, disgruntlement talking. The repeat episode thing again.

    I think back to Masterpiece Theatre, to their excellent serialized programs, like Upstairs/Downstairs, like Poldark, like so many more, with a real sense of, well, loss. I just don’t think I have the patience for network series. DVD box sets have spoiled me. No commercials, no repeats, no delayed gratification.

    Hey, wait a minute. Maybe that’s the fiendishly diabolical plot. Maybe that’s the real secret behind LOST. DVD box sets!