Friday, November 21, 2008

A Departure From My Usual Blog

Someone asked me why I write about celebrities or persons of note when I am an author. Most authors, they said, write about writing, or their books, or the business of publishing. I should be trying to get readers—correction—book buyers to want to buy my stories.

They are probably right. Of course I want folks to buy POINT SURRENDER, or any of my several novels currently available. But I also want to entertain. As a person who reads many blogs, both as a writer and a reader, I grow weary of much of the hype, the endless dissertations on craft, marketing, format, etc. Most of what I could come up with has been said so many times by so many people (and so much better) that the words sometimes become invisible on the screen. But my intent is not to diminish in any way the efforts of my fellow authors; on the contrary, I laud you for your tireless contributions and thoughtful words.

When I write about people whose lives I find interesting, I feel that others might find them interesting as well. And therein lies a connection, however remote it might seem. I loved learning about James Herriot, Jackson Browne and Oscar Wilde. There is a certain romantic thread weaving these talented people together, a creativity I hope I share in just the least bit.

I wasn’t looking for a niche. Were my books biographical in nature, my blog topics would seem more relevant. Would it help to say I base my characters (somewhat) on public figures I find intriguing? Is that enough of a link to legitimize my habit?

So perhaps the answer is that I sprinkle in a subliminal, or at least subtle, plug for my books now and then. Kind of like those brief, 15 second TV commercials that aren’t long enough for a bathroom break. Let’s see:

“Looking for a great gift for the literary gal on your list? Escape the ordinary and pick up POINT SURRENDER by Anne Carter from Amazon today! Write me for a free, autographed book plate to personalize your gift—sure to thrill your most avid romantic mystery fan!”

There. Commercial duly posted. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November 14: Another Tough Choice!

1840: Claude Monet, Painter
1900: Aaron Copeland, Composer
1904: Dick Powell, Actor
1906: Louise Brooks, Actress
1908: Joseph McCarthy, U.S. Senator
1921: Brian Keith, Actor
1922: Veronica Lake, Actress
1948: Prince Charles

There's a hundred years' worth of people worth talking about. Tune in Friday to see who I'll profile!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mitchell et Mitchell - Part Two

Had she not been struck down by a drunk driver, Margaret Mitchell Marsh would have been 108 today. Born in 1900 in Atlanta (where else?) to a family well-defined by its number of soldiers and patriots, young Margaret ("Peggy") grew up immersed in stories of the Civil War. Not surprising, her upbringing was not too dissimilar to that of her famous heroine, Scarlett O'Hara. Her free-spirited intelligence set her apart from fellow debutantes, and by the early 1920's she was considered a "headstrong flapper".

While courted by both ex-football player Berrien "Red" Upshaw and newspaperman John Marsh, she married Upshaw but found him to be inadequate support so soon took a job as a writer working for Marsh at the Atlanta Journal. She was paid $25.00 per week as one of the first woman columnists at the South's largest newspaper. Her marriage didn't last long; Upshaw was found to be a bootlegger, and she divorced him in 1924. In 1925, she married Marsh.

It is said that she began writing her famous, Pulitzer prize-winning novel while laid up with a broken ankle. Having exhausted all of the historical books her husband brought home to amuse her, Peggy set up a Remington typewriter and took to heart Marsh's suggestion that she write her own book.

While she always claimed that Gone With the Wind was entirely fictional, historians have since discovered a number of undeniable parallels with actual people living before and during Mitchell's lifetime. Surely the death of Scarlett's mother from typhoid matches Mitchell's own mother's passing, a result of an epidemic flu. More enlightening is the discovery by Dr. E. Lee Spence of ties between fictional Rhett Butler and real-life blockade runner George Alfred Trenholm. It would seem that Ms. Mitchell based Butler's character quite specifically on Trenholm. (See Spence's book: Treasures of the Confederate Coast: The "Real Rhett Butler" and Other Revelations for more on this astonishing discovery, which Life magazine called "overwhelming evidence.")

