Saturday, December 22, 2007

My first review!

I received my first review for The Legacy, and it's wonderful. Coffeetime Romance has rated the book a 5 out of 5 coffee cups (in their rating system, that means the book is an "ultra rare, extraordinary read")! The review isn't posted on their site yet, as it will be put up during the release month of April 2008, but I'll post an excerpt of it here:

"This story is superb. It is one of those thrilling tales where even the dastardly villain makes the reader want to squash him. Sabina's adoptive father is a true menace. I can understand why she would be leery in trusting anyone. Wolf has lost much and I could feel his pain as he tries to accept situations in his life with Sabina. The Legacy is a riveting story that explodes with tight action. It is an interesting plot with in-depth feelings that even pierced this reader's heart. There are situations between this loving couple that made my heart leap for joy. Drama at its best, this is one overpowering, extraordinary tale.

Cherokee, Reviewer, Coffeetime Romance"

Yay, me!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I hate my dentist...not really!

In my continuing quest to be the person with the absolute worst luck in history, I spent the day having an emergency root canal. This is after being informed by my medical doctor a couple of months ago that I had elevated levels of mercury and tin in my system due to the breakdown of old "silver" amalgam fillings in my mouth. Her recommendation? Have them all removed. Every one of them. "No metal!" was her mantra. Since the mercury was causing numerous health problems, this has become a crucial issue. Of course, it requires me to have several thousand dollars worth of work done to replace the fillings (which are not silver, but instead consist of mercury bonded with tin. Did you know that? I sure didn't. Mercury is a bio hazard and must be properly disposed of in specialized waste sites rated for accepting such hazards--but they can put it in your mouth and your children's mouth and call it "silver." Imagine that.).

Okay, no problem. Except this is the work of several months, and since silver fillings tend to expand and crack after some years, many of my fillings have to be replaced with crowns. Very expensive and laborious process. So far, I've had five done, and I have several fillings still to go.

Did I mention I'm a dental phobic? No, I'm not kidding. My hands shake so bad, I have to sit on them during the shots, let alone the dental procedure. So anyway, I've had several crowns put in so far, and one wasn't sitting too well--I was having pain on the right when I chewed. So, I started chewing on the left until I could get back to the dentist (in my day job, things are hopping right now, and I absolutely did not have time to go to the dentist. Granted, I never have time to go to the dentist--I can always find something else to do--which is how I got myself into this situation in the first place--but I digress...).

Where was I? Right, chewing on the left. Unfortunately, my temporary crowns (yes, that's plural) dislodged on the left side, so as a result, I wasn't able to eat on EITHER side at all yesterday. The good news is, I've lost two pounds in two days.

So, a very hungry me took myself to the dentist again this morning, and she informed me that apparently the tooth with the permanent crown had cracked all the way down to the root at some point, and she needed to do a root canal THROUGH the permanent crown. I didn't know they could do that, either. So, the chick who has no time for dentists spent the last four hours at the dentist's office getting the root canal from Hell. I have three roots on that tooth, and one of them was cagey about being numbed. Wasn't going down without a fight. After a half-dozen shots and lots of prodding (with me vigorously nodding when the dentist asked "Does that STILL hurt?"), they brought in the senior dentist and he shot me up a few more times. No effect. After a last-minute creative maneuver involving a cotton pad soaked with anaesthetic placed on the biting surface, they numbed that baby up and got on with the job, then patched up my temporary crowns on the other side, too. My dentist, I want to tell you, is a very nice and skilled woman, but my teeth are just in that kind of shape.

Wahh. Everything hurts. Well, the parts that aren't dead numb and immobilized, that is. And now I'm trying to grade 50 essays for my students while hopped up on Tylenol with Codeine (weee).

Why am I telling you this? Well, primarily because I haven't blogged in two weeks and it is on my mind, but also to warn you about getting regular dental care. I avoided it because, you know, I'm phobic, and now I'm paying for it (literally and figuratively--ouch!). Also, remember the mantra: "No metal!" Ask for a porcelain crown or filling, with no metal base, when you have a choice. It's worth the extra money to save your health and mouth years down the line.

Lessons learned the hard way are best shared, and never forgotten. IMHO.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm so excited!

Hey folks, I’m really grinning. I’m getting closer to the publication date of my debut novel, The Legacy, set for release in April 2008. How do I know? Well, the listing is finally up on and is now available for pre-order. Is that cool or what? If you click on the link, you can see it and admire the cover. Not that I’ve been doing that, mind you, but ... well ... okay, just a little bit. Only on occasion. When no one is looking.

Pardon me while I “SQUEEEE” a little. LOL!


Thursday, November 22, 2007


My family and I have had a nice Thanksgiving holiday relaxing (well, except for me having to do the cooking) and spending time together. We decided to watch Evan Almighty, starring Steve Carell as Evan and Morgan Freeman as God. God comes to Evan, a former news anchor (featured in the prequel Bruce Almighty as the babbling reporter) and tells him he wants him to build an ark. The movie was surprisingly effecting, a real family movie without cursing or potty humor, and wouldn't we all just love to have a visit from God as Morgan Freeman, a man who brings so much presence to every movie he is in.

Once scene in particular struck me about mid-way through the film. Evan's wife has taken the children and left him, believing he needs psychological help. In despair, she confides to a waiter at a restaurant (God in disguise) that her husband thinks he's Noah and she doesn't know what to do. They chat for a moment about the biblical story of Noah, and God informs Evan's wife that people get the point of that story wrong all the time. It isn't about God being angry, he tells her. It's a love story. Confused, the wife asks him how is it a love story?

God explains to her, very gently, that all the animals and Noah's family stayed together, side by side, throughout the difficult times they had to face. In her case, what he sees for her and her family is an opportunity. I'm paraphrasing here, but he tells her:

"Think about it this way. When people pray for patience, does God give it to them, or does he give them opportunities to be patient? When they pray for courage, does he just give it to them, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? When they pray to be closer as a family, does he just give them warm, happy feelings about each other, or does he give them opportunities to love one another?"

Wow. That really struck me. Without struggle, how would we understand and appreciate success? Without trials, how would we appreciate the strength of character and willingness to persevere they give us? Without difficulties in our family or our marriages, how would we appreciate the opportunity to keep promises (love, honor, in sickness and in health, etc)?

So, on this Thanksgiving day, let me say thank you to God for the past couple of years. They've been hard ones, in some ways--loss of family, finances, job changes, health, you name it. We've been given opportunities to see what we are made of, to grow closer through surviving the tough times and come out together, to appreciate plenty by learning to sacrifice, to appreciate our health by experiencing illness. I thank Him most of all for giving me opportunities to love my family and friends, who deserve more than I'll ever be able to give them, but who love me anyway. Thank you, God, and thank you to everyone reading this.

In five more months, my first ever published book, The Legacy, will be on the shelves of bookstores everywhere. I thank Him for letting me live that dream, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Word of the Day (Redux)

From the Urban dictionary: "Leave Britney Alone!"

"An exclamation made when your friends or family are teasing you to a point where you can't handle it anymore and a hissy fit is in order. Derived from a YouTube user's famed outburst following Britney's lackluster performance at the 2007 VMA's.

