Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I've heard from a few aspiring authors that they read my blog (OK - I admit, I'm flattered) I also admit I'm not an expert in the publishing business, although I can say, with absolute certainty, that anything you've heard of has probably happened to me (Well, not the best seller but let's remain optimistic!) I've been accepted, rejected, scammed, insulted, praised, flashed, (Yes, you read that right.) published, dumped, edited and unedited. My publishers have: folded, just started, won prizes, been maligned, have made headlines, have been obscure. I've signed over twenty contracts (not as many as some of the gals I know, and more than others.) And through it all I've tried to do one thing:
Be Professional.
What doeas that mean to a writer?
Well, it starts off right in the beginning by Reading the Guidelines.
I'm always surprised when I read blogs by publishers, editors, and agents stating that so and so didn't follow the guidelines. It's such an easy thing to do. Read instructions. Follow instructions. And one of the first things they ask for is a SASE.
In this day and age of computer networks and online submissions and e-books, it occured to me that maybe an aspiring author would not know what a SASE is. After all, when I first saw the initials I had to ask someone (I think it was my friend Eileen who is a journalist) and she said it's a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope.
It's not a Save A Second Envelope, which some writers seem to believe as they send out their submissions without it.
A SAE is a self addressed envelope, usually accompanied by an IRC, which is an international reply coupon. (for those living abroad it is often the only way we can submit material, and I submitted all my short stories with their SAE's and IRC's in order to hear back from the magazine publishers, for example.)
Bring professional is not hard to do. It starts at the very begining of a writer's career with the guidelines. It's easy. I promise!

A box of books!

I just got a box of books from my mom. She buys them, reads them, and sends them to me. So now I have a huge TBR pile and I'm pretty excited.
I've been meaning to read Doug's book and I will, as soon as I get back from Germany. The conference means I've been a bit frazzled lately. I'm leaving the house, dogs, and daughter with number two son, who (at 20) is very responsible and a good cook. But I felt I had to get everything in order to he didn't have a pile of laundry staring at him and dust bunnies under all the furniture. So I cleaned and laundered and shopped, and then packed. (For only 3 days, it's not like last year when I went to RT for a whole week and really packed, lol).
Anyhow, I'm bringing 'Wicked' with me to read on the plane, and then I can't wait to get back and read the other books.
Turning Angel
Dark Harbor
A Man Without a Country
We Need to Talk about Kevin
To the Power of Three
The Lighthouse
The Rottweiler
Dead as a Doornail
Books just make me happy!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Darwin's Nightmare

I saw this film last night and all I have to say is - Go See it. Find it. Rent it. Steal it. Download it...but go see it.
This from the NY Times: "Hubert Sauper's ''Darwin's Nightmare'' stands out. An unflinching, rigorous examination of the ecological and human effects of globalization on the African nation of Tanzania, Mr. Sauper's film is not always easy to watch."

This from Slant Magazine: "After being introduced into Lake Victoria during the 1960s, the Nile perch would go on to devastate the natural ecosystem of the world's second largest lake, a place often cited as the origin of all human life. With Darwin's Nightmare, director Huper Sauper traces the effects this scientific experiment has had on the ecology and people of Tanzania, namely those in the Mwanza region of the country."

This from The Austin Chronicle: "Conversely, a mammoth and monstrously profitable industry has grown up on the shores of the lake, fueled by the World Bank, rampant Western globalization, and the cheap labor provided by the lakeside populace, who subsist on the perch’s gutted, maggoty carcasses and live in a hellish state of self-perpetuating squalor so bleak as to demand another circle in Dante’s hellscape. Darwin’s Nightmare explores the myriad interstitial connections, the causes and the effects, and the end result of globalism on the people it was presumed to help. The prognosis is beyond ghastly, moving via Sauper’s exhausting interviews with the local populace, workers, factory management, prostitutes, the Western industrialists, and, most tellingly, the pilots of the massive Russian-made cargo planes that fly out tonnage after tonnage of Nile perch fillets every single day. Which prompts the question: What do they fly in? Sauper returns, over and over, to this simple query, unearthing varying responses, until, late in the film, the truth is mumbled by an obviously drunken and shamefaced Russian pilot: The planes bring in weapons and other ordnance for Africa’s countless war zones. In short, they ferry in death to the birthplace of human life before returning to the West with the lifeblood of not only Lake Victoria but, in many ways, the continent itself. Darwin’s Nightmare is a muckraking masterpiece..."

