Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Vacuum Cleaner & A Paperweight

Here we are on the eve of a new year and I’m wondering what kind of resolutions I should make for 2009 and what goals I should write on a little piece of paper and stick into the new fancy box I bought for the top of my desk. Last year I wrote the following:

* Finish the novel. (I am really close)
* Get PRO pin. (once I finish the book, I can start down this path)
* Sell 6 Trues. (I sold 10)
* Get in shape. (well…)

As I’ve been contemplating the goals I set last year and the ones I should set for 2009, I’ve seen a remarkable connection between them and the gifts I received for Christmas.

Santa (AKA Mr. Playground Monitor) was quite generous. The first gift I saw when I went into the great room on Christmas morning was a brand new Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner. How thrilling, you say. Well, I did need a new vac. Mine is about 15 years old, is making noises and has been discontinued so I can’t buy replacement filters and parts for it anymore. I’d mentioned to the DH we were going to need a new vac and that I’d LOVE to have a Dyson, since it’s the Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners.

Apparently he test drove one at the store and was impressed as I, so now I have one. But there’s a very interesting tale here. The story of its inventor, James Dyson, is a lesson in hard work, struggles and ultimate victory. He’s the kind of guy who likes to make things work better. He’s Tim the Toolman Taylor without the grunting, blown fuses and over-engineering.

One of his first inventions was a wheelbarrow with a large ball instead of a wheel. In the factory that manufactured these, he noticed the air filter clogged constantly with powder from the paint. To combat this, he built a cyclone tower that used centrifugal force to remove particles from the air. Five years and 5000+ prototypes later, he’d invented the first bagless vacuum cleaner.

The vacuum cleaner industry wasn’t interested, though, because vacuum cleaner bags were a £250 million a year industry. They turned him away, but he took the design to Japan, the home of all things high tech, and the bright pink G-Force vac caught on. It sold for £2000 and was considered a status symbol. Dyson used the royalties from this machine to manufacture another one under his own name. Through the years he skirted the edge of bankruptcy to keep his patents current and even successfully fought a major US manufacturer in court over patent infringement. Many companies try to copy his design, but the Dyson still remains the benchmark against which all bagless cyclone vacs are measured.

Another item under my tree was a pewter paperweight from my sister. The engraving on it reads “Most things are difficult before they are easy.” Truer words were never spoken. In the process of almost finishing the novel this year, I learned that what I once considered an insurmountable task, is possible. I don’t think writing a novel will ever be easy, but little by little, through practice and perseverance it becomes a little less difficult.

I’m sure James Dyson felt that way too when he was being turned down by major corporations and then later fighting them when they tried to steal the very technology they said wouldn’t work.

So what’s going to be on the paper I put in the box for 2009?

* Finish the novel for real. Close only counts in horseshoes.
* Get my PRO pin.
* Pitch the novel at the RWA conference in July.
* Write more Trues to help fund my way to said conference.
* Start another novel.
* Get in shape. Really.

Every time I suck up dust bunnies and tracked-in dirt, I’m going to remember the man who never gave up. And when I see the paperweight on my desk, I’ll remember not only its message, but my sister who was my biggest cheerleader during NaNoWriMo.

I had another gift under the tree too – a FrothXpress. I’m not aware of any special story behind it and it’s not engraved with any motivational saying. But it sure does make a great latte, and I’ve found that a latte fuels my brain wonderfully when I’m writing. :-)

Tell us about a special gift under your tree – either this year or in years past. What made it special to you? And have you figured out yet what your New Year's resolutions are?

One lucky commenter will be selected to win a copy of the Bylines 2009 Writer’s Desk Calendar that features me on the first full week in January with a short article about – setting goals! Then you can be like Problem Child and me and chronicle your life in a calendar.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Through the years...

I don’t journal or keep a diary or anything like that. I know I should – lead the examined life and all – but I’ve never been able to keep at it consistently. But I do keep a calendar.

I live and die by my calendar. Nothing is official until it’s on the calendar. I’ll even go back and add stuff to the calendar after the fact – like my first sale wasn’t scheduled, but I went back and wrote it down and circled it in red. And I never throw them away.

DG shakes his head and calls me a pack rat, but my calendars are the journal/diary of my life. Want to know when AC cut her first tooth or slept through the night for the first time? I can pull a calendar from 2001 and tell you. And I can tell you the exact date DG took me out to dinner for the first time. It’s written in my calendar from 1994.

(I am missing many years – some got lost in a move. I mourn that loss. But it did teach me the importance of treating them with the care and respect they deserve, lest another decade of my life goes missing.)

I can tell you exactly when I fell off the wagon and broke my New Year’s Resolutions this year, because I kept track of my progress in my calendar. (No, I won’t tell you because it’s humiliating how quickly I gave up.) How many times did DG travel on business this year? What date did I leave for Scotland? When did I have my tires rotated?

From the practical to the ordinary, it’s all in my calendar. It’s not the same as a journal – I never write down what I’m thinking. I don’t examine my feelings or go deep into my psyche. But it’s my life, scribbled into neat little boxes and columns, and it can still tell me a lot about who I was and what I was doing at the time. It tells me what was important, what I was investing my time and energy in. So maybe there’s a nugget or two of wisdom in there somewhere after all.

In a couple of days, I’ll add the 2008 calendar to the stack, and I’ll be focused solely on my 2009 calendar. It’s already loaded with dates, schedules, etc, and 2009 is shaping up to be an interesting year. Who knows what else I’ll be able to add? And next December, before I tuck it away, I’ll be amazed at how far I’ve come.

Do you journal? Keep a diary? Anyone else keep their old calendars like I do?


Monday, December 29, 2008

Playing Catch Up

The past two days, I’ve been trying to catch up from Christmas and the accelerated pace of the holidays. Unfortunately, I’d rather be curled up in the bed with a good book. Did I mention I’m in the middle of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series… Lovin’ ‘em. And I have spent some quality time with my new iPhone.

Anyway, I finally told myself on Sunday that there was no more time to waste laying around. I had to start taking down the Christmas decorations and making some sense of the disaster area our house had become. Besides, if I wanted to finish some of those projects I’d like to work on before the kids go back to school, I’d better move it.

Well, I’ve made a little progress. The tree is down and tomorrow I’ll start packing up the rest of the decorations. I motivated the kids to clean their rooms and put away the dishes in the dishwasher so I can clean tomorrow. I also did a boatload of laundry today and some general cleaning. You can now walk in the house without stepping on toys or various items the kids have dropped where they stood. :) Oh well. Martha Stewart, I ain’t.

