Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's the last day of 2008, and despite the recession, a horrible year in the stock market, global unrest and tons of gloom and doom, I'm feeling pretty hopeful for the new year.


Because every day is a new day, whether it's the first day of a new year or (quite simply) the first day of the rest of your life. Every day you're alive, you have a chance to make the world a better place by just doing your part, no matter how small or how large that part may be.

Let someone go ahead of you in the check-out lane at the grocery store. Smile at the person behind the counter and ask how their day is going. Pay someone you don't know a compliment -tell the clerk at the post office how nice they look today, or mention much you like their hair, sweater, manicure or earrings. Offer to pick up some groceries for your elderly neighbor. Walk somebody's dog. Do somebody's dishes. Spend some time with someone who needs a shoulder. Clean out your closet and take the old clothes to a shelter (and don't forget the socks... they always need socks!). Visit someone in the hospital.

Every day is filled with opportunities to make the world just a teeny bit better, one opportunity at a time. You can't fix global warming, but you can put a smile on someone's face. You can't solve homelessness, but you can help keep someone warm. And if, despite all your trying, you have a bad day and end up discouraged, I offer you this tidbit of wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which has helped me through many a bad day:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
May 2009 be a year of wonders for you... wonders that you create for yourself by striving to be a better person in a myriad of tiny little ways that no one even notices but you.

Try it. You might be surprised.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Surviving The Aftermath

So a good time was had by everyone, except maybe the dog. :-)

(Okay, so she didn't really mind. Any attention is good attention, in her book!)

We had a really nice Christmas here in Gatorland, even though it was warm and a bit muggy. No chestnuts roasting on an open fire here, and certainly no snow! No getting up at the crack of dawn, either - my youngest is the only one left at home, and he's long outgrown his belief in Santa Claus. My husband and I got up at our normal time and enjoyed a cup of hot coffee before he drove over to get his mother and bring her over to spend the day with us.

I made turkey with all the trimmings, which cooked while we opened our presents, then our daughter and her family came by for a second round of gift-giving. By the time it was all over, mid-afternoon, we were gorged on turkey, overwhelmed in wrapping paper, and (after taking his mom home and helping me with the dishes) my husband was more than ready for a nap (which he rightly deserved, and enjoyed to the hilt!) Never having been a 'napper', I straightened the house and played video games on my computer (my favorite guilty pleasure!).

It started raining, which was the perfect excuse to change into our jammies way too early in the day, and settle in to watch some movies. What did you do for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute Christmas Shopping

I am the only one who's woefully behind in their Christmas shopping?

Two more days until Christmas, and I haven't gotten anything for the hubby yet (I know what to get him, just haven't gotten it.) Still have toys to buy for the family kidlets, still have packages to wrap. Oh, and for some reason, I'm unable to find the needlepoint stockings that I usually hang by the chimney with care, so I think I'm going to have to buy new ones! (I have no idea which box they got packed into last year, and they're not revealing themselves. Maybe the elves took them.)

I did get all my groceries yesterday for Christmas dinner; a turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, broccoli casserole, rolls, pumpkin pie and cheesecake. :-) I even got some mulling spices to put in the apple cider - even if nobody drinks it, it'll make the house smell great!

Anyway, time to put the blog away, get dressed and head out for some shopping! Hopefully, I'll be done by tonight, get the wrapping done tomorrow, and be ready for jolly old Saint Nick on Christmas morning.

Wait a minute... why does HE get all the credit???

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Women

I didn't think I'd like this movie, but I did. The Women, starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett was a very nice surprise, in large part due to Annette Bening and a couple of great cameos by Candace Bergen, Carrie Fisher, and Debi Mazar. Eva Mendez was perfect for her role, as was Debra Messing, and if I hadn't gotten distracted by Meg Ryan's overblown hair and lips, I'd give it a solid five stars. :-) As it is, I give it four stars and a solid thumbs up.

A woman's three best friends find out that her husband is being unfaithful - do they tell her? Sure they do, but not before seeing for themselves that the poor schmuck never stood a chance against a hot tamale like Eva, the perfume girl at Saks. Guided by her mother's advice, Meg decides to let her husband have his little fling, knowing he'll get tired of his spicy and demanding chica pretty quickly. He does, and she thinks she's won, until she finds out the affair is still going on. This is a great story about the power of girlfriends, the power of women, and the power of forgiveness.

Wronged wife Meg Ryan copes with the breakup of her marriage with advice from her friends and her mother, and in the process is transformed from a messy haired mess, submerged in nameless Mom-dom, into what she always wanted to be all along. a chic, gorgeous fashion designer who wows the world with her first collection. (This is the only part of the script that bothered me. It was a bit much, just like Meg's hair and lips.) Anyway, this transformation doesn't happen overnight, and along the way, Annette Bening's character absolutely shines as the best friend, who, in a moment of career panic, agrees to publish the messy details of her best friend's divorce. The schmuck is a muckety-muck on Wall Street, you see, and well... sex sells.

The breakup between the best friends is even worse than the breakup of Meg's marriage. You see, the name of this movie is "The Women", and that's what the movie is all about (the breakup of Meg's marriage is basically a side plot). Annette begs for forgiveness, but Meg cuts her off, just like she has her husband. Annette continues to be a friend behind Meg's back by helping her adolescent daughter cope with her parent's impending divorce. They eventually (of course) get back to being best friends in a great scene where they fight, hug, fight some more, and then do some more hugging. Just like real women. :-)

Meanwhile, the poor schmuck of a husband is always in the wings (though we never meet him). Once he knew he was busted, he broke things off with Eva, and seems truly contrite. He's pining for his wife back, begging for a second chance to get to know the "new" Meg.

Ultimately, just like she gave her friend Annette Bening a second chance at friendship, Meg gives her husband a second chance in their marriage. They're two different people now and we, as viewers, are supposed to believe that this couple is going to live happily ever after, despite his infidelity. Meg is no longer the mousy little mom who was willing to put up with an affair, and her husband has learned that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.

