Saturday, May 30, 2009

Caught in Spontaneous Dancing!

I'll 'fess up. I sometimes break into fits of spontaneous dancing. The music moves me and I surrender.

It happened this morning at the grocery store.

Ever since I broke my foot a few years ago and couldn't drive for about 6 weeks, the DH and I have been in the habit of making our large weekly grocery run together. We were headed down the cereal aisle and he was driving the cart. (What can I say? The man has control issues!) I was ahead of him, zeroing in on the Cheerios when a really fun number started over the Muzak.

And thinking the DH had worked hard all week and deserved a cheap thrill, I started to dance.

Well, maybe not dance. It was more rhythmic strutting with attitude. When I decided to get fancy and throw in a little spin, I discovered to my chagrin that the man pushing the cart directly behind me was NOT my DH.

It was a little old fellow with a mile-wide grin on his face.

The DH had been distracted by Twinkies a few cart-lengths back.

But, I had made someone's day anyway. And my DH had a good chuckle, too.

So I will continue to engage in spontaneous dancing whenever the spirit moves me. No matter who's watching.

What silly thing have you been caught in lately?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rushing the Season!

I know, I know! We're just now thinking summer with its cook-outs and ballgames and mosquito repellent. But I noticed that my Christmas anthology, A CHRISTMAS BALL is available on Amazon for pre-order. It's not due out till September 29th, so this is way early, so early in fact that Amazon doesn't even have the cover art up yet. But it's there, so I' thought I'd let you know!

In the bookselling world, pre-orders are important. They don't count toward the secret determination of whether or not a book hits a bestseller list, but they do signal reader interest. Bookstores use pre-orders as a guide to placing their stock orders, which in turn increases distribution. And the bigger the distribution, the more likely a book will hit a list.

I also thought I'd let you know if you go to Amazon, you will not see my name listed. Right now, I'm the author known as "et al!"

How do I feel about that? Well, of course, I'd love to see my name up there alongside Jennifer Ashley, but she's the USA Today BestSeller, so that's the main thing. Once they get the cover up, my name is big enough, (Thank you very much, Dorchester!)

So just so no one with accuse me of dissing summer in order to hurry into the holidays, go out there and have a "Merry End of May."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sitting In the Reviewer's Chair

I'm off visiting a friend today. You can join me at Penelope's Romance Reviews. I'm trading in my writer's visor for a reviewer's hat, but don't worry! It's only for one day!

I just finished reading Joy Nash's A LITTLE LIGHT MAGIC. Come on over to Penelope's house and see what I thought about it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Enduring Characters

Over the long holiday weekend, the DH and I went to the new Star Trek movie. Ok, I'll 'fess up. I am a trekkie. I've loved STAR TREK since I was a kid. I so totally bought into those lame special effects for the original TV show. (I think we brought a little more imagination to our TV watching then!)

And I loved this new movie too. The new actors all ramped up the "hot-o-meter" by several orders of magnitude compared to the originals and the special effects were so completely believable, I had to bring no imagination to the experience at all. But the reason I loved the movie had nothing to do with those things.

It's because the story was about all the characters I loved as a kid--Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, Scotty and Dr. McCoy. Each time one of them appeared you could almost hear all the trekkies in the theatre sigh in collective satisfaction. It really didn't matter what the story was. It was all about the characters. We were there for them.

As a writer, that's a good lesson for me to keep in mind. No matter how cleverly plotted a book is, only a beloved character will keep a reader coming back.

Who are your favorite characters? Is there a character you've invested your heart in?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why I Write

While I'm guesting over at NightsOfPassion today, please welcome my friend and fellow Dorchester author, Joy Nash here on my blog! Joy is a USA Today Bestseller who wrote part of the wildly inventive IMMORTALS series, as well as her own DRUIDS OF AVALON historical romances set in Roman Britain. But that's not enough for this talented writer, oh no! Joy has now gifted us a delicious new contemporary with a paranormal twist called A LITTLE LIGHT MAGIC. Just look at that lovely cover. My blood pressure has already dropped 10 points.

I've asked her to be my guest-blogger today. So take it away, Joy!

Why I Write by Joy Nash

Short answer: I’m insane.

Oh, okay, not really. At least, I don’t think so. But as any writer will tell you, writers are wired a little differently than normal people. I think Jennifer Crusie said it best in a talk I heard her give at a writer’s conference: “Given a free afternoon,” Jennie declared, “most people do not choose to sit down at their computer and make stuff up!”

But writers do. In fact, we’d rather sit around making stuff up than do almost anything else. We make up characters and settings, plot points and dialogue. We make up love scenes and fight scenes. We make up jokes and hair-raising danger. We wrap ourselves in our own little worlds. And it’s very, very satisfying.

We get to play God.

So why do I write? Confession time: at heart, I’m a control freak.

Now, I used to be a control freak in my real life. This was long ago, before three kids and a dog. Before home ownership. Before marriage. When I was single, childless, and renting, it was relatively easy to keep my life in some semblance of control. Take that ordered existence and throw in a husband, a house, a dog, kid 1, kid 2, a bigger house, kid 3 (who arrived within four years of kid 1), a new dog…and well, you get the picture.

I’d kept a journal and written short pieces since childhood, but I didn’t start writing novels seriously until my youngest went to part-time preschool. It was a desperate bid to control…something. I’d have given almost anything for a world in which people did what I wanted, when I wanted them to do it!

If I’d only known...

