Monday, March 31, 2008


Susan's Inside Writing: The First Two Drawings

The outtake I posted yesterday is one of my all-time favorites. It's a scene that pre-dates the blog. In many ways, it predates Trevor's Song and my gazillion attempts at Trevor's predecessor (which I still vow to get right!).

It's one of the original scenes I'd envisioned with Mitchell and Kerri, back when I was constructing their relationship in my head. It could even date back to March of 2000, which is when Mitchell and Kerri first came to life. (Yes, you Trevor fans, they came first. Trevor would say I saved the perfection for later.)

My original idea with Mitchell and Kerri was to play with the idea of two people who happened to be each other's muses. And then Trevor entered the picture, I couldn't tell the Kerri-Mitchell story the right way, and ... Trevor took over. For those of you who know him, you're not surprised. For those of you who don't, if you follow the link in his name, you'll come to his bio page. At the bottom of the page (and for all my characters), you'll see a list of blog posts featuring that character. Go have yourself some fun.

Back to the topic at hand: Kerri's First Two Drawings. I swear, some of my favorite moments are these quiet ones. Visit Rain and Hands, Inspiration and, to a bit of a lesser degree, Hearts.

This one trumps them all. Maybe because I've imagined it so many times. Maybe because it fits my definition of romance and I've always wished for such yearning and tenderness in my own life. This isn't to slight the Tour Manager in any way. This is to say that all those romantic movies I watched as a kid and the sappy songs I used to love? They did a number on my head. No wonder I've turned away from them so thoroughly. They set down a bar that simply can't be attained in real life. So, I'll let Mitchell and Kerri attain them in their fictional life, instead.

Part of me thinks that one of the reasons we writers write is to live out our fantasies. I have no desires to be a rock star or be married to one; Hell, when I almost made a career in the music business, it was with aims of working behind the scenes, for a record label.

But part of me knows that I write to create this sort of stuff in my life, and to share it with my readers. To give us all a few minutes in which we DO wish we were people like Mitchell and Kerri, or that we had a Trevor in our lives.

One final note before I'm done babbling: the end here isn't perfect. The scene doesn't end here; it ends with a torrid kiss and then Mitchell sweeping Kerri back to her futon for another round of hot sex. Maybe one day all you eroti-chicks will work some magic on me and I can write that sort of stuff without squirming and blushing. But for now... use your imagination.

And come on back for more.


Sunday, March 30, 2008


Fiction Outtake: The First Two Drawings (Trevor's Song era)

Most guys, Mitchell figured, would freak out the first time they woke up in their new girl's place. It wasn't familiar, the bed felt a bit weird, nothing was where it should be.

Enter the touring musician, he thought as he stretched his arms over his head, kind of digging the lack of a head board. He'd woken up in so many strange places -- including, once, curled up around one of those outdoor chiminea things with a hangover that made his mouth feel like the inside of the filthy, ash-filled thing -- that he only freaked out the first few days he got to spend in his own bed.

Now, though, it was all about the fact that there was supposed to be a woman beside him in her bed. His woman. He was finally ready to say that.

He lifted his head and tried to squint through the Chinese panel things that separated her futon-thing from the rest of the loft. It was a heavy panel thing, the kind that girls slipped behind while they changed their clothes. He couldn't see Kerri, but a little bit of light slithered around the edges of the screen. Her loft had been fully dark when they'd finally gotten too tired to do something as simple as kiss, hard as that still was to imagine. Fuck, he wanted her.

Emerging from behind the screens, he saw her, seated in front of a small pool of light that was focused on the paper on her drafting desk. She was busy drawing, her head bowed. She'd thrown clothes on, too: a paint-spattered button-down shirt and grey sweatpants that had become a piece of art on their own. She couldn't have looked hotter if she was still naked.

Quietly, so he didn't startle her and make her mess up the picture, he wrapped his arms around her and pressed against her back.

She rested her head against him; he felt her spine elongate as she straightened. "Hi," she said, pursing her lips to give him one of those sideways kisses that was more intention than contact.

"I thought I was the one who liked to work all night."

"Mmmm," she said. "I love to work like this. Here, tell me what you think."

He thought he hated that she sat forward. His belly and chest immediately felt cold.

Just as fast, he was distracted by the picture she held up. The first was of him, probably meant to be from the awards show the other night. It was just him; there was no background. Him and his guitar -- and his middle finger raised as he chorded. So she'd noticed that he did that. He could usually get it by the TV censors. Clearly, she was savvier than they were.

"Did I get the guitar right? I'm new at them," she said.

"Damn close," he said, afraid to touch it and wrinkle the paper or something. She was amazing; that was all there was to it. Before the awards, they'd been on, what? Two dates -- if you could call them that. Maybe he'd grabbed his guitar and played when they'd gotten smashed on that second … uhh, whatever, but for the most part, all she knew of him and his guitars was what she'd seen two nights ago now, at the awards.

She slid her hands down his legs, then turned to look at him. "You're not wearing anything."

"Yeah. So?"

She pointed to the windows. "Neighbors can see in."

"Neighbors can sell tickets once it lightens up outside. They'll make a fucking million or two. You might, too, if you keep drawing like that."

"You may not say that when you see this one…" she said, sliding it out from underneath a clean sheet of paper. "I've never done anything like it. I mean nothing. So if you hate it, I'm trashing it. I can't even believe I'm showing it to you; I barely know you!"

