Monday, October 31, 2005

Still no Joy, Suisan

I made a half-hearted attempt to find the word JOY, but my search thing didn't do seem to find any and I don't want to make a full-hearted attempt. I'm skeeered I never use cheery words like joy and I just don't want to know that I'm such a curmudgeon. I suspect, but do not wish to have this confirmed.

HOWEVER I did find another VERY COOL MEME at BSChick's place. She was writing a SBD entry and I bet she didn't even know she was inventing a meme. Check it out: You take titles and arrange them into sentences.

You see, I’ve always believe that Harlequin Presents covers can be used either to
a.) make one weird blackmail note, or
b.) summarize a whole new plot for the upcoming month.
To do this one must first collect six Harlequin Presents. For our example we’ll use the six that came out for the month of November:
Pregnancy of Revenge by Jacqueline Baird
The Italian Doctor’s Mistress by Catherine Spencer
Bound by Blackmail by Kate Walker
Disobedient Virgin by Sandra Marton
Sale or Return Bride by Sarah Morgan
The Greek’s Bought Wife by Helen Bianchin

Do not try to make sense out of the titles. I don’t know what the Sale or Return Bride means either; it doesn’t matter. You are now going to rearrange these titles so they make a sentence (or a couple of sentences). Feel free to add in important linking words like (if, then, and, or longer phrases).

Your result may look like so:
Although Bound by Blackmail, the Disobedient Virgin refused to be the Italian Doctor’s Mistress and instead chose to be The Greek’s Bought Wife. Even though he considered her to be his Sale or Return Bride, she would carry his Pregnancy of Revenge with love.

I'm looking at my bookshelf now. Hmmm Feast of Murder, Uncle Dynamite, Five Weeks To Winning Bridge, Myself, The Four-Gated City, Courting Trouble, The Wages of Zen, Jed The Poor-House Boy, and The Penultimate Peril. Maybe it doesn't work for every bookshelf? You probably have to stick to one genre. I'll bet horror or cozy mysteries could be as good as Harlequin Presents.

See if it works for you and let me know. I'm going to gaze at my too-random list for another couple of minutes. Then I have to get back to the work of driving a wooden stake into a book's heart.

The stage I loathe (about writing)

I'm going to stop haunting the pundits' sites and just scan the headlines for a time. I have to focus and riot--the holidays are coming along any minute and nothing happens around here when they strike.

Just now I have three things sitting on my computer.

1. A book that's closest to done but that I'm fairly sure I loathe. I think. This is the standard stage for many writers and I'm not very worried--though I despise this one more than usual. Someone pointed out (rightly) that is very much like my first book, Somebody Wonderful. DAMN! A one trick pony. That's okay if you write profound works of art but if you're a fluffster, no way. It might be okay with the numbers but not with what passes for my writer's soul these days. I want the book out of here.

2. A book that's a lot of fun to write. It's got an drunken sot of an heir (Little Lord Fakeleroy as Hilary put it), a hero who has panic attacks and is a liar and turns out to be something of a troublemaker. The heroine is still rather dull. She's the sensible one but there's no reason sensible has to be boring. I love these people, especially the golden haired Greek god of an heir who is a potential degenerate.

3. Another book that's a lot of fun. Erotica, but with maybe too much plot. Good old Summer Devon. She needs to take a long break in a spa and reexamine what she wants out of life.

Hey, I just found out that a Summer Devon book that's edited and done is coming out on April 26th.

today's essay question:

Which is more disturbing, when an author talks about herself in the third person or when she discusses her characters as if they are real people? Why or why not?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

small world of little interest

Yesterday I made a passing reference to Fitzmas to a friend.

Her response was. . .Huh?

I ran names past her. Fitzgerald. Libby. Wilson. Plame. She recognized Plame--or maybe by then she just wanted me to shut up. And, thank goodness, she knew Rove and Cheney.

This is a well-educated savvy person I was talking to. A voter who actually reads those circulars the League of Women Voters sends out at election time.

For a moment I thought heck, it's like the RWA fiascos. Whenever I talked about RWA with my Real World friends they'd say So? Who gives a shit? And I have to agree. Yah, it's really nothing, isn't it. No point in going on about the whole sad saga of the Definition of Romance. The great Inspiration and Erotica writers' schism.

For maybe a second I thought that.

But then I had to tell her write this down--I have a list of sites to visit to learn more about Rove, Libby and the gang. Most of the sites are unbiased, like Fitzgerald's.

The implications (and there are plenty, no matter what Fitzgerald said) of the story affect us all--and I don't mean just Americans. The backstory of the current administration's actions is probably far worse for us than the story behind the stain on the damned blue dress. ** And if any of you don't know what I mean by the blue dress, then never mind. You aren't from this universe.

Far worse implications, but not nearly as lurid as Clinton's story. I wish there was some sex in this particular saga. That would make the thing a lot more interesting and memorable to the people who aren't wonks, eh? We at least need a Maureen Dean.

I can't understand why people aren't fascinated, but then I grew up in DC. My family didn't do sports, they did politics (and unfortunately, sometimes politics did them). My fatally ill grandmother stayed alive just so she could watch Nixon go down. She used to lie in her hospital bed and call my parents to go over the day's testimony. She was like a ailing Red Sox fan who managed to hold on until the end of last year's World Series. After Watergate ended, she lost the incentive to stay alive.

I wish I could call her and my father now. Yeah, the situation is beyond partisan politics, but I know they'd have done a lot of cheering and jeering-- and maybe have some big foam fingers to wave.


Here's a take on the whole thing--came from a comments section here. (Yes, the General is more radical.)