Peggy was a reluctant author, hiding her manuscript from all except her husband. It was only after a friend commented that it was unimaginable that "anyone as silly as Peggy" could write a book that she gave the novel to MacMillan talent scout Harold Latham, who bought a second suitcase with which to transport the massive manuscript back to New York. Mitchell was immediately regretful and sent a telegram to Latham, asking for the book back. However, the editor had no intention of returning it, having determined it had the potential to be the blockbuster it later became.

Some stats: It took her 9 years to write, both typed and hen-scratched onto heaps of scrap paper;

The book was released in June, 1936; by early 1949, it was announced that the book had sold 8 million copies (Mitchell had hopes of selling 5,000 copies.)

David O. Selznick paid her $50,000 for the movie rights;

The ending of GWTW was written first, Mitchell writing her way back toward the beginning. The first chapter had not been written when she submitted to MacMillan;

Mitchell hated publicity, and wrote: "My time is not my own. It has not been my own since 'Gone With the Wind' was published. The very fact that since 1936 I have never had the time to sit down --to my typewriter and write—or try to write—another book will give you some indication of what I mean."

She added that "being the author of 'Gone With the Wind' is a full-time job, and most days it is an overtime job filling engagements and meeting visitors. In addition, I am giving all the time I can to war activities and future commitments in this field which will take me out of the city." Although the fame disrupted her life, it brought her an estimated $1,000,000 in book royalties, movie payments and other returns in less than four years.

The off-duty taxi driver who struck Mitchell had 23 prior traffic violations on record. He was charged with drunken driving, speeding, and driving on the wrong side of the street. Gov. Herman Talmadge ordered the flag over the State Capitol lowered to half-staff until after the funeral.

Friday, November 07, 2008

(Gone With) The Wind is in From Africa

Okay, that was sort of a lame title. But there's a reason. Stay tuned.

November 7th finds us celebrating the birthday of one of my favorite recording artists, songwriters, painters... Joni Mitchell turned 65 today but somehow I doubt she rushed to file for Social Security benefits. Parts of the title, of course, are lyrics from one of her biggest commercial hits, "Carey", and Mitchell's fans will know that. Joni has been called "iconoclastic and unconforming", and "restlessly innovative." I can't compete with those articulate descriptives, but I will say that I liked her because she didn't care if her syllable count matched from stanza to stanza. Not every line had to rhyme, not every note had to follow any kind of pattern. She traversed octaves in leaps and bounds, not worried if her vocals were consistent from song to song.

She was born in Alberta, Canada, as Roberta Joan Anderson, and at age 9 contracted polio. Under her mother's care, she recovered and later, taught herself to play the ukulele (she couldn't afford a guitar), attended art school and joined the local folk music set. After making her way to Toronto, she got the "Mitchell" from ex-husband Chuck, whom she married in 1965. The couple relocated to Detroit, then parted ways and Joni found herself in New York and making a record for Reprise with help from David Crosby. Stardom followed, and her 1970's Ladies of the Canyon brought forth both "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Woodstock", the now-infamous cover of which went on to become a huge launch for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

It occurs to me at this point that I couldn't possibly paint a viable picture of Joni on such a small canvas, and those hungry for more about his talented woman should check out this immensely consuming page about her life, works and many talents. Contained therein is the surprising revelation about a 43 year old daughter, alluded to in song but never acknowledged until the 1990's.

For the record, my personal favorites include "A Case of You", "Little Green" and "Free Man in Paris". Although I haven't personally heard her live for many, many years, I understand her voice has been diminished from her 56 years of smoking (yes, she admits to starting at 9 years old.) Check out for more.
Come back tomorrow for Part Two….

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Birthdays!

Happy Halloween!

