Monday, December 31, 2007

Ringing In & Out!

WOW! It's the last day of 2007!

Tomorrow starts 2008!

Like so many others, this time of year I find myself reflecting on the past and anticipating the future. This time it's an incredibly positive experience for me in BOTH directions! 2007 turned out to be a momentous year for me and 2008 promises to be even better.

Though I didn't know it, the seeds of my wonderful year were sown in 2006 when I became a finalist in the RWA Golden Heart contest. I found myself on an email loop with the 50+ other finalist and eventually, 19 of those fabulous ladies and I started our group blog The Romance Bandits. I can't even begin to tell you how much the friendship and comraderie of that group has meant to me. Our successes individually and as a group have far exceeded anything I dared hope or imagine.

I know that 2008 will hold more of the same for me and the rest of the Banditas. I can't WAIT to see what happens to us and where this crazy road will lead.

Being a 2006 Golden Heart finalist also led indirectly to achieving my dream of selling a novel. I met my editor at the 2006 RWA National Conference and she asked to read my manuscript. Although she turned that book down, she ultimately bought my next one, and I probably never would have approached her if she had not asked me for that first manuscript!

So 2007 marked the beginning of my long held dream -- BEING PUBLISHED!

2008 will see the accomplishment of that dream when my book hits the shelves in nine or ten more months. I hope to make my second and almost equally as exciting sale by then, too.

At the 2006 RWA Conference, Christina Dodd gave an inspiring speech about how all writers were moving down the same sidewalk. It's been a GREAT TRIP so far and I can't wait to see where the sidewalk takes me in 2008!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Yo Ho! Yo Ho! POTC Aunty Style

Seems like it's time for Aunty to recount yet another of her travel mishaps... er, um, ADVENTURES. But frankly, the holiday crush has left me so frazzled that all I can think about is how much I'd rather be on a cruise! Since I don't yet have the piccies from my latest sojourn to sunny Mexico, I'll share a few snaps from my cruise to the Carribean last October.

This scary looking scalawag wasn't real flesh and blood. But speaking of scary, those glowing white legs on Aunty are all too real.

Here is Aunty on the tiny Caribbean Isle of Grand Turk. Those colorful buildings behind me are the only motel in the island's solitary town, Cockburn. Yes, they are right on the beach.

Finally, I'll close with a beautiful piccie of Forteleza in Old San Juan. The fort was originally constructed in the 1500s to protect the city from pirates. It was rebuilt several times and reached it's current form in the 1700s with the help of some Irishmen.
And yes, the water really was that beautiful blue.

Oh, how I wish I was THERE!

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night..."

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I got an email from My Editor (yup, still a thrill when I type those words) this week. They want to change the title of my book. Seems some of the good folks in the sales/marketing department don't know what a "fen" is.

I'll admit, I've been expecting this. From what I've heard and read, very few books wind up being published with the title the author originally had. I mean, even Gone With The Wind was once titled Tomorrow Is Another Day, and for all we know Othello might have once been called Iago's Revenge. (Hey, that's a lot catchier!) Besides, I've always said I don't care what title my book has, as long as it SELLS!

But, of course the timing SUX. I'm trying to launch my website and I just sent out my first "newsletter" to friends and family talking about my soon-to-be-published book, Death In The Fens. Except that is no longer the title. And the "working title" My Editor mentioned does not have final approval yet. *heavy sigh* For the time being looks like I'll have to refer to it as The Book Formerly Known As Death In The Fens.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another Year Above Ground!

That's what a former boss of mine used to say instead of Happy Birthday. Only within the last few years have I begun to appreciate the significance. And yes, it truly SUX to have your birthday the week before Christmas. First you have to wait ALL YEAR to get any presents, then they all come at once. Second, your birthday gets lost in the shuffle. Parties never come off because everyone is BUSY with the holidays. The weather is crappy (great rationalization to move to the Southern Hemisphere!). Forget anything that's not Christmas themed. My mother was the only person who NEVER wrapped my birthday present in Christmas paper. Sometimes she had to use the comic section of the newspaper, but NEVER Christmas paper.

Finally, DO NOT get me started on the people who try to pull the old "This is your birthday and Christmas present COMBINED" scam! Of course your old Aunty has the perfect cure for that one. I just smile and say, "Really? This is YOUR birthday and Christmas present COMBINED." And when the person looks shocked and says, "But my birthday is in July!" I simply reply, "Too bad."

So I just got home from my Annual Holiday Cruise. Okay, this is only the third year (in a row) that we've done it, but it sounds waaay impressive when I write it like that.

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all you other December Babies! May you NEVER receive a combined birthday and Christmas present.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Another Little Step...

...down that road to publication. And I gotta admit, this was a nice one.

