Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Update on agent Pam Ahearn

As I noted in my blog Sep 16,, Pam Ahearn is operating out of NY temporarily. I'm passing along her request that everyone hold their submissions to her until after the new year. She's still dealing with partials sent to her before Katrina hit, and she expects to be home in New Orleans in July.


Monday, November 28, 2005

A visit to RWA

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I spent a good chunk of mine readying this year's submissions to RWA's Golden Heart contest. Since I had nothing new to submit, I decided to enter two books of mine I had completed a few years ago but needed some rework. That way I'd have a reason to revise them with an eye towards submitting them to one of the smaller presses. They are outside-the-box historicals, so until recently I didn't really have a market for them, and frankly, I don't expect much from the GH either. However, it was a good fire-under-the-bottom way to get those rewrites done, so I figured, "why not?"

One of the stories was my first book, and I spent most of my revision time applying all the lessons I have learned about writing since I first wrote it. I managed to bring it down from 123,000 words (!) to about 118,000. Still a lot of words, but I think most of those cuts were deleted "was's" and adverbs. Sheesh. I didn't actually have to do much to the story itself. The other story just needed a better ending, which I hope I gave it. That clocked in at 85,000 words.

I have the benefit of living not too far from RWA's national headquarters, so after checking and rechecking the subs, I packed them up and drove them on over. I have to say, the RWA building wasn't what I expected. Not worse, just not what I expected. It is in a modest, unassuming building in a neighborhood with the same characteristics. What amused me most when I drove up is the RWA sign: in the same building as half-a-dozen dentists and a branch of Prairie View A&M University is "Romance Writers of America." What must those dentists think? :-) The office was an ordinary suite-style office, with pale carpeting and walls and an overworked but very pleasant young lady named Dionne (sp?) standing over the copy machine. I delivered my precious babies to a very large stack--and I mean large, people--of manuscripts in various "urgent mail delivery" style packages. I had the overwhelming desire to stay and help sort through them, but I forced myself to go out the door. I don't know how they keep track and log every manuscript that comes in, but they do, and quite successfully.

Anyway, it's a done deal now, so I have no excuse not to get back to my real life (groan).

Take care,

Friday, November 18, 2005

My dear friend sells!

Yippee! Gotta put in a plug for my dear friend Janet, who just sold her first medical romance to Harlequin Mills & Boon. Janet has been plugging away at writing romance since 2000, and we've been critique partners since 2001 (my lord, has it been that long?). Janet also writes henlit romances, with fabulous, funny, down to earth characters (just like her). I can't wait until one of those finds a home.

Our fabulous Four F's critique group (don't ask me what it stands for; I'd have to kill you if I told you) has changed members from time to time, but we've all seen how hard Janet has worked to improve her craft. The book, currently entitled Code Pink--Surprise! will be sold under her new pen name, Lynne Marshall. Even though at this point it will only be sold in the UK, I'm betting I can cruise when the time comes and snag a copy for a personal autograph. You should, too. It's a really sweet, sexy, warm story, with characters named Tarzan (Terrance) and Jaynie.

I'm pleased as punch to have had a tiny little bit to do with seeing this talented author finally get her due. Congrats, girlfriend!


Thursday, November 10, 2005

What's doing at Tor?

Cindi Meyers, that font of knowledge, reports that Tor Publishing is broadening its scope more into the romance side of the industry, looking also for Chick Lit and Paranormal Romance. Tor has been known mainly for its science fiction and fantasy lines up to now. I have a few friends who have had paranormal romances requested from them, so I know this to be true. I sat in on a panel by their publishing house in Reno and decided their editor, Anna Genoese, looked about twelve years old (sigh) but was very sharp.

In the area of Chick Lit (think Bridget Jones Diary), they want more than clothes and shopping. Cindi reports the stories need to be "smart, compelling, and realistic." You can get more on the guidelines for Chick Lit at

For paranormal romance, think beasties (vampires, werewolves and the like), fantasy, futuristic, horror, etc. It seems romance and science fiction don't make for a great combination in their opinion. Guidelines for paranormal can be found at

They are also looking for erotica, which is defined by Tor's editors as not "NC-17 romance novels...[but] true erotic novels." Okay, since I don't read erotica, I admit that one stumped me, so I asked a friend who writes it, Eden Bradley, what the difference is. She said the former (NC-17) probably falls in the category of...well, the sexier category lines, like Harlequin's Blaze, Temptation, and Desire, or Kensington's Brava line, which are romances with lots of sex, while the latter (a true erotica) is more about the sex, fairly graphic, plenty of it, with romance supporting the story, and possibly with elements some might find objectionable (e.g., bondage). You can find out more about this genre if you are interested at Eden's site,

(A romance is currently defined as a story that has a satisfying conclusion in which there is an implied or actual commitment at the end between the couple involved. RWA is still wrestling with whether that couple should be identified as male and female, or two people.)

Cindi also reports Tor is still publishing mainstream fiction as well, and they are looking for romances involving older heroines, say over 35 to about 50, as well as seeking YA (Young Adult) fiction, too.

Good info to know!


Monday, November 07, 2005

I don't think this is what they meant by Thanksgiving...

Sunday, I spent an hour with my boys, after grading essays for six hours, decorating a picture of a turkey that the third grade teachers decided would be a great “bonding” project for the students’ families to do together. Yeah, bonding. We did it at 8:30 at night, the three of us with Elmers glue and a mess of sequins, shouting, “I don’t care what it looks like, just GLUE it on!”

Actually, when it was done, it was kinda cute...we named it the Glam Diva Turkey, cause she sure as heck sparkles like one. I just hope the teachers don’t think the boys are gay when they bring it in...Looks a little like Judy Garland’s shoes in Wizard of Oz (“There’s no place like click...there’s no place like home...”)


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Susan McCarty Removed from List at Berkley

Well, it's getting so you can't tell the players without a score card. I see in the RWA e-notes that Susan McCarty, editor at Berkley, has been removed from the list of acquiring editors. I'm assuming that means she left. I know she did a lot of contest requests, so this may be an issue to a few of you out there.

Susan has had Dreamweaver since she requested it from a contest win back in November 2004. I did check its status in July, and was told she would get to it "some time this summer." Summer came and went, but I'm not one to bug editors unnecessarily, so I've held off contacting her again.

Now, I'm too late. Same thing happened to me with a manuscript (Alonsa's Choice) I had sent to Dorchester some time ago. Kate Seaver had requested it from a pitch TWO YEARS ago. When I heard she left Dorchester, I tried to follow up on it, and was told "um um it's probably with a reader. We'll track it down and get back to you." That was two months ago.

It is hard to get a rejection, really it is. But it is even harder not to have a chance at being rejected. I know editors have more on their plates then they can humanly get to in a lifetime, but this is my life, and my manuscript, and it sure would be nice if someone could keep track of where it is and let me know. You know?

I joked that since Kate moved from Dorchester to Berkley, maybe I ought to call her up and ask her to read Dreamweaver because, in a way, she owes me one! :)


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

If you loved me, you'd drive me to the airport

I do love my DH. Truly, I do. But I am directionally challenged, something he has known about me for the thirteen years we've been married. I think it is some sort of test of my devotion to him, as if the past thirteen years haven't been enough, that he still asks me to drive him to the airport.

The very thought causes me to break out in hives.

He has to understand: I have never been in a city where I have driven either from or to the airport where I didn't get horribly lost and/or intimidated by the blur of traffic whipping around in ferocious circles, buzzing the beleaguered travelers as they dragged their luggage across the pedestrian crosswalks trying to figure out, "dammit, which terminal do I go through to get to Gate 16?"

I learned my lesson long ago with my ex-boyfriend (He Who Must Not Be Named) when I optimistically offered to pick him and a friend up from the airport on their way back from a trip. An hour after he arrived and went through baggage claim, he was still sitting on top of his Weekender waiting for me to pull up. Not that I wasn't at the airport. I just couldn't figure out how to get to baggage claim in my car! I was flushed, shaking, and embarrassed after that debacle (the merciless teasing didn't help...which is yet another reason why we split up), and I swore I'd save any future relationships by never driving my loved ones to the airport.

