Tuesday, October 31, 2006

'Telvira' Wishes You A Happy Halloween!

How do you like my.... pumpkins? LOL

My friend Kimmi is a whiz with Photoshop, and was kind enough to 'morph' a photo of me and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. (hence, 'Telvira') It was too good to go to waste. And please, make no mistake - my 'pumpkins' are nowhere near that big!

Today is a big day (and night) at my house... Madame Zelda's Haunted Graveyard (i.e., my backyard) is bursting with tombstones, dripping with purple lights and cobwebs, and ready to rock the neighborhood! All I need now is a little more 'fog juice' for the fog machines, some black lipstick and grape juice for the 'witch's brew'. I have a crew of giggly teenage girls in costume to help with crowd control, Madame Zelda has brushed off her prediction skills, and Witchy-Poo is ready to cackle her way into the hearts of trick-or-treaters everywhere. If you haven't seen the slideshow I made of last year's monster bash yet, then click here for a real treat.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. My girlfriend Maria and I would go trick-or-treating for hours by ourselves - nobody worried about anything bad happening. (Although my mother would never let me eat any candied apples for fear of razor blades. Like I wanted to eat an apple when I had all the candy! Duh.) :)

Do you have a favorite Halloween memory you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Monday, October 30, 2006


I'd howl, too, if my owner did this to me:

(The 'Force' is definitely NOT with this poor pup.)

Or what about this one:

(Poor little Pocahontas might wanna trade some beads for some plastic surgery.)

I think somebody deserves to walk the plank for this one:

(Avast there, ye scurvy sea dog! Where's me biscuit?)

Harry who?

(Just wait until Professor Dumbledore hears about this...)

And my personal favorite:

(Arise, my beloved, and become one of the doggy undead!)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I'm an 'IT' Girl!

Tag, you're IT! I've been 'tagged' twice this week, once by my dear friend Tawny Weber, who wants to know about my book-reading habits, and yet again by Michelle Cweirtney over at The Writer's Vibe, who actually thinks five exciting things may have happened to me in my lifetime! :)

I'll start with the five interesting things:

1) I've lived in a haunted house. When my husband and I were first married, we moved into a different part of town. Unsure whether we wanted to make the move permanent or not, we decided to rent instead of buy, and ended up in this great little red brick house - white trim, good schools, nice tree-lined neighborhood. A few months after we moved in, my teenage step-daughter came to me one morning and told me that she'd seen the transparent figure of a man in the hallway outside the bathroom door in the wee hours of the morning, and that while she'd watched, he'd vanished. It freaked me out enough to check with the neighbors about the house, and lo-and-behold, the house had been the scene of a murder/suicide. I did further digging, and found the actual newspaper article about the murder. The man who owned the house had been quite a 'player', and a jealous girlfriend had finally decided to put an end to his philandering. When I read that the murdered man had been found in the hallway outside the bathroom door, that was it for me... we were outta that house. There's more, but I won't bore you. :) We moved a very short time later.

2) I've been 'stalked'. Long story, involving a restraining order, expensive lawyers and recurring nightmares. Ugh. 'Nuff said.

3) I'm the youngest of five children, four girls and a boy. Air Force brats all, each one of us born in a different city, state and/or country. Believe it or not, I'm the 'smart one'. *snort* Oh, and I come from a long line of sharecroppers and moonshiners... my paternal granddaddy was on the run from the Revenoo-ers when he settled in my hometown.

4) My husband's wedding ring is engraved 'Love At First Sight', because that's what he claims it was for him. I, on the other hand, was too busy thinking how great he looked in his athletic shorts and trying to wipe the drool from my chin without him noticing.

5) I read over 500 words a minute. At least, that was my measure in high school, which was... well, never mind how long ago it was. That means I read a lot, and I read fast.

Which brings me to Tawny's 'tag' and the books that have most influenced my life.

Which is another blog entirely. :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I brought it on myself, I suppose. Yesterday afternoon I got it in my head that I wanted... nay, needed... a special something for my Halloween graveyard (construction has begun on this year's backyard neighborhood monster bash - more on that in another blog). Anyway, I went to my favorite discount store: nada. I went to my second favorite discount store: still nothing. On impulse, I stopped in a store I don't normally go to, just on the off chance they'd have exactly what I need.

