Showing posts from July, 2006

Speaking of Bad Boys

Yesterday this blog saw more traffic than Colin Farrell's bedroom. Oops. Did I say that? Actually, that's not fair. I have no idea how many people visit Mr. Farrell's bedroom. I'm just assuming. From what I read. Ya know?

Speaking of reading... thank you to everyone who posted a recommendation yesterday. Interesting to see what everyone is reading, and several looked interesting to moi. Also interesting to read about other people's TBR piles. *g* Curse of the Booklover--Killer TBR Piles. Everyone who commented yesterday is automatically entered in Alison Kent's book givaway. Good luck and thank you to Alison for including me in her scavanger hunt. Don't be strangers, folks!

Let's get back to Colin Farrell. The ultimate bad boy. Too young for me, too wild for me, but the man does sizzle. I also admire his acting. I've seen him play several different types of roles, and all of them well. The man has superb acting chops along with mega sex appeal. His n…

A Week of Bad Boys, Good Spies, Unforgettable Lovers

As if my TBR piles aren't high enough.

I've been accumulating books with alarming consistency for fifteen years. Books I bought at bookstores, bookfairs, and Books I asked for and received as gifts for some or another holiday. Freebies I collected at bukoo writers conferences. Lots-o-books.

Sadly, I have yet to read many of these. I simply lack the time. Yet, my TBR piles keep growing. It doesn't help that I now work at a library. Now I not only have stacks of purchased books, but stacks of borrowed books. I recently ordered Deep Breath by Alison Kent via Amazon. That same day, I noticed another library in our system had Kent's, The Beach Alibi, so I put that on hold.

Today, while checking in books, I ran across a brand new release by Catherine Coulter, then one by Iris Johanson. There's a waiting list for both. I added my name. Since one of my critique partners is writing a YA novel, I decided I really need something in that genre, so today I ch…

Wrestling with Nora

"...I've said, many times, I can fix a badly written page, but I can't fix a blank one. I don't throw out pages so much as wrestle them to the ground and find a way to make them work..." Bestselling author, Nora Roberts (from her interview in the 8/06 Romance Writers Report)

That's what I did last night. Wrestled a scene to the ground and found a way to make it work. Then it was mine, all mine, until my eyes drooped and I had to shut down for the night.

Today I double, or is that triple? Library then an emcee gig. I'll take my laptop and write on the gig. My three worlds collide today. Always intertesting. But hey, you do what you gotta do.

More on writing from Nora... "Is this your job or your hobby?"

If you get the RWR be sure to read that interview. I think of it as tough love for writers.

Click here to see why you should visit me tomorrow and comment. Meanwhile, have a great day!

Places to Go, People to Read - Day 5

For the past three days Blogger has failed to provide me with some previously offered options, like centering, font size and color. Any other blogger user having that problem?

On another note, pancakes make me nauseous. I think it's the syrup. But what are pancakes without syrup? Anyway, I only have them once in a blue moon. Yesterday there was a blue moon. Spent the morning writing. Didn't eat breakfast. So I stopped at the diner on the way to the library to have lunch. Eggs, toast and home fries... with a side of pancakes. I know. That's a lot of food. But I was starving and it's a good thing I fueled up because that's all I ate all day. Worked late. Came home and wrote. As for the pancakes, they were worth the upset stomach. Delicious!

Deadline update: I'm getting there.

Place to Go, People to Read #5

BellaOnLine - The Voice for Women
Click here for several links offering writers tips. If you can't attend workshops in person, there are plenty of virtual work…

Places to Go, People to Read - Day 4

Body and brain exhausted but I'm pushing on. Deadline's closing in. Thankfully I'm not blocked--I can see upcoming scenes, the climax, and black moment. Not blocked, just exhausted. I can live with exhausted.

Meanwhile, I found two nifty place for you to visit. One geared more toward writers or fans of thriller fiction. One for fans of movies and one star in particular.

Places to Go, People to Read #4

Stephen Coonts -- Click here for excellent, in-depth tips on writing tips from this best-selling adventure author.