'd say that the lesson of this movie was that we have to love ourselves before other people can love us. That if we love people, we forgive them, even if they've hurt us badly. Definitely a great chick flick movie (I enjoyed it much more than I did the last Sex In The City), and (shhh....don't tell anybody) but my husband actually enjoyed it, too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Search of the Perfect Little Black Dress

I have to go to a Christmas party tonight, and I'm beginning to panic.

My repertoire of party clothes is limited, I'm afraid. I have three floor-length "special occasion" dresses, but they're too dressy for a Christmas cocktail party. I have a couple of cute Christmas sweaters, but they're too casual. I have three "fancy" cocktail dresses, but they're all halter dresses and I'm worried they're a bit too skimpy for a December party, even one in Florida. (Also, I won't know a lot of people at this party, and first impressions are important - I don't want anyone whispering about the "flashy blond in the halter dress".) :-)

Or maybe I do. I'm not sure. LOL

I have business clothes, but they're too business-y. I searched my closet twice, and the main conclusion I've come to is that I need to get rid of some things I haven't worn in years and never will again!

So today, I find myself wishing for the mythical "perfect little black dress". We've all heard of it, often seen it on other women, but I - personally - have yet to find it. You know the one... the black dress that fits you perfectly, covers everything that needs to be covered without looking matronly, shows everything you want to show without being too revealing, a hemline that hits just where it needs to hit, a waistline that flatters and fabric that doesn't wrinkle. Oh, and it has to look great with heels that aren't too high.

Take a look at all the different styles here: I did, and I STILL don't see it. I see too short, too tight, too glittery, too sexy, too boring, too asymmetrical, too young, too old. (I know, I know. Right now you're saying "too picky".) LOL

Does the perfect little black dress actually exist, or (like Santa) is it just a fable, told to little girls everywhere? *sigh* Either way, I'm afraid I'm going to have to head to the mall today in search of it. Maybe I'll get a Christmas miracle, and find it. :-) Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Avon Authors Holiday Recipe Ring

Join the Avon Authors for a special Holiday! Some of the Avon Ladies are celebrating the season with recipes for mouthwatering munchies perfect for any dessert table. Go from author to author and find new treats to try. Start with Lorraine Heath's Devilish Divinity and then stop by the Avon Discussion Board to tell which one was your favorite.

Kathryn Caskie's Sinfully Delicious Pecan Tartlets with Praline Topping?
Miranda Neville's Irresistible Mocha Toffee Bars?
Kerrelyn Sparks’ Orange Slice Cookies?
Gayle Callen's Chocolate Bark?

Which would you choose? (I'm leaning towards all of 'em.) :-)

It's a fun idea, with lots of great holiday recipes. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Invest In Yourself, Not Wall Street

My husband has worked in the securities industry for twenty-four years. He's made a living all that time by giving sound financial advice, walking his clients through the the '87 crash, the decline after the Internet bubble, and the 2008 financial crisis, and all the ups and downs in between. He's a very smart guy. :-)

The recent turmoil in the markets prompted him to do something he'd been wanting to do for a long time, which was leave the bureaucracy to the big lending institutions, and focus on what he does best, which is give good advice. :-) So, he went independent, and formed Tampa Asset Management. He resigned from Wachovia Securities, and asked his clients to trust him with the private management their assets, away from corporate pressures, rumors of buy-outs, bail-outs and mergers.

It was a gutsy move, and quite frankly made me a little nervous at first. Resign from his job? Becoming an independently registered investment advisor is a complicated process, and so is starting up your own business in a time of recession. Three full-time employees means salaries, benefits, office space, equipment, all the overhead costs of doing business - all so my husband could do his job as objectively as possible. You see, it was obvious to him that his clients didn't really need to be so dependent on the big banks. If he went independent, he could put their money to work where it would do the most good, in an impartial way, minus commissions. No money-lending institution looming over his shoulder, no wondering what the higher-ups might be up to. He IS the higher-up. Bob Garey, CEO of Tampa Asset Management.

(Sorry, honey... you're only the boss while you're at the office, just to be clear.) :-)

In case you couldn't tell, I'm very proud of my husband, both for achieving his dream of independence, and for truly wanting to do the right thing for his clients, most of whom he's worked with for years, and consider to be his friends.

His new company motto is "Independent, objective investment advice. Invest in yourself, not Wall Street." Check out his website at

Monday, December 01, 2008

Win An ARC of You're the One That I Haunt!

Advance Reader Copies of the next Nicki Styx tale are now available, and I've got a couple extra to give away!

Be the first to find out what kind of spooky trouble Nicki's got herself into this time, and how she's going to handle Sammy Divine, the horny devil who's hot on her trail!

Read the newest Nicki Styx adventure before everyone else does, and see what happens when Nicki ends up the prize in a sizzling battle between good and evil.

All you have to do is who correctly answer the question "Who does Nicki really love?"

You can find the answer by reading an excerpt, which is HERE.

Then send me an EMAIL with the answer.

(This contest runs for two months, through the end of January 2009, with one winner chosen each month. One entry makes you eligible for both drawings. Entering this contest automatically adds you to my mailing list, but your information will never be shared with anyone else.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Announcing the Winners of the Haunted Harvest Contest!

Thanks to everyone who entered my November contest! The winning names have been drawn, and here they are!:

A signed copy of WEDDINGS FROM HELL autographed by Jeaniene Frost and Terri Garey goes to AVIS CAUSEY!

A copy of HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost goes to LELLEN STEWART!

A copy of HOLIDAYS ARE HELL, an anthology by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Vicki Pettersson and Marjorie Liu goes to ROSE PRESSEY!

A copy of NIGHTWALKER by Jocelynn Drake goes to ZARA HEFLIN!

A copy of SWORD OF DARKNESS by Kinley McGregor goes to CHERYL BULONE!


Avis, Lellen, Rose, Zara, Cheryl and Jessica will also get an assortment of cover flats, bookmarks and other goodies from a variety of other authors!

Congratulations, ghoulfriends!! :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sixth Sense, or Serendipity?

I had a birthday last week, and I gave myself the gift of going to visit my sister in Atlanta for a couple of days.