Sarah: 'OMG Susan, I can't believe you are wearing the same skirt as yesterday. Oh, and by the way, EVERYONE knows what you did with Kevin on the weekend. Plus you look a little fat, are you retaining water?'


[And about that YouTube video...I don't even know what to say...~TJB]

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Alter Ego

If you had listened
I would have told you how scared I was
oh how frightened I was
and how I wasn’t sure if I could do this alone
If you had listened
I would have told you I didn’t know the answers
that I was still figuring out the questions to ask
If you had held out a hand
or offered a shoulder
or asked how I was holding up
I might have told you, Not good,
but doing better now you’re with me
But you didn’t ask
and I held the words back
and I realized I was scared but I could do this on my own
Because I had to

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is the month to get informed about breast cancer, its symptoms, its treatment, and the networks available to patients diagnosed with this disease. Breast cancer runs in my family--my mother had it, and so did her mother--and so I've realized recently that makes me a candidate as well. I've never thought of myself as a woman susceptible to this disease, but in reality, as I approach my middle years, I'll need to be more vigilant and aware than ever before. Visit this site to get lots of great information about this disease and to find out if you belong to a high-risk population group.

Did you know there are six types of breast cancer, each with differing survival rates? Did you know that breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed among African American women, and that it is more lethal in that population group? Did you know that women under 40 who get breast cancer are more likely to die from it than women over 40? If you didn't, then visit the NBCAM site to find out more. And, if you're so inclined, wear your pink ribbon to show solidarity with victims of breast cancer all month long. I am.


Friday, October 05, 2007

The "There are No Easy Answers" List

Some time ago, my husband and I were chatting about movies that raised questions about culture, society, religion, destiny, the nature of courage and sacrifice, the dark side of heroism, and other interesting topics of conversation. We like movies that entertain, but we also like them to give us fodder for conversation on the way home in the car. These are movies that make us think beyond our boundaries, challenge us to see points of view from a place we might be uncomfortable standing, or just make us go "Huh," all the while showing us a good time. They didn't take the easy way out, and often asked some very interesting questions. Some of these movies are on our list because they are, in a word, different than anything that came before, though oft duplicated after. So, for your edification, here is our list, and a note or two about why we found them worth a second look.

Brazil -- bureaucracy: the new terrorism
Gattica-- "There Is No Gene For The Human Spirit"
Insomnia -- does the end justify the means?
The Matrix (1) -- what is reality?
Memento -- "Some memories are best forgotten"
Hamlet (2000) -- does perception define reality? Shakespeare revisioned
High Noon -- is courage stepping forward when others step back?
The Devil's Advocate -- "vanity: definitely my favorite sin" -- a lawyer without a soul may seem redundant, but not in this case
Broadcast News -- where Hell is defined as the lowering of our standards, bit by bit
Fearless (with Jeff Bridges) -- again, perception vs. reality: if we believe something is true, is it?
Schindler's List -- "Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire"
Collateral Damage -- an everyman in extraordinary circumstances
Emperor's Club -- "An idealistic prep school teacher attempts to redeem an incorrigable student" -- but not with the ending you'd expect
Merchant of Venice (with Al Pacino) -- "the quality of mercy is not strained"; religious intolerance from the Jew's point of view
Martin Luther -- What is faith?
Unforgiven -- facing up to one's past
Notorious -- what would you be willing to do for love?

Would you add any to this list? The main criteria is that the movie be both entertaining and thought-provoking. What do you think?


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ooo! Ooo! I have a new game!

I'm in a silly mood. I was posting over at the Boxing the Octopus blog, and in order to leave my missive, I had to type in the word verification string of letters to prove I'm not a spammer. My word was "beeyf," and gosh, it just looked funny to me. I said it out loud several times, to myself, sitting there at the computer, just for fun:

"beeeeeef" "BEEE-yf" "BeeeeeeeeeF"

It tickled my funnybone and I started laughing hysterically, to the point that I couldn't stop. There I was, cracking up, tears running down my face, all the while thinking, "You know, this probably isn't that funny." But then I've had a rough week, and needed the catharsis. Thank goodness there were no witnesses (other than you folks, of course). Heh heh heh.

So, what words can you make up from your verification string? Next time you post at someone else's more popular blog, check it out. Challenge yourself to create a giddy new word that will strut up to all those other more popular, dictionary-approved words and say, "Don't you wish your girlfriend was HOT like ME?"

Come back and post here if you find any good ones!


Monday, October 01, 2007

Word of the Day

From the online Urban Dictionary:

identity crash

"Sudden and catastrophic collapse of an individual's ability to keep all the threads of his or her online identity straight when the individual joins one too many social networks."

Ex: I was ok keeping up with Facebook, Flickr, and Myspace, but after throwing lawlink,, and Orkut into the mix, I had a total identity crash and forgot what went where.

Thought I'd share. Thanks to Yasmine Galenorn for the link. :-)


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Night Lights

It's finally happened. I've been sucked in by "Saturday Night Lights." My kids are in middle school, and they are playing tackle football for the first time. This is Texas, so that's a big deal. Texans are more than dedicated to sports at every level; they are, quite frankly, insane. Every game, from elementary Pee Wee ball to high school Friday Night Lights is live or die with them. So, I was a little concerned when my kids said they wanted to play ball this year.

They've done well, and are on a good team--3-1 for the season so far. Those first few weeks of practice, though, we had a steep learning curve. The boys wanted to play; they wanted the glory of the win, the camaraderie, the touchdown pass. What they did not want, however, was to practice. Oh, lord, the wailing and gnashing of teeth that went on every time the boys had to suit up and run endurance sprints, or play in a rainstorm, or practice three times a week and once on the weekends. This on top of the regular obligations--school work, orchestra practice, etc. Some days those first few weeks ended in tears and threats--and the boys weren't too well-behaved, either. :-) Someone else's kid quit, deciding that football wasn't for him, and a pall hung over the rest of the team: would they be the next to go?

But, somewhere after the second game, things started clicking. They'd won their first two games, and it felt good. They finally understood what all the hard work and practice was for. They got into a groove with their other obligations, and could come home from school, spend ten minutes relaxing, then hop on their homework, finish, suit up, and be out the door in an hour. Even after their first butt-whoopin' defeat (33-0), they learned to commiserate with one another, then to shake it off because they had to go forward or they'd constantly be looking back, unable to play their best. They sacrificed some of their other pleasures, and even a friend or two along the way because their interests had diverged. However, they enjoyed the fellowship of the field with like-minded kids all striving toward the same goal, and even when they beat out another team, they understood that didn't mean the other team didn't want it as much; it meant our team was both lucky and ready.

Watching tonight's game, with the weather finally starting to cool off, and the field lights on, and us cheering on the team, I realized the parallels with wanting a writing career. It looks so glamorous, and so easy, from the outside. Then we realize somewhere along the way just how hard it is, and how much we don't know, and how much we have to learn. We struggle against the discipline, complain about the hours of practice and sacrifice, and some of us even quit because we realize it isn't for us. But others, others keep on, until that first contest win that validates our struggle, or "good" rejection from an editor, or until an agent recognizes our talent and takes us on, or until that first sale. We enjoy the fellowship of other writers, knowing we're all reaching for the same prize, and sometimes, when we achieve it, we know it isn't because we are necessarily more talented than the others; it's because we wanted it more that day, the right day, when the editor read our manuscript and was in the right mood, and we were both lucky and ready.