George Clooney -- Click here to read a transcript of CNN Larry King's interview with this dynamic actor, producer, director George Clooney. Or if you have high-speed internet, you can watch the interview (and drool over the real thing) on video. offers links to part 1, 2, & 3 of this 60 minute interview (plus a lot of other cool Clooney stuff). Enjoy!

Places to Go, People to Read - Day 3

If you're easily offended by vulgarities or crude humor, you might want to skip this recommendation. But that would be a shame, because this guy (or dude, as he'd say) is a fresh and dynamic voice in filmmaking.

Over ten years ago, my husband brought home a movie called CLERKS. He warned me. You're going to be shocked by the language, possibly disgusted by some of the humor, but you should watch it. I think you'll like it. He was right on all counts. Shocked, disgusted . . . and I liked it. But I liked his next film even better, or at least the one I saw next. CHASING AMY. As in all of his films, he dealt with certain taboos and used very frank language. Language that makes this born and raised farm girl blush. But the movie touched me deeply and there was something about his writing. I didn't understand until I bought the screenplay and read it. Rhythm. There's a rhythm to his writing that is very appealing to me. Music to my ears, so to speak. Oh, and he…

Dream or Dud?

Even in the early 60s young girls oohed and ahhed over boys. Dream or Dud? What a hoot. I'm so out of step. What would girls that age be wondering now? Hunk or Dweeb? Hotty or Nerd? *G* Check out this bit of nostalgia.

Places To Go, People to Read - Day 2

Blogging midday because I had to attend a training course for the library this morning and of course I was running late! It was either post or make a pot of coffee. Sorry folks, java won out.

Very productive writing day yesterday. Had an epiphany as I wrote a new scene late last night. Can't wait to dig back in. But first...

As promised, every day this week I'll try to point you to a new blog or website or perhaps remind you of somewhere that fell off of your blog-o-map. A place that offers a good read whether it be entertaining or educational. Day two offers a three-for-one.

Places to Go, People To Read #2 Lynn Viehl Known to us in blogosphere as PBW (Paperback Writer). This prolific, multi-published author is offering a week of virtual workshops. Workshop #1, Building Series Novels, is up. Read and learn. Alison Kent Another prolific, multi-published author! Alison is running a week long special too. "...Each day I will be giving away copies of the various books in my SG-5 (t…

Places to Go, People to Read #1

Yesterday, I had a productive writing day. I need another one of those today. Imagine my horror when I discovered we were OUT OF COFFEE! I rummaged through the fridge and found an old canister of Folgers. God knows how long it's been there since we don't drink that brand any more. I also found a small bag of decaffinated. How did that get in there? To make a full pot, I had to mix two scoops of the non-jet fuel grounds with the five-year old Folgers. *shudder*

I'm drinking a cup now. I've had worse. But after I finish this post and get out of my PJs, I'm heading for Dunkin Donuts. This is DEADLINE WEEK and I must be properly fueled.

This week several of my fellow writers and friends will be attending the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference in Atlanta, GA. A week of workshops and networking. I will not be there. I will be here. Writing. Because this is DEADLINE WEEK. The dates of this year's con couldn't have fallen at a worse time for me. I h…

And The Winners Are . . .

Taylor and Ann!

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with a guess as to how many pages I'd write yesterday. And thank you for the many shouts of support. Taylor guessed 12 pages. Ann 13. They came the closest. Taylor, I'll have a copy of Dream Quest for you next time I see you. Ann, please drop me an email with your mailing address so I can send on Key of Sea!

As it turned out, I only wrote nine (9) new pages. That's not bad though. They were nine important pages. A scene I couldn't wrap my mind around until I went back and reviewed the whole story. While reviewing I found several places to tighten my writing. So though I only wrote nine new pages, I cleaned up over one hundred old pages. Also, everything I did yesterday paved the way for today.

I'm in the zone.

This manuscript has been an amazing challenge. Come to think of it, every tale is. If 's not the plot, it's the characters. Or the dialogue. Or the narrative. You dream about scenes and twists. You wa…

Take A Guess and Win a Great Read!

Wondering where I've been all day? Why I'm blogging late evening instead of early morning? Because this morning, instead of blogging, I did Pilates. It's the first time that I've formally 'exercised' in a couple of months. Ever since I started stressing out about making the deadline on this book. I only have so much time in the day, especially on days where I work at the library, perform, or both. I'm obsessed with and determined to meet my deadline.