So, I love you, DH, and I'll miss you terribly...and here's the number for Super Shuttle. I'll see you when you get home.


Changes at St. Martin's Press

Cindi Myers reports that there are changes afoot at St. Martin's Press. Monique Patterson has been promoted to Senior Editor (this is kinda cool, because I've got a requested submission still to send to her, so now I get to send it to the "senior" editor instead of the "regular ole" editor). Former Senior Editor Jennifer Enderlin (she of the bubbly personality) is now associate publisher for Griffin trade paperbacks. She will continue as associate publisher of mass market, involved in all paperback publishing issues. According to their main publisher's site:

"Griffin offers a unique list of trade paperback originals, and reprints in conjunction with St. Martin’s Press hardcovers, as well as Minotaur. The paperback originals program is dedicated to producing new and fresh voices in genres such as African American Street Fiction and Young Adult. Griffin reprints allow readers the opportunity to have established authors and bestselling novels in paperback format."

Griffin Trade publishes Af-Am writers Brenda Jackson and L.A. Banks.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sorry I haven't posted for a while

My life, as ever, is in turmoil. Had to fly home to Los Angeles this week with one day's notice to be with my mom, who underwent a lumpectomy. The prognosis is good, but I wanted, and needed, to be with her when she went under. We'll know more about the next stage in her treatment in a few days. I had to do all of my classes on-line, using Blackboard, and grade essays while I waited in the hospital with her and at her house. Whew, that was a tough few days. Flew back home to discover that my husband's uncle, with whom he had a great relationship, passed away that morning. Now my DH will have to fly back to San Diego for the funeral next week.

The resulting turmoil has made it a bit difficult to post, needless to say.

I do, however, have some good news on the personal writing front. I got a follow-up request for a full, with revisions, on Dreamweaver from one of the agent packages I had recently sent out. So, as soon as I blast through the one-hundred or so essays I'm still catching up on grading due to my trip, I'll turn my attention to making those revisions and getting that puppy out!


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Harlequin buys BET Books

Julie Moffett reports in her Market News column that Harlequin is planning to acquire BET Books. Here's the press release:

Harlequin Enterprises Limited has bought the assets of BET BOOKS, the publishing arm of Black Entertainment Television. The deal is expected to be sealed on November 30, 2005. The purchase is seen by many in the publishing industry as a move to cement Harlequin's role as the key publishers of women's fiction in the world. BET Books is the U.S.'s leading publisher of African-American romance novels under the Arabesque imprint. *

Well, you know, that's all well and good. However, a while ago, an acquaintance who writes for Harlequin once explained that since many of the editors are located in Canada, she was told to avoid Americanisms like "girlfriend," as in "you go, girlfriend," in her writing because not everybody in Canada would understand them and the terms were too regional (read "black") for their readership. I'm not saying anything, here, about Canadians and people of color (I happen to have people of color relatives who live in Canada, very happily it seems), and I do admire Harlequin to some degree for pursuing their monolithic desire to dominate the world market so that eventually, we will all read the same thing, think the same thing, write the same thing (The World, According to the Harlequin Bible). Hey, you gotta respect people when they set high goals, and world domination is right up there.

Really, I'm not making any point whatsoever. But if you intend to write for the BET Books after it's purchased by Harlequin , may I just say one thing?

You go, girlfriend!


*Excerpt reprinted with the permission of Washington Romance Writers and Julie Moffett.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Making plans

Well, I finally put the agent posts in the mail that I've been trying to get out since after Reno Nationals. My manuscript Dreamweaver is winging (or grounding, in this case) its way to Elaine English (who requested a full) at Graybill and English, and Lois Winston, who is reading for the Greyson Agency and is a fellow GH finalist, even as we speak (or read, in this case). Wish me luck--I've pretty much done what I can for the manuscript in terms of agents. I've done some revisions that I hope will address the comments I've received so far, and I have rewritten my synopsis to hopefully reflect more of my "voice" that wasn't coming through, so maybe I'll get lucky. All is not over, of course; I've still got three requests for partials to submit from Reno to editors, but I thought I'd hold onto those a bit until I hear from the agents. Then, after that, if there is no more interest, the thing is going under the bed with the other two books already there. I debated resubmitting it to the Golden Heart, but finally decided that I had achieved everything I set out to do when I submitted it the first time, so what would be the point? I wanted to get the attention of agents and editors, and that's what I did.

Speaking of my first two books...those of you who know me know I wrote two historical romances before I came to my senses and moved to contemporary. Don't get me wrong, I love to read them still, just too painful to spend tons of time doing that research! Well, I pulled out Alonsa's Choice the other day with an eye towards making this book I absolutely love a bit more sellable, and realized that if I can get it together in time, I might submit it to the Golden Heart in the "mainstream with romantic elements" category. Many of you who read chapters of it have lamented the death of the book, and wanted to see me finish the last couple of chapters. So wish me luck--I've revised the end a bit in the synopsis, and I'm going for a shorter length. I've flipped some of the chapters around, starting with the scene where Alonsa is cursed (duh, why didn't I think of that before) and taken out some of the more "researchy" research sections that were slowing down the pace. Now, I just have to find the time to write fifty more pages on it before the deadline in November. Plus, I have to find my two critical research books, which, in accordance with Murphy's Law, have disappeared in my move. Every other book made it here but those two, but if I have to, I'll buy them again. Oh, please turn up, research books.

Hopefully, I'll get it all done in time; if not, I guess there is always next year, right?


Sunday, October 02, 2005

"Who's Gonna Drive You Home Tonight?"

Lest you believe the evacuation for Rita wasn't as bad as it's been described in the paper, I'm including some shots of the freeways and gas lines at the height of the "run away" time. My DH's collegue sent him these. Many of these shots were taken near the freeway we go to work on--Huntsville is a small city nearby--and days later, when I finally returned to work, there were still dozens of disabled cars lining the sides of the road. People either hadn't returned for them yet, or more likely, the tow trucks were working overtime trying to get every car off the road in the larger cities and didn't have time to come for these.

The first shot is the entitled "broken down on the I-45 near Huntsville." Can you see why?

Next is a shot of people standing in line to buy a few gallons of gas to take back to their cars. And this doesn't even include the cars still waiting in line to buy gas that ran out before they ever got in line (that's the next picture).

All things considered, as hot as it was, and as scared as most of us were, it is amazing to me that there weren't more accidents, fist fights, and incidents. There were a few, but when you consider how many people moved out of the gulf coast areas in the short amount of time given (estimates are a couple of million or more), these folks were remarkably well-behaved. People for the most part really did try to help out and keep their temper, although there are always the few jerks who spoil it for everyone else. However, there were no repeats of New Orleans here, thank God.

And that's what it's all about, isn't it?


Friday, September 30, 2005

Scenes from a small town

I'm too tired to be brilliant or witty today. That's not to say I am any other day, but I'm still feeling the aftereffects of my enforced evaca-vation. What's an "evaca-vation" you ask? A local DJ coined the term. It describes the combination evacuation those in the path of Rita were required to make, and the mini-family-vacation it became for many of us who escaped Rita's path. A lot of folks spent unexpected time with their families over the several days we were evacuating, including myself. The kids got a lot of our undivided attention, and we drove through some parts of Texas that were quaint and charming that we might never have had the chance to see otherwise.

We even stopped in a small town where my husband's ancestors were born, saw the church in which his father grew up, and took pictures of the gravesite where his grandparents were buried.

This town even had a pretty spiffy monument to General Douglas MacArthur. We didn't get to go in, but I had to take his picture.

Some of the towns we saw looked as if time had passed them right on by, leaving behind nothing but flaking paint and rusted memories.

We even passed through the "goat meat capital of the world," Zephyr, where I took these shots of abandoned cars from circa 1940's.