Here's to Saturday Night Lights. I get it now.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quotes, quotes

I'm so jazzed. I received two great quotes from other romance authors whom I admire, ladies who took the time to read my book and say something nice about it for public consumption. I admit to biting my nails after I sent them the ARC (advance reader copy) of The Legacy, because what (I thought) if they read it and decided to decline to offer a quote? It happens, I'm told. So, I was very delighted to receive these quotes--and very nice comments privately--from these women:

"Bennett delivers a powerful evocation of an exciting period in history most romance novels have ignored. Her full-blooded characters take you on an emotional rollercoaster, for a trip you won't soon forget. We'll be seeing more of this author, and I can hardly wait." ~ Susan Squires, author of Danegeld, Danelaw, No More Lies, and The Companion series

"Tempting, tantalizing, and terrific! TJ Bennett is an exceptional new talent who delivers a fresh, satisfying romance." ~ Shana Galen, author of Good Groom Hunting, When Dashing Met Danger, and Blackthorne's Bride

Yay, me!!!


Monday, September 24, 2007

In the beginning, was the WORD...

Had a fascinating discussion with my critique group yesterday, after our session was done. A more knowledgeable, intelligent, and thoughtful group of women I have yet to meet. Anyway, the discussion of profanity, both in our work and in our lives, came up. I joked that I don't use bad language, but sometimes my characters do. Some of the women confessed they have varying ranges of comfort with profanity, depending on the situation and who is involved, and wondered if we give up our power to others by overreacting to certain derogatory or profane words. Then the idea that we can render offensive words inoffensive by the acceptance of their overuse was tossed into the mix, because after all, "They're only words."

The idea that we can change the character or nature of a word through reclaiming its use is not a new one. Some in the African-American community have chosen to reclaim the use of the N-word and render it powerless by using the word with casual aplomb in every day life: "Hey, N____, how you doing?" "He's one funny n______!" That sort of thing. My girlfriends and I occasionally admonish each other not to do stupid things or one of us will have to "b*tch slap" the other to bring her back to her senses, and a b*tch slap by your girlfriends is an affectionate gesture of encouragement and admonishment in that context.

So, yes, I see this argument, and I understand its purpose. However, I object to the proponents of the desensitization technique who imply I should not find words such as the "f" word or its ilk offensive in an offensive context simply because it is only a word. Words have power and meaning, and that's why I'm a writer. How can we say something isn't powerful simply because we encounter it repeatedly? If I hit my thumb with a hammer repeatedly, it will certainly go numb after a while, but does that mean it is something I want? Or that the hammer isn't just as deadly as it ever was? Certainly not. Besides,

What Martin Luther King said, was only words.
What Jesus Christ said, was only words.
What Mother Teresa said, was only words.
Dear God, what Hitler said, was only words.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words
will certainly crush me.
If you tell me to "f" off a hundred times,
Am I going to be insensate
or desensitized
by that last time,
or will it still bother me that you said it to begin with?

Words have power, as well they should, and I choose to continue to be offended by the ones intended to offend. Not that you don't have the right to say them; just don't deny my right to be upset when you do.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sweet Potato Casserole

Today is the one year anniversary of my mother's death. It's been a tough couple of weeks leading up to it, I'll admit. I miss that woman like crazy. In honor of her, I fought the creeping tentacles of my crazy schedule to carve out this day of remembrance. I refused to attend my kids' football game, the post-game pool party, the dessert social at church, the date night, and several other events that tried to occur on this day so that I wouldn't have to pretend to be happy for anybody. Mom deserves that much, since I couldn't go to her grave site for lack of funds and schedule conflicts. I did order flowers for her, but it's not the same thing.

One thing I did today is made Mom's famous sweet potato casserole, covered with melted and crisped up marshmallows. She wrote the recipe out as a "pinch of this, some of that, get the big container, not the small one" sort of thing a couple of years ago for me when I asked. It's the sort of recipe you have to have tasted all your life to be able to duplicate, because you sure as heck can't do it from the recipe itself. Traditionally, my mom would make it for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. She'd spend all day in the kitchen cooking the meal, and then we'd have what we came to call the "ceremonial burning of the marshmallows," wherein Mom would put the casserole under the broiler, get distracted, and when the marshmallows would start to burn, one of us kids would rush over to pull it out while the other ones turned off the bleating smoke alarm. Then, Mom would say, "Oh, sugar-foot," we'd scrape the marshmallows off, and my sister or I would stand watch while a second layer of marshmallows was applied and broiled to perfection. That was always the signal of the official start of the holiday, since it happened every time. For the rest of my life, when I smell burned marshmallows, I know I'll smile and think of my mom.

Anyway, when I moved cross-country two years ago, I adapted her handwritten recipe, through trial and tasting, until I could make it just the way she did. I knew I had it right the day I baked it, tucked a spoonful in my mouth, and my eyes crossed with bliss as memories of years of happy holidays came back with that taste. Sadly, my kids don't have the yen for Mom's casserole the way my sister, brother and I did growing up, which has left me flummoxed. My kids won't grow up with the traditions I had in my house as a kid, and when I'm gone, no one else will make this recipe quite the way Mom did. It is a sad thought, a break in the circle that hadn't occurred to me until after Mom died. It's bad enough we had to lose Mom; do we have to lose her recipes, too?

Therefore, in honor of Dottie, my mother, I've decided to share the recipe with you. I've gotten it as close as I can to my memories through trial and error, but it still calls for tasting because the sweetness and firmness of the sweet potatoes varies from crop to crop. Here it is, and I hope you make it for your family this holiday season, as you remember mine. I swear to you, if you get it right, this is the best damn sweet potato casserole recipe in the universe of casserole recipes, bar none.

Dorothy Jackson's Sweet Potato Casserole recipe:

3 cans (29 oz) sweet potatoes in light syrup
3/4 - 1 c sugar (you can start with the smaller amount and adjust as needed for sweetness, but I gotta tell ya, I always wind up putting in a cup because I like it sweet)
1/2 c stick margarine or butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 c - 1 c low fat or skim milk (adjust for moistness of batter--if too dry, add up to the larger amount. The batter shouldn't be as wet as cake batter--maybe more like cornmeal batter)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash ginger
miniature marshmallows (reserve for after baking)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Drain the sweet potatoes and mash them well. Mix the remaining ingredients together and beat on medium to high speed with mixer until texture is somewhat smooth and most strings in the sweet potatoes are broken down. You may need to adjust the spices, sugar, and milk as per your taste (taste as you mix the ingredients together. The flavors will intensify slightly with cooking, but the taste should be a bit on the sweet side and slightly cinnamon-y, with a very light nutmeg/ginger bite). Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish (about a quart or larger) and bake in oven from 45 mins to one hour. The top should darken slightly, and there should be hissing sounds coming from the mixture with slight, tiny bubbles of steam escaping around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before putting on marshmallows, as they will melt immediately if you do not. (You can make this recipe ahead and store it in the refrigerator. Then warm in microwave prior to putting on marshmallows.) When casserole has cooled to where it is warm to the touch, put a layer of marshmallows over the top to cover, and put under the broiler in the oven. CAUTION: Stay and watch the marshmallows, as it only takes about 30 seconds for them to slightly brown and crisp up, and they burn fast (remember toasting marshmallows over a camp fire? Yeah, it's like that). That is, unless you wish to engage in the "ceremonial burning of the marshmallows" in order to signal the official start of your holiday dinner. Then make sure to have a second bag of marshmallows ready to go. :-)

I hope you enjoy!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Ingrid fades to depression"

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with Tropical Depression Ingrid, formerly a tropical storm. However, in my Google alert delivered daily into my inbox, this was one of the headlines (snipped by the alert feed), and I'm in a weird mood, and I got this image in my head of a six-foot Norwegian girl beset by mood swings, her hand pressed to her forehead while she engaged in a dramatic swoon. That her emotional condition is being reported in news feeds is no doubt one of the reasons her mood is fading to depression.

