Sunday, November 23, 2008

Give a Gift that Lasts

I think this suggestion is an excellent idea. Keep local bookstores alive and kicking by giving the gift of books this holiday season.
And don't forget the online bookstores, too. Where you can find wonderful gifts like this and this. :)
Seriously, books are wonderful gifts that never stop giving. This weekend, I came across an old Reader's Digest Condensed Books tome and discovered the joy of Dick Francis and his jockey protagonist Sid Halley. I just ordered the other Sid Halley books as part of my Christmas gift to myself.
The nieces who live with me usually get books for Christmas (Harry Potter was big over the last few for my older niece, and my younger one will read anything with a princess or a dolphin in it). I also try to give books to my younger nieces and nephews who aren't in school yet but can still appreciate a good picture book.
So do yourself and your loved ones a favor this year. Take them on a wonderful trip of the imagination. Buy them books.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Linda Howard Award of Excellence

If you're unpublished (by RWA standards) and you want a chance to put your book in front of some top editors, I happen to know that the Linda Howard Award of Excellence is a great contest to enter.

NOTE: Postmark/Electronic NEW DEADLINE - Saturday, November 29, 2008

Here are the categories and the editors who'll be judging the finals:

Series/Short & Long Contemporary
Romance-based series novels.
Word count: 40,000 to 90,000
Final Judge: Susan Litman, Editor, Silhouette

Single Title
Romance-based novels published as individual titles. All publishers of individual titles of romance.
Word count: 90,000 to 110,000
Final Judge: Selina McLemore, Editor, Grand Central Publishers (formerly Warner)

Suspense (series or single title)
Romance-based novels that include an element of mystery or suspense.
Word count: 40,000 to 110,000
Final Judge: Megan MeKeever, Associate Editor, Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)

Romance-based novels with non-contemporary settings, including regency & gothic romances. Word count: 40,000 to 110,000
Final Judge: Alicia Condon, VP, Editorial Director, Dorchester

Unique Genres (Paranormal, Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel)
Romance-based novels of any time setting that contain elements such as time-travel, paranormalor fantasy themes. All publishers of individual titles of romance.
Word count: 90,000 to 110,000
Final Judge: Melissa Singer, Editor, Tor

Sensual and Sizzling (Erotica)
Romance-based novels that include a high element of sexual tension or sexual play.
Word count: 40,000 to 110,000
Final Judge: Raelene Gorlinsky, Editor, Ellora's Cave

Young Adult
Romance-based novels published for the Young Adult market.
Word count: 90,000 110,000
Final Judge: Jennifer Heddle, Editor, MTV Books (Pocket/Simon & Schuster)

Romance-based novels published for the Inspirational market.
Word count: 40,000 - 90,000
Final Judge: Tina Colombo, Editor, Steeple Hill (Harlequin)

Series in particular needs some more entries, so if you have a series novel you've polished up and want to send around to get a read, this is a great chance!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Community Language

I was listening to the Rick and Bubba Show, a local (and syndicated) morning show, during my drive to work. The topic was World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King, which will be available for purchase one minute after midnight tonight. (Or would that be tomorrow? Whatever). Scott the Tech guy was explaining to the hosts why this event was such a big deal. He took calls which quickly devolved into WoW-speak—blood elves, fire mages, and all the other lexiconic minutiae involved with the massive online role playing game. About five minutes into the call, Bubba turned to Rick and said, "I think I'd be better off trying to understand Italian."

It was a laugh out loud moment, but there's truth in the joke. Communities often speak a language outsiders can't understand.

I used to be an X-Phile, the name for online fans of the TV show THE X-FILES. Our language included such terms and acronyms as shippers, noromos, MOTW, mytharc, MSR, CSM and the consortium. At times, we spoke in a series of subreferences, from "nobody here but the FBI's most unwanted" to "Mulder, it's me." It made perfect sense to those of us who watched the show and participated in the online discussions, but it could be a confusing tangle of terms to those who didn't.

I think for those of us who write (or want to write) for publication, it can be hard to capture the authenticity of a community without using some of the lingo. Southerners used terms that northerners don't. East coasters and west coasters, even in this day and age, still have different words for different things. And the more insular a community, the more differences you'll find.

On the other hand, too much authenticity can render your stories as incomprehensible as, well, WoW lingo to someone whose idea of role-playing game doesn't include a modem.

I like to think of writers as interpreters. We take specific characters, settings, situations and even language and interpret them into something a broad spectrum of readers can understand. So I might take an extra step to explain what MRE (meal ready to eat) is to someone who's never been in the military, or the difference between a crappie and a bass for someone who's not an avid fisherman. My readers can then have vicarious experiences through my characters without getting lost in the lexographic wilderness.

Have you ever had to play interpreter as a writer? Have you ever needed one as a reader?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Blackfive is all over it.

To all the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces, thank you for your service and God bless you all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Marines

They're 233 years old today.

I have a special, writing-related fondness for the USMC. I don't actually know any Marines personally, but I met a few several years ago in Atlanta. I was attending the Moonlight and Magnolias conference, and the Marines were having some sort of seminar at the same Atlanta hotel. The stars aligned perfectly---Marines and romance writers in the same place. You couldn't have written a better scenario.

The Marines were just as fascinated with us as we were with them. And such gentlemen! As I commented to a friend later, "I don't think I ever truly understood what it was to feel like a woman until a Marine treated me like one."

So, Semper Fi and thanks for all you do, ladies and gentlemen of the USMC.


Here's a story I came across a few minutes ago that I think is a nice addendum to this post on the USMC's birthday.

God bless the U.S. Marines.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Shameless Plea

My page for COWBOY ALIBI is woefully lacking in reviews. I could use some, especially if you liked the book, but I'm a big girl. I can take a low rating, too.

So, if you've read COWBOY ALIBI, and you can post reviews at, I'd really appreciate a review. For that matter, if you've read FORBIDDEN TOUCH or one of my other books, I wouldn't mind seeing a review there, either. Remember, I don't care what you rate it. I just want to hear what you think about the book. It helps me gauge what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong.

(You can also leave comments here, too, you know).