They reminded me of the pictures I'd taken years before as a child, standing on the Berlin Wall, overlooking the bombed out Potsdam Plaza, which had been blown up during World War II and abandoned until the wall came down fifty years later. Cars just like these littered the streets, crushed and broken apartment buildings gaping open-mouthed at the evidence of violence around them. The memory I have of that place was one of a frozen moment, caught in an elliptical loop, forever playing forwards and backwards. These scenes in Central Texas were more bucollic, but gave me that same sense of time trapped in amber.

I didn't even know places like this still existed in the good ole US of A. Learn something new every day.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Oh, yeah, one more thing

For those who asked, I neglected to mention in my previous post that our house was indeed fine. A few downed branches around the yard, lots of leaves, twigs, and various debris lying around, one screen with a rip in it--nothing of importance. DH swept away the leaves, but it's too hot to do anything else right now. Hopefully, the temps will dip below 100 later this week.

Everybody is saying our area dodged a bullet on this one. Thank you, God.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Caren Johnson to join Nadia Cornier at new Firebrand Agency

Just read on one of my loops...Caren Johnson of the Peter Rubie Literary Agency (who diss'ed Dreamweaver in the Daphne's--but I'm not bitter, I'm not bitter at all) has left to join Nadia Cornier (formerly of CMA) at Nadia's new agency, Firebrand. Sounds like that will be one hot agency, since both young women are known for their energy and enthusiasm for their clients. Looks like a match made in heaven. It will be interesting to see the clients they take on and what they sell. Definitely an agency to watch.


...and Bad News

Well, we made it home okay from Midland, stopping a day over in Cedar Park in a very nice Holiday Inn Express with plenty of room and no renovations going on below us (we were grateful for the room in Midland, but becoming a little claustrophobic due to the tiny space, the chlorine from the indoor pool, and having to step over carpenters and spackle-guys all the time).
We called a neighbor who had returned to our town to see if power had been restored, and she assured us it had, so we loaded up the SUV and headed home. Only required one detour to bypass the road most traveled. Got home just fine, but walked in to discover that five minutes before we arrived, the power went out again.

The electric company assured us it would only be out for an hour; they were instituting "rolling blackouts" for the duration until all transformers could be repaired from damage to the storm. This did remind us of the "rolling blackouts" we used to experience in Los Angeles during the Enron days. Since our area was barely hit here, we wondered how all this damage had occurred, and uttered ominous mutterings about conspiracies and electric companies that don't plan ahead, gouge customers, and ride on the backs of the least fortunate in order to make as many bucks as possible, but okay, we went along for the ride.

Needless to say, six hours later, the blackout had yet to roll on. With 100+ degree temperatures and high humidity, even an hour without the A/C can make for a tough time--not to mention one cannot open windows in the house without swarms of no-see-ums and mosquitoes bypassing the tiniest cracks in the screen to get in. Add in the fact that we'd been traveling for days, and all we wanted was a shower, a cool room, and time to relax, we were not happy campers. So, out we went again at 10:00pm, kids in tow, looking for a cool place to relax and to call motels from. We wound up in the Chic-fil-a, dialing every budget hotel we could find with no luck. We finally "resorted" to calling a resort that still had a room and power on. At that point, since I had been ordered back to work the next morning, getting a shower and a good night's sleep seemed well worth the price.

We stopped by the house again just to check to see if the power was on, and yes, it had returned (can I get an amen?). Ran next door to drag our mechanically inclined neighbor over to help us get our gas water heater pilot relit so we could have that shower (so what if my DH and I both have five degrees between us? That doesn't mean we actually have any worthwhile skills or anything, like lighting pilot lights). Emptied the 'fridge of all the food that had died and spawned alien afterbirths in the bottom of the freezer, dumped the dirty laundry in the washer, and collapsed in the bed at 1:00am. Rose at 6:00 am to get ready and drive the 50 mins to the university to teach a full day's schedule. And experienced similar power outages there, half-filled classes, and finally an hour-and-forty-five minute return trip home, weaving in and out of the abandoned vehicles by the side of the road and the evacuees returning from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Power outages continued at home throughout the evening.

What a day. As my sis said, "What's next, locusts?"


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Good News

I just spoke to an official from my town who says it fared pretty well in the storm. Only one of the villages has lost power, and though there are a number of trees down in the roads and a few on houses, no flooding has occurred. He said they're driving the neighborhoods to see what trees are down, and there was a large one in ours, but he wasn't aware of any on houses. If our house survived the winds, we might be okay.

The officials in Texas are saying to stay put for now, so we'll stay in Midland one more day, head towards Austin tomorrow and stay near there for a day, then make our way home.

Wish us luck. Right now we're heading out for brunch. Ah, the life of an evacuee...


Friday, September 23, 2005

Defining Our Terms

We've talked it over, and we have come up with the "correct" terms by which to define ourselves. We are not refugees from Rita, we are evacuees.

We think an "evacuee" is someone who still has a home to go back to after the hurricane. A "refugee" is someone whose home has been destroyed.

Signed, TJB
(still an evacuee, and happy to be, all things considered)

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Well, now that we are safe here in a hotel in the Midlands, we're discovering that the waiting is the hardest part. We have been checking the news to see where Rita might make landfall, and though the news is better that she's turning to the east more (at least, better for us; bad for those folks in Galveston/Louisiana area), it is likely that our area will still be affected by 3-4 category winds.

The kids are bored, but have been pretty good so far, all things considered. We're trying to figure out how to entertain twin eight year old boys in Midland, TX, which from what we can tell is an oil town, and not much else. It does have the distinction of being President Bush's (the current) home town, where he met and married his wife. The rumor is that there is a movie theater in town, so I'll be checking to see if there are any kid flicks playing.

The most exciting part of our visit so far was trying to figure out how the shower operated in our bathroom. Can anyone tell me why someone doesn't come up with a universal standard for operating hotel shower faucets in America? Every time I go to a hotel, I wind up puzzling over how the darn shower head works. Does it pull out with the handle on the bottom, or pull up with the button on the faucet, or turn with the doo-hickey on the side of the showerhead? This one did none of those. It was bad enough for me to call in my DH, who is a PhD professor with no practical sense whatsoever, to see if he could figure it out. He couldn't. I was so desperate for a shower after having missed mine for two days, I finally turned the taps up full blast and sat down in the tub as the levels rose (there was no tub plug, so a bath was out of the question), and splashed around like a duck. DH finally went to the front desk, fought the lines of people from Houston trying to register for rooms that don't exist, and discovered that there was a little pull down nipple-thingy fitted into the actual faucet head that operates the shower. Oh, yeah, that was obvious. Can't believe I missed that.

So, the adventure continues...


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Any Port in a Storm

Well, we are safe and sound, if exhausted. We never made it to Carlsbad, unfortunately. After driving for about 12 straight hours and only getting to Ozona, TX, we realized we were too exhausted to try and make it to New Mexico. Except for a short one hour nap in a parking lot, we'd been up for twenty-four hours. After packing all of our possessions that would fit in our SUV and saying goodbye to our neighbor who decided to try to sit it out because his boss refused to let his people go until Saturday (projected landfall), we were beat before we even took off. Then sitting in the parking lot that was the freeway for hours didn't help. We did fine on gas, though, and took turns driving, and tried to push on, but we knew we were done for.

We used our cell to find a Holiday Inn closer in, and got one of the last rooms. Almost everyone we met in the gas stations, rest stops, and in the hotel line was fleeing the Texas coast. Reports from the papers estimated that over a million people were on the roads, and I believe it. Once we got west of Austin, however, things thinned out.

Everyone has the same dazed look on their face, and many are accepting that they may not see their homes again. Even if the projected landfall turns out to be farther east than predicted, we'll probably still see significant damage. Our property is heavily wooded (as is our whole town), and the officials were recommending voluntary evacuation for our area as a result of danger from falling trees and power lines. Since we couldn't find anything closer, we had to press on.

