VIRTUALLY HERS came out Oct. 2009. Get it at SAMHAIN Publishing. VIRTUALLY ONE coming soon.

I've also made available at Amazon BIG BAD WOLF a COS Commando book, an earlier manuscript about Killian Nicholas Langley. You can sample the first five chapters right here. EBOOK now available for KINDLE, NOOK, and at SMASHWORDS for $4.99.

I appreciate all your emails. If you'd like to buy Virtually His NEW, please contact me. Thank you.


Big Bad Wolf Author's Note/CH. 1

Big Bad Wolf CH. 2

Big Bad Wolf Ch. 3

(more chapters on left side bar below)

To read excerpts of VIRTUALLY HERS, scroll down & click on the links on the right.



VIRTUALLY HERS OUT IN PRINT AUG 2010! Discounted at Amazon!

To read & comment on the poll (left column), click HERE. Thank you for all the wonderful posts there!



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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The End Of A Series: Mostly Jack Bauer, Some TV, & A Tie-In About Romance Series

I love my post titles these days. It's as if my brain has decided that I need to cram every specific thing into them so I don't start meandering. As if I don't stay on topic or something. Pfft to my brain.

Most of you know I'm a die-hard Jack Bauer fan. It doesn't matter that the show has gotten a bit ridiculous (a bit? A BIT the size of India's population?!) but I still love him with the adoring love of a thousand almond creme cheese cake. It's not Jack Bauer that's gone wrong, you see. It's the writers for that show. He'd always be brilliant, angsty, crazy-tunnel vision, alpha, and overly efficient at killing people.

I started to wonder whether I feel the same about books that are series that follow a single/multiple characters? That I loved a character but hated the way the storyline went as the books continued? Loved the tone of the books, loved the voice, loved the characters, but somehow, when the series was done, I'm sort of relieved, not because my character's journey brought me great joy but that it was so heavy on a certain aspect of that it dragged my enjoyment down? Danny Valentine, your inability to give your lover a chance and your doubts really really REALLY ended that series by making me think you were wrong and stupid. And who wanted to end up with that opinion about the main character?

Or the series have gone so far off course that there is no recognizable thing between Book 1 and Book 111, except for the characters' names? Especially if it sort of changed genres in the middle too. Anita Blake, I'm looking at you.

Some people would read on to the bitter end, but I can't do that. I didn't do that to LOST, the TV series, because there were too many characters with too many storylines and not one solved mystery after two seasons. I couldn't do that with Anita Blake because the characters I've emotionally invested in changed into unrecognizable entities.

And yet, I hung on to Jack Bauer, season after season. There are plot holes galore in each season, with things happening that couldn't happen in the real world and in real time. 24 is called that because it follows an adventure through the course of a day, using a digital clock at the corner of the TV screen. It's a season-long fake reality show of following a CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) operative as he goes around the a metropolis destroying lots of things and causing havoc while chasing terrorists with accents bent on destroying that city (and the U.S.).

There are nuclear blasts that don't affect Jack's health. Hell, Jack gets shot and he walks and talks in the next hour as if it were just a flesh wound. There are water passageways that lead under the White House. There are non-existent car tunnels in New York City by named streets. There are resurrected characters who were good guys one season and now turned bad, and no, they aren't zombies. And there's always a mole inside CTU that shows how stupid and incapable CTU is.

A book with a plot like the above would have been thrown across the room many a time. And yet, every Monday for the last eight or nine years (with the exception of personal stuff), I've turned on the show and cheered Jack Bauer on, as he continued his fight to "save the world," as we fans like to say.

So my conclusion is that it must be the character. I couldn't take Danny Valentine any more as she changed into a morose and doubting heroine who seemed to side with her enemies more than her lover. I couldn't take Anita Blake any more as she metamorphosized from Vampire Hunter to...umm...Monster Mistress (couldn't come up with a better name) and destroyed the special triangle of metaphysical power that was set up in the first ten books. I couldn't follow Lost when The Others become the focus, and not the core group of survivors.

Don't get me wrong. These books and shows are very good and have mega fans. I'm just picking them as examples of how I, the reader, reach a point where they don't fit me any more. Many people, on the other hand, have stopped watching 24. So it's all about what floats your boat.

I do have series that I've read/enjoyed and put away with a happy sigh when they're done and reread and rewatched through the years. Some that I'm reading now tthat I look forward to the next book:

1) Briggs' Mercedes Thompson series
2) Briggs' Alpha and Omega series
3) Andrews' Kate Daniel series
4) Robb's Eve Dallas (although I'm books behind on this one but this is one series always satisfies me)

As you can see, the examples are mostly urban fantasies. I can't think of a historical series that I'm reading. Brockmann's Team 16 books have character arcs that move the series along and her most famous one was Sam and Alyssa's storyline, which I followed along until the part where Sam was tricked by a turkey baster and in subsequent books, cried buckets and became a drunk. I did read his happy ending with Alyssa a few books later, though, so it's possible to skip parts of a series you don't like and just read the ending ;-).

