Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vices and Virtues

This week, a pending announcement from an ePublisher that shall remain unnamed weighs heavily on my mind. I submitted on January 3rd and have heard NOTHING, though I know other people who have. The waiting is killing me. This has lead to several talks with friends with regards to my lack of patience and that it's something I need to work on.

So, enough whining. I got to thinking 'patience is a virtue' and then . . . gee, I don't have any of that. So . . . here are 6 vices of mine, and seven virtues (as I see them) - just to keep things on an even keel and not spend too much time beating myself up.

Gwen's Vices
1. Impatience.
My mother says that when they were handing out patience, I was around the corner looking for something else to do.

2. Cable TV.
I don't have it, for obvious reasons. When I go to someone's house, if their TV is on, nothing else exists for me.

3. Carbs.
I love them. Flour, corn, rice, potatoes . . . mmmm, potatoes. If it's white, I probably scarf it. Scarf, not eat. I lasted on the South Beach Diet for about six hours, then DH insisted I eat something carbalicious before somebody got hurt.

4. Caffeine.
I used to be a non-caffeine preacher. No, really. That was before I started replacing sleep with writing, and found I needed artificial assistance to function during the day.

5. Barnes and Noble.
It doesn't sound evil, but I'm not allowed to go in that place unchaperoned.

6. Volunteering.
I'm awful with this! It's like my arm and mouth have a minds of their own. Before I even know what someone is asking, I'm offering to help, or to do it for them. Sounds like a good thing - right? Nope. I over-extend myself, get irritable and resentful, and usually end up letting people down.

Gwen's Virtues

7. I'm loyal.
It takes a lot to shake me off once I've glommed onto you. *g*

8. Honesty.
Sometimes this actually gets me into trouble, but I still stick by it, and admire it in others.

9. Hard-working.
I will bust my butt if I'm properly motivated. (Let's not talk about what that

10. I sing with all my heart, at the top of my lungs.
Some people might not agree with this being a virtue, but *LA LA LA*.

11. I'm a good driver.
Not only responsible, but courteous. I believe in car-karma.

12. I'm a very gracious loser.
Even though I'm *cough*competitive*cough*. If you beat me fair and square, I'll give you props.

13. *goes to check inbox*.
Oh . . . you're still here. Sorry. Did I mention impatient?

So... tell me one of your vices, and one of your virtues.
(Don't keep me waiting.)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Leave your TT url in a comment, and I'll link back to you here:

The Mask She Wears

A quick teaser from a fellow Diva. You can visit Jennifer's blog here.
I'm intrigued . . .


In the BDSM lifestyle, Catherine Lanyard is an extreme submissive with serious baggage. For years, she’s avoided her pain and hidden dark secrets. Now, an experienced Dom has broken through her barriers and forced her to face her fear. Sex was always a give and take for Justin Travers. He’d always kept his “lifestyle” practices separate from real life. But when Catherine blurs that boundary, he must decide what he really wants.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Iconic Movie Quotes

It's that time again. This week, I have a series of quotes that have become everyday turns of phrase, at least to me and my dorky friends. I hope the pictures work this time. They're linked from photobucket, so if they're slow, you might just need to refresh. Happy TT everybody!

Famous Movie Quotes - In order of year.

"I don't drink . . . blood."
- Dracula

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
- Gone With the Wind

“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”

- Casablanca

“I’m walkin’ here!”
-Midnight Cowboy

“Do you feel lucky?”
-Dirty Harry

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

-The Godfather

“You talkin’ to me?”

-Taxi Driver

"May the force be with you."
-Star Wars

“They’re here.”


“I’ll be back.”

“You can’t handle the truth!”

-A Few Good Men

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

-Forrest Gump

“Show me the money!”
-Jerry McGuire

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Leave your TT url in a comment, and I'll link back to you here:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Diva Love

Jenna Bayley-Burke has her first release from Samhain - 'Her Cinderella Complex'. I've read an excerpt of this, and it's smokin'! It's on my TBR list, and that's not even my genre. (Cute cover too!). Go and check it out!

She’s got the man—and the wedding—of her dreams. If only love were part of the fantasy.

Heather Tindall is temping as a personal assistant until her dream job as an event planner comes along. Worse, her new boss has a penchant of running off new assistants before lunch. Heather’s not about to let her spotless employment record be ruined by a real estate mogul with an attitude problem, no matter how well he fills out a suit.

At first Curtis can’t believe the nerve of the woman who refuses his order to leave. Six months into their working relationship, her dedication still manages to surprise him. But her best efforts to protect his personal life can’t keep the press from seeing him as anything more than a playboy. Then it dawns on him that the perfect solution is right under his appointment book—Heather.
Swept off her kitten heels, Heather can’t help but accept the proposal of the man with whom she’s fallen in love. She hopes that in time he’ll come to feel something for her.

