Thursday, December 31, 2009

I resolve...

Like everyone else in the world (or mostly everyone else), I'm shucking the quest for a creative post today, to announce my New Year's Resolutions, which I will subsequently (like everyone else) forget to follow or give up following in about a week and a half, after the gleam has rubbed off the shiny new year and real life has set back in.

Anyone wishing to edit the above sentence has my blessings. I haven't had my coffee yet.

Speaking of coffee--I RESOLVE TO STOP FORKING OVER MY HUSBAND'S HARD-EARNED CASH FOR DUNKIN DONUTS COFFEE.  No more extra-large Toasted Almond extra light, cream, no sugar. Ditto Hazelnut. And this summer--no more large, iced Coconut, cream, no sugars, either.

I don't know what it is about Dunkin Donuts. They do something to their coffee to make it addicting. I think it has something to do with the crack they plop into each cup. And we, the addicted, line up like lemmings every day for our jones of choice. It has got. To. Stop. Honestly, spending over twenty dollars a week for coffee is ridiculous. Even if it feels like we're going to die without it...even if hallucinations of flying monkeys, Shakespeare and Moses come visit me and command, "Get thee to the nearest DD", I will hold fast to my visions of a Dunkin Donut free life.

No more secrets stashes of cash, just in case I need a fix. No more noting the location of every Dunkin Donuts we pass. (In Rhode Island, this is practically every corner). The pink and orange shadow will loom over my consciousness--no more!

Just as soon as I finish this cup...

Happy New Year to one and all and may all your resolutions come true.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My lazy American students - The Boston Globe

My lazy American students - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

This article has practically nothing to do with what I normally write about, but I felt it interesting enough to share with you. I agree with the author in many ways, so much so that I was compelled to comment:

"I recently wondered what message students at my daughter's middle school received when she brought home a "progress report". In ancient days (when I was a kid), students in danger of failing were handed an interim report to take home and have signed by their parent(s). The dreaded white slips were handed out at the start of each class; everyone knew who was failing. Yes, it was humiliating for the kids who weren't doing well, but so what? It's better to be humiliated as a child than as an adult, where the effects of your failure can be more far-reaching and it was a hard lesson well-learned. Work harder to bring up your grade; make an effort not to be humiliated again. Success comes not with a whine but with hard work and dedicated effort.

But now, we're shielding our kids from the humiliation of failure by sending home Progress Reports; all children are seen to "progress" and all receive the reports whether they're doing well or poorly. (One of my daughter's teachers' comments: "She keeps her books covered". Should I book a party? Give her a sticker? Applaud that she's done what she's expected to do and act surprised?)

What doesn't surprise me is that the current "Johnny doesn't fail, he progresses" attitude carries through to the college years. It is inconceivable to the current group of college students that they could fail. They've been shielded and coddled (They "keep their books covered!") and have failed to learn accountability for their failure to perform. My fear is what will happen to them beyond the classroom, in the Work World where failure could result in termination and the loss of a standard of living. (And a life spent sponging off their parents, who hand them stickers for putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.) The truth is, we've created a nation of Johnnies who expect to progress without effort. And now, we see the results: we've failed in creating a next generation of responsible adults who will move this country forward. Instead of whining about the humiliation and trying to forge Mom's signature on our own interims, perhaps it's time to figure out where we went wrong and try to up our grade--and our standards of expectations."
What do you think? Is the author of the article correct in her observations or is she over-generalizing?  Either way, I find it frightening. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The best gift, ever.

My daughter gave me this letter as a Christmas gift. I'm very proud. And teary. As much as I complain about them, they really are good kids. I'm truly blessed.

Dear Mom,

Merry Christmas! It is impossible to say with words how much you mean to us. You do so much for the whole family and I think that it isn’t recognized enough. The things you do to keep this family together and functioning are incredible that only someone like you can accomplish. You are an amazing mother and every great thing you do for us is acknowledged even though you sometimes may not feel that way.

You’ve made me realize that being a mother is one of the hardest jobs out there. You care for us when we’re sick, you comfort us and give us a shoulder to cry on when we need it, and you’re always optimistic and trying to keep us happy and getting along. We know that we are a tough bunch to control, but you do the best you can and you do a great job of it.

I think it’s amazing how you have so much patience. I see it every day when you care for [the little guy]. I thought about it the other day and I realized that I could probably never do that. Whining, talkative toddlers are the toughest people to have around but you manage to ignore his annoying ways and still love him. You made me realize that you can love us no matter what the circumstances are. I wonder how you stay up late at night with [him] and get up early to help us start our day. It must be so tough on you and I feel like I wish I could help. I do the best I can, but I don’t think it’s good enough compared to what you do.

You’ve also taught me that I can be myself. You’re not like other parents who are stuck to their ways and give their kids so many limits and boundaries that don’t allow them to be who they are. I appreciate that you accept me. I think it’s critical to being yourself if you allow a person to express themselves. I am so grateful for that.

You try your best to give us everything you can to make us happy. You’ve given me so much and I can’t thank you enough. You’ve given me many important things. Not just material things, but things like love, happiness, hope, and knowledge. I thank you for that. I appreciate that you’ve let me continue my passion for horses as hard as it was for you to manage and I acknowledged it every time I climbed up onto a horse’s back. I feel sorry that you weren’t able to have the same opportunity as you love horses just as much as I do.

I think it’s amazing how you talk to everyone like they’re an old friend. You make people feel comfortable around you. I wish I could be like that. I wonder how you are so outgoing and you don’t seem to care of what people think of you. You aren’t afraid of the world, you seem like you don’t feel you need to hide, and that is another one of the many things that amazes me about you.

Through these hard economic times, you have done so much. I can see you try hard to care for our family and get us through it as best as you can. I’ve learned so much through these tough few years and I feel as though I’ve become a better person. I can remember how it was before the economy went downhill. I could get almost anything I wanted. I think about it now and wondered if the economy didn’t crash, how I would be now. I know I probably wouldn’t be the same person. I don’t think it’s so much the economy that’s taught me this as much as you and dad have. I think it’s vital for me to learn and will help me a lot in the future.