I was curious about those born on this eeriest of holidays. Did (do) they suffer teasing at the hands of schoolmates? Did/do they worry that they were somehow flawed or subject to paranormal leanings? My mother was born on Friday the 13th, and she always spoke as if that fact had skewed her luck for life. She was a bit of a pessimist, to be sure.

Born today were:
Peter Jackson, New Zealand filmmaker, of the Lord of the Rings franchise, King Kong; Happy 47th, Peter! (For his birthday, he wants The One Ring…)

John Candy, Canadian actor much beloved in our household; favorites are Planes, Trains & Automobiles as the annoying but amiable shower curtain ring salesman, and who could forget his portrayal of Barf, the “mawg” (half man, half dog) in the classic Spaceballs? Candy was taken from us much too soon; he was 43 when he passed on 3/4/04, a victim of a heart attack.

Dale Evans, cowgirl extraordinaire and wife to sweetheart cowboy hero Roy Rogers. She really did write “Happy Trails To You.” 1912 – 2001.

And… Michael Landon, eternally youthful heartthrob of the Ponderosa. (“Little Joe’s” hair would be a good rival for Patrick Dempsey’s today…) Michael was born Eugene Orowitz to Jewish and Irish Catholic parents, grew up in the East. Many people remember him for that role as the youngest Cartwright on Bonanza, and probably even more think of Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie where he played one of TV’s most endearing dads.

But did you know he was married three times, and had nine children (including two step-children) that range thirty years in age? That his sports specialty was javelin throwing, which got him into UCLA on a scholarship? That he smoked up to 4 packs of unfiltered menthol cigarettes a day? (He later attributed his pancreatic cancer to years of poor eating habits, moderate drinking and, of course, the smokes. He was diagnosed just three months before his death at 54.)

He wore “lifts” when shooting with comparable giants Dan Blocker and Lorne Greene, his co-stars on Bonanza. It is said that he was devastated by the deaths of Blocker, and later, his Highway to Heaven co-star, Victor French. He counted among his close friends Johnny Carson, Ronald Reagan and Ernest Borgnine.

As to his stage name, Landon said he picked the name out of a Los Angeles telephone directory.

Landon is credited with saying, “I want people to laugh and cry, not just sit and stare at the TV. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think viewers are hungry for shows in which people say something meaningful.” I tend to agree, and would venture to apply his philosophy to today’s viewers as well.

As a young child, I had quite the crush on Little Joe. (I swooned over Pernell Roberts until I was told he wore a wig!)

Oh, and Patrick Dempsey? I just couldn't resist. It's the hair, you know. You'll have to wait until January 13th for more on McDreamy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October 24: Chantilly Lace an' a Pretty Face

Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr., was born in Sabine Pass, Texas, on this day in 1930. His career span reminds me of a bottle rocket; once lit, it soared quickly skyward and then extinguished at the height of its brilliance, leaving stunned watchers behind. J.P. got his start as a deejay in Beaumont, Texas, establishing a world record in May of 1957 for broadcasting for six days straight, during which time he lost 35 pounds! [Note: my voice begins to go after one weekend at a bookfair.] That same year, the self-named “Big Bopper” (after the dance “The Bop”) recorded his big hit, “Chantilly Lace” which went on to become the 3rd biggest hit of 1958. (Remember, “a wiggle in her walk and a giggle in her talk”? Would today’s listeners dig that crazy sound?)

J.P., or “Jape” as he came to be known, toured throughout 1958, thrilling teen audiences with “Oh, baby, that’sa what I like!” It was on one such tour, tagged the Winter Dance Party of 1959, when Jape came down with the flu. Along with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Waylon Jennings, the group rolled into Clear Lake, Iowa, in early February, 1959, amid freezing temperatures and snow. When Holly chartered a four-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza to take his band on to their next gig, Jape asked Jennings if he’d give up his seat on the plane so that the Bopper could get to some medical care. Jennings complied, and the plane took off in a blinding snowstorm. It crashed in a cornfield eight miles away. Remembered by Don McLean in “American Pie” as the Day the Music Died, the February 3, 1959 accident took the lives of Holly, Valens, the Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson.