Like I said, I'm in a weird mood. This might have been brought on by the other incident today. The screaming pig incident. Let me explain.

My boys won their second football game today (they’re 2-0 now). This was an “away” game; we had to drive to a rural area in East Texas, where I live. The school field we played on apparently shared resources with the local 4-H club. During the entire second and third quarters of the game, we had to listen to a big pig screaming so loud, the kids could hardly hear the calls. I guess the pig needed shaving, and wasn’t too happy about the whole idea. I’ve heard pigs squeal before, but never scream like a demon from the depths of hell for thirty minutes. Of course, why the pig needed shaving in the first place was a mystery until my sister, intrigued by the whole concept when I called to tell her about it (she lives in Los Angeles), looked it up on the Internet. I guess it’s important that your pig be smooth when it goes forward to the 4-H show. And, it takes a couple of days to shave it, because, you know, the pig gets tired after a while and you have to stop.

Wow. Can’t buy atmosphere like that in Los Angeles, let me tell you. I wonder if this is how Thomas Harris got his idea for Silence of the Lambs.

My sister keeps telling me I should write a book...


Friday, August 31, 2007


"Your friends will help you move. Your real friends will help you move the body." ~ unknown

I was contemplating the nature of friendship, lately, and thought I'd share some thoughts. Now, let me preface this by saying I don't make friends easily. Don't get me wrong; I'm very friendly, and have plenty of friendly acquaintances, but in terms of me and other women bonding and forming a girl posse and such, it happens about as fast as stalagmites grow upward. Which is to say, not that fast. And yet, I have a girl posse of mostly writer friends who can make me smile on the worst PMS day of my life by knowing just the right thing to say to talk me down off the ledge. They know me, are more than familiar with my weirdness, know I can be calm most of the time until I go off like a AK-47 on the last person to get on my nerves (and occasionally, it is them, and they forgive me anyway), and they love and accept me for who I am. Even better, they help me maintain perspective on my problems and foibles, by pointing out that as bad as a situation might feel at the moment, it doesn't mean we can't laugh about it.

They "get" me. Every woman needs someone who "gets" them, and I have friends who know how to make sympathetic noises at the right time. "That jerk!" they'll growl when someone does me wrong, or "What were they thinking? You deserve better than that!" they'll explode in solidarity when I get mistreated by someone in authority over my life. One of my girlfriends is a font of enthusiasm, even offering the occasional White Girl Rap to cheer us all up. Another is the one who thinks everything I do is absolutely fabulous, no matter what. Yet another is the one I share my private heartaches with, and another is the one to whom I go for advice, and who is always, always right. And of course, they are all fabulous encouragers, lifters up—sort of like virtual bras for the soul. Okay, as weird as that image may be, I mean it from the heart of my bottom.

The most amazing thing about these women is that, for the most part, our friendship exists solely because of the internet. We stay in touch every day, shooting e-mails back and forth or communicating in our Yahoo group loops to the point where it almost feels like they aren't (most of them) halfway across the country in another time zone. As I said, most of them are writers, and writers write. Even for the ones who live nearby, most of us would rather send an e-mail than pick up the phone or do coffee together. And, when I do get the chance to see them, we pick right up where we left off, no interruptions. They've been there for me on the highest days, when I'm on top of the mountain, and the lowest days on the canyon floor--and everything in between.

So, ladies, thanks for all you do. You know who you are, and if you ever need help moving the body—I'll be there.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Please don't call it a "bodice ripper"

I had an e-mail conversation with a relative the other day that frankly had me gnashing my teeth. My relative is a wonderful person who happens to prefer not to read the romance genre. I have absolutely no problem with that--to each her own. However, during the course of our e-mails, she referred to romances as "bodice rippers," and said they were books she felt did not have complex characters or descriptive language.

Everyone is entitled to her opinion, but these two phrases side-by-side, unfortunately, were enough to make me see red. I'm sure she didn't intend to send my blood pressure into the stratosphere; however, to have my life's dream dismissed so easily by someone I care about was upsetting, to say the least.

But that's not why I hate the term "bodice ripper," which is what this post is really about.

What I pointed out to her, and what I find myself wanting to point out to every lazy reporter who uses this term in their faintly condescending pieces on the romance genre instead of actually doing research, is that nobody has written a "bodice ripper" in about 20 years. The very use of those words reveals ignorance about the genre. Romance is all grown up, and even if one wants to criticize it, one should at least get the terms right. That phrase is considered derogatory amongst romance writers these days for the implication that heroines of today enjoy having their bodices ripped, i.e., being submissive objects in the dominating male approach to mating and sex--in other words, being raped. Modern romance readers today would never put up with that sort of thing, thank goodness.

In today's romances, the woman is in charge of her love life. I know they are in mine. If someone who hasn't read a romance novel in twenty years wants to see just how far romance has come, I can recommend some intelligent, thought provoking books with deep characters and great descriptive language that would be right up their alley. Try Susan Elizabeth Phillips Ain't She Sweet? for contemporary romance with some of the most complex, multi-layered characters in romance, including a heroine right out of The Last Picture Show, but all grown up.

Or JD Robb's ...In Death series (start with number one) for a glimpse into the future of police work and an uncompromising cop who always gets her man. Or Shane Bolks The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Men I've Dated, for a hilarious look at love and Star Wars from a "chick-lit" point of view (a la Bridget Jones' Diary). Or Deanne Gist's Inspirational (Christian) romances set in Colonial American times. Or Brenda Scott Royce's hilarious sex-free romp Monkey Love, about a stand-up comedienne learning to love and respect herself, or along those same lines Kathleen Bacus's Calamity Jayne series, about a "dumb" underachieving blond who makes good.

Or Colleen Thompson's book Head On, which takes a ripped from the headlines story of a drunk teen crashing his car and killing three cheerleaders, only it looks at what happens to the survivors and family fifteen years later. If one is a fan of shorter reads with fewer subplots, try Lynne Marshall's terrific medical romances (they're hard to get in the US, as they are published by Harlequin Mills & Boon in the UK, but can be found on their website and are well worth the effort), or try the new paranormal line from Harlequin Silhouette called Nocturne, with authors like Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones taking a turn. I could go on, but that's enough to start.

