Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bits and Pieces of News

I've been busy lately. The glorious weather has something to do with it - it's so hard to stay inside when the sun is shining and the breeze is warm. We have been going on long hikes and enjoying this prolonged Indian summer. Today the sky started to darken, and according to the weather reports, rain and cold are on their way back. So I'm glad I did profit from it, as I think this winter will be long, cold, gray and dreary! Here is news from my publishing:

Cerridwen Press will release a new, re-edited 'Angels on Crusade'under my pen name, Samantha Winston. The new cover is stunning - check it out on my website, html:// under My Books - 'Angels on Crusade'.

Also, I have been updating my site and have added many things such as a teacher's guide and discussion topics for 'The Secret ofShabaz', and discussion topics for the upcoming 'Horse Passages'and 'Angels on Crusade', both coming out in December 2005!'

Angels on Crusade' is for older teens and adults.
'Horse Passages' is for all ages.
'The Secret of Shabaz' is for young adults, ages 12 and upward.

I will be participating in the annual NanoWrimo in November, checkout my website front page for further details. Everyone is invitedto participate, and it is a fun challenge for writers of all levelsand genres!

And last but not least, I am joining a YA writer's group and we areconsolidating our newsletters to make something more professionaland fun. I will be switching this newsletter over soon, details for joining are on my jennifer macaire website. The YA website is (soon to and is under construction right now. You can have a look around, but you'll have to be patient for a while beforeit's all finished!

Have a Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Indian Summer

It's been hot and sunny these past few days - today it was in the 80's - a sky so blue it looked like August in Spain.

While I love it, I'm still worried about the warming trend in the climate. Whether or not you think it's caused or made worse by pollution, you can't deny that the polar ice is melting and the weather is becoming more chaotic. With tropical storm Beta forming in the Caribbean, it's time to wonder what the next few years will be like in areas prone to storms and hurricanes.

But today all that seemed far away as we sat outside all day, wasps and butterflies acting slightly bemused, as if they couldn't get over the hot weather either, and dogs lying panting in the shade. We had drinks with friends at 5 pm, sitting outside the pony club, the kids in tee-shirts, the ponies happily grazing in the nearby pasture. My husband gave a polo clinic at my daughter's pony club today and the kids had a great time. The ponies had never seen polo sticks, but they were happy to learn a new game (ponies get bored too!) and everyone had fun and stayed much later than planned. And as we were sitting there after the game, the sun making the dust sparkle in the air and the autumn leaves falling slowly all around us like a colorful ballet, we remarked that the best thing about an Indian summer is its unexpectedness. Last week, when the rain came down in gusts and the hail rattled our windows, we couldn't predict that today we'd be sitting in our short-sleeves, watching the wasps get drunk on hard cider.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

new jeans

I'm sitting here in new jeans today. The last time I bought a pair of pants was two years ago, so this is an 'event', lol. Actually, I didn't buy these. I've been giving English lessons to two adorable children and their father makes jeans. I said I'd work for pants. I often do that - all last year I gave English lessons in exchange for ironing. I love working for what the French call 'troc'. (exchange) It's more fun than getting paid, and when you can help each other out at the same time it's even better. I have five bushels of apples I got when I helped a friend clear out an old orchard, and in exchange for watching three kids today, I got three pumpkins and three winter squash!
In Argentina a couple years ago, when the economy crashed, there was no more money circulating and everyone paid by 'troc'. People baked cakes and made pizzas for example, and brought them to a huge warehouse where other people had knitted sweaters, brought old clothes, or anything they could exchange for something they needed. And while we don't actually go that far here in France, three times a year there are toy, book, and clothing sales where you bring your old, unwanted things to the school gymnasium and either swap or sell what you have.
I wish I could get rid of my sons' old Nintendo games, but they claim they will be worth lots of money in fifty years...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A rant about women's lib and books...