You are so intelligent and talented. You are a great artist and writer. I hope I will be able to be as creative and talented as you in the near future and I hope you know that I look up to you.

You’ve given me my insight on life, influenced me greatly, and I appreciate the things you do so much. I can’t imagine life without you and I’m proud to call you my mother. You are one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known and I couldn’t be more thankful to be able to wake up every morning and call you “mom”. Merry Christmas. I love you with all my heart.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glad tidings.

My publisher, Lyrical Press, is about to offer a contract to a writer I know, based on my recommendation.

I'm so excited for her. She told me she's doing the Snoopy Dance, and I'm dancing right along with her.

A little over a year ago, I received a request for one of my books.  I still have my acceptance email--my first one, ever:  

Dear Cynthia:

I know you've been on pins and needles waiting for a response from us, and I'm glad to say that the delay was because we really like your story. So, to make it official ...

Thank you for submitting KISSING TRICK for consideration at The Wild Rose Press. I found the manuscript to be well written. The characters are well developed and likable, and the story line makes for a fun read. I'd like to contract KISSING TRICK as a Rosebud (word count 40,000-64,000) for the Champagne Rose line.
Let me know if you're interested, and I'll get started on a contract. I also need to confirm that the story is free and clear and that you own all rights.

As soon as I hear back from you, I will send along the contract and other pertinent documentation.
I hope you will choose to publish KISSING TRICK with The Wild Rose Press. It will be a great treat for our readers.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. I look forward to working with you.

I received this email on October 17, 2008. Funny, because my daughter's due date (back in 1997) was October 17th, but she arrived on October 27th. Still, you have to admit, this was a birth of sorts. No longer was I one of those scribbling wannabees. I was a real writer.  Now, I'm an editor, too--a development I never anticipated in 2008. 

I'm so blessed to be able to share this gift with other writers.

I wonder what 2010 will bring? Hopefully, more contracts for us all!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Halleluia! (silently)

If you haven't seen this yet, you should. (You probably will. If not here, somewhere else.) Sit back and enjoy. Oh! And crank up the sound, too, for added fun...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Writing Anxiety

I'm gonna blow.

Any second now. I can feel it.

I haven't been able to write since September because I've been going to school and editing other people's books.

I'm getting anxious.

Random characters keep wandering into my thoughts, pushing me. "Wouldn't this by a great thing to remember for my book? You do remember my book, don't you? Don't you?"

Shane and Dale from my half-finished manuscript, Nuts Over You, have teamed up and are tapping their toes and frowning at me. Shane's got the squirrel on his hand. Dale's lips are pursed.  There are toys everywhere. The three-year-old they're babysitting is swinging from the ceiling fan and giggling--and they don't care anymore. They just want to get the romance under way and give the kid a nap.

Ceci and Duke, from my other half-finished manuscript, Love You to Death, are still on the couch in Ceci's living room. She's miffed. She still has her post-blood headache and so much sexual tension, she's vibrating. Duke is probably the only character who's patient--but he's got eternity. He's immortal, after all. He's yawning and cleaning dirt out from under his nails with the edge of a matchbook cover. Yes, he wants Ceci too--but he's biding his time. He knows--from experience--that delayed gratification is the best gratification. And besides, he knows they've got an audience.

Lionheart gazes in the window (even though Ceci's on the second floor of a Victorian-style two family home--heights mean nothing to vampires, you know). He's hungry, Ceci looks yummy and Duke won't share.

I have a feeling if I don't work on something soon, it's gonna be ugly.  Especially now that a new character (or two) have started to announce themselves...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Free book!

Want to win a free copy of my book? (e-book or print)

From now until Thursday, Dec. 10th): Go check out my review at The Long and the Short of It Reviews , then come back here and comment with the answer to the following question:

My hero, Patrick (Trick) has the power to...? You'll have to read the review to find out!

I'll draw a winner from the comments.  Good luck!

(Sorry for the "inspired" blog this morning. I'm trying to get this down before I have to go solve another child-crisis, like tracking down a missing monster truck [again] or having to applaud about using the toilet. I live a full life, I tell you.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Making it perfect instead of getting it "write"

My littlest guy has a favorite show: Max & Ruby. Based on the books by Rosemary Wells, it's about Max (a young bunny) and his bossy older sister, Ruby. In her perpetual quest for another Bunny Scout badge, Ruby thinks Max is in the way and tries to boss him around. But when she runs into problems, it's Max who invariably shows her the way in his persistent, mono-syllabic little brother fashion.

Gee, that's nice, Cyn. What's your point?

The other day, I finally saw a new episode. (Those of you with small children can relate to my excitement. After you watch each episode 500 times each, you tend to get a  In this one, Ruby decides she's going to write a story. (Ha! See?) Being the control-freak that she is, she has to get it all perfect. A nice quiet place to write in, freshly-sharpened pencils, and lots of clean, white paper. But then..."Cowboy!", Max interrupts.

Ruby ends up getting some cookies for herself, (and Max). Because you never know if you'll get hungry when writing a story, and you don't want to have to get up to get something. "Cowboy!" Milk for Max, milk for Ruby. Finally, she picks up the pencil. "How to start my story?" Ruby muses. (Most of us don't have this problem, by the way. We usually say, "How to end my story?" or worse, "How to get through this stupid middle ohwhythe$@#%!didn't I write an outline first...oh! I have a brilliant idea for another, new and improved story!"

Ruby starts with "Once upon a time..." because--as she says, "All the best stories start that way." Then she wonders "Then what?" (Aha! Middle muddle!) A mermaid? A  ballerina? A..."Cowboy!"

Ruby spends the entire show ignoring the fact that Max is offering her a character and situations for him (playing the harmonica, eating cookies, riding his hobby-horse...) and maybe even a conflict. ("Need cookies!") But Ruby is so intent upon "getting it right" that she misses the perfectly good idea right in front of her.