I happen to know many of the women who write romance--the industry is a small business, and sooner or later everyone meets at the National conference or is introduced on a Yahoo Groups loop to just about everyone else--and they are some of the sharpest, funniest, intelligent, interesting, capable people I know. Many romance writers have advanced degrees in law, history, science, English, French, Art History and other fields. Some of them are entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, nurses, and some of them are stay at home moms. And some of them, lo and behold, are men. I know one woman romance writer who is a Harvard graduate, and another from Yale, and there are many who are professors. I have met one who writes "aviation romance" and is a pilot for a major airline, and another who is a former Lt Col in the USAF, one who is a former sheriff, and several who are cops.

Most of them have worked for years to learn their craft while holding down full-time jobs and/or raising families, all the while perfecting each word until they create a story that leaps over the heaps of trash being submitted to publishing houses today to be the one in ten thousand submissions that makes it into a book store. And not a one of them writes passive women who enjoy having their bodices ripped, any more than they themselves would (excuse the reflexive pronoun).

While quality and tastes vary in every genre, from thrillers to mysteries to spy novels to horror to literary fiction, whatever a reader's interests are, she (and more increasingly, he) will find a book in the romance genre she will enjoy, written mainly for women by women, and will know that no matter how troubled the characters are, no matter how difficult the relationships get, or how deep a hole they dig for themselves, good will always triumph over evil, the bad guys will get punished, faith will be restored, and love will conquer all. I see nothing wrong with that.

Just don't call them bodice rippers.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: "Finally, the truth."

Those are the first words spoken after the big "plot reveal" in one of the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I only just finished reading my copy, and I won't give anything away here, but suffice it to say that JK Rowling has rewarded the patience of Potter followers everywhere. My gosh, what a ripping good tale. I sat up at night with my feet on the sofa, turning pages, unable to stop, swinging between astonishment, disbelief, and "ah, of course." With this book, Rowling has taken Harry on the ultimate Hero's Journey, and given us a fitting ending to an epic tale that children and adults will talk about--and perhaps debate--for years to come. Along the way, she dealt with nearly every character introduced throughout the series--some, tragically, some happily, some dropping in just to say hello.

What a ride it has been! I started reading the series a few years ago when one of my children expressed an interest in reading the first book. I didn't know much about the book at the time, but I thought it prudent to read through it a bit before I let my kid do so. Imagine my surprise when I found I couldn't put it down. In fact, I avidly sought out the other books in the series, and broke my rule of buying hardback for the last two books because I couldn't wait to read them. (I have nothing against authors who sell in hardback--I just don't have the greenbacks to afford it, so I generally wait until they come out in...paperback.)

Isn't it the dream of every author to craft an enduring tale that captivates audiences everywhere? To be the one to write the story other people will write books about for years? While I was in the bookstore the other day, browsing the children's aisles for good research books (great place to get books that explain difficult concepts easily), I saw an entire rack of books about the Potter phenomena--books devoted to guesses about what Rowling will write, how Potter's story will end, and not to mention the puzzles, word games, role plays, computer games, etc....

I often wonder, though, the pressure that this sort of attention puts on the author who has written a story others take ownership of. We, the public, are highly invested in what happens to Harry, and woe to she who does not comply with our expectations. I think I admire Rowling not just for her ability to write such fantastical stories into which we all can disappear, emerging hours later scattered with dragon dust and dreaming of wizards, but to keep writing those stories, despite the pressure to produce more, and faster, and better, and different, all the while keeping it the same. Hats off to Harry, ladies and gentlemen, and hats off to JK Rowling.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pictures from Dallas

Just a quick note to say I've got a slide show from the RWA conference in Dallas up on my website. I had great fun, learned lots, got to hobnob with some of the writing "glitterati" and meet all my down-home girlfriends from the Los Angeles chapter. I also enjoyed hanging with my friends from the West Houston chapter as well. Click here to go directly to the gallery page of my website (you might want to lower the volume on your monitor, because there's a cute "girlfriend" song playing during the slide show, but it starts out a bit loud. Or, you might want to boom it, so jack that sucker up. Your choice!)


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back from Dallas!

Hi, all! Got home from the national RWA conference in Dallas on Sunday. What a fabulous job the coordinators did. I had a great conference, and I'm already looking forward to '08. I'll give more details later, but I can say I met lots of my idols (Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, Susan Squires, Madeline Hunter) and was able to attend the PAN (Published Authors Network) workshops for the first time. Wow, were they informative. Got to hear from lots of industry professionals that HISTORICAL ROMANCES ARE BACK! Booksellers, librarians, agents, and editors were all singing that tune, to the delight of those of us with upcoming historical releases.

I'm going to get my fabulous sister to fix up my many pictures I took and add them to my gallery eventually, but I've got to let her have time to wind down and put out the work fires that no doubt sprung up while we were both at conference this week. I know I had a few of my own. However, I'm putting my unvarnished pic of me and Linda Howard (who is a HOOT, btw) up right now. I don't care if I do look like I'm on drugs in it. I'm not, but I was operating on very little sleep due to excitement and the occasional passing train outside my window.
I'm putting up my picture of me and Susan Squires, because I just adore that woman, and she is always so nice to me for no reason at all! These will eventually be Photoshopped to within an inch of their life and I will look fabulous (the other ladies already do), but for now, we can all just squint and imagine the best.

I'll write more later. Take care,


Thursday, July 05, 2007


I've received my bookmarks heralding the release of The Legacy, and they are absolutely beautiful. Full-color, two-sided, and bigger than your average bookmark to really hold that page--and so lovely, too. The bookmarks are a rectangular version of my cover art, with the blurb in full text on the back. Sure to be a collector's item someday (okay, maybe not, but they really are pretty).

As a thank you for signing up to my newsletter list, I'd like to send you a signed bookmark of your very own. If you are interested, you'll see the form for joining my list at the top of the page. When you sign up, you'll receive the address to send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to receive your bookmark. I promise no spam, and only a few communiques each year, letting you know about release dates or important news and appearances, that sort of thing.

If you've signed up for the newsletter list prior to today's date, just send me an e-mail through my website and I'll send you that address.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

8 Little Things

I was tagged on 13 June 2007 by Kate Willoughby over on her blog to reveal 8 little-known facts about myself. I apologize for being late, but my excuse was that was the day I started my vacation to Disneyworld, from which I'm only now recovering. So, let me think a minute...Okay, got 'em.

1. I was born on an Air Force base in Germany, which means I had dual citizenship in that country until the age of 14.
2. I spoke Spanish fluently at the age of five, and in fact had difficulty speaking English at times (we lived in Spain, "on the economy" and my mother worked while I was looked after by a Spanish nanny). I no longer am able to speak it, but I can still understand much when spoken to. This makes me deadly sneaky near those who switch languages around me in order to speak in "private." I usually pretend not to understand when that happens. One learns so many interesting things that way.
3. I cannot sleep in the same room with an open closet door. I used to have terrible nightmares as a child, in which a monster came out of the closet to get me. This inspired my truly terrifying first and only horror short story, in which a woman refuses to believe her daughter who says a monster is hiding in her closet at night, and only by not moving a muscle all night can the girl survive. The mom, to prove her daughter wrong, switches places with her one night. I suppose you can guess what happens. :-) I'm no longer afraid of the closet, but the habit of shutting them lingers on. I've even got my DH trained now.
4. I bungee jumped when I was in my late twenties. Dunno, seemed like a good idea at the time.
5. I gave birth to my twin sons on my husband's birthday--which happens to be 9/11.
6. When I eat, I must take one bite from each cluster of food on my plate so that all items will be completed approximately at the same time. This will leave me with a final choice of what flavor I want to have in my mouth last. (Man, that sounds freaky when I say it aloud.)
7. My first proposal was from a Moroccan boy in that country when I was eight. My first kiss was in kindergarten.
8. I served on a jury for an attempted lesbian murder where we found the woman "not guilty" because we felt there wasn't enough evidence to convict her. She went back and tried again. Fortunately, the next jury sent her butt to jail.