Real life and fiction are two separate things - we all know that. In fiction, women and men meet, hate each other on sight, sleep together, are separated, get back together and live Happily Ever After. It's called romance, and the formula is employed in one fashion or another in all the romance books published - from 'Forever Amber' to the latest Linda Howard book - and romance books are the bestselling books in America - keep that in mind.
But I wonder what effect all these romance books have on the easily influenced minds of young women all over America. When I hear about the teenage pregnancy rate and the unwed mother rate, and the latest story about the 23 year old woman who tossed her three children into the sea to drown, (if you do your math you'll see that she was only 17 when she had her first child) I wonder if romance books have somehow placed the reality bar too high. The happy-ever-after that these women are longing for never happens for them. They stay unmarried, on welfare, on medicaid, with kids to raise and few people to help them. If someone wants to write a realistic romance, it wouldn't be a very cheerful book.
In reality, young girls fall in love every two weeks or so, while boys just want to screw (I dare you to deny this, young men) and the results are often tragic. With the rise of formula romance books, women's lib fell back - the cult of the alpha male wiping out a decade of education and women's rights gains. Women everywhere read books where a woman's ulitmate 'happy ending' was walking up the church aisle dressed in white. The princess bride, daddy's little girl; the myth of a woman's place in life that had finally been vanquished in the sixties and seventies came back with a vengence. When I go to the US, I am shocked at how woman have slid backwards to the mentality of the fifties, where a woman's place was in her home raising the kids, and the man was superior to woman.
In Egypt right now, a woman is running for a seat in the government on a conservative ticket. This woman is speaking out Against women working, and saying clearly that according to her religion, Islam, men are superior to women. The problem with this picture is that in all religions men are portrayed as being superior to women. What we have to remember is that MEN wrote the bibles and religious law books - not women. For centuries, men have used these books as a way to control women. Now women are writing books that Millions of other women are reading. And instead of using this opportunity to empower women, they are staying within the confines that men have drawn for them.
Give me some examples of romance books (other than Gone with the Wind) that empower women? (and look how hard Scarlet had to fight and how her society looked down on her) In which books do heroines fight for equality and don't see love and marriage as the only goal worth having? In most books I read, the woman is submissive. In real life she is too. In most books I read the future is rarely discussed between couples. The woman invariably has the 'lesser' job (waitress, nanny, secretary, or assistant). Women hardly ever take control of their lives in books. Women often rely on men to help them or get them out of trouble. Women fall in love first.
Only in a romance book will a woman get pregnant and amnesiac and wander off to be found by an unmarried cowboy who is willing to keep her around (for housework? For cooking?) and they will fall in love and somehow it will turn out that the pregnant woman is not already married, and the baby will somehow vanish (miscarriage or some sort of high drama) and the couple will end up HEA...
When are we going to start writing books that empower woman and teach girls that education and ambition are good? When are publishers going to start accepting books that show women kicking the hero out because he's an arrogant and violent, and have her find someone who is intelligent, hard working, and willing to accept her as his equal?
It's no mystery that the best-selling books my erotica publisher has are BDSM - where women are submissive and the males abusive. No matter the authors try to portray the relationship as equal and loving, in reality, the relationship is skewed and demeening.
But more and more women are buying these books, reinforcing their uncounscious feelings of inferiority and need to be punished for their 'sinful' thoughts of their own sexual freedom, which often involve adultery, mulitple partners, and uninhibited sex - but these feelings are not supposed to belong to women, so they fall back on books where woman are beaten and dominated in order to put their own secrets back into their 'proper' place.
In real life relationships are often unequal.
"When," asked an English socialogist, "are women going to hold men responsible for their acts? When will they stop taking resposibility, raising their children, wahsing their clothes, cooking their meals and letting them get away with the myth of 'the Breadwinner'? When you understand that men commit 90% of all violent crimes all over the world - regardless of race, religion, or nationality, you understand that the problem is not with society - the problem is with men."
If women are going to be writing books that other women read, why not write books that address the problem of alpha males instead of celebrating them?

When will our books start being helpful for the 17 year old who has her whole life in front of her - not just a wedding?

Friday, October 21, 2005

short stories

OK - I admit, I love short stories. Ray Bradbury, O. Henry, Dorothy Parker, Saki, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Philip K. Dick, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shirley Jackson....I was weaned on these authors and they still inspire and influence me. Short stories are the bones and sinews of my writing life, I build most of my novels off short stories, and I use short stories as outlines and to test plots. If a story doesn't work as a short story - chances are it won't work as a novel. It might be a strange way to look at things, but some of my longest novels have sprung from short stories. If a short story has a beginning, a middle, and an ending, it also needs characters and an epiphany. The characters have to go through an arc of change - the reader too has to be moved by the story - horror, love, sorrow, laughter...all that has to emerge. What are some of your favorite short stories and why?
Mine are The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Open Window by Saki.