TV shows: Babylon 5 comes to mind. A brilliant, brilliant five year-arc that had me riveted till today. Every SF show since pales in comparison. Except maybe La Femme Nikita, but it wasn't SF and its ending was an abomination. I did follow Alias and X-Files to the bitter, bitter, incomprehensible end, and maybe that's why I avoid JJ Abrams, who also produces/writes Lost, now. I just don't trust him any more.

The latest TV show that riveted me was Dollhouse and despite its flaws, its storyline was tantalizing and my Whedon love knows no bound, even though his endings never make me happy.

So. I'm thinking that my rules with character arcs are funky. You can write stupid but don't make the protagonist turn stupid. You can have plot holes, but make sure he doesn't make a 180 and turn into something he isn't (except for one episode, by magic, and resolved very soon!) Most of all, don't set me up with a promise that so and so will end up together and then end the series with them getting on with Other Loves. That is like turning Jack Bauer into a coward and have him save himself over others at the end of the show (please, TV gods, don't give the writers of 24 this idea because they'll think they're being damn clever and every fan will hunt them down and shoot their thighs).

What series, books or TV show, are you following? Are you happy with how it's going? And has there been a series that you've dropped because you just couldn't take it any more? Was it the plot or character?

Lots of questions, I know, but I'm always curious about my readers' internal rules about story-telling.

Also, who's going to save the world now that Jack Bauer is going off the air? Sob*

Bear with me while I learn. The first button likes the POST. The second button likes the BLOG site. Please help me by "liking" me. Thanks!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ladies, How About Vajazzling?

You know I'm going to have Hell or Marlena getting one in Virtually One, right? I mean, what would shock Jed and Stash more than my two ladies coming home from shopping one day with their vajayjays vajazzled?

Are YOU game? LOL.

So, first you use that "Button" Blush, then you Vajazzle...what next?

Bear with me while I learn. The first button likes the POST. The second button likes the BLOG site. Please help me by "liking" me. Thanks!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Many of us authors worry about their numbers. When Walmart decided not to distribute Virtually His, my numbers dropped by at least 35,000. Which was, you know, a big bomb in my career's living room.

I can name you a few authors who aren't worry about theirs, though. From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:

Hardcover Bestsellers from 2009:

1. The Lost Symbol: A Novel. Dan Brown. Doubleday (5,543,643).

4. I, Alex Cross. James Patterson. Little, Brown (1,040,976).

7. Finger Lickin' Fifteen. Janet Evanovich. St. Martin's (977,178).

12. U Is for Undertow. Sue Grafton. Putnam (706,154).

13. The Scarpetta Factor. Patricia Cornwell. Putnam (705,000).

25. Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel. Charlaine Harris. Ace (500,135).
26. Southern Lights: A Novel. Danielle Steel. Delacorte (497,140).

37. Kindred in Death. J.D. Robb. Putnam (315,000).

65. The Perfect Christmas. Debbie Macomber. Harlequin (200,227).

77. Sizzle: A Novel. Julie Garwood. Ballantine (182,010).

83. Divine Misdemeanors: A Novel. Laurell K. Hamilton. Ballantine (166,102).

106. Ice: A Novel. Linda Howard. Ballantine (138,126).

116. Lover Avenged: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. J.R. Ward. NAL (125,126).

121. Dark Slayer. Christine Feehan. Berkley (121,082).


Mass Market (Paperback) sales 2009 II'm just picking a few, so these below aren't ranked):

Tribute. Nora Roberts. Rep. Jove. (1,250,361).

From Dead to Worse: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel. Charlaine Harris. Rep. Ace (877,000).

The Choice. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central. (870,116).

Promises in Death. J.D. Robb. Rep. Berkley (635,372).

Salvation in Death. J.D. Robb. Rep. Berkley (631,019).

Dream Warrior. Sherrilyn Kenyon. Orig. St. Martin's (575,000).

Fearless Fourteen. Janet Evanovich. Rep. St. Martin's (1,200,000).

Nope, no Gennita Low, dammit ;-). The Dan Brown numbers boggle the brain, dudes. How many copies of The Da Vinci Code do you have in your home and puter?!!! I mean, it still sold 700,000+ in 2009!