I received my advance check today!

Now that Cynical Side of me wanted to concentrate on how very small the thing was, particularly in comparison to the LARGE amount of work that went into the writing of this book. But then my Excited Self slapped the Cynical Side back into perspective.

O.M.G. FOR REALS! They believed in it enough to pay me! And in this crazy biz that means A LOT!

Of course that means my next step is to go and see my tax preparer because I am now a self-employed business person, so naturally there are tax consequences!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Embracing My Inner Grinch

I'm blogging over at the Bandit Lair today on things that BUG ME about the holidays. In keeping with our holiday extravaganza, I've even included a cookie recipe and am giving away a couple of little prizes.

And yes, all the incidents I grumbled about REALLY HAPPENED!
  • My Mother-In-Law did send me a check the week before Christmas and asked me to do her shopping for her.
  • My son really was that rude about his gift.
  • And a good friend who obviously suffered short-term memory loss gave me the SAME GIFT (a knife block of all things) two years in a row!
Truth IS stranger than fiction!

Hop on over and "get your Grinch on!" (just click on the title of this post)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Musical Transitions

Warning! Rant about to happen...

I watched a really BAAAD movie on DVD last night. It wasn't supposed to be bad. Matter of fact it had several "A" list actors and got good reviews, but it still annoyed the H*LL outta me!

And I don't mean just the story line, though I did find that aspect rather weak, cliche-ridden, and therefore annoying. The thing I really objected to was that every time a pivotal scene ended, the director/film editor/whomever would throw up a montage of landscapes along with the character who had just "learned the BIG LESSON" and fill the soundtrack with LOUD WHINY MUSIC.

Worse, this movie (no, I won't name the title unless you ask in the comments) is far from unique. I've noticed the exact same thing in other movies and in TV programs. Granted, I don't watch much of the latter, but the biggest offender that I do watch (and am about to STOP watching for this and several other reasons) is "Grey's Anatomy." I can almost tolerate Ms Wishy-Washy Perpetual Victim Meredith's voice over platitudes... most of the time. But SPARE ME those whiny girl singers screeching away about their broken hearts/lives/tattoos or whatever it is they are carrying on about.

Whatever happened to TRANSITIONS? You know, those little things that move you between scenes? For that matter, at least in films and TV, what is wrong with the old fade to black and start the new scene? This technique has worked for loads of award winning writers and directors in the past.

I think it boils down to trusting your audience. We GET IT already! We don't need some smarmy montage and loud music to hammer your point home. If we do, then you didn't sufficiently make your point in the first place!

Okay, rant over for today.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Finally Sinking In... A Bit

I was wandering the aisles of my local Big Chain Bookstore today, as I do most every weekend. Not necessarily shopping, just enjoying the look, and smell, and FEEL of all those wonderful books sitting on all the shelves.

I browsed over in the Romance section, pulling out books by friends (Anna Campbell, Donna MacMeans, Christine Wells), authors or titles I'd heard some recent buzz about, or other titles by My Publisher... just coz, ya know, they're MINE... When suddenly it occurred to me that by this time NEXT year, MY book would be up there on the shelves! Yup, right up there on that top shelf between Cheyenne McCray and Shannon McKenna!

Oh. My. Gosh.

This time NEXT year, those two women sharing the aisle with me might be pulling out MY BOOK!

Yes, I had a private little *SQUEE* moment right there in the middle of the book store. My Book, written with my own blood, sweat, and imagination will be published in less than 365 days and will be read (and I hope enjoyed) by total strangers! Reality never felt so good.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gifts To Charities

I'm blogging today on the Bandit Blog about donating to a favorite charity instead of buying a gift. (Just click on this entry's title for the link to get there.)

Please drop by and read about why the American Red Cross is one of my favorite charities. In fact, I probably wouldn't be here except for them!

I hope you will give to your favorite charity this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My First Revision Letter

HURRAY! I received my first revision letter today. And I'm HAPPY about it?!?!? As a matter of fact, I'm tickled pink! And no, I haven't lost what little mind I may actually have left. I'm happy about my revision letter for some very good reasons!

First, and foremost, these are revisions made UNDER CONTRACT on a book that is SOLD! I've never had this experience before and it is one more baby step down the road of my writing career.

Second, even though My Editor assured me that my revisions would be "light" I wasn't sure her definition of "light" would be the same as mine. Luckily they matched!

So I'm off to happily work on my revisions!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom and Thanks!

Yesterday was my mother's birthday. Unfortunately, I lost her in 1999 to cancer. I'm really sorry she won't be around to finally see my long held dream become a reality and find a book I wrote sitting on the bookstore or library shelf.

What a shame because I owe so much to her.