While sitting on the plane, out of nowhere, I found myself slipping into this odd little daydream that went like this: What if Stephen King was on the same flight, perhaps sitting in first class. Would I have the nerve to go up to him and ask him for his autograph? (I've heard he's reluctant to sign autographs because notoriety makes him uncomfortable.) Btw, I had a basis for my little daydream, because Mr. King lives part of the year in the Tampa area. Anyway, I tried to decide whether I'd trouble him for his signature, and decided that yes, even though I'm not normally bold enough to act like an autograph hound, in his case I'd have to make an exception. You see, while I don't claim to be a fan of every single one of his books, I admire the man himself for being stubborn enough and tough enough to gut it out for many years in this business, and for writing my favorite writing book of all time, On Writing (did I use the word "writing" enough in that sentence?" :-)

Anyway, daydream over, the plane took off and I was on my way to Atlanta. So, that evening, my sister and brother-in-law gave me my present:

A signed, first edition copy of Stephen King's 1994 release, Insomnia.

To summarize, in the morning I'm daydreaming about getting Stephen King's autograph, and that evening I had it. Had I somehow picked up that I was going to get it for my birthday, which sparked the daydream, or was it pure coincidence? Sixth sense, or serendipity? I'm sure I'll never know, but it was a pretty unusual coincidence, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Words To Live By

Ah, the writing life... so easy, so rewarding, so laid back and relaxed... you get to lay around in your pj's all day, sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and puttering with your computer. Words flow from your fingertips like water, brilliance and creativity flood your mind like a shower of sparks, royalty checks overflow your mailbox.

And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Here, my dears, is what's much closer to reality (except my computer isn't nearly as cool as hers):

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Mosaics of Louis Comfort Tiffany

Looking for a beautiful Christmas gift for the artistically minded person in your life?

Then I'd like to suggest this gorgeous book, compiled and written by my very dear friend, Edith (Edie) Crouch.

I'm so proud of Edie - in my humble opinion, she's the true definition of a "Renaissance Woman". Once a successful 9-to-5 businesswoman, she found and embraced the opportunity to expand her mind and her horizons by becoming a stained glass artist. She's also become quite an expert on Louis Comfort Tiffany - famous for his stained glass, he was also a master of the art of jewelry-making, pottery and mosaics, which is something many people don't realize.

Edie and I met many years ago, when her son and my son started pre-school together, and we've been friends ever since (even though she moved away, which I still haven't quite forgiven her for!) :-) Her stained glass work graces my home with color and warmth - a beautiful peony lamp hangs in my breakfast nook, and on either side of my front door is an absolutely GORGEOUS pair of six-feet stained glass panels, each depicting a vase of tall, colorful flowers (we designed them together, and I can quite honestly say that they're my most prized possessions! I can never move, because I couldn't bear to leave them behind!) It was quite an adventure for her to ship both panels to me from North Carolina all in one piece, but well worth it! She also made me a beautiful Tarot card panel depicting "the Hermit", which I commissioned for one of my sisters to hang in her living room window.

Well-read, well-spoken, kind-hearted, loving and talented - you just don't get better friends than Edie, and I want to share her talent with the world.

You can read about The Mosaics of Louis Comfort Tiffany in more detail HERE, and pre-order it from Personally, I can't wait for my autographed copy!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Has Finally Arrived!

Did you?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

November's "Haunted Harvest" Contest!

I'm giving away a "haunted harvest of goodies" this month! Six lucky winners will each win one special book by one of my favorite paranormal authors, plus an assortment of bookmarks and signed cover flats!

Here's what's included in this month's giveaway:

~A signed copy of WEDDINGS FROM HELL autographed by Jeaniene Frost and Terri Garey
~A copy of HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost
~A copy of HOLIDAYS ARE HELL, an anthology by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Vicki Pettersson and Marjorie Liu
~A copy of NIGHTWALKER by Jocelynn Drake
~A copy of SWORD OF DARKNESS by Kinley McGregor
~A copy of ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A VAMPIRE by Kerrelyn Sparks

Plus, each winner will receive signed cover flats, assorted bookmarks and other goodies from a variety of other paranormal authors! (Sorry, but the skeleton, pumpkins and fall leaves are not included in the giveaway - they're just props for the photo!) :-)

All you have to do to enter the contest is send me an EMAIL that answers the question:

"What's the name of the woman Sammy blames for his downfall?"

Don't know the answer? You can find it by reading an EXCERPT from my upcoming February release,

Drawing will be held November 25, 2009.

(Entering this contest will automatically add you to my mailing list, but your information will NEVER be shared with anyone else. You'll get an occasional notice of my upcoming books, and that's all, I promise!)

So what are you waiting for, ghoulfriend? You can't win if you don't enter! :-)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

My favorite day of the year has arrived!

I've got six giant bags of candy, a front yard full of tombstones and spider webs, and I'll be seeing some of my favorite people tonight, so I'm one happy ghoul! I love seeing all the little kids dressed up, dragging their overloaded bags of treats as they climb my steps, looking for more. Witches, fairies, superheroes, even the killer clowns! I love seeing their parents watching proudly from the sidewalk, especially those who get into the spirit with them by dressing up themselves.

I didn't go as all out on the decorating this year as I usually do - I'm on deadline and have been concentrating on the new book instead - but I'm definitely still in the "spirit"! I plan to walk the neighborhood myself this year and see what everybody else has done to decorate (the people across the street from me have an actual 'lightning and thunder' machine on the roof of their house!)

I hope your plans include a little wandering around in the dark, scaring up some candy. Extra points to anyone wearing a costume for the evening! Happy Halloween, ghoulfriends!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do You Like Scary Movies?

Halloween is almost here, and I've been watching too many scary movies! I'm blogging about them today over at Writers At Play, and if you stop by and tell me your favorite scary movie of all time, you'll be eligible to win a copy of WEDDINGS FROM HELL, autographed by Jeaniene Frost and me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Talented People Blow Me Away

Well, I finally watched the taped version of last Saturday night's SNL (sadly, I couldn't seem to stay up until 11:30 that night), and yes, the Sarah Palin/Tina Fey silliness was awesome, and watching a 9 month pregnant Amy Pohler do a political rap during Weekend Update was utterly priceless. :-) (I was a bit worried about her water breaking on national TV, though!)