If only I could fight this general malaise I’ve had hanging over me all month. Inertia at its finest. I have no desire to accomplish much or even start it, though once I do I’m usually good. Jeesh! What’s wrong with me?

Anyway, enough of my psychological hiccups. Have you got your decorations down yet? What will your first New Year’s project be?


P.S. Our own Playground Monitor is guest blogging at Romance B(u)y the Book on Lifetime today and I know she'd love to see you all over there. You have to register to comment, but it only takes a minute and they don't send you any spam. We love Michelle and the Bellas over there!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Come Play with Me

I'm guest blogging tomorrow with the Bellas at Romance B(u)y the Book and I have a Deep, Dark True Confession to make. Click on the photo above and it'll take you right to the blog.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Only 364 Shopping Days Until Christmas

It's over. The chaos, the shopping, the fatty foods, the obligitory cheerfulness... Christmas is officially behind us. Ten minutes after those Christmas discount sales end, the Valentine's will be on display, if they aren't already.

This is always a funny day for me. Sorta like a relationship you get all wrapped up in that ends sort of abruptly. Now what? All that build up and I'm left with nothing but a dead tree to show for it.

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's day (whether I'm single or not) so I'm just going to start looking on ahead to next Christmas. I figure maybe if I start now, I won't end up like this year with a naked tree and zippo Christmas spirit. Heck, I've already got the giftwrap and stuff out. I should just go ahead and buy my presents, wrap them, and hide them away with the Christmas decorations. I could probably get a good deal on stuff, too. if only the dead tree could make it to next year. Make that $1 stretch even further. :)

So, are you still feeling the holiday buzz or do you have the post-Christmas hangover?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Visit from St. Nick

T'was the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, --not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Merry Christmas from the Writing Playground.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good times, bad times -- sometimes the same times

I finished my book last week and mailed it off to my editor. I crawled out from my hole, looked around and had a good cry at the amount of work to be done. The house was a mess. I needed a shovel just to find my office floor. The cupboards were bare. And Christmas? Oh, dear dog, I had soooo much to do to be ready for Christmas. So, good control freak that I am, I pushed the crap off my desk and made a list of everything that needed to be done.

It was a long list.

Three hours post book, I was starting to make some headway, and I was feeling good that I’d get everything done – maybe not with time to spare (and maybe not to the extent perfectionists might like), but I’d get it done.

Then my mom called with the news my grandmother had passed away.

So much for my list. So much for those plans.

Let me tell you a story about my grandmother. My grandfather died when I was six. When I was 22 and DG and I had to run off to the courthouse to satisfy INS and get him a Green Card, my grandmother wanted to know what we were doing for wedding rings. We didn’t have any money, so rings weren’t even on our minds – we were spending what little money we did have filing DG’s immigration paperwork. My grandmother offered us wedding bands – hers and my grandfather’s. She said they came with a 50-year Happily-Ever-After guarantee. She was really neat like that.

I don’t want to depress anyone right before Christmas with sad stories, and while I wish I could come up with something else to blog about, my brain just isn’t working in that direction right now. I also know I’m not the only person in the world who’s going into the holiday missing someone I love. We all cope and deal in our own way, and this blog helps me with the healing.

So, in honor of my grandmother, I’m opening up the comment tail for you to tell me a story about one of your grandparents. It can be sweet, sad, funny– whatever you’d like to share. Grandparents are cool, and as I miss mine, I’d like to hear about yours.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Return of that Lovin' Feeling

Once again this week I’m in the midst of visiting family for the holidays. I had my mom and her crew for Thanksgiving. Now I have my Dad, brother, and one of my sisters for an early Christmas celebration. Between this and preparing for parties, I’m sick and tired of cleaning my house. :)

This week will go by fast, what with our visitors, Christmas Eve baking, my husband’s family Christmas Eve celebration, then Christmas day. So much to do in such a short amount of time. But I have to admit, I’m kinda looking forward to it being done. Not that I want to speed through it, but I’m anticipating what is coming after the last present is unwrapped and everyone has gone home.

I’m going back to writing.

After NaNo, I knew I’d have a lot of other things to catch up on, plus be a little burnt out. And that was true. I needed a few weeks to refill my well, let other stories creep into my head, and devour the To Be Read pile in my bedroom. All of which I have done. But I’ve noticed something. A month without writing is a touch too long for me. I’m getting antsy and finding it hard to settle down to the pastimes I had so looked forward to. A low level depression is setting in, which tells me it is time to get back to the creative drive.

I’ll sit down and plan out a loose schedule for next year, getting my writing priorities in order (more on this next week) and start working a little at a time. I won’t be able to dive in good until the kids are back to school on January 6th (whose idea was it to have such a long holiday????). But I’m looking forward to it and that’s a good thing.

What do your next few days look like? What are you anticipating the most? How do you know it is time to return to writing or your other creative pursuits?


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pimping at its Finest

This is the 2009 Bylines Writer's Desk Calendar. It's a good calendar for writers because it has lots of extra stuff -- a place to track monthly goals and tasks, a submissions tracking page, pages to log in writing-related purchases, a page for writing-related car mileage, and several pages of good websites for writers.
It also has me in it. :-) 2009 is my second year to be in Bylines. And as soon I get my comp copy, I'll look for the 2010 submission guidelines and shoot for number 3.
According to Sylvia Forbes, the Bylines publisher, this year's Bylines includes writers from 29 states and 5 foreign countries (China, Tasmania, Ireland, Great Britain, Canada).

The "celebrity desk" on the cover of Bylines 2009 is Mark Twain's. He used this desk for much of his writing and it is on display at the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Mark Twain was also one of the first authors, perhaps even the first (as he claims), to use a typewriter in his writing. A photo of one of his typewriters can also be found inside the calendar. Ms. Forbes is calling the 2009 calendar the "Mark Twain" edition because all the photos inside other than the photos of each contributor relate to him in some way.

If you're interested in getting yourself a Bylines calendar (and I get nothing if you buy one) you can learn more here: . The site will also have submissions info for the 2010 calendar.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So...Is This My Real Problem?

I just read an article on BBC News that says a research study in Edinburgh determined that watching romantic comedies can ruin your love life. Experts at Heriot Watt University say it promotes unrealistic expectations about love.