My mom was the one who read stories to me, and who taught me the alphabet and my numbers and how to write my name, all before I ever set foot inside a kindergarten class. My mom took me and my sister and brother to the library every other week during those long hot summers. We got to enjoy the air conditioned comfort we didn't have at home, and she let me check out all the books I could carry. She didn't even scold me too much on those cold winter nights when she caught me reading under the covers with a flashlight, because I suspect she did the same thing herself.

My mom was an avid (if not exactly high brow) reader. She preferred True Story to Ladies' Home Journal or Redbook, and I doubt she ever read an issue of The New Yorker. She didn't read much "literature," but she introduced me to the great old Gothic romances of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt. I'm sure she would recognize their influences in my own work. I also believe she would enjoy my story, in spite of some of the "bad" language my characters use. She was a real stickler about not using bad words!

So Happy Birthday, Mom!

And thanks for everything. I know now how lucky I was to have you.

I still miss you everyday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shake, Rattle and Aloha

The DH and I are native Californians who have never lived anywhere but the Golden State. Given California's reputation with regard to earthquakes, the two of us have lots of stories to tell about quakes, right? Wrong. DH has never been in a major earthquake, and the only one I was ever in happened when I was six-months-old. In fact, these two old Californians had to go all the way to Hawaii to experience an earthquake first hand!

We are very lucky because where we live it is easy to find inexpensive deals to Hawaii. Such was the case last October when a travel agency we've used before offered a 5 day trip to Honolulu and we decided to go for it. Our high rise hotel was in a GREAT location, across the street from the Honolulu Zoo and half a block from the beach.

Sunday morning at 7 a.m. I was awakened from a sound sleep by the bed shaking. Thinking the DH had returned from his morning swim and was playing a game of 'let's wake up the slug', I rolled over ready to yell at him but NO DH. Instead, I heard a very loud roar and the bed and the room both started to sway!

I may have never been in an earthquake before but I KNEW what was happening. I threw some clothes on over my pajamas while the room continued to sway. Then I grabbed my umbrella and RAN down nine flights of stairs to the lobby! I had a friend who was trapped in an elevator for 4 hours during the Loma Prieta quake so there was NO WAY I was getting in an elevator, though that stairwell was pretty icky. I'm just glad we weren't on the eighteenth floor.

When I reached the lobby there were a lot of bleary-eyed people milling about, and an emergency generator already set up to run one elevator and some lights. Staff also had set up a battery powered radio and I listened anxiously for about ten minutes for news of death, destruction, and... a tsunami! All I heard was that one power grid had gone down and in doing so, had triggered overloads on all the power grids so electricity was out all over the island. Also, that the quake had been centered off the Big Island, not Oahu. And NO tsunami.

I couldn't quite believe that last part, and worse -- DH was still out there SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN! I walked out to the front sidewalk and peered through the pouring rain. I decided if he didn't show up in five more minutes, I'd go looking for him. Two minutes later he walked up, towel around his shoulders, dripping wet. He headed straight for the elevator and couldn't understand why all those people were standing around in the lobby. When I mentioned THE EARTHQUAKE, he gave me a blank stare.

He hadn't felt a thing!

Luckily the only consequence of the earthquake turned out to be no power in Honolulu for thirteen hours. Inconvenient, yes. No cooked food, no air conditioning, no running water above the third floor... But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that bad!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Scales Tipped!

WOW! Maybe I should go away more often. Not only do I get a fabulous writer (Trish Milburn) to sub for me and post beautiful piccies, but TWO of my Bandita Buddies have SOLD in the past two weeks!

The always witty and wonderful Kate Carlisle inked a three book deal with NAL for a cozy mystery series. Hop over to the Bandit Blog today to read her very inspiring "Call" story! I especially love how Kate talks about one phone call changing EVERYTHING, because that is exactly how I felt.

Kate's sale left the Banditas evenly split at 10 sold and 10 AYUs, but not for long. Hyperion made phenomenally hard-working (not to mention extremely nice) Kirsten Scott an offer no writer would refuse for the first two books in her new young adult series! But I will let her tell all the details in a few days. Just keep checking Romance Bandits blog, but remember, you heard it here first!As for me, I made my next baby-step down the road to publication, I signed my very first publishing contract today!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dream vacations

By Trish Milburn, guest blogger

Here I am again, high-jacking Aunty Cindy's blog while she's out plying the blue waters of the Caribbean. Actually, her trip got me to thinking about vacations. There's probably not a one of us who wouldn't go on vacation at the drop of a hat if money wasn't an option. So that's my question to you today -- if you didn't have to worry about the money, what would be your dream vacation?