Jape was 28, and left behind his wife Adrianne and two year old Debra Joy; Adrianne gave birth to son Jay Perry two months later. Over time, rumors grew out of the discovery of a gun near the crash site; conspiracy theorists were convinced that the handgun, with two rounds missing, had played a part in the downing of the plane, and that Richardson was somehow involved. By early 2007, son Jay had had enough, and ordered his father be exhumed for examination. No bullet wounds were found, and the Big Bopper was again laid to rest.

According to our friends over on Wikipedia, an upcoming film spotlighting J.P. Richardson is slated for release on the February '09, 50th anniversary of the crash. The title? The Day the Music Died.

A bit of ironic trivia: It is said that when Holly found out Jennings had opted out of the plane ride Holly had paid $36 a seat for, he quipped, "I hope your old bus freezes up!", to which Waylon reportedly responded, "I hope your damned plane crashes!" The late Jennings, of course, went on to become a huge country star, despite years of experiencing survivor's guilt over his perceived part in the deaths of his pals.
(Jennings died in 2002, due to complications from long term diabetes.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's My Line?

Thank you for coming here. I know, am acutely aware of how many words are competing to be read every day. I have a handful of blogs I follow, in addition to reading the daily news on-line, and there isn’t enough time in the day for all the information and entertainment I want to absorb. Since I began posting my mini-bios, my readership has gone up considerably, and this tickles me to no end since I like knowing that other people are interested in, well, other people. So thanks again for stopping by.

How do I pick whom to blog about? Mostly they are just people I find interesting myself, or I discover something surprising I think others would like to know. Using “born today” lists, I can mine for writers, entertainers, remarkable people or ordinary people with remarkable stories. For example, my choices for Friday include US writers Sarah Hale, Moss Hart, Denise Levertov and Brenda Ueland; blind US harmonica player Sonny Terry; cartoonist Bob Kane, creator of Batman. Also sharing October 25 are actors Kevin Kline and F. Murray Abraham, and rocker J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson.
They are like cyber faces imploring, “Pick me! Pick me!” Who will it be?
Tune in Friday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Literary Giants Born Today

Not a lot of blog time this morning but couldn’t let October 16th pass. If you were born today, you share your birthday with some great literary talent, too much so to ignore as coincidence, right?

Happy Birthday to playwright Eugene O’Neill, born this date in 1888. O’Neill, who spent much of his life plagued by depression and alcoholism, won the 1936 Nobel Prize for Literature and a number of Pulizers for popular works such as Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, and Strange Interlude. Some of his plays were made into films The Iceman Cometh, Mourning Becomes Electra, and Desire Under the Elms to name a few. Sadly, O’Neill disowned his daughter Oona for marrying comic film star Charlie Chaplin, and both of his sons committed suicide as a result of various addictions they suffered. O’Neill’s spirit is said to inhabit a dorm room at Boston University, the former Sheraton hotel room where he died in 1953.

Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde would have been 154 today. The author of The Picture of Dorian Gray was born in Dublin, but left Ireland permanently when his then love interest became engaged to writer Bram Stoker (of Dracula fame). He later lived in London, Paris and U.S., and spent years in prison over issues arising from his many homosexual and bisexual relationships. Also famous for the play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Like O’Neill, Wilde’s Dorian Gray, his only novel, has been brought to the big screen more than once. Wilde succumbed to cerebral meningitis in 1900.

Called the "Father of American Scholarship and Education", Noah Webster also shares this popular birthdate. The title is well-deserved; who hasn’t referred to a Webster dictionary in their lifetime?

While she is not known as an author herself, she plays one on TV: Angela Lansbury, sometimes better known as Jessica Fletcher from “Murder, She Wrote”, turns 83 today. Ms. Lansbury deserves a whole blog page onto herself, and will get one in the near future.

