Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Romantic Times 2005 Reviewers Choice Awards

I am so stoked about this: Trattoria has been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. (!!)

It's nominated for Best Small Press Romance. I am utterly shocked, and honored. Thanks so much to everyone at RT and especially the reviewers.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Congrats Collins!

One of the best (and most respected) lit magazines is Night Train. And I'm so pleased and proud to say that a writer that I know, Myfanwy Collins finaled in thier annual Richard Yates Short Story Award Competition with her story "Freak Magnet". An excellent story from a talented writer. Congrats, Myfanwy!


At the risk of outing myself as a fan of things throwback, I'll note that this Christmas marks ten years exactly we've been without Dean Martin.

Sure, sure. I'm a big Sinatra fan, and of The Rat Pack in general. But Dino? He's the quintessential crooner, and sometimes, he even does it in Italian. This season, I've been listening to plenty of Christmas with Dino and have been really digging it. A boxer and a card shark, how could he not hold a special place in my heart?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Holiday traditions

In an utterly un-shocking revelation about myself, I'll share this with you: I'm Italian, and as such was raised Roman Catholic. Therefore, my family celebrates Christmas. When I was very young, we'd go to an annual Christmas Eve party at my parents' friends house. They'd have Santa come and hand out presents and they put out a great spread. To this day, those annual shindigs are the parties that I measure all others against. And there has never been anything I've seen that topped it. Alas, 'twas the '70s, when people knew how to put on their finery and drink and eat with reckless abandon.

When I got a bit older, we started going to mass at midnight. I always loved midnight mass, even when I was a particularly rambunctious teenager. We'd have our Christmas Eve feast at home and then me and my best friend used to drive all over the city checking out the Christmas lights in the late evening and then we'd procure the booze from somewhere and end up stumbling into mass and having to stand in the back because it was so crowded. Didn't matter, and I'm sure some people aren't so moved by the fact we attended mass with a glow on. I won't get all religious on you, but suffice to say that the candles and incense and the hush of the place, even with the fully packed house, always really symbolized the beauty of Christmas to me. It was profoundly peaceful. It was kind and thoughtful, and it was special, even if we were repeating essentially the same thing we repeated every Sunday, just many people around the world had been repeating for nearly a couple thousand years. There's something nearly supernaturally comforting and reassuring about a tradition like that. My friend, she's since moved down south and just this year had her first baby. So as I was out finishing shopping one night last week, I went on a detour and drove around checking out the lights by myself. Unfortunately, she was always the one with a good sense of direction and memory, so I couldn't find some of the best displays. And it wasn't nearly as much fun without her. But it was nice to do anyhow. For mass at midnight on Christmas Eve this year, there will be a different priest, but other than that, it will be the same as all those years ago.

Anyhow, from childhood all the way to my teens, not much changed about Christmas Day. When Christmas morning rolled around, there was always panetonne and presents, and then we'd start cooking and eating for the rest of the day. On Christmas night, my aunts, uncles and cousins would come over for dinner of stuffed shells and cherry dessert and whatever else, meaning plenty of booze like pina coladas for Christmas. 'Twas a joy.

With the advent of videotapes and then later DVDs, we'd always have Christmas movies playing in the background throughout the day. Our idea of Christmas movies is probably a little different than most. My dad's favorite was always 1941, while I was much more fond of Die Hard, and my poor mom was too busy to even consider leaving the kitchen. So we'd watch parts of both. Then, of course, The Godfather (both parts 1 and 2) would get slapped in and that'd pretty much eat up the whole rest of the day/evening while we'd sit around while the family came over and we'd start eating phenomenal food and then listen to Lou Rawls or Tony Bennett's Christmas albums, cause they're the best.

Then, once the 26th rolled around, we'd had our party where everyone had visited and eaten, and the rest of the week was utterly consumed with visiting everyone else's place and making sure we: 1) saw their tree, 2) ate their food, and 3) drank their booze. It was like this round-robin game of house-hopping every night. Even though we all saw each other at our house on the 25th, EVERYONE had to get to EVERYONE else's house at some point. But there were no other scheduled parties, so it was a week of slightly controlled chaos with calling and "dropping in" and whoosing around, eating Chex mix while pulling boots off and being banished to the basement with other kids and a cookie tray at some houses (which was good) as opposed to having to sit in the living room and listening to the adults talk over a cheese plate (which was very very bad and boring) and ooohing and aahing over the trees and checking out everyone's toys and avoiding my one aunt's diet cookies before pulling the boots back on and whooshing back out into the blowing snow to get to someone else's house where there'd be homemade wine and meatballs while people counted down, three, two, one -- corks popped at midnight and a whole new year had started and by then everyone's circadian rhythms were screwed from staying up so late and running around and eating so much and just when most people take a breath and rest for us it would all culminate on New Year's Night when there was the second "official" party of the season at my uncle's house where everyone gathered at the same time once more to have whiskey sours and ham and alfredo and all the cousins would be finished with their presents but when we'd finally careen home on the icy roads with less oscillating lights illuminating the streets as people turned off their decorations and then we'd go to sleep and wake up the next day and it would all be back to normal. No more rushing and no more visiting and no more fancy meals and no more cousins and no more trees. Back to routine. And that's fine, cause we all had jobs and lives and you can't really live in that sort of circus for longer than a week unless you're a rock star.

Anyhow. That was Christmastime for us. Nothing earthshattering, I know. But I enjoyed it. It was all so very merry.

I hope your last week of the year is filled with whatever makes you happy, be it food and family or drinks and decorations or watching The Godfather on DVD.

Monday, December 19, 2005

86 Rules

'Tis the season when many people will be celebrating with a bit more booze than they're accustomed to. This list doesn't cover the intricacies of the office party make-out rules and such, and it's a bit male-oriented, but it's a great starting point for novices. Special thanks to Pat R. (good pal and drinking buddy supreme) for passing this along to me.

The 86 Rules of Boozing

Friday, December 16, 2005

Randal. What an asshole.

I thought I'd heard about the most selfish behavior to come out of reality/game show TV land yet when I hear about the bitch on Survivor who wouldn't give up her car so four others could have one. And yet, at least there's something to her selfishness. She got a CAR. It's not easy to give up a big hunk o' American metal.

But last night? Randal? What a fucking asshole. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm talking about last night's finale to The Apprenctice, where Trump hand plucked one final person to come work for him. They'd been hinting all season that the finale could be different. There were multiple firings this season, and they'd never really portrayed both final candidates in such a good light. I don't know if it was editing, or if both final candidates were as competent and decent as they were shown to be, but it was different alright. But, of course, Trump has to pick just one. So he does. He picks smarty-pants Randal. That's all good. But then -- WAIT! Don't celebrate with abandon yet, Randal. Sit back down and answer one question. So Donald asks him, "Should I also hire Rebecca?" (that's the other finalist.) So what's Randal say?

Emphatically: NO!! Because he wants to be the SOLE, LONE apprentice.

What a fucking jackass!

At least the car bitch would've had to sacrifice something in her case. What would Randal have sacrificed to also let this other person have a high-paying job with Trump -- NOTHING. NOTHING.

A selfish decision based solely on ego.

I repeat, what a fucking jackass.

Of course, The Donald must love it, cause it stirs up talk for his show, like I just did. But it still makes him a jackass by association. And yet, I watched, because what the fuck else was there?

I can't wait for HBO to start up a new season of something. March will bring The Sopranos. But we've just wrapped up Larry David's latest season, and it looks to be a long, cold winter without much good entertainment on the tube.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Well, apparently things are heating up at the new 'zine TQR. This place is different, that's for sure. They accept longer stories, which I'm all in favor of. But they also have a fairly open and public screening process. Which means that once your story passed the first round of editors, the second round reads it and then comments on it on their message boards, called the "Free Market" section of the site. Right now, most second-round stories are being discussed in The Terminal.

No, I don't have a story that's being discussed up there, so I'm not pimping myself here. In Yoda speak: Intrepid, you must be if you wish to submit. I just don't have the will to have one of my stories be discussed publicly like that. Yet. We'll see how it goes though. If no one's really insulting, maybe I'll give it a shot during another submission round, cause I've got plenty of long pieces, and most 'zines have a 5-6k word count limit. In the meantime, it's been entertaining to watch this transparency in progress.

As a bit of irony, as I gleaned from the messageboards and from their blog, they had a little internal combustion go down. And, you know, internal strife always makes for great outsider reading!

Anyhow. It'll be interesting to see what sort of stories they lean toward after this first quarter is published complete with the fiction.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Chairman of the Board

December is a good month for famous musical birthdays, including some of my personal faves, such as Jim, and Keith, and, my all-time favorite:

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra

The kids these days, I tell you. I have eclectic tastes in music, so I like most stuff. But during this holiday season, I've been inundated with everyone around me blasting the fucking Trans-Siberian Orchestra at every opportunity. It's like they've found some hidden, classic artistic gem that's just too cool to not play at top volume everywhere. I was patient for a week, then I started to complain, and today, with it being old blue eyes' birthday and all, I had to freak out a little bit and insist that we groove some Frank for a while lest I go into a psychotic rage.

Everyone has their idols. And The Voice alone is enough to make me swoon. But how could I not love a guy as articulate as this? Some of his better quotes:

"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."

"You only live once, and the way I live, once is enough."

"Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels."

