Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Good Old Days?

Well, Jess and Angie are off to Disney World and Casey's somewhere on the north coast. Where am I?? Sweating my little booties off in hot, humid Iowa!!! (Not kidding-stand outside for five minutes-no movement required-and the perspiration will start flowing like a mountain stream!) Honestly, how did we ever survive without air conditioning? Yes, I truly do love technology…most of the time.

There are times when I find it annoying-I'm not the brightest bulb in the box when it comes to operating all the gadgets available to us these days, but I don't think I'd make it if I had to live the way my grandmothers and great-grandmothers did. They were definitely made of sterner stuff than me. Can you imagine cooking over a wood burning stove, in the summertime, dressed the way they had to dress? Layers upon layers-chemise, drawers, corset, corset cover, petticoats, stockings, shirtwaist, and skirt. No shorts and tank tops for these women!! (It's no wonder fainting couches were the rage-I'd have keeled over just from dragging the weight of all those clothes around.)

And the work they had to do-unless one had enough money for servants, and I know my family certainly didn't. They were up with the sun cooking, cleaning, gardening, canning, washing, darning, sewing-the list must've gone on and on. I doubt whether they ever had the time to pursue any leisure activities-like simply sitting down and reading a book whenever the notion struck them. It's no wonder women aged so quickly back then-they were worn out by the time they reached their forties!

So back to the good old days? No thanks-I'll keep my air conditioning, microwave, computer, Internet, cell phone and all the other conveniences that I take for granted. And next time I complain about the stress of modern life, I'll think about the kind of life women lived a hundred years ago. Compared to theirs, mine's a piece of cake!!!

That's all for this week!! Stay cool and see you next Thursday!
Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And the Livin' is Easy


Summer on the north coast.


'nough said.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Breaking the habit

I'm about to go cold turkey tomorrow and it's making me a bit nervous. See, I have this addiction. And as vices go, it's not terrible. I'm not drinking scotch with my breakfast or anything. But in the past few years, I've grown completely dependent on my laptop.

I love my little red Dell. How else can I waste loads of time on Facebook? Or get lots of writing done? Or surf the net? Don't even get me started on The Sims.

However, this week, I'm making the break. There's a big writers' conference in Orlando and the computer isn't coming. Usually, I'm on a deadline or in the middle of edits, and the computer is part of the job, but not this time. Well, not totally. Edits to Last of the Demon Slayers did arrive yesterday afternoon, but they're small - mostly little clarification things, like my editor wondering if Rae Rae the pawn broker from purgatory is a woman or a cross-dressing man (answer: man).

So I can leave the computer at home. It'll be interesting to see what happens when I can't check email for (gasp) six whole days. The world will most likely go on. Even if I develop a twitch.

This will be good. It will be freeing. Sometimes we get too used to being in touch and on top of everything. Sometimes it's good to let go and remember what life was like before we were all hooked up. The email, edits and even Rae Rae can wait.

And another fun part of this week is that writers' conferences are great places to get free books. I'll be giving away a boatload of books when I get back next Tuesday, so be sure to stop by.

Monday, July 26, 2010

D is for Disney!

That's right, it's D day everyone!

Okay, maybe that isn't the best term to use for my excitement and I apologize to all WWII buffs out there, but I'm stoked! I'm so stoked my inner California girl is coming out.

Tomorrow bright and early I'll be spending a week with Angie having a blast in Disney World.

Oh, and going to the RWA National convention.

Did I mention I'm going to Disney World!

Tower of Terror, here I come!

I've been a huge Disney fan for as long as I can remember. My brothers and I nearly wore out the original VHS tapes of Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh.

Through Disney, I learned the love of a good story.

I'm planning on having a blast in spite of the Florida heat.

So if you're heading out to RWA, I hope to see you there, especially at the book signing on Wednesday. If you don't see me there, you'll probably find me in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Have fun, because I sure will!

Jess

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's in a Word?