Well...almost. Of course, after about twenty minutes of sharpening pencils and trying to get her writer's space exactly right, she opens her eyes to her Muse (so to speak) and start writing.

How often have you been like Ruby? Are you missing the obvious because you're so caught up in the little details that don't matter?

For me, it's the office supplies. The perfect pen with the perfect color ink. (But...I don't write in pen. I use my computer.) Or--I need 4x6 scene cards, pink for the heroine's point-of-view, blue for the hero's and green for...well...I like the green ones. The perfect three-ring binder in just the right color for my manuscript pages. And sticky notes, and mechanical pencils, and lead for the pencils, and maybe some of those eraser sticks that click up in the holder and a zippered, three-ring binder pencil pocket and a new flash drive and...

See what I mean? We get so caught up in the silly things (like Ruby and her sharpened pencils) that we're missing the cowboy riding his horse around our writing space.

Think about it. How do you allow yourself to be distracted?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Virtual Christmas Cookies--and real (edible) ones, too.

My friend, crit partner and Samhain author, Jennifer Shirk, is having a Christmas cookie exchange over at her blog today. Post your favorite cookie recipe on your blog, go over to her blog and leave a comment, and get entered to win a one-pound gift package from Crazy Susan's cookies.

Free cookies! Yeh!

I found my recipe in the 2007 edition of A Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars. I love this recipe because I LOVE COCONUT! (That's a hint to those of you who say, "yuck" about coconut; you can stop reading now.) I make cookies every year (or used to before everyone went Weight Watchers and Low-Carb), but could never find the perfect maccaroon recipe. So many of them require egg whites and cream of tartar and long baking times to "dry the cookie to the perfect texture".

Phooey, I say! Phooey!

These Coconut Macaroons are easy, quick and chewy. With only five ingredients, you can make them in a pinch, and if you use a tablespoon-sized ice cream scoop to drop them onto your baking sheet, they're the perfect pop-in-your-mouth cookie. The only thing wrong with this recipe: it doesn't yield enough! You'll want to double/triple/quadruple it for your non-virtual cookie exchange. Or--as occurs in my house--so that there are enough left to give away.

(The recipe doesn't call for a halved-maraschino cherry, but that doesn't mean you can't include one if you'd like.)

Coconut Macaroons
(pg 32, Best Loved Cookies and Bars, Taste of Home. 2007)

2 1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/8 t. salt
2/3 c. sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine the coconut, flour and salt. Add milk and vanilla; mix well (batter will be stiff).

Drop by tablespoons 1 inch apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 1 1/2 dozen.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's just plain oogy!

Your cranky editor (as opposed to your cranky mommy/lighthearted-romance writer) here, with a message to writers:

Repeat after me. PEOPLE control their body parts. Independently moving body parts belong in a horror movie, NOT in a romance/erotica!

Remember Thing, from the Addams Family? Thing was a hand that lived in a box and performed menial tasks for the family in the days before remote controls and Roomba robots. He frequently turns up in books I'm editing/critiquing.

"His hand crept up her thigh..."
"Her hand pushed the fingers through her hair..."

And so forth. No, I'm not exaggerating, and yes, some writers don't even attach possessive pronouns to their body parts but use the  article, "the". This is even worse. The hand defined by "the" really isn't attached to anyone or used by anyone except...itself. (Ewwww! Ewww, ewww, eeeeewwww!) That's worse than a spider. Really. Imagine seeing that crawl out from under your bed?

And, really...does it sound romantic or erotic, to you?

Even worse (yes, it does get worse), some writers give their characters independently moving eyes. Apparently, their people's optical orbs have the ability to pop out of their heads and do things. other eyes across the room. (Actually...I'd like to see this, myself.) Here's one of my personal favorite oogies: "His eyes crawled over  her lush breasts."

If I had eyes crawling over my (not so lush) breasts, I'd send those babies rolling. Imagine how cold and slimy they'd feel? It reminds me of the sheep's eye I had the unfortunate privilege of dissecting in seventh grade. (Thanks to the ingenuity of seventh grade boys, I learned a sheep's pupil, removed from it's squishy casing, bounces better than a Super Ball. Ba-boing!)

But it gets worse, because I edit erotica as well as romance, and there are some amazing independently moving body parts in those stories. Unfortunately, I can't share the best of them with you as I try to maintain at least a PG rating. However...I can share this (and you can use your imagination to create other scenarios: His tongue slid into her...ear.

Do you suppose after a session of lovemaking, his (or should I say, "the") eyes, tongue and hand lay on the pillow beside her head?


The solution to these creepy-crawly body parts is simple. First of all, use your possessive pronouns! Her eyes, her tongue, his hand. Never, never use "the" (or--and I shudder to say this--"a"). Second, make your characters move their own parts:

Example: She put her hand on his shoulder.
He brushed his fingers against her cheek.
He pressed his lips to hers, letting his tongue wander into her mouth...

Okay, okay. Calm down. Yes, that has the potential to become an independently roving tongue. BUT, I've acknowledged that my character (he) has made a choice about the actions of his tongue and has giving it permission to go play with her tongue. Presumably, then, he'll be able to call it back into his mouth as necessary and it won't go off to invade other people's orifices without invitation.

That would be...just plain oogy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot, hell.

It's that time of year again. I've stocked up on headache reliever and Zantac in preparation for the holiday season; it's a ritual of mine.

We all have our little holiday rituals. I used to make cookies, but then everyone went no and low-carb. So that's over.

I still do my yearly search for the most outrageous Christmas displays. (And yes, this year I've asked you to participate, for prizes.) And, I go to one of my favorite websites for a little divine (well, sort of) inspiration. Cavalcade of Bad Nativities

I invite you to do the same. But put down your coffee and finish chewing, first...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Perfect? Or "good enough"?

Part of my job as a editor at Lyrical Press is to review and accept (or reject) manuscripts. I've been doing this for a few months now, and there are a few tips I'd like to share with other writers who are hoping to  get their manuscripts at least considered for acceptance.