For me, it would be a huge, extended driving tour of the United States and Canada -- including the trek along the remote Alcan Highway to Alaska. That's a stretch of the highway in winter below, the section between Fort Nelson, British Colombia and Watson Lake, Yukon.

There is so much I've not seen and other places I've visited but had to rush through because of limited vacation time and funds. I'd love to be able to take the trip at a leisurely pace, taking months to see it all. One of my big goals is to visit all the U.S. national parks, so I'd definitely make visits to all of those along the way. One of the parks I've not visited yet is the Grand Canyon, a place that's awe-inspiring in pictures but which I understand can't be done justice with mere photographs.

One of the parks I've been to more than once, but always for too little time, is Yellowstone National Park. My sister worked there for a year, and I've visited three times now. I envy my sister's time there, time in which she could explore the first national park established in this country. It's one of my favorite places, and I'd love to have at least a month of staying inside the park at the hotels at Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake so I could explore some new facet of the park every day. That's Grand Prismatic Spring below. It's huge! I'm not sure you can see them in this picture, but there are a few tiny people on that boardwalk to give this picture perspective.

And being a writer, I could do a fun travelogue blog along the way, complete with photos. Now, if one of those Powerball tickets would just pan out.

So, let me hear about your dream vacations! And while you're in a good mood dreaming about vacations to wonderful locales, take a moment to zip over to the Romantic Times site where my manuscript, OUT OF SIGHT, is a finalist in the American Title competition -- a writing competition modeled on American Idol. I'd appreciate your vote very much.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Yep, Aunty Cindy is out cruising the bright blue sea while some of us are here slaving away over revisions. Sigh. :)

Let's see, what kind of mischief can I get into while she's gone and I have access to her blog? Hmm, a cabana boy review? 101 Ways to Embarrass Your Friends? A virtual toilet papering of the blog in honor of Halloween?

Okay, I'll be good and just remind everyone that voting in the American Title contest begins tomorrow at and I'd be very happy to receive your vote. My manuscript, Out of Sight, is one I believe readers would enjoy if I'm fortunate enough to have it find its way to bookstore shelves.

I'll be back here on Saturday, Oct. 20, to post something vastly more entertaining. Wow, I better thing of something before then, huh? :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

While I'm Away...

...yes, I'm off again.

ARGH, me hearties! This time I'll be gone for a few days sailing the ocean blue in search of Cap'n Jack and Will Turner.

But never fear, just so none of you will feel lonely my Bandita Buddy and FABULOUS writer, Trish Milburn will be dropping by with a post or two. Trish is a finalist in the Romantic Times American Title IV contest, kind of like American Idol for writers (told ya she was FABULOUS)! I'll let her share all the fun details with you!


Monday, October 8, 2007

To Revise Or Not To Revise

...That is one of the issues I posted about today on the Bandit Blog. I've been listening to Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block on books on tape and wanted to share some of his opinions on revisions.
Hop on over and take a look, especially in the comments as readers and writers share best and worst writing advice. And of course, you're always welcome to leave a comment here!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Going Ape On Gibraltar

We'd been in Spain and Portugal for ten days. We had prepared ourselves for the cold wet weather, it was February after all. But we had not expected the lack of heat and hot water in several of the pensiones where we'd stayed. The morning we rolled up to the border crossing to enter Gibraltar, I was cold, hungry and homesick.

When the guard in the crossing booth asked for our passports in his precise English accent, I almost jumped out of the car and kissed him. Then we drove a few hundred yards down the road and on my right I saw a Safeway grocery store and knew I was in Heaven!

After we hung out in the quaint downtown for awhile, we got on the tram to take us to the lofty heights of The Rock. The views were truly spectacular and we were awed by the formations inside the limestone caves. Since it was a beautiful clear day, we opted to walk part of the way back down and found ourselves at the only other tram stop on the mountainside. This spot was also the favorite hang-out for a large group of the famous Gibraltar apes, which are rather large tailless monkeys. And the males have quite impressive teeth.

While waiting for the tram to arrive we watched some of the moms with their babies and a few larger youngsters playing along the stone wall designed to keep us humans on the path. I took a couple more pictures of the harbor, and the apes. In spite of signs in several languages warning NOT to feed or tease the apes, some people waiting with us started offering them cookies. Meanwhile, DH took the camera and directed me to stand over near the wall so he could get some shots of me with the apes in the background. Only they didn't STAY in the background.

As I stood smiling and oblivious, a half-grown "teen" ape made a big leap toward my shoulder. I saw him just as he made contact. I screamed, jumped and pushed him away. I think he may have yelped too as he bounced onto the pavement, then leaped back over the wall. The DH was doubled over laughing, and yes, he got one picture but it was blurry because both the ape and I were moving QUICKLY! VERY QUICKLY! DH still claims that the fastest he's ever seen me move.