But who really blew me away was SNL's musical guest, a debut British soul/pop singer named Adele. I couldn't wait to get on the Internet this morning and download her CD to my IPod. If you want to hear some great music, visit this site to hear "Make You Feel My Love", or watch this cool video of my new favorite song, "Chasing Pavements".

Way to go, Adele. I wish you every success!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And The Winners Are...

Congratulations to the lucky winners of my October "Come To The Dark Side, We Have Cookies" Contest!

Brenda Erwin won the chocolate Tower of Fright, while Kristin Bennett, Vickie Marise, Mikael Williamson, Gigi Fioresi and Gina Growe each won a Coffin Tin full of skeleton mints and assorted goodies from some of my favorite authors!

Considering that I had over 600 entries (man, people obviously really like cookies!), I think Brenda, Kristin, Vickie, Mikael, Gigi and Gina have all got some ghoulishly great luck going for them!

Congratulations, ghoulfriends!

Have a sweet Halloween! :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Too Darn Crafty For My Own Good!

Are you sick of Halloween yet? Not me! :-)

What I am sick of is the low standards (and high prices!) of some of the decorations. For example, have you ever gone to a craft store looking for a Halloween wreath for your front door? (Yes, I know I could get a motion-activated something or other, but those things drive me nuts.) Well, I've looked and looked, and what it appears to me is that the craft stores take regular floral wreaths, stick a few pumpkins and/or scarecrows on them, double the price, and call it Halloween. Nope.

So I decided to make my own, and I think it turned out "boo-tifully"! (c'mon, you knew I was going to say that, didn't you?)

You can make one, too, if you're the crafty type, and here's how:

I took your average grapevine wreath (which will run you between $3-15 dollars, depending on how big of one you buy, and the more "irregular" and "grapeviney" the better), and spray painted it black (I already had the black spray paint). I bought black long-stemmed roses ($1.00 apiece) and pulled off all the black leaves, bought plastic floral garnishes in two shades of purple for .49 cents apiece, some black and purple ribbon (about $4.00). The little skulls and smaller tombstones are actually candles I bought for about .50 cents apiece, and the bigger one is a hanging plaque I got on sale for $5.00. The raven was the most expensive thing on it - he put me back $9.99, but I've seen them cheaper. The words 'scary', 'trick' and 'treat' came from the bargain bin at the craft store, costing me less than $3.00. (Oh, and you'll need a glue gun, which I already had, but they're really not expensive.)

All total, I figure I spent about $30.00 bucks and some time, but I have a great, big, totally awesome looking wreath (if I do say so myself!). You could make a much smaller one for about $10.00.

Any other "crafters" out there?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Halloween Hatchlings

Okay, so in my never-ending search for Halloween fun, I found this cute little game that is truly addictive - try it and see! (FYI, I made it to level 17) LOL Here's the description, and it's super easy to play. Skip the ad, and get right to it! (the instructions are at the bottom if you need them)

The old Count is up to no good as usual. He has created a new breed of monster and is about to release them upon the world this Halloween. You, Snuffit The Vampire Slayer, must kill the hatchlings before the count breeds enough to release.

Click on groups of two or more to destroy the hatchlings. More Hatchlings will spawn every time the blood tube empties, don't let them reach the top!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

PRISM Contest

More great news! (man, what a horn-tooter I am this week, hm? LOL)

I just got the news that DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY has won First Place in the 2008 PRISM contest, which is sponsored by the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FF&P) Chapter of Romance Writers of America!

I remember reading about this contest several years ago, and looking forward to the day when I could enter, so I was really tickled to win 1st Place.

Plus they gave me this cool graphic to put on my website. :-)

Monday, October 06, 2008

You're The One That I Haunt - The Cover!

Woohoo!! I finally got permission to unveil the cover of my upcoming February release, You're the One That I Haunt!

It's a whole new look from the first two books, and I'll be honest - when I first saw it I had two thoughts:

1) Wow! Cool cover! and

2) She looks like she's going to kick my ass at any moment


Overall, I love it - the art department at HarperCollins listened to my input and gave me everything I wanted: a graveyard scene, a spooky vibe, a cool font, hot pink lettering, and a sexy, dark-haired cool-looking chick. It's not their fault if they didn't get Nicki quite right... Nicki has shorter hair, and she's not a kick-ass. She's a normal person who gets scared and makes mistakes and would rather laugh than cry, knows how to stand up for herself but doesn't go looking for a fight. I would've loved a naughty expression on her face because, well... she's naughty...but I ain't complainin' - I think it's an awesome cover. What do you think?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Virtual Graveyard - A'Haunting We Will Go!

I just updated my website for October, which is something I look forward to (Halloween-obsessed-closet-computer nerd that I am!). Every year I do a special Halloween page, and this year I decided to do a "virtual graveyard".

I created custom tombstones that link to other fun sites, including my favorite Halloween recipes, Halloween jokes, ghost stories, ghost photos, and a special slideshow presentation of my annual Halloween party. (Yes, I'm weird. But it's so much fun!)

All you have to do is figure out which tombstones lead somewhere, and which ones don't. :-) Have fun!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Up For An Award At Night Owl Romance

Got a second?

I just found out this morning that A Match Made In Hell is up for Best Paranormal Romance at Night Owl Romance Reviews - if you vote for me, I'll be your BFF! :-)

Just click the graphic, then scroll halfway down the page (I'm in the first column on the left).

Friday, October 03, 2008

My "Semi"-Triumphant Return From The Dead

I've been sick as a dog all week, folks. (Where did that saying come from, anyway?) Today is the first day I've been at my computer since early Monday morning when I succumbed to the creeping crud. I feel like I've been on an episode of "Lost" - deadlines are looming, the financial markets are in a tailspin and I have some fabulous news to share, but since I'm still feeling icky, I'm going back to bed and will share it with you over the weekend.