Friday, October 10, 2008

October Ninth: Lennon and Browne

Where were you the first time you saw or heard John Lennon sing? I remember well, 1963, when we had a little black and white portable on a shiny gold wire rolling stand in the eating area of our kitchen. Someone (probably me) yelled, "fix the antenna!" and my dad lumbered over to adjust the rabbit ears so that we could get a better picture of the The Beatles doing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was in 4th grade.

Likewise, I remember exactly where I was seventeen years later when the announcer on my car radio sadly proclaimed that John Lennon had been shot and killed. Today, October 9th, is the 68th anniversary of this genius' birth, tagged "Imagine Day" by followers. It is also the birthday of his younger son, Sean Ono Lennon, aged 33. "Imagine", the song probably most representative of Lennon's philosophies and non-materialistic ways, paid homage to his belief in the possibility of an ideal world.

Like Lennon, American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne is no stranger to expressing political and social convictions through music. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1948, Browne has been called "precociously gifted" and "introspective", writing and performing tunes that fueled the confessional movement of the early 70's.

His roots were folksy. In 1966, Browne was a member of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He later wrote songs performed by Joan Baez, Tom Rush, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and the Byrds, but signed with Asyllum Records in 1971 and began his solo career with the release of "Doctor My Eyes" in 1972. He has since become an icon of socially conscious efforts, participating in organizations such as Musicians United for Safe Energy ("MUSE") and No Nukes, playing numerous concerts benefiting Farm Aid and various presidential campaigns. A longtime liberal, Browne supported Ralph Nader, John Kerry (as part of the "Vote For Change" tour) and most recently, John Edwards. In August of this year, he sued John McCain and the Republican party for using his 1977 hit "Running on Empty" in a campaign attack against Barack Obama. As one of the most politically immersed artists of his generation, Browne was "incensed" at the illegal use of his material.

In 2007, Jackson Browne covered John Lennon's "Oh My Love" on the album "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur."

It would appear that these two music giants share more than just a birthdate.

~Anne - Beacon Street Books

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Loss of a Hero

I was going to begin this piece with, "Cancer steals another of my heroes…" but I didn't want the focus to be on either me or on cancer. This insidious scourge already gets more press than it should.

Still, Paul Newman was nothing if not a hero. He was my hero, for as long as I can remember watching him on the big screen. So much so that he became a sort of "role model" for Dane Pierce, the classic bad boy anti-hero of STARCROSSED HEARTS, my first big contemporary romance (Wings ePress, Sept, 2001)

Apparently, I am not alone in my appreciation of this sexy, shining star. Nominated 9 times for Academy Awards, he took Oscar home only once for "The Color of Money." He remained married to his second wife, Joanne Woodward, for fifty years. He created a charitable empire unrivaled by his peers.

One of my favorite experiences of Paul was his appearance on "Inside The Actors Studio" (he was their first guest) where he was interviewed by James Lipton. Normally elusive, this serious Hollywood icon was candid, comic, self-effacing and charming. I couldn't stop smiling during the entire program.

I can't really add anything to the multitude of eulogies being written this week about Paul. I loved him, I'm grieving, and I feel so much remorse over his suffering. My heart goes out to Joanne and their daughters, who most certainly are devastated at his passing.

Here is a brief video prepared by NEWMANS OWN organization. Grab a hanky.

Rest in peace, dear Paul.

Friday, October 03, 2008

MEME! 6 Book Things About Me!

Okay, Mary Cunningham tagged me to write 6 "book" things about myself. I liked her old-timey photo so added one of my own, taken at Big Bear Lake in 19xx...

1. I took Creative Writing in junior high school because it sounded interesting. That was my first inkling that I might like to write. We wrote mostly short stories. In high school, I took every lit class they offered: American Lit, Modern Lit, World Lit and English Lit. (In retrospect, most of it was pretty boring and I cheated more than once with Cliff's Notes. Dostoevsky just wasn't my cup of tea.)