To my shock, I found out fictional characters can be every bit as ornery and contrary as a two-year-old in the middle of a full-fledged tantrum. My fictional characters, not unlike my kids, take off in different directions. Sometimes I guide them, sometimes they keep me running after them. Sometimes I wonder: who’s really in charge here?

I’m not sure it’s me.

Joy Nash

PS: My latest attempt at playing god is A Little Light Magic, a summer romance set at the Jersey Shore. (Leisure Books, May 26)

Ok, Joy's A LITTLE LIGHT MAGIC hits the bookstores TOMORROW, so please run right out and snap up your copy before they're all gone. If you too have "control issues" and would like to have A LITTLE LIGHT MAGIC delivered to your door, here's your chance:


Please leave a comment or question for Joy. If you do, I promise to track her down and make her answer! (See, I have control issues too!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

So Happy Together

You're used to me writing love stories. Today is my wedding anniversary, so I thought I'd share my real life love story.

My DH and I graduated from rival high schools in two little northern Iowa towns about 15 miles apart. He claims to remember seeing me at a football game in my cheerleading uniform. Even though his school was winning, he was scoping out the losing team’s cheerleaders. (He says he always had his priorities straight!)

But I didn’t notice him until we met in college. Of course, I really shouldn’t have noticed him at all, since I was ‘going steady’ with another guy at the time.

But I did.

I was drawn to his quiet confidence and openness. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he had big brown eyes and a rumbling baritone voice that gave me the most delightful shivers.

But I already had a boyfriend.

And my future DH knew it. He asked me out anyway.

I said no.

I was not that kind of girl. I wouldn’t step out on my boyfriend. I was the faithful sort. I had two years invested in Mike. He might be “the one.”

But I still noticed my future DH every day. I noticed who he played cards with in the student union. I noticed where he sat in the bass section of choir so I could sit in front of him with the sopranos. I wondered if he’d ever button up his quilted jacket. Iowa winters were vicious. It was below zero outside. Didn’t he ever get cold?

What would it be like for him to warm me?

He asked me out again.

I said no.

I was wearing Mike’s promise ring, after all. It wasn’t exactly an engagement, but it might be soon. I decided not to tell Mike that this other guy had asked me out again. He might think I was trying to make him jealous.

I was not that kind of girl.

But I watched the way my future DH moved as he walked around campus, snow crunching underfoot. He had a steady confident gait, swinging his arms just a little. I liked his laugh. We talked every day. Nothing important. Just friends.

My ears pricked to the sound of his voice whenever he was near. And he was near a lot.

As a vocal music major, I was required to attend a certain number of concerts and recitals. When I went to the college band concert, I was surprised to see my future DH standing behind the timpani. I knew he could sing, but I had no idea he was a drummer.

There is something raw, something primal about a set of kettle drums. And about the guy pounding on them. I couldn’t tear my eyes from him.

He asked me to go out with him again.

I said . . . no.

Slowly. It was getting hard to ignore the fact that I was thinking less and less about my boyfriend—what’s his name? Oh, yeah! Mike—every day. And there was still the matter of the promise ring. I couldn’t in good conscience start anything with my future DH until I ended things with Mike.

If I ended things with Mike.

Our choir director decided to shake things up one day and ordered us to stand around the room in a large circle. We’d be able to hear the other parts better and work on our blend. When I looked across the open space, there he was, my future DH grinning back at me. Then we started to sing.

The piece was the old Turtles Song “So Happy Together.” I know this sounds cheesy, but he and I started singing it to each other as if there was no one else in the room. In case you’re not familiar with the tune, the lyrics go something like this.

“Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it’s only right
To think about the girl you love and hold her tight
So happy together.”

By the time we hit “I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you for all my life,” I knew I was going to have to return Mike’s ring.

Which I did.

But that didn’t change the fact that my future DH had asked me out several times and I’d said no. He was year ahead of me in college and was getting ready to take a year off school to travel with a singing group. He’d be gone a whole year. Anything could happen. Who knew if he’d ever come back to our sleepy little corner of Iowa?

I might never see him again. And I knew my life would be all wrong if he wasn’t a big part of it.

So I worked up my courage and I asked him out.

He said yes.

And after all these years, we’re still “So Happy Together!”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dorchester Distribution

While I was on the NCL Spirit last week, my DH and I had breakfast with a lovely lady from Canada and her mother one morning. Of course, talk turned to what we all did for a living and since they were avid readers, they were thrilled to hear that I write historical romance.

We ran into them a couple days later and they had found my books at THE BERMUDA BOOKSTORE in Hamilton. I was so happy that books were there! Imagine how silly I'd have looked if they'd searched for them and couldn't find them. (Stamping foot petulantly! "Oh, yes I am too a real writer!") Anyway since we had three glorious days to spend on Bermuda, we took the ferry to Hamilton and tracked down this delightful little bookshop. The booksellers pictured with me are Marie, Miriam and Scott.

Since they'd heard I was there on a cruise ship, they'd been hoping I'd stop in to sign their stock. They had several VEXING THE VISCOUNTS as well as a handful of PLEASURING THE PIRATES! It was such a treat to visit with them and to find my books in that exotic setting. So if you find yourself in Bermuda, please stop by and tell Marie, Miriam and Scott I said hello! They're right across from the ferry dock in Hamilton, Bermuda. You can't miss it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


VEXING THE VISCOUNT just received a 5 heart review over at Cheeky Reads! I'm totally jazzed because their kind reviewer told me this is their first EVER 5 heart designation! I can't leave a message because that feels a little too pushy, but please pop over and leave your two cents worth for me! Thanks!

