Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writer Wednesday: Getting to Know You

On Monday, I asked my fellow writer campaigners and readers to share their wacky family stories. Thanks so much for sharing your love of pets and the funny things they do. Today, in honor of Writer Wednesday, I'd like to get to know each of you even better. So, tell me a little bit about yourselves in the comments or if you'd like to use these questions on your blogs, well, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so go right ahead!

1) What genres do you read or write?
     I read everything! No, seriously. I read everything. From memoirs to the classics to high fantasy to picture books, I've tackled the array of the literary world. My favorites, however, are the genres that I like to write, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and historical romance. I also like YA paranormal, but cannot hold a candle to some of my talented YA writer friends, so I stick with adults.
2) What is the first book you can remember reading?
     HELLO KITTY. It was about six pages long and in the shape of the famous character. I have no idea who the author is or the correct title of the book. But, I remember making my grandmother read it to me over and over and over... and you get the picture. I read it by myself as well, but something about making Granny Bird read it to me made the story better.
3) Who are your biggest author inspirations? Or which authors do you like best?
     My list will be a mile long, but in my genre, some of my favorites are Gena Showalter, J.R. Ward, Jeaniene Frost, Kresley Cole, K. A. Stewart and Nalini Singh to name a few. Gena Showalter often says that she is Kresley Cole's biggest fangirl and wants to write like her when she grows up. Well, I'll say it, I am Gena Showalter's biggest fangirl and I want to write like her when I grow up. :) So, if you're reading this...*blush*
     Side note: I had to fight my writing partner, Yelena Casale, for  Jeaniene Frost's #1 fangirl status. She beat me by a hair! Cat and Bones! :D


4) If you could only have one book on a desert island (not an eReader), what would it be?
     LORD OF THE RINGS in one volume. It is a long dense read, and yet, I love it. I have several copies of J. R. R. Tolkien's different works and they're some of my most prized possessions.

5) What are you reading now?
     Christine Feehan's fifth Carpathian novel DARK CHALLENGE. I enjoy her work though the heroines are not always as kick butt as I'd like them to be.
6) For fun: Chocolate or Candy? Cake or Ice Cream?
     Always chocolate. Unless it is cheesecake, give me a pie or brownies instead. Or cheesecake brownies. *num num*  :)
Now, it's your turn!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monthly Monday : Gizmo's First Week
(Initiating Readers & Write Campaigners)

My Monthly Monday posts that include the wacky adventures of my family don't officially start until the fall. But, I thought, what better way to get to know my readers and fellow Write Campaigners than to ask them about their own crazy stories!

So, here's a little taste of what's to come in the fall....

*Note: All names of human family members may be changed to protect them from horrible embarrassment. Dogs' names remain the same.
Preamble: Dogs are a central part of my family, both in my household and those of my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. One particular dog, a shih tzu named Gizmo, has a very special place in the family unit. His place is the dopey dog. From the time Gizmo was only a puppy, he carved out his role. No doubt many of the tales I tell you this season will be all about his misadventures. So, let's begin at the beginning.

Gizmo's First Week
Gizmo came into my aunt's home (let's call her Auntie N) on a cold Christmas morning, a gift for my then eight year old cousin (will call him MJ). A scrappy little thing with a whole lot of spunk and not so much brain, Gizmo stole my heart right away. I'd been living with them at the time in an open room in the hallway. I'd teased Auntie N that all I wanted for Christmas was a wall.
Well the first week of Gizmo's arrival had him latching onto Auntie N like he was in the Sahara Desert and she was the last ounce of water. He never left her side. He quickly became her "baby". Here's a rendition of her song dedicated to Gizmo, though I'm sure it will be to her horror that I post it here...

Mama loves the baby and the baby loves me.
Shoop-a-doop Shoop-a-doop.

Anyway, this love affair had one major drawback - bedtime. Auntie N was determined to have Gizmo sleep in the kitchen near his wee wee pads and dog bed. Gizmo, however, was determined to sleep in the nice comfy bed in Auntie N's bedroom. And so the war began.
Allow me to draw your attention back to the aforementioned hallway. My bed sat in the middle of the hall between the back of the house where Auntie N and MJ's bedrooms lay, and the front of the house where the kitchen (and Gizmo's bed) resided. Note the lack of a wall. While I'm extremely grateful to Auntie N for allowing me to stay with her, it didn't exactly afford the best privacy.