This one, he did take from her, but only because he couldn't stop himself. There was no doubt it was a drawing of them, even though all you could see was two naked torsos. It was one of those perspective things, where you felt like you were falling into the crevice their bodies made, their shoulders apart and their bodies slowly coming closer together until they joined.

"Holy fuck," he breathed and took a step backwards. He needed that distance.

She reached for it. "It sucks."

He held it out of her reach. "If that's your idea of suck… This… This…" He shook his head, as if that would help clear the image from his brain. He was ready to swear it was seared there, forever. "It's amazing."

"You think?"

He looked over at her; if she wasn't ready to bolt and run, no one on the face of the Earth ever had been. "Yeah," he said, wondering if she'd make good on that look if he talked about how he wanted to hang it on a wall in their bedroom, in the house they would buy. For fuck's sake, they'd been together how long now? It was still in the range of hours. And here he was, like a lunatic, thinking about forever.

Trevor, he knew, would laugh in his face and call him a loser.

But that picture. If Trev saw it, he'd shut the fuck up. And then be jealous as hell.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, March 27, 2008


BTT: Cover Up

At first, this week's Booking Through Thursday made me think it was too close in topic to the one called Format, from back in February. Which wasn't that long ago.

Here's this week's question: While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

The Format question was all about what we'd want in our library. This week's question is all about what we like to read.

My answer is pretty much the same, in terms of trade paper versus mass market:
1. The new mass market size sucks.
2. I like trade paper best of all three formats.
3. More e-books should be available in print.
4. The new mass market size STILL sucks.

As for font... like I care. Don't print in wing dings, okay? Make it legible. I'm happy.

Illustrations? Well, okay. The Tour Manager bought me an illustrated novel for my birthday (you confused Thirteeners didn't read carefully enough!). The draw there is the artist, not the fact that it's a novel.

Now, clearly, a graphic novel needs to have appealing artwork. Incredible, even. *coughJoannSfarcough* But a novel? A fiction novel? *snicker at the idea of "fiction novel" being a novel concept and not redundant as hell*


That leaves cover art. I don't think I've ever picked up a book because of its art. I might have when I was younger. I'm a lot more jaded now, sad to say.

However, if I pick up a book with ugly cover art, or something I maybe don't want my not-jaded kids to see, I do wish for something to cover up that cover art. Like one of those quilted book covers that, ordinarily, I'm just too cool for.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #72 -- Susan's Book Talk

I've got all these things I've been wanting to share with everyone, so I'm sending the bands into their practice spaces, I'm parking the journalists in front of their computers, and telling the chef, the artist, the groupie, and the roadie to go about their business for the week.

Let's talk books!

1. My eroti-chick friend Lisa Andel is reporting that her book Dead Again is now in print. My link will take you to the post on her blog about it; you can buy it from the links she provides.

2. My other eroti-chick friend Tilly Greene has the same wonderful thing going on! Here's the link to her blog about the release of Zandia.

3. Not quite an eroti-chick but still an erotic writer nonetheless, TA Chase also has seen one of his e-books make the jump into print. No Going Home is the name of his book. Check it out.

4. This is a big deal because e-books have to sell a certain amount before the publisher will venture into print with them. After all, the costs for print books are higher. So if you'd like to explore (or further your explorations) of erotic literature, these three would be great places to start. If you've never read an e-book and wonder what the fuss is about but really don't want to read on the computer or buy a reader, this is your chance to see what's up. Best of all, you can hold these puppies in your hand and turn the pages.

5. Contests! I've got two contests to tell you about, and I'm not running either one of them!

6. First, we have my bud a Bookworm, over at A Book Blogger's Diary. She's giving away a copy of The Tea Rose, by Jennifer Donnelly.

7. As I said to her, the timing is sort of funny because I'd read about this book on someone else's blog (if it was you, apologies; I read about 400 feeds a day and yeah, things get blurry fast) and was intrigued. And then, the day she posted this contest, I'd been reading an old Publisher's Weekly from November, and there was the review. I was hooked all over again!

8. I almost didn't share the news of this contest 'cause you know. I'd like to win it and all. Maybe if you win it, you'll share it with me?

9. My other bud, Cheesy Giraffe, is having her very first contest. Sorry, you non-US folk, but this is a US-only contest. And no, I won't let you ship it to me and I'll ship it to you. Not even if you'll publish Trevor for me. Now, if you'd design me a ShapeShifter t-shirt I could sell the rest of you groupies, we can talk...

10. Patience pays off. You guys know what a Joan Sfar fan I am, right? I've listed every one of his books I don't already have on my wishlist at BookMooch and finally, finally, I was able to get my hands on The Professor's Daughter. While not my favorite of his (I think The Dungeon series has that honor. Yes, even over the Rabbi's Cat), it's still darn good. Get your own, though!

11. I really like science fiction/fantasy art. It just appeals to me. And so, I read Irene Gallo's blog. It's a dangerous place to be; I came across this gem. Since you're too lazy to click the link, I'll tell you it's called The Plucker and it's an illustrated novel by this dude named Brom.

12. The Tour Manager came home from the office on Monday (yes, he does more than tend to my every need) and told me he had my birthday present for me. Nevermind that I'm an April baby, he had the present and he was handing it over.

13. I'm very glad he did. It's gorgeous and I can't wait to read it. The Tour Manager rocks.

Hey, before I go, am I the only lucky RT attendee who got kicked over to the overflow hotel? I'm wondering if, given that the whole idea of having a room was to have a nearby retreat and place to change my clothes, I should save the money and just sleep in my own bed.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, March 24, 2008


... and the winner is!