Yay for cheeky reviewers!

Here's a short slideshow of my DH and I on our recent cruise to Bermuda!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Here's Your Sign

In Boston, signage is spotty at best. I guess the powers that be figure if you don't know where you are, you aren't supposed to be there. Bermuda was well marked, but I confess this particular sign had me scratching my head. It says, "KEEP HATCHED AREA CLEAR." And they feel strongly enough about it to include an large exclamation point!

But what does it mean?

Here's a shot that shows the location a bit more. It was in a residential area near the Crystal Cave. I asked a few people while I was in Bermuda, but no one seemed to know what it meant. If anyone has the slightest clue what "KEEP HATCHED AREA CLEAR" means, please enlighten me!

Here's another sign that I found funny.
At first blush, it looks as if they are descriminating against "Swizzles," warning them against parking there on pain of being "clamped." (Ouch!) Made me wonder for a moment if Swizzles was a minority political party or an unpopular high school mascot.

Actually, Swizzles was the supper club across the street from this ice cream parlor's parking lot.

I've "collected" funny signs since we lived in North Carolina. The all-time peg-out the weird-o-meter sign from there was "CHICKEN IN REAR." It was meant as an invitation to come around to the back of a gas station where some really good fried chicken was for sale, but I never could get over the disturbing image this sign conjured.

What's the funniest/most puzzling sign you've ever seen?

PS. If you'd like to see more pics from my Bermuda trip, please visit

Friday, May 15, 2009

Island Time . . . .

Just returned from a wonderful week aboard NCL's Spirit. This was our first trip to Bermuda and we had a ball. This pic is from the balcony of our stateroom. We were tied up at the Royal Navy Docks, right across from this 19th century British fort. Since I love all things historical, you can imagine how excited I was to tour the breezy 2 storey Victorian era Commissioner's house! And yes, the water really is that vibrant turquoise!

The walls are plaster over two feet of limestone block, the design aimed at surviving both hurricanes and tropical heat. But as usual when the Brits go gallivanting, they bring their culture along. The house is furnished in elegant style with a masculine flavor as befits the leader of the group of fighting men who were stationed there.

But though this was a military installation, there was a lovely secluded courtyard in the center of the block structure. Even tough guys need a certain amount of beauty and solitude. I'm looking up into the endless blue of a Bermudan sky!

Overlooking the parade grounds below the residence, my DH decided to challenge Neptune for his trident. My money's on the DH! Don't you love that Panama Jack hat!

We were so obviously tourists, but everyone was friendly and polite. After being hounded by people trying to sell us things in the Caribbean, the Bermudan laid-back style was so refreshing. We met several American ex-pats who've emigrated to the island. Amazingly, you can't go to Bermuda to retire. You must be gainfully employed before moving there and only certain jobs can go to Out-Islanders.

I'll be sharing more pics later! And even some today at THE CHATELAINES!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Character is Destiny

The following is an excerpt from my MEAT ON THE BONES workshop about characterization. For writers, I hope this helps you. For readers, here's your chance to peek at some of the background work we writers go through to create our characters.

Romance is character-driven fiction. We are drawn to certain books over and over again not because of the interesting plot twists, but because of the characters. The author has created characters who breathe on their own. How do they do this? They know their characters very well and expose enough of their souls for us to connect with them.

There are things you MUST know about your characters, even if nobody else ever does!

So let’s get to know our characters. We’re going to start with their names.

What’s in a Name? A person’s name stands for all they are. It represents the character’s integrity, their word, and how others perceive them. John Procter in The Crucible went to the hangman’s noose rather than sign his name to a document that would have saved his life because the document required him to lie. All he had to do was admit to consorting with the Devil and sign his name. But it was his name and by extension, the name of his three sons. He chose death rather than surrender his good name.

So how can we get the most mileage out of our character’s name?

Encapsulated character trait- We can choose a name that tells something about the person: Hope, Felicity, Rocky, Studwell, you get the idea. Of course, this sort of name really tells us more about the character’s parents and their hopes for their child, so right away you already have a sense of the other people who inhabit your hero/heroine’s world.

Name’s meaning- Even if you don’t tell the readers, you should know what the name means. There are plenty of baby name sites on the internet that will give you meanings of 1000’s of names. The name’s meaning can be used to choose character traits for your h/h.

Strong vs Weak Consonants-If a man’s name is Phil Small, you’re probably not visualizing an NFL linebacker. Or perhaps it’s a name which needs to be ‘overcome’ like the boy named Sue. Only his author knows for sure, but generally speaking, names with hard, percussive consonants are considered stronger than those with softer sounds. The one exception for male names are those beginning with “J”. This soft sounding consonant still resonates masculinity to most readers. Think Jamie Fraser.

Ethnic & Period Authentic Names-The Social Security Administration keeps name lists of popular names for each decade. If you’re writing a contemporary, check the names from 20-30 years ago for your characters. If you write Regencies, this little name generator is a fun toy. . If you write ethnic characters, there are plenty of internet sites with names grouped by ethnicity.

Sharp Name Delineation- Tolkien may have gotten away with Eomer and Eowin, but your readers will bless you if you choose names that are not similar sounding. I prefer not to have names in my cast of characters that start with the same letter no Mikes along side Marys.