There were multiple repeats of names, of course. Just look at all the Nora Roberts that hit the lists, both in hardcover, mass market, and trade paperbacks. It's like...Whoa. That's a one-woman powerhouse there.

The usual big names are all there: King, Koontz, Johansson, Macomber. Over and over. I think Charlaine Harris is on there with ten Sookie books. I'm sure the Stephanie Meyer Twilight series is on there somewhere, even though I couldn't see them.

I feel so lucky that I could actually talk to some of the above names at conferences and ask for advice; yes, they're friendly humans! And don't forget, Linda Howard told me last year that she loves my books :-D. I shall cherish that line and my "inability to speak anything other than gasp out a thank you" moment forever and ever and ever.

Go hop over to the link and see how many of the books you've bought/read. Are there any that surprised you?

Bear with me while I learn. The first button likes the POST. The second button likes the BLOG site. Please help me by "liking" me. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tweaking The Trope: Writing What Sells

What exactly does that mean?

I've been writing for a quite a while now and someone who heard it during an author's speech about bestselling books advised me to do this. My response? "I thought I was already tweaking the trope." And might I add, sometimes to the dislike of big chunks of the readership, who, despite what they might post online, really REALLYREALLYreally don't like any stories that aren't inside the box of romance or science fiction or whatever genre they're reading. Mostly, in my humble opinion, the romance readers are the toughest when it comes to tropes.

Take, for example, the romance heroine. In a historical, 90 percent of readers will say that they want her a virgin, or at least, a virginal woman if she'd lost her hymen at some point outside/before the story. Courtesans and mistresses are harshed at; if the heroine is a courtesan, she better be a fake one (not sleeping with dozens of men), with a heart of gold, who has fallen from grace, and her redemption theme better be there.

There are* exceptions, of course, but, like I said, twisting the trope can mean sales death for either that book or a future book. I'd think a smart author, unless she was known for it, wouldn't really twist any trope on the last book of her contract, just in case.

Even if the heroine was a widow, some authors even write in a "fake" widow trope, in the sense that she really never had sex because her dead husband had been "incapable" or even turned out to be gay! Now, I'm sure this was NOT the kind of tweaking the trope over which many are rah-rah-ing.

Then there is the romantic suspense heroine, the genre I represent. The "kick-ass" heroine didn't start till the late 90s and I'm not being bigheaded to say that I'm part of the original group of romance authors who ushered that term and that kind of character into romance readers' consciousness.

When I first started reading romantic suspense, the heroine in those stories tended to heroine-in-distress type. She was on the run and the hero had to protect her. She was always getting into fixes that needed hero/male intervention. Or, she was the pawn between hero and his enemy. She was usually the clueless one.

The other type of romance heroine is what made me stop reading and start writing. She is the "tough" heroine, maybe in law enforcement or even a spy, or she's the super-amazing savvy business woman, or she is an expert in some male-dominated field. During the late 80s and 90s, when the genre was blooming, I was screaming at these heroines because the authors usually made them do the stupidest things. The heroine would NEVER kill. She would never see what's at the end of her nose till her male counterpart points it out. She would risk everything for the wrong reasons and without logic. Also, she was a virgin, even if she was the deadliest spy who ever lived, who could entice men with some spy-glamor, and had been in the business of seducing/killing men for many years.

There were many a time I groaned that the set-up character in the previous book was a woman who talked back, was exceptionally smart, absolutely sexually open and frank, who showed her experience sexually without fear, and then I get to her story and what happened? She was really, secretly, a virgin. Or hadn't had sex but that one time and it was such a bad one she never did it again. Forever and ever, till, of course, the hero showed up. Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY?

Or, she was shown as a really intriguing assassin type through earlier books, and when HERS came out, she didn't even know how to handle her weapon. Or had never killed anyone. This book (and versions of it) had really existed and I'd had metaphorically stabbed my head and used a butter knife to saw at my wrists many a time. SERIOUSLY?

For myself, at that point, I wanted a REAL kick-ass heroine. Debra Dixon's Bad To The Bone was the first one who made me sit up. I wanted to write bad-to-the-bone heroines, the kind that really kill if that was their job. The kind that was not apologetic about their sexual experience without flaunting it like some third-rate starlet showing the public her pantylessness. The kind that just blows the hero's mind away outside the bedroom (but a plus, of course, if her talents also did that to him in bed!).

When I first starting pitching stories to editors, I used the term "bad-to-the-bone" but found that totally un-catchy. Besides, the editors always seemed to think the word "bad" in a phrase was bad, as if the heroine was a bad person. "Bad," in their eyes, by the way, was more often "immoral," as if I'd said "Slut-to-the-bone" instead. A pitch had to be short and pithy and I was mostly trying to sell Into Danger at conferences, so my selling hook was: Navy SEAL vs Kick-Ass Spy Heroine. That was short and pithy, and I got quite a number of interested queries for submission, which was the goal--get the manuscript in front of an editor.