Here's one for all the writers out there (sort of):
"Hell hath no fury like a hustler with a literary agent."

Here's one for the smart bitches out there:
"I like intelligent women. When you go out, it shouldn't be a staring contest."

And, here's one for everyone:
"You gotta love livin', baby, 'cause dyin' is a pain in the ass."

There's plenty more pithy quotes of his, you can find a bunch of them here.

And, of course, there's the famous quote from Kurt Vonnegut that I've always found enlightening:
"To do is to be." -- Socrates
"To be is to do." -- Sartre
"Do be do be do." -- Sinatra

But it's not just what he said, or how he swaggered, or how he sang. It was everything. Frank was one cool cat. Frank was the cool cat.

He was a lover and a fighter, a philanthropist and a thug. And he was always genuine.

He also once said, "May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine." Personally, I can't think of a better thing to wish for.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sinatra.

Books for Gifts

Ok. Look. I know the commercialism of Christmas really can get sickening, and I've been making myself a little ill with coming on here and pushing my latest book lately. (And yet I just did it again!) But the fact is, most people are gonna buy a gift or two (or eighty). So why not something to read? In case you're considering it, here are a few literary suggestions where you get double bang for your buck: You get to give someone something they'll enjoy, and you get to help out writers trying to make a living. There's something for everyone in this list, ranging from satire to horror to literary, and even one bona fide Christmas story.

The following are coffee mugs with flash stories printed on them. All of them may be ordered from Flashfiction.net, and you can read the individual stories at the links below:

Don Capone -- Astronaut
Beverly A. Jackson -- Penumbra
Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz -- She Follows

And these are all full-length novels or short story collections:

Biff Mitchell
The War Bug

In just a few hours, Abner Hayes' wife and daughter are going to die, and the only way he can save their lives is to team up with a deadly computer virus and travel through time and space in a virtual universe that itself has only hours to live. Through suicidal game worlds, virtual landscapes that threaten to devour the unwary, and a series of insidious cyber traps, Abner and the virus must stay one step ahead of sinister forces that will stop at nothing to destroy his family in order to steal their incredible secret. Spliced with dark humor and intricate characters, The War Bug is a non-stop roller coaster thriller into a terrifying future.


Leslie Van Newkirk
Crush dot com

When Brooke Hill, an employee for The Stitch, is unexpectedly dumped by her boyfriend, she turns to her dating savvy co-workers for solace. Their advice? Become a member of Crush.com, the city’s most popular online personals site. What follows is Brooke’s journey into the new and daunting world of Internet matchmaking, an exploration of how friendships change with job titles, an expose of the “cat-eat-cat” fashionista milieu, and of course, the quintessential love story.


Jim Ruland
Big Lonesome

Wildly imaginative tales of America’s past and present. Understanding that history is nothing but a fable purged of grit and grime, Ruland transforms historical fiction into something slick, brutal and weird. Whether he’s spinning a lurid yarn about the previous adventures of Popeye, imagining Dick Tracy as a San Fernando Valley police detective, or retelling the story of Little Red Riding Hood in Nazi Germany, Ruland’s tales are full of crime and punishment. He isn’t afraid to set a teenage mob story in St. Petersburg, Florida, or tell the story of an unlucky pair of pants in the style of a catechism--and every line resonates with the truth of lessons learned the hard way.


Justin Holt

You, are a twenty-something with a college degree, the debt that goes with it, and a countertop full of rejection letters telling you that your first novel is a failure. The love of your life has left you, and the only job you can find is one pushing carts for the largest retail giant where nobody knows your name, and nobody cares. Lost in your sorrow and your cupboard full of nothing but instant noodles you try to make the best of a bad situation, but the situation keeps getting the best of you. That is until one day, when doing something so innocent as tying your shoe you see something that will set your whole life into a tailspin of lies, larceny, and lavishness that by the time you come down, you will have everything that you could ever dream of, and more.

Except her.

And you will do anything it takes to win her back.


Tom Saunders
Brother, What Strange Place Is This?

"From the pagan brutalities of a Welsh island at the time of the Armada in The Seal Man to the quest for redemption of an English jazz pianist in modern day Cuba in The Calle de Obra Pia, the stories explore the complexities of history and art and the twists and turns of the human journey. Beautifully, often lyrically written, these stories reveal a keen and playful intelligence at work and all are executed with humour and compassion. The characters are, by turn, quirky, difficult, off beat and yet each is sympathetically rendered. The title story Brother, What Strange Place Is This? examines the relationship between two brothers, one excited by the possibilities of the 20th century, the other, a classical composer, mad with remorse over the instincts he is unable to discipline or understand. This is a truly remarkable debut, both original and imaginative. Not just a book for lovers of finely crafted short stories, but for everyone interested in the art of writing and in literature itself." - GATOR SPRINGS GAZETTE, a literary journal of the fictional persuasion.


Robin Slick
Three Days in New York City

What happens when a frustrated American artist-turned-soccer-mom and her overconfident and charming British cyber-lover plan a three-day tryst of erotic depravity at a hotel in New York City? Elizabeth and Richard are about to find out. Elizabeth is about to turn forty years old, facing empty nest syndrome, and wistful about roads not taken. Unhappy in both her marriage and her career, she mourns abandoning her dream of being an artist. She feels like an outsider in her sports-obsessed family and a misfit at work in the corporate world. She's hoping Richard, a refined, British upper class gentleman with unusual sexual preferences, will be her Knight-in-Shining-Armor and rescue her from her unfulfilling life. What ensues is a hilariously poignant sexual romp through the Big Apple. This book is the first of two stories about Elizabeth and her quest for a knight in shining armor.


Matt St. Amand

Now, after 34 years, here is the book the Vatican banned in 88 countries, the FBI tried to suppress, and every major media outlet in the English speaking world told you did not exist. Available in this limited, unauthorized edition are the stories of Homunculus. These are the ravings of a desert-maddened wanderer grown lunatic on locusts and honey, crazed by these voices that refused to be silenced. Written in the margins of international telephone directories, take-out menus, matchbooks and business cards, Homunculus has been meticulously reconstructed, its hidden codes broken and laid bare. Shield the elderly and the infirm, protect the innocent and nubile.


Laila Lalami
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

From Publishers Weekly
The four main characters of this linked series of fictional profiles are connected by a single goal: the desire to emigrate from Morocco to Spain, where there are jobs. Lalami, author of the literary blog moorishgirl.com, opens her book with the four (along with several others) illegally crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in a tiny inflatable raft; when it capsizes near shore, it is everyone for themselves. The next four chapters flash back to their varying lives in Morocco: Faten, a lower-class, college-aged woman appears only through the eyes of middle-class friend Noura's parents, who are horror-stricken as Noura falls under Faten's influence and begins wearing the hijab; Halima, a financially struggling mother who, with her children, is escaping an abusive marriage; Aziz Ammor, who hopes to support his wife by finding work in Spain; and Murad, a college graduate who makes pocket money by taking Paul Bowles fans on informal tours. The four following chapters detail, with sensitivity and journalistic clarity, their lives after the trip across the Strait. Less a novel than a set of finely detailed portraits, this book gives outsiders a glimpse of some of Moroccan society's strata and the desperation that underlies many ordinary lives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Richard Lewis
The Flame Tree

From Publishers Weekly
The graphic depiction of terrorist acts (such as beheadings) may be too intense for some readers, but Lewis poses some provocative questions about faith and fervor in this gritty first novel set in Indonesia around the time of September 11. The author explores the issues, at least initially, through the friendship of main character Isaac, who is living with his missionary physician parents, and his Muslim friend Ismail. Despite the friends' obvious biblical names, the way they relate to each other unfolds subtly and authentically. But as anti-American (and anti-infidel) sentiments rise in the days leading up to the bombing of the World Trade Center, Ismail turns against Isaac. At first, the author depicts the growing tension between them realistically, and readers can almost feel Isaac's pain and confusion at his friend's cold shoulder. But soon the narrative paints the issues in broad strokes and the characters' relationship gets lost in the larger themes. When Isaac's parents decide their son should leave Indonesia for the U.S., he is kidnapped by Islamic fanatics bent on converting him into a Muslim (occasioning graphic details of his forced circumcision). The author (himself the son of missionaries) reveals links between two seemingly opposed religions and explores reasons that many Islamic people resent Americans. Showing how religious ideas and ideals can breed atrocities against humanity, he creates a riveting read. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Justine Musk

In downtown Manhattan, a rising young painter is haunted by disturbing dreams...In small-town Minnesota, a teenage orphan struggles with a knowledge beyond his years-and a destiny he wants no part of...In California, young and old, hipsters and hippies, fall under the spell of a wildly charismatic singer whose voice breaks down all barriers-including the ones between heaven and hell.

The fans of Asha are finding one other-and the world is running out of time.


Maryanne Stahl
The Opposite Shore

Out for a sail aboard the family boat, the Ariel, on Memorial Day, one family's life is about to take a disastrous turn.

Rose, an aspiring painter, and William are the proud and happy parents of sixteen year old Miranda. Anna is Rose's sister and best friend, a pal to Miranda, an avid sailor herself, and close to William. They seem content.

However, when Rose goes home early, leaving William and Anna to close up the boat for the evening, she gets life-altering news. A painting of hers has been accepted in an upcoming gallery showing - her first big break. Flushed with excitement, she races back to the boat to share her exciting news. There, she finds her husband and her sister kissing. Immediately, everyone's world explodes. Betrayed and angry, Rose throws William out, cuts Anna from her life, and moves with her daughter for the rest of the summer to Shelter Island.