Sometimes you get lucky.

This was not the day.

I did a quick run-through, scoping the aisles for already discounted Halloween decorations and various odds and ends that could be used for the fortune-teller's den, the wicked witch's hut, etc. Disappointed in my search, I was headed back toward the door, ready to leave the store, when I saw it: a long table full of Halloween markdowns, just waiting for me. Come to mama, baby. :)

So I'm pawing through cute little candy dishes and candleholders and various Halloween crafts, etc., when I see this really cool witch's broom leaning against the wall. It's all gnarly and authentic looking, except for some ribbon that could be easily removed, and best of all: it's on sale! I reach out to pick it up, and notice that right where anyone's hand would naturally go, there's an extremely realistic wooden cockroach glued to the handle. Yucky, but I can't help but think: Nice touch.

It's so realistic, though, that I lean in to check it out. Wow, I think, somebody went to a lot of trouble... that ugly little sucker looks like the genuine article. My hand is inches away, and so's my face. Coward that I am (I despise cockroaches, I blew on the bug.

And it moved.

Thank goodness there was nobody near me, or they'd have been mowed down by one seriously freaked-out woman. I was ready to bolt, but I made myself go find a manager, pointed out the bug, and left while he was preparing to take care of it.

I'll never set foot in that store again, and as for the candy on that discount table... eeewwwww.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fun With Pumpkins and Gourds

And last, but certainly not least... :)

Okay, that last one was naughty - but somebody gets extra points for creativity! LOL

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tarot Psychiatry

Oh, that it 'twere that easy. :)

But apparently, it is. Through the magic of the Internet, you can take a little random quiz, and you, too, can be analyzed as easily as this:

You Are The Moon
You represent the unconscious side of life, what happens in dreams.You are capable of great genius - but also of great madness.Emotions tend to be primal for you, both your fears and your fantasies. Your intuition is always right, listening to it is the difficult part.
Your fortune:
You are about to embark on a very important journey - and a very difficult one.Some of your deepest dreams will be realized, as well as some of your deepest nightmares.Follow your creativity and visions; stay away from your weaknesses.You are taking a voyage to the center of yourself, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Who knew I was so deep? My mother always said there was a fine line between genius, and madness. And here I thought she was always talking about my sister. :)

So, What Tarot Card Are You?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Demons Are A Ghoul's Best Friend

Remember the boogeyman under the bed? The monster in the closet? I remember going to bed with a scarf wrapped around my neck to protect me from vampires, but childhood fears didn't keep from watching old reruns of my favorite gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows. A sexy werewolf named Quentin Collins and a lonely, misunderstood vampire named Barnabas? I'm there! I'm still afraid of the dark, but I'll eagerly curl up to listen if Brad Pitt wants to tells me his woes as the courtly vampire Louis, in Anne Rice's 'Interview with a Vampire'. Antonio Banderas is in that movie, too - he made an absolutely delicious vampire Armand.

What's the attraction? How do I reconcile being such a scairdy cat with being so attracted to bad boys with a dark side? (Only in theory, of course - my husband, Capt. America, has supernatural powers, too, but he uses them only for good.) ;p It isn't just vampires... it's the idea of the ultimate, misunderstood bad boy. The bad boy with the good side who wants to be good, but is trapped, governed by fate or fortune or forces beyond his control. Poor, misunderstood bad boy. LOL Did anyone see Edward Scissorhands ?

Anyway, I'm lucky these days... I can take my childhood fears and turn the boogeyman under the bed into a sexy spirit who absolutely loves blonde women who write books for a living. I can take that monster in the closet and turn him into a good-looking ghost who craves the arms of a mortal woman (hey, sometimes those bumps in the night can be a good thing). :)

The manuscript I'm working on right now, WHERE THE GHOULS ARE, has a male character who's such a bad boy that he's distracting me from the main story. Oh, that Sammy Divine... he's got a story to tell, that one. And he's determined to tell it his own way, in his own time, with a wicked wink, a killer grin and a bad boy swagger.