Into Danger's Marlena Maxwell was very lonely out there in the pubbed world because she wasn't your usual heroiine. She was a tough sell because she was so different from the RS heroine trope. Her kick-assness was a liability for many acquiriing editors who wanted their romantic suspenses more like those offered during that era--the (early) Linda Howards, Ann Stuarts, Sandra Browns, Tami Hoags and many more who were drawing in millions of readers. I'm not saying those authors didn't write great heroines (I love my Howards and Stuarts like a kid loves candy) but I wanted a bit more.

My many rejection letters included:

"Heroine too tough. She sounded like a man!"
"Heroine not feminine enough."
"Too much plot."
"Heroine too strong, overshadowing the SEAL hero. And her sexuality might put off some readers. Can you make her a virgin?"

Today, the market is full of kick-ass heroines who aren't virgins and who could kill without freezing like a deer in front of headlights. But the box is still there. A big chunk of the romance readership HATES it. Take, for example, Linda Howard's Kiss Me While I Sleep, a true lady assassin, even if her lifestyle was more background info and she was never shown actually murdering anyone. But the voices on online forums:

"OMG! She kills. I hate my heroine who murders people for a living."
"I can't read that because I can't see myself killing anyone."
"There is no redemption! How can I like a character like that?"

The Kick-Ass Heroine Who Really Kills is a rare thing. They don't get a lot of love. Only big names like LH can pull this off in their books and still sell gazillions of copies.

So twisting the trope isn't very good for the majority of the authors, despite what editors or other writing advisors say. I think they really mean "tweak the trope but really, not too much, and only if you managed to hide the fact." Many editors will announce publicly that they wanted something different. Many readers too. But I've had too many rejection slips from the beginning and even now to believe this.

As you know, I've been trying to sell an Urban Fantasy/Alternative Fantasy Romance. No, this is not a real genre ;-) because I made it up. How did I twist the trope, so to speak? I wanted to use the usual UF heroine tropes on my HERO:

1) apocalyptic savior
2) growing powers
3) kick-assness while still running away
4) magical vaginapenis

I "twisted" the trope, besides the first-person male POV, by showing how self-absorbed and sort of clueless my hero was. Just like an UF heroine, he lives in a world with magic, can do magical stuff, and then these Big Things happen to him (and keep happening) and he becomes even more defensive. But I found out that I didn't want him dark, like an apocalyptic UF, so I gave him a sense of laid-back surferboy humor because I figure, you know, after 800 years of living with the ability to somewhat manipulate time (he could timetravel, limited range), he couldn't possibly stay bitter, angry, resentful, stupidly unable to move on with his life, or what-have-you when it came to UF heroines these days. Also, I'm giving him two or more female characters in his adventures vying (in their own ways) for his attention, just like the UF heroines have all their studs after them.

There are many more trope-twisting elements I used, but I brought this project up not to talk about my writing, but to highlight the rejection of those elements. The editors gave very similar sounding reasons to my agent:

1) the first person male POV is too different. Most UFs today, the ones that are popular, use first person female POV. They wouldn't know how to market this.

2) love the concept, but time travel is dead (even though really, my time travel has nothing to do with past time travel tropes, where the character is STUCK in the past. Mine is in the future, sort of stuck, but not really).

3) the sex that early and with a demonness? Not really kosher for UF. And for hero to have more than one love interest? Readers will revolt! Too much romance for a UF too.

4) too little romance (I know that #3 and #4 are contradictory, but that's how it is sometimes).

5) it's TOO DIFFERENT. Readers won't pick up this kind of book so outside their box.

Umm. #5. Yeah.

And that's why, as much as I hear about "you have to twist the trope," I know the buying editors and readers aren't really interested. I know there is a vocal minority who loves those kinds of stories, but in this economy, it's not going to persuade the PTB to shell out money unless you're really, really, really big already, like a La Linda. She can write first person male POV about a timetraveling Viking with a big sword and it would be the Next New Trope Twist. But don't forget you heard it here first ;-).

P/S Aren't you regretting that I've come out of my cocoon of silence yet? All these long, long boring posts!

Bear with me while I learn. The first button likes the POST. The second button likes the BLOG site. Please help me by "liking" me. Thanks!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On And Off Topic About Physical & Media Interaction, or, Not As Serious As Title Sounds

I know some of you have been worried that my posts have been far and few these past few weeks. Many thanks to the peeps who emailed or phoned, making sure I'm okay. You're all so wonderful!