(To which I say, well, duh. Is this really newsworthy? Of course it raises expectations. I certainly lose my rom-com buzz when I get home to the realities of dirty socks.)

They say "Marriage counsellors often see couples who believe that sex should always be perfect, and if someone is meant to be with you then they will know what you want without you needing to communicate it."

According to this study, if the movies are bad, romance novels must be absolutely toxic for relationships. Practically perfect men falling head over heals for wonderfully imperfect women... seems like the average guy doesn't stand a chance after a woman reads enough of them.

Personally, I LOVE romantic comedies. Some of my favorite movies are classics like Sleepless in Seattle and While You Were Sleeping. You've Got Mail. Runaway Bride. Never Been Kissed. I get goosebumps just thinking about the Beach Boys song "Don't Worry Baby" after seeing that.

Of course these movies are unrealistic. These people fall in love in nanoseconds and overcome incredible odds to be together. Same in the books. I guess there's just something to be said for an uplifiting story to make the heart and the step a little bit lighter. Makes the day to day reality a little easier to swallow. Do I expect such upswept romance in real life? Not so much. I'm hopeful that I'll at least get some sigh-worthy moments in my time, but I'm not going to sit around and wait for Mr. Perfect to show up. I'll grow old and lonely.

What about you? What's your favorite romantic comedy?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not Ready

Where ever you go these days people are talking about Christmas...and how they aren't ready. And I'm no exception. The holiday season came early this year - cut short by a late Thanksgiving. And I'm feeling it!

I can't believe that Christmas is 1 week away. I'm not finished with my shopping. There are a few people I have no clue what to get. Nothing has been wrapped.

Today I have 2 school parties, probably one trip to the doctor, I'm certain my boss would like for me to do some actual work today and my line edits arrived by Fed Ex yesterday. I'm working on a new story...I love the planning stages but it requires brain power I'm not sure I have right now.

And while our Christmas tree is up - and has been for about two weeks - it isn't decorated. Not even a strand of lights. Between Christmas programs, Christmas parties and a day of shopping the first week was out. And this week Zilla has been sick as a dog. I think this weekend we're going to have to breakdown and decorate even if all he does is watch from the couch.

The bottom line is I'm not ready. And I'm not sure I ever will be. I'm just plowing through my to do list the best I can...the things on the bottom might get neglected. Christmas is coming whether I finish them or not and I'm going to enjoy the day with my family no matter what.

Are you ready?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the Road Again

I'm in Atlanta today, and for the rest of the week, my internet access is uncertain. This is the week my sister Bev and I are taking our annual "Girl's Trip." We'd tried to schedule something earlier in the fall and talked about going to Vegas to catch some shows or maybe to San Antonio to see the Alamo before heading to a dude ranch. Those fizzled out. But last month when I was working on my novel for NaNoWriMo, I set it in Atlanta and kept asking my sister questions I thought she might know the answers to. Her son went to Georgia Tech and both she and her husband have to travel to Atlanta on business.

Well, she was a veritable fount of information and helped me with a down-home diner, an elegant hotel for my characters' honeymoon and a refurbished one with gorgeous ballrooms for a charity gala they attended. About mid-way through NaNo, when the stress levels were building and she could probably read the desperation in my emails, she suggested that as my reward for winning NaNo (she apparently had more faith in me at that point than I did) we meet today for two fun-filled days and nights in Hotlanta. We're going to eat dinner at Agnes & Muriel's, the diner I patterned the Rosebud Diner after. We're staying at the Georgian Terrace Hotel and hoping to visit the Biltmore Hotel for a glimpse at their ballrooms. Non-book related, we're going to see the Christmas lights at Stone Mountain, we plan to shop and then shop some more. We'll definitely be eating in good places and we're hoping to touch base with some women we met on our cruise last year. We'd hoped to catch the Christmas show at the Fox Theater but it was last week. :-( There's still plenty to do -- more than we have time for.

But we're gonna enjoy the holiday spirit in the big city. She lives on a small barrier island off the coast and I live in Huntspatch. We have no real schedule and we certainly aren't packing pantyhose.

This is a photo from our first road trip in 2003. We spent a few days in Nashville, Tennessee and took in the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Here we are with Sherry Lynn and Brenda Kay, the famous Jugg Sisters of Nash Trash Tours fame. If you're ever in Nashville, you have to do this tour. It's a couple hours of singing, gossip and sightseeing on the big pink bus, complete with fancy hors d'oeuvres (AKA squirt cheese and saltine crackers).

We skipped a few years and I'm not sure why but our next trip was actually a week at my sister's house in July 2006. I mentioned she lives on an island and since her husband and son were going to be gone for two weeks and she lives in a resort area, why not just go there? We slept late, watched chick flicks and if we wanted to eat tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner every night, there was no man asking,"Where's the rest of the meal?" Here's a photo of us at the Fourth of July fireworks display in the beachside park.

Later that year we took a second trip. She came to my house and from here we left out and headed toward the Natchez Trace. Again we had no real schedule and stopped when we felt the time was right. We spent the first night in Tupelo, Mississippi, in a B&B across the street from Elvis Presley's elementary school. Two nights in Natchez followed that, one in a B&B on the bluff overlooking the river. The owner was a retired psychologist who had renovated the old house himself. Here we are along a section of the Trace, which was an old trading route. We had a funny experience on that trip with a couple we met at breakfast at the Tupelo B&B and then ran into at virtually every place we stopped along the Trace.

In 2007 we decided to hit the high seas and took a four-day cruise to Cozumel. I'm not sure the cruise line will ever invite us back because we didn't order a single alcoholic beverage or even set foot in the casino. But we had a blast just chilling, taking in a few shows and spending a day shopping in Cozumel. We also met two sisters-in-law who were taking their first girl's trip together, and after hearing about our adventures, they decided to make their trip an annual event.

Here I am in the courtyard of a restaurant in Cozumel.

And here's Bev across the table from me. A nice mariachi band serenaded all the diners that day and created a nice, touristy atmosphere.

Do you have travel plans for Christmas? Ever done any semi-spontaneous travel like this? If you could drop everything today and go somewhere, where would you go?

See ya when I get back. I'll be home on Friday in time for #1 son, DIL and BabyGrand to come for Christmas. #2 son will be home on Saturday so we're going to have a full house!

P.S. Congrats to Lynn Raye Harris, Monday's winner from Anna Campbell's blog. Email Anna here with your snail mail info and she'll get the book to you.