It's too good to share when I can't squeal properly. :-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

News Of The Weird - Florida Style!

I found my jaw dropping repeatedly this morning at some of the bizarre news stories in today's paper. I even had to read a couple of them aloud to Captain America, as they were just too funny! His comment was, "That's Florida for you." And you know... he's right. Here in the land of hanging chads, beaches, mosquitoes and gators, we do things a little differently. Perhaps a little TOO differently:

A male probation officer wearing a blond wig, black miniskirt, fishnet stockings and no shoes has been charged with driving under the influence and drug possession. Oh, and he's the son of the county's Public Defender (Daddy must be so proud!)

A personal injury attorney and a hip/hop radio station sponsored a free gas giveaway for the first 102 people who showed up at a Wal-Mart gas station. Not only did 3000 people show up, but there was a near-riot, resulting in four separate traffic accidents, and a man charged with battery for hitting a woman who cut in line in front of him. (I'd say this is a clear case of the personal injury attorney creating business for himself!)

Evidently, you should never open your door to strangers who claim they were hired to remove poisonous snakes from your property, because if you do, you might get your hand "accidentally" sprayed with so-called poisonous snake venom and be forced to submerge it in warm water and milk for ten minutes. Oh, and while you're soaking your hand in the kitchen, the snake handlers will be upstairs ransacking your jewelry box. (Like, DUH!)

Hmm... apparently, if you burst in on your ex-girlfriend while she's having sex with her new boyfriend, kill him, chop off his head with a machete and place it on the hood of her car, you can claim that it was the voices that came through the radio while you were listening to rock n' roll oldies that told you to do it. (It wasn't Mick Jagger, was it?)

And finally, some good news:

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West have reached an agreement with the federal government that lets the 50 or so cats (descendents of six-toed cat named "Snowball" owned by the author in 1935) continue to freely roam the grounds of Hemingway's old home, ending a five-year battle that could've had them removed or caged. (C'mon now, doesn't the government have bigger fish to fry than fighting for five years over a bunch of well-cared for, healthy, tourist-drawing CATS?)

Geesh. I love a happy ending...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Brian Hamlin Is My New BFF!

No, Captain America and I are not on the outs, and I've never even met Brian Hamlin, but he is now officially one of my all-time favorite people. Why? Because he's a reporter for the Vacaville, CA newspaper, The Reporter, and he wrote a fabulous review of my book, A MATCH MADE IN HELL , which in turn got picked up by BusinessWeek! Needless to say, I'm thrilled (can you tell?), and very excited. Here's the review, in its entirety:

Brian Hamlin column: Have you been seeing dead people? You're not alone, amigos [The Reporter, Vacaville, Calif.]

Sep. 21--The 'I see dead people' genre seems to be making a growing impact on the quirky world of supermarket paperbacks.

The latest, and possibly greatest, entry in this niche market is "A Match Made in Hell" by Terri Garey (2008, Avon Books, New York, N.Y., $6.99, 373 Pages).

Described as a "paranormal romance," it's much, much more and, like all the best supermarket paperbacks, is filled with everything you never expected to find in Safeway.

Garey, who also penned "Dead Girls are Easy," tells the tale of one Nicki Styx, a vintage clothing store owner who leads an outwardly mundane existence as a struggling businesswoman in Five Points, Ga.

Unfortunately, Nicki has suffered a recent near-death experience and, upon her return to the mortal plane, discovers that she's acquired a somewhat bothersome talent -- she sees dead people. Worse, the aforementioned dead people tend to seek her out with alarming regularity.

Nicki is still adjusting to her newfound skill when a middle-aged woman wanders into her shop to explain that she's been in an auto accident and that her daughter is trapped in the wreckage of their car somewhere.

This, in itself, is a startling revelation. After all, who rushes to a vintage fashion boutique to report a traffic accident?

If you guessed "dead people," you're right on target.

The woman, Lila "Peaches" Boudreaux, doesn't even realize she's dead yet, although she suspects something's amiss because only Nicki can see her.

The woman begs Nicki to rescue her daughter and Nicki, being a helpful soul, agrees to go in search of the wreckage. Nicki also takes a moment to notify her married boyfriend, Dr. Joe Bascombe, and ask him to accompany the ambulance once they locate the car.

With help from dead Lila, Nicki finds the wreckage and directs the ambulance to the site, where Dr. Joe goes to work.

And here's where this supermarket paperback goes from good to great.

Lila's daughter, it turns out, is actually Nicki's twin sister, who is married to Dr. Joe. And Lila is the twins' long-lost mother, who gave them up for adoption when they were babies.

And there's much, more to this complex relationship than meets the eye -- even if you've got an eye that sees dead people.

I know what some of you are saying right now: "Hey, you're giving all the good parts away. What's left for us?!"

Fear not. Everything I've so far related happens before page 35.


Nicki Styx and her sister, Kelly Charon -- Styx and Charon, get it? -- still have to contend with an exceedingly quirky grandmother, a conniving dead adulteress known as Psycho Barbie, a pair of enthusiastic ghost hunters named Spider and Skully, a long-dead Civil War widow and, of course, the minions of Satan.

Supermarket paperbacks just don't get any better than this.

Hey, thanks Brian. You definitely made an author's day today!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ghost Town

I went to see Ghost Town last night, a quirky romantic comedy about a guy who has a near-death experience, and comes back to life with the ability to see dead people.

Hm... where have I heard that plotline before? Could it be because it's the exact same plotline of my Nicki Styx novels? :-)

Granted, Nicki Styx is not a pudgy, middle-aged, depressed dentist who lives in Manhattan, but other than that... (and here is where I state, for the record, that I wrote the first draft of DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY way back in 2004, and it was published over a year ago)... other than that, it had so many similarities to what I'm writing that it was a bit freaky.