Fortunately, the tram arrived a couple of minutes later. Once we were safely back within the confines of Safeway and I'd consumed a Cadbury chocolate bar, I was able to laugh about my misadventure with a young, and maybe amorous (or at least hungry) ape.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

8 Random Things

I was tagged by my Bandita Buddy, sexy, sassy Blaze author Tawny Weber.

Here are the rules:
Players offer eight random habits/facts about themselves.
If you’re tagged, write your own blog about your eight things and post these rules.
At the end of your blog post, choose someone to tag (supposed to be eight but however many you can do is fine, no tag police will come get you) (Whew! I was worried about the tag police!) - and list their names.

1. My name (Loucinda) was a compromise between my parents. My mother wanted to name me Cynthia and my father wanted to name me Lucille.

2. I named my son after a character in Mary Stewart's novel The Moonspinners.

I was diagnosed with tuberculosis when I was two years old. Luckily the disease went inactive when I was four and has never recurred. However, I still test positive on TB skin tests and therefore, I’m not allowed to donate blood.

4. I'm Irish on both sides of my family tree. My mother's family supposedly came from Cork (or maybe they just sailed from Cork, hard to say) in the 1830s. My father's family most likely came from Antrim or Donegal, probably during the potato famine.

5. I developed my affinity for dark chocolate while I was in college and worked in a candy store.

6. My mother claimed I was left-handed from the day I was born. In fact, I can successfully do two things right-handed: cut with scissors (I didn't see a pair of left-handed scissors until I was 11) and, knit (my mother taught me "her way.")

7. I once had a secretary named Eric.

8. I dreamed the title of my soon-to-be-published (That felt GREAT to type!) novel Death in the Fens, and I also dreamed the ending of my GH finalist manuscript Jewels of the Madonna.

I'm tagging my Bandita Buddies Kate, Caren and Jo-Mama. Also tag to my BFF Whit and my pal Piowapuff. If you don't want to list your 8 things on your blog/MySpace you are welcome to post them here in the comments.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My New/OId Name

I'd always planned to write under a pseudonym but now it appears that the name I will be using is the name I was given at birth, Loucinda McGary. I haven't used this name in quite a few years, decades actually, and I can already see that it will take time to get used to it. In fact, I cruised by the Bandit blog a few days ago and I had to do a double take before I recognized that strange name under my picture!

I've never used my "real" first name except on legal documents, but I always intended to use in when I was published. To me, "Cindy" conjures up images of the too-perky cheerleader, or a precocious five-year-old with an over-sized lollypop. "Loucinda" is someone you take seriously.

As for my last name, six little letters that nobody seems to get right. That's how I felt all the years I was growing up and got called McGray, McGrary, McGarrity... I think in the four years of high school, the school got my first and last names spelled correctly exactly once. Luckily that one time was on my diploma! I have no illusions that things have changed. I'm sure most people will continue to get my name wrong, but I DON'T CARE! As long as they buy and read the book!

Death in the Fens by Loucinda McGary

Make a note! You read about it here FIRST and will continue to read about it for the next year or more, so prepare yourself.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Four years ago, I left my stressful, albeit well-paying, job to live my life the way I wanted. All right, more or less the way I want, since I don’t have even close to unlimited funds. But I haven’t regretted my decision for even a nano-second! Money really can’t buy happiness and my job was literally killing me. I was a minimally functioning human being I scarcely recognized.

For the first four months all I could manage to do was eat, sleep and crochet. And the latter was limited to simple patterns I already knew and didn’t have to think about. Following new directions were beyond my capabilities at that point. Happily, after a couple more months, some relaxing trips and lots of journaling later, I was well on my way to “recovery”. Whatever that is!

I also started writing with the SERIOUS intent of publication. I finished my first romantic suspense manuscript on April 1, 2005. This is the manuscript that went on to final in the Golden Heart.

Writing fiction was something I'd wanted to do most of my life. I made several fitful attempts at it over the years, but found that working full time pretty much sapped all my creativity. Now, after almost three years and three completed manuscripts I'm one GIANT step closer to realizing my dream!


Sunday, September 16, 2007

How I Met My Editor

If you would like to read "the rest of the story" about how I got THE CALL, please hop on over to the Romance Bandits Blog:

Yes, I met my editor (2 of my favorite words in the English language right now! Second only to publishing contract!) because of the Golden Heart contest. A contest I was bullied into entering by my friend Willie!

No, my editor did NOT buy my Golden Heart finalist manuscript.

Yes, my CP Jo had to "kick my arse" to get me to submit to my editor again.

And remember all those stories you've heard about coincidental meetings in bars, lobbies, and even elevators? Truth is stranger than fiction!