My father was dying, I was back in town, and the Chinese were hanging around like vultures trying to get his store.
"What ever you do, Paolo, don't sell to the China man." My father's voice was broken by his illness. I had to lean close to hear him.
"Don't worry pa, I won't sell to no China man." I tried to reassure him, but he was inconsolable. The thought of his beloved pasta shop falling into the hands of the 'yellow heathen' was intolerable for him. He fretted and whined all day long, and in the evening when the doctor came to give him his shots and he fell asleep, I'd go for long walks in the old neighborhood now as unfamiliar as a foreign country. Little Italy looked like Hong Kong.

From my short story 'China Doll' in 3 am Magazine

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I have to write something and I'm having a chocolate attack. I want some chocolate!!!
I've been awfully good.
Chinese noodles for lunch. A ham and cheese sandwhich for dinner. An orange and a piece of toast for breakfast...and I want some chocolate. *sob* None in the house.
Now I have to blog hop, so excuse me while I go see what's happening in the world.

Over here in France there is a choco-holic staring at her computer screen dreaming of deep, dark, chocolate. She glances outside and sees trees silhouetted against the dove-gray sky. Her dog sits up and scratches her collar, and then yawns and goes back to sleep, curling up on the tapestry pillow that serves as her bed. The wind pulls a few leaves off the judas tree outside. Autumn has arrived and there are orange and yellow leaves mixed with the green, and the wild grapevine has turned scarlet and looks like a flame on the old stone wall.

Monday, October 17, 2005

New website addy for my alter ego

Well, I think the title says it all.
Please bookmark my new website!
Thank you!

Jennifer Macaire
The Secret of Shabaz
Horse Passages...coming Dec. 2005 from Medallion Press!
Angels on Crusade...coming Dec. 2005 from Cerridwen press!

Friday, October 14, 2005


I'm a pro at procrastination. I have no idea how I get so much done. Maybe it's an art - 'How to do the most with the least effort'. I know I got that comment in school a lot - - and the word 'effort' seemed to crop up a lot. Today I decided I would work hard and finish at least three pages in my zombie book. I got up and turned on the computer. Then I took my daughter to the bus stop and went to the golf course to check on my results for the tournament I played yesterday. Posted on the wall of the clubhouse were the results: seems I won the men's group four in net and brut scores. Well...Fine. But I'm a woman. Even though Sam is a man's name. My husband was with me, and he cracked up. He'd won the men's group one (first series - he plays off a 7 handicap and went down to 5 because he played so well yesterday.) I dropped four points off my handicap (hubby says it's a scandal because my handicap is still so high - but I never play tournaments so that's normal. He turned around and signed me up for the tournament next Thursday) So I have another golf tournament coming up. And the pressure is on...I won my league yesterday. (insert huge grin)
So - back to procrastinating. I leave the golf club and decide to go shopping. Then my daughter calls and I have to pick her up from school. Then I procrastinate some more - - watch the clouds drift by -- and then take my daughter to theater class. On the way I get pulled over by the police, who are doing a routine alcohol test on everyone. I have to chat, of course, and ask if there are lots of alcoholics on the road at 4:30 in the afternoon. After that I don't even get to blow in the little balloon. He waves me on. (My friend Andrea who was stopped right behind me got to blow into the balloon. I told her she looked more like a drinker than I do. I also told her that when I saw her getting pulled over, I told the cop that I knew her, that she had been depressed, and had just seen her coming out of the bar in town. She has promised to get even with me somehow.) Anyhow - we get our kicks where we can in these small towns. It is fun, however, to know everyone.
I have been procrastinating all day. But I have to get my three pages done. So while my chicken is cooking and the virus scanner is running, and the washing machine is going, and my daughter is taking her shower...I will get back to work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

For Maddy (or how I ended up in France)

I graduated highschool in St. Thomas and wanted to get as far away from the island as possible. The biggest, noisiest, most interesting place for me was New York City, so that's where I headed. I got a job as a salesgirl and thought I'd take a year off before going to college to study to be a veterinarian. I was so sick of school - I just wanted to live a little! Well, to make a long story short, I got fired from my job after just a month because I wouldn't sleep with the boss, and I got in a funk and cut off all my hair, dyed it orange, and went to the grand opening of Fiorucci's in NYC. (this was in 1977 - the Summer of Sam, the summer of the huge heat wave, the winter it snowed buckets - and I was walking around in the snow with boots with no toes...) And at Fiorucci's there were the Sex Pistols, fresh from England, and a ton of photographers. They thought I was a punk from England, and started taking pictures of me. Someone came up to me and asked if I were a professional model and I said no, and the person said he was an agent, and if I wanted, he would sign me up with an agency - all I had to do was come to his place the next day. I said go to Hell you pervert I wasn't born yesterday. Turns out he was a real agent, and he signed me up with Elite. At the agency I said I'd do any work they could find for me - I'd lost my job and I needed to pay my rent, so they sent me to some jobs no one else wanted, and that's how I came to work one day for Avedon, and the rest is history. He called Vogue to tell them to hire me - and when Richard Avedon calls vogue, they listen.
My ageny was thrilled - I was working all the time - but I wanted to travel and they sent my to London, Milan, and then to Paris. I fell in love with Paris, although it wasn't an auspicious arrival - in the middle of a rainstorm and the taxi broke down on the highway. But the city enchanted me, and then I met my husband...and 'voila' as they say in French!
We met in 1979 and married in 1983, and been together ever since!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Computer woes