The point is, I like sexy hunks with a dark side as long as they stay under the bed until I call them, and then let me call the shots. How about you?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th

*cue spooky music*

Are you, by any chance, 'paraskevadekatriaphobic'? If you are, you have an irrational fear of Friday the 13th. Perhaps you're only 'triskaidekaphobic', and fear the number 13 in general. Either way, get thee to a therapist, because today is NOT your lucky day!

What is it about Friday the 13th that makes it so unlucky, hm? (Other than those horrible Freddie Krueger movies. Ick.) Theories abound as to why we fear the number 13, so I did a little digging into the reasons behind this particular superstition. Here are some ancient legends regarding its origin:

Judas Iscariot was the last disciple to arrive at the Last Supper, raising the number of attendees to 13 (Jesus plus the 12 disciples). This betrayer of Jesus also supposedly spilled the salt, which gave rise to another superstition, but one phobia at a time... :)

In a similiar story from Norse mythology, 12 gods were summoned to a banquet in Valhalla. Guest number 13 showed up uninvited: Loki, god of evil.

Ancient Romans associated the number 13 with death and misfortune. According to the Roman clock, there were 12 months in a year and 12 hours in a day, so 13 was seen as a violation of the natural cycle.

To the Egyptians, 13 represented the final rung of the ladder by which the soul reached eternity.

In modern-day times, the unpleasant beliefs and traditions regarding the number 13 continue:

It takes 13 witches to form a coven.

The 13th card in a Tarot deck is the skeleton - Death.

Many buildings do not have a 13th floor. Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue.

It's considered bad luck to invite 13 people to a dinner party - supposedly one of them will die within a year.

But what about good old Friday, everyone's favorite day of the week? (TGIF, people! End of the week and the weekend lies ahead, remember?) Why does Friday get such a bad reputation when paired with the number 13?

According to what I found in my nosing around, it seems as though most of the bad luck associated with Fridays is Biblical: tradition holds Adam bit into forbidden fruit on a Friday; that the Great Flood began on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified.

So while the 'thirteenaphobes' stay in bed with the covers pulled over their heads, and the teenagers gather for late night 'slasher flick' marathons, I'm gonna live dangerously today by venturing to the mall. :) The only slashing I'm interested in on Friday the 13th is slashed prices, and I'm not afraid to venture out on the unluckiest day of the year.

After all, there can't possibly be any truth to a silly superstition like this one... can there?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dog Ate Your Homework? No Problem!

We’ve all heard the phrase: ‘Do your homework’. Easier said than done in the literary world – unless we’re willing to sift through a mountain of dry facts in publications like The Writer’s Market, or spend untold hours surfing the Internet, how do we know 'which' literary agent wants ‘what’, and exactly how they want it?

Six literary agents were on hand October 7th at the NJRW’s 2006 Put Your Heart In A Book Conference to share their likes, dislikes and personal style. For those who were unable to attend, I thought I’d share the experience, and hopefully save you a little homework. :)

Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary is young, hip and cheerful. Her dark hair is short and curly, and she wears cool glasses, a black t-shirt and jeans. Nadia started Firebrand in September 2005 at the age of 24, and has a special interest in Young Adult fiction. She accepts e-queries only, and will ask for more material if she’s interested. When it comes to writing, Nadia emphasizes ‘quality vs. quantity’, but prefers both – excellent writers who are fairly prolific.

Christina Hogrebe of the Jane Rotrosen Agency is also young, hip and cheerful, with wavy auburn hair just brushing the shoulders of a fashionable brown suit. The Rotrosen Agency has been in business for over 30 years, and Christina has worked there since 2003. Christina is looking for mysteries, thrillers, and young adult, but stresses that she’s not limited to those genres; she’s searching for well-told stories written in excellent ‘voice’. Her submission preference is a one page query letter, with a synopsis and first 3 chapters (snail mail only). It should be noted that Christina is the only agent at the Rotrosen Agency who is currently accepting unsolicited material.

Christine Witthohn formed Book Cents Literary just a little over a month ago, and has a preference for murder mysteries and thrillers. Christine lives in W. Virginia, has a pleasant, professional style, curly blonde hair and a background in medicine. She would like to see a short query letter, a synopsis and first 3 chapters.