Friday, September 14, 2007


This morning I received THE CALL that all us hopeful AYUs long to get.

Sourcebooks wants to publish my novel Death In The Fens in the Fall of 2008!

I have been screaming, hyperventilating and generally jumping around like a lunatic ALL DAY! I wouldn't be a bit surprised if my head spun completely around and I spewed pea soup (even though I NEVER touch the stuff)!

Basically I have been busting my butt to achieve this goal for almost FOUR YEARS, but being published has been my dream for most of my life! I was beginning to fear that I would never feel the joy of going into a bookstore and seeing MY BOOK on the shelf. BUT NOW I WILL!!!

I AM AYU (As Yet Unpublished) NO LONGER!!!

I AM NOW ATBP (About To Be Published)!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My 15 Minutes of Celebrity

The iconoclastic artist Andy Warhol was once quoted as saying, "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."

Well, I got my fifteen minutes, if not exactly fame then a taste of what it is like to be a celebrity. It happened in Thailand, an amazing and beautiful country with some of the nicest people in the world.

DH and I were doing a 'self tour' of the Summer Palace which is a short boat ride up the river from Bangkok. The palace is actually about a dozen different buildings on extensive, beautifully landscaped grounds. I was walking by myself across a pretty little stone bridge over an ornamental pond, when I heard a huge group of school children approaching. There must have been a couple hundred of them, around ten years old and wearing crisp blue and white uniforms. Undoubtedly they were on a field trip.

I scooted out of the way, and stood with my back against the low stone railing of the bridge to let the big noisy group pass. As the first dozen kids walked by me, they all stared (I was probably one of the first if not THE first American they'd ever seen live and in person). Then, one bold youngster shouted out, "Hello!" To which I answered, "Hello!" This brought a gale of nervous giggles, followed by a raucous chorus of hellos.

After a few dozen more kids, all chirping out "hello" like myna birds, scurried past me, one little boy got brave and stuck out his hand while exclaiming, "hello." I obligingly shook his hand and said hello back. Well, that opened the flood gates! Next thing I knew, about a hundred enthusiastic kids were crowded around me, all shouting hello and grabbing for my hands.

YIKES! It was more than a bit scary! All those eager little bodies pressing around me could have easily sent me over the railing and into the pond. Dozens of them might have fallen with me! Fortunately that didn't happen. I kept smiling, shouting hello, and grabbing as many outstretched hands as I could, while the teachers herded the kids the rest of the way across the bridge. They also smiled and bobbed their heads in thanks to me.

The whole incident lasted maybe ten minutes, but it felt like a lot longer at the time. When I got back to the DH, I collapsed onto the shady bench beside him and said, "Now I know how Michael Jackson feels."

And I can just imagine the discussions in the school yard days later. While one kid brags about his adventure, another kid whines, "No fair! We didn't get to shake hands with an American tourist at the Summer Palace!"

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Lucius Vorenus, Titus Pullo and YOU!

If you want to read all about my obsession with the HBO series Rome, its two main characters, and how they all relate to my writing, you'll need to hop on over to the Bandit Blog:
You can read and comment there!

Meanwhile, I'm off to watch the DVD of Season 2!

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Ain't technology grand? Except, of course, when it STOPS FUNCTIONING!

Well, that's what happened to ME in the past few days. My monitor suddenly decided to go belly-up! BOOM! No warning WHATSOEVER!

Admittedly, my system is over 5 years old and therefore from the Pleistocene era. However, that does not mean I have the time, energy, and most especially the cashola to replace it! But going without my email and blog fix is SERIOUSLY NOT ACCEPTABLE! Not to mention not being able to WRITE! ACK!!!

So here I am, back for a few days at least with a "borrowed" monitor and some MAJOR decisions to make...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Needed: A BIG Book of Answers

The past few weeks I've been developing ideas for my next writing project, and I find myself teetering on that uncomfortable fence of uncertainty unable to make up my mind. Should this book have a contemporary or an historical setting?

My last three stories have all been contemporaries, though all have some historical aspects in varying degrees. And no, editors and agents have not exactly been beating down my door to publish them.

I keep reading and hearing how "historicals are making a comeback!" And I've had several friends make their first sales in the historical sub-genre. But I've also had some make first sales with contemporary settings too. I read in both sub-genres and with my love of history, the research wouldn't be a burden...

What do to? What to do?!?!

If only there were a big book of answers somewhere! "If you do this then thus and so will happen. But if you do thus and so, then this will happen."

IF ONLY.....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another AYU bites the dust!

Seeing a "First Sale" is always good news. If it can happen for somebody else, it can happen for ME! When that "First Sale" happens to a writing buddy, that's even better!