2. During those middle school years, my best friend Jayne and I would create stories and tell them to each other. The rules were that our stories had to be about and for each other, and had to involve the other's favorite rock star. Most often, they were vignettes about how we would meet George Harrison or Mickey Dolenz in an elevator and fall in love. Simple, right?

3. Because I am now considered a legitimate writer (Ha!), it is always me called upon whenever anything needs writing. Last year, I wrote a wedding ceremony for my nephew and niece. I wrote the announcements for the loud speaker at Relay For Life. I wrote the flyers and announcements and reviews for our school PTA. Household correspondence has always been my job, too, but should that include eulogies for relatives?

4. Sad but true. My first publisher, WAY back in 1998, was a fledgling ebook pub. He accepted my first novel instantly, did very little editing (and I was sap enough to believe it was so perfect he couldn't find anything) and then published it on CD and diskette. I was as naive as they come. I sat back and waited to get rich and famous. There was an "ebook bestseller list" on the web that claimed to be expert enough to know. One day, my book appeared on that list, alongside successful books being put out by popular and respected publishers. I got a certificate from my local RWA chapter. All exciting. Then one day, with a little digging, I discovered that a large number of copies sold all went to a company purchaser. And lo and behold, that company was owned by my publisher. I was humiliated and shamed. I stuffed the certificate in a drawer and immediately began looking for a new publisher. And he couldn't understand why I wanted to leave.

5. I have become an ebook snob. Yes, it's true. I buy only ebooks, unless there is something I absolutely need to have that's not available for download. Yeah, I "get" all that about the feel (and smell!) of a real book, yada yada yada. But for me, it's all about the story, convenience, cost, and environment. The story will be good in any format. I love being able to read in bed, lights off, not disturbing the hubby. I can buy 2 or 3 books for the price of one. And don't you know I just hate the waste of trees. Even with my bad inaugural experience with ebooks, I love them. For the record, I prefer reading in Microsoft Reader on a Pocket PC. Will I buy a Kindle or Sony Digital Reader? Probably. Right now I'm not fond of the price or the non-backlit technology.

6. Something most people don't know: I have 3 writing personas. One for my romantic mysteries, one for my middle grader readers and one for some experimental, edgier stuff.

And that's it~! Boring, but all true.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thoughts About Sarah Palin

Friday morning I accompanied a good friend to an imaging center as her "bosom buddy." While waiting for her test, we sat a comfortable waiting room (cookies to die for) and watched, in awe, as Senator McCain announced that Gov. Sarah Palin would be his running mate. Another patient, who'd been waiting longer than us, filled us in:

"She's 44, has 5 children, the youngest is 4 months old with Down Syndrome." The smile froze on my face, and I barely heard the rest, about Palin's pipeline views, Alaskan home state, son being deployed to Iraq, NRA connections, etc. I was stuck on the fact that a woman with 5 kids--one a Down's baby--would knowingly put herself on the path to the White House. Excuse me, but why does one have a bunch of children and then choose an intense life in politics? I know that I had my precious boys and girl so that I could raise them, not someone else.

Am I being harsh? Does anyone else think this is sad?
I might add that I am not a supporter of either McCain or Obama at this point. I was, at first, gleeful to hear that a woman was in the running, hence the aforementioned smile. But as a mother, I know that being one demands more than I ever expected, so much that I cannot fathom trying to juggle motherhood with the intensity of so high a political position.

Someone mentioned, perhaps her husband is a homebody and will care for them. Maybe so. In Washington, he would likely give up oil working and fishing and stay home with the children.

Maybe I am being sexist. What is different about a woman with children taking a public office position than a man taking a similar post? Maybe nothing, for some.