Christopher Moore
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, Version 2.0

'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit.

But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.
But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.

Move over, Charles Dickens -- it's Christopher Moore time.

Note! Moore had released this book last year, but this version 2.0 has 30 extra pages. So if you didn't get a chance to check it out last year, pick up the new version, enjoy it, and then let some poor bastard who bought the shorter version check it out!

And one last one, this book isn't yet released, but why not shop early for someone's birthday?

Ellen Meister
Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA

SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA is a novel about three women who come together when Hollywood announces plans to shoot a movie in their children's schoolyard. Maddie Schein is an emotionally-needy ex-lawyer whose marriage is on the rocks. Brash Ruth Moss has it all except for one thing: her husband was left brain-damaged and sexually uninhibited from a stroke. Timid Lisa Slotnick wants nothing more than to fade into the scenery, but is thrust before the spotlight by her alcoholic mother, a singer whose career has failed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A poem for the holidays

Well. We're nearing the end of the year and I have to say I'm not too upset with how mine worked out in the writing arena. For all the good luck I've had, I also owe some thanks to people. For me, a kind word of encouragement or a blurb to help get the word out about my books or a read of some of my stuff means an awful lot to me. It helps more than you can imagine, and I was lucky this year to have so many gracious and generous and kind people helping me out. I wish I was a wealthy woman so I could buy iPods or something else commercial to thank everyone online who's been so good to me. But I can't. So instead, I hope my pals will settle for this. (And, if you're not name-checked in here, please forgive me, but perhaps your name is "Hofferbransime" and I couldn't rhyme it. But I still dig you!)

The Holiday Cyberpoem from Susan

'Twas the night before Christmas and my new release,
Aunt Nance rang me up, sending greetings to her niece.
When I hug up with her, I looked out the window,
And was saddened to see the hard blowing snow.
So I picked up a shovel and headed outside,
My back was quite sore and I just could have cried.
Inside was ready with a tree that was trimmed,
Cookies were baked and the lights were all dimmed.
But friends would be coming and they needed a path,
So I figured I'd shovel and then we'd have drinks and a laugh.

I put on my scarf, was quite warmly bundled,
And off to the curb I reluctantly trundled.
Then from a short distance I heard a loud crash,
I thought my new neighbors were having a bash.
But their place was all quiet, it was really quite dark,
And then from above, I saw a great spark.
Up near my chimney a blur of red filled the sky
I squinted and huffed, couldn't believe my own eye.
Up on my roof there was a guy and his laugh filled the air,
Confused and disturbed, I shouted, "The hell you doing up there?"

I know you may not believe when I say what came next,
but trust me and listen, and don't be impatient or vexed.
With a swirl of the wind he came down and landed by me,
and he glanced in my window and said, "What a lovely tree."
"Thanks so much," I told him and gave him a smile,
This dude had a sleigh, I approved of his style.
With the sleigh was a reindeer, looking cuddly and furry.
But he clomped with one hoof, as he was in a hurry.
"Listen to me," Santa, he said it quite loudly,
"You've had a nice year." And at that, I beamed proudly.
He was right, it was true, three books I'd had pubbed,
And one award I had won, nothing had flubbed.

Marina, Lucy and Lisa, their stories I'd told.
One more about Eva, I hope to get sold.
Fate had been kind, I'd really been lucky,
With that sort of year, who cares if the weather was sucky?
Then Santa surprised me, as he stated his case,
It felt like a great big merry slap in the face.
"You're naughty," he said, "and that's not all, there's much more,
"You're a gambler, a drinker, and a bit of a whore.
"But I've come anyhow, because you're really quite brash,
"To take down your wishes, which I'll grant in a flash."

It's been a good year, oh yes, that's quite true,
But as much as to luck, I owe it to you.
I did lots of writing, this I know well,
But without helpful readers, it wouldn't be swell.
The wind got quite cold as the moon hung down low,
Santa was waiting, and he said, "Come on now. Ho Ho."
Family and friends, those I'll take care of in person,
But those far away, I had to thank before the storm worsened.
So to Santa I said, "A kind word or a read, those things I hold dear,
So I want to send out some greetings to those who helped me this year."

The reindeer it snorted and the fat man nodded okay,
And then they listened intently as I started to say:
Ms. Barris is a sweetie, a lovely, whipsmart young dear,
I got turned on to her prose just this past year.
To keep me on course, she sent me a book from across the pond
She's so talented that I dig her, even though she's a blonde.
What a guy, what a pal, what a reader, what a friend,
To Capone, sincerest thanks are the best I can send.
What can I say, Don reads all my stuff, even the porn
Here's to an agent for his novel, Like I'd Never Been Born.

William Reese Hamilton is a fine, classy dear fellow,
His writing is electric, but his demeanor is mellow.
He's helped me put out lots of bad literary fires,
Let's hope next year sees print for The Oldfield Wires.
Beverly Jackson is lovely I'll tell you right now,
This year saw Ink Pot take its final bow.
There's a dame on the rise, her name is Gwendolyn Mintz,
Her prose is fantastic and won't make you wince.
Myfanwy is remarkable, really quite grand,
Hansen started a new 'zine, let's strike up the band!

For Ellen Meister, lovely lady, I wish for you the same as I wish for myself:
A visit from George, the ex-Batman, he'd make one sexy-bitch of an elf.
Ah but I hope you excuse my pervy, self-serving digressions
Truly, next year will bring a smash success for your Secret Confessions.
Biff Mitchell's a wild one, a crazy guy, and he's no lazy slug
In 2005 he survived a triathalon and published The War Bug.
Edward Moore landed pubs in anthologies and even some 'zines,
and he's offered me help by various means.
Renee Nicholson creates prose with some bite,
and now she's teaching the students all how to write!

Tripp's had some success that deserves some salutin',
his prose is so classy, but never high-falutin'.
So read some Tripp Reade, as he's read stuff for me,
and wish him good luck obtaining his Master's degree.
Fred Schoeneman's a pal, though sometimes I wonder if he's been smoking crack,
he's a veteran, a reader, and writer, and he's all in support of the war in Iraq.
He oughta have a high-paying gig and it's something I'd mourn
if in 2006 we didn't see shelf-time for his incredible novel called Army Porn.
Justin Holt, I'm so glad I met him, that's my good luck,
And special thanks for kind words to the grand one called Chuck.

GC Smith is a jolly, good ole southern boy,
he deserves hearty praise and a year full of joy.
His poems can be a happy addiction,
Just our good luck we find him weekly in Quiction.
A poet, novelist, screenwriter, and plenty more,
Matt St. Amand is certainly never a bore.
This year he released his collection of satire, Homunculus,
that he's not wealthy from writing is truly ridiculous!
Lisa Renee Jones and Randy Kirkpatrick were my emissaries of PR,
and what lovely, classy, hardworking people, the both of them are.

My books were handled by Magic Carpet, Mundania, and Zumaya,
I'm so proud of each company, they're superb, and that's not a lie-a.
'Zines like Ruthie's and Clean Sheets pub prose with some spice
and this year to me they have been exceptionally nice.
And now to the folks who give us scribes quite a kick,
Let's hear it for reviewers, they're all very slick.
Whether we find them online or in a print mag,
they give us great blurbs and reasons to brag.
Here's one I know, let's call him Mick,
But take care of them all, won't you St. Nick?
Last but not least, to all the readers, my sincere thanks galore.
My only wish is that next year, I can gain a few more.
So readers and reviewers, let's give them a snap,
and if that's not your style, you're welcome to clap.

Santa stopped me right there as he held up a hand,
Said, "Your thanks will be heard across cyberland."
That thought made me happy, it did make me tingle,
and then the reindeer snorted, his harness did jingle.
Santa declared, and he said it with might,
"Thanks are fine, but I came to grant wishes tonight.
"So say what you want, and say it quite loud,
"And then I'll do what I can for this literary crowd."
So I sucked in a breath and chose to go quick,
Because these iambic couplets were making me sick.

For all the fellows, my wish is nice but shallow, every last bit,
I wish you more GQ spreads that show off Jen Aniston's left tit.
For all the ladies, well, much as we'd like it, we can't all have Vince Vaughn.
But I hope you've got a great man, and that he's got a nice schlong.

I thought those were nice but also quite lame.
I had to think bigger, think bolder, think fortune and fame.
It took me a moment, but then it was perfectly clear,
I knew the perfect wish for all the writers here.
When I had it mind, I shouted and let out a squeal,
"The same thing for everyone -- a six figure book deal!"

So then Santa declared, "Susan, you're such a fool!"
I'd heard it before, but from him it seemed sort of cruel.
Silly wishes I made and for that I tried to repent.
But the jolly one sighed heavy as his patience was spent.
Then his cheer faded off, it drained rather quickly,
I got sort of scared and swallowed quite thickly.
I could tell that his patience was starting to fray,
I was ready to give in, let him have things his way.
And then, it was so rude, a reindeer poked me with his antler,
Santa said, "Bad wishes are one thing. But your holiday rhyming sucks. You're no Adam Sandler."