As I watched Mr. Fitzgerald's press conference, I had this...this strange, vaguely nostalgic feeling come over me... was, at long last and undeniably, a small resurgence of pride in my country. YES, I thought; YES, THIS is the America I remember. He spoke of the crimes that have been committed by those in control as, well, CRIMES against our country. OUR country, not the personal, decimated playground of corruption that the current cabal seems to think it is. The Constitution. The First Amendment. A government where even the most powerful shitbag is no match for the system, when it works, when it is in the hands of people such as Fitzgerald. Rove's (and, hopefully, others') come-uppance may still be a dream deferred, but for today, at long last, I felt good about living here again. That was Fitzmas for me.


** the first version of this sentence was the familiar liberal cry of "Clinton just did it to one woman, the current administration did it to over two thousand American servicemen and their families." If it was just a matter of 2000 people performing oral sex it would be a much more amusing and interesting matter. Yeah, okay, Teresa, I'd worry about offending people but in the face of this no one can remain indifferent. I hope.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy Anniversary, Sigmund

Dr. Ruth, you weren't.

From Seattle Times by way of blondesense:

2005 . . . marks the centennial of Sigmund Freud's theory of vaginal orgasm.

Freud's idea didn't cause a revolution in our understanding of the cosmos, but it did set off a debate that rages to this day. . .

Freud proposed that female pleasure and orgasm should center on the reproductive tract. He was aware that many women experienced orgasm through a small but ultrasensitive organ known as the clitoris but dealt with this by declaring such orgasms "infantile." Any woman who didn't transfer her center of sensitivity to the vagina he labeled as frigid.

It was the idea that launched a thousand fake orgasms.

Sex research has shown that about 95 percent of men nearly always have orgasm from intercourse while only about 25 percent to 30 percent of women do. Another 30-some-odd percent of women never have orgasm from intercourse, and a middle 30 percent to 40 percent report having them sometimes.

[I have to cover this because Doug is doing politics and has abandoned sex.]

it's way too cloudy

and normally I wouldn't blog about weather but I swear, if it rains again, I'm going to jump off the roof--into one of the rain-barrels. (We have rain-barrels made from 50 gallon olive oil barrels. They smell lovely when you unscrew the lids. Didn't really use them much this summer.)

Teresa, see how good I'm being? Not a word about Harriet's withdrawal. Nothing. And nothing about Fitzgerald or Rove or Miller or anyone. Zipped lips and fingers.

How about them White Sox?

Ummm. Oh, what the hell.

The celebration of Fitzmas: Tacky, Shameful or Funny?


Saved by the bell pathetic cracked voice of Boy 2 (aka The Actor) who's summoning me. He's home with a mystery fever, poor fish.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Your call is important to us

Please hold. We hope you will enjoy a link mocking Fox News while you wait for our regularly scheduled blogging.

more at this site (via dailykos). If Fox News Existed Throughout History

For the appearance of a Fair and Balanced blog I might heap scorn on NPR tomorrow.

Monday, October 24, 2005

forget avian flu, forget wilma, forget taxes

This is really depressing. I know all about book-stripping--I learned about the vile practice at a too-tender age because we roomed with Gavin the Bookseller. Knowing the truth doesn't make reminders of its details any less grim.

Bookseller chick makes a rainy Monday even more cold and cruel.

It’s strip or die, really.

So last Thursday, we stripped nine boxes of mass markets to clear out the bins: fiction, romance, science fiction/fantasy and mystery. No one was safe.

Each box holds approximately 48 books, so around 432 books were stripped that morning. The rampage continued through this week as more product arrived.

Those were 432 books that never saw the sales floor.

I would like to assure you that each title was represented somewhere, that there was at least one book on the shelf and one in overstock, but in the end I can’t.
I’m really not sure. Towards the end we were just guessing.

messages: a Smart Bitches Day thing

Give it up. Some of you are good at it. Most of us are not. I'm talking about sending the message of peace, love and understanding via romance. I don't mean actually take out the love. You better be good at the love.

What I mean is take out the tagged-on MESSAGE of this stuff. I'm thinking of the historicals with the PC women and the misogynist alphas who come to love and worship strong women in general (in other words become feminists rather than simply fall in love). Some people, like Laura Kinsale or Judith Merkle Riley can do this stuff. The transformation is believable because it's an integral part of the man's character to be able to change. Other romance writers seem to be putting in that twist to make their readers or editors happy rather than having it be a realistic important part of the plot. At the end, the rough tough pirate goes from ravisher to teddy bear--but that's only to fit the need for PC and because the heroine doesn't really want to live with the rough tough jerk, just have sex with him on the deck.

warning, Kate's about to write about a controversial subject: It always reminds me of that plot device in eroticas: a brutal non-consensual sex, obviously designed to titillate the reader and -- ha! ha! --turns out to be a husband fulfilling his spouse's dearest birthday wish. Sometimes it works in the story. (although I'm sick of the story line and I'm sick of non-consensual sex. Not for any political reasons, mind you.) Usually it serves to remind the reader in the reality that this stuff REAL non-consensual sex (rape) is BAD. Duh.

If you're writing that sort of story? Make that ending a real part of the plot--maybe have hints of it show up in the story? Don't just add on the message. Better yet make the dangerous tension between them more than yehaw-good-time violence aimed at the woman--but that's my personal preference showing. That rape fantasy rant isn't the point of this, thank goodness. (The real smart bitches address that rant just fine.)

Anyway a lot of those add-on PC things are like safe sex in a novel, unavoidable for mid-list people writing commercial fiction. Publishers want it so of course you have to put that safe sex bit in (or on) but it's your job to make the addition part of the scene completely natural and maybe even actually advance the plot or shed light on the characters.

Why would I, a teapot (my two mass-market books feature males who transform) write this rant? Because I'm a hypocrite and because I'm practicing. I plan on putting in a happy hypocrite in my next novel. Absolutely unapologetic and un-PC.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

if I were a few decades older. . .