Curtis is determined not to feel anything, for anyone, ever. He’ll do anything Heather wants—but he’s not going to fall in love with her.

Except that will never do for a girl with a Cinderella Complex…

Read An Excerpt Online

Buy it today from My Bookstore and More

Diva Love

Fellow Diva Adelle Lauden will be chatting Friday and Saturday this week with Zinnia Hope and M. E. Ellis at Zinnia Hope's yahoo group. Stop by, say hello and find out about what these three authors are up to!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Romance Divas eBook Challenge

Happy Valentines Day!

The Divas have arranged a special treat for you - FREE eBooks! That's right, a whole bunch of Divas got together and wrote something special for you in celebration of V-day. Visit the Romance Divas website for a complete listing of stories. LINK

Here is my contribution, a contemporary paranormal short (8500 words), heat rating: sensual.

Kelly Lincoln is a society reporter convinced that playboy Forrest Meydenbauer is a murderer. All she has to do is prove it. But when he turns the rules of their game of cat and mouse upside down, Kelly's left to wonder if even her sharply honed instincts could be played false. What is she willing to bargain in order to uncover the truth?
Download Now (Adobe PDF)

If you can't read a PDF, contact me to arrange another file type.

Pantheons of Love

Valentine's Day. A common character attached to it is Cupid - the Roman God of erotic love and sex. But sex gods are not uncommon, and neither are sex goddesses. So, I bring you a Thursday Thirteen that highlights some of the latter - goddesses affiliated with love and sex, from around the world. Sorry about the pictures! Next time I'll photobucket, instead of trusting blogger! =(

Rati is Hindu/Balinese goddess fertility, love, passion and sex.
She's the wife of Kama.

Nambi is the Masai goddess of love and sexuality.
Possibly another version of the African moon goddess Ngami.

Naamah was the Canaanite goddess of fertility and sex,
sometimes associated with prostitution.
She is also said to be a fallen angel, and later, a succubus demon.

Xochiquetzal is an Aztec goddess of fertility, love,
sensual pleasure and sex. Her name means 'beautiful like a flower'.

Lofn is the Norse goddess of forbidden love.
She smiles upon illicit unions.

Qadesh is the Syrian goddess sacred love and pleasure.
She's said to ride naked on the back of a lion.

Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love, procreation, and war.
She was also said to be the 'courtesan of the gods'.

Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, lust and beauty.
It is said that just the sight of her would make a mortal fall in love.

Venus was the Roman goddess of love and beauty,
and equivalent of Aphrodite.

Similar to Ishtar, Inanna was the oldest of the love goddesses of
the Mesopotamian region. She also represented war, and the planet Venus,
but was not the 'creation goddess' and not affiliated with fertility.

Ashtart or Astarte is a Semitic goddess of sexual love, fertility and war.
She was a predecessor of Aphrodite.
She was often symbolized by the lion, the horse, the dove
and a star within a circle, representing the planet Venus.

Branwen is a celtic goddess love and beauty.
In the Welsh story, she was married to the king of Ireland,
who mistreated her, starting a war.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Leave your TT url in a comment, and I'll link back to you here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Standing Appointment

There were two Flash Fiction Carnival themes this month. The special one for Valentine's Day was LOVE. Read all the entries here.


Karen spent the morning of Valentine's Day at the salon. It was one of the few times of year she allowed herself the luxury. With her hair styled, her hands manicured, and her make-up done, she went home to dress. She donned a slinky black dress and a black velvet jacket, along with her favorite diamond earrings - a Valentine's gift from many years before. She smiled as they winked in the light when she turned her head from side to side. It reminded her of the surprise she'd felt, coming home from a tiring business trip to find the small teddy bear on her bed, it's ears glittering with the jewels. She slipped on her shoes and grabbed her purse on the way out the door.

The limo driver was waiting for her at the curb. She eased into the luxurious leather seat with a sigh, turning the ring on her finger idly as they crossed the floating bridge into downtown Seattle. The limo paused outside their first stop, the Godiva Chocolatier. She purchased a box of dark truffles, always his favorite. The limousine snaked through the busy cobbled street of Pike Place, and waited there while Karen edged into the indoor market to buy fresh flowers from her usual vendor, a bundle of scarlet peonies that Clark had set aside for her, just like always. She tried to pay for them, but he assured her they were no charge, and wished her a Happy Valentine's Day. It was one of the few times in the year Karen ventured to the market anymore, but the vendors never forgot her ritual. Her picnic basket at DeLaurenti's was packed and waiting. Sophia slid it across the counter with a knowing smile.