The reindeer nudged me again and I was afraid I would fall,
so I knew it was time to wrap this up once and for all.
So these are my final wishes: To everyone, be of good cheer,
To the writers I wish you prime pubs all through next year!
To reviewers and readers, I bless you some more,
Happy Holidays forever to you and to yours.
I hope you have a have a great time with those you love bestly,
And that your holiday is even gayer than Carson Kressley.
May your days be cheerful and burdens be light,
Thanks for reading my books, and this lame poem tonight.
It took patience and timing and caused me some stress,
But the result leaves me pleased, but also perplexed.
Blame it on cheer, or call it good luck,
I made through this whole story without saying "fuck"!

Santa eyed me again and I could sense his disdain,
then the reindeer snorted and nudged, but he didn't complain.
Santa said, "I'll give you one for yourself before I head on my way,"
And then he winked at me once and hopped on his sleigh.
The thought made me heady and caused me to smile,
I didn't bother to lie or cover with guile.
I wished big and wished bright, with all of my nerve,
and then I shouted it loudly with plenty of verve.
"I'd work hard on a screenplay and never be lazy,
if you'd get me a film option from Martin Scorsese!"

Monday, December 05, 2005

Reviews for Mutual Holdings

I've gotten back the first couple reviews for my newest book, Mutual Holdings. So far they're very positive and encouraging, and I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to the reviewers for taking the time to read this and then write up the reviews.

As I've said (probably ad nauseum), the book is available in paperback only, and you can pre-order it now through Barnes & Noble, and it should be on bookstore shelves by mid-December.

Here's a snippet from the first review. This one is from Sin St.Luke at JERR. It will eventually be live on their website, but for now you can find it (along with a previous, excellent review for my novel 24/7) in their newsgroup archives. They review a large number of erotic romances every month and have plenty of feature articles, too. To subscribe to the JERR newsgroup, go here: JERR newsletter. Here's what they had to say about Mutual Holdings:

"DiPlacido grabs you with her descriptive voice in the candid dialogue between the characters, and humorous thought processes. The conversations are realistic and never come across as forced or clich├ęd. I was aroused throughout the story. The sex in Mutual Holding is damn near orgasmic." -- Sin St.Luke for JERR

So, thanks!

And, here's another snippet. You can already find this one online at Road to Romance, and it was written by Janalee Ruschhaupt.

"Ms. DiPlacido is a thoroughly seasoned author, and it shines through, with this outstandingly written book. Ms. DiPlacido lets Lisa do the talking, and what a talker Lisa is. She relates her tale of confused and frustrated love, leaving the readers in stitches. Lisa's dry humor is biting at times. You will come away from this story feeling like a friendship has developed. The closeness only a good writer can achieve and deliver to its fullest degree. The only thing you might not like about this book is your inability to put it down."

So, thanks to Janalee and Road to Romance!

As my pal Fred Schoenman says, Get Some!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Edward Moore in Alien Skin Magazine

Edward Moore has been on a roll this year! And his streak continues. Check out his terrific flash, Immortality in the new issue of AlienSkin Magazine.

Moondance 2006

One of the things that pleases me most in my writing career is having one of my stories recognized at the 2005 Moondance Film Festival. This is a world-class film festival that offers a plethora of opportunity to writers and filmmakers. They also offer more than presitge and recognition with their Columbine Film Production Fund. They offer entry categories for films, screenplays, and short stories, among others. So if you're an up and coming artist who's looking to meet and connect and get your name out there, Moondance is a terrific venue. Plus, it's an extremely classy and well run organization. Here's the link for the 2006 Moondance Film Festival, including information and entry info.

This week's Quiction...

is live. Right here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Smokelong Pushcarts

Smokelong Quarterly has announced its list of Pushcart nominees for the year. If you're not familiar with Smokelong, do check them out, as they regularly feature not only great flash fiction, but also incredible artwork. You can stop by their archives to check out any of these marvelous stories:

"He Wrote Sixteen Pencils Empty" by Daphne Buter

"Running Water" by Tiff Holland

"Five Fat Men in a Hot Tub" by Jeff Landon

"The Arrival" by Nathan Leslie

"Outer Space" by Tom Saunders

"In the Dust" by Joseph Young

Congrats and good luck to all the nominees!

Monday, November 28, 2005

New Look

I got a little makeover on the blog here, and I'm digging it. I got the new template from Cazza. Any glitches with it, or ickiness in appearance, is my own fault, because I modified it a little bit. So if you're thinking of a new look for your blog, check out Caz.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Kick off your holiday shopping season! Mutual Holdings available for pre-order

I see that Barnes & Noble now has my new book available for pre-order! Yay! I posted the cover here earlier, but here it is again:

It's available for pre-order now, and it will start shipping on November 28th, which is very soon. I guess it's also right around the 28th that you should be able to find it on the shelves of your local B&N. The book is published by Magic Carpet Books, and they usually have their own section/display at most B&N stores these days. If you don't find it there and don't wish to buy online, by all means, ask them for it, and they can order it in for you. It is a Barnes & Noble exclusive though, so you won't be able to find it in other bookstores, or even Amazon. (they don't have my name or the cover pic yet list on the B&N site, but this is the correct book, as you can see from the description.)

Ok, you say. Nice cover. I've got the info on where to get it. But what's this new book about? Well, it's an erotic romance, but I also tried to infuse it with some comedic overtones. I don't have any official reviews to post yet because they haven't been published, but I did get one review back from a very busy reviewer and she enjoyed it muchly. (I'll post it when I can.) Here's the gist of the book's storyline:

Mutual Holdings

A successful New York accountant, Lisa Russo is happily single. At thirty she has a growing career, a nice home, and her nights are rarely lonely. It doesn't hurt that her business partner and ex-flame, Tony Mancuso, is always nearby to offer advice, and more, whenever she desires it.

But Lisa's pleasantly structured life gets thrown into chaos when handsome and sophisticated businessman Gianni Loren hires her to reconcile some of his foreign holdings. Gianni, however, is quickly smitten with much more than just Lisa's business sense. As the vibes between them progress from savvy to sultry, he asks her to join him back in Italy as a permanent member of his company, and his life.

But Lisa is not sure she's willing to give up her thriving career at home to risk it all on this one enigmatic foreigner, especially now that Tony, suddenly faced with the possibility of a life without her, is turning up the heat to keep her in the business, and with him.

Available for pre-ordering now!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tripp Reade in 42 Opus

I am consumed with jealousy -- almost. One of my BIG writing dreams is to be published in 42 Opus. If you don't know that 'zine, do check it out. It's classy with a cool design and pubs wonderful stuff. The extremely talented Tripp Reade has a story live in the new issue. So here's your chance to check out Tripp and 42 O, with his story, Darryl's 1890. Congrats on a wonderful story, Tripp, and a prime publication!

Thanksgiving Quiction

Quiction has a new issue up, including some Thanksgiving Cajun cheer from GC Smith. Check it out!

Friday, November 18, 2005

The quiet time

So after a small flurry of posting there, I fell a bit silent again. I do have some interesting interviews coming up though, so please check it out here every once in a while.

In the meantime, you'll be hearing plenty more (from me, if no one else) about my latest upcoming release, Mutual Holdings, which is due to be in Barnes & Noble stores very soon. (for starters, you can see the cover below, and I can tell you it's a steamy erotic romance, with lots of good scenery in Italy.)

I've also been keeping myself busy writing another book, and I'm hitting the final stages of the first draft. I'm really excited about this book, but also anxious. It's different for me. It's reverting back to the pulp influences I used slightly in 24/7, except this one is much more pulpy, and oh-so-Vegas. (though, I will say that Marina and Miguel from 24/7 are supporting players in this book as well.) My working title is HOUSE MONEY, and to give you the flavor it's sorta like if GOODFELLAS crossed with OCEAN'S ELEVEN, but with smart, badass chicks. In fact, it's not a romance or relationship book at all, but it might still be chick lit -- if chick lit had more guns.

But, because of this whole new genre, I think I'm at about ground zero when it comes to publication. I'd very much like to get an agent on board and try to sell this book, because I think it's my favorite one so far. But I'm out of my element with the market. I'm also not sure what small presses are available for a work like this. So, if anyone drops by and reads this message and has any words of advice, I'd be much obliged, for sure. Thanks, and I'll be back with more soon! In case I lag behind again though, I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Loving it!

I have a new book coming out soon. Its called Mutual Holdings and it's from Magic Carpet Books. The book is an erotic romance, and will be available through Barnes & Noble exclusively -- both online and in stores. So, I'm very excited about this release. The editing was a dream, and I got my first peek at the cover the other day. I love it! I'll have more info about the book soon, but here's a looky at the cover:

Do you love it too?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Paul A. Toth

PAUL A. TOTH is a writer on the rise. He's currently got two published novels: Fizz and Fishnet. You can find him online in multiple places: his website, his blog, and he also hosts podcasts which feature interesting online readings, music, and even interviews. (One of his interviews was with Matthew St. Amand, who you might recall from a previous interview here.)

Paul's short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best American Mystery Stories. He received honorable mention in the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror 2003, and it can be found extensively on the web.

Both Fizz and Fishnet earned high critical acclaim for their offbeat characters, skewed humor, and unexpected choices.

Fishnet is described as a comically dark fairy tale for adults
more Brothers Grimm than grim. What it's about:
Maurice Melnick's imagination has forever painted an underwater world more exotic yet safer than the one above. Meanwhile, his strange town of Mercy, California heads toward a fateful day. In the ruins of his life, Maurice finds a way back to the world he left behind... but not before losing everything.