The reason for this is that I've been a writer longer than I've been an editor; I've been a member of Passionate Critters Critique Group since its inception, belonged to other crit groups online and face-to-face, judge contests, joined professional writers' groups, attended conferences, retreats and workshops. I've done my research and I've worked really hard.

Yesterday, when one of my crit partners posted a revision of a query because she felt it "just wasn't quite right" and another critter posted a contest entry for a final review before sending it to the contest coordinator, I realized that the perfection I expect from myself (and my crit partners of their own work) is the same perfection  I expect from those submissions I review.

Unfortunately, too many writers submit work that appears as though they dashed it off without caring about the way it's received. I suppose these folks are so confident that their work is brilliant, they don't consider any other option.

Like, spelling. For example, one writer wrote "she had to flea to China" in his query letter. After I was done giggling, and imagining the protagonist morphing into a flea, I wrote a great, big NO on the submission. I didn't even bother with the synopsis or the actual manuscript. That spelling error told me everything I needed to know.

Another error (actually, it's more of a thing) are hyperbolic queries. I'm glad these authors are proud of their work, but...

"Written in the style of Nora Roberts and Ernest Hemingway, this fast-paced love story takes place on a fishing trip. The reader will be on the edge of there seat as they follow the adventures of outdoorsman Nick Adams and a stripper named Candy Cane who often gets mistaken for Cameron Diaz, as they trek the wilderness in search of the legendary trout "Big Willie Johnson". Interspersed with this riviting adventure is actual text from fishing magazines. At the end, diagrams are shown for the  reader to learn how to slide a live worm onto a hook. I'm sure you will love this book and wait eagerly for your offer of acceptance."*

Okay, so the author tried, Please, don't tell me how to receive your book. Let me make my own decisions. And please, please, please don't review your own book. "This book is stunning! Readers will flock to read this book! It will be the next bestseller and you'd be a fool not to accept it."

Takes one to know one, I say.

The best advice I can give the aspiring writer: Go for perfection. Proofread carefully. Have someone else--preferably another writer--proof it for you, too. Consider a critique group. Join writer's groups. Learn. Read. Research. And always remember: There's no such thing as "good enough" if you want to be published.

And speaking of "good enough" please, check out my December contest!  You could win free books! Or a critique of your first chapter (and your query) from a real, live cranky editor! 

*This query is a work of fiction. No copyrights were infringed upon in the creation of this example. So there. Nyah. Now go bait a hook.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

writing and editing through the holidays

I bet you're hoping I'm going to tell you how to do it.

Sorry. I was hoping you could tell me.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day (or so it seemed) in the car or on my feet, doing stuff. Okay, grocery shoppping was a necessity, but that was it. Really. Picking up the Christmas tree and figuring out how to tie it to the roof of the Jeep,in the pouring rain, with three kids trying to "help". Not to mention getting the tree off the roof at home...and figuring out how to stand it up in the garage to dry without putting it in the stand (or letting it fall on a helpful child); then going to the store to buy the skates the nine-year-old has been nagging me about for weeks (it's part of his Christmas presents--hopefully, he'll remember that when he has one less present under the tree than his sister and brother); taking the twelve-year-old to a doctor's appointment (filling out forms with the two-year-old climbing up to sit on my head...)

I'm off to go buy more lights for the tree, which really didn't look this big on the farm. I'll post a pic later (aren't you thrilled?). My goal is to finally finish editing the wonderful book I promised to finish yesterday no matter who tries to take my computer away from me. (Of course, I can't even finish this blog post without being interrupted to help the nine-year-old put on his socks...good Lord.)

Speaking of lights for the tree--don't forget my contest!

Dear Santa: Please bring me a vacation in a hermitage with WiFi access from Christmas. Thank you. Oh, and please--tell me how to write and edit through the holidays...

Friday, November 27, 2009

I need a vomitorium and a contest announcement

Like many Americans, yesterday I ate too much. In part, this is because my husband is half-Italian and his sister married a full Italian-American. So when they feast, they feast. In the style of the ancient Romans. We ate until we lay across the table and moaned.

And then, we ate pie.

No, seriously, it was a splendid affair. I have to give my sister-in-law internet kudos. She did an awesome job; her table was beautiful, her food was delicious and we all had a very nice time. (Despite yesterday's post!) Even the two-year-old was impressed.
(Even if his response to "what did you eat at Auntie's?" is "Poop!", it's an exuberant poop.)

I hope all of you feel the same.

And now--an ANNOUNCEMENT! (trumpet fanfare)

Okay, folks. Thanksgiving's over, Halloween's long gone. It's CHRISTMAS!(Yeah, that's me over there on the right, being all seasonal and 30's, with my bright red lipstick and high heels. Pretty festive.)

I thought we (meaning me and my two or three faithful readers, bless them) might have some fun.

You know those festive outdoor holiday displays that makes you stop your car and say (festively) "What the f--k?" You know, the kind that's either so over the top that nearby birds sing all night because they think the sun is up, or the half-hearted kind that consists of a single strand of blinking lights on a broken branch? Well--I wanna see 'em.

From now until Dec. 20th, please upload your festive display digi-photos to me at (Compressed to fit jpgs or gifs only, please.I'm not a techie!) I'll upload them to my blog (until Blogger crashes, if necessary), for my first annual IS YOUR HOUSE ON FIRE, CLARK? contest. During the final week until Christmas, I'll post them and we'll vote. Categories: Most Blinding, Most Like a Brothel, Most Unfestive and (my favorite) Most Likely Not to Have Been at the Birth of Christ But On the Lawn Anyway. 

Prizes: Winners in each category will receive one book of mine, of their choice, ebook or in print (if available). If you don't know what I've written, go here to find out. Or--for my writer readers--if you've already read all my books (bless you!)--I'll put on my editor's hat and do a free critique of the first chapter of your completed manuscript.

So what are you waiting for? Git to clickin'!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Root-of-All-Your-Nerosis' Day!