Name Changing- A character might acquire a new name through the course of the story. A pillow name, a nickname, a slander, changing a person’s name signals character growth. In my DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS, my hero calls the heroine Artemisia by her “milk name” Larla, which means ‘darling,’ once they become lovers.

In my new WIP, STROKE OF GENIUS, my heroine’s name is Grace Makepeace. She’s a Bostonian heiress and her Puritan roots are showing. But the name Grace is a bit of a misnomer because Grace is anything but graceful. Tall and gawky, she’s awkward and uncomfortable with most social situations. But because she’s called Grace, there is an implied character growth arc in the name, which gives me some ideas for plot as well.

Grace means “unmerited favor” and carries the connotation of redemption, which also gives me the idea that she’s going to be redeeming someone—most likely my badboy hero. Do you see how the very names of your characters can suggestion plot points?

Grace Makepeace is made up mostly of soft sounds, except for the GR at the beginning, which to me suggests that she has strength of which she’s not yet aware.

I’ll make certain not to have any other characters starting with G in my story and I’m still trying to decide if her name will change. Grace can’t be shortened into a nickname, but she could be given a new name by another character.

Which brings us to my hero, Crispin Hawke. Crispin is an artistic genius (hence the title of the story!) who’s been engaged to model Grace’s hands in marble. His surname Hawke hints at his keen observation skills and he’s been using them on the ton of London while he practices his art. Cynical, but brilliant, he’s just the man to help Grace beat the ton at their own games.

Crispin means “curly haired,” so looks like my hero is going to have some natural curls. In the time of Byron, this was a good thing for a man. Crispin was also a 3rd century saint, so I can play up my Crispin’s non-saintly attributes.

Crispin Hawke is a strong name, bookended with the hard “K” sound. But the soft ‘h’ in the middle suggests a softer side hidden beneath his carefully placed armor.

Grace will call him ‘Cris’ almost immediately and it will irritate the fool out of him.

I'll be home tomorrow and ready to start working on Grace and Crispin's story again. Hope you've had a great week!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Island State of Mind

This is not Bermuda. This is a shot my DH took as we were leaving St. Thomas last year. Do you see the mysterious sea cave peeking from the water's edge. Makes me think of pirates and secret caches of treasure.

I really love islands. There's just something so romantic about the sense of isolation from the rest of the world. This beautiful spot is the island of Saba in the Caribbean, home to only 1000 souls.

I've always wondered what it would be like to live on an island. We almost bought a place on Bainbridge Island when we lived in Washington, but decided to live in downtown Seattle instead.

Are there any island dwellers out there who care to share?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tortured Artist

While I was at the Romantic Times Convention last month, I wandered through their Club RT (the mini-shopping mall they set up each year for vendors of flowing convention wear, small press reps, jewelry sales, etc.). Those of you who know me know I typically dislike shopping, but when I wandered by Fortin & Sanders' booth, I stopped dead and stared for about two minutes.

There was Crispin Hawke, my hero in STROKE OF GENIUS (the lastest WIP), almost exactly as I'd imagined him. Dark and brooding, arrestingly good-looking, reeking with talent, there he was on the canvas in all his tortured glory. I snapped him right up!

Guess there might be something to this shopping thing, after all!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just B.R.E.A.T.H.E.

While I'm bumming around Bermuda, my friend Tiffany James offered to take over my blog for the day! Tiffany was kind enough to have me over at her blog Armchair Heroines last week, so now it's turn and turn about. Tiff is an aspiring writer with a really good handle on how to deal with the physical stresses of writing. I know she welcomes questions or comments, so don't be afraid to leave one!

Take it away, Tiffany!

First of all, a big thank you to Emily for having me here!

Before I decided I wanted to be a writer, I worked as a massage therapist. The vast majority of my clients suffered from tight shoulders, neck and back aches or carpal tunnel-like symptoms. I was constantly reminding them how hard the age of computers is on our bodies. I suggested that they stop every 30 minutes to an hour for a short stretch or ramble around the office. I reminded them to drink plenty of water and get the rest they needed, etc. Quite often it seemed these suggestions fell on deaf ears. “Don’t they want to get better?” I’d ask myself. “Don’t they see that a little effort could go a long way?” I wondered.

Fast forward fifteen months, about 200,000 words, a couple of blogs, several handfuls of classes…

About a month ago, I was whining to my husband about how my back and neck hurt and how that pain seemed to be moving into my shoulder. “Well, you have been sitting at the computer a lot lately,” he answered, oh so helpfully.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! I had become my clients with whom, only a few months earlier, I had been so frustrated. After several similar conversations with some of my author friends, I decided that maybe we authors needed a gentle kick in the pants (myself included). I mean come on, how can we do our best work when our physical foundation is hurting, aching, crumbling?

So I decided to channel my massage therapist self and pass on some gentle reminders, to help us all “Just B.R.E.A.T.H.E.”. Each letter stands for a different way in which we can physically support our writing.

Most of this information isn’t new to us. We’ve all heard it before, but maybe we can see it a little differently by realizing how it applies to our work as a writer.

So, imagine yourself an athlete competing in the arduous, mentally demanding sport of Olympic writing. We’re prepping for the all-uphill marathon. (Isn’t that what being an author sometimes feels like?) And it’s one heck of a race full of obstacles (less then stellar contest results, editor and agent rejections, characters who simply refuse to talk to us) and fierce competition.

Would you jump into a marathon without any training? Heck no! You’d do every possible thing you could to prepare, to be the best you could be and to triumph over obstacles and the competition. So, slap on those sweats, tennis shoes and headband…on your mark, get set and go!