This morning I went shopping and spoke to the fishmonger outside the store. I told him I wasn't buying any more Nile perch. He'd seen the film too (it was on TV last night) and said he had to agree with me. Trading fish for arms while millions of Africans die of AIDS or starve is a horrible catastrophe. Eating fish that is 'a result of a scientific experiment' that no one can study because it's protected by armed guards who shoot to kill is scary enough. Anyway...see the film. It's scarier than any horror film I've ever seen, more surreal than any science fiction movie, and yet it's real life.
And don't buy Nile perch anymore.

a half a million for plagiary

Ever since I read Regine Desforge's 'The Blue Bicycle' I've had a horror for plagiarism. Ms. Desforges is a French author who, unable to think of her own story, basically translated Gone with the Wind into French, transposing it at the same time to the second world war.
And now, a young Harvard student has been accused of copying a book by a popular YA author. She proclaims her innocence, but the paragraphs side by side are damning. And so is the advance she recieved - a half a million dollars. I sometimes wonder if the publishing business has all its marbles.
After Frey now Kaavya Viswanathan, who, although a Haraverd student, is too stupid to think of her own plot or write her own book, but instead lifts the plot and even the dialogue and prose word for word.
Of course, Ms. Viswanathan denies everything, claiming she was "very surprised and upset" to learn that there were similarities between some passages in her novel and passages in the other books.
Lifted from 'The New York Times' is one example of the similarities:

At one point in "Sloppy Firsts," Ms. McCafferty's heroine unexpectedly encounters her love interest. Ms. McCafferty writes:
"Though I used to see him sometimes at Hope's house, Marcus and I had never, ever acknowledged each other's existence before. So I froze, not knowing whether I should (a) laugh, (b) say something, or (c) ignore him and keep on walking. I chose a brilliant combo of (a) and (b).

" 'Uh, yeah. Ha. Ha. Ha.'

"I turned around and saw that Marcus was smiling at me."

Similarly, Ms. Viswanathan's heroine, Opal, bumps into her love interest, and the two of them spy on one of the school's popular girls.

Ms. Viswanathan writes:
"Though I had been to school with him for the last three years, Sean Whalen and I had never acknowledged each other's existence before. I froze, unsure of (a) what he was talking about, or (b) what I was supposed to do about it. I stared at him.

" 'Flatirons,' he said. 'At least seven flatirons for that hair.'

" 'Ha, yeah. Uh, ha. Ha.' I looked at the floor and managed a pathetic combination of laughter and monosyllables, then remembered that the object of our mockery was his former best friend.

"I looked up and saw that Sean was grinning."

I saw a couple other examples over at the 'Boston Globe'. What pisses me off is not that the silly girl is denying it - who would admit to such a thing? Of course she's going to try to pass it off as 'her subconscious tricked me' or some such tripe. What pisses me off the most is this: I read a lot, and I write a lot, and I would know if I copied someone's story and book. I'd know if the plot were similar, and if I'd read the book, as she claimed, I'd sure as hell know if I copied a phrase. Or two (there are 13 of these such incidences in her book, and it's not even a very big book.)

So this is what should happen. She gives the advance back. The publisher stops printing the book. If she's a good author she'll write something else, hopefully her own work. If she sucks, like I think she sucks, we'll never see her again.
One can only hope, at any rate. And No, I am not going to buy her book out of 'curiosity'. There are enough scammers out there making money off honest people as it is.
(End of rant, back to our previous program...)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Agent query Spam

Miss Snark may have found the source of the annoying e-mail queries so many agents have been complaining about lately.
Of course, I couldn't resist taking a peek and imagining all the letters this machine must churn out. For some reason, I received a couple query letters from authors wanting me to represent them. Since I'm not an agent, I wrote back telling them they must have made a mistake. I think now that the letters must have been generated by something like this program, because if memory serves me, the letter I got went something like this: (there were no bold words but it was easy to imagine the spaces to fill in the blanks)

Dear Sir or Madame Jennifer Macaire (this should have been a tip off right there - I don't know many Sir's named Jennifer, but I gave this author the benefit of a doubt and read on - after all - he could be foreign.)