Must. Write.

Blogging gets my creative juices flowing. Exercise does not. However, this morning I felt the need to stretch other kinds of muscles. It was probably a whim, a fluke, a passing craze. No doubt I'll be back here tomorrow morning, blogging. Maybe. Tomorrow is Saturday, right? I have all day to write. All. Day.

Cyndi Valero and Mary Stellahave been amazing cheerleaders and critique partners as I muscle my way through ROMANCING THE WEST. To celebrate their wonderfulness, I'm going to give away...


You Remind Me Of...

Up until recently, people would come up to me after a performance and say, "You remind me of ... (insert a popular celebrity of the time)"

When I was in my late teens/early twenties, people told me I looked like Linda Ronstadt. It was the late 70s, early 80s. I was performing six nights a week on stage at that time, singing a lot of Linda's past and current hits. We both had dark brown, straight hair, bangs, round faces. We both had that 'cute' vibe going. I sort of got it.

At that same time, people in the 'older' generation told me I looked like Teresa Brewer. I didn't know who she was. But I heard it so many times, I had to look her up. She was a popular singer in the 50s and 60s. She had a number one hit in February 1950 called 'Music, Music Music.' (Put another Nickel in the Nickelodeon...) I knew the song. Didn't know the artist. She had shorter hair--blond. Although she definitely had the 'cute' vibe, I didn't see the resem…

The Deadline Haze

Yesterday I had the entire day to write. I couldn't afford not to write. Guess what? I didn't write.

I was braindead, the creative wheels worn out from two previous days of intense brainstorming and writing of two pivitol chapters. I was physically exhausted, the result of stress-induced insomnia several nights running.

Unable to write, I read. All day. Some research related (Roadside History of Arizona by Marshall Trimball), some for pleasure and inspiration (Dark Harbor by Stuart Woods). The day was not wasted, I told myself. A writer can't dwell in a cocoon of one's own stories. A writer must read other tales by other writers. Learn and grow.

So I read, I absorbed, enjoyed, and learned (hopefully grew), thinking it's okay. I have all day tomorrow to write. I'll write like the wind. I'll make up for lost time. I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Monday. Thinking today would be Tuesday. It wasn't until very late last night that I saw something that …

A Note From Cheyenne and Billie

Hey gang! It's a scorcher here today! We thought we'd hijack Beth's blog to spread the word to all you pet lovers out there. Be careful! Animals overheat just like people. A friend's bunny recently died because of heat exhaustion. She's awful sad now and the world is minus one loving furry soul. Here are a few tips to help protect your fuzzy friends.

*Don't leave us outside too long.

*Don't let us run and play too hard.

*Make sure we have lots of water.

*Don't take us for a ride and leave us in the vehicle. Even with the windows down, a car can become a furnace.

* Check out this articlefor prevention tips and signs of heat exhaustion.

Thanks for listening. Keep cool and have a great day. We'll be hanging out in the air conditioning, watching Beth write. Since she couldn't find Viola, we decided to be her muses. We must be pretty good at it. She finished two more chapters yesterday! Arf! We're good at barking, too, but that makes her cranky. So we&…

Sunny Day, Sunny Mood

The projected high temperature for my little beach community here in NJ today was 95 degrees. It's currently 96 degrees although the local weather says it feels like 99. I'm thinking that's about right. I've been out in the backyard with Billie and Cheyenne (my beloved doggies) twice today. Both times we lasted ten minutes, if that. Dang, it's hot.

I've been writing like a fiend since 8:30 this morning, with the exception of those two breaks. I'm in the zone. Which means I'm zipping along. Which means my mood is pretty decent. So long as I don't think about the deadline (August 1) and how much more I have to write (100 pages). I'm channeling Yoda just now. "Think not. Do." Or something to that effect.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? What are you doing to enjoy or avoid it?

I'm Not a Freak!

According to Wikipedia, "... research suggests that 1 in 50 people suffer from this disorder to some degree." Bestselling author Tess Gerritsonis afflicted with it. She didn't even know there was a name for it until she read about it in Time Magazine. I didn't know anyone else wrestled with it until I read about it on Ms. Gerritson's blog. It is Prosopagnosia.