I'd take my crotchety old lady self down to NYC and join these ladies (found at blondesense and other spots):**

This past Wednesday in New York City, there was a civil disobedience conducted by " Grandmothers Against War". They are the same older ladies called "Grandmothers for Peace" prior to the launching of the War in Iraq.This courageous group of grandmothers ages 65 to 90, went to the Recruiting Office in Times Square, to enlist in the Armed Forces under the rationale that "we lived a long, prosperous life and by enlisting we can relieve some of our young soldiers from Iraq and give them a chance to live just as we lived".

As they arrived at the Recruiting Office, the recruiters didn't want to enlist old ladies in the Armed Forces, so they locked the entrance door and hid behind their desks. The grandmothers rang the doorbell repeatedly, but the marines were too scared to show their faces.

The old ladies thought: "if they are so scared of us, can you imagine how scared the insurgents would be in Iraq?"

The recruiters don't want to face gays and grandmothers at their office. The protesters sat down on the sidewalk blocking the entrance to the Recruiting Office; the hardest thing they had to do with their worn joints.Thirteen of them were arrested, jailed and booked and to the credit of Mayor Bloomberg (who is due for re-election) the cops were very nice to the grandmothers. They even help them up from the pavement, gingerly.

They [old women, not cops] were released from jail after four hours. They promised to return every Wednesday until the troops come home.


**Heck, maybe I should anyway. My kids would be so embarrassed for and by me it would be worth it. (It would serve me right if the recruiter said, "fine with us. We have a pressing need for middleaged romance writers with high blood pressure. Sign here.")


Joan Wile, the organizer, wrote to me (I wrote to her first--occasionally the old habit of getting the facts from primary sources kicks in.)

Dear Kate: I'm extremely gratified that you reported about our arrest and jailing, even though some of the facts are a little off. That doesn't matter, really, as long as the message gets out, but let me clarify a few of them for anything in the future you might write.

We did the actual sit-in/arrest/jail thing on Monday, October 17. Wednesdays we hold a regular vigil from 4;30 to 5:30 at Rockefeller Plaza -- on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. We've been doing it for almost 2 years and have never missed a Wednesday. In the beginning there were just two of us -- now there are always on average around 20.

Last Wednesday, the 19th, two days after our Recruiting Center venture, we held our regular vigil, and Cindy Sheehan joined us. She was wonderful....warm, friendly, and eloquent.

We will not be going to the Recruiting Center on a regular basis -- although you've given me an interesting idea.

We will join other peace groups there the day after the 2,000th U.S. fatality occurs in Iraq--at 6 pm. First, we will hold a special vigil from 4:30 to 5:30 pm at our regular Fifth Avenue spot and then we will walk over to Times Square.

One more thing: Eighteen (18) of us were arrested and jailed, not 13. Also, I wish I COULD say I had lived a "long, prosperous life." I've certainly lived a long one -- 74 years -- but definitely not a prosperous one. I can't speak for the others, but I don't think we have any rich or even mildly prosperous ladies.

The police WERE very sweet to us, and as you say, probably instructed to handle us with care, given Mayor Bloomberg's re-election hopes. And, oh, boy, did we ever need help getting up from the pavement -- with our artificial hips, knees, arthritic bones, and creaky muscles. That was the hardest part -- getting down on our own and trying to get up before the cops rescued us.

Oh, one more thing -- it wasn't just my groups --Grandmothers against the War and Grandmothers for Peace International -- NYC Code Pink for Peace, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Gray Panthers, and Peace Action New York were also part of the group.

I thank you so much for your interest and the cute piece you** wrote.

Joan Wile, Founder/Director
Grandmothers Against the War
and proud Granny Jailbird


** Note to Joan and anyone else--I lifted the piece. I didn't write it. Vive la internet!

Last year at this time.

What was my sister-in-law saying? So about those WMD. . . . .

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Come on you guys, lay off Judy

Oops, didn't mean that kind of lay off**. I mean get off her case, buzzard face.

The woman's been misunderstood: she was just upholding an ancient and honorable yellow-journalism tradition, war mongering. Used to be the publishers were the ones who did the job.

Remember your high school history? Sure ya do. Remember the Maine!
highlights of the SPAM war:

. . .the papers had been painting in lurid detail the horrors of Cuban life under oppressive Spanish rule. The Spanish had confined many Cubans to concentration camps. The press called them "death camps." Wild stories with screaming headlines -- Spanish Cannibalism, Inhuman Torture, Amazon Warriors Fight For Rebels -- flooded the newsstands. Newspapers sent hundreds of reporters, artists, and photographers south to recount Spanish atrocities. The correspondents, including such notables as author Stephen Crane and artist Frederick Remington, found little to report on when they arrived.

"There is no war," Remington wrote to his boss. "Request to be recalled."

. . .Remington's boss, William Randolph Hearst, sent a cable in reply: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war." Hearst was true to his word.

Poor Judy Miller. I blame the internet and cable. News gets disseminated way too fast these days.


** Though I bet she's toast at the NYT. . . .That's toast AT, previously toast OF.

I go for a drive and what do I see?

Naw, not really

What I really see is far more painful--more rain.

Welcomes You.
Bring Your Own
Sump Pump

Photo from here.
(Yellow dog makes me look right-wing. I love him.)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tour of Kate and Her Mind



divided in the midsaggital plane:


[note the rear leg action]


[note front leg action]

Questions can be directed to Medulla Oblongata c/o the brainstem:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

and these guys are even more like sheep

All of the sudden, Bush-bashing is okay. Facts that have been true for years -- FACTS, mind you, not opinions (a lack of WMDs in Iraq) -- are now okay to blare all over the front page and condemn on the editorial pages. Is it because people have grown more afraid of the current administration's path? Naw, they're less afraid of the repercussions of saying this stuff aloud.