I'm sure Mrs. Palin and her family gave a great deal of thought to her choice. I have to hope that her teen daughters (Bristol, 17, and Willow, 14) feel competent to help raise their disadvantaged baby sibling, Trig, 4 months, and little sister Piper, 7. After all, they are making it work now, with Governor Palin returning to her job just 3 days after Trig's birth in April. She's nothing if not devoted to her work.

Perhaps, like many, she is just trying to have it all. To her credit, she chose not to end her baby's life when told he had the extra chromosome. She is devoutly pro-life, and while it might have made it easier on her future to terminate the pregnancy, she did not. For this I hold her in high regard.

One other thing. Because I was sitting in a room full of women, I noticed that without exception, Mrs. Palin's family situation was the first thing that came in to each of our minds. Not one mentioned her qualifications for the job.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bank of Books Welcomes Anne Carter!

Well, tomorrow I am presenting a workshop/talk on Writing Romance at the Bank of Books in Ventura, CA. Bookstore owner Clarey Rudd is most graciously hosting my appearance at his charming indy store, and I look forward to the visit! In the photo to the left is my good friend and fellow author, Michael Mehas of STOLEN BOY fame, the story of the youngest man ever to be given the death penalty, and Mr. Rudd, enjoying our sunny So Cal weather! I will be bringing handouts, candy and maybe even cookies to my afternoon of sharing romance writing tips with up-and-coming authors. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!

What else is new? I've just finished my submission story for Sisters In Crime/LA's next anthology, "Murder in La La Land" and I'll be crossing all fingers and toes that it gets accepted. A writer could do a lot worse than be associated with this fun and talented group of writers! Wish I could tell you about my story, but mum's the word - it's a blind submission, and you don't know who might be listening! Er, reading.

My local fellow author, teen romance writer Alyssa Montgomery, has a new release out this month. MR. MYSTERIOUS is about three friends - two girls and a boy - who suffer through one of the girls' crush on a mystery boy, and a magical night they all share as everyone finds out just who Mr. "M" is! This short fiction ebook is available in PDF format at QuakeMe and will soon be selling at Fictionwise in multiple formats.

September will be a busy month, as I have an important graduation to attend, a trip to Vegas, book/author fairs in both Santa Barbara and West Hollywood, CA, and my own mid-month birthday! Whew!

Maybe I'd better go take a nap.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Crime Unto One's Self

I had planned to begin my new series today, where I will be blogging about some very strong, entertaining and philanthropic women I laud. However, having just attended the funeral of a friend, I need to slide back just a little and talk about something that has me so steaming mad I can barely see to type.

As I think about it, Brandi was a very strong, entertaining and philanthropic woman herself. Since my purpose today is not eulogize this lovely, generous woman, I won't go into all the beautiful things that made up the "dash" in her all-too-short life of forty years. But because it's pertinent, I will tell you that Brandi had the BRCA 1 mutation gene--and endured 5 years of metastatic cancers. Despite elective, prophylactic surgeries, this insidious disease stole her life two weeks ago, leaving a huge contingent of heartbroken, grieving friends and relatives.

The services were at once loving and poignant. Brandi was the consummate volunteer, often putting aside her own pain and despair in order to help others. The church was filled with those whose lives she had touched. The legacy Brandi left us was one of hope, and a challenge to live our lives better through appreciation of each day and our own approaching mortality. I'm sure I wasn't alone in my silent promise that I would do better, live healthier, love stronger and make every day count.

With these thoughts still stirring my emotions, a wet tissue clamped into the palm of my hand, I walked across the parking lot en route to my car, exchanging comforting words and nods with others I passed. Yet as I neared my car, I spotted a woman two slots over with her hands held up to her face. At first I thought she was hiding her tears, like many others had done throughout the service. But on closer look, I discovered the unthinkable. This mourner was lighting a cigarette.