For the record, I thoroughly enjoyed it. While I originally found the casting a bit odd (Ricky Gervais is a great actor, but casting a pudgy, pasty British guy as a romantic interest for Tea Leoni - who's a total hottie - seemed strange), but he pulled it off. Greg Kinnear was perfect as the arrogant, pain-in-the-ass businessman ghost who wouldn't leave poor Dr. Pincus alone. Lots of interesting secondary characters, and some really funny moments, mixed in with some deep emotions about life, death and social isolation among the living as well as the dead. I give it 5 stars, if anyone's interested. :-)

I couldn't help but pick apart the similarities, though - the overall theme of the movie is learning how to give of yourself and do the right thing for other people, even though you don't necessarily want to. How "doing unto others" leads to becoming a better person yourself. Interesting concept, huh? ;-)

I'm not claiming plagiarism, because there's no way to patent an idea and I accept that, but there was one particular scene that made my husband and I both gasp out loud and elbow each other in the theatre:

Tea Leoni is an archeologist who asks Dr. Pincus (Ricky Gervais), for his opinion regarding the dental situation of a 2000 yr old mummy. As they lean over the mummified remains, Dr. P. explains how the cause of death was most likely an absessed tooth. He makes the comment about how once infection set in, it was only a matter of time before the Egyptian guy ended up with "pennies on his eyes". Leoni corrects him, saying it would've been a penny in his mouth, because ancient Greeks believed that bodies should be buried with a coin for the ferryman, who ferried lost souls across the River STYX. Um, hello... the mummy was Egyptian, not Greek, so the history was completely taken out of context, and the line of dialogue was completely random and out of place. Hubby was convinced that it was a reference to my books. He's sweet like that. :-)

Anyway, a solid thumbs-up to Ghost Town, whether the script writers have been reading my books or not. LOL

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Have The Bestest Friends...

I got the nicest surprise in the mail yesterday!

My writing buddies Carla Capshaw and Stacey Kayne sent me a very special gift in honor of my winning the RITA last month. They bought in San Francisco the day after we all attended the awards ceremony, so it's really like an awesome present/souvenir all in one!

I had to take a picture of the package before I even opened it - it was SO beautiful! The paper is black and white flocked velvet, and there's an orange beaded thinga-ma-bob that says "Celebrate". Carla wrapped it herself - I told her she needs to go into the gift wrapping business!

I didn't think it could get any better, until I opened it, and found the most awesome coffee mug ever - it even has my name on it! LOL (Some of my friends call me "Spooky") It makes a spooky sound every time you pick it up - isn't that clever?

And isn't it CUTE? I absolutely love it.

I'm not going to use it for coffee, though - I think it will be perfect to hold my "spirits" on Halloween night. :-) (Jack and coke, in case you're wondering! LOL)

Thanks so much, Carla and Stacey! You guys are the best!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins? Be still my vampire-lovin' heart!!

Oh, how did I miss this article in Variety about Johnny Depp playing the lead role in the upcoming Dark Shadows movie?

DARK SHADOWS was a spooky Gothic soap opera from the late 60's-early 70's - a true cult classic. I used to watch it in reruns at 4pm every afternoon when I was a kid, and it was just the coolest!! The lonely, brooding vampire Barnabas Collins, the creepy old house of Collinwood on the coast of Maine, waves crashing on the shore, ghosts, witches, werewolves, secret crypts, fog enshrouded woods - oh, it was every young vampire lovers dream, long before Anne Rice ever put pen to paper.

The idea that Johnny Depp will star in the remake is just TOO fabulous! I cannot wait to see what he does with the role. I particularly loved reading this:

Depp has said in interviews that he has always been obsessed with "Dark Shadows" and had, as a child, wanted to be Barnabas Collins, the vampire patriarch of the series. The role was originated by Jonathan Frid.
See, Johnny? I knew it - we're kindred spirits, after all. :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh, no.. he di-ent!

Barack Obama did NOT say what I heard he said, did he?

And even more important, he doesn't expect people to believe he meant what he said as just repeating an outdated cliche that nobody uses anymore, as opposed to a direct attack on his opponent, did he?

Oh no, he di-ent!

And oh no, the American public ain't that stupid.

He did.

And it just cost him my vote.

Buh-bye, Obama. I happen to like my lipstick. And I happen to like women who support their children no matter whether their mistakes are genetic or teenage-based, who support their families against bullies, and who aren't afraid to take on the world, whether it's in beauty pageants or politics.

Change is great, and it comes in all colors. Including pink.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Come To The Dark Side, We Have Cookies Contest!

Okay, I admit it - I've never tried to claim that I was "normal", particularly when it comes to Halloween! Technically, summer is over and fall has arrived (I say "technically" because I live in Florida, so the changing seasons are pretty much green, green, green, and slightly chilly).

Even though it's only September, I'm already in a Halloween kind of mood! (I absolutely adore Halloween - it brings out the kid in me. The weird, slightly odd, somewhat "off" kid... ;-) Anyway, this year it's going to be two months of weirdness (September and October), kicked off with my :

Come To The Dark Side,
We Have Cookies Contest!

C'mon... who doesn't like cookies? :-) (chocolate cookies with chocolate pumpkins and chocolate caramel corn and... did I mention the chocolate? lol) Five runner-ups will receive one of these cool little coffin-shaped tins filled with mints, and assortment of goodies from some of my favorite authors! (Wouldn't want to frighten away the trick-or-treaters with chocolate pumpkin cookie breath, now would you? :-)

Drawing will be held October 15, 2009 - just in time to get your goodies before Halloween!

All you have to do is answer the question, "What kind of car does Sammy drive?". You'll find the answer by reading an EXCERPT from the next release in the Nicki Styx series, You're the One That I Haunt (March 2009).

Send me an EMAIL with the right answer as to what kind of wheels a REAL sexy devil drives, and good luck!

(p.s. - just so you know, entering adds your name to my mailing list, but I promise, there will be no spam and no nagging. :-) Just occasional notice of upcoming releases, that's all.

So what are you waiting for, ghoulfriend? You can't win if you don't enter! lol

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Book Trailers

Do you watch them? Do they influence you to buy a book?