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I'm pretty confident that most of my family doesn't read my blog. Because I'm not a "real" writer, in their minds. (Don't ask.)

With that in mind, I can say this without hesitation: Thanksgiving is a day where you eat lots of food with your family and count your blessings that you only have to do it once a year. Now, you must understand. It's not that I don't enjoy my family or their food. It's just too stressful.

You know what they say: You can chose your friends but you can't pick your family. You've got nothing in common with these folks (other than the obvious) and you just can't be yourself. Think about it. Can you feel your stomach clenching? Your head buzzing? Your shoulders tightening? Your teeth grinding? Me, too. To be honest, I think I'm scared to death of my family. Somebody, please...pass me the Tums.

I hope that I'm the only one who feels this way (though I'm afraid I'm not) and I hope that the rest of you have wonderful, happy Thanksgiving despite your families. And now, a list of what I'm really thankful for:

I'm thankful for my home. We almost lost it this year but by the grace of God, we're still here and planning to stay.

I'm thankful for my friends, many of whom I'd never have met without the internet. (See, I chose them.) One of my friends even came to visit this year--from the UK! And it was as if I'd known her forever (even though, we realized in horror at the international gate at the airport, that we had no idea what the other looked like. So I'm thankful for the "Neph Keeper" sign I made. Otherwise, we'd still be looking for each other).

I'm thankful for my little dog, who just strolled over the arm of the couch to sit on the arm of my chair and then ask to sit on my other leg as I type. Because sometimes, you need to feel loved by someone who's warm and cuddly and accepts you just as you are, not as they expect you to be.

Thankful? Not really. Neurotic? Probably. Nauseous? You betcha. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Note to self: Do not edit lesbian erotica when the nine-year-old is in the room. He can read.
When you're a two (almost three)-year-old boy, it's really cool when Daddy uses a shocking word when he's angry. It's even cooler when your big brother--who you idolize--uses it when Mommy's not paying attention. It's so cool, you decide to use it yourself, all the time. Especially when Mommy tells you, "It's a grown-up word," and tells you not to use it:

"F--k! F--k, f--k, f--k!"
"You are a f--k!"
"Hi, f--k!

This word makes people cringe. It makes Mommy put soap in your mouth. And when you tell her you like soap, she tries a dab of hot sauce.

Being two (almost three), you tell her you like hot sauce and ask her to do it again. She decides she's given the word too much power and decides to ignore you when you use it in the hopes it will lose its excitement. So you sing it to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star: "F--ka, f--ka, f--ka, f--k..."

You use it in the front yard where all the neighbors can hear you: "Hi, f--king mailman!"

You decide to mix it with other new words that make Mommy suck in her breath: "Look at my f--king poopy pe-nis! Penis penis pee-eee-nis! Poop. F--k."

Mommy tells you Santa will bring you rocks for Christmas and no pink Princess bike (because that's what you really want). You say, "F--k Santa," and hurry off.

Mommy is going to ask Santa for tranquilizers. They are for her, not for you. F--k.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New arrivals

Unlike everyone else in the writing world, apparently, I'm not going to blog about the recent Harlequin hoopla and ensuing RWA kerfluffle.

Instead, I'm going to blog about--my new great niece! Hello, Shae Evelyn, and welcome to the world. Weighing in at exactly 7lbs., she was born on November 18th after 2 days of labor. (Her mom, Lora, thought it was her Crohn's acting up...oops.)

Anyhow, here are some pics. Look at all that hair! (Oh...and don't be put off by the huge forcep bruise.) Other than that mark, she looks a lot like her daddy, Enrique. Here she is with her Papa, considering the possibilities of life outside the womb:

Here she is doing her famous burrito imitation...

And here's she is...just exhausted by it all:

Sigh. Babies. They're wonderful. They're small, cute, portable, and they don't run outside naked on a rainy November day while Mommy tries to work on her writing...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I just didn't fall in love with it

...a tough thing to say about your own book.

Of course, I'm at the point where I loathe this particular book anyway. It's JP's story. He's one of the other McCullough brothers readers can meet in Kissing Trick, and it was the first of the books that I wrote.

I wrote it about eleven years ago. Way back when I still was trying to figure out how to properly plot a book (or plot a book in a way that works for me). I pulled it out of the closet a few days ago figuring I'd finally do the rewrites I knew needed to be done.

The problem is: I wasn't sitting on the writer-side of the desk at the time. Instead, the editor-me read a few pages and said the dreaded words: "I'm just not in love with it."

Crap. This book is going to need a ton of work before I even consider letting an editor besides myself have at it. My goal: to shape it into a book that any editor would love. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I'm sad, today.

I have to drop out of my writer's group. I can't go to meetings, I barely have time to post to the loop and I need to focus on what my family needs instead of what I want. (Or need.)

Rhode Island Romance Writers was the first writers group I ever belonged to. Filled with amazing, supportive, smart and savvy women, it was the first place I realized I wasn't alone in hearing voices in my head.

From these women--kindred spirits all--I learned Craft. I learned about point-of-view and the evils of headhopping. I heard workshops on how to plot, the importance of conflict and the impact of The Black Moment. I discovered Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, The Plot Doctor and especially, Debra Dixon's GMC. I found out how to write a decent synopsis, how to write an effective query and how to pitch a book without vomiting on the editor.

Most of all, I learned the importance of paying it forward and helping out your fellow writer.There's magic in that group--miracles do happen.

God Bless you, RIRW members. You'll never be far from my thoughts or my heart.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What? Another new genre?

One of my crit partners posted this to the Passionate Critters forum, today.  

The Agency Gatekeeper Blog and Georgia McBride's site let me know about this new contest by St. Martin's Press. Previously, we've talked about the emerging genres of cyberbilly, elegant erotica, and quagmire fiction.  Now it's "New Adult."  (By the way, I love subgenre categories - I find that stuff fascinating.)