I recently completed a short story for the next MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE-2. Trisha Telep of Mystery One Bookstore in London is the editor on this project and has been great to work with. There was one slight problem, and one I honestly never even considered when I was writing this story.

It takes place on an out of the way Native American reservation in South Dakota and my protagonist is less than happy about being assigned to write a story featuring this place. In fact she refers to it as a "jerkwater" reservation, which generated a very nice email from Trisha asking if this shouldn't be capitalized. Because I hadn't been clear, she thought that was the actual name of the reservation. This is also being published in Great Brittan, and when I wrote that particular sentence, it didn't even occur to me that everyone might not be familiar with that word. That's how comfortable I am with using American slang. (For those of you who enjoy obscure information-the term "jerkwater" originated from the so called jerking (i.e., drawing) of water to fill buckets for supplying a steam locomotive and came to mean "off the main line".)

This experience started me thinking about just how much slang I use and questioning just exactly where these words originated, so I looked a few of them up. They are as follows and courtesy of Dictionary.com:

Boonies-or "boondocks" 1910s, from Tagalog bundok "mountain." Adopted by occupying American soldiers in the Philippines for "remote and wild place." Reinforced or re-adopted during World War II.

Podunk-Its popularity as the name of a typical (if mythical) U.S. small town dates from a series of witty "Letters from Podunk" which ran in the "Buffalo Daily National Pilot" newspaper beginning Jan. 5, 1846.

Bonkers-"crazy," 1957, British slang, perhaps from earlier naval slang meaning "slightly drunk" (1948), from notion of a thump ("bonk") on the head.

Boo-boo-"mistake," 1954, apparently a reduplication of boob, which had acquired a secondary sense of "foolish mistake" (1934).

Dicey-"risky, uncertain" (as the roll of dice), 1940s, aviators' jargon.

Klutz-1965 from Yiddish klots "clumsy person, blockhead,"

Snow job-This slangy expression, originating in the military during World War II, presumably alludes to the idiom "snow under".

Goofer Feathers-this is a term my family always used to describe any dust hiding under the bed and it's so obscure that it's not even in a dictionary! But after some research, I've discovered it was a phrase made famous by a comedy team back in the '20's and they used it referring to the fuzz off a peach. (Interesting side note-goofer dust refers to the powder used in Hoodoo spell casting, and can be synonymous with dirt from a graveyard. Now if there's a connection between the two, it will take someone smarter than me to figure it out!!!)

That's it for this week!
Best,
Shirley

Oh, btw, a little promo here-THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE-2 is now available for pre-order. Check out this cover!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Guten Morgen!


A couple months ago, I wrote a blog about how the first book in the Pepper Martin mystery series, "Don of the Dead," had been published in Germany with a name that translates roughly into "Dead Godfathers Kiss Better."

Since then, the next two books in the series have made their appearance on bookstore shelves in Germany.
"The Chick and the Dead" has become "Schicker als der Tod." Rough translation: "More Schicker Than Death." Hmmm...

And if you happen to be in Berlin and you’re browsing a bookstore, check out Book #3, "Tombs of Endearment" which is now "Sex Tod & Rock’n Roll." That title pretty much speaks for itself!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Riding the wave

My dad was a commercial artist in the days before computerized graphic design. He worked for an advertising agency and also did commissioned pieces on the side. What I never understood as a kid was how he could get completely lost in the work.

Occasionally I remembered my mom grumbling at the breakfast table because dad had been down in his office painting until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. She wondered why he did that and how he was going to be awake enough to work all day. At the time, I remember thinking, "Yeah, why would anybody do that?"

Now I know. Writing is similar to art, at least in the kind of creative muscles you use. And there are certain days, or certain stretches, when you hit a wave and you have to go with it. So why is this blog late today? I hit a wave. Some days, the words just flow better. Characters talk. Things make sense. And so you stick with it.