Okay, there are my 8!

Am I supposed to tag someone else? I tag Joni Rodgers and Colleen Thompson.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wilde and Woolly 16th Century Bears

Just got home from my Disneyworld vacation (what fun!) to find my specially commissioned bears from the fabulous Terry Spear's Wilde & Woolly Bear collection in my mail box. I had heard that Terry, a fellow author, sometimes creates specialty bears for other authors featuring themes from their books. She's done Celtic bears and vampire bears, among others. So, I asked her if she'd create a bear couple in 16th Century German garb for the debut of The Legacy. Eventually, these bears will be featured in a give away near the release date of the book (10 months and counting, folks!).

They are just TOO cute. I love the puffed sleeves and the embroidered fabric, and the little details of the feathered plumes and antique jewelry. Who wouldn't want to get their hands on these one-of-a-kind bears, complete with official certificate? I hope I can part with them when the time comes. :-) I'm thinking when it is time for Alonsa's Choice (2009) to be published, I'll commission her to create a special 16th c. Landsknecht mercenary bear and his Spanish love, a widow dressed in black. Ooh, can't wait for that! If you can't wait for your own bear collectibles, go to Terry's site and get your own. These are mine...for now.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Feed who? Feed what?

Okay, so this "feeds" business is more complicated than I thought. Apparently, only if you have Internet Explorer 7.0 is it a fairly automated process. If you haven't downloaded the update for that yet, or if you're browsing with a different browser, I'm afraid you're on your own. If you have IE 7.0, then here are some tips below for subscribing to the feed for my blog. These were compiled from Microsoft's Help site by Tai, my sister, who answers all questions computer for me when I give her the RCA-doggy-cocked-head look. Thanks, Tai!


Discover a feed
Internet Explorer looks for feeds (also known as RSS feeds) on every webpage you visit. When Internet Explorer finds available feeds, the Feeds button, located on the Internet Explorer toolbar [looks like a little rectangle with half the rings of Saturn around it], will change from gray to orange and play a sound.

To view available feeds
1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Browse to a webpage that has feeds.
3. Click the Feeds button. If multiple feeds are available, you'll see a list of available feeds. Select the feed you want to view. When you click the feed, you'll see a page displaying a list of items (topics and articles) you can read and subscribe to.

Using feeds (RSS)
Here are answers to some common questions about feeds (RSS).

What is a feed?
Feeds, also known as RSS feeds, XML feeds, syndicated content, or web feeds, contain frequently updated content published by a website. They are usually used for news and blog websites, but are also used for distributing other types of digital content, including pictures, audio or video. Feeds can also be used to deliver audio content (usually in MP3 format) which you can listen to on your computer or MP3 player. This is referred to as podcasting.

How do I know if a website offers feeds?
When you first view a website, Internet Explorer will search for feeds. If feeds are available, the Feeds button will change color and a sound will play.

How do I view a feed?
When you visit a webpage, the Feeds button will change color, letting you know that feeds are available. Click the Feeds button, and then click the feed you want to see. To get content automatically, you should subscribe to a feed.

How do I subscribe to a feed?
1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Go to the website that has the feed you want to subscribe to [in this case, my blog site].
3. Click the Feeds button to discover feeds on the webpage.
4. Click a feed (if more than one is available). If only one feed is available, you will go directly to that page.
5. Click the Subscribe to this Feed button , and then click Subscribe to this Feed.
6. Type a name for the feed and select the folder to create the feed in.
7. Click Subscribe.

How does a feed differ from a website?
A feed can have the same content as a webpage, but it's often formatted differently. When you subscribe, Internet Explorer automatically checks the website and downloads new content so you can see what is new since you last visited the feed.

Does a feed subscription cost money?
No, it's usually free to subscribe to a feed.

How can I view my subscribed feeds?
You view feeds on the Feeds tab in the Favorites Center. To view your feeds, click the Favorites Center button , and then click Feeds.

Can other programs display my subscribed feeds?
Yes, Internet Explorer provides the Common Feed List to other programs. This allows you to subscribe to feeds with Internet Explorer and read them in other programs, such as e‑mail clients, or the Windows Sidebar.

What does RSS mean?
The acronym RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is used to describe the technology used in creating feeds.

What formats do feeds come in?
The most common formats are RSS and Atom. Feed formats are constantly being updated with new versions. Internet Explorer supports RSS 0.91, 1.0, and 2.0, and ATOM .3, 1.0 . All web feed formats are based on XML (Extensible Markup Language), a text-based computer language used to describe and distribute structured data and documents.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New: Site Feed

I've added the ability for my regular readers (all five of you) to sign up for a site feed from my blog (see the side bar, under Links. The feed service is called Atom). That way, whenever I post something new (rare, but it does happen), you'll automatically be notified. Don't ask me how I did it (or how it works, frankly), because I am becoming more and more technologically challenged as I get older (my young 'uns now have to set the DVD player up for me before I can use it). However, I was reminded of the old adage of leaving 1000 monkeys alone in a room with a typewriter--eventually, one of them will produce something worthy of Shakespeare. On the other hand, have you seen what a thousand monkeys can do if left alone in a room together? Yecch, the very thought. Can you say, poop patrol?

Hey, speaking of monkeys, I just finished reading Brenda Scott Royce's Monkey Love, and I loved it. The woman has a weird way of looking at life, especially monkey's. And socks. Check it out if you haven't had the chance. I understand the sequel, Monkey Star, is coming out soon as well. I'm looking forward to it.


Friday, June 01, 2007

This, ya gotta read

I was hanging out over at the Boxing the Octopus blog, and came across Joni Rodgers' rant about people who post opinions on and the like and call them reviews. Her take on how some folks think they have the right to judge the writer by the amount of "stuff" they put into their books is hilarious. Check it out.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Creating characters through pictures

I have an article on my website, written by me for the LARA Confidential, that describes how I often use photographs of actors or models to create my characters, sometimes using qualities of the character being portrayed to add multiple layers to my own characters. Since a picture speaks a thousand words, here are a few I thought you might like.

I didn't have a picture for my hero Wolf in The Legacy when I was writing the book, and I often felt hampered by that. However, years later, I did discover a picture that not only fit Wolf perfectly, he fit the character of The Justice Seeker in my paranormal manuscript by the same name. Here's the gentleman, and I only wish I knew who he was. I got this one out of a GQ Magazine:

I always had an image in mind of my heroine, Sabina. She was Liv Tyler, looking variously as she does in Lord of the Rings,
but not always. Here is a shot of her smile, with which Wolf is particularly enamored.
For my second manuscript, Alonsa's Choice, the hero's physical description is based on Viggo Mortenson's character of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. Yummy. Who cares what my heroine looks like? LOL!
Finally, in Dreamweaver, I got to spend lots of time looking at pictures of George Clooney, who became the model for my character of Rome, the LAPD detective. In fact, I describe this exact picture when Rome visits the apartment of my heroine, Jessie:
I even used this backdrop of the apartment to represent Jessie's style (with some feminine additions).
So, writing is about imagination, yes, but it's also about making things (and people) seem real. What inspires you when you write?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Miss Snark, the literary agent: Miss Snark is Retiring

Miss Snark, the literary agent: Miss Snark is Retiring

Say it isn't so! Miss Snark is retiring.