Here's Paul A. Toth:

1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?

I'm going to skip the usual names I mention, as I've mentioned them so often that it's getting on my own nerves. I'll start with Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, which I finally read last month. This is a near template for what I see as the writer's role. Everything is contained within this book. I would go so far as to say that had politicians taken this novel seriously, read it as though it were some policy tract written by CIA operatives, they might have better guessed what was coming to the world. Yet Rushdie never forsakes his humor, nor is this novel tied to specific current events. Nevertheless, it comments upon our times. How does he do it? Well, if I were Rushdie, I wouldn't give away my secrets, and since I'm not, I can't do it for him. The novel influenced me by supporting my belief that main characters need not be wholly sympathetic, no matter what agents and publishers claim. It signified to me that no matter how serious one's intentions -- and Rushdie's are clearly serious -- humor remains a viable tactic. It's only the kind of whipped-cream humor that has begun to aggravate me. That's not even a dessert, only a topping. For many of these reasons, I also enjoy David Mitchell's work. Finally, I will repeat Haruki Murakami as a living influence. All tell me that the market will bear novels about something other than rehabilitation memoirs and glorified romance novels. It takes courage to write them. It takes another kind of courage to publish them. I'm trying to hang on to that courage, and these writers inspire me. I don't claim to possess their talents, only their motivations.

2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?

I think the quality of the writing itself has strengthened. Certain events in my life have clarified my purpose and enlarged my themes, yet simultaneously tightened my focus. My weaknesses and flaws are probably tied to the market. I can't quite -- I don't want to sound like Madonna trying to sound British -- suss what they want. An "edgy" publisher suddenly reveals it really wants mass-market women's novels. Nothing against mass-market women's novels, but, er, what? Again, sympathy arises as a fortress, though to me, my characters are sympathetic. They share traits with all of us. Now that I think of it, perhaps that's the weakness: Readers don't want to be reminded of themselves and their world but rather anything EXCEPT that. I've been thinking about this a lot. If there is a wall that prevents my proceeding to some next level, that would be it, but if I "succeeded," would I only vault into a landfill? I think I will keep doing what I do and hope this trend (whatever one calls it, though "combination tent revival/circus" comes to mind) abates.

3) Your novels are generally populated with eccentric/troubled and imperfect characters. Do you start with strange, flawed prototypes or do you sort of build the flaws/quirks out of the individual characters?

I usually start with the voice, and that tells me the flaws and quirks. In Ray's case -- Fizz began as a short story -- I just wanted to portray a man who had almost literally become a cartoon character, who sees and lives in an animated world. When I decided to expand the story into a short novel, I sensed vulnerability in his voice, and so I constructed his back story and motivations from that. For me, the voice comes first, even if provided by a third-person narrator.

4) Of Fizz and Fishnet, which one are you most proud of/pleased with?

Good question. Fishnet ran a gauntlet of agents whose advice was, at best, contradictory. I'm still happy with it, but on second thought, I would have taken one more break, one more long, deep breath, and revised it. Fizz was meant to be raw and "unsophisticated." Part of the pride I take is that its sophistication is buried. There's more going on than meets the eye, what I would call almost subliminal effects. Some readers like one of my styles more than the other; I suppose it depends on which side of my nature a reader prefers. However, Fishnet was written with a wider audience in mind. I considered it a novel that would especially appeal to women, but this has not translated to sales. For that reason, in some ways I regret having bothered trying. So, in short, I would say Fizz suffered the least compromise. But there are better things to come.

5) What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing and/or publishing? What's the greatest reward? Is it worth it? Or is writing something you'd do even if there was zero payoff?

I'll work backwards. If book purchasing were outlawed, I would still write. For instance, my blog is pure release. It may or may not serve promotional concerns; if anything, the content is guaranteed to infuriate nearly anyone. Writing is certainly worth the trance state in which I sometimes find myself. Like a piano player, I would enjoy running the keys even if I were banned from concert performances. The greatest reward? The stray email: "I really enjoyed your book." The second greatest reward is a check. It's a distant second if only due to the spacing of the checks. As for the first question, the most difficult part is the market analysis used to shut out anyone who wouldn't inspire Oprah's Angel Network.

6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?

Charles Darwin.

7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?

Book: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
CD: Possible Musics by Jon Hassell
DVD: 2001

8) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?

Third grade. The principal came to class and read my story; he was probably drunk. It wasn't very good, but, you know, in comparison, I suppose it was okay. I've yet to have the feeling that I'm successful. There are a couple goals I've set for myself before peace can reign in TothWorld. However, I suspect I'll change the goals, should I ever reach them. I'm not built for contentment. It's overrated.

Right now, the third novel is enduring the sadomasochistic streets of New York's publishing "industry," and I'm working on the fourth. The third is, I think, my best, and the fourth will far surpass it. I've added this tool called "patience," and I think it will assist in strengthening the writing, if not its "marketability."

9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?

I would rather have respect from my peers and critical acclaim. Most bestsellers fall off the charts and turn yellow in used bookstores, and the money doesn't last, either. At the end of my remaining years, I want to die with what little self-respect I can regain.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Coincidence? Or Stolen?

I find this whole thing entirely too suspicious. Check out Don Capone's blog to get the full story. But it appears as though someone out there in Hollywood land is making a movie with Lindsay Lohan that is grotesquely similar to one of Don's books. This book of his, he'd talked about it on his blog and had a description of it on his Publisher's Marketplace page, along with having queried some agents. I could see if a similar idea was floating around. But with even the exact same aged female protagonist? What do you think of this? Coincidence? Or was he totally ripped off? By Linday Lohan no less??

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cathryn Fox

Today I give you Allure Author Cathryn Fox. Cathryn has also recently struck gold with her upcoming releases from Avon. She loves to write paranormal, and also has a disturbing love for Adam Sandler (just like me!)

Excerpt from Cathryn's Unleashed

“I’m Skylar Bray. It’s nice to meet you, Agent Garrett.”

Her sultry voice was as bewitching as the woman herself, and he felt himself being pulled under by her spell. He shuddered involuntarily and blinked his mind back into focus.

“Call me Jace,” he mumbled and tried not the think about the way his entire body tightened at the sound of her voice.

He took a moment to note his physical reaction to her then fought to clear his arousal-fogged brain and gain control over the situation.

He wanted to step back, to break away from her delectable aroma as it perfumed the air, but something compelled him to remain close. His legs wouldn’t carry him away from this intoxicating woman.

How was he supposed to concentrate on anything when his senses were overcome with her hypnotizing scent? He somehow had to find a way, because he needed his wits about him in order to gauge the strength of her powers.

Would she be able to sense the wolf stirring within him?

He watched the play of emotions cross her face and wondered what she was thinking. Was she trying to reach into the depths of his mind, to glimpse the area that he’d kept suppressed for so many years?

“I guess we’re going to be partners for the next couple of days,” she said. There was something about the lilt in her voice that drew him in. It got under his skin and warmed his body like the buzz of a fine wine.

“Guess so,” he mumbled. Did she have any idea what she was getting herself into? Tracking a werewolf was a far cry from a day at the beach. She could get hurt, or even worse, killed.

“Don’t worry, Jace. I know what I’m doing.” She folded her arms across her chest and met his gaze unflinchingly.

Great. Now fate had tossed in a little mind reading to really fuck things up. He frowned and shook his head.

She flung her wavy curls off her shoulders and quirked a small smile. “No, I can’t read your mind. Captain Sanders warned me you’d be leery.”

He cocked one brow in the Cap’s direction. Leery? That wasn’t the word he’d choose. More like downright opposed.

His Captain stood and moved to the front of his desk. Arms folded across his barrel chest, his gaze darted between Jace and Skylar. “You two play nice.” With that, he made his way out into the hall. “And keep safe,” he tossed over his shoulder as he disappeared from their line of vision.

Jace turned his attention back to Skylar. He studied the petite woman before him. The first woman in a long time to rouse such a primal reaction in him.

The one woman he had to keep his distance from.

God dammit!


For more info on Cathryn, please visit her website or her blog. And to order Unleashed, please see here!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Julie Riso's SHINE, Pushcart nominated!

A very fine writer pal of mine, Julie Riso has had her story Shine nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Congrats Julie! And good luck!

Delilah Devlin

Today I give you Allure Author Delilah Devlin. She's lived in Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Ireland, but calls Texas home for now. Always a risk taker, she lived in the Saudi Peninsula during the Gulf War, thwarted an attempted abduction by white slave traders, and survived her children's juvenile delinquency. In addition to writing erotica, she enjoys creating romantic comedies and suspense novels.

Excerpt from Delilah's "Warlord's Destiny", now features in the Ellora's Cave anthology, Fated Mates.

So, that's what Kronaki warriors look like!

Every story ever whispered about the fearsome warriors came rushing back to set Mora's body trembling. How they fought like ravaging beasts, cutting bloody swaths through Graktilian mercenaries during the war. How they lived in rough stone fortresses made of blocks carved from their frozen mountains. How they fostered their children to rival clans so they would be raised without gentleness.

How they fucked with such fury their women's screams echoed throughout their valleys.

Mora felt a tremor rumble beneath the polished, marble floor of the great hall, so explosive was the swell of conversation that arose at the warriors' arrival.