I'm tickled PINK to say there's been a LOT of that happening lately. When we started our group blog Romance Bandits back in March, we had 4 published and 15 AYUs (As Yet Unpublished) in our ranks. Since June, we've had 3 more move over to the published side (Christie, Trish , and Jeanne). Well, this week we had NUMBER 4! SUPER CONGRATS to Beth!

The count now stands at 8 and 11. LOVE how that scale is slowly tipping! And if you want to read Beth's (and Christie, Trish and Jeanne's) "Call Story" just hop on over to the Bandit blog.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My First Gator

Okay, this did not happen on our first trip to Florida. We'd already been there several times. First we did the Disney World/Epcot experience, then we did Speed Week. Heck, we'd even ventured down to the Keys a few weeks after a hurricane devasted the surrounding area. But this was the first time we ever ventured into the Everglades.

It was a wild and blustery winter day in south Florida (but still a LOT warmer than here in winter!) when we pulled into the ranger's station intent on taking one of those swamp buggy tours into the Everglades. Unfortunately, the weather made it unsafe for swamp buggies or anything else out in the 'Glades, the ranger politely explained. Road closed. End of line. But seeing how crest-fallen we were, she directed us to a nearby spot where we would probably see some alligators in the wild.

We followed her directions and within minutes found ourselves driving slowly along an elevated gravel road with water on both sides. The vegetation was lush and there were birds galore. Suddenly, DH threw the car into reverse and backed up about 100 yards, then inched forward a bit, saying, "I think I see a gator!"

He rolled down the window and pointed. I couldn't see anything, so he shut off the car and we both got out and walked to the back bumper. The DH pointed again and I squinted a little more, until I noticed the partially submerged black log he indicated actually had AN EYEBALL! Oh WOW! An honest to goodness gator! I'd seen them in the zoo, of course, but never in the wild so this was exciting.

We stood for several minutes just looking, and the gator just stayed there too, never moving. Then DH got the bright idea to "feed" it to see if it would move. He opened the trunk and pulled out a fat-free muffin left over from breakfast (they hadn't been very tasty, but we didn't throw them out in case we were desperate for a snack), and lobbed it in the gator's direction.

In about one-tenth of a nanosecond, the thing whipped around and these massive jaws went SNAP! As my eyes bugged out and my throat made this funny little EEP sound, my brain shouted, "That thing is FAST! And it's A LOT BIGGER than it looked!" Well over six feet! But mostly I'm thinking, "RUN YOU IDIOT! DON'T JUST STAND HERE!"

Apparently DH read my thoughts, or he was thinking the same thing. But he managed to tell me, "Do not run! Slowly get in the car." Yeah, right! We both shuffled carefully and quietly around and got into the car. Gravel flew as we high-tailed it outta there!

We've been back to Florida many times, and have been into the Everglades more than once. AWESOME PLACE! We've even been on a couple of swamp buggy tours. But we have NEVER again been stupid enough to try and feed the gators!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

All Is Forgiven

One of my CPs and one of my beta readers have decided the heroine of my current WIP is selfish and pushy. :cry: HUH?!?! My cute-as-a-button little heroine?

So I went back and looked at the passage they were both citing and yes, she did sound that way. But only because this was written in the hero's POV, and he really does not like her at that point in the story. Obviously if this comes across so strongly, I've done my job properly.

I brought this up to one of them and then mentioned that also at this point, my hero isn't exactly Mr. Wonderful either. He has run away from his problems, ignored his family for fifteen years and is only back now because his sister has "guilted" him into being there. My friend admitted that this was true, but she went on to say, "He's a hunk with a cute tush, so I can forgive his other shortcomings." Allllll righty then! :razz:

That got me to thinking (always a dangerous proposition!)...

Is this true of most romance readers? Since most readers are women, and most of us (myself included) LUVRE the hero, does that mean we accept his imperfections more readily? :roll: Think of some of the heroes in the romance novels that are so popular: Macho cops and special forces guys, arrogant historical aristocrats, uber-alpha vampires and shapeshifters.

In real life, I'd probably bitch-slap all of 'em in about ten seconds, but in fiction... Love and a hot bod really does conquer all! :mrgreen:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bakers Dozen Meme

It's been awhile since I've indulged in a meme, so here's one sent to me recently (modified for this blog) from my friend Piowapuff.

What are you most afraid of?
The IRS.

What is the most recent movie that you have seen on bootleg?
Okay, I don't usually view bootlegs, but not long ago one of the neighbors offered my DH 3 DVDs he was about to throw out. Turns out they were bootleg copies. We watched that awful Billy Bob Thornton/John Heder movie, I think it was called "School for Scoundrels" and I KNOW why the neighbor was throwing it out. BLECK! AWFUL!