Congratulations to Shelly! She's won my second copy of St. Barts Breakdown, the fourth book in the Mick Sever, music journalist, series.

I wish I had copies of this neat book for all of you who entered, but here's a link so you can pick up your own. Grab the backlist while you're there!

If you missed my review of the book and/or the interview with author Don Bruns, be sure to head over to Front Street Reviews and read both there. And while you're there, check out my review for Susie Fishbein's Passover by Design. You'll understand why that's one book I'm not giving away!

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Byline: Chelle LaFleur -- Tuning Down

Now, I don't get what all the howlin' and cryin's about. Seems legendary singer Sammy Spencer is reuiniting with the last two living original members of Scarred Heart. That ought to be good news and we all oughta be celebrating this. Scarred Heart was, for you too young to know your roots as proper as you should, one of the bands that brought the words Heavy Metal into our world. They took Johnny B. Good and taught him how to bang his head.

Scarred Heart's die-hard fans been yowlin' for a reunion for years now. Chelle here been one of 'em 'cause she never got to see them live the first time out, and that's one of those things that's gotta get fixed so Chelle can die a happy woman. News of the reunion was met with a big cheer here at the Trumpet's office, and around the world, too. It was a heck of a sound; I'm surprised you missed it. Cows in heat don't often walk around New Orleans, you know what Chelle's sayin' here?

Now comes word that fans are threatening to boycott. Seems that Sammy Spencer can't reach those high notes that make Chelle's kinky hair stand on end. Seems that in thirty years, Sammy Spencer had the good fortune to grow himself up. For men, that means their voices get lower and they can't get up to those high notes no more.

Oh, sure there are a few who can. But Chelle wants to know if they can do it outside of a recording studio and with the taped voice track turned off. If so, she wants to see what they got in their pants. It's either nothing 'cause they've been snipped so their voices stay high, or else there've got something making them mighty uncomfortable…

None of those options fit the Scarred Heart style. Remember, boys and girls, this was the band that was all about keepin' it real back before keeping it real was a trendy thing. This was the band who made us all sit up and realize that not everyone kept it real.

That means there won't be vocal tracks piped in over Sammy's real voice. That Sammy's not going to hurt himself to bring us his famous high notes.

What it means is that the band's changing the tuning of their songs, so that Sammy can sing 'em the best way he can. 'Cause we all know: Scarred Heart's gotta keep it real.

Keepin' it real is what you so-called fans are now having hissy fits over. Seems you'd rather have fake music in the name of it bein' like the albums you probably never replaced once vinyl went out of fashion. You don't want to know that your hero's gettin' old and can't hit those high notes. You want it fake.

You peeps are spoiled. Let Scarred Heart tune it down. Let 'em show us that they can still rock with the best of them. And quit your bitchin'. Save it for the next time ShapeShifter's resident hottie Mitchell Voss refuses to take his shirt off during a show. Now that, that is a thing to whine about.

You heard it first, and you heard it here: Let Sammy sing it the best he can. He'll still rock your socks off.

Why aren't you riding the Poetry Train?

Labels: , , ,


Giving You... St. Barts Breakdown (Copy #2)

To celebrate the posting of a VERY short interview I did with Don Bruns, author of St. Barts Breakdown, I have a second copy to give away to one lucky reader.

You guys know the rules:
1. Anyone can enter; one will win. I prefer to keep my mailings on Planet Earth, however, so non-Earthlings need not enter.

2. Meanies need not enter.

3. Be sure to leave me some contact information so I can reach you, should you win. That can be an e-mail address or a website that has a space for comments and/or an e-mail address.

4. Entries close on Sunday, 23 March or thereabouts since it's Spring Break and I might skip town.

5. I'll notify the winner at some point on Monday, 24 March, either early morning or late afternoon.

6. I hope to register this book at BookCrossing. If that's not your thing, fine. Please don't deface the lovely bookplate just in case someday, someone, some how makes a journal entry and I can hear more of this book's adventures.

7. Go check out the Interview!!!

As always, thanks to the kind people helping spread the word about this contest: Prizey,Blog Giveaways,

It's Sunday night and I'm closing comments. Winner will be picked and contacted tomorrow!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 21, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Easter Eggs (Trevor's Song era)

"I just don't get it," Eric said. "I've done this for years. Why's it a problem now?"

"Because we're ShapeShifter," Mitchell said with a small shrug, like it was no big deal. But it was.

"We were ShapeShifter before yesterday! What changed?"

Now Mitchell sighed. "The number of records we've sold, the number of people who come to see us every night, the security staff, the type of hotel we stay in… do I really need to keep going?"

"It's called success, wanker," Trevor said, leaning around Mitchell so Eric could see his face.

Eric was privately glad when Mitchell gave the bass player a shove back into place. He understood it, and Mitchell knew that. Lord knew, they'd had these talks often enough. They were starting to be routine -- until the reason for today's talk. There was nothing routine about this, about what had happened.

Worst of all, their manager said if they didn't start being more careful, there would be more of them. They were lucky this was the first time.

He shook his head again. "I just don't get it."

Trevor sighed loudly. "What you don't get," he said, standing up so he could pose and vogue, "is why the band's in trouble over something you did. You're the good one, the one who never creates waves. So now that some chick's pissed that you threw candy into the crowd when she was busy begging her boyfriend to suck her face or something so she wasn't watching you and took one of your stupid candied eggs to the face and now she's making noise about suing us, you're pretending it doesn't make sense. What doesn't make sense is why no one's bothered to see how bad the girl's hurt--"

"JR told us not to try to contact her," Daniel said quickly. "Because she's got her lawyer involved."