They were seven, dressed in furs and leather, armed with bows slung across their shoulders and scabbards at their sides.

She couldn't drag her gaze from the man at the head of their formation, striding toward her-her husband in name, if not yet by deed. Although she had never seen him before this day, she knew it must be him, for he looked the fiercest, the strongest-only one such as he would be chosen to rule from amongst their ranks.

He was from a race of barbarians, seemingly as proud of their reputation for brutal warfare as their orgiastic sexuality. The latter Mora could well believe for the man stalking her now looked every inch a sensual marauder.

A shiver of awe bit the base of her spine and trembled upward until the fine hairs on the back of her neck stood erect.

Taller by a head than any Mellusian, his broad shoulders nearly blocked out the sight of the two heralds dogging his steps as they attempted to halt him. He seemed not the slightest bit interested in following protocol by waiting for his name to be addressed to the assemblage. As if anyone attending the ceremony hadn't already guessed who he was!

He'd also eschewed the fine wedding tunic Mora's mother had personally designed-an embroidered silk affair that would have stretched absurdly across his bulging chest and arms.

No, he wore a vest of gray animal pelts that parted at the front, no doubt to tempt a woman's gaze to ogle his obscenely muscled chest and follow the dark arrow of hair down his hewn abdomen. The black sueded leather that encased his legs strained over thickly corded thighs and the alarming swell of his manhood.

Mora's heart tripped and then fluttered like the wings of an aradil .

Her mouth dry, she forced her gaze upward to look at his face but found no comfort there.

Lord Tetrik of Kronak-his name was as harsh as the angles of his square jaw and the sharp blade of his nose. His hair was dark like a moonless sky and worn like the old warriors in the paintings in History Hall-hanging past his shoulders with small braids on either side of his inflexible face. But his eyes frightened her most of all-chips of blue ice froze her in place as his gaze found hers across the noisy hall.

He would have to know she was his bride. She wore her wealth and importance in the weighty jewels studding her hair and gown and encircling her neck. She saw fury in that first glance. Had he already guessed he'd been cheated of the true prize? That her rich adornment was a ruse?

Her mother moaned behind her. "His ambassador said he was too busy to attend such an insignificant event. You should have worn the pink gown!" her mother hissed.

"It was covered in dirt, mother," Mora whispered, keeping her gaze pinned on the man walking straight toward her. "It's too late now, anyway. The ceremony is over."

"He may still repudiate you. Oh, what were you thinking, digging in the garden on your wedding day?"

"I wanted a tuber rose to take with me to my new home."

"As if a rose will grow in their rocky soil," her mother said, her voice becoming thin and breathy the closer the warrior drew.

Mora hoped her mother didn't choose this moment to faint. She suspected the Kronaki leader would scorn a woman frightened by the mere sight of him.

"That green makes your cheeks sallow," her mother lamented, working herself into a high state of agitation. "You look as though you're attending your own funeral."

Mora couldn't resist delivering a little dig. "Am I not? What do you think he'll do once he finds himself wed to the wrong sister?"

"You should have worn the pink! It would have shown you to advantage." She sounded on the verge of tears.

Her mother's diatribe wore on Mora's nerves. "Mother, it doesn't matter if I wear the pink or the green, I'm no beauty. He will know. And by the look of that scowl he wears, he already does."

"May the Goddess save us!"

"Hush, Hespha!" Her father finally intervened. "You frighten our daughter."

Only that wasn't quite true. Her mother's words had the opposite effect, reminding Mora that by rights, her older sister should have been the one sacrificed to honor The Promise. But her sister had been deemed too delicate and hidden away when the day came to repay the decade-old debt owed the Kronaki. "She'd never survive the rigors of life on that harsh planet," her father had said.

Her mother had been only too eager to agree to the substitution. Her delicate, slender little flower wouldn't be surrendered to the barbarian. Instead, Mora stood in her place. She was anything but delicate-a fact that had pained and embarrassed her parents to no end all her life.

A flush of anger heated Mora's cheeks. Try as she might, she couldn't suppress the primitive emotion. Her parents thought so little of her they were willing to marry her to a beast. A black-haired beast that grew more enormous and intimidating as he approached the dais upon which most of the members of the Mellusian royal family stood.

Mora straightened her shoulders. Jewels and a fine gown would not deceive the man. She was dull quartz against the bright, blonde diamonds glittering inside the hall.

He stopped in front of the dais. The room fell silent while all in the assemblage strained to hear what he might say. His cold gaze raked her from head to toe. Even standing on the raised platform, she had to tilt her head to meet his glance.

Panic had her body tightening. Mora raised her chin another notch, unwilling to let him see her fear.

He lifted one dark brow, and his gaze swept her face, lingering over her lips. "What is your name?"

He knew! "Mora. I am Mora," she said, surprised the words escaped her tight throat. Would he reject her? Strangely, she wasn't certain she'd feel relief if he deemed her unfit. Humiliation at his hands would be the harder emotion to swallow.

His gaze cut to her father, and he nodded once. "It is done," he said, his deep voice terse. Then he turned and offered her his hand.

As Mora realized his curt statement meant he would accept her as his bride, emotion pricked her eyes. He would have her. Although she wasn't the beauty he'd been promised, he accepted her as wife. She blinked and drew in a deep breath. She'd not shame herself by giving way to tears. Although she might be the least favored daughter, she was wed now-and to the fiercest warrior of the covenant worlds. She placed her hand inside his and stepped down beside him.

Immediately, she felt swamped by his tall, broad body, a sensation foreign to her, living all her life among the slender elegance of her people. She lifted her startled gaze.

"You're short." A frown drew his dark brows together in a daunting scowl.

Mora drew back. "I am tall for a Mellusian woman."

He snorted and glanced down her body again. "We leave now," he said, letting go of her hand.

"But we've prepared a banquet," her mother's voice quavered behind her.

"We're leaving now," he said again as though grinding his teeth, his ice-cold gaze never leaving Mora.

She sensed a question in his statement and nodded her assent. Best not to annoy him so soon in their marriage. That would doubtless come later.

He raised his arm, and she placed her hand atop his forearm. His skin was warm, the hairs dusting his arm crisp-the muscle beneath felt hard as stone.

"But her trousseau!" her mother cried. "Her things must be packed."

"I will see to her clothing." To Mora, he asked, "Is there anything else you would bring with you?"

She thought of the small bundle containing her personal treasures and the bundled roots of her tuber rose. "There's a package on my bed."

He turned then to her mother. "Fetch it. Bring it to the mage's chamber."

Her mother was so startled, she didn't question his authority to command her. She swept up the train of her gown and rushed from the hall.

Lord Tetrik strode out of the room, past the glittering assemblage without so much as a sideways glance.

Mora found herself enclosed at the center of the formation of tall warriors and lengthened her stride to keep apace. So tall were they, she was denied her last glimpse of her home, only catching a glimmer of gold leaf from the panels in the ceiling. Too soon, she was descending the steps to the mage's chamber in the dark, ancient dungeon beneath the golden keep.

As they stepped inside, the shadowy cavern seemed, for once, cramped. Her escorts fanned out around the perimeter of the room, their legs braced as if for battle.

Gwimmel, the castle's mage, turned from the cooking pot suspended above a crude wood hearth. His gaze darted to Mora's, and he raised his bushy, white brows. "That was rather quick. I had thought there would be celebrations above."

"Lord Tetrik desired to depart immediately," she murmured to her one true friend, aware of her husband's scrutiny. "And since the ceremony took place before his arrival."

"Ahhh." Gwimmel nodded. He straightened as far as his hunched back would permit. "Lord Tetrik, it will only take a moment to reopen the passage."

Mora glanced to her husband, whose scowl grew darker by the moment. If Gwimmel doesn't hurry, he'll change his mind! Disaster has not yet been averted.

Suddenly, her mother rushed into the room, halting to catch her breath as she spied the warriors. She stepped timidly into their midst and thrust the bundle into Mora's arms and hugged her. "Despite how it may seem," she whispered into her ear, "I wish you well, daughter." She squeezed her and stood back. Then she smoothed a hand over her perfectly coiffed hair before turning to her new son-in-law. "We have your promise you will return her if she so desires?"

"I keep my bargains," he said, the words spoken so slowly his true meaning could not be misinterpreted. He had kept his bargain-the Mellusians had not! "She may return after spring comes to the mountains if she so desires-and if she does not carry my child."

Although her mother strove for a regal nod, her hands pressed her stomach, betraying her unease. "Well, I wish you good journey." Her liquid gaze met Mora's one last time before she turned and departed the chamber.

Mora let out the breath she'd been holding and tried not to shiver at the chill encasing her heart at her husband's words. If she does not carry my child. With a husband so virile, how would she not?

"Mage!" Lord Tetrik spat the word, impatience apparent in his tone.

"Oh, yes, yes. Just a moment." Gwimmel bent and lifted a stone from a basket of magical stones beside the hearth.

He opened his palm and a rough-cut yellow diamond caught the flickering light from the hearth, bending and fracturing it until rays spread in a fiery prism-yellows, reds and oranges bursting like a tiny sun. Then he closed his eyes and murmured an incantation that sounded more like the gurgling of a river than any spoken tongue. The slivers of fiery light curved into a shimmering circle, becoming liquid, the radiance dimming at the center.

"Come, it is time," her husband said, gripping her elbow. He led her to the circle and ducked inside, pulling her along.