P.P.S. Inevitably, when people find out about our sister's trip, we usually end up singing a few bars of this song. Sing along with us!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reality bites.

So, we’re at church the other night (yes, we go to church) doing some Christmas stuff. AC is at a table, working on a craft project, when here comes The Boys.

The Boys. That’s what AC calls them. They are the boys from her Sunday school class, and, well, they’re 7-year-old boys. Loud. Rambunctious. Loud. All arms and legs and shoving and pushing. And did I mention loud?

DG and I are across the room doing something else, but we hear the approach of The Boys and the ensuing boys-versus-girls cootie-fueled melee. DG goes to referee.

When he returns, he’s muttering about The Boys and shaking his head.

“Get used to them,” I said. “They’re going to be around for a while. You’re looking at AC’s Youth Group, you know.”

“Mutter, mutter, loud boys, mutter, mumble.”

Off-handedly, I added, “Heck, AC will probably date at least one of them.”

That brought the mutters to a halt. Talk about shock and horror. The look on DG’s face was priceless. Then a murderous gleam appeared in his eyes as he eyeballed the group of 7-year-olds like he could figure out which one might put a move on his daughter in eight or nine years.

Poor DG. No father is ready for realities like that. If it weren’t so funny to watch, I might actually dredge up some sympathy for him while he struggles with the fact his daughter will be boy-crazy one day. If it weren’t so funny, I might even quit reminding him about it. (Nah, I gotta get my kicks somehow.)

Thankfully, boys still have cooties, and AC is more interested in Hannah Montana than the Jonas Brothers. She does seem to like Troy from High School Musical a bit, but I think that’s more because she thinks she’s supposed to – even if she’s not sure why.

DG encourages the cootie belief – is relying on it – because right now, he’s the coolest boy in her universe, and he likes it like that. When the cooties wear off, who will play Lego Star Wars with him on the Wii? (Hint: It won’t be me.) Losing his top spot as the #1 male in her life is going to be tough.

I guess I’m just cruel. Teasing DG about AC’s future boyfriends keeps my own sadness at the fact she’s growing up fast at bay. It’s still funny, though.

The Boys better watch out. DG is watching them verrrry closely now…


How are you handling – or how did you handle – the fact your kids really do grow up?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guest Blogger: Anna Campbell

The Playfriends are very excited today to welcome historical author Anna Campbell. She writes deliciously sexy and innovative historical romances that won her 2 RITA nominations this year. We’ll also be seeing her in School during January, where we’re posting an interview with her fabulous insight! Please give Anna a proper welcome.


Hi Writing Playgrounders! Thanks so much for asking me to visit today and talk about my latest release TEMPT THE DEVIL. You are obviously the cool girls in the classroom and I’m flattered you’ve asked me to hang out with you. Unless I have to go through some weird and painful initiation ceremony? Eeeek!


I thought today I’d talk about inspiration!

Was that a groan I heard from the back row?

No, I mean GOOD inspiration! The sort we all have fun with. Bear with me!

I don’t know if you’ve ever done one of those workshops which analyzes what kind of writer you are. As far as I know, there are three kinds. Visual – you see the characters first, you’re very aware of what each scene looks like. Auditory – you hear your characters and once you’ve got their voices right, you’re set to go. Kinesthetic – you picture your characters in action, they’re doing stuff and everything else flows from there.

I’m primarily an auditory writer. Characters start talking in my head and the story flows from there. And when I tell people that, they always look at me like I’m slightly odd. Well, maybe more than slightly. But I, like most people, have a strong secondary sense and mine is visual. I fairly quickly work out what these characters look like.

Often they look like REAL people. Well, actors and musicians and such.

I have friends who then go and cut out pictures of the people involved (I’m far from the only person who bases characters’ appearances on actual people) and stick them up on their computer. I don’t go so far. I just need that first impression and frankly, by the time I finish the book, each character has become so much an individual, that immediate impression of what they look like doesn’t matter so much. My characters look like themselves by the end. But that originating spark really helps me get a fix on a character.

With CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, Kylemore looked like Daniel Day-Lewis, or he did until I was doing my final rewrites and I saw Richard Armitage. My good friend Christine Wells (who writes fantastic historical romance if you haven’t read her yet) told me she’d watched North and South and the leading man was Kylemore come to life. I scoffed, resisted, then eventually succumbed by checking out this guy. Wow! He WAS Kylemore come to life. Dark, intense good looks, deep-set dark blue eyes, that commanding blade of a nose, that long, lean body. Verity always looked like Olivia Hussey in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I wanted someone with that slightly Madonna quality – in spite of Verity’s profession!

With TEMPT THE DEVIL, my new Regency noir from Avon which is a January 2009 release, my hero and heroine were really strong in my mind right from the start, including what they looked like. This really is a blessing for a writer!


The Earl of Erith is an unrepentant rake in his late 30s. I wanted someone dark and louche and dangerous with a lazy, self-confident sexuality. I immediately thought of Bryan Ferry in the early 80s – around the Let’s Stick Together stage. For anyone who’s too young to remember, here’s a youtube link:

And here he is as lead singer with Roxy Music. I love this song and I think it’s a gorgeous video in that overblown, romantic 1980s style:

Doesn’t this guy look like your perfect Regency bad boy? The bad boy who’s done everything and seen everything and thinks life holds no more surprises. Well, my dear earl, have I got news for you!

Olivia Raines is equally decadent and jaded. She’s in her early 30s and the most sought-after courtesan in London. She despises her clients and her life but can’t quite bring herself to break away from all the glitter and glamour. When she agrees to become the Earl of Erith’s mistress, she expects just another meaningless affair. As you’ll probably guess, she has a few surprises ahead of her too!

I didn’t want a woman who was conventionally beautiful. But I wanted a woman so striking and so redolent of sensuality that she stops men in their tracks. Someone strong and smart and witty but with a hint of depth behind the spectacular facade. I immediately thought of a young Lauren Bacall.


So do you have real-life prototypes for your characters? Do you find yourself casting actors to play the hero and heroine in romance novels you read? If you chose people to play your favorite characters, who would you pick? My favorite answer wins a signed copy of my latest release TEMPT THE DEVIL!


You know the drill.... comment to enter the contest to win a copy of Tempt the Devil. And check out Anna on her website at .