I read this Washington Post article:

"As Colin Powell's right-hand man at the State Department, Larry Wilkerson seethed quietly during President Bush's first term. Yesterday, Colonel Wilkerson made up for lost time. . ."
(yeah, you have register to read the rest but go on. The Post has good stuff, like Gene Weingarten and the Invitational on Sundays)

and part of me was saying well, I'm glad you're finally stating the truth as you see it, Wilkerson, and that whole business of "my loyalty is to the country, not to the administration" is very noble. But why did you wait until NOW to say something?

The real people to admire are the ones who put their careers in jeopardy -- in fact lost their jobs -- back when criticizing the administration or the war meant you risked being labeled "anti-American." Those are the people who knew that real patriotism is often going to make you unpopular.

Maybe Wilkerson was talking earlier, but at a time when the press was too nervous about sending an unpopular message to pay attention? To keep their numbers good, arms of the media need us to lurve them and so will avoid unpopularity (even the tastiest stories) like models avoid whipped cream. It wrecks their careers too. Too bad managing editors aren't all as brave as Richard Clarke. Too bad they pay as much attention to polls as presidents do. We might have avoided a tragic stupid war.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Golly, they really do follow each other! (do I mean "one another"?)**

A year or so ago, the cry went out. "Erotica! WE NEED EROTICA."

Publishers must have all recently read the same report about another potentially profitable market because everyone's trotting off in the same direction:

Warner Books announced a new Latino fiction line, Solana, which will publish six trade paperback titles a year, beginning in early 2007. They're looking for "established or emerging authors" of commercial women's fiction aimed at "Latinas who are immersed in the American mainstream while maintaining ties to their culture." Their first title is "B" as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras. Submit to associate editor Adrienne Avila. (from Cindy Myers)

I know a lot of you have watched these herds of publishers moving as a group one way and then setting off down another path. I've only been paying attention for a few years. Anyone care to guess about the Next Big Thing? YA? Because of Twilight? . . . Naw, already there I think.

So who's usually the one to start the trends? Or does that lead baton get passed from company to company? All this tells me is that I really should be paying closer attention to But she's so subtle!


** gah! I hate those rules I always forget [I love the ones I remember because they make me feel sooooo superior]. Thank goodness that forgetting when "one another" or "each other" applies is not a sure sign of being an ignorant poop-head after all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Still recovering

from our teeny-tiny Katrina.

The curbsides are covered with duct-taped rolls of carpeting torn out of basements. There are HUGE piles of trash and soggy furniture. The town is doing bulk garbage pick up for free--usually they charge $20 a load.

On Sunday, a fire truck stopped by and pumped out the next door neighbor's basement . . .I didn't know they'd offered that service, but most of the people in town do, apparently. I'm still passing the trucks everywhere--the fire guys and home owners watching water gush out of a hose into the gutter. The official stand-around-and-drink-coffee fire guy (the one assigned to watch the others work) at the neighbor's house said the five stations in town had done over 400 houses. It's probably more than 500 by now.

After making sure there's nothing valuable, we're tossing the boxes that got soaked. I don't even want to know what was in them. I don't want to feel bad about the old baby clothes and other stuff that's gone.

Kate Does Not Work Well With Others**


The letter was from an editor who did not like seeing it on my blog. The correspondence can only be quoted with permission. I didn't have permission. I did take out the name of the editor and publisher beforehand, but I got an angry note about it--which I won't quote because I can be taught.

The fact is that I'm not good at remaining silent about subjects, even when I should be. . . I used to apologise for it, but I think I'll stop saying sorry because it's not going to change. I'm 5'5", have brown hair, and am not as diplomatic as I'd like to be, but that's part of the package. People don't apologise when they are uncoordinated or have a limp. Hell, yah, if I step on your foot with my particular limp, I'll apologise for the pain, and I'll try to be more careful next time, but that's as far as it goes. It's genetic. I blame my mother who also just came right out and said what she thought, too often. Usually, it's not a problem because I like people and my intentions are almost always good. (bless her heart, she means well...)

All that aside, allllll of it (although I imagine I'll be obsessing about it for much of the day) . . .I do think the point that male shapeshifters in erotic fantasy have to be slightly dangerous animals (and not the plague carrying kind of danger) is interesting. The only reason mermen can function is that they're half men. I don't see a romantic hero being a full fish or whale.

And giraffes? Right out. No beavers, for obvious reasons. Bears might work. One of my very favorite romances of all time has a horse shape-shifter, but he was a wild stallion. *** A tame saddle-horse? I don't think so.

I suppose stags can work because they have wicked sharp horns. Although at this point, I'd love someone to write about a giraffe shapeshifter, just to see if it could be done. Not me; I'm still stuck with a rat.

Seals? Any male shapeshifters who are selkies or are they all women?

I wonder where the boundaries can be stretched. I'm not talking animorph books. I mean for a romance fantasy shapeshifter type book. What have you seen that's stretched but not broken the limit for you? It's all in the telling, I guess. . . .I'd think undead creatures that drink blood would be beyond it, but then vampires got something going on for them.

** from an often quoted report card in the fourth grade. But honestly, that teacher didn't work well with kids. And she put me at a table with ALL BOYS. What on earth was she thinking?

*** Grey Horse by R A MacAvoy. Wow, that book was great.

Monday, October 17, 2005

What's wrong with this cover?

it's a trick question.

I really, really like this cover. These people are having fun. No angsty staring off into space, no groping at each other with heads thrown back and bosomsses (his too, of course) heaving. There's physical contact, yeah, but it's not designed to show off any swelling bits. And at the same time, the cover's not ashamed of being a romance. Pink! Red! People who are in looove! (one wishes his hands under his chin showed up better..they're getting lost in the red gooey fog--makes him look armless)

Admit it. When you look at the cover, you smile back at them.

And since I'm already pimping the book (I swear all I do is whine and pimp these days) I'd like to point out that Yolanda has a contest going with a seriously wicked good prize.

aww, no one likes a rat

Yeah, well, I should have suspected that even a nice fluffy rat wouldn't fly in the world of shapeshifters. Those guys have to be MACHO animals--wolves! panthers! eagles! A carnivore of some sort. My shapeshifter is also a lazy party dude. Until he's forced to be a rat to escape, he's only used his ability to take on forms as a parlor trick.