Way back when, my dad knew that if he went to bed, the creative streak would be over. I wish I could go back and tell him that I get it now. That zone is worth staying up all hours of the night. It's worth making non-creative types (or pre-creative types in my instance) scratch their heads and wonder. And it was worth being a bit behind schedule. So apologies to anyone who checked in early. But dang, it was a good day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who's on First?

Hi everyone,

I'm glad to be back after my epic trip to California. I had a great time, but it is good to be home and back in the saddle.

Back when I was in college, I took some courses in evolution and a lot of courses in biology. I also took some classes in archeology and anthropology. One thing that struck me in both studies is that you have to be able to adapt to survive. That is true for all things, animals to civilizations.

I guess it's true for me too.

For those who know me, you know I'm not a big fan of first person point-of-view. I don't know why that is. Some of my favorite books were written in first person. I loved To Kill a Mocking Bird and Frankenstein. But I've rarely come across romances written in first that I really enjoyed. (I enjoy Angie's, but I hold her to a very strict standard as her critique partner.)

I never thought I'd write anything in first person point-of-view. Well, never say never. I have a Young Adult project I love. The story is so cool, I want to write it purely so I can live the adventure. I wrote out the first three chapters and they were... okay.

Something just wasn't clicking. I didn't have the voice right. Well, yesterday while pacing on the path in front of my new little butterfly garden, a habit I've taken to recently, I started hearing narration in my head.

I've never had a narrator take over my mind and just talk to me. The thing I was taken with was how much direct information and thought this character could suddenly convey as soon as I just let her talk. She went from a character I didn't know really well, to one that felt real to me.

This is so outside my normal box, my head is spinning, but I like it.

I still don't think I could use first person for romance, but for this project it seems to work.

The willow bends, it seems.

Have a great week, everyone!

Jess

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Short and Sweet



A couple quick notes today . . .

First, you're all invited to an on-line event I'm doing from 1 pm Eastern time today (7/14) until 1 pm tomorrow. It's over at:




Yes, there will be prizes, my Pepper Martin books including copies of a YA horror trilogy I wrote lo these many years ago (found some in the attic!). It should be great fun, stop by and say hello.


Also, can't let the week go by without posting a picture a friend took this weekend of a funeral home in New York. You gotta wonder . . . if you're asking if you should be there, maybe you don't belong yet!




Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Monster Mash

So I recently received the news every writer likes to hear - an offer for a new contract. Now this does not mean the end of the demon slayer series. I'm just looking at what I'd like to do beyond Lizzie, Pirate and the biker witches - although please don't mention this to the biker witches as I don't want them showing up at my door. At best, they'll try to bribe me with Jack Daniels. At worst, well, let's just say there are spells that I haven't discovered yet and would rather not learn about.

The next demon slayer book is due out at the end of December, although I've been told it's not up on Amazon yet. Soon. Anyhow, this new series is near and dear to my heart because it answers a question I've been wondering for awhile now - what happens when a vampire, werewolf, yeti (you name the monster) is injured and they don't heal overnight? Or what if they do heal and something goes wrong (like their bodies forget a piece)?

Well now we have our answer. You see, there are MASH units set up to handle these kinds of cases. My new series features a surgeon in one of these MASH units. And there are plenty of fun characters in the supporting cast as well. The majority of the action takes place at the MASH camp and of course we have to keep things interesting. The first book is called The Monster MASH. No word on release dates yet, but as always, I'll keep you updated.

In the mean time, enjoy this little tidbit:
The Monster MASH

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Manners Matter

Have I mentioned I have a house guest for the next month? No? Well, his name is Max and to tell the truth, he's really not a very good guest. He's up all hours of the night, talks a lot, and leaves the refrigerator door open. Plus he's been making messes all over the house, and no, he doesn't clean them up. I've been buying an inordinate amount of food to please his picky palate, and, to top it all off, he doesn't get along well with my dog, Roxy. Now least you think I'm going behind Max's back and using this blog to voice my ire over his lack of manners…don't. I've been quite vocal about Max's behavior and he's well aware of what I think. It just hasn't done any good. He ignores me no matter how many times I ask him to show some consideration. I could ask him to leave, but right now he doesn't have a place to go and I couldn't turn him out on the street.