Even if the house survives, the fact that the electricity, gas, and water will be shut down for up to two weeks means we probably won't be able to go back into the house for a while. We work an hour away from where we live, and though they shut down the campus we teach at for Thursday and Friday, school will be in session again next week (unless the city is underwater, of course). So, we have to find a way to get close enough to work to continue to do our jobs while we wait for our home to be habitable. And I still have 75 papers to grade! Reckon I'll be sitting in front of the big screen TV in the lobby of the Holiday Inn tomorrow, grading papers and waiting to see where Rita makes landfall.

I think, BTW, we saw every small town West Texas has to offer. Most everyone was friendly, and I had to laugh at some of the old-style gas stations and businesses we saw. In one tiny town, right across the street from each other (Main Street, and the ONLY street), were two businesses that made me go "hmmmm"--the Doughnut and Seafood Shop (yuck) and the Drive-Thru Liquor Depot. Can anyone think of two combinations of things that go together less? And I lost count of the number of pawn and gun shops. Deer processing is apparently a big business in west Texas, too. And speaking of the roads, I've never seen so much road kill in my life, including a few Bambis. The skunks, rodents, raccoons, etc go without saying, but when we saw the vultures, I knew we'd seen it all. I expected to hear that music that always precedes Clint Eastwood's entrance in those old spaghetti westerns at that point.

Well, that's it from the front. Keep those prayers coming that our home will be spared, as well as no lives lost from this killer storm.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Moving out

Just a quick post to tell you we are going to have to go to New Mexico in order to get out of the path of the storm. There were no hotels between here and there, nor were there any between here and Tennessee, which was our other option, that are available. Unbelievable. Between the Katrina refugees and everyone trying to get out for Rita, there just wasn't anything left. Dallas and Ft. Worth will get a large part of the tropical winds once Rita makes landfall, as will San Antonio, so those are not an option. Anything south is out, most things north are out, and east would be good if it already hadn't been beaten up by Katrina. Therefore, we're going to make a brutal 10 hour drive first thing in the morning and go as west as we can get in one day, and that's Whites City, NM. Hope the name isn't an indication of our welcome there (har har).

The good thing is it is near Carlsbad Caverns, a place I've always wanted to visit, so we'll spend a day or two doing that.

Take care, wish us luck that our house is still standing since we didn't have any plywood to board it up, and it has glass windows all the way around the house (21 of them) and two skylights. Pretty much we expect to see an oak tree sticking out of some part of the house when we get back--we're hoping for minimal damage so we can come home sooner rather than later.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Wish Us Luck

Well, word comes now that my new home may be in the direct path of the oncoming hurricane, Rita, evil twin to Katrina. Currently the meteorologists are projecting the path will bring the hurricane to our front door. A category 4 will wreak havoc and devastation to this area. All of this is terrible news for a couple of reasons: the people who recently relocated to this area from Louisiana had just begun to settle in, and now they may be forced to evacuate again; and on a personal level, we've only been in our new home for about two months, and much of the furniture and goods we have are brand new. We had figured when we moved, why pay moving costs on the old stuff when we could sell it and buy new stuff? The heartbreaker is, there is a distinct possibility if Rita makes landfall here, we could lose it all, and our dream of owning our first home would have a serious damper on it.

So, wish us all luck. If you pray, I'd be happy to accept those on our behalf. I'll try to keep you up to date on what is going on. Our plan is to evacuate if by Thursday the storm is still predicted to make landfall here. We'd go earlier, but it is unlikely our jobs or the schools will close down until the last possible moment. It's going to be a nightmare getting out of town either way. Today, Wednesday, I tried to buy water, but all the stores had been cleaned out. There are already long lines at the gas pumps to fill up cars. DH and I will be putting together emergency supplies tomorrow and packing sleeping bags and clothing, just in case. We'll be gathering together all of our important papers, emergency food, first aid kits, and getting emergency cash, too. I was able to purchase stable food supplies, so we got lucky there. Oh, yeah, and somewhere in there I have to grade 75 Freshman Composition papers to return to my students by Thursday. Ack!

Frankly, in some ways, this is just surreal. At least we have warning...In Los Angeles, we didn't have tornadoes or hurricanes, but when an earthquake hit, it was without warning. Of course, we didn't have "earthquake seasons" either. Here, even if we survive this, we always have next year's hurricane season to look forward to. Yeesh.


Friday, September 16, 2005

News on New Orleans agent Pam Ahearn

Word comes that agent Pamela Ahearn, whose offices were located in New Orleans when Katrina hit, is fine and operating out of New York for the indefinite future. She is still accepting requested submissions at the address below:

Pamela Ahearn, 57 Brompton Road, Garden City, NY 11530.

Let's wish her all the best as she gets situated in her new location.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I Love L.A.

God, I miss Los Angeles. Don’t get me wrong; my new home is great. The people are friendly and hard working, the city isn’t too crowded, and the teenagers call me ma’am.

But it’s just not home. Home is a place paved with concrete, where the sun shines down on incongruent palm trees, and jacarandas drop purple blossoms on your freshly washed car at night. Home is a place where a nanosecond is defined by the time it takes the streetlight to change to green and the idiot behind you to honk his horn. It’s where drivers aim for pedestrians in the crosswalk and pick their teeth with jaywalkers’ bones, not where they politely hold up traffic so you can sprint across against the light.

Home is where the teenagers not only wear gothic, but really think they’re vampires, and God help you if you cross their paths alone at night. Home is where I can get a craving for a barbeque chicken pizza (no cheese) at 2:00am on Christmas Eve, and by gosh I can find someone to serve me one. It’s where the only rainbows you usually see are in the colors of the people around you, but no one ever utters the words “colored people.”

Home is where my friends are. Home is where my extended family is.

I love L.A. And I always will.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

I'm from LA, but I'm not from Louisiana

Funny thing has been happening lately. As I've mentioned already, we have recently relocated to the northern suburb of a city that's taking in many refugees from New Orleans. That's not the funny part.

The funny part (as in funny "strange," not funny "ha ha") is that lately, whenever I go out in public, I have people stopping me to ask if I'm from Louisiana (they say this with a sympathetic look, of course). The first time it happened was in a church we were visiting for the first time. I figured, well okay, maybe it's because they have several people here from New Orleans who are visiting, and they know I'm a stranger. Easy to see how someone could make that assumption.

Then it happened again, at a store. And two more times after that in other places. Now, I'm beginning to feel self-conscious. The only reason I can figure is this: I'm from Los Angeles. It is most likely obvious to anyone that (say this with a SOUTHERN accent) "You ain't from around here, are ya?" And, my coloring might lead one to suppose I could be Creole, which, yes, there are a lot of Creole folks from New Orleans, though I'm not.

I'm just hoping it's not the "I just relocated, I have no idea how to find the post office or grocery store, and I'm still up to my armpits in packing boxes" look I'm sporting these days. Or that I look desperate and destitute.

Guess it's just one of those things that make you go, "hmmmmm."


Golden Heart scores

Hey, been busy for the last few days so I haven't posted. However, several folks had told me privately they were interested in my scores on the Golden Heart that put me in the finalist category for paranormals. Well, the scores were pretty good, but not so high as I figured I had to score to make that final. I know I judged the long historical category, and I did give out one perfect 9 and an 8.5, so I figured the same was probably true of other judges. Guess not, from the scoop on the loop (GH Finalists loop that is). Doesn't look like a whole lot of perfect scores there, either. Looks like we had some tough judges this year.

Here's what I received:

8.1, 8, 8.5, 7.8, 8.3=40.70.

Top quarter final scores had to be greater or equal to 37.60.

I'm happy I finaled, but not surprised I didn't win. Better luck next time, huh?


Thursday, September 08, 2005

More editor changes

Here are more editor changes at the various houses, for those of you keeping track of such things:

Avalon: Orly Trieber, assistant editor, has been removed from the list of acquiring editors.
Avon: Selina McLemore has left Avon books. She is now an editor with Red Dress Ink.
May Chen is now listed as associate editor at Avon.
Berkley/Jove: Susan McCarty is a new assistant editor at Berkley/Jove.
Silhouette: Demetria Lucas, associate editor, has been added to the list of acquiring editors for Silhouette Books.
Harlequin: Superromance's Johanna Raisanen is now listed as associate editor.