Miss Snark, the Literary Agent and fellow George Clooney worshipper, is hanging up her gin pail. Her wisdom, foresight, and tough love have saved countless writers from nitwittery. If you are a writer just starting out in this business, be sure to careen through the blog before sending out one thing to an editor or agent in order to save yourself from making the most obvious of mistakes (you'll make some anyway, but this will narrow the odds a bit). She has graciously decided to leave the blog up as a historical record of all the clues she shot with the clue gun. Both she and Killer Yap will be sorely missed.

Goodbye, Miss Snark. Parting is such sweet sorrow...yada yada. :-)


Thursday, May 03, 2007

My new cover is here!

Well, much to my surprise, my cover has arrived early! Oh, the excitement. It makes me want to go out and sniff the flowers in my garden. LOL! Here's the full cover, front and back:

The motif is evocative of a running theme in the story involving gardens and roses. Through various stages of the story, the symbolism of death, rebirth, renewal, and growth carry throughout. When my heroine first gets a look at her new home, it is winter, and the house is surrounded by the blunted stems of dead rose bushes. She sees them as a promise of renewal. Very soon after, she and my hero have a conversation about the transient nature of life, and relate it to a flower. In the early spring, my heroine begins working in the garden, planting seeds as her hope buds over the possibility of a real relationship with the man she's married. The last scene of the book finds my heroine standing in a full-blooming rose garden, her face turned up to the sun.

So, it is nice that the artist chose this particular theme to feature on the cover of my book. My book has a cover now! It's really, really real! Gushing here...

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Been getting a lot of compliments on my new website designed by CMA Webs . I love the lush colors and the rose and candle motif. I think my designer did a fabulous job representing my style and personality, and I know we worked hard to create something of which we could both be proud. I hope the articles and links will be useful to visitors to the site.

I did want to point out that my historical romance, The Legacy, coming from Medallion Press in April 2008, doesn't actually have any cover art yet. What you see on my site is a mock-up the designer put together just for the site. I don't expect the real cover art for several months, but I'll have some fanfare and such when it comes out. I have no idea at this point what it will look like. I know I shared some preferences with the art department, but the ball is in their court now. Medallion Press has been generating some fabulous covers this year, so I'm in great hands.

My preferences are for artwork similar to what is on my site (the rose motif, maybe?), or a closeup of my ruggedly handsome hero's face (Jack Hartnett comes to mind--the way he looks on Sylvia Day's The Stranger I Married), or failing that, my beautiful heroine--FULLY DRESSED. I'm not much of a fan of the semi-naked cover, though I realize some beautiful artwork has been done in this area (see some of Hope Tarr's covers. The cover of Tempting won an award. Of course, she also had a bad, bad thing happen to her with Lord Jack). I despise the clinch cover as well (oh my gosh, is there ANYTHING right with that cover? I guess we know what Lone Arrow is proud of...). Interestingly, my designer chose a closeup of a woman for my mock-up, and the young lady featured is a good match for my heroine. It's not one I would have thought of myself, but I like it. Some other lovely historical romance covers featuring heroines can be found here.

The cover of a book can have such an impact on sales, so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. I want something wonderful and evocative, sexy yet not overtly so, romantic yet not corny, something that sells my vision of the book. I know, tall order. What I don't want is the kind of covers we see when good covers go bad, either there or here. Sadly, Medallion Press made the second list. However, Medallion Press also produced this and this, so there is hope for me yet.

I'm so anxious. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sir Spam-a-Lot

I'm sick of spam. Not the meaty kind, although I find that a little disgusting, as well. No, the kind that promises me I can see "nude pictures of Paris Hilton" and "penetrate my partner for hours!!" (Ouch.) I'm sick of Canadian doctors trying to send me medicine for my erectile dysfunction problem (seriously, this is a problem for me since I HAVE NO PENIS), and telling me my pharmacy order from Walgreen's is ready when I haven't even placed one. I know their stocks are HOT HOT HOT, and so are their Lolitas, but I'm just not interested, I tell you.

Why would they think I'm stupid enough to click on anything from Nigeria that promises me I can earn a million dollars if I'd just send them all my bank account information right away? And I know I haven't bought any tickets in the Royal London Bank why or why do they keep sending me this stuff?

I am happy to know that my home mortgage loan cleared for the bazillionth time today, and that I can get Calais at half price, but I'm a little nervous to learn that if I am a lesbian, I can attract any woman I want using Alpha Pheromones NOW. Still, knowing I can get clearance weapons at $1000 discount is probably even freakier--I'd rather make love, not war, but I'd really rather do that with my dear hubby and not Paris Hilton. Really.

However, on the positive side, I have found one use for spam. As a writer, I'm constantly in search of intriguing and different names. The list of names that masquerade in the "from" block of most spam mail is quite handy. So, next book I write, you'll be saying hello to Geneva Tereasa and Miss Betty Motumba. :-)

Good night, Geneva, wherever you are.


Monday, April 02, 2007

God is on my side

I want to say in advance of the story I'm about to tell you that I love my children. I'd throw myself in front of a bus for them. But every now and then, they act like...well, children, despite the lessons in conduct and deportment my DH and I try to teach them.

Well, one of my kids learned why NOT to throw a temper tantrum in Mom's room. I was in the middle of preparing my receipts for our taxes, while at the same time grading 30 very overdue essays to return to my students tomorrow. I decided my kids could eat frozen dinners today, and I had stashed two kid dinners in the freezer just for this purpose. I called to the kids, "Which kid wants what?" Well, the instructions I received were how I filled the orders. I left the plates on the table and hurried back to my bedroom/home office to complete the tax paperwork. One son then came stomping into the room, yelling, "I said I wanted the chicken nuggets dinner, not the corn dog dinner!" His brother yells from the dining room, "No, you said the corn dog, I said chicken nuggets." "NO I DIDN'T!" I turned to Number One son and explained, "Yes, you said the corn dogs." "NO I DIDN'T!!" "Yes," I explained, trying very hard to maintain my patience over this interruption, "you did."

Well, I guess he didn't agree, because he hauled off and kicked what he thought was a pile of soft pillows at the end of the bed in a fit of anger. Suddenly, he shrieked in pain and hopped away, grabbing his foot. I look over at the foot of the bed--the pillows had been concealing a small stool, which in his temper, he hit dead square with his big toe.

Well, I admit I did point out to him that the consequence of violence is often a return of violence, and that next time, maybe he should consider admitting he might have made a mistake and misspoken his request. I bandaged his bleeding toenail while he sobbed, and suggested an apology might be in order, and also the next time his dad says to let him cut his overly long toenails, he should let him do it without complaint. He glared at me, then sullenly hobbled off to eat his hated corn dog, mumbling a half-hearted apology as he went.