Here's my latest rejection:

letter removed because I didn't have permission to post it. I have to say I don't get why anyone would worry about it being on the internet--seemed like a reasonable sort of a rejection to me. The gist of the problem (which I'm confident I may discuss) is that smaller shaper shifter animals usually don't work for erotic fantasy.

unhappy SBD and ADD girl

I don't think I can celebrate SBD because for the last month I haven't finished a single romance. I've been reading other genres mixed in with lots of contest entries.

A couple of unpublished partials I've read are better than many of the published romances I've started and put down. Are you Listening, LINDA W? I'm talking about you. (And you, Linda I, but you know that already.)

Anyway, the books I've been reading are Life of Pi (and that's because it's on tape) and I'm dipping into a couple of non-fiction books that I can randomly open and start reading. I don't even miss the central looove relationships and HEAs. I sure hope this is just a stage I'm going through.

Most of this putting-down-the-book isn't the writer's fault. I started Megan Frampton's book, A Singular Lady, a lovely traditional Regency with just the right kind of crisp and witty trad regency language and a promising plot, an appealing heroine and hero--all the right elements. The snippets of dispatches from the mating battle-front make it a keeper . . . .but mommmmeeeee, I'm not in the mood for Regency right now.

I've carefully put her book away where I'll be able to find it again. (Not an easy thing in this house of bookshelves) Trad Regencies are an endangered species and I can't afford to lose a good one.

I make my way through the huge TBR pile.

--Okay, how about a historical? How about falling asleep reading someone else's love scene? It makes a nice change. I usually fall asleep writing my own. And that heroine's head snaps back too often. She's gonna dislocate something.

--A suspense with supernatural elements? Naw, can't suspend disbelief and the hero's an alpha jerk.

Alrighty then.

--A nice fantasy? Gawd. It's got an elf warrior. Save me from sacred oaths and pointy ears and pseudo-olde englishe language. Damn you, Tolkien.

But Kate, you like that kind of stuff.
Not today I don't.

--A chick-lit featuring the devil and a pyramid scheme for gathering souls? Well, cute, and I actually finished it, but I don't believe the central character's transformation. Yo, Kate It would probably have rung true if you'd actually read every line of the book. Yes, it's true. I skipped a page here and there.

Okay, I give up. I think I'll go into my kid's room and steal Thud! by Prachett. If the kid catches me and takes it back, I can always reread Stiff. I liked that book so much, I wrote to Mary Roach, the author, and I'm on her mailing list.

This is a letter she recently sent out.

Hi. I wanted to let you know that my second book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, is about to hit the bookstores. Like Stiff, it’s my usual goofball, attention-deficit hodge-podge. You can check it out at
I apologize in advance: There are no corpses in this one. But there is:
--Vaginally extruded ectoplasm
--An attempt to weigh the soul of a leech
–A Cambridge University ghost experiment carried out at an X-rated movie house
--A 1927 laboratory experiment to produce an outline of a monkey’s astral body
--Cameos by Elizabeth Taylor, Nikola Tesla, Homer Clyde Snook, and the Prince of Wales

Attention-deficit? hodge-podge? Soul of a leech? I'm so THERE, babee.

sick..and funny

I don't know who Frank Lesser is and I'm too busy to hunt around on his website (I am, dammit. Can't you see all this writing I'm doing?)

But I'm not too busy to watch a couple of his ....political....videos. Lie Girls--good time girls who'll spout the party line. The commercial.

And the Bush child left behind. Flora, the obnoxious third twin. (People leaving remarks at the review site called her stupid and whiney. Uh, yaaAAaahhh. Duh.)

Once I've churned out my ten pages, I'll go back and watch Lesser's Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth and maybe read Paul Gauguin, Passive Aggressive Artist.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

stopped sucking water to get sucked into play

I see a fair number of little plays**, but I don't usually relax enough to adore them--I worry too much about the actors missing lines or the point is too belabored or obvious . . . . I must have been in a mood. I was charmed by this one--Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky.

The romance wasn't entirely believable, but I thoroughly believed in the love, even if I wish it had stayed platonic--there's only a hint that it doesn't. It's funny because I can see the flaws (if I'd written a character that got in a car with a guy she'd just met, everyone would at once label her TSTL. And some of the moments were glossed over or just didn't seem plausible. The plot often seems very familiar**** I knew what was going to happen.) but I just don't give a damn.

I loved that thing.

I loved the songs (and I don't even like country western)...particularly the ones that don't have to do with the relationship. That burntangel @ aol is a classic. Now I wonder if the songs he sings in the beginning are supposed to show that he'd lost touch with the Feeeelings That He Needed to be An Artist? Don't care. I still love that burntangel thing.

I want to go out and buy the tape. I want the play to do well. I want the actors to get rich and famous and live happily ever after, kind of like the characters, only skipping the angst. David Cole--actor, songwriter, playwright--is way cool, even if his fantasy apparently includes hitching up with a girl half his age. I'll buy into it and cheer him on, no problem. Turns out he's British. . . damn, he's as good at accents as Hugh Laurie then.

Sarah Glendening played Clea. The woman is gorgeous and can sing beautifully. The role of a fresh-clean-lovely-young thing who Cares Deeply could have been obnoxious but she did it so well we didn't want to roll our eyes.

It was wonderful. I'm way glad I went, particularly since it meant I could stop cleaning up the flooded basement.


** I don't see a lot of big slick events--the ones that are so huge you almost forget have real people in them. They cost real money.

****but hey, a romance writer saying a plot's familiar? Teapots! Kettles! glass houses!

Today's Fab Blog Find

by way of Doug.