“B” for Breathing:

First, a quick trip to Biology 101. On a very basic level, breathing is our body’s nourishment. As we inhale (or inspire), we are bringing oxygen to our body and all of its systems. As we exhale we are carrying away wastes in the form of carbon dioxide. The word “inspiration” has an interesting double meaning. In addition to “breathing in”, inspiration also indicates, according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions”. Hmmm, sounds vaguely like what we try to do as writers – move our readers’ intellect and emotions – don’t you think? Here’s another fascintating tidbit. The word “inspire” comes from the Latin root “spiritus”meaning not only breath but soul. So, it seems breathing is important on many different levels (physical, mental and spiritual). Throw in its positive stress-reducing benefits and we’ve also got an emotional component. Pretty powerful stuff!

But enough waxing philosophical. How can breathing help you build a strong physical foundation for your writing marathon? The oxygen you bring in during breathing feeds the muscles of those crazily typing fingers (they are crazily typing, right? :0) ). It also brings much needed fuel in the form of oxygen to that most important organ, your brain. Your brain makes up only 2% of your body weight yet requires 25% of the oxygen you bring in. That’s one hard working organ! Feed it right with good breathing.

Try some deep, diaphragmatic breathing for overall relaxation. Single nostril breathing can give your corresponding brain hemispheres a kick. A somewhat increased respiration rate can improve alertness.

For more information, email me or consult these resources:



BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT by Jeffrey A. Migdow & James E. Loehr

A quick note: if you feel overly light-headed while working with breathing exercises, stop. It’s like training for a running marathon, you have to build up your strength and endurance.

“R” stands for Rest & Relaxation:

For our purposes, the term rest refers to times when we are taking it easy or “not doing” and times when we are actually sleeping. And they’re both important for successful completion of our writing marathon!


We’ve all done it – pulled an extra late night or early morning to get some writing done amidst mountains of laundry, deadlines at our “day job”, carpooling, kids’ events, grocery shopping, housecleaning, cooking dinner, cracking the whip during homework time…

But before you nix your time in the Land of Nod, think about this: sleep provides physical and mental support for your writing. Shakespeare called sleep “nature’s soft nurse” in reference to its restorative functions. While you’re snoozing your body is busy recovering from the day by fixing microscopic injuries to muscles, skin and bones as well as boosting your immune system so that you can fight off illness (keeping you at the computer where you belong instead of sick in bed). Mentally, sleep facilitates much needed time away, allowing your ideas to “marinate”. According to Mark Jung-Beeman, a psychologist at Northwestern University, “Sleep makes a unique contribution” to our ability to incubate and form ideas. “When you think you’re not thinking about something, you probably are,” he says.

So, the next time you want to skip out on some zzz’s, think about how sleep might be contributing to your written masterpiece!


In his book Healthy Aging, Dr. Andrew Weil says, “The essence of rest is not doing – that is, being passive on both the physical and mental levels.” Rest makes us better writers in much the same way as sleeping. It refreshes our bodies and recharges our minds.

Rest is simple but it’s by no means, easy. We are so programmed to use every spare moment, multi-tasking and mentally checking off our never-ending to-do’s as we race through the day.

Try to find fifteen or twenty minutes today for rest, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, swinging in a hammock, soaking in a bubblebath…whatever facilitates being passive, doing nothing for you. Or try some progressive relaxation, which harmonizes your brain waves, revitalizes and refreshes you (which, by the way, revitalizes and refreshes your writing)!

“E” is all about Ergonomics:

Cumulatively, we writers spend hours and hours at the computer…that leads to, at the least, aches and pains and, at the worst, progressive motion injuries (“trigger finger” for frequent mouse users) or sustained position problems (neck pain, “frozen” backs).

One thing you can do to dramatically increase your odds of avoiding these hassles is to have an ergonomic workstation. Watch for good posture and ninety degree angles at your ankles, knees, hips and elbows. You can achieve this position by raising or lowering your seat, using a stool for your feet and, among others, getting a stand for your laptop.

“A” means Atmosphere:

Ever gone to a restaurant and felt like a jet-setter? Ever visited a spa and relaxed the minute you stepped in the door? The atmosphere evokes the experience.

What experience is evoked when you sit down at your computer? And it doesn’t matter whether your computer is in a secluded office or a corner of the busiest room of your house. Do you feel like a brilliant, talented, successful author? Or do you feel like a schizophrenic multi-tasker? Is the view pleasing to the eye? Or does it further stress you out because all you see is unfinished business?

Evoking the appropriate atmosphere can be as simple as putting some fresh (or artificial) flowers on your desk to as extensive as repainting, consulting feng shui or going on a shopping spree for new desk furniture (for those of you who are independently wealthy). Think about what colors, textures, patterns, and/or items soothe you while also making you feel confident and successful. Maybe you worked really hard for a degree. Hang your diploma. Maybe you pulled off a spectacular party. Put out a favor from the party. Or perhaps, you associate the color red with success. Add some red to your desk or your office. This is incredibly personal. Make discovering how to create a success-evoking atmosphere part of your self-discovery.

If you do nothing else, clear the clutter! Clutter sucks out your energy and inspiration. That doesn’t necessarily mean dealing with the clutter – maybe pack it away in nice boxes that fit your taste so that you aren’t staring it in the face as soon as you sit down to write. (Then deal with it a little at a time…see below).