"We still ought to know," Trevor insisted. "Did a corner of the wrapper put her eye out? Does she have a bruise she could have gotten when some crowd surfer dropped his foot? Did the stupid chocolate egg make her swallow her own tooth?"

"I don't throw that hard!"

"Maybe you should have," Trevor spit at him.

Mitchell growled. Trevor sat down.

Eric tried to understand what that had been about. It made about as much sense as this girl, who was having a tantrum about being hit in the eye by one of the chocolate Easter eggs he'd thrown into the crowd. He'd been throwing Easter candy for years. He'd done interviews about it. Every single ShapeShifter fan out there knew that for a few shows before Easter, Eric threw chocolate eggs. That was just one of the things ShapeShifter did.

And now this girl, who had been there only to make her boyfriend happy, was having a hissy fit. Trevor was right: she hadn't been watching the band.

"Hey," he said suddenly, "what about that bit about 'Enter at your own risk' that's on the back of every ticket? Is that still there?"

He was met by three dumb looks.

"I'll call JR and ask," Mitchell said after a painfully long minute of silence. "You might be onto something."

"A ticket," Daniel said. "Shit, I'd forgotten all about those things, it's been so long since we've needed them."

"That's because we're ShapeShifter," Trevor said. He tapped a cigarette on its box. "I told you idiots I'd make this band big."

"Yep," Mitchell said, standing up and heading for the hotel phone. "It's all because of you, Trev."

"I hope this doesn't mean the end of my eggs," Eric said.

"It does," Mitchell said. He paused and put the phone down. "Look, it sucks, but is it such a shitty thing to have to give up? Think about it, Eric. Can you give up the eggs if we're getting all this other stuff in return?"

This conversation, too, was starting to have hints of déjà vu to it. They were having to give up going in the front doors of hotels, of being able to move around without a bodyguard shadowing them. Every time someone complained, that was the answer: all this other stuff in return. Our dreams, they're coming true. It's worth it.

They were only chocolate eggs. But that didn't mean he was ready to give them up.

Have you seen the free download yet?

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 20, 2008


BTT: The End

You’ve just reached the end of a book . . . what do you do now? Savor and muse over the book? Dive right into the next one? Go take the dog for a walk, the kids to the park, before even thinking about the next book you’re going to read? What?

Well, I usually close the book first...

And from there, it depends. If it's before bed, I'll put the book on my desk and deal with it the next day. If it's not, I'll journal it at BookCrossing and then decide what to do with it: send it as a gift to a BookCrosser who has it on their wish list, give it to Mom or a friend, or register it at the book trading sites I use.

So that's the mechanical, ending-the-book stuff.

As for picking up the next one, that also depends. If it was an extraordinary read, I won't want to read anything for a bit. That means hours or until the next day, at the most. If not, I peruse my list of what's been here the longest, pick something that sounds different from what I just finished, and am off and running again.

Because, you know, I have WAY too many books here, waiting to be read. I'll never get caught up and onto some of the stuff you guys blog about if I don't keep on reading.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Thursday Thirteen: Spring has Sprung

Thirteen (?) Things that happen Every Spring

1. Trevor swaps his leather jacket for a leather vest over a denim jacket.

2. Trevor rediscovers the pack of cigarettes he left in the leather vest when he wore it last.

3. The cigarettes are now stale. He offers them to Mitchell.

4. The Deadly Metal Hatchet beheads daffodils.

5. Fozzy buys the longest shorts a guy can get away with, hoping to hide the scars on his leg. Then he makes his annual call to the plastic surgeon to see if anything can be done about them.

6. Big Buck's wife Beverly fires up the mobile grills and begins to get ready for the summer barbecue cook-off season.

7. Walter gets ready for a new tour.

8. Eric throws Cadbury Crème eggs into the audience.

9. They'd rather have his guitar picks.

10. Chelle swaps her long-sleeved concert t-shirts for the short-sleeved concert t-shirts.

11. Pam's classes fill up with women worried about bathing suit season.

12. Roadie Poet, Hambone, and More begin fielding offers of work on summer tours.

13. Lyric offers her yearly discount on her favorite stockings to anyone with a prom ticket.

14. Susan's world continues to grow. And grow. And grow. Sort of like the dandelions in her front yard, only more entertaining.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Susan's Inside Writing: For you

Remember at the end of January when I posted the Chicken Scratch outtake? When I posted it and read over it, I realized that it was... not up to my usual standards, even for an outtake, which I tend to think of as unpolished and rough anyway.

To me, this was rougher than usual.

But to a lot of you guys, it was great. A few of you commented that if I thought that was rough, you'd hate to see how things looked with some polish on them.

I decided to rise to that challenge. After all, I wasn't happy with some things in the outtake. And who can resist a chance to show off a little bit?

If you go over to my website and scroll WAAAAAAAY down to the bottom of the home page, you'll find a cleaned up Chicken Scratch outtake. It's a .pdf and you can download it and read it. Come on back here to tell me what you think of it after its makeover; you can't leave comments over there anymore, thanks to spammers.

If this is a big success with you guys and you tell your friends and spread the word, and lots of people stop by to check it out, there will be more of them to come. After all, I've got almost two years worth of outtakes on this here blog, and I've got a bunch more waiting to be shared with you.

But for now, let's start with one.

Happy reading!