I literally shuddered with anger. My emotional state made it quite impossible to rein in my overpowering feelings of disgust and loathing. She was neither young nor old, seemed to have full mental faculties and otherwise appeared healthy. Why, I always ask myself, would anyone suck caustic, burning smoke into their fragile, oxygen-hungry lungs?

Did I mention that my mother succumbed to lung cancer? That she smoked for close to 60 years?

The woman in the parking lot had just come from an auditorium full of people who would give anything to have Brandi back. Brandi, who'd not smoked a day in her life. A woman who, by the luck (bad luck) of the draw, had been tagged with a bad bit of DNA. She'd done everything right. This woman has a choice, and she chooses to continue smoking "coffin nails" when she could opt for a smoke-free, and possibly cancer-free, life.

Cancer may be a monster, and one we are unable to control--at least for the time being. Nicotine addiction is also a monster, and one we can control. No, I've never smoked, and yes, I do understand about the strength of the addiction. Still, I believe--Brandi's mantra--I believe that people have the ability to take responsibility for their own health and give themselves the best possible odds against encouraging the growth of cancer cells.

All I can hope right now is that this parking lot smoker is thinking, strongly, about quitting before it's too late. Ditto for the teens I see outside the Mall, puffing away as if, AS IF! as if it is actually cool to smoke. I wonder how cool they will feel when they are unable to draw a breath.

Friday, August 22, 2008

E-Books: Cheaper Than Gas!

My Summer '08 newsletter is out, headlined with an article about how you could buy an Amazon Kindle for about the same price as a month's worth of gasoline. Read it at .

I haven't tried the Kindle yet. I have held the Sony reader in my hands, loved the shape and feel and weight of it, which I believe is similar to the Kindle. I'm still not completely sold, however, since I read in the dark and rely on my Pocket PC's backlight feature. With either of these upper end e-readers, you'll need a clamp on booklight to read in bed.

So what's on my wish list? Along with the aforementioned readers, I'm thinking hard about the web-and-email enabled Samsung Instinct phone, and I'm also in the market for a hands-free Bluetooth device for my car. I can't stand the fussiness of the ear-pod thing.

Would love to hear what devices you all have!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tribute to a Fine Wickie

It's already January 17th. Didn't we just watch the Rose Parade a few minutes ago? Okay, I'm once again bemoaning the passage of time.

I'm blazing through my WIP. CAPE SEDUCTION is the story of Darla Foster, the sexy, eccentric, 20 year old starlet who went missing in 1949, and the folks in 2008 she is haunting. Well, maybe haunting is too strong a word. But she's apparently dead and wanting a little closure.

There's a lighthouse in this book, patterned after St. George Reef Lighthouse in extreme Northern California. In fact, the lighthouse itself inspired the story. So, although the lighthouse will have a fictional name in CAPE SEDUCTION, I've been doing lots of research to make the story authentic. One of the things I did was contact Dennis Powers, author of THE SENTINEL OF THE SEAS, which is the story of St. George Reef, from its 10 year construction in the late 1800's to present day restoration efforts. Dennis led me to Mr. John Gibbons, retired St. George Reef Lighthouse Keeper, who now lives in Colorado.

"Gibby" was more than happy to take my call, and reminisced about his 39 months in residence at St. George. 39 months, btw, is a record for continuous service on this 6-miles-off-shore rock. He recalled for me perilous days and nights in stormy weather, when waves would actually reach the top of the 140 foot high beacon! During the winter of 1955, stormy weather kept the crew of 5 captive for over a month, and their Christmas dinner was one last can of Spam.

Mr. Gibbons was generous with his advice and anecdotes, and later sent me a handful of snapshots taken inside the lighthouse in 1953, and a gorgeous 11" x 14" "portrait" of the light station taken from a Coast Guard helicopter in 1957. Also enclosed was a copy of a page from the log book.

It's nice to come across truly gentile and caring people these days. Both Dennis Powers and John Gibbons get my vote for modern day heroes, and will be acknowledged in CAPE SEDUCTION when it comes out!