Monday, September 05, 2005


We've heard so much and seen so much about the destruction caused by Katrina these days that I just want to make a comment. I live in a Southwestern state that is taking in many of the refugees from Katrina. The response to the many and ongoing needs by the folks in this area has been amazing.

Let me be the first to say that southern hospitality is alive and well, folks. The many churches and aid organizations have banded together to adopt families living as refugees in local hotels. These folks have stepped forward and said, simply, "We will provide for their needs through God's grace and mercy." No fanfare, no chest-beating. They've turned to their church membership, who have responded in droves. You can't go down the street without seeing donation centers, and firefighters standing on the corner collecting donations in their yellow and black boots. Families are opening their homes to total strangers, offering to host them until they can get back on their feet. Schools are sending home flyers asking that clothing in good condition be donated to the cause, and grocery stores are setting up food donations that can be given directly to the victims in our area.

We've been looking for a new home church, and yesterday we visited one for the first time. While we were there, the pastor introduced at least twenty refugees from Katrina that they had invited to attend the church, then prayed over them and offered them any help they needed. The members of this church, as have many others, reached out, and the gratitude on the faces of the people there was clear evidence of faith in action. These people put their money where there mouth is, and all I want to say to that is "amen."

Many of the refugees have decided to relocate to this city, and no wonder--these folks are some of the most incredible I have ever met in terms of sheer friendliness and willingness to help.

If you haven't had an opportunity to donate yet, think about sending a monetary donation to the Salvation Army, which has very low operating costs--ensuring that most of the money goes directly to those in need.

Take care,

More info on Nadia

If you are interested in getting the scoop on Nadia Cornier's new agency, Firebrand, you can read about it in her latest blog post at


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Nadia Cornier Leaves CMA

Just heard on another loop that agent Nadia Cornier is leaving The Creative MediaAgency and starting her own agency, the Firebrand Agency. CMA is a well-respected agency, so that's interesting news. I hear Nadia has been making quite a few sales herself. I was scheduled to pitch to one of her collegues at CMA in Reno, Lisa VanAuken, but since she'd already very nicely turned down my Golden Heart manuscript, didn't seem to be any point. Paige Wheeler, CMA agency head, is Linda O. Johnston's agent (Linda is one of the sweetest and most helpful ladies I know, and author of a great new mystery series featuring a crime-fighting pet-sitter).


Friday, September 02, 2005

May You Burn in Hell, Spam Creature of the Night

Well, I've been forced to turn on the "word verification" feature in my blog because a spammer posted a comment on my site. So now, if you want to respond with a comment (and I hope you do, because I love seeing them), you'll just need to verify that you are a real person first by typing in the word you see on the screen when it asks after you post. I'm sorry about that, but these DIRTY ROTTEN SONS OF DOGS are spoiling the fun for everybody.

What I want to know is, why do they think that sending me junk mail over the internet that I then have to deal with, or pay someone to remove by buying software that will deal with it, is going to encourage me to buy their product? I don't understand spammers. They're like men who whistle and hoot houndog noises at pretty women walking by, or guys with those little playboy flaps on their pickup trucks. Do they really think a woman is going to turn around, get all googly-eyed, and say, "Why, yes, I really would like to date you. You appear to be so trustworthy and classy, how could I not?"

Who buys stuff from spammers to encourage them to do this? I can't imagine they would continue unless they're making a profit, right? Now, I know the regular readers of my blog (all five or six of you) would never do that, but let me give the rest of you a hint: these people are not your friends. Don't believe them when they say they can get you Viagra for half the price, or that Lolitas and boys want to do it for you on their website, first visit is free, or they are from Nigeria and they need help recovering money from their government and if you'd only give them your bank account number, they'll cut you in, or Bank of America needs to check its records for security reasons and would you please send them all your pertinant information in a reply. They will not do these things, but they will take your money to South America and you will never see it again.

Trust me. Auntie TJB wouldn't lie to you.

And if you're out there, spammer, stop posting spam to my site (you dirty rotten so-and-so, you).


And the answer is...

Hey, I almost forgot to annouce the winners of my contest! Turns out we have two winners and an honorable mention, which works out nicely since we only had three contestants (hee hee).

Cara was our top scorer, answering every question perfectly. That, of course, is frightening, because it means she thinks like me. I'm sorry for you, Cara, but glad you participated.

TSJ was our next highest rated scorer, answering 5 out of 6 questions correctly.

Rae is our honorable mention, and she wins just for being the first to play. Thanks, Rae!

Ladies, send me your mailing address via private e-mail and tell me which prize you want, and I'll get those right out to you. The prize choices for our winners are the $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Nobles, the $10 gift certificate to Starbucks, or one of the following books (first come, first serve, so if you want one of the books, let me know which one quick):

Christina Dodd's Scandalous Again (Romance)
Susan Kearney's The Challange (Paranormal Romance)
J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello (Literary Fiction--hardback)
Frank Peretti's The Visitation (Christian Suspense Fiction--hardback)
Jill Marie Landis' Lover's Lane (Contemporary Romance--hardback)

And in case you're wondering, the answers to the questions are as follows:

Q1: "What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"
Two possible answers: "An African or a European?" or "What...I don't know that! Aaaahhhh!" (From Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail)

Q2: What is the correct response to this comment: "Well, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition."
A: "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." (Monty Python's Flying Circus)

Q3: According to Jenny Cruisie, the Romance Writers of America is: a. Anti-woman b. racist c. politically right-winged d. all of the above

A: d. all of the above

Q4: How big was the tree roach that attacked TJB's toe (hint: answer posted in one of her blogs)?
As big as my thumb

Q5: Which one of these men is not a member of the Four Tops?
a. Levi Stubbs
b. Lawrence Payton
c. Russell Thompkins

A: c: Russell Thompkins

Q6: Rick, Victor, Sam and Ilsa. Name the movie.
A: Casablanca (but of course...)

Hope you had fun!


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Another Product We Don't Need

Uncrustables. Heard of this one? This is a product, made by Smucker's, which in effect is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off and the ends smashed together in a tart-like fashion. But here, let me let them tell you about it:

"The makers of Smucker's created a way to seal the homemade goodness of PB&J into a sandwich that can be enjoyed any time, anywhere. Made with strawberry or grape jelly Smucker's Peanut Butter and Jelly Uncrustables sandwiches are a great way to enjoy a PB&J, whether at home or on the go. Uncrustables sandwiches can be found in the freezer section and thaw within 30 minutes."

Okay, so, could someone please tell me why we needed to update the PB&J? What was wrong with the old one? So I had to cut the crusts off for my little ones. Big deal. Smucker's had to invent a whole new way of serving the PB&J (and charge me accordingly)? Is there anything simpler to make, and cheaper, than a PB&J?

Listen, I'm no Martha Stewart. I'm not June Cleever, either. I admit, I've tossed a few Lunchables at my kids when I run out of time or ingredients to fill their lunch boxes for school. They like them. So sue me. But, if I ever get too busy to make my kids a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...just take away my license to mother. Go ahead, do it.

BTW, there is a hot controversy involving who really invented the crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For something that will make you gape in shock and awe over the [insert euphemism here] that lawyers will cook up--er slather on--in pursuit of the almighty dollar, follow this link to read about how Smucker's tried to get the patent on the crustless PB&J, and prevent anyone else from selling them, too.

For real and for true.


And here, a miracle occurs!

Oh, wow! It finally happened. After two weeks of determined blogger bashing, I have managed to shoehorn my photo into my profile. No way should that have been so complicated, but boy do I feel like one proud Lizzie now that it's done. So, now, whenever I post a comment (which, of course, I'm anxiously awaiting someone to reply to this post so I'll have an excuse to do so), you'll see what I look like!

Okay, maybe I'm the only one really excited about that, but I think I'm prouder of having figured out how to do that than I was when I got my master's degree. Tee hee. Reply, someone, reply!


Monday, August 29, 2005

Some days you get the Road Runner...