Her arms laden with goods, Karen jostled through the crowds back to the waiting limo, and they were on their way again. The sky was a soft dove grey, but it was warm enough, she thought. Tiny spears of sunlight were breaking through the clouds. The long drive through the manicured grounds was lined with budding Dogwoods - a promise that Spring was near. The car stopped near a gracefully curving path. Karen gathered her things and thanked the driver before setting out for the picnic spot she had shared with her husband for the past eight years. She unrolled the wool blanket and laid it out on the neatly mowed grass, then set out the other items: the flowers, the wine, the food, the chocolates, and the bible. It was marked with the passage that had blessed their union all those years ago.

Karen sat, and ate, and drank. When she was ready, she opened the book and carressed the familiar worn pages as she began to read. Corinthians 13. Love is . . . patient, kind. It always trusts. It always hopes. It always perseveres. She had known that. She had been blessed. Love never fails, she read. Yes, that was true too. She closed the book and sighed, reaching over to touch the stone-hewn date in front of her. February fourteenth. Love is forever, she thought, holding her tears in check.

"What do you say, Frank? Will you be my Valentine?"

--544 words--

Thanks to Kat Oxley for editing!


After my recent flogging, a discussion ensued in the Writer's Retreat Forum. While it was private, it got me thinking, and I've included some of it here for ponderance's sake.

The discussion was regarding what level of 'harshness' is helpful to a writer. Being the analytical type that I am, I first felt a need to define terms.

B-C-E : The process of beta-reading, critiquing, or editing creative fiction. So, are those all the same thing? Not in my mind. Ideally, I think it's great to have one of each, only in the reverse order. Here's what I mean (and I do know that my definitions might not be what you had in mind) . . .

An edit takes something in its raw form, helps tighten it, pick out holes, re-work sequencing, pacing, etc.. It also corrects typos, grammar errors, spelling, homophones, and the like. Basically, it takes the bare bones of a piece and straightens them out.

A critique takes things a step farther, and works on craft: story structure, voice, characterizations, world building - the real meat of a story. It would also be a time to provide more creative feedback and stimulate the writer to expand or clarify passages.

A beta-read is similar to a beta-test. It takes the work in its near final form for a dry run. Ideally, your beta-reader is someone that is in your target audience, and can give feedback on what works and what doesn't. It's less craft oriented, less structured, and based more on the overall 'feel' of the piece.

Various definitions of these abound, and to some people they might even be the same thing, but for clarity, that is how I segregate them. I'm not really sure where a publishing editor fits in on this scale, since I haven't worked with one before. But my guess is that a copy-editor 'edits' and an editor editor 'crits/betas'. I'll let you know when I find out, lol.

So, the statement that started the discussion was something along the lines of 'you have to be willing to take a certain degree of harshness in order to grow as a writer'. That was me. I'll be honest, I love criticism. To me, it's the gateway to improvement . . . the rite of passage to my ultimate goal, to be a successful author. Some people disagree - particularly with the 'harshness' part. So, let's take a look at that.

1. Everyone knows that you have to have a thick skin to make it in this business. That's not to say that being mean for the sake of 'toughening someone up' is helpful. To the contrary, budding writers are usually fragile and unsure, and need to be encouraged. I'm sure anyone who's made it can remember back to the people that were initially gentle with them, allowing them to gain confidence and grow at their own pace.

2. Just being nice isn't helpful.
Has this happened to you - you finally decide to ask someone to take a look at something, they do, and they hand it back to you with a 'that's very nice.' ? Gee, thanks. But now you're still where you were before. You know it can be better, but you don't know how or where. This sort of feedback, (yes, it's always nice to have an ego boost) doesn't help us improve.

3. Everyone is looking for something different in a critique/beta.
This is a no-brainer. We all have different strengths, and different not-so-strengths. What you're wanting out of a second, third or umpteenth pair of eyes depends on those strenghts, and on what stage of your specific writing process you're in. I think the most important thing when working with someone who is BCEing for you is to communicate clearly what type of feedback you are looking for. And being able to recognize and decide on this is also a useful skill. Keep in mind too that every BCEer brings something different to the table too. Hence my 'more is better' policy.

With that said, my flogging didn't hurt my feelings. I knew what I was getting into, and I got what I wanted out of it. I spent a year under a tough-love brutal beta, who told it like it was, and always spoke up if something didn't mesh.

So, one of my group members (who are all faced with the grueling task of critiquing some of my WIPs) asked "What are you looking for in a BCE?" I thought about it. I can some it up in ONE word. (I know - it's a miracle!!!)


I want to know what you think, honestly. Even if it's harsh - hit me with it. I want that sting, because I know it will become a part of my assimilated skill set, however painful the process.

Monday, February 11, 2008


It's official. This is the week from hell. I know it's a lovey-dovey holiday week and all, but I'm NOT feeling it. There is simply too much to get done, and not enough hours in the day. I feel scattered, and frustrated and, and . . . and just plain GRRR!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system . . . *dives back into to-do list*.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I've Been Flogged.