Here's the gist: "
St. Martin’s Press is actively looking for great, new, cutting edge YA with protagonists who are slightly older and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are happily reading YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking YA that can be published and marketed as adult; kind of an 'older YA' or 'new adult.' " Writer Jodi Meadows has a good look at the new genre and why it's cool.

Here is everything you need to know about the rules.  The contest ends quickly! - Nov 20, 2009,guid,a9ca31e9-029e-474f-b7e5-e134ccc173c1.aspx

Let's just write books for every age. Young adult, not-as-young-adult, slightly-older-than-young-adult, older-young-adult, older-older-young adult... This is what happens when marketing people who aren't writers get involved. They're trying to find the niche for their product. But I can't believe that readers are so ego-centric that they'll only read and buy books based on the age of the protagonist. I know when I was a "new adult", I read books based on the story.

Seems to me it's always been about the story. Can you imagine if Chaucer, Hawthorne, Twain, Austin Fitzgerald, Hemingway or Vonnegut or any other great writer of the canon wrote to the age of their readers instead of the story?

I don't know if you had the same educational experience as I (at least, if you live in America), but those are the authors I had to read in high school and college. They have protagonists of all ages. Yet those books ring true throughout the generations. And why?

It's the story, folks. The plot, the story line, what it's about. Story. And if your story's no good, no one will read it no matter what their age.

The End.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kissing Trick! In PRINT!!

I wanted to wait until I was sure that the links worked and the pages were set and now--it's twu, it's twu.

Kissing Trick is available as a print book! An honest-to-goodness, able-to-be-autographed, will-have-a-smell-and-a-feel-book!

Guess what everyone in my family is getting for Christmas? (Question: Do I rip out the sex scenes in the one I give my parents? The thought of them reading scenes of oral sex that I wrote are just...oh, excuse me. I need to throw--)


At any rate, I'm just about to go and order a few of them right now. Some authors actually recommend ordering a 100 copies of your book to up your sales. What I want to know is: Where can I get $1000.00? If I had that at my disposal, would I buy my own books?


Here's what I would do with $1000.00:
1) Pay the past-due water bill.

Oh. Yeh. Okay. That's it. Maybe I should be more specific. What fun things would I do with $1000.00?
1) Buy the kids a Wii. And a some games and an extra controller.
2) Take the kids to Cold Stone for ice cream.
3) Buy myself a coffee.

Okay. Let me be even more specific. What fun thing would I do for myself with $1000.00?

1) I would rent a car for the weekend and drive down to New Jersey to visit my friend, author Jennifer Shirk. And my husband would happily and without complaining watch the children. And the children would behave like angels while I was gone.  And I would be able to take a shower without interruptions from the two-year-old.

Sigh.  Please hold on while I enjoy the moment...

If you had money to blow on yourself, what would you do with it?

Monday, October 19, 2009

A contest! A contest!

But first, a word from our sponsor...

Have you ever had writer's block? That nasty feeling that makes you feel uncreative and worse--like a hack?

Have you spent hours hunched over your laptop, staring at a blank page in your current w.i.p. and wondering...what am I going to write next? Will I ever write again?

You know the feeling. You have the next scene all mapped out. You know what you need your character to do. But for whatever reason--it's. Not. Happening. You can't get that square peg to fit your round hole and the result is blockage.

Well friend, I'm telling you there's no need to worry. Because I have the fix for you. It's a simple word and you've heard it many time. Are you ready?


That's right.

It's all you need. Sprinkle a little conflict in there and you'll be all...

What's that? What did you say? You've already got conflict? Then, friend--it's not the right kind. After all, there's conflict and then there's CONFLICT! That's what I'm talking about. The big conflict. The kind that means aliens and exploding cars and global nuclear war and--what's that? You're writing a romance? And you don't have that kind of conflict?

Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. She's a romance writer and she already uses my system. Let's hear what she has to say:  

Take a look at what you've already written. Is it possible that what you're concerned with in the scene you finish yesterday, last week, last year already deals with the issues--the conflict--you think you need to work in?  I ask because I had a similar problem a few weeks ago. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the words out the way I needed to.The harder I tried to write, the worse the blockage became. And then...illumination.
The reason my character refused to do what I expected her to do was because I'd already done it. I just didn't realize it.

When I looked at the scene I'd just finished, I realized that I'd already taken my character as far as I could through her conflict and now--she needed to explore the results of the way she dealt with it. How will her decisions affect her now? And what new conflicts will arise?

Before I knew it, I was writing again.

And there you have it, friend. That's all you need to do.

Now, I know all of you are wondering. What contest? What can I win?

What can you win?  I'll tell you what you can win--a free copy (that's FREE) of Kissing Trick, C.D. Yates' newest release from TWRP. (If you'd like to read the first chapter, go here: Kissing Trick, Chapter One)

And all you need to do is leave a comment. :) (If you're one of my three readers, I think--if I'm doing the math correctly--you have a 1 in 3 chance to WIN!)

So act now! Don't delay!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Finally! A release!

Note to self: If it's dangerous, they will find it.

Hey. Bet you'd like me to explain my "note to self".

Later, my child. Later.

No, what's important, today (to me): KISSING TRICK IS FINALLY RELEASED!

Woo-hoo!!  (happy dance)

This is a very special book, to me. I LOVE my hero. He's sexy, smart, kind, calm and sexy. And did I mention, he's sexy? Yeah, the guy on the cover looks good--but believe me, Trick looks even better. ;)

But you'll have to buy the book to find out why Trick is so hot...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who am I today?

I'm starting to feel like Sybil.   She was a character based on a real woman and artist named Shirley Mason. Sybil was made famous through a movie based on a book by the same name.

She had disassociative personality disorder and the thirteen personalities to go with it. 

I don't have thirteen personalities. But I have five. Their names are Cyn, Cyn D., Cynthia, Cynthia B-T and Mommy.

Mommy is the patient one (when she's not being the nutty one, that is). She's the one who cleans the house, pays the bills, cooks the meals, does the laundry, mows the lawn, tends the pool, feeds the pets,helps the big kids with homework and other life issues and chases the two-year-old. Personally, I don't like Mommy. She's overwhelmed and overwrought, and has really bad hair. She needs a shower. She drinks too much coffee and is overweight because she doesn't take care of herself. She really needs a nap.