This guy catches small (and momentous) bits of life beautifully.

Back to bailing the basement. Avast, laddie! Solid ground is in sight! Take heart...Tis only gallons away now. . .

poor bonnie

It is RAINING. And FLOODING. And we went outside and did a sun dance so now we all smell like mud and wet dog.

I bet Bonnie's got that rain problem. She also has another flood happening--me going on about mother's milk in her blog. Every now and then and I channel some demented Le Leche League Mom. Thank dog I didn't do that when I was nursing--or I hope I didn't. (Leslie? Please. Tell me I wasn't so bad?) There is nothing more annoyingly self-satisfied than a nursing mother with a fat contented baby. Something about the chemicals, I think, convinces her she's The Best Mother on the Planet with the Best Baby ever Born**. If I'd had a colicky baby, I'd face-plant a mother like that.

And later on, those mothers will know their toddlers are f*cking geniuses and are goddamn perfect. The smug mothers are right, of course. The toddlers are f*cking geniuses and they are perfect--and mind-numbingly adorable as well.

Thing is, nearly every toddler on the planet fits that description.

Been there, done that. It gets old. Being in love is wonderful, and mom-love can make romantic love look like a pale imitation. But it has to turn into something sane, eventually, or the kid might end up some kind of hideous monster.

It all makes sense: mom-love serves a function of allowing an obnoxious little creature survive. The shift from holy adoration to sensible love allows the obnoxious little creature to transform into a member of the bigger group.

former Best Damn Mother On the Planet with the (former) Best Babies Ever


** except when the little bugger is screaming and should be tossed in the baby-pit. It all depends on the minute.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Today's Blog Link

Which comments came from the real Miers and which from the parody?

Uh. I guessed one wrong. . .very scary.

Mostly about Weather In New England

Someone around here must have said something to piss off the gods because this rain is starting to feel personal. Anyone have any goats or virgins we can toss into a storm drain in lieu of a volcano? It's clear we must appease a higher power. I think my sinuses are mildewing. Ewwwwww.

I'm knee-deep in edits and a leaking basement so I'll just pimp yet another contest.

It's easier than Doug's but less lurid . . . maybe.

Here is your chance to win a $25.00 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.
All you have to do is complete this sentence:
“I know romance readers are smarter because . . .”**

To enter just add your
comment here.

update--I moved this post up because it's the only one that'll show blog visitors a good time. (speaking of which, is it really illegal in Florida to have relations with porcupines?)

** The question ought to be who or what are romance readers smarter than? It's like those ads. Now! 25% better cleaning power! Hey if it drives statistics teachers nuts it can't be all bad, right?

Katrina AGAIN?

I admit it--I'm having trouble staying awake at work.

So I was reading this piece about 42 people who've left the government and noticed how many who were fired (or quit in disgust) had been in charge of the infrastructure of our country.

Here's one of them:

Mike Parker: In early 2002, Parker, the director of the Army Corps of Engineers testified before Congress that Bush-mandated budget cuts would have a "negative impact" on the Corps. He also admitted to holding no "warm and fuzzy" feelings toward the Bush administration. "Soon after," reported the Christian Science Monitor, "he was given 30 minutes to resign or be fired." In the wake of the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Parker's clashes with Mitch Daniels, former director of the Office of Management and Budget, can be seen as prophetic. Parker remembered one such incident in which he brought Daniels, the Bush administration's budget guru, a piece of steel from a Mississippi canal lock that "was completely corroded and falling apart because of a lack of funding," and said, "Mitch, it doesn't matter if a terrorist blows the lock up or if it falls down because it disintegrates -- either way it's the same effect, and if we let it fall down, we have only ourselves to blame." He recalled of the incident, "It made no impact on him whatsoever." Resigned, March 6, 2002.

How does this Daniels guy sleep at night?

I Lied About Not Posting

I got this from Dailykos**. This guy might have been my relative.
From an obit in the Chicago Tribune:

"Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service-related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans."

It's not the Republicans part that makes me laugh and wish I'd known him. Make it "letters to ____" "Democrats" or "the newspaper" or even "zoo keepers." It's that the guy was always ornery and always cared. Even on his way out he still gave a damn.


**bet you thought I was going to get all outraged about the staged Bush interview. Nah. I liked this London Times account of a Bush interview ["I Wanted to Slap Him"] much better. He lodged an actual complaint with the embassy? Folksy my arse. The guy's a spoiled brat.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I want my $30 gift certificate

So I'll pimp Doug's Bad Sex Writing contest. He gets all complex and involved at his website--goes on about ENTs**--which must have skeered off the usual suspects.

Here's what you do for the New Sex contest.
1. Write bad smut. You want it to be as bad as (or if posible, worse than) these bits 'o smut.
2. Make sure it's 200 words or less.
3. Post your smut at Doug's site where his ten-year-old will NOT read it.
4. Wait for your prize, which will be better than sox, even.


** I'll have you know that I can say otalaryngologist. Can't spell it. I know about the word because Boy 1 had ear tubes at age 11 months. He had the operation over his mother's dead body--so I must be a zombie which explains a lot, especially tonight.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Goedhartige geweldenaar

If you go to this page and do a CTRL + F search for "Rothwell" you find my Dutch title. I wish someone would tell me what the blurb says. The page can't be copied so I haven't tried dropping it into a translating program. The cover consists of a couple of people gazing over a very non-New York City landscape. I must say I'm way disappointed that the hero and heroine are viewed at a distance and seem to be fully clothed.** Almost as tasteful as the original. Practically an inspy cover.

Babelfish translates "goedhartige gelweldenaar" as "goedhartige violence ear" and that's promising.