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Walter Fiction: The Approach of Spring

"Walter," Lila said, "the equinox is next week."

"I know, love." He looked up from the crossword puzzle in the morning paper. "We're set for it."

"Are you? You haven't left the house in a month. How can the band be ready for next week if you don't practice?"

"We're pros." Of course it would be fine. It always was. He'd been playing with this group of guys for years now. The Vernal Equinox Celebration always went well.

Lila knew better than to push it. Just as spring came slowly every year, so did Walter and his music. Spring meant the beginning of his touring season. Come August, when they'd all had enough, he'd take another month off, join everyone at the Autumnal Equinox Celebration, and then spend the winter holed up in his basement studio, creating a new album.

And then, just like the way the Earth turned, Walter's musical cycle would begin again.

If the Earth didn't need to practice for all this, why did he?

Springtime, awakening... how aware of the changing seasons is an aging rocker, anyway? That's what inspired this. For more Walter, visit here, here, and here. And stay tuned; in my file of saved stuff I need to post one day, I've got at least one more piece that features him.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, March 14, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Baking Cookies (The Early Years)

Mitchell stopped at the top of the steps and sniffed, then inhaled as deeply -- and as quietly -- as he could. "Something smells," he said, wrinkling his nose and pretending the reek was bad. He even waved his hand in front of his face as he leaned forward so he could see Amy and Beth on the family room couch -- and so they could see him.

"That's why you're supposed to say excuse me when you fart, Pipsqueak!"

"Oh. Sorry," Mitchell said and shut his bedroom door behind him. He didn't have to hear Amy's laugh to know it was following him. She thought she was so funny.

"When's the cookie raid?" Trevor asked.

"Give it an hour," Mitchell said and reached for his guitar. "Don't want to strike too soon or they'll just eat what's left of the dough again and we won't get shit."

"We'll get to lick the bowl."

"Not last time, we didn't. Trust me, Trev. We lay low, we get the goods."

Trevor stood up and was out of the room before Mitchell could stop him.

"Bring me three!" Mitchell called after him, chuckling. He'd gotten them all that time.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 13, 2008


BTT: Playing Editor

Come on... how can I resist??

This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:

__________ would have been a much better book if ______________________.

First blank: Insert Trevor's Song.

Second blank: you can read it yourself.

Now, to edit the question and put it together:

Trevor's Song IS a much better book WHEN you can read it yourself.

Trevor himself didn't need to prompt me with this one. In fact, he's giving me a satisfied nod right now. I'd better get him an ash tray before he ruins my carpet, though...

Psst! Stay tuned for a special something for you guys. As soon as we get the wonky code to behave, I've got a present to share.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #70 -- Famous Fictional Women

March is International Women's History Month, or something like that. Since that dovetails nicely into the discussions around here over the past few weeks, I figured I'd invent thirteen women who will one day be discussed. By someone.

Some of these women you've met before. Others I created just this week. Let me know who you'd like to see more of and, just like the list of bands the other week, I shall do what I can to oblige.

Thirteen fictional women who changed the world

1. Zeynep Goldstein. This not-terribly-observant Muslim woman married a not-terribly-observant Jew and, without meaning to, found a way to begin to bridge the centuries-old hatred between the people of the two religions. (Although, as a Jew, I didn't know of this hatred until about ten years ago, at most. Must be a hidden hatred, or am I that sheltered?)

2. Toni Lauren Smith -- One of eight children, Toni and her husband Leon decided to seek fulfillment by not contributing to the world's population problem. Instead, they work tirelessly to promote the conservation of the world's green spaces and the flora, fauna, and wildlife that dwells within in. (If you think she wasn't inspired by a certain blogger, you're nuts.)

3. Maureen -- Also known as More to Roadie Poet, she is helping (along with the real-life women out there) that women do belong in the often-sexist world of roadies.

4. Aliyah -- Created last week, all I know about Aliyah so far is that she's a chemist, doing research in a New York City lab into alternates for petroleum. Her partner is a big-shit record producer, also in New York. She keeps him grounded and proves, yet again, that it takes a good woman to make a man great.

5. Sara Deaver -- a single mom who teaches her community and social circle how to live with grace under pressure.

6. Alina Kozlova -- A historian by training, Alina brings history to life, with the help of a team of sociologists, pyschologists, and every other -ologist she deems necessary. First through articles in a national news weekly magazine and then through her own books and later podcasts, Alina makes history sexy -- and reminds us of the relevance of the past in today's world.

7. JC Montecino -- The US Government's top IRS fraud inspector. Despite long hours on the job, JC raises a family of seven children. With the help of her stay-at-home husband who somehow finds the time and energy to constantly be renovating at least one room of the four-bedroom house.

8. Pauline Smolinski -- A Holocaust survivor, at 80 she begins a new career as a Food TV host. As a judge of Iron Chef America and all those food competitions where people create crazy things and win ten grand for it, she's not afraid to show what's what in terms of the importance of food and nourishment.

9. Beverly Buck -- Big Buck's wife. Those of you who hang around know that Big Buck's Best Barbecue is one of those places in the fictional city of Riverview that no one can get enough of. Beverly is responsible for creating Bodacious Sauce. She's also the one who takes the mobile barbecue on the road, proving that women can barbecue with the best out there.

10. Sassy Brody -- A lawyer whose rising star has people hoping she'll be named US Attorney General.

11. Ruby Red -- fashion designer to the stars, she helps turn the musical culture into something other than sex and the ghetto.