Cyn is the one who walks to Dunkin Donuts with her friend Sandi, to get coffee for Mommy. She is the one who talks to the DH and usually wants to kill him. She is scornful of Mommy but realizes the necessity of her. She thinks Mommy's weak for needing a nap.You can reach her at

Cyn the Writer. (She's the one writing this right now.) She usually wishes Mommy would sit down so she could get some writing down; she's afraid that if Mommy sits down, she will take a nap and no writing will get done. Though she wouldn't be averse to reading a book or two. You can reach her at

Cynthia is the Student. She is working on her Masters in Professional Writing at Chatham University and she is jealous of Cynthia the Writer, who gets to write fiction and spend time in her head with fun stuff instead of nasty non-fiction. She is very serious about her craft, however, and if given the opportunity would spend 24/7 in school. She is an overachiever. You can reach her at

Cynthia B-T is the Editor. She just started working for Lyrical Press and has no idea what she's doing yet. But she will. And then, I'm afraid, she'll take over. You can reach her at or, especially if you have a manuscript you feel would fit the publisher's guidelines. She'll be happy to hear from you.

But first...she (and the rest of her selves) need to decide who they are and what they're going to wear, today. Mommy's thinking something that is okay to get bleach-stained. Cyn wants to wear something with an elastic waistband and Cyn D. is thinking "warm socks". Cynthia just wants to get busy on her assignment, and Cynthia B-T is thinking she needs a power suit.

This could take all day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Treats. No tricks!

How do you like my background. Isn't it adorable?

Even better--it was FREE!!

I wish I could donate something to the two very talented ladies who created this background and dancing witches hat. But I'm poor. So the best I can do is give them credit and tell you to go here.

Maybe YOU can afford to donate to these two moms: Becky and Ashley.

Ladies, you rock. ;) Thanks for the graphics. :) (Did I mention they were free?)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Welcome to my life.

It's sheer hell, I tell you.

I bet it sucks for The Wiggles, too. After all, I just have to listen to it repeatedly. THEY have to perform it. Again and again and again...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Note to self:  Laundry is like death. You can't hide from it. Eventually it will come to claim you. (And smells just as bad.)

On this morning's walk with the 2 y.o., I let him push the stroller. How wonderful that such a simple act can inspire confident in a young person. "I vewy stwong, Mommy. I a big boy. I can push it MYSELF."

(Those of you familiar with small children know the shiver that runs down my spine at those words.)  Doing it myself is big with little people.

But it's such a hard line to walk with them. You want to give them the confidence they need to get through life and you want to encourage them to feel independent. Yet this clashes with the need to be somewhere (with no time to wait while the child tries to fasten his own seat belts), to fix it (because it's done incorrectly) or to help. So you spend the day with conflicting emotions warring inside you. You want to keep a smile on your face and your tone light; but you're grinding your teeth to hold back the screams.  Especially when the child begins to be frustrated with his inability to do whatever it is he's trying to do by himself and his desire to keep doing it.  (Just thinking about it puts my stomach in knots.)

Now I know why my mother used to hum. All the time. I thought she just liked music--or she was weird.  And here I am, grinding my teeth and humming to hold back the torrent of obscenities roiling about on my tongue.

It's the Circle of Life...hmmhmmmhmmmmmm...

Friday, September 18, 2009

What are you wearing?

Note to self: When trying to teach a two-year-old the alphabet, remember that "the letter u" can accidentally be translated into "the letter me".

On my Rhode Island Romance Writers loop, we're discussing what we wear when we write. (Well...we're romance writers. What do YOU think we wear?)  Stereotypically, romance writers wear slinky robes with boas and mules with feathers. But the most commonly worn writing-attire for RI Romance Writers is anything with an elastic waistband. And thick socks. (Feather boa optional.)

Flannel pajamas appear to be winning.

As for me, I don't have any particular outfit that makes my writing more prolific. Instead, I wear my Muse Hat.  When I'm writing romantic comedy, it's a great big purple hat with a green ribbon band that trails down the back. There are cherries on the brim. When I'm writing my paranomedy (huh?) it's a black velvet hat with a zebra band and a tall, straight, black feather. And when I'm working on non-fiction, it's a fedora with a placard tucked in the band (does it say "Press"? I--I think it does!)

My Muse Hats enable me to write anywhere, at any time of the day or night. As long as I have a place to sit and a moment to think. I can switch them as necessary. And the best part is--they're imaginary!

Awwww. I'm sorry. I bet you were wishing you could see a photo. Heh. Sorry. Nope. You'll just have to imagine them, too. Which is a good thing. You see, by wearing an imaginary hat, it's always with me. I never misplace it. I never have to worry that the baby's pulled off the cherries or the dog has eaten them.
I don't have to fret that the velvet pile is getting wet or the feather crushed. Better, I can turn the hat from purple to red and the cherries to a parakeet at a moment's notice.

I think all writers should endeavor to find their own Muse hats. Having special writing clothes is a dangerous practice. It makes it too convenient to blame your clothing for your lack of output. And while I certainly applaud the theory of putting yourself in the right psychological space to get your writing done, I fear that using physical items to do so is another way to throw up a hurdle. We writers excel at at fabricating excuses and reasons not to do the very thing we profess we must do or die.**
So tell me--what do your Muse Hats look like?

**Apparently this morning, I'm wearing my Jane Austen hat. I'm sorry.  I watched Sense and Sensibility-again--before going to sleep last night. I fear I needs must write in a convoluted fashion else I should swoon. Oh, Willoughby...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mice are good and plentiful!

Hello. Duffy here. Mommy is taking a break today; she's been busy working on her website and her brain is mush. You can take a look at it if you'd like: Mommy's Website

She's a bit distraught. We have practically no food in the house!  Mommy takes solace in the fact that we are not alone. Many humans are now suffering from the effects of  "The Great Depression 2.0". But I, Duffy, have a solution to everyone's problems.