Give me a “T” for Timer:

OK, so I’m straying just a bit from my original plan of creating a physical foundation for my writing, but hear me out. As authors we are spread pretty thin – marketing, promoing, and, oh yeah, writing. Many of us have multiple roles, holding down full-time day jobs, raising children, managing a household, striving for a healthy relationship or marriage and, oh yeah, writing. That creates a lot of stress.

I’ve found using my little timer (my best friend – in a weird time management way) significantly lessens that stress.

You can get a heck of a lot done in fifteen minutes! I can pay a few bills, make a couple phone calls, empty the dishwasher, switch over loads of laundry, return a few emails or write a page (OK, a paragraph on a mediocre day or a sentence on a really bad one) in fifteen minutes. If I set my timer several times and knock a to-do or two off my list, I can sit down and write a little less fragmented.

Give it a try. What do you have to lose (other than some stress and a couple to-dos)? For more sage advice on using a timer and breaking projects down into small pieces, check out .

“H” for Healthy Eating:

(Emily popping in here for just a sec. Can we try to not talk about healthy eating while I'm on a cruise? I'll do better when I get home. I promise!)

I know, I can hear the groans…I’m not going to beat you over the head with this. I love my Cheese Nips and Starbuck’s as much as the next gal, but we know healthy food and lots of water are good for us. It’s good for our writing too.

Enough said!

And for a real “kicker”… “E” means Exercise:

More groans…

I hate, loathe and despise exercise, but some of my best pages have been written after a quick fifteen minute walk around the neighborhood (I take my timer)! Get a little aerobic exercise several times a week. Your body and your writing will thank you.

Also, don’t neglect stretching. It’s your key to remaining injury free! We are training for a marathon, remember? There are books written about how to stretch at your desk. Find your timer, work for thirty to sixty minutes then take a two minute stretch break. It works – take it from a woman just coming off a painful back problem!

So, had enough? Feeling primed and in peak condition for your writing marathon? If so, I’ll see you at the finish line, multiple books and cheering readers in hand!

Want more information? Have questions? Got an inspirational story about physically supporting your writing? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at . And watch for “Just B.R.E.A.T.H.E. : Creating a Physical Foundation for Your Writing” coming to a conference near you!

Thanks, Tiffany! Some really good suggestions there (even the healthy eating!) If you'd like to learn more about Tiffany's writing, or see what a really good pre-published author's site looks like, please visit Be sure to pop back tomorrow to see a picture I found at RT that is my inspiration for Crispin Hawke, my newest hero in STROKE OF GENIUS!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Join Me over at Joy's House!

IRL, I'm boarding a cruise ship today, but online I'm over at Joy Nash's COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER! . Joy asked me to post an excerpt from VEXING THE VISCOUNT and I'll be giving away a signed book from my backlist to someone who leaves a comment over at Joy's blog!

Come on over and join in the party!

Even though I'll be boarding a cruiseship in just a few minutes, I do have some posts set to go for you. Here's what's coming:

Monday the 11th: Tiffany James is popping by to guest blog. Please stop over and show her some love!

Tuesday the 12th: I posted a wonderful pic that's my inspiration for my newest hero, Crispin Hawke in STROKE OF GENIUS. He's totally delicious!

Wednesday the 13th: I'm in an island state of mind. Join me for some palm tree joy.

Thursday the 14th: Especially for aspiring writers! I post a little of my MEAT ON THE BONES workshop about developing characters who breathe on their own. Readers will enjoy a peek behind the scenes at what an author thinks about when devising her hero and heroine.

Have a fantastic week!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

SAIL AWAY, Sail Away, sail away . . .

My DH and I are cruise nuts. I freely admit it. I don't ever feel like I'm on vacation any more unless the deck is rocking beneath my feet. We've cruised all over the Caribbean, around the Hawaiian islands and to Alaska. On Friday, we're heading for Bermuda. I can't wait!

Wind in my hair, the pounding surf, sand between my toes--I'm in heaven! I've heard the sand on Bermudan beaches is pink! I'll let you know.

This cruise is a little celebration for the DH and me. We're rejoicing in my recovery from the cancer surgery in December and my excellent prognosis. We're also marking another anniversary this month. Life is good and we're so grateful.

I won't have internet access on the ship. I tried using their system last time and not only was it devilishly expensive, it was disgustingly slow. But I will have posts set to go for you while I'm gone. I just won't be able to respond until I get back home.

I promise to take lots of pics and come home with a pink nose (I don't tan. I burn!)

Now it's time for you to share. Are you planning a summer get-away? What was your favorite trip in the past?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Just a Quickie

I'll be blogging at Armchair Heroines today, giving away a PLEASURING THE PIRATE to someone who leaves a comment over there! Now on to my guest for today, Diana Rubino!

Diana Rubino's Bloody Good Cruise

Yay! Diana has agreed to stay another day and take questions and comments!

Boy, do I feel sheepish! I had this blog set to go for Tuesday, but I was thinking my guest Diana Rubino was going to be with us on Wednesday to visit about her BLOODY GOOD CRUISE. (My excuse is that my DH and I are getting ready to go on a cruise ourselves starting Friday, so my brain is a little frazzled trying to get ready!)

But let me introduce you to Diana. Here's her bio:

Diana Rubino has written several historical novels set in England and the U.S., a time travel romance, and a futuristic/fantasy romance which received a Romantic Times Top Pick award . Diana is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Richard III Society. Her hobbies include golf, racquetball, bicycling, playing piano, and she has been pursuing a Master's degree in archaeology. She loves to visit historical sites all over the world for book research. Diana and her husband own CostPro, Inc., an engineering business based in Cambridge. She is Director of Marketing.