Just a short post to say I'm having a Wile E. Coyote day. You know the kind? It's when, no matter how clever you are, you always seem to wind up face down eating canyon dust.

I did have something more brilliant to say that was bright and witty and made me laugh. "I must write that down," I thought, "right after I finish washing the dishes."

Needless to say, I waited too long, my "half-heimers" kicked in, and posterity will have to wait until that brain cell revives.

Road Runner anyone?


Saturday, August 27, 2005


Bear with me while I re-post my photo here. Blogger forces me to post this on their site in order to try to get it over to my profile. If it works, you'll find it in my profile as well. If it doesn't, well I hope you'll admire the view. :)

Killer Tree Roach Adventures Continue

Okay, so this blog is probably more about tree roaches than I'd hoped, but I met another one today. As I described earlier, a tree roach is distinguished from your common cockroach by its absolute bigiosity. Plus, they can fly. Hey, never a good combo. These things, I kid you not, are the scariest bugs I have ever seen. Unbelievably big, armor plating, antennae at least a couple of inches long, and a really stealthy, creepy way of hiding in places where you least expect to find them.

So today, I was chatting with my sis on the phone long distance, and figuring I'd kill two birds with one hand wipe, I was also cleaning off the countertop in my bathroom. I have a little fan that I keep on top of the counter, and I was just about to pick it up to clean beneath it, when what do I spy but two enormous antennae scenting the air inches from where my fingers are about to rest!

I screamed like a horror movie victim. My sister, still on the phone, was convinced that one of the children had been killed. I'm babbling for the kids to go get Daddy, who had just arrived home, because there was no freaking way I'm lifting that fan and going after that roach. If DH hadn't been home, the bathroom would have been put into lockdown, and that roach would have stayed there until he got back.

Now, I have to say something about my DH here. This man has braved more bug and snake kills without complaint in the past six weeks than you could imagine. He's killed wasps, and copperheads, spiders the size of your fist, and he even has a special Styrofoam cup dedicated to slamming on top of bugs in order to stop them in their tracks while he figures out how to kill them. I am a strong, independent woman, but when faced with the prospect of having to kill a bug that could move my furniture, we go into "You Tarzan, Me Waiting Over in the Corner 'Til You've Killed that Damn Bug!" mode. Thank God for him, that's all I say. It's nice having a man around the house, particularly one who isn't afraid to take the antennae by the horns. Or something like that.

So, the saga continues. He got that one with his trusty cup, and he only shuddered once. But since the last two live ones were in our bedroom, I don't think I'm going to sleep too well tonight.



Friday, August 26, 2005

Good doggie....

I received the new Sharper Image catalog today. Well, actually, it was sent to "or current resident," but whatever, it's mine now.

I had to share about this one item on sale that is definitely targeted for people who have more money than common sense. I'll put the link to the on-line catalog here, though as technologically clueless as I am, I have no idea whether it will show up or not. We'll both be surprised.

This product, called Treat & Train (TM), is touted to be the "fun, easy and effective way to train your dog--rewarding good behavior instantly by remote control!" It's on sale, too, for $99.95.

Now, I'm curious. I'm thinking maybe it plugs into the couch and when the dog resists the urge to jump on it, the handy little food tray the fluffy puppy is staring at in the picture dispenses a treat. That makes sense. But, that's not how it works. It's a magic bowl that the owner fills with treats, and then there is a little remote that master/mistress pushes when he/she wants to reward the dog.

So, from the description of the product, you actually have to be standing there, watching Rover do (or not do) the expected behavior, before he can be rewarded with a treat dispensed from the magic bowl. Remotely. With you standing there. By the bowl. With the dog. Watching him.

Anybody else see a logic problem here? What's wrong with just walking over to the doggy biscuit box, sticking your hand in, and tossing Fido a treat with your very own digits? And saving a hundred bucks in the process? As my military friends would say, "Low tech beats high tech any day."

I'm just asking.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A joke for humanities and fine arts majors (and prize update)

From the HFA dictionary:

"Baroque" (adj): When you are out of Monet.

Tee Hee.

By the way, my contest seems to be a miserable failure. So, I'm upping the ante. I'll offer either a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks or Barnes & Nobles as a prize instead, if you would prefer that instead of the book. So there.


Vivian Beck leaves Ferguson Agency

I just read on one of my loops that Vivian Beck of the Ferguson Agency has left the building. She's starting her own agency. You'll probably want to follow up if she requested anything from you before she left.

It is interesting that a number of agents have left the Ferguson Agency within the last year. Don't know what that means, and I ain't speculating.

Good luck.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Stupid People Got No Reason to Live...

I'm waiting for Randy Newman to write a song about stupid people the way he did about short people. I say we're way overdue.

Whatever happened to common sense, folks? As Exhibit A, I offer the following:

Went to get my car washed today, and paid full freight to have the carpets shampooed, tires shined up, the whole works. Now, my car is over ten years old, so it has a few...quirks. One of them is that the passenger side window (power) in front can't be rolled down. Well, it can, it just can't then be rolled up. The thing jams and kinks and shimmies, and it takes two grown men and a small boy to get it back into place. So, to prevent said window from being rolled down by repairmen, car washers, etc., I have both of the power buttons that go to that door taped up. I'm talking bright, shiny, manly DUCT tape, mind you, slicked down, pressed, and staying in place. No way on earth anyone would be able to accidently roll down that window, no siree BOB. The only way that can be achieved is to actually rip the tape off to get to the buttons beneath it.

So what happened when I went to the car wash today, you ask?

Take a guess. Some idiot born of sibling parents ripped the tape off--on both door jambs--and rolled the $@#% window down. You tell me.

Now, I'm thinking, what were the thought processes involved here (if any)? "Duh, there's some tape on this here door jamb. Wonder why? Dunno, but I gotta roll down this here window, and them buttons is under there, so guess I'll just haveta rip it off to get to 'em. Gorsh."

What possesses a person to simply ignore the obvious signs that they are not supposed to do something and do it anyway? I can imagine this person with a driver's license.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Officer, was I supposed to stop at that stop sign back there? Gorsh."



Sunday, August 21, 2005

You might be a redneck...

Here's some good advice from a redneck my husband just sent me (the advice, not the redneck, that is).

"Here's some Southerly advice that may come in handy down the road a piece... Next time you are too drunk to drive, walk to the nearest pizza shop and place an order. When they go to deliver it, catch a ride home with 'em."

Purdy smart, dem boys. Gotta love 'em...


Friday, August 19, 2005

Win a prize!

Okay, so like, I've noticed from other blogs that running a contest is "the" thing to do. I'm financially challenged, but I do have all these neat books on my shelf, so I've decided to run a contest whereby I will post a series of questions throughout the month, and the person who answers the most correctly can win their choice of one of the following books:

Christina Dodd's Scandalous Again (Romance)
Susan Kearney's The Challange (Paranormal Romance)
J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello (Literary Fiction--hardback)
Frank Peretti's The Visitation (Christian Suspense Fiction--hardback)
Jill Marie Landis' Lover's Lane (Contemporary Romance--hardback)

Hey, that's a pretty good mix, I think. Something for everyone, almost.

So here are your first questions. If you want a clue as to where some of these questions come from, visit my profile. Most will be from my "favorites" sections. I'll keep score, and by the end of the month, the two visitors to this blog who answer the most questions correctly will receive the book of their choice.

Interested? Okay, here's your first question (and no, Dear Hubby, you can't play)...

Q1: "What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

Q2: What is the correct response to this comment: "Well, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition."

Q3: According to Jenny Cruisie, the Romance Writers of America is:
a. Anti-woman
b. racist
c. politically right-winged
d. all of the above

Q4: How big was the tree roach that attacked TJB's toe (hint: answer posted in one of her blogs)?

Q5: Which one of these men is not a member of the Four Tops?
a. Levi Stubbs
b. Lawrence Payton
c. Russell Thompkins

Q6: Rick, Victor, Sam and Ilsa. Name the movie.

Check back to this post later. I'll be adding more questions as I think of them. When posting your response, you can refer to the question number.