Back around Thanksgiving, I finally got up the guts to submit the opening of one of my novels, Unforgiven, to a blog that I frequent.

Flogging the Quill is a terrific blog, run by Ray Rhamey. He does a free edit on submitted openings, and in so doing, creates a valuable learning resource for aspiring authors. I believe that the more feedback you can get on your writing, the better, and since I already respected Ray's opinion, I went for it.

On the whole, Ray was pretty gentle with me, and I walked away nodding. Most of the things he said, I anticipated, and had already begun making corrections. It was good affirmation though, and the other comments were helpful too.

If you haven't checked it out - I urge you to explore Flogging the Quill, and if you can swallow your pride enough to submit - Ray's feedback is invaluable.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Maternal Truths

Just some randomly occurring grey matter this week...

Thirteen Things Mom Was Right About

1. Just because your friends jump off a bridge, doesn't mean you have to too.
Though it doesn't seem like it at the time, this proves true, thank goodness.

2. Sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyes.
Or at least, when you get older, it gives you a headache.

3. Frown too much, and your face will get stuck like that.
This is not exactly true - but frown lines are an unfortunate reality.

4. 'I don't know' is not an answer.
True. This doesn't fly in the real world.

5. You should save your money now, while you don't have to pay rent.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda. I'd have a FAT 401K. Sigh.

6. Chew your food.
Always a good idea.

7. There's pride to be had in a job well done.

8. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
A good rule of thumb that will save you a lot of trouble.

9. There are consequences to every action.

10. You never know who your true friends are, until you're flat on your ass.
At which time, having them might be your only consolation.

11. You can do anything you put your mind to.
Well, I still can't fly - but I think I get it. It's a metaphor . . . right?

12. Always make sure you have on clean underwear.
My definition of 'accident' may have changed, but this is still good advice.

13. Someday, you'll thank me.
Thanks, Mom.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Leave your TT url in a comment, and I'll link back to you here:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Five Simple Words

Here's my regular February submission for the Flash Fiction Carnival. I'll try and get one up for V-day too. The prompt for this one was COWARDICE.

Five Simple Words

I don't love you anymore.

They're hard words to say, even harder to hear. How do you tell someone that everything you promised with your lips, your name, your body . . . was a lie? How do you walk away from a life that you've built from nothing? We don't fight. We don't cheat. But I don't love her. I never thought it could happen to me - the statistic. And at first, I thought it was just a phase, something all couples go through. But she doesn't see me. I'm invisible. And even if I tried, I don't think I could understand her anymore. I try to see the girl I fell in love with once, and sometimes I get a glimpse of her. It's like an icicle to the heart, because it's just as temporary.

Wine. Pasta with red clam sauce - her favorite. Which aisle is the salad dressing on? She would know. She would have left the store twenty minutes ago, and have made three phone calls while she was here.

Tonight's the night. I'll make the dinner, drink the wine - better get two bottles - and have Chopin playing in the background when she gets home. We'll eat, and make polite conversation, just like always. But tonight, I'll say it.

I wonder if that redhead was really smiling at me, or was she just being nice? I can't even tell anymore. How the hell am I supposed to do this?

It's just five words. Five simple words, and then I'm free. We can both stop pretending, and move on. God, I don't want to hurt her. I hate to see her cry. When she cries, when she hates herself, and rages against the world, she becomes that vulnerable girl again. And the part of me that loved her rears up and panics. Shit. I don't think I can do this.

When the hell did Parmesan get so expensive?

Maybe she'll come home, and it will be different. Maybe there will be something there, a spark, something to hope for. Maybe when I look at her, I'll feel something again, besides indifference. But I'll cook the dinner anyways. I'll cook the dinner, drink the wine, and try to remember why I'm doing this, the years that we've already wasted. It will be better for both of us. We're good people. We both deserve to be loved. If we can't love each other . . . what if she still loves me? Can I really say those words to her? I know that will be it. There's no going back. Never. It would be over.


What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just keep the promise I made – to love, honor and cherish? I never expected to stop, I really didn’t. If I still loved her, everything would be fine, if I could only find away. But instead, I’ll make her favorite dinner, and set her up to hear the five ugliest words I could say. Of course, I’ll probably choke on them, like I did last time. She’ll come home, and she’ll be tired, but grateful, and she’ll think it means I want sex. And I won’t say them, and we’ll eat, and we’ll go to bed. We’ll pretend that there’s something there that’s not, and I’ll stay invisible. Because I’m a fucking coward.

“Jim, I’m home. You won't believe what happened today on the Burke deal. Oh! You’re making clam sauce?”

“Yeah, I thought it might be nice.” Fucking coward.

-- 584 words