When book trailers first came on to the scene a couple of years ago, I thought, “Wow! A video? What a great idea!” There’s no question that when you’re sitting in a movie theatre and those trailers pop up on the big screen, you can tell within 30 seconds whether you want to see a certain movie or not, can’t you? Why not take that concept and bring it to book lovers everywhere?

Well, I’ve had two books published and have yet to do a trailer, but I’m thinkin’ it’s time. What’s held me back? The mind-boggling choices I have to make, of course! Should I go for a sexy vibe? Spooky? Amusing? Serious? Use real actors or computer generated characters? Photos or animations? What kind of music do I want? What do my hero and heroine look like? What are the main points I need to get across? How much should I spend on it? What do I DO with the trailer when I’m done with it?

I know… pathetic, aren’t I? :-D

Here’s another question I don't know the answer to: Are they worth it? Do they really drive sales, or are they just a widget, a gadget, a fun (yet expensive) way of promotion?

I’ve seen a lot of book trailers, and they run the gamut. Here are a few that stood out for me, provided for your enjoyment:

DOES SHE DARE, by Tawny Weber (totally hot, totally sexy)

Why THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE Has No Head, by Diana Holquist (very tongue-in-cheek)

LOVE STARTS WITH ELLE, by Rachel Hauck (interactive cartoon animation)

You see why I'm so intimidated at the thought of doing one for myself?

What do you like in a trailer? Do you think they're worthwhile? Most importantly, if I do one, will you watch it? :-)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hunkered Down

No, I don't really look like this, but my husband has a thing for funny monkey pictures, and I try to indulge him whenever possible. :-)

But yes, I've been hunkered down in the bat cave ever since I got back from San Francisco, first because I came home to the copyedits from Hell, and secondly because I have a new book to write!

And third, (I will have to admit) my life just isn't all that interesting. The drama is too personal to write about, and the mundane is just too... mundane. I swore when I began this blog that I would not write drivel about what I had for breakfast (Mini-Wheats), or what I did afterwards (walked the dog), and what I did after that (the dishes and laundry). You see my point? LOL

Anyway, I've been working. Copyedits, new copy, blog interviews, contest judging, research and pondering. Essential writerly stuff.

Oh, and I did have one exciting thing to tell you, which is that the cover for my next book, You're the One That I Haunt, has a whole new look from the first two books, and can only be described as AWESOME. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to show it to you yet. :-(

Now don't you wish I'd just kept my mouth shut and concentrated on my banana? Um, I mean, writing?

Friday, August 15, 2008

A "Fangirl" Moment with author Christopher Moore

I've been sifting through my memories and my photos of this year's RWA conference, and I wanted to share another one of the highlights. On Friday night, August 1st, my publisher party was held at the Mandarin Hotel in San Francisco. Always a swanky affair, it's also great fun, with fabulous food, wine, champagne, and, of course, chocolate. :-) (The photo on the left is me with my editor, Erika Tsang, during the cocktail reception.)

One of the highlights for me is finding out who'll I'll be sitting with - you don't know the seating arrangement until you get there. One year I was stunned to find myself between two of my favorite authors, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Julianne MacLean. Last year I sat next to the irrepressible Julie Ann Long and the gorgeous Kathryn Caskie, and this year I was thrilled to be sitting next to my editor, Erika Tsang, and RITA award-winning YA author, Melissa Marr. (The photo on the left is Julianne MacLean and Toni Blake - it looks like we all got the memo on color coordination, doesn't it?)

But I must admit, the highlight of the evening for me (no offense to my lovely seatmates or anyone else I chatted with!), was when Executive Editor Carrie Feron introduced one of our special guests for the evening, author Christopher Moore. If you've never read Chris's particular brand of quirky fiction, you're missing out on some serious giggles. Think Dave Barry meets Stephen King, without the gore. Seriously. I admit I made a total "fangirl" of myself, going straight up to him and demanding that he not disappear before I'd had my picture taken with him! (I'd forgotten my camera, but Toni Blake graciously agreed to be the appointed photographer for the evening, so I was in luck. Thanks, Toni!) Quite the gentleman, Chris asked my name because he "didn't want to stare in the direction of my nametag too long", and assured me that he'd love to get his picture taken with "someone so pretty". Wasn't that sweet? So after dinner, I rounded up Toni and Kathy Caskie (another CM fangirl, on the right), and we got our photos taken with Chris. Yay! At the end of the evening, I flirted with him shamelessly across a crowded room by giving him the universal "call me" signal, hoping he knew I was just kidding! And yes, I confessed my "fangirl" flirtatiousness to Captain America when I got back to the hotel room. Knowing my love of all things Moore, he forgave me. :-)

After the Avon Family Dinner at the Mandarin, I grabbed a cab and headed over to the famed Harlequin Party at the Four Seasons Hotel. Here I am with some of my wonderful friends from Writers At Play: (l to r) Harlequin Intrigue author Kathleen Long, Harlequin Superromance author Beth Andrews, Mills & Boon Medical author Janice Lynn, and future Harlequin Special Edition author Anna Sugden. As you can probably tell, a fabulous time was had by all. :-) The Harlequin party lived up to it's reputation - a killer DJ, open bar, hundreds of barefoot women dancing and laughing, even a conga line! It was great fun, and I can't wait to do it again next year!

P.S. - Thanks for being such a gentleman, Chris. I'm usually the shy, retiring type. Seriously. :-)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Pictures from the 2008 RITA Awards!

I got so many great pictures last Saturday night, and I just have to share them! Here are some of the highlights:

Monday, August 04, 2008

2008 RITA Awards: Dead Girls Are Easy Wins "Best First Book"!

Now I know what Cinderella must've felt like; slipping into a beautiful dress and beautiful shoes, then whisking away to have all her dreams come true! No pumpkins for me, though... I got a beautiful golden statue instead! (Though I did, at one point, almost lose a shoe!)

Saturday night, August 2nd, was one of the absolute highlights of my life, when my name was called during the 2008 RITA Award ceremony, and my debut novel, DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY was awarded Best First Book by Romance Writers of America!