I'm doing okay, just suffering a bit from malaise. I can't explain my exact feelings; it's just sort of bleagh because of the ill health and loss of furbabies. It takes more adjustment than you'd think because my babies aren't human, so their not being here shouldn't affect me like it should.

But they did. It's not just missing them, because I understand that part, having sent my mutant poms to the Rainbow Ridge before.

I guess it's because I spent two years taking care of them in every way possible. So, when I jumped out of bed at 5am so they get their medication, even though I'm not a 5am gal, and realized there is no reason to do that any more, my heart twists a little. Or, when I look at the clock at various times of the day so I could rush home in between jobs to give them their heart meds, and realize I don't have any reason to rush home, there is an empty feeling. Or, even shopping for food--I go twice a week, and on what I called Meat Day at the end of the week, when the supermarket has meat on sale because I cook special recipes for my kidney dogs--and realized I don't have to this week because my freezer still have two weeks' worth of meat...I don't's as if I realized I've spent two years working my schedule around the two Old Ladies and didn't know it.

So, I'm trying to be normal but it's tough. I wrote on Facebook how sad it was when I turned off the central heating in the back porch for the first time in 14 years. I built that room for the mutant poms and now they aren't there any more.

Not that I don't have Lilah and Jiggle Low, but they sleep under my bed, so that's an entirely different future set of grieving moments, I'm sure ;-P. The Mutant Poms loved that porch. They have a huge Mamasan chair that they lay on and they used to jump off and careened towards the doggie door to go outside when they see a squirrel on the tree through the big porch windows. That room is dark at night now and I can't stand it.

Anyway, I didn't want to spend blog entry after blog entry telling you about my grieving process. How embarrassingly boring! I just want to assure y'all that I'm fine, though, just a bit quiet for the moment. I'm mostly worried because my writing mojo had disappeared since my illness and I. NEED. TO. WRITE. Where be the Muse?


Segue to Related Stuff

It's just not me. Bad Puppy Jiggle Low is out of sorts too. Before, he had a harem of ladies, you see, and when Lilah went into heat and he felt the male pain of being rejected, he would just wander off to the two Old Ladies and get some attention. They let him go after them since they were fixed and they enjoyed his silliness.

Now, imagine a dog without his harem except for the One who Rejects him. He's never bothered me with his lustful little ways before but now? He whines. He wakes me up at night because he has blue balls. Oh yeah, you may laugh but have you ever heard a dog crying about that and licking your face pitifully as if you had the solution. "Oh no, my pretty darling," said I, half-asleep at 3am, "get thee off my bed and go chase Lilah. Go on, be a man."

And it's not a soft whine. It's this long, piteous back-of-the-throat, "I'm so in need" kind of whine. Pause. Repeat. I swear he even hiccupped a few minutes. My boy wants to get laid bad.

Lilah, meanwhile, stubbornly says no. Hey, I'm a 21st century romance writer. No bodice-ripping allowed ;-).

So today, the Bad Puppy has seduction on his mind. Not only is he whining and begging, he's actually bringing her treats. How like a man to try presents. I'm mightily amused by this new tactic.


Yet another segue to a related topic

On another very popular blog, the post of the day is about electronic books replacing printed (or dead tree, as some are calling them) books as library. The post disagrees with a news article bemoaning the death of tradition, of perusing someone's library to get an idea what the person is like and argues that a virtual library is just the same. Readers just need to adjust, that's all, the writer posits, and besides, the missing physical library doesn't really show the real self because mostly, some people buy books either during different reading phases or if they wanted to show off their literary snobbery. Also, there are just so much one could find out about a person in different ways: go to their virtual library (like Goodreads), or Facebook and ck out their friends, or read their blogs or interact with their buddies on Twitter.

Which had me thinking (ouch!) and my train of thought wasn't really connected to this particular post and that's why I didn't post over there.

I think, the intimacy of our knowledge of people around us via the virtual world is not quite the same as the tactile thing. For example, if I'm friends with a person but never went to his home but have seen pics of it on his blog, visitied his Facebook, checked out his list of favorite movies, even googled a bit about him to see his other opinions on other people's territory, do I really know him? Yeah, sure, a part of him is there, but we all know the face we put out there for the public isn't quite the same as the personal face we show our intimate friends, right? Or has society evolved so much that the public and personal personas have merged?

I'm not talking about teens. Teens love to share, I get that, and yeah, what they show on their social media is what they probably are, unfiltered. I'm hopeful that they'd grow up to be discerning individuals, ones who know that sharing everything online isn't appropriate sometimes.