Whew! I'm impressed! So, Diana, please tell us about your new release.
A Bloody Good Cruise is set on an Italian cruise ship. Romance author Mona is a human, and Fausto is a vampire, and although they love each other, their different backgrounds create a lot of problems. He can never be one of her kind and she’s deathly afraid to become one of his. As they sail the Mediterranean on a writer’s cruise that Mona’s organized, Fausto’s job as the ship’s doctor is hard to perform when he realizes hunters (or the Vampire Ball Busters, as vamps call them) are after him and his fellow vamps. Fausto’s ex-wife shows up after four hundred years, hot to snatch him back. She’s Lucrezia Borgia, history’s most notorious gold digger and husband-killer. When Mona and Fausto team up with the hunters to capture Lucrezia and get her to confess to her crimes, Mona thinks all is lost because Lucrezia refuses to talk. But Mona gets her creative writer’s juices flowing, and tricks Lucrezia into a confession. The tabloid show The Cutting Edge, on shipboard to tape the writers’ cruise, beams the story all over the world. Mona and Fausto become instant celebrities, but hunters are still after Fausto. One of them shoots Mona while aiming for him, and she realizes she must let Fausto turn her or she’ll die–so she makes her decision, which she never regrets. Instead of looking for the next big market trend, she helps Fausto and Quintus write their memoirs, so the world can see what vampires really are about.

Note to self: Watch out for vampires on the cruise ship next week! What will readers love most about your hero?

Even though he's a vampire, he's very human. He 'comes out' before an audience of millions, imploring the human race to accept vampires. Because they're different doesn't mean they're harmful. He teaches the world a valuable lesson about tolerance.

Commendable. Where did the idea for this story come from?

I love vampire romances and cruises, and thought blending the two would make a unique love story.

Authors always have more than one pot boiling. What are you working on now?
A biographical novel about Alexander Hamilton. It has no fictional characters, and I'm keeping as close to the historical record as it will allow.

Ok, so I'm guessing you're pretty serious about that Masters in Archaeology. Wow! I'm totally in awe of non-fiction writers. One of the joys of what I do is making things up (not the historical details, I promise!) Where can readers buy your books, Diana?

There are links to the booksellers and my publishers on my website, and they're all available on in Ebook and print.


Thank you for visiting with me today, Diana (even if I seriously messed up the day!) Those of you who visited earlier were treated to some naked email posts, so it just goes to prove to the rest of you that if you snooze, you lose! LOL! Sorry for the mix-up. But Diana Rubino signs off her emails with a quote from Michaelangelo, "I am still learning." Ain't it the truth?

I'm going to try to talk Diana into hanging around for another day so more people can read about her BLOODY GOOD CRUISE! If you leave a comment you're entered in the drawing for a copy of Diana Rubino's BLOODY GOOD CRUISE!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beware Online Translators!

I recently ran across this totally wacky translation of what I think was a good review of VEXING THE VISCOUNT. It gave me some giggles, so I thought I'd share.

Ware Description (I think that means 'back cover blurb')
- From Dorchester Publication
`` As tiddlers they Holded sparred with drama brands. She'd pocked his mentum (well that sounds wicked!), and he interrupted her bosom. Now, to a higher degree a decennary after, trueness fight was simply beginning...
Daisy Drake postulate Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland. Wearied of being labelled `` on the shelf, '' she hungered escapade. And Lucian maintained all the hints to a long-buried Roman treasure. Surely her desire to join his hunt holded naught to make with his dark whorls and seductive Italian accent. Regrettablely Lucian desired no aid from heruntil she wore the camouflage of an ill-famed French paramour and assured to learn him all she cognise about the pleasances of the bedroom. Course, she merely cognized what holded been indited in racy books. But Daisy holded ever been a speedy assimilator. And nighttime by bare dark, they 'd detect treasure neither anticipated to happen. '' (Gee, did my editor really write that?)

Chafing the Viscount (Catchy title, don't you think?)
is a tremendous book, full sexual stress and marvelous characters whose narrations draw you into their existence for a couple of lovely hrs. The tempo is smooth and steady, with vibrant visuals and intensely diverting give-and-take. This narrative is really goodly pent with an inerrant revolve about providing the reader with a enchanting tale that includes pecks of romance. The game includes some merriment turns and twists, that are sure to surprise. Lucian and Daisy are an ravishing premix. When they get tangled upwards together, sparks fly and sexual stress abounds! These characters hold a sizzling chemistry which is sure to fulfill the romantic all told of us. Emily Bryan pens with gift and acquisition; she pours her bosom into each and every page. I really basked this book and I 'm positive that you will relish it overly.
I highly urge this book!

( 9 out of 10 Diamonds ) - Loved it!

Here's where I found this linguistic anomaly:

I must say, I rather like the idea of someone "relishing my work overly!"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Haircut!

This is Susie, my 16 year old "papi-oodle-huahua." As nearly as we can figure, she's a poodle-papillion-chihuahua mix. After adopting her from the pound in Sheridan, WY, we've had her 11 years. The people who dropped her off claimed she was 5 at the time, but when we took her to the vet, he said she was likely older. So know one knows how old Susie really is and she's not telling.