So here's what I'm going to do-I've the next three weeks off (yay!) and I'm getting the clicker out, buying some treats, then Max and I will have a few training sessions. We'll see if me watching all those episodes of the "Dog Whisperer" has done any good. Yes, Max is a dog…belonging to my youngest daughter, Sara, and he's staying with me until she moves into her new apartment. He's a three year old Huskey, looks mean because of his markings, but is actually just a big goofball. (It was Roxy who, much to his delight, showed him how to open the fridge with his nose. And to be honest, most of the conflict between them is her fault. She's not exactly digging sharing her human or her territory with an intruder and she plays the "alpha female" whenever she gets the chance. Sara thinks Roxy will miss Max when she takes him to her new apartment next month, but I'm thinking not so much! *g*) I'll let you know in a month if Max learns any manners!

Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention about Max, and I don't think any amount of training is going to correct this habit-he likes paper. Specifically money-dollars, tens, twenties-he's not picky about the denomination, as long as it crinkles, he loves to eat it! And he's sneaky about it. If anyone leaves a billfold or purse lying about, he's on it. Somehow he manages to root out the money without disturbing any of the other contents then proceeds to have a gay ole' time shredding, chewing, and swallowing. Lucky for me I've learned that banks will replace ripped up money as long as one has at least 50% of the torn bill. (Lucky for Max, too!)

That's it for this week-have a good one and see you next Thursday!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pepper Martin is Back--and This Time, She's Bringing the Commander in Chief!


"Tomb with a View," the sixth book in the Pepper Martin mystery series hit bookstores yesterday. Join me in lifting a glass of cyberspace bubbly to Pepper's newest adventure!

She might not share the joy. You see, Garden View Cemetery, where Pepper works, is planning a birthday celebration for President James A. Garfield, who's buried there. Bad enough Pepper has to deal with history. Worse when she's required to work with Marjorie Klinker, the world's most annoying know-it-all volunteer.

Can things get more miserable?

Sure, when the ghost of the president shows up and bores Pepper to tears with his excessive use of his freedom of speech. And then there's the assisted header Marjorie takes off the balcony in the presidential memorial.

Pepper needs to investigate, if only to show up her cop ex-boyfriend. But now that she's made the executive decision to find a flesh-and-blood killer, she's going to stick to it--even if it gets her assassinated

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Changes

Well, I did it!! I've set the ball rolling to retire from my day job after thirty years! If all goes well, I'll walk out the door for the last time ninety days from today. And I've got to be honest…even though I'm looking forward to it, it is a little scary. What will I do with all my free time? Will I spend too much of it alone? Without the pressure of managing two careers, will my natural tendency to procrastinate come to the forefront and I'll get less done? What will my life be like? Will I be bored? This is one of the biggest changes I've ever faced!

And as such, it started me thinking about changes. We face them every day in one way or the other, yet what is it about them that cause them to be so frightening? Is it the uncertainty of not knowing the end result? Is it a case of we'd rather live with the devil we know than the one we don't…that we'd rather stay in our own little comfort zone no matter what the cost?

There have been times in my life when a change has simply forced me to regroup and approach a situation from a different angle. At other times, it's forced me to totally revamp my life and reinvent myself. And I have to admit, each one, even the ones I could've lived without, have caused some kind of growth in my life. Many have brought rewards that I'd not contemplated. And that's a good thing.
So as I prepare to sail into an unknown future, I'm trying to set my fears aside and hang on to that thought. I'm going to look at this latest change as a beginning, not an ending, and one that will bring unexpected benefits! (I hope!!!*g*) Wish me luck!!

That's it for this week!! Have a good one!

Best,
Shirley