I have written a fantasy novel called 'the Queen of the Ring' and I was hoping you would be interested in looking at it. It's a sword and sorcery tale with lots of adventure and humor. I think this book will be a best seller in the fantasy genre because it closely resembles Lord of the Rings, which as you know, was a huge success. (well, at least he got his genre straight.)

I think you are the right agent for me because I like your agency. (agency? What agency?)

My writing experience: None, but every famous author had to start somewhere! (Yes, and most started with rejections.)

Can I send my manuscript to you by e-mail or do you prefer snail mail and hard copy?

Thank you for your kind consideration,
Nit Wit

Dear Nit Wit,
This is Jennifer Macaire's computer replying. I'm sorry for the computer generated response to your computer generated query letter, but Jennifer has too many important things to do this morning, including getting her coffee brewed just right and writing two chapters on her WIP. Yes, you dim-wit, you sent a query letter to an author, and while she sympathizes with your plight (she was once in your shoes; just starting out and sending out query letters) at least she took the time to write her query letter herself and make sure the agent she was sending it to really had an agency.
Rejections are never happy things, but I, (Jennifer's computer) am chuckling over this one. If you can't be bothered to write a query letter, which is your first contact with a person who is supposed to love your work and represent you, then why on earth should anyone be bothered to read what you really have written? Luckily, I, Jennifer's computer (you can call me Sam) intercepted your sorry excuse for a query and took the time to reply. Not that you even deserve it. At any rate, we are not looking for fantasy books at this time. Jennifer is writing a novel and needs research about bridges. If you have any non-fiction about the history of bridges let us know.
Please do not send anything by e-mail. If you do send your manuscript snail mail, make sure there is absolutely nothing on any of the papers and that the paper is good quality, 80 g/m2 white, and virgin. Do not print or write anything on it; we don't want to read your tripe but paper is always running low here as Jennifer's kids all love to draw.
Jennifer is busy right now, otherwise I'm sure she'd love to reply herself. I know from experience she likes to help aspiring authors, but what she says about the spam she gets in her e-mail would carbonize your manuscript. If you want her to give you some advice, take mine: next time don't use a computer program to speak for you.
Sincerely yours,

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tom's diary

Tom's diary.
I found this lying on the sidewalk the other day and shamelessly copied it into my blog.

Monday. Day named after the Norse god Odin. So why isn't it Odinday? I'll have to ask Ron, he knows everything. Katie is a real trooper. She gets up and nurses the baby every five hours around the clock and never complains. She constantly amazes me. I have to look up the baby's name again because I forgot it. I know it means two different things, and one of them is Princess. Why didn't we just name her Princess? Much easier to remember. Note to self - write baby's name on arm with pen until it sinks in.
Katie didn't make a sound during the birth, we were so proud. She hasn't actually made a sound since, come to think about it, but that's all right - the baby screams enough for the both of them. Note to self - send maid out to buy earplugs so I can get a decent night's sleep tonight.
Katie can have them when the baby is weaned. And sleeping through the night.
Princess, I mean baby, is still screaming. Yesterday we found out that it was due to something called colic. Katie was crying, so I don't know if she paid attention. I'll have to get the scientologist doctor back in again so he can lecture her about that - she has to learn to pay attention.
I'm so glad she's a trooper. I don't know what I'd do if she went all sissy on me and had a depression and needed a shrink. Luckily she converted to scientology so she understands the futility of depression and shrinks. I told her that baby blues didn't exist. It's all in a woman's head, I told her. She just looked at me with her adoring eyes and agreed. What a trooper! Get them young and malleable said the scientologist priests to me, when I told them I was thinking about giving up on women all together. They knew what they were talking about. Those older women have too many preconceived ideas. My first wife was too butch, my second wife was too sucessful, Penelope didn't want to convert...Only Katie understands me.
It's getting hard to concentrate with all the crying going on. I think I'll move into the den.
Called Nicole and asked if the other two kids ever had colic. She reminded me we adopted them already weaned and toilet trained. I asked her what toilet trained meant and she said something cryptic. I'll have to copy that to Ron. He knows everything. I'm pretty proud of myself, I used the word cryptic in a sentence. I was reading one of Ron's books the other day and came across it. Very cool. I think I'll insist on it being in my next script, and why not part of the title as well?
The house is finally quiet. Katie just came downstairs for some of her special diet we fixed up for her. She still isn't talking to me. She'll get over it. She always does. She's such a trooper.