But her arthritic little bones are dropping hints. Some days, she cripples around on three legs and even though I slip her a daily "mickey" to ease her aches, I worry that she may be in pain. My friend Bonnie Vanak had to put down her beloved "Tig" recently and her grief reminded me that my days with Susie may be winding down.

Even so, when the weather finally warmed up enough in New England, it was time for Susie's summer cut. During the winter, she turns into a powder puff with feet. (I really should have taken a "before" pic, but unlike Mack, our hammy Jack Russell, Susie doesn't like having her pic taken. She was hiding under the coffee table in the one above.) So yesterday, she got a sleek shave and amazingly enough, she knows she looks better. She felt so good about it, she actually stretched out and ran down the hall to our condo. She's been prancing around ever since.

As a full-time writer, I'm more likely to "plath around in my sluvvies" than most people. After all, I don't go to an office. Sometimes, the only reason I poke my nose out of doors is to walk Susie and Mack. I'm just as productive in my jammies, but perhaps I need to start treating myself to a little make-up on regular days, not just when I'm at a writer's conference.

What do you think? Does how you look effect how you feel?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Joy Nash's Countdown to Summer

To celebrate the May 26th release of her Jersey Shore romance A Little Light Magic, Joy’s hosting a month-long blog and Facebook party dedicated to everything wonderful about summer - summer fun, summer memories, summer vacations, summer food, summer entertainment, and - most importantly - the boys (and men!) of summer. Lots of chances to win goodies, including books by Joy and other authors such as Angie Fox, Emily Bryan, Gerri Russell and more.

Starting May 1 and continuing through Memorial Day! Details at http://joynash. blogspot. com/

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Real Mr. Romance

OK, be honest, ladies. Is there anything sexier than a man who can cook?

Since I was at the RT Convention last week, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be romantic and as usual, I've developed a contrarian opinion. Romance isn't about flash and sizzle (not completely anyway!). To use a cooking metaphor, it's more about simmer. It's about keeping a relationship cooking for the long haul.

I'll freely confess I'm one of the lucky ones. My DH is a prince of a man who has loved me through several dress sizes and made me feel like a princess in all of them. He's a terrific father to our kids and smart enough to help them with their math homework! One year for Christmas, he gave me ballroom dancing lessons. (Of course, I learned later he had an ulterior motive. In the ballroom, the MAN always gets to lead! But it was still a sweet gift.)

Romance isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. I'm thankful my DH is willing to go the distance.

Ok, now it's your turn to celebrate your Mr. Romance! What's the sweetest thing your hubby/fiance/boyfriend has ever said or done?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Harlequin Guest Bloggers--Amanda McCabe, Diane Gaston and Deb Marlowe

Today I'm turning over the reins of my blog to a trio of Harlequin authors--Diane Gaston, Deb Marlowe and Amanda McCabe. They have an anthology coming out called THE DIAMONDS OF WELBOURNE MANOR. Take it away, ladies!

What do you get when three author friends create three scandalous heroines, and send them off to three fabulous house parties? The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor!
We (Diane, Deb, and Amanda) have been friends for years, since a Regency-theme tour of England (how appropriate!). When Harlequin came to us and asked if we could do an anthology together, of course we jumped at the chance. And when they gave us free rein in choosing our subject, even better!

So, we met in Colonial Williamsburg for a few days of touring and brainstorming, and that was where the Fitzmanning family was born. We were inspired by families like those of the Duchess of Devonshire and her sister, Lady Bessborough, where there were parties and fun, lots of children (of various parentage), joking, artistic endeavors, and affection. The characters just sort of “came to us,” and took on a life of their own!

Here’s a bit about each of the stories:

“When the Duke of Manning ran off with the married Lady Linwall it had been the scandal of the day. But they cared not at all! Their home at Welbourne Manor soon houses a happy miscellany of his and theirs—but not hers, not the son she left behind. Now all the children are grown, this estranged son is on their doorstep, and all their lives are about to change forever…”

Justine and the Noble Viscount, Diane Gaston: Gerald Brenner’s appearance marks the beginning of the Welbourne story. He’s given the responsibility for the Fitzmannings, the half brother and sisters he’s never met, but has despised his whole life. No matter his feelings, Brenner never shirks responsibility. When he meets the eldest of the Duke’s daughters, Justine Savard, she forces him to reopen old wounds from the past. Justine, too, has wounds, and together, despite all the odds, they give each other the one thing that heals—a happy ending neither believed possible.

Annalise and the Scandalous Rake: Annalise is the most sensitive of the Fitzmanning sisters. She prefers the isolation of her studio to worrying about Society’s scorn. She is perfectly happy pouring her emotions into her painting—until Ned Milford is invited to a Welbourne house party. Unfortunately, no one knows he is Prattle, a famous—and anonymous—caricaturist bent on exposing her family’s secrets. Many obstacles litter their path to love, including a pompous suitor, a slightly scandalous scavenger hunt, and a devastating artistic duel.

Charlotte and the Wicked Lord: Charlotte may be the youngest—and wildest—Fitzmanning sister, but she definitely knows her own mind. And she has always wanted Lord Andrew Bassington! But Drew has left his own wild past behind, vowing to take care of his brother’s widow and young son. He requires an eminently respectable bride, something free-spirited Charlotte could never be. So how can she make him see the beautiful woman she has become, make him see how perfect they are for each other, when every attempt ends in disaster???

Sounds like a great time. Readers can learn more by visiting

So, what do you think? Do you enjoy anthologies with related stories?