12. Bunny Fitzgerald -- At the tenderish age of 20, Bunny Fitzgerald took the skateboarding scene like a storm. The first female pro with a reputation as good as Tony Hawk's, Bunny takes that board and flies with it. Rumor has it that Shaun White thinks she's hot, but the idea of being Bunny White scares her sleepless.

13. Lyric Maker -- You've met Lyric on these pages before. Stay tuned; there's more of her to come. LOTS more.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Val's Cake (Trevor's Song era... or beyond)

"Okay, Val! Let's see it!" Daniel called when he got home from practice, not that he'd had far to go, since the practice space was in their back yard.

She tried not to panic. "Are you alone?"

"I promised you I would be," he said. As if that meant anything; Trevor and Mitchell would ignore promises Daniel made her. They didn't care. Worst of all, they'd look at this disaster she'd made and laugh. This was one of those things they'd never let her live down.

Val looked out the window, just to be safe. Both Mitchell's Bronco and Trevor's ugly-assed motorcycle were gone. Not that letting Daniel near it would be any easier.

"Let's see it," Daniel said again as he entered the kitchen.

Val burst into tears.

The cake had been supposed to look like a Southern Plantation -- the sort of place that Val wanted to marry Daniel in, if getting married was ever something that seemed the right thing to do. But the end result hardly looked like the idyllic setting for a romantic wedding between two people who'd been together for so long, they didn't know what it was like to be apart.

"Well," Daniel said, folding his arms across his chest and cupping his elbows with his fingers. "We could always throw it in a bowl, pour some rum over it, throw in some whipped cream, and … what else do we do to your other cakes?"

"I wanted this one to be great!" she wailed.

Daniel turned his back on the cake just as the front porch finished sagging. It fell lazily to the side, right on top of what was supposed to have been some sort of shrub. He held Val by the waist, not pulling her too close.

"What's great," he said, "is that you tried." Very slowly and deliberately, he kissed the tip of her nose. "We both know that dessert is the one area you may never master. But you tried it anyway, and it'll taste just fine." He pulled back a bit and eyed her. "Won't it?"

She shrugged.

With another kiss, this time on her lips, Daniel sent her off so he could turn the mess into something edible. Val knew that once he had, he'd proclaim it a shame to not share, and while Val was working up menus, he'd call Mitchell and Kerri and invite them over for dinner.

Best of all, there'd be nothing for anyone to make fun of. Maybe the whole thing could be forgotten. Maybe she'd learn and not bother with any dessert more ambitious than chocolate chip cookies.

But most probably, she'd try again.

This was inspired by this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt: Experimenting. For more Val, check out Soy Sauce, Beached Whales, and Val's Tantrum. Oh, and Smoke Break. How could I forget Smoke Break?

Don't forget to ride the Poetry Train!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Sunday Best: Solitude

Yep, I've gotten some of the big storm that's pelting Cleveland and Buffalo and Carmi in Ontario. The best part is that I've got the house to myself for a bit over 24 hours; I've been soaking in the solitude -- even if my plans to have dinner with a friend were nixed by slow road crews. Oh, well. It can't all be perfect.

Two of my friends have releases this week!

Aline de Chevigny (Damn, that's hard to spell!) released Toss of a Coin. The link will take you to her blog about it and you can follow those links to buy it. (Have I mentioned that being home alone has made me lazy?)

And my dear friend Joely Sue Burkhart has The Rose of Shanhasson about to explode onto the e-book market, too. Same thing with the links.

Check them out, pick them up. Wouldn't it be cool if, five years from now (or less), they hit the best-seller list and you can say you read them when?

I've some new fiction for you tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Labels: , , ,


... and the winner is!

My first copy of St. Barts Breakdown has been won by


Stop by and offer her congratulations, or offer them here.

Best of all, stay tuned because I've got another copy of this fun book to give you!

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 07, 2008


Giving You ... St. Barts Breakdown

***Sticky Post! Scroll down for this week's good stuff!***

Barb, the lovely editor at Front Street Reviews, was surprised at how harsh I was about Don Bruns' St. Barts Breakdown, given how much I liked it.

I don't think I was harsh. I was trying to be balanced and fair.

What do you think? And, maybe more importantly, do you want a chance to see for yourself? I've got TWO copies of St. Barts Breakdown here -- but one is about to find a place on my shelf.

That means I've got a spare. And it can be yours, so you can read it and tell me if you think I was being too harsh on Michelle and Jordan (and maybe even leading man Mick Sever, even though I basically liked him).

You know the rules...
1. Head on over to Front Street Reviews and check out what I had to say about the rest of St. Barts Breakdown. (This part isn't mandatory, but it'd sure be nice. I spent a good week working on that review! That's six days longer than the average outtake!)

2. Leave me a comment here on this very post, telling me you want to read it.

3. BE SURE TO LEAVE CONTACT INFORMATION. A link to your blog, your e-mail, whatever. But I've got to have a way to tell you that you've won. Please, don't leave your phone number. I hate the phone and won't call.

4. On Saturday, March 8, I'll have The Opening Act (that'd be my kids, for you who don't hang around here -- and why not?) pick a number based on the number of entries.

5. This contest is open to everyone on Planet Earth. Yup, I'll ship around the world. If you've won in the past, so what? Enter again. You might win again, but I make no promises.

6. I will register this book at I love watching my books travel the world. I love seeing what others think of them. That doesn't mean you're obligated to do a darn thing with BookCrossing, although if you're going to remove the lovely book plate I'll be putting inside, don't tell me. That denies me the chance to know what happens to a book that passed through my hands -- and anyone who comes after you to experience the fun of BookCrossing.