Friday, December 12, 2008

My Butt Is Getting Bigger As I Write This

Every year, my mom and I get together and bake. Neither of us need the calories, but we just have to do it. Its tradition. Typically, we spend one afternoon cranking out cookies, candy, and other assorted baked goods to give as gifts or take to work. The men usually stay far, far away as this is not a leisurely activity. It is a flurry of sugar and chocolate, a well-choreographed dance set to the holiday crooning of Perry Como and Bing Crosby.

Little Sister is finally old enough that she gets to help. Demands to help is more like it. Last year, she unwrapped about fifty chocolate kisses and iced a few unfortunate cookies. This year, she'll be determined to get at the stand mixer, not that it's a bad thing. She made a pecan pie for Thanksgiving with my mom only measuring out the ingredients for her. It was better than some pies I've seen grownups make. Once she figures out her teaspoons and fractions, she'll be unstoppable. Forget the Easy Bake oven, she's pulling up her step stool to the real stove. I'm envisioning her at a Cordon Bleu school eventually... (anal-retentive chef, anyone?) :)

This year, we're doing it Sunday morning. On our schedule we have: chocolate chip cookies (with and without nuts), oatmeal cranberry cookies, peanut butter cookies, hershey kiss thumbprint cookies and sugar cookies for LS to decorate. I might attempt to make those buttery cookies with my cookie press, but they never turn out quite right. For candy, we'll make various fudge, turtles, macaroons, oreo truffles, and peanutbutter buckeyes. Maybe even an ill-fated attempt at peanut brittle. As we get toward the end, we usually end up making other random things like peppermint bark, coconut haystacks or chocolate dipped pretzels to use up any leftover ingredients.

It should turn out to be a wonderfully fattening and fun day. Do you bake during the holidays? If so, share your favorite recipe. I'll all for switching up our plans if I come across something that sounds yummy!

Here's my recipe for Oreo Truffles to kick things off!

1 package of Oreo Cookies
1 square of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened)
1 block of white chocolate
1 block of dark or milk chocolate

Grind the whole package of Oreo cookies in a food processor or blender until it is powdery. Put Oreo "powder" in a bowl and add the cream cheese (it's easier to just mix with your hands). The mix should have the consistency of dough. Roll in small balls, put on cookie sheet and then put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Melt the whole block of white chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Dip each ball into the white chocolate and put on wax paper. Melt a portion of the dark or milk chocolate and use a fork to sprinkle the dark choc. over the truffles, let dry. I usually put mine in the refrigerator over night. You can mix and match the chocolate however you like or even reserve some of the oreo crumbs to sprinkle over the wet chocolate. Enjoy!


PS. Don't forget that author Anna Campbell will be blogging with us on Monday!

PPS. A note and winner from Juliet's blog yesterday! AND THE WINNER IS...
Diane Cosby! I put all the names of those who posted here today into a bowl and my daughter drew the winner's name out. Diane, if you could email me at and send me your snail mail address I'll send you a copy of Secrets Vol 26 BOUND BY PASSION. CONGRATS DIANE! And thank you to everyone who commented today. I really enjoyed speaking to you all!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guest Blogger - Juliet Burns

Juliet Burns has been a great friend to the Playground! If you haven't checked out the article she shared with us several months ago or the interview up this month you need to! She is a font of information and has always been generous with her time and experience. We're very excited to have her on the swing set today.

Never Give up! Never Surrender!
That quote from the movie Galaxy Quest has always stuck with me.

Like most people, I’ve had some adversities in my life to overcome. An abusive boyfriend, the loss of a baby, teenagers… (hey, don’t underestimate the heartache they can cause)

My mother used to say “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” That quote, from a popular song when she was a child, was her generation’s version of “Never Give up, Never Surrender.”

And sometimes we all have to choose, when we’ve been beaten down by life, whether we’re going to pick ourselves up and start over, or whether we will surrender.
Being a writer puts that choice to the test almost daily. Whether you’re published or pre-published, challenges are ready to knock us down. It could be a scathing rejection (or any rejection) from an editor or agent. It might be a scene you’re working on that’s just not coming out right, or it could just be life interfering with your writing time.

Because I sold the first book I ever wrote, I had only received 2 rejections before becoming a published author, and some might ask, what do I know of rejection? But becoming published doesn’t stop the rejections. It took me 3 years to sell my first book. It took me another 3 years to sell again. 3 long years of rejections. Rejections where I really got my hopes up. Where I was completely shocked because my editor had asked for revisions and told me she loved the story, but ultimately it just didn’t work for the senior editor. I had to pull the knife out of my heart on that one. Curl up and cry and eat lots of chocolate.

But eventually, we have to Un-curl ourselves from the fetal position and get back to the keyboard. That’s the only way to make it in this business. Almost every writer friend I know has done so as well. From putting a beloved manuscript under the bed and starting over with a fresh story, or completely reinventing themselves with a different publisher after their house closed a line. And I did, too. And lived to tell the tale. I made 3 new sales in 07, and the writing has been going well until recently. Lately it’s not been rejections, but rather, family (teen) troubles that have set me back in my writing.

One of my all-time favorite authors, the grand dame of gothic romance, Phyllis Whitney, died recently at 104. I remember the excitement of going back to the library for her next book, and curling up to read every book I could find of hers in the summers of my youth.
When I received an email with a link to an article about Phyllis Whitney’s life and legacy, memories washed over me and I realized she was part of the reason I became a writer. Then I read the last paragraph of the article and it seemed like Phyllis was speaking to me.

“Ms. Whitney ascribed her success as a writer to persistence and an abiding faith in her abilities. “Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too),” she wrote in “Guide to Fiction Writing.” “Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”

Ok, Phyllis, I’m listening. Never give up! Never Surrender!

Thanks, Juliet for visiting with us today. And be sure to check out her latest release, Secrets Volume 26, available now. And don't forget to visit her website and blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life After NaNoWriMo

For twenty-nine days in November, I ate, drank, thought and slept writing. And somewhere around 6 PM on November 29, I hit 50,000 words and became a NaNoWriMo winner. I walked around the shopping center where I'd been writing all day at Barnes and Noble and I don't think my feet touched the ground at all.

It was a surreal feeling. I'd actually done it. I'd written 50,000 words. And I had no idea it would feel so damn good. At 50K, the book wasn't finished though. I still have two chapters to write, and once I do that, I will have to edit and polish.

I actually skipped a chapter on that last day. It was an addition to the book during the pre-NaNo organizing days and when I got to that chapter and was still short of 50K, I just skipped it because I knew I would dither my time away and accomplish zip. I knew what happened in the next chapter so I wrote that instead.