In the middle of the night, Gizmo would crawl out of his bed, around the doggy gate and run down the hallway. See former note about his lack of brains. With as much force as his little body could muster he'd sail through the house and crash head first into Auntie N's bedroom door. He'd do this repeatedly until the door would open enough for him to wiggle his little body into the room.
Auntie N, upon finding Gizmo resting comfortably at the foot of her bed, would rise and usher him back into the kitchen, thus starting the whole circus again. Needless to say, I got little sleep in those days, but it does make for some amusing memories. Oh, and a decade later, Gizmo sleeps on Auntie N's bed and often hogs pillows and sheets.
No more dog bed for me!
So, readers and write campaigners, what's your crazy family stories?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Freaky Friday: Hurricane Irene

Did you hear that NYC had tremors from the Virginia earthquake on Wednesday? Yeah, we did. I was at work speaking to a colleague and the conversation went like this...

Co-worker: "Did I tell you about...hey did you feel that?"
Me: "Yup." (pause) "So anyway..."

Living and working in NYC has made me quite blase about anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps, this is where my love of horror movies comes in. I enjoy the shock value, something that will knock me out of the mundane. However, New Yorkers do not need another shocker. Anyone who lived through September 11 can tell you this. And with the tenth anniversary of the tragedy right around the corner, fear is fresh in everyone's psyche. So, it is no surprise that...
Hurricane Irene has this city in an uproar. Evacuation routes are being laid out on the city's emergency sites. People are stock piling supplies. Public transportation services are being suspended.

More information is available from NYC OEM site:

Please remember that in the midst of a natural disaster, it's best to remain calm. I hate seeing everyone become so fearful. It's a horrible reminder of what the city's already been through. And for everyone in the hurricane's path, please stay safe. Keep the lines of communication as open as possible. The internet is a powerful force, use it to help others.

UPDATE: It's Sunday morning and Irene has passed over NYC. My family and friends are safe. Some are without power and some have flooding in their homes, but no injuries. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Week of the Writer: Guest Post on Melinda Collins' Muse, Rant, Rave

Melinda Collins, a wonderfully talented writer and a person I'm lucky to call a friend, is holding  "Week of the Writer" on her blog. Each day, she features another guest blogger to share a snippet of the writing journey. And Wednesday, ironically enough for Writer Wednesday, is my post. Here you can find my article about A Writer's Life: The Art of Saying "No".

I'll be updating the blog all this week to give you the rundown on the other writers featured and their wonderful posts. I hope you will explore their articles and find out more about these exceptional writers.

Week of the Writer Schedule

The week comes to an end. I'm so happy to have shared the virtual blogging sphere with these talented people. Thank you again to Melinda Collins for bringing together these wonderful writers and letting me be a part of it.

Friday features S. P. Sipal's list of how you can learn to be a better writer from Harry Potter, Top 10 Tips of Writing I Learned from Studying JK Rowling.She is a master of analysis when it comes to Rowling's world. Her blog is filled with advice for aspiring writers.

Thursday features Lisa Gail Green's inspiring article on Knowing Why You Write.It's more than the simple urge to write or the need to write, it is about remembering the WHY behind your writing. I adore her description on the feeling of being thunderstruck with an idea.

Wednesday features me. See above.

Tuesday features Jamie Gold's take on the Writing Craft: How Do I Love Thee. She reminds us that the writing process is simpler than we think. It's about whatever works! I love her fresh attitude to the craft and the refusal to fit into a box.

Monday features Melinda Collins' breakdown of her Why and How of Writing: 80% Pantser, 20% Plotter, 100% Heart. She gives some great insight into her process and a heartfelt list of why she writers.

Writer Wednesday: The Write Campaign

Rachael Harrie is bringing together writers from all across the blogosphere to interact, network and build online platforms in the third annual Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign. It is a coming together of like minded writers who want to pay it forward and shatter the myth that writing is a lone profession.
The Campaign will take place from August 22nd to October 31st. Fun events will take place on twitter with #writecampaign, the Yahoo Group here and on the Campaign Notice Boards. Mark your calendar for these dates...
  1. First Campaigner Challenge - Monday, September 5
  2. Second Campaigner Challenge - Thursday, September 22
  3. Third Campaigner Challenge - Monday, October 17
And don't forget to sign up before August 31st or you'll miss out. So, head over to Rachel's blog and become a Campaigner today. I did!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When Writers Give Back: Avon Books Supports Ovarian Cancer Research