This country has an untapped resource of vast proportions. Delicious, nutritious and virtually fat-free! Small enough to fit in your pocket or tuck into a sandwich. Mice!

If you're wondering where to find one of these epicurial delights, you can come to my house. We've got one living under the stove. I have been pulling the drawer out and staring intently at the corner where he's staying, sometimes shoving my nose into the space between the stove and the wall. I keep telling him, "Get in my mouth, mouse," but he will not listen.

He is a bad mouse.

But I am willing to share. Come to my house. We will catch mice and we will feast!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If only...

Note to self: At 5:00 am, apple pie counts as a breakfast for a demanding two-year-old. (It's got fruit in it.) Sugar-free vanilla ice cream counts as a dairy.

I had a million pre-coffee/still-asleep ideas to blog about, twenty minutes ago. But you know how it goes. The millisecond I sat down at the computer, my family began to talking to me. Even my husband, on third shift, called me to say "hi".  I forget all of my ideas by the time I was able to sit down again.

It's a conspiracy, I tell you...

I wish I could have three days to myself. My. Self. Alone. Just to clear my head.  Three days without Disney, disagreements or disaster.  Three days where the only people I have to talk to are waitstaff and hotel staff. And the only thing I have to talk about is what I need to make my life easier.  Plenty of hot water. Clean white towels. And hot coffee. And a fast internet connection.

Doesn't that sound like heaven?

What I'd do with that time is figure out exactly what's going on in my latest book. My characters are meandering around and I'm not sure where we're going. Which is a BAD THING. Usually, I write a synopsis before I even type the words Chapter One. But Ceci and Duke's voices were so strong, I had to hit the ground running.

Now I'm not sure who wants what, what motivates them or what their conflicts are. I don't know what's going to happen in the next scene or chapter. Worse, I can't even write a rough query or a pitch for this book. I'm working on my website and was going to put their pitch on the home page...

If only I could think. If only I had time. If only...

If anyone knows a way for creative Mommies to escape on the cheap, PLEASE share them here. Duke and Ceci need your help!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Technical difficulties, please stand by.

Note to self: orange poop looks like Playdough, but it's not.

I really want to blog every day. Honestly. But I've been busy trying to fix my website. My host provides website builders for technopoops like me; for some reason, I can't get it to work. I get error messages. Of COURSE I do. I always do!

If anyone has any (helpful) suggestions, I'd be happy to listen. Even better if they take into account the fact that I'm interrupted every twenty seconds to solve some crisis, like a lost WWE guy or the desperate need for milk from a two-year-old who has apparently been marching through the desert or something. So HTML and I don't get along. I forget brackets, lose track of where I was when I last left the computer, or get distracted by the constant yammering of small voices repeating sentences in a desperate attempt to get your attention. ("What is that in the road? What is in the road? Is that a truck in a road? What is in the road? Look at the guy in the road! The guy's in the road. Guy's in the road, Mommy....")

It's weird. You dream (when you're young) of the children you're going to have. You never think about the fact that they love you means they're going to be clinging to you every second of every day. Literally. I tripped over the two-year-old today on my way to the loo because he has a new habit of running up to hug your legs and saying, "I wuv you! I wuv you!" 

Motherhood is a two-edged sword. The problem is, you're never sure what edge you're going to get hit with...


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Last Saturday of the Summer

Note to self: Blogger looks like "booger". Gross. Oh...don't forget to buy Kleenex, today.

So I'm wondering if it's time to close the pool. It's always a quandary. What if we want to use it?

True, no one's been in it for two weeks, now. But what if it gets really hot?

Has it been really hot this summer?  What about global warming? If the world is warming, why didn't we get to use the pool more this summer?  And--why didn't my corn grow to be more than two inches long?

It wasn't a good summer for much of anything. Pools, garden, the beach, bleh.

The bugs did well, though. The spiders are huge this time of year--in my yard, anyway--they're spinning their webs all over the place. One of them made one in the corner between the back door and the garage wall; it looks like an acrobat's net. The other day it held a grasshopper dangling by a thread. He's gone today; I wonder if he escaped?

In a few weeks, all spiders will be frozen or dead. I'll have to clean away that web. But first...I need to cover the pool.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Just a thought

Note to self: The amount of paper towels left on the roll is adversely proportional to the amount of piddle (dog or child's) left on the kitchen floor...

It's payday! I luuuuuv payday. For about two minutes (after checking our account balance) I can pretend that we don't have any bills. The sky's the limit. Wa-hoo!

Then I fill up the Jeep.

Today, as I stood pretending not to look at the pump, a thought crossed my mind. How many American lives were lost this week so that I could put gas in my vehicle? How many people were were injured or maimed?

Instead of pondering how my tank filled while my account depleted, I said a prayer for our soldiers in the Middle East, their families and all the people affected by the war. I thought I'd pass that idea along. It took my mind off my problems, which are minor and made me think of those wrestling with major problems: the loss of a loved one, the loss of a limb, a head injury, burns, scars and psychological trauma.

Just so I could fill up the Jeep.

It's just a thought. Say a prayer, and be thankful. The cost of gas is high, but the price so many of us are paying is even higher.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Note to self: Skunk odor can be removed with a mixture of white vinegar and water, even on sheets, pillowcases and other household furnishings.

I got my very first royalty check today, money I made because I sold some books. MY book!  

Free coffees, two, three...and a half...friends.  Stephen King, eat your heart out. (Never, never, NEVER thumb your nose at the Money Fairy.) I've got money in my pocket because of something I created.

After I saw my check, did I celebrate? Open the champagne? Book a trip?

No, I went into the bathroom and wiped up two-year-old's piddle from the base of the toilet. (Never, never, NEVER thumb your nose at the Potty-Training Fairy.)

In my world, that means things are in-balance. Or, as Reiki Masters say, "Just for today, I will be aware of my blessings." I am blessed!