On November 30, I just enjoyed the last day of having #2 son home for the holidays and goofed off around the house. On December 1, I came down with some horrendous virus and/or cold and spent the next six days in bed or on the sofa watching countless episodes of Law and Order, a couple movies and some Food Network shows I'd never seen before.

The NaNo gods held off the sickness until I'd hit 50K, or at least I like to believe that. If I'd had a week like last week during November, I'd have never made my goal.

Of course, now I'm back amongst the living, the Christmas shopping is almost complete (anybody know where I can get a Mario Kart Wii with Wheel at a reasonable price?) and I've even started on a few things due in January. But I feel like an absolute slacker because I'm not working on the novel. I didn't feel like it last week, but I have no excuse now, especially after the Playfriends helped me brainstorm the missing chapter over the weekend.

We'd all gone to the NaNo TGIO (Thank God It's Over) party and went by the coffee shop afterwards because we just don't get to spend enough time together. When there was a lull in the conversation I said, "I need some plotting help with my book, and I'm sure that's a question you never thought you'd hear from me." Well, they jumped right in and gave me some great ideas and I believe I have a handle on chapter 10 now. I just need to put on my mystical muse beads, light my special candle, put the creativity CD on with the stereo headphones and write, write, write.

Have you ever gone after something really big and then felt a big letdown after you achieved it?

P.S. Here's a little Playfriend fun. Y'all didn't know we were so talented, did you?

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Random Tuesday Ramblings -- and a SQUEE!!

I have a book to write and I’m so behind on Christmas preparations it’s not even funny. Coherent, logical, interesting blog posts may be more than I can manage at the moment. Bear with me.

COUNSELOR SHELLEY UPDATE: You may remember this blog post, and my total amusement at Counselor Shelley’s decision to repeat dorm life after the age of 30. We were taking bets on how long she’d last. Well, if you put your money on one term or less, you’re a winner! I gotta give her props, though. She survived middle of the night fire alarms (where she had to go outside in the hurricanes), the college-kid parties, RAs who didn’t appreciate the fact that she had a good ten years on them and therefore wasn’t going to obey their silly edicts (like evacuating the building for the third friggin’ time that night to go stand in the rain), a mold problem that had her running dehumidifiers 24/7, and living with thin, perky people who still run up the steps. However, the cockroach infestation did her in. The proverbial straw, so to speak. (Not that I blame her. Roaches would send me over the edge as well.) Counselor Shelley is no longer a dorm dweller.

(But otherwise, she’s doing very well. Good grades, good research, and the respect of her professors. PhD, here she comes!)

PC’s NaNo UPDATE: I suck. That’s about all there is to say. Okay, so maybe not completely, as I did get some words on paper, but it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d hoped for. Darn people who insist on being fed… My status meter now shows progress on the book as a whole. I’ve got to get this thing finished.

SQUEE MOMENT: The Secret Mistress Arrangement is on sale now on the Mills and Boon website!! It’s real!! It’s official!! It’s time for lots of exclamation points!! Look over there in the sidebar – I have a cute little widget where you can read the first chapter. This is very exciting, and a real time-suck as I spend too much time on Amazon UK looking at my ranking on the Pre-Order lists.
(I’ll be on sale in the US in a couple of more months, and we’ll have a release party on the blog in April.)


PS: AmyS is the winner from Maven LJ's blog. Send your smail mail to to claim your prize. Remember, you have seven days to claim or we have to give the prize to someone else!

PPS: KimmyL – today is your last chance to contact me to claim your prize from Christie Craig. We’ll have to pick another winner if I don’t hear from you! (

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Paranormal Christmas

After busting my brain for NaNoWriMo, I told myself I’d take the month of December off to relax and recharge. Actually, I’ve been really churning out the work this year, so the rest is fully deserved.

I also plan on refilling my creative well by scrapbooking and reading lots and lots. Oddly, about 90% of the books I’ve set aside to read this month are paranormal romances. Here’s what’s in the stack:


All I want for Christmas is a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
Insatiable Desire by Rita Herron
Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Kiss of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Entire Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (this isn’t a paranormal, but I thought the title was a funny coincidence)

Also included were a few Christmas Blazes, because I love a Christmas themed book during December:

Yule Be Mine by Jennifer LaBrecque
Come Toy with Me by Cara Summers


I’ve been on a reading frenzy since December 1st and I’m LOVING it. This week, I plan to completely immerse myself in the Twilight books, so I can see what Smarty Pants, Instigator, and Queen Rhonda are raving over. Smarty Pants and I already have a date to go see the movie next Monday.

What are you reading right now? Any recommendations to add to my wish list?


Coming Soon!
Thursday, December 11th, we’ll be visited by author Juliet Burns
Next Monday, I’ll be replaced by historical author Anna Campbell

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Little Off the Top

I don't know about other people, but my hair has been a source of grief and aggravation for me since it got long enough to tangle (about 3 months old in my case). It's always grown like a weed, fast and wild. My mother, who has very different hair, always struggled with the unruly mop. Everyone kept telling her how beautiful it was - and it was - long, golden blonde curls - so she didn't cut it. I was very tender headed, so that made matters that much worse. I made it to about three before she gave up. The solution, of course, was to give me the dreaded Dorothy Hamill bob that was so popular at the time.

That took care of it for a while. Around puberty, the hair situation got worse because it started getting even curlier. Super curly. Frizzy. Like I didn't have enough problems at this point. Neither my mother or I had any clue what to do with it. We were ignorant of the fancy hair serums and treatments. Back before the heyday of mousse and gel, if it wasn't Aquanet, you didn't use it. So it ran free (read: amok) until I was about fifteen.

That's around the time I discovered the wonders of leave in conditioner and frizz control gel. I'd finally determined that brushing my hair was not an option and that short, layered hair and bangs would only make my hair 'fro. So I started growing it out. It was good. As long as I kept the ends trimmed, carefully detangled and conditioned like it was going out of style, it was manageable enough.

About six years ago, I had an unfortunate hair straightening incident and chopped it off to chin length. Since that time, I've let it grow out aside from the occasional trimming. Not too long ago, I went in for a trim. It had been a while since I went and it had gotten a little out of control. "Cut off the dead ends," I told her. I held up my fingers to about 3 inches. She nodded and she swung my back to the mirror.