I need a new computer. Both mine are bugging out on me; my desktop is five years old and keeps crashing, and my laptop has had its keyboard changed once already and it's acting up again - refusing to let me type the letter 'i'.
I thought maybe I could write a new, avant-guarde book without the letter 'i', but that has been done before with the letter 'e', and I can't imagine a more dreadful way to spend my time. Maybe that's what the devil has in mind for me once I get to hell - "You will write a 100,000 word book without the letter 'i', now get to work!"
I suppose if I had eternity and was warm enough, I wouldn't mind so much. That's another problem - it's getting cold and our stone house does not keep warm very well. I go through winter wrapped in big sweaters and usually wear a scarf inside, lol. Well, what do you expect? I grew up in the Caribbean!
Anyhow, if anyone can tell me about Mac computers I'd like some info - is it compatible with my word docs, can I do my website, what software do I need to work?
Any help would be appreciated!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

the Ig Nobels

(I especially like the literature prize for this year)

Dr Abrahams said the Ig Nobels were meant to poke fun at the frustration faced by scientists in their daily work.

"Their job is to try and make sense of things that nobody else can make any sense of," he said. "Persistence is a big part of it but having a sense of humour about constant failure is a terrifically useful thing in that line of work." He ended the ceremony with the traditional call to researchers around the world: "If you didn't win an Ig Nobel prize tonight - and especially if you did - better luck next year."
The winners

Physics: John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland, for an experiment that began in the year 1927, in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly dripping through a funnel at a rate of around one drop every nine years.

Medicine: Greg A Miller of Missouri for inventing Neuticles - artificial replacement testicles for dogs

Literature: The internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for using email to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters, each of whom requires just a small amount of money so as to obtain access to the great wealth they will share with you.

Peace: Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of Newcastle University for electrically monitoring the activity of a locust's brain cell while it was watching selected highlights from the film Star Wars.

Biology: An international team of scientists and perfumiers for smelling and cataloguing the peculiar odours produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed.

Economics: Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, thus ensuring that people get out of bed, theoretically adding many productive hours to the work day.

Nutrition: Yoshiro Nakamats of Tokyo for photographing and then analysing every meal he has eaten over 34 years.

Chemistry: Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, for settling the scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water?

Agricultural history: James Watson of Massey University, New Zealand, for his scholarly study, The Significance of Mr Richard Buckley's Exploding Trousers.

Fluid dynamics: Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of International University Bremen, Germany, and the University of Oulu, Finland; and Jozsef Gal of Lorand Eotvos University, Hungary, for using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin, as detailed in their report Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh - Calculations on Avian Defecation.,3605,1586951,00.html

Out, out, damned Spot!

I played Lady Macbeth in our school play, and I loved it. But whenever I think of that line I think of that cartoon with the dog named Spot...anyone see that?
Anyhow, I finally caved in and set my comments section to word verification. My humble apologies to the hurried and dyslexic out there. I know I have to type the damn thing at least twice to get it right - and it keeps changing every time, but sometimes it goes from Lots of letters to very few...
So there I was as Lady Macbeth, coming down the stairs in the darkened theater, rubbing my hands together and bewailing the blood - when the window that had been hung on the wall (to make the stage look like a big castle) comes crashing down at my feet. I didn't miss a line. I stepped over the window, ignored the titters from the audience, and said, 'They just don't make these Scottish castles like they used to," before continuing my speech.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Zombies and such