With wings, or without?

Yes, I know I'm supposed to be working right now, but I just had another one of "those" thoughts that I thought I'd pop down here.

I sent my DH out to buy a, ahem, feminine product the other day (yes, he's the kind of guy that will do that for his woman. God, I love that.) I was writing down the description--hey, I get confused in the feminine product aisle, I can imagine how he must feel--and I told him I wanted the ones "with wings." He smirked and made a sort of flapping movement with his hands, then off he went.

I got to thinking...(gentlemen, if you're reading along, you may wish to look away for a moment during this intense discussion of female secrets) what kind of woman prefers wings vs. without? Is there some sort of general characteristic that we can observe in winged women? Are they trendsetting go-getters, so active and mobile during the day that their underpants shift about wildly, and they need sticky tabs to hold everything together? Or are they simply the kind of women who don't have the required two inch space between their thighs to keep things from bunching awkwardly and causing general discomfort? You know, the non size-four chicks?

I'd like to think we're that first thing. Yeah. That's me, trendsetting go-getter that I am. Snark snark. What do you mean, how much do I weigh?


Not that I'm picking on government employees...

I really do like people who work for the government. Federal, state, and local level--those are my kind of people. Used to be one myself. BUT--and this is a large, dimpled one I'm talking about--I've got a bone to pick with contracted out employees.

As you know from my recent blog, my kids started school a couple of days ago. They were going to be riding the bus this year, for the first time ever. That has changed. The first day, the bus was twenty minutes late picking up, and over half-an-hour late bringing the kids back home. Okay, first day run throughs and all that. I get it. However, the second day, the bus simply never showed up. Here we all were, parents and neighbor kids, waiting for 45 minutes before I got frustrated enough to put my kids in the car and drive them to school myself. What if I'd been heading to work and dropped the kids off at the bus stop, as some parents do? They'd have been stuck, that's what. Right then and there, the DH and I decided we would pick them up that afternoon and make them car riders until the school could get their act together. Apparently, the bus never showed up again today, so good thing we did.

What happened? No one seems to know, although the rumor is that the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road, parked the empty bus, and walked away from it. She just quit, an hour before she was scheduled to pick up our kids. If this is true, I have to question her sanity. What kind of a person does something like that, leaving dozens of kids stranded with no idea how to get to school?

Rumors were flying about the nature of the hiring process, and now a bunch of parents want to know exactly what sort of background checks do these people we hand over our kids to before and after school have to go through? Added to that was the news of a fourth-grader being run over by a school bus driver in the city. All of this on the same day. Same contractor? I don't know. However, to me, the school district made a promise to provide for the care and welfare of our children when we put them on that bus. IMHO, the fact that they not only had no idea what had occurred when frantic parents called them up, nor could devise a satisfactory answer to the question "Will my kids be able to get home this afternoon?" is just not good enough.

Makes you want to join the PTA and get rowdy, doesn't it?


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Does this make me a bad mommy?

My children go back to school tomorrow. Is it wrong of me to rejoice? I'll have the house to myself for a few days before I start work, and while I've loved having them around, having two seven-year-olds in the house 24/7 for the past summer is about as much lovin' as I can take.

Of course, I'm nervous for them--it is a brand new school for them, and they'll be riding the bus for the first time ever. We checked out the facility, and it seems very nice. One of my children, the one who is usually a pessimist, even declared, "I think I'm going to like it here." Hallelujah! Of course, then he bit his lip and said, "I hope there aren't any bullies." Amen to that, too.

That's my biggest worry. Are my kids going to be well-liked and popular, or are they going to be the nerdy ones that get picked last for basketball? Well, maybe not basketball--they are only 7, and already they come to my shoulders in height, so if these other kids are smart, they'll pick them first. But are they going to be popular? Neither their dad or I were in school, and I just can't bear the thought of them going through what we did. This actually keeps me up at night, though there is nothing I can really do about it. Many things keep me up at night that I can do nothing about. I worry about health insurance, global warming, identity theft, and dental caries, though I suppose I can do something about that last thing. So, back to school it is. The only question I have now, is how far behind the bus should we follow so the kids don't actually know we're there?


Friday, August 12, 2005

Things that get old real fast

Krispy Kreme doughnuts
The words "bling bling"
Terry Hatcher
White people in commercials singing Rap

Feel free to add to this list...


Is that type getting bigger, or are you just happy to see me?

So, I see the NYT has an article today that says the reason people are not buying paperbacks is because most of the readers are getting older and the type is too small for them to read. So, some publishers have decided that the answer to lower sales is bigger print.

The answer to lower sales is bigger print.
The lower bigger print.

Nope, doesn't sound any better when you read it real slow. The price of these new bigger books is rising to go along with the bigger print, BTW.

So, the fact that they keep bringing old books out by the same authors over and over again, trying to fool us into thinking they're new, has nothing to do with it. The fact that the authors who have a gazillion books and are commanding the huge salaries that are causing the industry to tighten their wallets on the rest of us are RUNNING OUT OF THINGS TO SAY probably doesn't have anything to do with it either. I have a few favorite authors I like to read, but frankly, the last few books I got by these authors were disappointing. These folks need to take a creativity break and recharge, you know? At the very least, they need to stop rewriting the same old books.

Hey, here's an idea, Mr. Or Ms. Publisher...bring in some new, exciting untried authors, widen the market of things you are willing to publish, advertise and promote the new ones, and maybe, just maybe we'll start buying books again! It's so crazy, it just might work!

(Wait for it....)


Oooh, look! Harry Potter's got a new cover! I think I'll buy it again...


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Stop me before I apply again!

Well, I just spent several confused hours attempting to apply for a government job through one of those online websites for which our taxes pay. Either we're not paying enough, or I'm just stupid (which is, of course, always a distinct possibility), because that was harder than giving birth. At least I had a set of twins to show for it when they laid me out on that metal slab in the operating room 7 years ago (C-Section). I haven't a clue whether my on line questionnaire (all 156 questions...or maybe it was the one with 27 questions...) and resume actually made it to their intended destinations.

You know, I used to work for the government about five or six years ago. I remember some of those people. Many of them were bright, intelligent, happy people who could do Algebra and everything. But many of them know...government employees. How on earth did they get those jobs if this is the process they had to use to apply?!?

Let's face it: I have two degrees, I have written three books, I have raised fairly normal children (so far), taught hundreds of college level freshman how to write, led seminars and workshops with CEOs of Fortune 500 hundred companies...and it took me ALL DAY to complete the #*&@# on line application form. You tell me, how the heck does one answer a question like this:

Q: "When you completed computer classes in high school, did you usually receive a grade of B or better? Answer only yes or no."

A: "Well...uh...when I was in high school, they didn't actually offer computer classes. Not that it was that long ago, you understand, but they just didn't have them then. I would have gotten a B or better if they had, though, I bet. I'm pretty smart and all. I can do Word and Power Point like you wouldn't believe, and I manage Excel when I have to, and can stumble blindly through Adobe Photoshop and produce a reasonable facsimile of what I want. I did take computer classes outside of high school, but they don't grade those A - F, because it was for work, you know. I'm tired. I want to go home. What's the criminal penalty for guessing wrong on this question again?"


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Attack of the Killer Tree Roaches

Ohmigawd, ohmigawd. I was just attacked by a tree roach the size of my thumb. My husband says it probably wasn't attacking me, per se, but rather trying to find a way to climb onto my leg and investigate me, but that, in my humble opinion, fits within my definition of the word "attack." I screamed like a girl and danced the hootchie kootchie, waking up one of my sleeping children in the process.

The thing had GRABBED MY TOE through my sock and wouldn't let go. I'm just sitting there, minding my own business at the computer, and I feel this little "tug tug." What the heck kind of bug is so big and bold that it grabs your sock and won't let go? Then it crawled under the bed and had to be sucked back out with a vacuum cleaner. I won't be opening THAT bag any time soon, no siree.