Does it make me a bad mother that I actually looked up to heaven and said, "Guess we showed him"? Or am I a good mother in that I waited until he left the room before I burst out laughing? Oh, somehow I think he'll think twice before pitching a hissy fit at me again. God, as I always tell him, is on the mother's side.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yo Mama

As some of you may know, when I signed my book contract, I decided to take on a pen name (mainly because mine is unpronounceable). I Googled TJ Bennett before adopting it, and found that no other authors appeared to be using it at the time, and the only other usages I found were for a medical researcher, a cafe owner, and a high school athlete, none of whom I felt would confuse my fans, should I ever have any. So, I went with that.

Recently, however, my Google search revealed someone using the name in the exact same way (no periods after the initials) on a site called Yo Mama. I just want to take this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am not the author of any of the Yo Mama jokes. If I was, I'd have come up with the one that states, "Yo mama is so fat, she jumped up in the air and GOT STUCK!"

But, sadly, I am not. In the interests of full disclosure, just thought you'd like to know that.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


A rare occurrence! Two posts in one day. I just had to share something, and this will likely reveal me as the gauche newbie that I am, but I don't care. Medallion Press has put my new ISBN up on their website. It means I'm REAL! They haven't changed their minds, and it isn't some dark plot to dangle the carrot of publication before me and then snatch it away. They were serious when they said they wanted to publish my book!

No cover yet, but a very nice version of my back cover blurb. I've copied it below:

"When secrets destroy, can love live on?
When her brief, disastrous marriage to a fortune hunter ends in scandal, Baronesse Sabina von Ziegler's vengeful adoptive father imprisons her in a cloister. Nine years later, however, following the teachings of the reformer Martin Luther, she arranges a daring escape. She is free at last--for the moment--a noblewoman of conscience, and has learned a lesson about trusting men she will never forget.

Wolfgang Behaim, a widowed commoner, is a tradition-bound printer from the rising middle class with a secret that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear. Burdened by the mysterious circumstances surrounding his father's death, he has no heart for love. Yet he finds himself suddenly betrothed to Sabina, the Baron von Ziegler's adopted daughter.

It is a marriage neither wants. Sabina again finds herself imprisoned by the Baron, in a dungeon this time, being slowly starved to death. Her only key to freedom is marriage to Wolf. And Wolf must marry Sabina, or the murderous Baron will reveal the secret from his past.

Though neither comprehends the dark purpose behind the Baron's machinations, they are forced into a union they never plan to consummate. But as they fight to discover the truth of the mysteries surrounding them, they find themselves challenged by a fiery passion they cannot resist. Can they overcome their past and find love even as lies, war, and an unexpected enemy conspire against them?"

If anyone wants to, you know, gaze at the holding space my book will occupy in 2008, you can go to the website, look under "Genres, Romance" and click on the Sapphire imprint for historicals. Then scroll way down to the bottom, where you'll see my "coming soon" holding space. Click on the title to see the blurb.

I feel like the Velveteen Rabbit! :-)


Coffeetime Romance Chat

Just wanted to let everyone know about a special opportunity in which I'm participating. A bunch of Medallion Press authors (my new publisher) will be hosting a moderated loop on Feb. 23. If you're interested in learning more about MP, or writing for them, or just want to know what really terrific books will be available from MP, stop by for a visit. Not to mention there will be a GREAT contest prize available. Details follow.

What: Medallion Press Authors’ Day
Where: Coffeetime Romance Yahoo e-loop
When: Friday, February 23, 10-8 eastern time
(I will be hosting time slot 12 – 2 pm EST with other Medallion Press authors, including Hope Tarr, Lynda Hilburn, Kathy Steffan, and Sara Reinke (scheduled to appear)).
~~Teatime and Treasure with Medallion Press~~
Join Medallion Authors at our Coffeetime Romance e-loop chat on Friday, 23rd February! Win a Medallion Press Treasure Chest, with painted porcelain teapot, matching cups, tea, cookies, and a dozen Medallion Press paperbacks of your choice (any genre, not just romance)!

As a special treat, Kerry Estevez, Medallion Press’s Author Liaison and Acquisitions Editor, will be available to take questions about submissions/acquisitions.

Please note: This is a moderated loop, so you need to sign up in advance and be approved by the moderator. I’d suggest joining a couple of days ahead and selecting “no mail” or “special messages only” until Feb 23. Then you can either go to the web yahoo group and post and read messages there, or change your preferences to individual messages.
To sign up for Coffeetime Romance's loop:

click "join this group"

Hope to see you there!

TJ Bennett

THE LEGACY, Medallion Press (April 2008)
When secrets destroy, can love live on?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

February 4

February 4th would have been my mother's 73rd birthday. She didn't make it that far. Mom died on September 22 after an illness of several months. I haven't been able to write about it until now, so deeply have I felt that loss. I won't say much now, either, but tomorrow, as I write this, her birthday approaches and I want to say what I can.

For her service, the funeral home made up a video of pictures and music of my mother. "His Eye is on the Sparrow" and "I'll Be Seeing You" were both songs we, her children and my mother, had selected for my father's funeral eleven years before (he died in 1995, before my children were born). We felt it was appropriate to chose the same music for mom. My sister chose a selection of pictures representative of the various stages of Mom's life, and the two were combined in DVD format in a poignant tribute interspersed with nature images. The final image is the one that you see elsewhere on this site, in the post that was the only tning I could manage to write even weeks after her death.

There is nothing like the death of a parent to make one feel one's own mortality. As I sit here, watching the DVD and remembering moments with my wonderful, wonderful mother, I can't help to think that years from now--hopefully many, many years--when I have passed on, and all that is left are pictures, my sons will watch them and try to remember what their mother's laugh was like, what she smelled like, how soft her skin felt. It is a humbling thought.

I asked my uncle after her burial in Tennessee beside my father, how someone gets over a loss that goes so deeply. My uncle, who had lost his brother (my father) and his wife in the same month, and who had lost his oldest son years before, told me something I would never forget. "You never get over it. But you do get past it."

I know he's right, because he is wise, so I know we'll make it through. But today, and tomorrow, it will be hard. We owe her that, I think.

Love to you, Mom.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

What she said

Just a quick post to pass on one of my favorite quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

There is real wisdom in those words, from a women who knew what she was about. All her life, because she wasn't a beauty, or because her interests seemed more "manly" than the young women around her, because she was in the public eye, or because her marriage was often painful for her, she had many opportunities to be made to feel inferior. Instead, she became one of the greatest humanitarians of our time.

Why do we allow others to put us down, make us feel small, or belittle us? The only way they can do that is if we give our consent, if we agree with them, and say, "You know, you're right. I'm pond scum."

Don't agree. Don't give your consent. Nobody's perfect, but if someone else is making it their goal in life to make you feel small and inferior, that is their problem, not yours--or at least it should be. People who need to make others feel small are the kind of people you need to ask: "Is this someone I really need in my life? Is this something they should be allowed to get away with?"

If the answer to either of those questions is "no," then you need to put your foot down and say, "No more. I will not allow you to make fun of my dreams or my goals. I won't allow you to belittle my hopes or myself. I deserve respect, just like you, and I won't take any less. Not from you. Not from anyone else."

Think about it. Look what Eleanor achieved by living by these words. Go for it.