Update. Oh boy! Linda managed to load it into Babelfish--here's the translation:
New York 1882nd
Michael McCann is a police constable of the type of harsh bolster, blanke pip. The muscular ier is thus not too beroerd a poorly looking save woman, who has a scratch herself by in a lane in closely has been floated. Michael take care of themselves concerning the woman, of whom he suspects that she deserves the costs as a prostitute. Timona Calverson, however, improve weet. Behind its disguise a well-to-do, but adventurous woman goes schuil. Timona touch in the spell of its nice rescuer, but in its passion are obstructed by the machinaties of a mysterious unknown person.

Hot damn. Blanke pip! I wanna sell more in more languages NOW.


** Other Romance Unleashed authors are on that page. Paula Reed's cover got a major overhaul. Whoa, I wish I could post that picture. Teresa Bodwell's Loving Mercy lost the Amazing Tummy Shot.

so MUCH to do

First: my meme from Candy. I cannot afford to ignore a summons from one of The Bitches.

The first time I noticed this meme making the rounds a few weeks ago, it was in a bunch of blogs devoted to infertility. . . Hmmmm.

1. Delve into your blog archive.
I'm going to go to my ORIGINAL blog for this. Talk about devotion to duty!

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
From, the post was titled Contest FAQ and Official Announcement Post

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
"I'm thinking The Creepy, The Funny, and The Moved Me to Tears Categories, with one grand prize winner from all the categories getting the sox and a book."

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas… I used to have contests all the time, usually 55 word entries. I loved them--the entries were wonderful--but I had to nag people to enter, and then I had to remember to mail off the prizes. I haven't had a single one in this blog. . . lazy person. Maybe later. Yup.

5. Tag five people to do the same
Huh. How about this. if you do it, let me know. It's like Smart Bitches Day. I will celebrate your achievement!


next on the agenda:

Tomorrow is Author Day at the Belfry Collective. Yeah, I'm a member there. I'm like one of those guys who's a Moose, an Elk and a Rotarian. I've learned a slew of secret handshakes and sacred oaths. But I like these people, dang it. And they are great writers and critiquers. It's going to be fun. I just have to figure out what it all means.


Last item: Useful advice for writers learned in New Jersey

I had a wonderful time but I didn't take notes in New Jersey. Not one. If only I'd gone to Teresa Bodwell's talk, maybe I'd have something new and interesting to discuss. But I'll see if I can dig up anything from the notes other people took.

I didn't even go to the editor talk. No great loss--I asked a friend if I'd missed anything interesting and the news is familiar. Historicals are hard to place, erotica's still hot, paranormal's still hot and......

Editors are.....ready for this?
hold onto your seat......

.....LOOKING FOR FRESH NEW VOICES. Who'd have guessed it?

oh, and Mary Stella was in NJ but it's okay to mention this now because she and her pack of vicious Rotweillers are home again.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

going to New Jersey soon.

gonna be a dental floss tycoon.

Anyone else going to be there? NJRWA? There's a book signing on Saturday, I think 4-5:30. If you're in the area, come by and I'll give you a piece of chocolate.

See you Sunday or Monday.

Today's Political Speech (or am I just ferfe baiting?)

Brought to you by Al Gore.

Keep in mind he's a politician, ferfe, so we can't hold him to the same standards as journalists.... So come on, admit it: he comes across as more intelligent and awake than Bush.

Copying from Monica's blog--but I'm so loving the covers

Lee Goldberg's cover: "you lookin' at me, asswipe?" The people who designed that had a good time. It's so ... so ... yeah.

At the link above you'll find some great quotes about the actual book. Including this one:

"Goldberg made me smell his armpits when I was kid, never took me to the arcade when he said he would and once, just once, refused to let me borrow his Knack album when I really, realy wanted to. Fuck that guy. It's a rollicking good time!" --Tod Goldberg

And then there's Monica's cover. Yes, the model knows she's gorgeous, but I'm betting she's not entirely vain 24/7.

Do the covers actually reflect the stories inside? Uh. I don't know yet. I do know I'd pick up these books to at least flip through them.

On the train I'd hold them waaay up so my fellow passengers could get a bit of glamour in their humdrum lives.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

two things today

1. Happy Release Day, Shannon!!!!

2. I have to get to work. The mail Briana mentioned is a story that needs revision. Lots of work--pity me. I think I'll drag the laptop outside to work on the deck. Skip the pity.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

They're OUT THERE...Power Blogging.

Several editors and agents I've talked to have said that they have no interest in reading a single unnecessary word on the computer. They prefer hard-copy for their leisure reading and won't do any fun-time reading on the computer because they are sick of the thing.

Okay, then, I didn't have to be careful.** I could mention Hilary and Briana (who has stopped by come to think of it) and Emily--and all those professsssional types wouldn't see a word of it.

I reasoned that the only people reading my blog who don't post are my brother-in-law [hi, Andrew!] my neighbor [yo, L!] my pal from high school [eb! dude!] my Frederick friend ['sup Leslie? Thanks for the coupon]. And then the people who do post--most of them are returning the visits I make to their blogs. It's coffee hour with the neighbors, usually with unspiked coffee even. Come as you are, no need for stilettos. Amiable's enough and those authors who use the blog to sell themselves are fooling themselves, poor punkins.

And then Miss Snark goes and talks about cruising blogs. Six people sold books using the mighty power of their wit and depth and cool shit as showcased in their blogs. Daaaamn.

Doug compares blogging to stand-up comedy.

Uh oh. Nuh uh.

If I'm supposed to be clever here, that spells the end of this little venture into blogdom. Dammit, I thought the funny ones were the ones who could sell advertising. Spotlights schmotlights.


** I'm not worried about doocing myself but how about this...Leave a note if you're:
1. someone who's going to affect my future career
2. reading this blog.
...and I promise I'll stop snarking about you. Sorry, George Bush, you're not eligible for this offer.

I'm somewhere else today

Over at Romance Unlimited. I guess I'm so damned good, they want more of me over there. Or maybe everyone else is busy.