7. You've got until Friday night, March 7 to enter.

Good luck! And really, get your hands on this book. Danny Murtz is a trainwreck you don't want to miss out on.

As always, thanks to my promo crew for helping spread the word: Breeni, Laura Williams, Prizey, and a Book Blogger's Diary. Am I missing anyone? Please let me know!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 06, 2008


BTT: Hero?

Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why?

So asks this week's Booking Through Thursday.

And you know what? I don't relate to the men in fiction the way I relate to the women. Maybe it's because I can put myself into a woman's shoes and wish to be her. But I've never wished to be a man.

There are lots of great men out there in fiction, too. Marcia Muller's Hy Ripinski comes to mind. Lestat did great things to my teenage mind, but Brad Pitt topped that in the movie. (I know! Have you ever heard me say such a thing before?)

Good men are made greater by the women around them. I swear it. Go on. Name some great fictional men and look for their women. Jamie Fraser? He's got Claire. Mr. Darcy? He's got what's-her-name (Hey, I have yet to read Austen). Max and Sebastien have Victoria. Huck Finn? Becky Thatcher.

My latest review, St. Barts Breakdown has two: the memory of Ginny for Mick Sever and Danny Murtz's personal assistant, Nancy. Murtz is a heck of a great male character; you should enter the contest if there's still time and you haven't done so yet.

Even my own Mitchell Voss has the unstoppable Kerri. And Trevor? He's got a horde of women, many of whom are reading this very post and possibly blushing...

Maybe Beowulf doesn't have a good woman around. Then again, I don't think Beowulf showered. That might have something to do with it.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Thursday Thirteen #69 -- Strong Women

This is my 69th Thirteen. And we all know the obvious fun that the number 69 inspires. Unless you've got a partner who's lousy at it.

Since it's obvious to play with the concept of 69, I must be like Trevor and ignore the obvious. Therefore, I present something different this week.

My Booking Through Thursday post last week got me thinking. Bunnygirl and Thomma Lyn and I got into this discussion about the best women in fiction and how they've got strong personalities, but are told they are TOO strong to be published.

Needless to say, I want to fix that. I'm just not sure how. Let's see if my thoughts on the subject give us any ideas.

Thirteen Thoughts About Strong, Fictional Women

1. I'm fascinated by the fact that this discussion happened just a few weeks before the Jewish holiday of Purim, which celebrates the story of Esther. Esther stood up to her husband the king, even though she faced death to do so. But it was her or all the Jews. How could a strong woman NOT take that risk?

2. A great novel about Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, is The Gilded Chamber, by Rebecca Kohn. See? Here's an example of a strong woman character who made it into print. Even though she's a historical figure. Maybe that doesn't count.

3. As a child, I was inspired by women like Esther. I wanted to be a strong woman like her -- and like Princess Leia. Leia was the first woman I'd ever seen who picked up a gun and held her own, in all arenas. She was tough. I wanted to grow up and be her.

4. I look at my own fictional characters and wonder if I'm fitting the bill, myself. Am I creating the sort of woman I want to be?

5. I think so. Kerri is an artist. She's cool. She's got it all, she knows it, she appreciates it. As any of you who were here earlier in the week saw, she's got a past of her own that she had to overcome. Without bitterness. It's one of the ways in which she's similar to Trevor, who also has no bitterness toward his upbringing. If you can call it an upbringing.

6. Then there's Chelle. Chelle grew up dirt poor and, without a college degree, found a way to wiggle into being a rock journalist. Sure, she writes for the city paper, not Rolling Stone or something, but she's popular. Those of you who read her posts here on my blog know that she's not afraid to say what's on her mind.

7. I've got Val and Pam roaming around, too. Pam's not ever going to be confused for being a strong woman, although in her way, she is. She can't help it that Mitchell turns her into a simpering idiot. As for Val, she's assertive when she's comfortable. But as you may have noticed, she prefers to hang in the background.

8. However, none of those four women are math/science women, which is the sort of character Bunny and Thomma Lyn are looking for. That, of course, means a challenge for me.

9. You haven't met Heather yet, but she might be someone I develop more, especially once I get Trevor's Song into print. Yes, that's a hint of things to come.

10. I've got an idea for a new character, named Aliyah, but nothing concrete yet. And even if I do flesh her out and write her story -- which would have to center on her strength and her career -- is there a point if I can't get it published?

11. For Trevor and situations like this, I wonder what the strong approach is: self-publish and do it ALL myself (but also retain ALL control over my vision) or go for the traditional, royalty-paying publisher and the respect that is inherent with that pathway. I mean, anyone can self-publish in this day and age. But is giving up control a way of selling my vision out?

12. I have long dreamed of owning a publisher of my own. Yes, that'd get me in print, but it would also take care of situations like these. Lots of people in my comments last week -- and as I visited others who participated in BTT -- were all saying that they like strong women. They want more.

13. Without money, business acumen, time, and a million other things, this is only going to remain a dream. So the problem remains... How do we get strong women into print?

Anyone? Bueller?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Hey! This was Post #400!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Susan's Book Talk: Another writer named Susan

Okay, I need to start this post by saying I've yet to read any of Susan Wiggs' fiction.

But this is THE PERFECT time for me and anyone else around to change that.

Susan's publisher, Harlequin, is re-releasing an anthology she contributed to (along with Sharon Sala and Emilie Richards). That would be More than Words: Stories of Courage, and my handy-dandy link will take you to a spot where you can pick up your very own copy.