For more info on Delilah, please visit her website or her blog. And to order Fated Mates, please see here!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Vivi Anna

Self proclaimed bad girl of writing, Vivi Anna is set to be a break-out star in 2006. She's inked a three book deal with Kensington. Vivi Anna likes to burn up the pages with her original unique brand of fantasy fiction. Whether it's in ancient Egypt, or in an apocalyptic future, Vivi Anna always writes fast paced action-adventure with strong independent women that can kick some butt, and dark delicious heroes to kill for.


Garrick sat down on the offered chair, Tommy and Smith stood on either side, while Puck leaned on the railing, ready for trouble.

“What do you want?”

Fisher put a cigarette in his mouth, and lit it. As he blew the smoke up, he gestured to Garrick. “I want what you want, man. Peace between our packs.”

“There is peace, or haven’t you noticed no one has been gunned down in nineteen months?”

Fisher chuckled. “True. Corin was an egotistical bore. He ran the pack like his own personal war machine.” He ran a hand through his long blond hair. “But what I speak off is eternal peace, a union of our two packs. One pack, one law.”

Garrick sat back in the chair and casually spread his legs. It was meant as a gesture of boredom, an insult. “And who will lead this pack?”

Fisher grinned around his cigarette and leaned forward. “Well, it would be obvious I thought. I’ve been alpha of my pack for many years, Garrick. You’ve only recently acquired yours. If it’s a matter of experience, then I think there is no question who should lead.”

Garrick nodded as if considering Fisher’s words. He glanced up at Tommy and shrugged his shoulders.

“Of course, you would become my second in command. You’ve proven yourself a fierce fighter, a cunning negotiator as a regulator and the Keeper of Secrets. Your talents would not go to waste, I assure you.”

Garrick gazed at Fisher and nodded. “Sounds like a real good offer Fisher, but why would I agree to be second when I’m already first?”

Leaning back on the sofa, he smirked. “I have many things to offer, Garrick. We have an abundance of women in the pack; something I hear is dwindling in yours. One day, you might want to find your mate, make babies, live eternally…and all that shit. I could help you with that ambition.”

Garrick didn’t like the way the conversation was going. Fisher had too much information on the status of his pack and evidently someone was bitching. The familiar odor floated to his nose again, this time it was stronger, more compelling. He flinched, shook his head, and glanced toward the metal ladder.

A gorgeous tall, lithe woman stood at the top of the steps. She didn’t look at Garrick as she passed his chair. Fisher held out his hand to her and she took it, allowing him to bring her down to his lap. He ran his hand up and down her back and smiled.

“You see, I have lots to offer a man like you.”

Garrick nearly swallowed his tongue as he eyed her. She was still the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her body was svelte and toned and her skin glowed as if it had been kissed by the sun. Completely different from before, her auburn hair was short and spiky, accentuating a perfectly tanned angular face.

He remembered her eyes the most. Emerald green…and flashing like polished gems. She was just as he remembered her.

“Hello Garrick.” Her voice, cool and cultured, sent delicious shivers up and down his body.

“Hello Olivia.”

For more info on Vivi Anna, please be sure to visit her website or her blog. To purchase Hungry Like the Wolf, see here!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Lisa Renee Jones

Today I give you Allure Author Lisa Renee Jones. You may recall I did a full interview with Lisa before, but to refresh your memory, here's a bit about her. Lisa owned and operated a temporary staffing agency for over ten years earning numerous awards. Of these achievements the one she is most proud of was being recognized by Entrepreneurial magazine on the top ten growing Women owned businesses list in 1998.

The corporate world offered only limited opportunity to explore her creative side so she began writing Romantic Suspense. Since starting her career, she has placed in numerous contests including winning the Romantic Times Aspiring Writers contest for her Romantic Suspense, Hidden Instincts.

A Mother of two, she lives in Austin, Texas where she writes on a daily basis, eagerly working on her next plot, and discovering new depths to her writing.

Excerpt from Lisa's HEALER:

“Diego.” She said his name as if it was a question.

He answered by gently easing her knees apart, fitting himself in the V of her legs. Her hands slid to her sides, fingers digging into the blanket as if she fought the urge to touch him. She sucked in a breath as he pressed his body against hers. “You belong to me.” One of his hands slipped from beneath her skirt, sliding up her side, following the curve of her sultry form to her back. Pressing her closer to him, easing her full breasts into his chest. He felt her shiver. “I know you feel our connection.”

Her hands went to his shoulders “Yes,” she whispered, “but why? I don’t know why.”

Lips lingering just above hers, he could almost taste her without touch. “One mate for life,” he explained, feeling the possessiveness of knowing she was that to him. You are that person for me. I cannot live without you. ”

“This is crazy,” she whispered, her voice holding a breathless quality. “I shouldn’t be here. How can I respond to a stranger like this? So…”

“Potent,” he said, but it wasn’t a question. It was merely giving voice to what he felt. His mouth closed down on hers, needing what only she could give. The first touch of her soft lips melted him inside out. He was on fire, yet, he felt relief, as if a flame had been sprayed with water and ignited at the same time.

His tongue slid past her teeth, soaking in her flavor with one deep stroke, and then another. How he managed to be gentle he wasn’t sure. The last he wanted was to scare her. The beast inside begged to be unleashed, yet somewhere, somehow, he found the will to contain it. For her.

But the beast would only wait so long.

End Excerpt

For more info on Lisa, please visit her website or her blog. And to order Healer, please see here!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Allure Authors -- Sylvia Day

Today, meet Allure Author Sylvia Day.

Sylvia Day is the multi-published author of highly sensual romantic fiction set in historical and futuristic settings. A wife and mother of two from Southern California, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence. She is also the President and founder of Passionate Ink, Romance Writers of America's first and only erotic romance special interest chapter.

Some of Sylvia's highlights:
2004 IRW Golden Opportunity
1st Place Historical & Best of the Best Winner

2004 Lori Foster/Brava Contest Reader's Choice Winner

2004 Gateway to the Rest
Historical Winner

2004 Some Like it Hot Finalist

2005 Amber Heat Author Winner

2005 Silver Rose Website Contest Finalist

For more info please visit Sylvia's website or blog.

And excerpt from Sylvia's book Misled:

Misled by Sylvia Day

Sable had found her prey. She could smell the fear pouring from him in misty waves, even over the odors of stale beer and cigarettes.
He knew she was hunting him.

Her mouth curved in smile so feral the men who watched her with lusty eyes looked away, their interest doused instantly. Stepping further into the dimly lit bar in the Deep Space 12 concourse, her hand dipped automatically to the lasersword held in the holster on her thigh. It was illegal to use weapons in the concourse, it was illegal even to carry a weapon but she had docked in the waste removal bay, affording her the opportunity to slip past security.

Scowling, she sniffed the air to check on her fugitive, Butch Castle, but also to search for another scent—one so masculine and virile it drove her to madness. In fact she could still smell it on her skin and it was keeping her hot and horny, distracting her when she needed to be the most focused. She forced herself to concentrate, tuning out the background music in the small bar and the paging of flight information echoing in the terminal behind her. Her focus narrowed, a huntress closing in for the kill.

Her shoulders relaxed when she confirmed she was the only vampire in the room. Still, Sable knew she didn’t have long before Derek caught up with her. The handcuffs she’d used to shackle him to the bed would hold, but the bedposts wouldn’t. She’d be damned if she’d let him steal another fugitive from her, even if he was the best fuck she’d had in over a century.

She stepped further into the bar…

“You know,” purred a deep velvety voice behind her. “A guy could take it personally when his woman fucks him senseless and then leaves without a kiss goodbye.”
Heat pooled instantly at the top of her spine and spiraled downward. Shocked, Sable spun around. “What the hell?”

Derek Atkinson stood barely an inch away, his strong hands gripping his narrow hips as he eyed her with his silver stare—a stare still molten with desire for her. “I wasn’t done with you yet. I was just taking a power nap before we started again.”

A shiver went through her body at his words. His raking glance stripped her of her clothing and left her naked to his view. He’d wanted more of her? After two days straight of mind-blowing sex? The man was an animal.

Her nostrils flared. Standing this close to him she could finally smell his delicious scent buried under the overwhelming smell of herself. No wonder she hadn’t detected him sooner.

His eyes danced with devilish amusement. “I thought I was in pretty good shape, but I guess not if I’m falling asleep and you still have the energy to get up and chase my fugitive.”

That arrogant comment penetrated her astonishment. “He’s not your fugitive!”
He cupped her cheek with a warm hand. Instantly her skin grew hot, her pussy wet, her nipples hard. Even after two days straight of Derek’s addicting carnal attentions she was still ready fuck him again. Immediately. Her fangs slid downward in anticipation.

“Sable, sweet.” He smiled, his sensual lips curling upward to reveal pearly white fangs even longer and more deadly than her own.
Her mouth dried instantly.