Avon Books publishes some of the greatest authors in Romance including my personal favorite NYT Bestselling Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy author, Jeaniene Frost. I've always admired this imprint for publishing top quality books and now they've taken it one step further in proving they're greatness.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. In honor of this month, Avon Books has joined with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance to donate 25¢ from the sale of each book, physical and eBook, in the "K.I.S.S. and Teal" campaign from August 30, 2011 to February 28, 2012. They've also made an initial donation of $25,000 and need your help in reaching they're $50,000 goal.
Ovarian cancer research and support is an issue close to my heart. My mother passed away over ten years ago from stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was forty-one years old. Due to the lack of early detection and screenings, the cancer was not discovered until it already moved into her surrounding organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries the morality rates for ovarian cancer has not improved in over thirty years.
Debbie Moss and baby Tina
We honor my mother's memory with the Debbie Moss Ovarian Cancer Walk and every year, I'm tested twice per year in standard medical exams, but it is not enough. Even with the genetic link in my family, no screenings currently exist to find ovarian cancer in its early stages. More research is needed. Funds are needed along with a push from supporters to demand additional research. There is new hope everyday, but without funding, without support, ovarian cancer will remain the nation's deadliest gynecologic cancer. Each year approximately 15,000 women - mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends - will lose their lives in the struggle against this disease. Please join us in the fight to find a cure for ovarian cancer.
Personal donations are accepted through the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.Thank you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Freaky Friday: The Woman in Black (play)

The Woman in Black is a a Gothic tale of haunting, isolation, and the need for redemption. As the theater guru who sold me the tickets said, "After seeing the show, you'll get a Woman in Black smile." Like the Mona Lisa, it's a grin of those who know her secret.
I had the privilege of attending this play while vacationing in England with my husband and brother. It has been running at the Fortune Theater in London's Westminster area for the past twenty years.
The show features only two actors - Patrick Drury and Antony Eden - and a minimal amount of props. The older man, known as Arthur Kipps, is haunted by the memory of the time he spent in a rural English town years ago. Everywhere he goes, every night he sees the Woman in Black. He employs the younger man, known only as "the actor", to help him tell the story and purge himself of the haunting memories.
In 2012, a movie version will be released starring Daniel Radcliffe. I hope that the Harry Potter star can live up to the role. After seeing him on Broadway's Equus, I know he's got the stage chops. But can he bring the stage to film? We'll have to wait and see.
This one gets the highest rating possible. From the acting to the sound effects to the simple use of the props and backdrops, everything is brilliantly rendered to create a full theatrical experience. If you are in London, run, don't walk to see this play.

Rating: A+++

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For the Love of Travel: Tools for Writing

I'm back. Thanks for sticking around during the week long lull. I hope you enjoyed the vacation posts. Now to share a travel tale with you...
For vacation, I journeyed with my husband and brother to Italy and England. We traveled backpacker style, staying in five and visiting ten cities in fifteen days. It was quiet an experience. The museums, ruins, architecture, paintings, sculptures, statues, canals, and more took my breath away at every turn. Here's some of the highlights...
The remains of the ravaged city of Pompeii made it feel like we stepped back in time two thousand years ago. Hiking Mt. Vesuvius tested my physical limits. Rome provided the perfect backdrop for dazzling architecture. Florence and Venice each gave a distinct Italian flavor. Murano inspired us with its unbelievable blown glass creations. Sorrento was the ideal city by the sea. By the time we arrived in England, I could hardly stand anymore. But, London and Bath gave their own delights. We took in a wonderful play called THE WOMAN IN BLACK (it's being turned into a movie in 2012 with Daniel Radcliffe), entered the inner circle of Stongehenge, saw the Roman baths, and flew around London's commercial districts.
All in all it was an amazing trip. So what does it have to do with writing? Well, I managed to sneak in a bit of writing time on the trains, but the more valuable aspect to a writing career is the experience of a new setting, culture, and people. Whenever you travel, by soaking in the surroundings, the different accents, the language, the people's expressions and mannerisms, and other various elements, you become armed with a completely new skill set. You can reach into that toolbox and extract details to make your characters and settings come alive.
The next time you go on vacation, be sure to bring a notebook and camera. The pictures will help you recall the details of a place, and the notebook enables you to write down any gems. I'm glad I had both of mine with me. 500 pictures and 20 pages later, I think I'll have plenty of material! Next week, I'll share some of my favorite pictures with you and maybe a few of my scribbles too.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vacation: Soaking Up the Sun!

I've been on vacation since last week. I hope you've been enjoying the scheduled posts since then. Writer Wednesday and Freaky Friday will be suspended this week to give me a little break. I'll be back next week refreshed and ready to bring you news, tips, tricks!

Have a great week everyone!