I'm talking about people like us, who straddle the two worlds of pre- and post- Internet Information. To be honest, I don't really have a Goodreads library because I'm not very good at keeping up and organizing stuff. My physical library is a lazy person's way of showing what I've read and want to read, and my love for the physical book is its ability to catch my eye while in a pile. A book in e-format would never catch my eye the same way because once it's in there, it's in there, which in a way, might save me money because like my taped VHS (yes, VHS!) shows, they'll forever sit in some space, forgotten till some fine day when I happen to peruse the list and find it (AND STILL NOT READ IT). That's why I stopped taping shows after a while, and probably that's why I never buy ebooks that I won't read immediately. Because they're out of sight.

So, I'm all for having electronic shelves to save space, but I'm not convinced that it's good for the human interaction part of human evolution. I see people so absorbed on their I-Phone, I-Whatever, twittering away at movies (WHILE THE SHOW IS ON), ignoring their dates/friends, or playing computer games/watching Youtube (yes, I'm guilty of this too) and wasting hours away. They even have virtual pets, for gad's sakes, ones that die if you don't feed them. If there is ever a case of six degrees of separation....

One of my girlfriends was just complaining to me, sadly, that her teenage son and daughter, just turned 18, who were very, very close to her, TEXTED her a "happy birthday, mom" instead of calling her. Or buying her presents. This is from a family in which every birthday had always been celebrated with much pomp and affair. She wasn't happy and even though she mentioned this to the two kids, they told her that it's what everyone does and didn't mean to hurt her feelings. MY feelings were hurt on my friend's behalf! But kids are blind, I get that, and self-absorbed.

But tell me, how many of you have just sent off electronic cards to your friends the past few years, mass emailing e-cards on Christmas? And if you think that's just the way things are, here's another question, DO YOU ACTUALLY CLICK ON EVERY OF THESE CARD LINKS? Or do you just acknowledge the sender and click delete?

I very, very seldom send e-cards because I know I don't open them. I know the other person would much prefer either a phone call or even a personal email. I guess I'm missing the pretty Christmas cards that I used to get to decorate my small Christmas corner. This past year, I received maybe five cards, two of which are from my vet and dentist. I used to get at least two dozen. I'm not complaining, just noting how social media has changed human interaction. The virtual card is useless to me, but yes, yes, it's good not to waste paper, etc. etc. Likewise, my virtual pet (which is very sexy) is useless to my Bad Puppy because he can't smell her or get to know her like a real dog.

I guess I just want to get to know a human like a real human. Which doesn't mean I want to sniff his/her butt. Reading that person's online webpage, his Shelfari, his opinions, and looking at his pics is personal, but yet, still very detached. It's like me investigating the person, instead of going, "Hey, neat stuff. What the hell is it?" and joke from there.

And no, I'm not ignoring the irony that I'm blogging this ;-) and of course, you only know the Virtual Me. Most of you, anyway. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while certainly know quite a bit about me (the sweetness, the ethereal gentleness, the ability to just bring a smile with my brilliant!!!!). I'm, as always, humbled and astounded that you guys like me enough to stay around or maybe it's just the Sexy Veges Pics?

My point? Umm. Social media/virtual shelves is not the same as the Real Thing. And to tie it back to the ebook topic, I say, just come to a Big Signing, with hundreds of authors sitting behind their books. Now compare it to a Virtual Signing, when an author is in a remote place somewhere, signing an electronic signature, which you print out for your book or esave as part of your ebook file. Same interaction, but not personal. At all.

Bear with me while I learn. The first button likes the POST. The second button likes the BLOG site. Please help me by "liking" me. Thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Purple Is The New Green

The Florida weather has turned into Seattle weather this year. It's been very cold at night, and during the day, when it should be WARM, I needed to wear long sleeves most of the time. This affected my wonderful fashion statement of teeshirts with smartass sayings and stretch pants, and instead, I've been seen in sweaters and sweats. In daylight! Horrible!!

Needless to say, my wardrobe has been rather limited to just this small collection of cold-weather clothes. Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day and I found out that I was out of anything with long sleeves that had even a touch of green. I actually searched through my clothes (a very rare thing when it comes to dressing for work, let me tell you) because you know, it's tradition to wear green, even on a roof. Nope. Not even my handy-dandy army pants were clean.

The only thing left that would keep me from shivering on the roof was this purple Halloween shirt with a sequined witch flying on her broomstick silhouetted against the orange moon. I mean, you can't miss this witch, for sure. And a pair of purple sweat pants.

So, I said to myself. Hmm. Who said you have to wear Halloween clothes only on Halloween? I wear Springbreak tees during summer all the time and no one says anything. Right?