Here I am with my wonderful, fabulous editor, Erika Tsang (do we look happy, or what? LOL) Erika is an Executive Editor at Avon HarperCollins, and part of what made me so happy is knowing that I didn't let her down - she took a chance on a quirky story by a brand-new author, and she helped me turn an offbeat idea about a spunky former Goth girl who sees dead people into the very best book it could be.

What's really special about the RITA awards is not only that it's the "gold standard" for the industry, but that it's judged by other authors, people who do what I do every day and know all the time and effort that goes into it. There's something pretty amazing about being told by a jury of your peers that your very first novel was something special!

Even better, my Prince Charming was right there by my side for the whole thing! I'll share more pictures on the blog later this week so you can see how cute he was. ;-) For a girl who never even went to the prom, the entire evening was pretty awesome! :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'm A Guest Today at Romance Novel TV

The lovely ladies of Romance Novel TV are having me as the guest author today! We'll be chatting all day about my books, my characters, and things that go bump in the night!

Stop by and say hello!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The End of An Aura

In yesterday's blog about the TAPSCON Paranormal convention I went to this past weekend, I mentioned auras. Auras, in metaphysical terms, are the supposedly invisible fields of energy that emanate from the human body (most strongly around the head). These fields of energy are expressed in colors, and the color of your aura is what determines the type of person you are. Some people claim to be able to see auras with the naked eye, but others claim that they can be captured on film. An "aura photographer" was available at convention, and my friend Stefani was game enough to go for it.

What you're looking at here is Stefani's "aura", the field of energy surrounding her head. (If you look very closely, you'll see her forehead and both eyes near the center of the picture, in the dark area). The bright yellow-orange color is emanating from her neck, chest and shoulders, while above and around her head, the colors shift into pinks, violets and, at the very top, a lovely purplish-blue. According to the "aura reader" who took the picture, all these colors are extremely important, and are broken down (in general) like this:

Orange: artistic, creative expressive, successful.
Yellow: sunny, intelligent, playful, center of attention
Pink: loving, spiritual, caring, sensual, tender
Red: energetic, vital, passionate
Blue: deep feelings, communication, peace, love

All in all, Stefani is just a wonderful person (or at least her aura says she is!). Here she is as she prepares to have her aura photo taken (the woman in front is the aura reader herself). You may notice the look of amusement on her face - and why not? We'd been hanging around this booth for about ten minutes, and were already highly amused. A steady stream of people had gotten their aura photos taken, and we couldn't help but notice a pattern: every single one of them was a wonderful person!

The aura photographs themselves followed a pattern - a beautiful orangey-yellow one like Stefani's, then a more "rainbow-like" one, where the colors were sharply defined, not blended as much as Stefani's. Then an orangey-yellow one, then a rainbow one. No black or brown or gray auras here! The aura reader (who I'm sure was a wonderful person herself) seemed to be repeating the same phrases over and over as she interpreted the aura photos for the person who bought them: "Kind, loving, must learn to say "no" more often, seeking knowledge, etc., etc., etc.,).

Our conclusion was, quite simply, that these were phrases that everyone would love to hear said about themselves. Alas, while we were not sold on the validity of aura photography, we had a great time, and Stefani got a great souvenir. We can't wait to use it when we set up our fortune-teller hut on Halloween. :-)

And Stefani, aura or no aura, you ARE a lovely person!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Be Normal, When You Can Be Paranormal?

Anybody out there watch the TV show, Ghosthunters? Familiar with the acronym TAPS? (The Atlantic Paranormal Society, which is the ghosthunting group behind the show.) Well, a couple of weeks ago I found out that a local landmark hotel called the Belleview Biltmore (reputedly haunted), was going to be the site of TAPSCON 2008, a paranormal convention involving members of the show and all things weird, complete with a midnight taping of a future Ghosthunters episode. Yes, for the cost of a VIP ticket, you could participate in an actual ghost hunt of the Belleview Biltmore with the TAPS crew! Did I do it? Nah, I'm too chicken. :-)

But I DID call up my ghoulfriend Stefani and ask if she wanted to go over for the day. Neither one of us had any idea what to expect, but we were both game for a little weekend weirdness.

Here's a shot of the Belleview Biltmore hotel from the outside:
The Belleview has long been rumored to be haunted: ghostly apparitions stalking the hallways, banging noises, smoky figures caught on film. It's been featured on the TV show Weird Travels, and offers regular weekend ghost tours for the locals at (I believe) $75.00 a pop.

We arrived and checked in, then went straight to the convention floor to see what kind of paranormal paraphenalia we could find, and we found plenty! There were a lot of people in the requisite black t-shirts, lots of books on ghosthunting and haunted places, booths where you could buy souvenirs (I got a cool black t-shirt of my own, with a little glow-in-the-dark ghostie on it), psychics available for readings, and some very strange (supposedly supernatural) artifacts.

Here's one of my favorites, a crystal skull carved from a single chunk of quartz which is rumored to be more than two thousand years old. It looks blue because it was lit from beneath, the better to see. The idea was that you place both hands on the skull, and concentrate on something important to you. Touching the skull is supposed to ground you and help you find "synergy", so here's a picture of me doing just that.

I honestly can't say whether I found synergy or not. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that it was a little warm, but that could've come from the hands of all the people who were touching it before me. It was cool, though!

There was another artifact there that completely creeped me out, so much so that I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture of it. Robert the Doll, which I blogged about last week. There was a sign taped to Robert's glass case that said, "Please ask Robert's permission before taking his picture." Seriously.

My friend Stefani and I had a great time at the booth where you could have a picture of your "aura" taken and interpreted by the woman who took the photo, but that experience deserves a blog all its own, which I will do tomorrow. :-)She also got some portable dowsing rods, which were pretty interesting, too.

As for the TAPS crew, I did see one of the ghosthunters themselves, Dustin Pari, who was standing in the hallway, posing for photos with convention goers. He's really tall!! But I didn't get a picture - there were too many people clustered around him, and when I went back by, he was gone.

All in all, no ghosts, no hair-raising moments, but definitely a fun, weird way to spend the day!