Wickipedia's definition: Prosopagnosia (sometimes known as face blindness) was, until very recently, thought to be a rare disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, although the ability to recognize objects may be relatively intact. Recent research, however, suggests that 1 in 50 people suffer from the disorder to some degree, and it is thought to be highly heritable.

My definition: When someone comes up to me and starts talking to me like they know me. In fact, they do. Sometimes quite well. That's when I break into a sweat. My mind starts scrambling as they're …

Harlequin Wants You!

Check out this exciting opportunity!

Welcome to the launch of something you can write Harlequin, and you may be contributing to writing a Harlequin! Harlequin is canvassing our extraordinary community of romance experts--readers, authors, editors, aspiring writers, employees, interested parties, friends and family--to answer important questions like: What is Love? Got to, type in your answer and hit SUBMIT!

Isabel Swift, VP of Harlequin Books has all of the details over at her always entertaining blog, Wouldn't You Like To Know?

Give Up the Hunt... but, Don't Give Up the Fight

Seems I should stop looking for Viola. According to Nora Roberts...

"There ain't no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time. It's not effortless. If only. Well, if it was, then everyone would do it, and where would we be then? So I work really hard to make it as fluid as possible, as readable and entertaining as possible.

I'll vomit out the first draft: bare-bones, get-the-story-down. I don't edit and fiddle as I go, because I don't know what's going to happen next. Once I get the discovery draft down, then I'll go back to page one, chapter one, and then I start worrying about how it sounds, where I've made mistakes, where I've gone right, what else I have to add, where's the texture, where's the emotion. I start fixing. And then, after I've done that all the way through again, I'll go back one more time, and that's when I'm really going to worry about the language. An…

As I Once Again Sweat Deadline

I feel like Will Shakespeare just now as portrayed in one of my all time favorite movies, Shakespeare in Love. Written by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard.

Will! Where is my play? Tell me you have it nearly done! Tell me you have it started. (desperately) You have begun?

(struggling with his boots) Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move...

No, no, we haven't the time. Talk prose. Where is my play?

(tapping his forehead and heading out the door) It is all locked safe in here.

God be praised! (then doubt) Locked?

As soon as I have found my muse.

Anyone seen Viola hanging around??

Real Life Inspiration

Dad C's birthday party was a huge success. The Ciotta clan is blessed with many entertainers, some only at heart, but just as insanely talented. There were a few monologues in honor of dad, one given by my husband, and they were packed with sentiment and humor. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. I also cried a lot. I think I've mentioned that my father-in-law is one of the last living survivors of Iwo Jima. He received a purple heart. Yesterday I saw the actual certificate. I also saw a copy of his immigration card from when he first came to this country with his Pop. They sailed from Italy to America, landing at Ellis Island when he was just a very young boy. In his photo, he looks petrified, though he's keeping a stiff upper lip. Or at least I thought he looked petrified. A cousin teased that he looked like he was in training for the mafia. *g* He wasn't. I swear. Where was I? Oh, yes. The reason I cried a lot. Well...

Just after he walked into the room, …

Mish Mosh of Positive Energy

Continuing on with yesterday's theme and without detailing the funk-inducing things that I've read and witnessed over the past week or so, I want to share a mish mosh of positive energy.

Yesterday, I told myself that instead of getting irritated by rude behavior, I would reinforce thoughtfulness. We've been extremely busy at the library and I've been shocked by how many parents allow their kids to destroy the children's section and leave it to the extremely busy librarians to clean up. Yesterday, I nearly keeled over when I saw two very young boys, maybe three and five, helping their mother to put away all of the puzzles and games they'd dragged off of the shelves. Arms loaded with books, I stopped and made a point of thanking them for their thoughtfulness, telling them how much we appreciated their help. Later, the mother thanked me for the reinforcement as she's been trying to teach her boys responsibility and manners. Oh, if there were only more parents l…

Try a Litle Tenderness

Been in a bit of a funky mood the past week. Things that I've read on-line, things that I've witnessed in my every day life. We seem to live in a time where common courtesy and respect are not in vogue. I find that very sad. It makes me wonder what's wrong with this world and where are we going? I could wallow in that question and be in a funk for weeks. Or I could focus on the positive things I read on-line and witness in my everyday life, set a healthy example by being thoughtful and kind... and hope that it's catching. I'm striving for option two.