Nice unnoticeable purple witch teeshirt it was then. And don't forget the very inconspicuous dark purple sweatpants.

When I got to work, everyone was asking me where my "green" was and I snottily told them purple was the new green. That was the phrase of the day, "Purple's the new green, man!"

We went to eat lunch and the restaurant was serving green tea and green bread for fun. Lots of people there with their leprechauns and four-leave clover shirts. Many stared at me, and the server observed, very loudly, "It's St. Patrick's Day! You have a Halloween shirt on!"

Duh. I looked down at my shirt in horror. Slapped my chest. "Oh no! It was so cold this morning, I thought it was Oct!" Slapped my forehead. "I knew it was some kind of white people celebration. Oops, wrong occasion!"

"She's foreigner," my roofing friend told the waitress helpfully.

"Well, no candy or green tea for you!" she scolded me.

I sniffed. No tip for you, then, bi-otch. But I didn't say it :-). Because I'm not rude like that.

Think I'll wear my Santa Claus hat to keep warm tomorrow.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Getting My Normal Back

I must be getting better. I'm eating again. And food actually tastes. Plus, it's so good to hear my speaking voice again, which disappeared for almost a week! I mean, no singing on the roof!

But the chest congestion continues like the Eveready Bunny. This flu/virus/whatever is the worst I've ever had since the one in 1988. Oh yeah, you'd remember a flu that made you sneeze non-stop for 24 hours.

Now if only I could get my energy back. I've been sleeping like no, I don't wake up pretty like Sleeping Beauty. I wake up croaking and coughing, with scary bags under my eyes, the kind that make me more like Sleeping Toad. It's depressing to be ill and look it.

But. Like I said. I must be getting better; I'm complaining and whining again. A week ago, I was so weak from the stomach virus I couldn't even mope. I mean, I couldn't even look at chocolate! Shocking, right!? Being that sick robs me of all thought, leaving only a lump of a Jenn, shuffling around trying to make it through the day.

Anyway, the last few days, I've been trying to get my normal back, even cleaning up in spurts (hmm, maybe I'm not well!!). Found some "mysterious" boxes in a corner of a closet while making room to put away the accumulated stuff that always grow by themselves, so of course I opened them, expecting junk and pleasantly surprised by some cool finds:

1) a short story I wrote for a Dr. Daniel Keyes (Flowers of Algernon, The Minds of Billy Milligan) writing class. I haven't thought about this story in decades. Dr. Keyes taught me so much about the craft and he was the one who encouraged me to continue writing fiction. Now after rereading the piece, and in spite of its flaws, it's a quite an interesting read. Should I post it and embarrass myself? Hmm. Not a romance, but could be, if slightly rewritten....

2) some old newspaper clippings of my dad from Malaysia. I'd wanted to frame them for my wall a long while back and then forgot where I put them. Ha, found them.

3) an illustrated hardcover of the 21st Century Super Soldier written in the early 90s. Hmm. I guess I had ideas about my plots even way back then. The book is fun to read because I get to see whether any of their predictions came to pass. There were some cool gear described and drawn back then that kind of looked like some of the gear being used in modern high-tech warfare today.

4) an illustrated magazine of Princess Di's wedding day to Prince Charles. Yikes. That's ancient.

5) a little piggy bank filled with coins. I'm contemplating breaking it because I need the money now. Maybe it's gold coins! Ha.

Sometimes, I don't regret being a pack rat. I get to surprise myself, and in some way, make myself happy during some down times.

What about you? Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by some old "stuff" that you rediscovered in the attic or closet?

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whoa! Danish Handsome Men Club!

A friend forwarded me this Danish commercial. Hooyah. And who cares what the commercial is for--did you see the nekkid chest on that firefighter? ;) And yeah, did you see the anvil of a CGI of the landscape at the end, with the blimp floating in? No? Come on, forget the men for a moment, step back, and look at those mountains and crevice. Ahem. Danish commercials are fun!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Handsome Men Club

Who's missing? :)

I miss a lot of funny Kimmel stuff because I watch Letterman and the Incredible Craig Ferguson, but he does do some truly excellent shorts. And his ongoing m/m "love" with Ben Affleck cracks me up.

And yeah, WHERE IS DANIEL CRAIG in this????!

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Ad's About You

This is so silly. Lindsay Lohan is suing E-Trade for this commercial. For $100 mil. I'm serious--$100,000,000.

Why? Because E-Trade dared to use a baby called Lindsay and there was a reference to "milkaholic." Watch it. What do you guys think?