I'm in the middle of finishing up a book about a zombie. The idea came to me last year and I wrote out an outline (which, when I started the book, died writhing in agony as most of my outlines do, lol) The characters took over and I had to dump a whole chapter where I was desperately trying to follow the outline and my characters were gleefully messing it up. So now I'm just letting my characters lead me along. They are: Jack, a zombie, who has come back for revenge. Brianna, a private detective, who is helping jack with his revenge (and with a few other things) Dee, who owns a nightclub and offers Jack a job as a male stripper (with disasterous consequences) and Mamie Hoya, a voudon queen who just happens to have a zombie handbook for Jack. Also in the book are Ling, necromancer who works at the city morgue, his lovely zombie daughter May, and the terrible mutant Heart Taker, who can move so quickly he is invisible to human sight.
All these characters decided that my outline sucked and did their best to sabatage it, which is how I lost several characters like Charisma Finch, who I will have to put in my next zombie book, and Carlos the cop with x-ray vision...
Well, back to work!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


One of the things I love best is hiking. I'm a typical 'fair-weather' hiker though - and the end of summer - beginning of fall has some of the best hiking weather. My daughter has been a hiker since she could walk, it's nice hiking with kids who don't complain about walking. We live in a very hilly region, and that makes hiking even more fun and the views are incredible. Yesterday we hiked out of the village and down into the valley, up to the plain, towards the golf course, down into the ravine where we hunt for fossils, then up onto the plateau where the farmers are ploughing the fields for the winter already.
If you want to see photos of the hike - go to my Jennifer Macaire web blog and check them out. (then click my web journal)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Jazz concert

Last night my husband and I went to a jazz concert in the village church. To tell you the truth, we had no idea what to expect. The poster said 'Grand Concert de Jazz!' It featured trumpet, saxophone, and vibraphone; and went on to say they played jazz and afro-Cuban music. Well, I love salsa, so I wanted to go. We settled in our seats (the little church was packed, actually) and the band introduced itself - the band leader and trumpetist was very funny. (And a vibrophone is a sort of electric xylaphone, which I didn't know) Anyhow, they warmed up and started off with 'White Christmas.'
They had background music and played over it - so that it sounded just like a big band. They played things like 'The Girl from Ipanema', 'Tristiana', 'Favala', and... my mind just went blank.
Anyhow, it was nice. The trumpet player was excellent, and I love the saxophone. The thing was the 'White Christmas' intro. They hit some off-key notes and I got a serious case of the giggles and had to hide it by pretending I'd had an allergy attack. Then about fifteen minutes later, because of the damp in the church, I did get an allergy attack, so I spent most of the evening buried in my Kleenex. Luckily I was sitting half hidden behind the statue of the Virgin Mary, so I didn't bother anyone. My husband, who I had to drag to the concert, and who'd insisted on sitting right next to the door in case he wanted to bolt, LOVED the music and tapped his feet all night long to the rhythm. Two of our neighbors sat next to us, Jean-Jacques who owns the manor down the hill, and Jacques, my friend Patricia's husband, who is a doctor, and who loves music - any kind of music. I really wanted to hear some salsa and blues, but it was mostly band music. They did play 'When the Saints go Marching In' at the end, and we all went out into the night marching and clapping. It was a lot of fun, actually.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


I like rain when it falls gently on the windows and soaks into the garden, dipping the roses heads, heavy with water, and depositing sparkling droplets on the wide, water-lily-like leaves of my nastertiums. Today the air is misty with rain. The church is shrouded in a gray drizzle, I can hardly see the steeple. I'm going to go make myself another cup of coffee and get some work done while my daughter is asleep...

I got a very odd e-mail this morning. Odd because I am now on someone's mailing list I didn't expect to be on, and odd because it was a really old, bad, dirty joke. So now I have to revise my opinion of this person and wonder why I have suddenly appeared on the mailing list, and how I can tactfully get off it. Since it's a business contact, I don't want to block the mail. But since it's someone I rarely hear from, and who I can call on the phone, it shouldn't matter if I do block the e-mail. Decisions, decisions. This is the second time this has happened. I write a business letter and suddenly get put on a social e-mail list that mostly deals in bad jokes. I have a very particular sense of humor. Jokes I think are hysterical are like this one:

Rumsfeld bursts into the oval office to give George Bush the news that there has been a terrorist attack in South America and that there are three Brazilian people dead.
Bush is very upset and sits with his head in his hands for a couple of minutes, until he finally looks up and asks,"How much is a brazilian?"

Or this one:
I was asked to run a marathon. I said, "Piss off".
They said "come on, it's for spastics and blind kids.
"Then I thought ... fuck, I could win this ...

Anyway, it's something I'll have to think about.