Woo hoo, right?

Well, here's the kicker: Susan's not making so much as a penny on it. Rather, anything that should come her way is going to go to Cottage Dreams, a charity that allows cancer patients to have a quiet vacation once their treatment is finished.

Read Susan's post here. Kudos to Susan and Harlequin for doing this. (and before you ask, I can't find information as to whether or not the same donation holds true for Sharon and Emilie's parts; I'd love to be enlightened!)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Fiction Outtake: Leaving (Pre-Trevor's Song Era)

"The problem," Kerri said, pausing to catch her breath and glare at her brother, "is that she wants me to be Cinderella. But I'm nobody's servant!"

"Maybe there's a way…"

"No, Stevie. Do you hear me? No." She pulled her favorite Steelers sweatshirt off the hanger and folded it carefully, hugging it to her chest. Maybe when she returned, she'd have the upper hand. She'd have some sort of power over that woman, and she wouldn't have to spend all her time and energy fucking around, the way things had always been, up to this point.

Maybe she'd even be spoken to in a civil manner, just like that woman always insisted on. "What goes around comes around," Kerri thought as she stuffed the sweatshirt into her bag, refusing to care when it came unfolded. Everything else had come undone. That's why she was packing.

It was hard to believe she was thinking so clearly. She hadn't been when she and Jason had been interrupted, down in his basement. Then again, it was hard to think clearly when your clothes were off and your legs were wrapped around someone's waist and all your thoughts were about how you wished the rubber would stop finding all the dry spots -- and then suddenly, there she was, face blank, mouth open like fresh roadkill. As if Kerri could have possibly gotten that lucky. That woman would never be roadkill. She was too fucking mean to die.

Amazing what an hour could do. Kerri had the bus schedule to Riverview, had her duffle bag already full of the things she couldn't leave behind, and was ready to start in on the things she'd want Stevie to send her later on. The rest…

It would probably get thrown out. Kerri knew that, but owning up to that fact wasn't so easy.

Yet that was how it was with her. Really, Cinderella wasn't a stretch, except there was no step to this mother. There weren't step-sisters, either, who were her rivals. Nope, this was all about Mom and daughter. Not even adopted daughter. Born of the woman who hated her.

Getting out of town would be a relief.

Kerri fantasized about it for a minute. Her own place. All the art she wanted, and classes to make her better. A job, sure, but jobs weren't so bad. It sort of sucked that she had to leave the garden center now instead of at the end of summer like she'd planned, but these things happened. Maybe she'd even find someone better than Jason, which wouldn't be too hard since she was pretty much only with Jason for the sex.

"What time do we have to leave?"

Kerri glanced at the door to her bedroom. "The sooner, the better. You know Dad'll start in soon."

"Yeah, but …"

Kerri arched an eyebrow at him and reached for her alarm clock.

"He's not as mean," Stevie said, ducking his chin to his chest and mumbling. Like this was something he had to be ashamed of.

Well, Kerri thought, not anymore. She was eighteen, she had a partial scholarship to the art school of her choice, and she had enough cash to take a bus to Riverview and find a place to live. A place where she'd be left alone.

A place where she'd finally be able to do something right, for the first time in her life.

This is our first look at Kerri before she moved to Riverview and before she met Mitchell, which happened years after the move. Already, she's very much the woman she becomes.

Once again, this is my Poetry Train and Weekend Wordsmith rolled into one. Good thing the Poetry Train has no rules; I'd go nuts.

At any rate, this was partially inspired by the Wordsmith prompt, but also partially by the discussion we've been having in the comment trail in my BTT: Heroine post, about strong women. I'm still working on ideas of how we can band together, girls. If you've got any, drop me a line.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Sunday Best: Six Things

This was the week to Tag Susan For a Meme She's Already Done. One of the reasons I didn't stick with academia was that I hate repeating myself.

So this Sunday Best is better than that stupid meme. It's about people OTHER than me. People who deserve your attention.

1. My eroti-chick friend Christine had a new release this week, Wizard's Thief. You eroti-readers might want to check it out here. I think Christine is awesome, even though I have yet to read her fiction.

2. Ann Aguirre has a new book out, too. Get your hands on Grimspace! I hear it's killer.

3. One of my favorite Thirteeners has her first release, too. Xakara's debut is out through Samhain. Get it and tell me what I'm missing!

4. Want a peek at Jennifer Estep's latest cover? Mark your calendars for September 2 and start counting the days!

5. Sort of about me, but more about Linda Fairstein. I finished the copy of Bad Blood that she was kind enough to send my way. It was her best book yet! Full of fascinating facts about a part of New York City 99% of the world doesn't get to experience, and Coop at her best. She's one gutsy woman, Coop is. Relating back to this week's Booking Through Thursday question and the discussion that followed in the comment trail, Alexandra Cooper fits the bill.

6. Speaking of Linda, remember this date: March 12. That's when Killer Heat will be released. I hope Luc comes back, and that's all I gotta say about THAT.

Trust me. This is a series you can jump into at any point and be able to follow what's up, so g'wan and click my links. Buy Bad Blood. Pre-order Killer Heat.

Heck, buy ALL these books. But I'll warn you now: Bad Blood is the only one I've read, so if you take my suggestions but don't like what you encounter, well, have your head examined. (although if you read Jennifer Estep's two current books and don't like them, I'm sure the person examining your head will have lovely drugs for you.)

Labels: , , , ,