Kids are home today for Rosh Hashonna--currently watching a History Channel show about Wyatt Earp. Educational, they tell me. I hear lots of talk of bullets and shot guns. Did Earp wear a bulletproof breastplate? Do we care?

Monday, October 03, 2005


Anyone remember the scenes in Fahrenheit 451 when the citizens are told to be on the alert for convicts? I can recall them searching for Montag in a nightmarish sequence--they track and shoot some poor schnook.

Here's an interesting variation of that Citizens Helping Big Brother scene--only I think this instance is kind of cool--as long as any "FACTS" are relevant and ARE TRIPLE CHECKED. Dang, it could be a nightmare for anyone if misused. But the questions they ask seem relevant. They don't ask if she got drunk at the Senior Prom and threw up on her date--they ask about her legal career.

This is most of the email I got**

Dear MoveOn member,

This morning, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Miers is a long-time political appointee, campaign counsel, personal lawyer and Bush loyalist who has never served as a judge.

Ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown taught us that vital national positions must be filled with qualified candidates, not political friends with limited experience. With such a thin public record, how can Americans know Harriet Miers' approach to critical issues like corporate power, privacy and civil rights?

Right now we urgently need more information, and we need your help to get it. In the next few hours the Internet will fill with facts, anecdotes and rumors about Harriet Miers. We need your help to sort through it all, select the relevant and important details, and let us know what you find—decentralized, grassroots research.

We've set up a simple web form where you can post facts and sources that will fill out the picture on what kind of Supreme Court justice Miers would be. We'll get your research to the media, the Senate and our partner groups. This info will also be crucial in setting MoveOn's course for this nomination. Even if you just have a few minutes to spare, it could help a lot at this crucial time.
You can post facts right now at:
this site

Here is a quick chronology of Harriet Miers' career, courtesy of the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, to help jump start your research.
1970—Graduated from Southern Methodist University Law School
1970-1972—Clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Joe Estes
1972-2001—Joined Texas law firm, Locke, Purnell
1985—Elected president of the Dallas Bar Association
1986-1989—Member of the State Bar board of directors
1989-1991—Elected and served one term on the Dallas City Council
1992—Elected president of the Texas State Bar
1993-1994—Worked as counsel for Bush's gubernatorial campaign
1995-2000—Appointed chairwoman of Texas Lottery Commission by Gov. George Bush
1996—Became president of Locke, Purnell, and the first woman to lead a major Texas law firm
1998—Presided over the merger of Locke, Purnell with another big Texas firm, Liddell, Sapp, Zivley, Hill & LaBoon, and became co-managing partner of the resulting megafirm, Locke Liddell & Sapp
2000—Represented Bush and Cheney in a lawsuit stemming from their dual residency in Texas while running in the Presidential primary
2001—Selected as staff secretary for President Bush
2003—Promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
2004—Selected as White House Counsel
There are many important questions that need to be addressed, including:

      What policies did she advocate for on the Dallas City Council?

      What was her record at the head of the scandal-ridden Texas Lottery Commission?

      What cases did she take on while working as a corporate lawyer in private practice, and what positions did she fight for?

      What has she written or said in and outside of her law practice about her views on constitutional issues like privacy, the "commerce clause" or equal protection?

      As White House councel Alberto Gonzales played a pivotal role in softening America's stance on torture. What positions has Harriet Miers advocated for in the same role?

      Has she ever publicly distanced herself from George W. Bush?

. . . This kind of decentralized research may never have been tried before at this scale. But a Supreme Court nominee with a record only the president really knows is a new national challenge. If we act quickly, we can meet that challenge together.
Please pitch in by taking some time to research today, and post what you find:


** Oh come on. You knew I was on their email list.

evil time wasting websites.

1. Beth's evil website. Bizarro ebay auctions. Wow.

2. Not really a place to mess around. It's more "drop by and be amazed by the name". Who got drunk and named that typhoon?

3. Amy's hanging with the wild animals at the local watering hole in Botswana real time. Yo. Elephants. Get outta the water, you're mucking it up.

No more checking for Zebras--I should be working. Maybe I'll celebrate SBD later, but I'm not sure. Cruising those ebay auctions took up a lot of time. And restraining myself took a lot of effort....ohhhhh, I want the manly carrot and Uncle Bob's glass eye.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


I'm chugging along, already in the fourth chapter of a historical. Here's the weird thing: I have no idea what year this book takes place. DAMN! I don't think I've done this before. I mean it'll be the decade I'm fond of, the 1880s. (I think I like those years only because I've read a lot about them.)

My characters wake up every morning and they don't know what the hell year they're in. Has a president been assassinated? (Garfield '81) Is there finally train service between their town and the city? Has the fountain pen been invented (1885)? Has the last guagga died ('83)? Have Allan Pinkerton and Gregor Mendel died yet? ('84) Can they buy Ladies Home Journal (first pubbed '83)? They don't know anything, those poor characters.

I've given my hero panic attacks. I figure I ought to use the experience somewhere, right? He's got post-traumatic stress disorder, naturally. Can't have a hero who just has panic attacks for no good reason. Rioters can be weak, not heroes.

I'm liking my characters, too. That's always more fun--and I have a lot of secondary characters who have personality.

books, books...My second historical seems to be having the same reaction with readers as it does with me: It fades away.

"I am reading Kate Rothwell's book!" says Monica, Karen and Bam. And then.....nothing. I'm waiting for a rant or a yawn. But nothing happens. Yah, well I can't pick it at all so I should complain. Funny thing is how many people have told me they like it better than my other stuff.

That book and the ebook The Last Mind Traveler--for me they are hmmhrrrmmm... far away. Not the end of the story (which I happen to like a lot), just the whole thing. Hard to explain. I don't try to, either. You can if you want, but I'll put my hands over my ears. The books are published, and I only listen to advice about my unpublished stuff.

Amy is still looking for answers. I'm looking too, but that's not the kind of research I do well.