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." ~~ the Dalai Lama

We Interrupt This Program...

for a sneak peek into THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES.

I've been talking about ROMANCING THE WEST a lot lately. I'm happy to report the story is moving along and I'm loving it. I'll still be writing right up until deadline, but I'm not sweating that contracted date quite as much as I was a few weeks ago. ROMANCING THE WEST will hit shelves July 2007 (Medallion Press).

As soon as I wrap RTW, I'll dive into the revisions my HQN editor requested for ALL ABOUT EVIE, the first book in THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES (also 2007 release-HQN). I'll have to adjust my brain big time as I'll be jumping from a historical western to a contemporary. Instead of writing about a librarian and a cowboy, I'll be featuring an entertainer, a con-man, and a government operative. Instead of writing exclusively in third person, I'll be writing in first and third. Here's a sneak peek. I hope you enjoy it!

Unedited excerpt from ALL ABOUT EVIE...
It finally happened.

I, Evie Parish, the…

Uranus, You're a Pain in My . . .

Appliance. This week my laptop died, our vacuum cleaner broke, and the upstairs air conditioning unit quit working. Something else of that nature happened, but I forget just now. I blogged about my laptop, and learned two of my friends' computers crashed recently, too. I commented, "Something must be in the air."

Brooks wrote...
"Something in the air, you say? It's something in the airless planetary system. The planet Uranus (no, I'm not setting up a joke) is in retrograde motion from June 19 to Nov 20 this year. In astrological terms, Uranus in retrograde plays havoc with everything electrical."

Uh-oh. Okay, well, I have an extra coffee maker, two hair dryers, and several curling irons. So I think I'm safe with my java and hair obsessions. Our big screen TV has been acting up. Admittedly it's old, but, ouch, there's an added cost we don't need. Ah! I remember the other thing that went on the blink. One of our DVD players. Although Steve w…


And not the good kind.

There were no sparks or explosions. It went pretty quietly although it hit me like a ton of bricks. My laptop bit the dust. The hard drive, I'm told. Everything on it, four years of data, personal and professional, gone. You hear about it happening to other people, but never think it will happen to you. You've heard it a million times, "Back-up. Back-up." And I did. Sort of. At the constant urging of Steve, who bought me one of those flash drive thingees, I did have all of my manuscripts, including the two I'm working on, backed up on that portable stick thing and also on his big computer. But it never occurred to me to back up character charts, time lines, future story ideas, proposals, reviews, promo projects . . . you get the picture.

It's been suggested by friends that maybe some data can be saved. Steve looked into that. Nope. Nothing is irreplacable, he told me, trying to ease my panic. If you really need a piece of informatio…


Ouch! My laptop is sick. Really sick. Steve thinks my hard drive is going. I couldn't even use it yesterday. I ended up writing on his computer. Happy to say even though I felt discombobulated in his 'space' (the keyboard and seat felt foriegn and uncomfortable), I still managed six new pages. Seven pages the day before that. I'm whizzing toward deadline. But it's the fact that I am on deadline and that I must produce solid pages every day up until that point that's got me shaking in my pink high-tops. Not to mention all of the files... research, manuscripts. Steve did operate last night and I am working on the patient now, but she's slow and keeps gitching. Plus she makes these funny noises now and then. *shudder*

Please don't die on me laptop. Please!

Be Safe, Have Fun!

I'm expecting very low traffic here today. I'm thinking most of you (at least those living in the U.S.) are out and about. It's a holiday weekend afterall. Most of you are probably having cook-outs and picnics, or maybe splashing and sunning at the beach or staking out a primo spot to watch a parade. Tonight mostly everyone will be watching fireworks. I have no plans other than taking advantage of a totally free weekend to write. The story is going very well, so it's an exciting phase just now. As far as the fourth of July, I'm thinking I'll break at some point for a hot dog, maybe dazzle the dogs and cat by waving a sparkler around. Do they still make those? Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a safe and fun weekend! Enjoy!