Look, I'm a girl from the suburbs, okay? I don't go camping because I don't believe it makes any kind of sense to leave a perfectly good toilet and shower behind. But since I've moved to my new home state a month ago, I've battled tree roaches, maggots, mosquitoes, copperheads, wasps, click bugs, little wiggly things that have yet to be named...I love the forest and everything, but if I woke up tomorrow and somehow my yard had been accidently covered in concrete, I probably wouldn't call anyone to change it back. Yuk.


Spongebob is a genius, but Avatar is cool

I realized with a kind of suspended horror the other day that all my cultural references are to kid shows. I don't really watch TV except for with my children (in an attempt to monitor what goes into their little brains), so I'm clueless when people talk about Lost, or Desperate Housewives or whatever.

However, repeated showings of Spongebob Squarepants and Avatar have convinced me that TV is not a vast wasteland. And no, I don't think Spongebob is gay. Silly, spongy, square, and very strange, but not gay. Okay, there was that one episode where he and Patrick became parents to a baby clam, but that was just surreal and not intended to be interpreted as a sexual metaphor. Spongebob's attraction is his very innocence, so let's not layer all our own stuff on top of him, okay?

Avatar has some of the best scenes of Goal, Motivation and Conflict I have ever seen, and has managed to develop a complex protagonist who started out being a bad guy, but now we just feel sorry for the poor sod. Not to mention having an absolutely cool premise. Creative, different, and yet not too different (it evokes memories of the Far East, American West, etc.). Why can't I think of stuff like that?

I also decided to read the Harry Potter series before my kids did, and got hooked. I know some people don't like the ending (I won't spoil it here), but anyone who knows about The Hero's Journey understands it had to be. Just like Luke and ObiWan. That's all I will say.

Perhaps I'm reliving my childhood, which in fact occurred overseas on military bases that showed TV that was already twenty years old. Deprived, that's what I was. All I got to see were things like the Berlin Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum...boring stuff like that.

Take care, TJB

Dead snakes do bite

Here is something that I recently learned. A dead snake can still bite for up to an hour after you kill it. My DH is reading up about snakes, since we've discovered two poisonous baby copperheads on our property recently. Along with the West Nile virus mosquitos big enough to drag you off into the next county, and the 100+ degree temperatures and constant downpours, I'm beginning to suspect I live in the tropics.

I'm new to my area, having just moved from a townhouse in L.A. My third day in the house found me stomping maggots in my garage after my washing machine flooded it due to the negligence of a handy man. I tell you what, we didn't have anything like this in L.A. Takes some getting used to. But as my husband keeps reminding me, we "own our house." And that's worth something. In L.A., we paid rent to the "man" like everyone else who didn't buy in the seventies or worked in computers, aerospace, or the film industry. Or the illegal drug trade.

Sometimes I wonder if it is really fun being a grown up. I really do.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A bit of editor news

This may not be news to you, but if you haven't heard it, I guess it will be.

Heard that Kelly Harms has left or will leave Avon and is going to the Jane Rotrosen agency as an agent. Those of you who pitched to her in Reno may want to follow up with the publishing house as to the status of your requested submisisons. Or, with her when she gets settled in at the agency. Maggie Kelly has left Jane Rotrosen, so Kelly may be taking her place.

Take care, TJB

Geek check

I found myself humming the theme to the Partridge Family series from the '70's this morning. Okay, yes, that makes me the ultimate of geeks, that I can even remember that song. Not even a techno-geek, which according to my children is "cool" now, just a plain ol' geek.

The question I have is this: does anyone really believe "it all came together when Mom sang along"? Now, come on, don't you think David Cassidy would have been so much cooler if he hadn't had his mom singing backup in his band?

These are the things I think about, folks. Burning questions that must be answered.

Take care, TJB

I love women

No, the title of this post doesn't refer to an alternative lifestyle erotica romance. But, I love women. Women are some of my best friends. I am a woman. But, admit it, when you get a group of us together, we can be a times. Put 9000 of us together in the same organization (minus the few men in the Romance Writers of America), and as George Carlin says, every twenty-eight days there will be intense negotiations.

Oh, that was naughty. What I'm trying to say is this. When men have confrontations, it usually ends in, at best, a trip to the local pool hall to have a brewski with no hard feelings, or at worst, weapons of mass destruction. When women have confrontations, they will smile and nod and go home and sob and plot the downfall of the race. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when after the Reno Nationals conference, I arrived home to discover a swirling controversy had erupted over the awards ceremony. I rather enjoyed the ceremony myself, though I seem to be in the minority. I will never forget my idol, Susan Squires, mispronouncing my first name after making me say it for her correctly several times in a row, then quickly correcting herself and shouting, "I got it right!" at me. That was fun. But many have since brought up some good points about the inappropriateness of some of the material presented. I won't go into that here--other blogs have done a far better job than I could. What I do want to say is this--I don't think we need to drag those people through the mud who did their best, or attempt to destroy careers and instigate revolution. As Rodney King once said, "Can't we all just get along?"

Let's move forward. I suggest a representative committee of the membership--from all spectrums (left, right, central, outside the box, under the table, next to your armpit) be put together to plan next year's ceremony. That way, these issues can be vetted before they become a problem. That, of course, is just my two cents, and worth every penny, I might add.

Take care, TJB

Monday, August 08, 2005

Welcome to my blog

Well, I've done it. I've gone bloggy. How could I resist? The world no longer uses the privacy of old-fashioned paper journals or diaries, or sends letters to their friends. Now we blog, and let everyone have a peek inside our brains for free. I can't imagine why that's a good thing, but nonetheless, here I am.

In an attempt to establish myself on the internet, and to be able to say I am both a) hip and b) current (although the use of these very words reveals the archaic nature of my being), I too shall blog. When I am on my deathbed, clutching the sheets around me with my gnarled, boney fingers, I shall look up, and with my last death rattle wheeze, "At least I had a blog!"

Or maybe I'll tell my children I always loved them. One of those things. Anyway, a little about myself. I am a naturally private person, so this freaks me out. I will attempt to both reveal and conceal myself, so pardon if I get dodgy on certain facts. Age: old enough to know better; older than my gums, but younger than my teeth. Take your pick. Sex: yes. State: One of the bigger ones, sort of square, with a pointy end. In the USA. Weight: On the moon, not much. Race: I don't race unless someone is chasing me, and then only if he has a gun.

Well, that's all you really need to know about me, I guess. Also, I write romance. Currently, paranormal romantic suspense, but not the real "whoo whoo" stuff. I have written historical, but as I was told the stuff I was interested in was virtually unmarketable at the time (okay, totally unmarketable), I decided to stop hitting myself over the head with a hammer and moved to contemporary. My first two novels were set in the Early Reformation period (16th century) in non-traditional locations (The Legacy was set in Wittenberg, Germany, at the time of the printing and protestant revolutions--uh-huh, uh-huh--and involved the arranged marriage of a printer and an ex-nun who escaped from a convent. Yeah, give me more of that. The second one, which is eighty pages shy of being completed because I got wise and realized THIS WAS NEVER GOING TO SELL, involved a German mercenary--the printer's brother--who falls for a Spanish blade merchant's daughter in Italy. Oh, boy. Actually, they were both very good, if I do say so myself. Just unsellable in the romance market).

[**UPDATE** 1/31/09: Of course, any of you who have been keeping track know that both THE LEGACY and THE PROMISE, to which this post refers, did eventually sell. Yay, me!]

My current manuscript is called Dreamweaver, is based on a horrible killing nightmare I had one night, and finalled in two national contests (the RWA Golden Heart and the Daphne du Maurier) and several smaller contests, including the Laurie and the Lone Star. If you're a member of RWA, you probably know these. If not, why do you care?

I love writing romance, but have yet to convince either an editor or agent that I can do it on a full time basis, though no one has discouraged me yet ("just stop already, please??") In fact, they've been very encouraging, and for that I'm grateful. I'm waiting for the right story to hit the right editor at the right time, and I'm also planning to win the lottery and retire young on my earnings. Well, it could happen!

Enough about me. Let's talk about you? How do you like my blog so far? Sorry. Old joke. Later.

Take care, TJB