UPDATE AS OF 10/28/06: Christine Witthohn has provided her agency's website address. Visit Book Cents Literary at http://www.bookcentsliteraryagency.com. Thanks, Christine! :)

Natalia Aponte is a former editor at Tor who has gone on to form her own agency, Aponte Literary. With short, dark hair and a no-nonsense manner, Natalia has no particular genre preference, but is always looking for strong writing. She prefers to correspond by email, and likes to see a query, synopsis and the first 50 pages.

Miriam Kriss is Vice-President of the Irene Goodman Agency, an agency which has been in business over 25 years. A young woman with glasses and a mane of curly brown hair, Miriam emphasizes that while she loves women’s stories, strong voice and good writing, her focus as an agent is always on author career planning. She likes to see a query letter, synopsis and the first 1-3 chapters, by snail mail only. No e-queries.

Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency is her own boss, representing about 40 clients. Long blonde hair and soft-spoken manner, Mary Sue is especially interested in Christian-themed books, romance and non-fiction only. Her submission preference is a 5 page synopsis and the first 50 pages by snail mail. No equeries.

As a group, five of the six agents (Nadia being the exception) stated that the synopsis is a very important part of any submission, and is usually what they read first. A synopsis should tell the beginning, middle and the end of your story, and should reflect the ‘tone’ of the manuscript itself (i.e., if your story is a romantic comedy, your synopsis should be entertaining; a romantic suspense would read as darker, grittier, etc.) Requested materials are always responded to faster than unsolicited materials, and when it comes to author follow-up, Miriam Kriss offered this gem of advice: Follow up by ‘how the agent contacted you’. In other words, if you received a phone call asking to see more of your work, you can follow up with a phone call after a reasonable amount of time has passed. if you were asked to submit material by letter, follow up with a letter. If you were emailed, feel free to email back. However, if you were not asked to submit, and sent unsolicited material anyway, then you should simply be patient, no matter how long it takes. Slush piles are large, and agents don’t have time to sift through them to follow up on an unsolicited submission.

When it comes to current trends, it appears that both ‘sexy’ and ‘spiritual’ books seem to be on the upswing. The general consensus was that Chick Lit was no long quite so ‘hot’, unless the story itself has that elusive ‘something different’. Vampires seemed to have glutted the desks of editors everywhere and drained the market dry (sorry, couldn’t resist), while the field of Sci-Fi is growing. Young adult novels are increasingly popular. All six agents agreed that knowing the market and staying ahead of trends are the best strategies to follow, and that good writing is always the key.

And the final and most consistent piece of advice? Do your homework.

Which you just did. :)

Instead of a gold star, you now get to pick your dream agent... doesn't have to be one on this list. If you could choose anyone in the world to represent you, who would you choose?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Home From New Jersey

I just got back from attending my third 'Put Your Heart In A Book' conference in beautiful *ahem* Iselin, New Jersey. (Don't make the mistake of calling the town 'Icelan' unless you enjoy rude cabbies.) For the second year in a row, what should've been an easy 2.5 hour direct flight turned into a 8 hour nightmare of delayed flights and airport snafus. I'd planned carefully, intending to arrive early morning on Friday for two full days of networking, socializing and workshops, but didn't actually get checked into my room until 8:30 Friday night, missing the entire first day of the conference. Sigh. Other than that, I had a great time!

Here I am with some of my best writing buds (l to r), Anna Sugden, Janice Lynn and Kathleen Long. Not nearly enough time to catch up properly, but did get to crash in Janice and Kath's room for an impromptu pajama party Friday night. I was supposed to moderate a workshop on 'Panic-free Pitching' with Anna on Friday afternoon, but Janice kindly stepped up and covered for me while I was in airport hell.

Saturday morning I attended a hilarious workshop by Victoria Alexander called 'You Don't Have to be Crazy to be a Writer, But It Really, Really Helps'. After that, it was off to attend Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer's workshop, called 'Yex & Violence' - what a odd couple they are! Total opposites. Bob is straight guy to Jenny's comedic putdowns, but both of them are so talented and funny that the routine completely works.