Fifteen minutes later, she swung me back around and I realized I had miscalculated how bad off my hair was. Before, when my hair was wet, it reached to the small of my back. Dry, it kinked up to the low middle of my back. The dead ends translated to about six dry inches. (She probably only cut about 4, but it was wet.) Now... it's a couple inches longer than shoulder length.

Sigh... it will grow back. It won't kill me. I'm sure it looks fine. Its just not what I had anticipated. You'd think the hairdresser was a man the way the three inches I asked for magically doubled. Have you ever left the salon with something different than you anticipated? Please tell me your worst hair horror story so I feel better about my cut. :)


Thursday, December 04, 2008


Well, Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season has official begun - I don't care that Walmart has been playing carols since Halloween the season is just now starting! I know Smarty Pants has already mentioned that she has most of her shopping completed and even wrapped (I'll pause here for everyone to shoot her dirty looks).

I, on the other hand, have next to nothing done. I'm not behind though. I prefer to think of it as utilizing my need for deadlines in order to maximize productivity. I do have some things done. The problem is the list left to do is rather long and the days are already slipping past.

Between the end of school, 2 nights of Christmas programs, several parties, shopping, wrapping, baking goodies for the family, working, writing... I get dizzy just thinking about it. The next three weeks are going to fly past. Before we know it 2008 will be gone and 2009 will be here. Where did the year go?

I have several goals for the month but front and center is finishing the rough draft for my latest book. I'd like to do it by the end of next week so that I can cross at least one thing off my list early. What's on your must finish list before the end of the year?


P.S. Congratulations to Kimmy L. and Robertsonreads, our winners from Cristie Craig's guest blog! Please email PC at in order to claim your prize. Any prizes not claimed within 7 days will be re-awarded.

P.P.S. I've just discovered facebook this week and I'd love to have more friends. I'm listed as Kira Sinclair.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Guest Blogger Linda Winstead Jones

The Playground is pleased to have one of our own Mavens blogging today. Give a warm Playground welcome to Linda Winstead Jones (AKA Maven LJ) as she talks about her latest book and her anthropomorphic tendencies...

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked - and the hardest to answer - is “Where do you get your ideas?” Usually the answer is complicated. There was this song, and then a few days later I overheard a snippet of conversation -- oh, yeah, and there was the dream, and that movie title that sparked something. And in truth, the result will hold little if any resemblance to any of the triggers.

But in some instances, the answer is simple.

When the other mavens and I were working on the Raintree trilogy we exchanged many, many e-mails. Many. Trust me on this. At one point, in the midst of an e-mail deluge, Beverly sent a question into cyberspace. “Are you naming your swords?” Linda and I had the same response. “What swords?” The e-mail conversation continued, devolving into deadline-induced silliness, until Linda said the only name she could think of was Kitty, and that didn’t spark for her.

It sparked for me. I asked, “Can I have it?” Oddly enough, neither of them wanted a sword named Kitty, so I claimed it as my own. Kitty wasn’t right for Raintree, and I knew it at the moment. But she (it? they?) was perfect for Bela, my heroine in 22 Nights.

In The Emperor’s Brides trilogy, six potential brides are being collected for Emperor Jahn to choose from. Bela is one of those chosen, though she’s hardly what anyone would consider empress material. She prefers the lifestyle of a warrior to that of a wife and mother. She has no desire to tie herself to a man -- until General Merin comes back into her life. And, oh yeah, unknown to him they’re already married, and they end up literally tied together. But I digress.


A sword constructed of a magical crystal from a forbidden mountain who (which? that? hmm) speaks to the one chosen to hear. A sword with a calling, a purpose, a destiny. A personality. Yes, the sword became a character almost as important as the hero and heroine. She (okay that’s it. Weapon or not, “she” will have to do) leads, she coerces, she manipulates, she is a partner in a battle that will lead Bela and Merin into Forbidden Mountain -- bound together as a part of the ritual to undo their marriage.

The idea of a magical sword isn’t a new one, I know that. In fantasy fiction objects which are ordinarily inanimate often take on a life of their own and become crucial to the story. Funny, exciting, frightening, heroic - they become characters we come to love as much as the heroes and heroines. Swords and daggers, clothing and jewelry, pens and paintbrushes . . . and so much more.

Do you have a favorite? Or do you prefer all the players in your story to be warm-blooded? :-)

Remember, one lucky commenter will win a copy of the first book in the trilogy - Untouchable - and a nifty totebag. (It's dedicated to moi, so I'm especially partial to it.) Also, you can pick up a copy of 22 Nights now on Amazon or Books a Million. You can learn more about her books at her website

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Guest Blogger Christie Craig returns!

Welcome back to Christie Craig! To celebrate the release of her new book, she's here to tell us her Call stories. And just let me say... you've never heard a Call story quite like this one...


My Call Stories

I think about them (my call stories) every year at this time—always around Thanksgiving. Not only did I get both my “You sold” calls during this season, but boy howdy, was I ever thankful. Writers, both published and soon-to-be published, understand the significance of this day. Non-writers…well, let me just say that getting that call is right up there with giving birth to your first child. Well, without all the labor. But it comes with a lot of heavy breathing, a lot of just feeling stunned and thinking… it’s about darn time, and eventually a lot of “oh crap what do I do now” feelings. Yup, as wonderful as this time is, it can still be a little scary.

Yes, I sort of have two calls stories—there’s the recent one to Dorchester that brought me back into novel publishing, and it’s motivational and inspirational. It’s one I’m proud to share. Then there’s the first call story. I’d never blogged about it until recently. I had, for apparent reasons, buried the memory, had barred it from my mind, and vowed to never, ever, let it become pubic knowledge.

Of course, that vow was made before . . . before I got to that place in my life that I decided that there were no secrets, no shame, that where my career and fans were concerned, their was nothing I couldn’t, wouldn’t talk about. Believe me, you’ll understand why in just a few minutes. You might even resent this place I’ve arrived at in my life.

Most recent call—2006

I’d been entering unpublished novel contests, and after a long list of wins, I’d snagged the interest of an agent. She had been sending some of my work out to publishers and I was still entering contests trying to get some editor’s attention. After another big win in a contest, I had my hopes up that I might be getting the call soon. And then it came early one morning before I even got dressed. My agent asked, “Are you sitting down?” (Take note that all publishing professionals like to ask this question.)

Heart racing, I replied, “I’ve been waiting for this for six years. I can take this standing up.” (Looking back, this response may have been due to my past ‘call’ experience. Believe me you’ll understand in just a few minutes.) “I’ve sold a book, haven’t I?”