Did you really think it was about Lindsay? And if someone mentioned Lindsay to you, would you know the reference like you'd know "Madonna" or "Elvis?" Not moi. Lindsay Lohan only made me think of has-been child stars.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

I Want Nice And Easy

I know it's been quiet here lately. I've been healing. Mentally and physically. I've been suffering from a chest infection that had robbed my voice for the past week, so yeah, it's been horrid at Casa Low lately. I'm so down even Bad Puppy Jiggle Low hasn't done a bad thing to make mommy mad for days now. Imagine that.

Also, I've been taking off a double-layered reroof. It's...hmm...excruciating work. It's a roof put on an older roof, and so everything is done twice--shoveling off the old shingles, pulling off the nails, piling debris up--and yeah, the back hurts twice as much at the end of the day ;-P. Don't know which I hate more, double-layer reroof take offs or line edits/galley reread of a manuscript for the 10th time.

Tonight will be the first time in years that I won't be liveblogging the Oscars, and it having a new 10 nominations format too. I think Twitter and Facebook right-here-right-now formats have basically killed liveblogging unless one has a good number of partipating friends watching together. It used to be when I liveblog, I'd get around 300 visitors refreshing their page through the show, but I'm betting you that if I do it now, I'd be lucky if I get 50. Most of those interested are busy making their own little tweets on Twitter #Oscars. I might even go there, if I my body doesn't decide to fall asleep in the next hour or so. Yeah, I'm that exhausted.

Times, they sure are achanging, aren't they? What with the death of liveblogging, I've also been informed by Blogger of the death of FTP hosting through them. The Eight Ball Blog is FTP hosted, meaning, its url is, and it's controlled/hosted by my domain site, Blogger has given me till May to either move the site to a special Google-hosted site independent of my own domain or to a site. I haven't decided. I might just move it to Wordpress because as far as I know Wordpress still allows FTP hosting. I just like my Eight Ball blog as part of my website because it's part of my fictional world. From everything I hear, Wordpress is nice and easy, which is what I want in life right now--nice and easy.

Let me know how you guys are doing. Just because I* am silent doesn't mean you all have uninteresting lives too ;-). Also, I've started Kalen Hughes' Lord Sin, a historical. What about your current read too?

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

RT in April

Is anyone planning on attending the Romantic Times Bookclub Conference in Columbus, Ohio, next month, from Apr 28-May 2?

Here is more information--time, venue, events and yes, I'll be attending. There are Early Bird events for unpublished writers and readers too.

I'm excited to be hosting two panels again this year, both with wonderful and exciting authors, so I hope you can attend:


WEDNESDAY: Your hero and heroine can make or break your story. Panelists will discuss their thoughts about the main characters and their journey in our books. What makes a strong hero or heroine? What are the pitfalls to avoid? Who are they and how do we get the readers to root for them? What are the elements in a hero-centric versus a heroine-centric story?

Captain: Gennita Low Panelists: Robert Gregory Browne, Barry Eisler, Julie Kramer, Andrew Peterson


FRIDAY: The hottest genre out there is crowded with famous names. We’ll take a look into the general elements of the genre, some beloved characters and why some romantic suspense novels take readers by storm. Our speakers each have unique elements that make their romantic suspense different from the rest and will give you ideas about how yours can too.

Captain: Gennita Low Panelists: Nina Bruhns, Cindy Gerard, Ann Voss Peterson, Caridad PiƱeiro, Shiloh Walker

Check the excellent names on my panels :-). Everything is going to be informal, with lots of relaxed chatting from my guests, and hopefully, with lots of attendees will eager questions. I think my first panel will be interesting because of the male writers present--can't wait to hear their take on their heroes/main characters and what they view as hero-centric acts. My second panel also has some of my favorite authors and friends and I just know they all have something to say about what they think makes a story stand out.

Most of them are good friends of mine and I highly recommend them if you're looking for new voices in the suspense (with romantic elements) and romantic suspense genre. Not just because they're good friends, of course; they're all very, very good writers too, with different styles and backgrounds. The genre has expanded so much the last five years or so.

Have you read any of these authors? Your thoughts?

(And yes, I promise to talk about Jed)

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Sweet Remembrance

Temper, the remaining Old Lady of my poms, left me today. She just couldn't bear to be alone without her sister and this past week, seemed to have lost her will to live.

My original Mutant Poms had been with me for 18 years, from dad Brando to the final two babies, Mira and Temper. My home was built for them, with their own back room and big yard; and they've been my home for a long, long time.

Sweet dreams, my baby Temper. All of us in our younger glory:

Today my heart will remember my sweet ones, the original Mutant Poms:

It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are. -- (UNKNOWN)

Brando, Magic, BoomBoom, BoyBoy, Miracle, and Temper.

Together again.

Mommy loves and misses all of you.

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Send My Publisher A Nudge