His voice lowered and she knew he smelled her arousal. “You’re a talented hunter, baby, no doubt about that. But your operation is small and you’re often ill-equipped. If you just let me—”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Butch Castle edging toward the exit to the main concourse. Faster than the human eye could see her, she leapt over the tables between her and her prey. She tucked the man, easily twice her body weight, under her arm and left Derek without looking back. She heard him shout after her as she crawled along the wall to the traffic-free ceiling and ran to her ship. And then she couldn’t hear anything with Butch screaming in terror as they flew through the concourse upside down, his human eyes unable to see more than a blur.
Sable could sense Derek swiftly gaining ground and cursed under her breath. She was no match for him physically, as he’d proven on several occasions in the past, and she was weighted down with the screaming human. She saw her turn coming up but maintained her lightning speed, feinting to the left at the last possible moment. Derek blazed past them. The ruse bought her only a few seconds but it was long enough for her to enter her transport and shut the cargo bay. Just as the portal locked with a hiss of air, she felt a thud as Derek slammed into the door. He’d probably dented the damn thing.

Sable shoved Butch Castle into the brig. “Take a shower,” she ordered. “Wash the stench of fear off you. I’m hungry, so after we take off I’ll be back to feed.” She saw his eyes widen in dismay and smiled. “Don’t worry, you’ll enjoy it. Humans always do.”

Moving to the deck, she sat in her captain’s chair and secured the five-point harness. Then she activated the exterior communication link. “Move away, Derek. I’m about to take off.”

“Damn it, Sable,” he growled. “You bitch! Didn’t the last two days mean anything to you?”

She swallowed hard. Mean anything? They’d meant everything.

What an idiot she’d been to give in to her longing to have him. Burn this thing out, he’d said, and she’d leapt at the excuse to have him even though she’d known deep inside that it would only get worse.

Glancing up, she saw him standing in the loading bay, one hand plunging through his thick raven hair in frustration. He was undeniably gorgeous. Tall, broad-shouldered and thickly muscled, he took up her entire view screen from the chest up. Her heart pounded against her rib cage and her chest grew tight. “Don’t play me, Derek,” she said in a voice that betrayed her with its hoarseness.

He glanced up sharply and bore his metallic gaze into hers through the video screen. He couldn’t see her, but his gaze still searched for answers. “It seems to me that I’m the one being played. Was I just a convenient fuck for you, baby? A couple dozen orgasms and I’ve outlived my usefulness?”

“Go to hell,” she bit out, even as she shivered at the memory. “You were going to do the same to me, I just beat you to the punch. Now back off!”

He backed away a few steps, affording her a clear view of the massive bulge of his cock straining his suit. His handsome face was set in harsh lines, his gaze piercing in his fury. “If you believe that, Sable, after all the time I spent inside you, you don’t know anything about me at all.”

Sable closed her eyes for a moment, willing away the burning behind her lids that would prevent her from seeing her way out of the narrow docking bay. If only things could be different.

“Goodbye, Derek,” she said softly as she terminated the audio. When she opened her eyes and looked at the screen he was gone.

And with a skilled tug on the controls, so was she.

Misled available at Ellora's Cave

Allure Authors

All this week I'll be posting excerpts from a new writer's group: Allure Authors, which has generously agreed to include me. We're gonna get together and try to spread the word about each other. So stay tuned and keep a watch for that. Also, our group website will be going up later this week. You'll be able to find it here:
allureauthors.com. But it's not up yet! So stay tuned.

Cyndia Depre


Cyndia Depre is earning rave reviews for her romantic thriller, Amanda's Rib. From the book's jacket:

Is Amanda Winslow a grieving widow or a cold-blooded killer?

Attorney Jack Lindsey has mixed feelings about Carlisle, Illinois', newest resident. When he discovers Amanda was recently acquitted of murdering her husband, he thinks that is the cause of his unease. Is Mandy a killer? Mandy. He never has nicknames for people, so why does he think of her as Mandy? Why does he think of her at all? She's not his type. Still, the killing has piqued his interest. He wants to learn more, even if that means frequent contact with Amanda.

Jack delves into the murder and trial. His actions set off a shattering string of events, putting his and Amanda's lives in danger and resulting in the death of another. Jack is forced to question his strict beliefs.

Is murder ever justified?

With strong sales and outstanding reviews from everyone who picks up the book, it's clear that Cyndia has a winner on her hands with this one. Friendly and talented, Cyndia has also managed to distance herself from the pack with her concerted promotional and marketing efforts, which are now paying dividends for her.

Cyndia is currently hard at work on her second novel, but I was able to catch up with her to toss a few questions her way.

1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?

Martha Grimes, Minette Walters, Elizabeth George and Dennis Lehane lead the pack. They all write deep, three-dimensional characters. Trite as it sounds, books really are about people. The more I can get into a character's head, and feel they are real, the happier I am. These authors not only tell a good tale, they do it with people who are flawed but always trying to be better. They make mistakes, and try to fix them. In other words, they are human. A perfect protagonist is a boring protagonist. Give me a heroes and heroines who can be jerks, and I understand them. Hummmm....I wonder what that says about me.

2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?

My strength would be dialog, and I include inner thought when I say that. I love reading what characters say and think, and that's probably why I like that style of writing. Whenever I can use dialog instead of narrative to move plot, character, setting etc, I do. I aim for very different voices in characters, so even without a tag readers will know who's line they just read. I am absolutely horrible with description. It usually bores me when reading, and writing descriptions is darn near painful to me. I don't really care if the sky is cerulean blue and someone is driving a white Mazda which still has that new smell and on and on and on. That's just me, though. I have a friend who can fill two pages describing a teacup and do it beautifully. Some people love that. I skim ahead.

3) You've effectively mixed suspense and romance in Amanda's Rib. Did you find this a tough balancing act while writing it? Where did you get the idea/inspiration for Amanda's Rib?

The idea came from talk shows and America's constant need to blame someone for everything that goes wrong. In the case of abuse, I was aghast how often the victim is blamed. I didn't think that was fair, and decided to write a novel about how a woman could find herself in such a situation. I gave Amanda every advantage, yet it took her two years to get out of an abusive relationship. How are people with no family, no money, and children to feed supposed to escape? Balancing suspense and romance was very hard in Amanda's Rib. I wanted her tough and able to take care of herself, but soft and vulnerable on the inside. Although I wanted people to like her eventually, my main concern with the first chapters was making her interesting. Also, I didn't want a 'mushy' romance. If Amanda is taken seriously, her relationship with Jack would have to evolve. Jack is a man coasting through life and used to getting his own way. Amanda is still in love with her second husband, the one who was murdered. Jack isn't a blip on her radar screen. I liked making him work to understand himself, then have to scramble to win Amanda's heart. When asked to describe it in one line, I said, "Amanda learns to trust and Jack learns to love." All this is probably way more than you wanted to know.

4) Amanda is a very complex character, which is part of what keeps us turning the pages in the book. Did you have any specific goals in mind when you were creating the character of Amanda Winslow or did you pattern her after any other characters/people?

Amanda is completely made up. I'm happy you think she's complex, because I wanted her to be real and people are complex. In some ways she's who I'd like to be. I'd like to be smarter and braver. There are parts of me in her, but not much. Amanda never loses her composure (I do), and her mind is always working (mine only occasionally). Like me, she never lets anyone see her cry. She has my necklace and plays with it when she's upset. I found myself doing that and gave her the twitch or whatever you call it. When writing Amanda I'd put her in a situation and imagine what I'd like to do rather than what I would do. They often aren't the same, so it was fun living through her for a while.

5) What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing and/or publishing? What's the greatest reward? Is it worth it? Or is writing something you'd do even if there was zero payoff?

The most difficult part of writing is starting each day. Then, when I've gotten going, stopping. When I hit the writing zone, I don't know what time it is. The toughest part of publishing is getting people to know I exist. I knew it would be hard, but wow. Thankfully I've got thick skin or I'd be a puddle most nights. For example, the owner of a grocery store where I've shopped once a week for ten years wouldn't let me put a small stack of bookmarks near the store window. I was stunned. It never occurred to me that shopkeepers wouldn't jump at the chance to help a local author. But most won't. I'll wear them down, given enough time. It's just a matter of nonstop nagging. The greatest reward is hearing from readers. I just love that. One wrote that I'd written her life (except for the murder part) and said the book helped her understand herself and her husband. I treasure all the letters and email, but that one really hit me in the heart. Is it worth it? I don't know. Writing is worth it because it's such fun. But I'm not sure I'll try to be published again. I'll finish Oblivious, my next novel, and decide then if I want to go through this again. I think it was Lawrence Block who said if you feel like writing a novel, take an aspirin and lie down. He may be right as far as publishing, but writing is wonderful.

6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?

My first thought was my husband. But I have dinner with him every night! I'm not going to give some deep answer like Einstein or Abraham Lincoln. The truth is I like dining with my husband because he makes me think and he makes me laugh. Why change that? So I'd pick someone like Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker. Others can figure out the secrets to the universe. I just want to have some fun while I eat.

7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?

DVD is easy...Camelot. Book...that's a toughie. Trattoria, of course. Then probably something about how to build a raft out of sand and coconuts and navigate using only my watch and ankle bracelet. CD...I'd burn my own with tunes by Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Bob Seger, CCR. Upbeat stuff. Who needs 'I Am A Rock' or '100 Years' on an island?

8) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?

I still don't feel I can be successful at it. I'm working on a screwball mystery/romance. It makes me laugh. I'm probably the only one who will laugh at it, but there you go. Sometimes I have to amuse myself.

9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?

I'd like respect. The older I get, the less money means to me. How many purses can one gal own? I've gotten respect from my husband and parents just through Amanda's Rib. When they say they are proud of me, I feel happy down to my toes. I guess that answers the earlier question. Was it worth it? Yep. My family is proud of me.