Being a total New Yorker, her reply was quick. “No. You haven’t a sold a book."

The thought that ran through my head was . . . shoot me now. I mean I was so ready for it to happen, and from my agent’s tone, I just knew I’d finally arrived. Disappointment made my gut clench…and yeah, I remembered that feeling from the first call.

Then my agent continued, “You didn’t’ sell “A” Book. You’ve sold four.”

Breathless, and in my Alabamian drawl, I answered, “I need to sit down.”

I hadn’t given birth to one baby. I’d just been blessed with four. Oh, crappers! I did sit down, and I was still sitting, still wearing my PJs, still in shock, when my husband came home at six that night.

First call—1993

I’d been writing for nine years, I’d even finaled in the Golden Heart Contest with my novel, Two Hearts Too Late, a romance targeted to Silhouette. The book didn’t sell, but I knew it had promise. So, a few years later, I rewrote it from page one, and when I was six chapters into it, I entered it into another contest. An editor from Silhouette was the judge and if you finaled, you got to chat with the editor at the conference. I was one of the lucky finalists, and the afternoon before the awards ceremony, I remember the sophisticated editor looking at me all serious-like and saying, “I want to read the rest of this book. I really like this story.”

I remember thinking she was just being nice. She’d probably said that to all the finalists.

Later that night at the awards ceremony, I was awarded first place. And it hit me, wow, she really liked my story.

In a couple of months, manuscript complete, I packaged my 240 page story along with my hopes and dreams, and I mailed it. Sure, I was excited, but I wasn’t holding my breath. I’d heard of other writers getting this close and then getting the big rejection that hits you right in the gut. Hmm…speaking of gut pain…

Several months passed and I received a letter that simply said she’d read it, liked it, and had passed it to the senior editor. Okay, my hopes grew, I held my breath just a bit, but I reminded myself how easy it was for those hopes to get flushed down the toilet. And speaking of toilets…

The day the call came in, I was running around the house; my son, a toddler at the time, and my older daughter had both been hit with a stomach virus. Hubby was supposed to get some medicine on his way home from work. He’d called right before leaving the office to get the med’s information—we didn’t do cell phones back then—and while on the phone to me, his boss stepped into his office, and hubby said, “That sounds great. Let me get back with you.” Which was code for, I don’t want to discuss diarrhea meds in front of my boss, I’ll call you back when he leaves. Yeah, you know how husbands and wives understand certain codes.

Anyway, right when he hung up, that’s when it hit me. My stomach started rolling, gurgling, and I didn’t have a second to wait. Phone, still in hand, I ran. I mean, really ran to the bathroom.

One minute later, positioned on the throne, the phone rings. No, I didn’t have caller ID—and yes, like an idiot I answered it. Hey, in my defense, I was certain it was hubby and since we all really needed those meds, I took the call. Not only did I take the call, but I answered it 100% certain it was my hubby. “You’d better hurry,” I said. “Now I’ve got it. And it’s so bad!”

“Excuse me,” said this voice with a New York accent. “Is Christie Craig in?”

I know…I know, looking back I should have lied and said Christie was indisposed. Maybe I should have just told the truth and said she was presently sitting on the pot, bare-bottomed, a wad of toilet paper in one hand, and a phone in the other, but nope, I didn’t.

Nope, like an idiot I said, “This is her.”

“Hi Christie, this is Risa, from Silhouette Romance.” My heart started to flutter, right along with my intestines. Then in a very sophisticated voice she asked, “Are you sitting down?”

“As a matter of fact I am,” I answered.

So there you have it, my embarrassing publication call story that I swore I’d never tell. Today, I can laugh about it. Today, in spite of the embarrassment, I’m still so darn thankful for both those calls. And today to celebrate my third release with Dorchester, (yes, Divorced, Desperate and Dating, the sister book to Divorced, Desperate and Delicious, just came out) I’ll be giving away a copy of the new book, a pack of Christie Craig Christmas cards, and a “Silly” pen.

So make sure you post. And pop over to Killer Fiction: for a chance to win some prizes over there as well. Plus, check out the contest on Dorchester’s website for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. And now that you know a bit more about me, perhaps you understand why it’s just fate that I use a little bit of potty humor in my books?

Christie Craig

Monday, December 01, 2008

MOANday-Jason Cameron

When I was looking for a blond hottie to star in the hero role of my latest book, I ran across this fellow. Jason Cameron is the host of DIY network’s Desperate Landscapes. Unfortunately, I don’t have DIY, so I can’t check out the show—who doesn’t want a hot guy to work in their yard. It’s right up there with cabana boys, isn’t it? ;) Sure would come in handy trimming the tree and putting up the lights this month, wouldn't it?


Oh, yeah!

Seen any other do-it-yourself hotties? Chefs, home improvement, landscapers, carpenters, or general, all-around handymen? Are you lucky enough to have one at home? I consider my husband a hottie, but he’s not the most handy. :) What are you doing to prepare for Christmas?


National Novel Writing Update:
As many of you know, we've been participating in NaNoWriMo here on the Playground. As you can see from our sidebar results, we've added a winner to our midst! Squeeeeee!!!!
For myself, I didn't hit my NaNo goal, but I made a heck of a lot of progress and I'm very proud of that. I want to thank all of you who encouraged us along the way. It really meant a lot and I look forward to doing this again next year.
Now I must go collapse before beginning all my Christmas preparations. :)

Coming Soon!
Author Christie Craig revisits us on December 3rd.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Playground Monitor by Any Other Name

Google has a feature called "Google Alerts." You can type in a name or place or any words and when Google "sees" something featuring those words, you get an alert via email. I've set up alerts for my real name, my blog nickname, other authors' names and a few other non-writing-related things.

Lately my inbox has been innundated with alerts about a playground monitor in New Jersey.

An elementary school cafeteria worker and playground monitor, who had an extensive career in the adult entertainment industry, is becoming a New Jersey school district's legal nightmare.

Some parents in Vineland, N.J., as well as the board of education president, want Louisa C. Tuck fired, but district officials were advised by their lawyers and those from the New Jersey School Board Association they have no legal grounds to terminate the 32-year-old from her $5,772-a-year part-time job as an aide in the lunchroom and playground, The Daily Journal reported.

May I be the first to say that while I am at times entertaining, this is NOT me. ;-)

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.