Ever been skinny dipping?
No... oh wait, once. In a hot tub... SHHHHHH!

Been in a car accident?
I'm a native Californian and I'm over the age of three, OF COURSE I have! Fortunately they have all been of the minor fender-bender variety.

Favorite ice cream?
Baskin Robbins' Fudge Brownie, but since that flavor is not always available then, Rocky Road.

Ever been on a ship?
YES! Several times, and best of all, I'm going on one again in October!

What color is your bedroom carpet?
Kind of a cinnamony brownish... It came with the house and so far I've had no extra $ to replace it.

How many times did you fail your driver's test?
I failed the written test the first time I took it (Hey, I was 15 1/2 and those clay tablets were heavy!) But I passed the driving test on my very first try with a 97%!

Favorite TV shows?
I used to love "Lost" but the second season was so disappointing that I've pretty much lost interest. Other than that, I don't watch TV except for an occasional PBS program. I LOVE "Globe Trekker" but it never seems to be on at the same day/time around here.

Last person you went to dinner with?
My critique partner Cathy D.

Park or Zoo?
To do what?!?! I like San Diego Zoo, coz then I get to go to San Diego! And I like Kapiolani Park, coz then I get to go to Honolulu!

How many tattoos do you have?
Zero, and I plan to keep it that way. I had a SpongeBob Squarepants temporary tatoo once that I had to use nail polish remover to get off. UGH!

What do you want to do before you die?
Have one of my books on the NYTimes best seller list.

Have you been to countries outside the U.S.?
Only a couple dozen, including Canada and Mexico (multiple times), most of Western Europe, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Thailand, China and Australia. I plan to increase the number in October when I cruise to the Caribbean! For now here's a cool map of the countries (including the good old USA) I've visited:

create your own visited country map

Okay, now it's YOUR TURN! Give me some of your answers in the comments!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Love/Hate Relationships

I know what I'm about to describe is applicable ONLY to my local big chain bookstore and my local library branch. I know that somewhere out there are "romance friendly" big chain bookstores and libraries. But I'm afraid my experience is NOT unique. So, while I LOVE reading and buying books, romance books in particular, I have developed some love/hate relationships about those activities.

I LOVE my local big chain bookstore.
  • All those tables and shelves heaped with shiny new books!
  • The smell (yes, new books have their own unique scent, like a new car) of all that lovely, unsullied paper.
  • And they send me COUPONS to my email almost every week, so I can get $ OFF any book I chose. I admit it, I'm addicted to coupons.:lol:
  • I love seeing the new books by people I "know" whether in person from my local RWA chapter or met at conferences or online. I get a real thrill out of seeing these books and thinking that SOMEDAY my book will be here.

I HATE my local big chain bookstore.
  • They put the "Romance" section waaay in the back corner next to the bathrooms.
  • Very few "Romance" novels (unless you are BIG NAME BEST SELLER like la Nora, SEP or Jenny C.) get put up front in the "New Arrivals" section where everyone can see them.
  • In fact, very few books in the "Romance" section get turned face out. Most are lined up spines out and makes for a lot of squinting on my (and other customers) part.
  • They do have one end cap for category, but they don't replenish it and they do NOT put up the new releases in a timely manner. Most of the category books are relegated to the bottom two shelves of the "Romance" section, thus resulting in both back aches and eye strain trying to locate books by many of my buddies who write category romances.
  • Seeing all those books makes me feel like everyone in the world has published a book, EXCEPT ME.:cry:

I LOVE my local library branch.
  • Shelves upon shelves of books you can read FOR FREE! Old books, new books, books, Books, BOOKS! An endless supply! What's NOT to love about that?!?!:wink:
  • There's just something about all those library books with their celophane wrappings, and the serenely wise librarians that sparks some of my fondest childhood memories.
  • All those tall shelves with all those books, I can stand (or sit on the floor) in the stacks and browse, or sit in the not-too-uncomfortable chairs and read. It is pretty quiet, most of the time, and I LOVE quiet.

I HATE my local library branch.
Talk about not getting any RESPECT!:mad:
  • Unless you are a BIG NAME BESTSELLER who has been around for DECADES (la Nora, Judith McNaught and maybe 2 others), your books are NOT shelved in the "Fiction" section.
  • As far as I can tell, they purchase NO hardcover romances except for the above.
  • They stick ALL their paperback romances in an "uncategorized" aisle and don't even bother to alphabetize beyond the first letter of the author's last name. And they won't even shelve category titles! Those donated to the library (and I've donated a few) go directly into the semi-annual Library Book Sale bin.
  • Thanx to all of the above, I figure I will NEVER see my book in this particular library branch.