One of the high points of the day was an hour and a half lunch with one of my agents, Christina Hogrebe of the Rotrosen Agency. We were joined by NYT bestselling author Carla Neggers and well-known mystery writer Nancy Martin . Both ladies were incredibly gracious to a newbie like me - I got to hear all about book tours and dealing with booksellers and even help do a little brainstorming on a future book of Nancy's. I spent most of the hour and a half trying not to get ketchup on my shirt and pretending to be totally cool with lunching with big name authors. :) Afterward, Christina introduced me to Jenny Crusie, and I had a great chat with suspense writer Mariah Stewart. I owe Mariah so much... she was the first to tell me to 'aim high' when it came to looking for an agent, and has been a wonderful friend and support.

After lunch, I attended an agent panel with Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary, Christina Hogrebe, Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary, Natalia Aponte of Natalia Aponte Literary, Miriam Kriss of Irene Goodman Literary and Mary Sue Seymour. I'm writing an article on that, as it's way too much info to include in this post :). Check back in a couple of days and I'll have the finished article posted here on my blog.

All in all, a wonderful conference, but boy, was it good to get home!

I've met so many wonderful people at conferences... who would you most like to meet at a writer's conference?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Haunted Corner

One of the writing groups I belong to has this cool writing exercise once a week or so, where a picture is chosen at random, and those who participate are challenged to write a very short story, as quickly as possible, about the photo. I usually only do it when the picture itself speaks to me, as this one did. The name of the photo is called "The Haunted Corner". How could I resist? :) Anyway, here's my 'off-the-cuff' creative exercise:

The Haunted Corner

Opal Myers sat in her favorite chair, right by the window, where she could watch the world go by without ever leaving the plush comfort of her home. While others stood in bread lines and whined about lack of work, Opal had merely to ring a small bell and food would be brought to her on a tray. Another ring, and the tray would be taken away, the crumbs no doubt eaten by a sneaky servant girl before they reached the kitchen.

Opal didn't care. Let them eat cake. Depression, indeed. The poor deserved their fate... they either hadn't the guts to work hard, or they hadn't the wits to marry money. She'd done both.

"Wow, honey... look at this place." A man's voice disturbed Opal's privacy, but she didn't look away from the window. The man would be gone soon enough. "Still looks like it did in 40's."

"The 30's, actually." A woman's voice answered him, a voice that Opal found vaguely familiar. Familiar enough to ignore. "We at Hampton House take great pride in keeping the house just the way it looked when the murder occurred. Opal Myers was killed right there, in that chair."

"Ew... how creepy." Another woman's voice, different from the first. "By her own son? That's what the brochure said."

"It was never proven who did it, but the son was the number one suspect. He disappeared right after the murder and was never seen again."

Opal settled herself more deeply into the chair and smiled a chilly smile. Her son would come home eventually, and when he did, she'd be waiting.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

October - My Fall Fav

I don't know if it's just the happy childhood memories of Halloween, the much-needed break from the Florida heat, or just the subliminal message that the holiday season has begun, but October is, and always has been, my absolute favorite month of the year. I've always been so jealous of people who live in other parts of the country during October - they get to see the leaves change, enjoy bright splashes of color on the hillsides, crunch through fallen orange and yellow leaves. They get to enjoy crisp apple cider by a roaring fire, wear boots and cableknit sweaters, see the frost on the pumpkins. At least that's my fall fantasy....aah... lucky dogs. It's green where I live, green with palm trees year-round. I only get to wear my black leather jacket once or twice a year.

Maybe it's just the fantasy of fall I love so much, but I always look forward to October. :) So here's a few tidbits about the month itself:

If you were born in October, you're either a Libra (Sept 23–Oct 23) or a Scorpio (Oct 24–Nov 21). (Scorpio here, passionate to the extreme, but you Librans are so calm and laid back... very nice sign to be born under.)

Your birthstone is the opal, a very pretty gemstone with a fiery array of colors; blues, greens, reds and even oranges. (Such beautiful stones - no two are alike.)

Friday the 13th will be in October this year... isn't that cool?

So how is October where you live? When do the leaves change in your area? Dragged out those sweaters yet? Lucky dogs....