The McGuyver Haircut

Sunshine - check. Dishes done - check. Bed made - check. Laundry done - almost, lol. Since when is laundry ever done? Well, I guess I can blog bit.

I was remembering a story about when my son cut his hair like McGuyver the other day (I think I was reading Jona's blog) He came downstairs with his hand on his forehead and started to eat, and I said, "Take your elbow off the table and your hand off your forehead," and he did, and I gasped. No more bangs. Cut right up to the scalp. Hair sticking straight up all the way across the front and top.

"I wanted to look like McGuyver," he said, and right then I started to hate the mullet cut. I was upset. My son had thick, straight blond hair and it had to be cut into a brush cut to even it all out. I did not like the army look one bit.

Well, I laughed about it a month later when we went to Japan. We stopped off in England at a friend's house and was telling the story - and we actually all laughed about it. My friend, who was American too, thought it was hysterical my son wanted to look like McGuyver. She held her little five year old daughter in her lap, and played with her long, black curls. "My Jenny would never do that, would you?" she asked, and the little girl said, "Never!"

We went off to Japan together for a polo tournament, and the next week we were back in England, and our friend's nanny met us at the door and said, "remember that story that made you all laugh about the little boy?" Turns out my friend's daughter had decided to cut her hair while we were gone, and the little girl had cut herself a McGuyver cut too. She said she liked McGuyver the best, and wanted to look like him too.

We left the next day and the mother was still crying.
I told her she'd laugh about it in a month.
She did not look convinced.

Friday, April 21, 2006


It's definitely spring now. Today it was so warm we were out in tee-shirts, and the air is balmy and full of pollen (I keep sneezing, lol). There are tulips now, bright, red, waxy tulips, and iris, with their surprising lemony scent and frosty petals. I love spring for its flowers, and because I can leave the back door open and the kids and dogs can run in and out. I even think that the bumblebees who get lost and blunder about the dim hallway before getting tangled in my lace curtains are sweet, and I carefully untangle them to set them free. I love the deep buzzing they make, like minature airplanes. Some are black, and look like flying teddybears, and some are bright orange. Both kinds are fuzzy and surprisingly heavy and gentle. I've never been stung by one. (Do bumblebees sting, I wonder?) It's too early for wasps, and the flies have just woken up and are a bit dazed.
My daughter just came in with a tiny frog cupped in her hands. She wants to keep it overnight. I said all right - but just over night.
She'll put it in the same plastic box as the lizard, I suppose, with some water. More proof of spring!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Breaks and fat babies

I'm taking a break. I finished edits and then thought about it for a while. Then I went over the whole thing once more and found a few more spots to be sanded smooth. I usually wait 24 hours after I finish edits before sending off a book. I learned this after a rather burlesque back and forth e-mail frenzy with one editor. Now I finish, wait, re-read, rewrite, and then reread once more before I hit send. Nothing more aggravating than hitting 'send' and finding a new adn wonderful silly typo in your text.
As you can tell from my blog typos I do not do that with my blog posts. In fact, I tend to rush through these as they areoften spur of the moment posts like this, brought on by a brain melt-down (I've been writing for ten hours and I need a BREAK!) or, as in this case, pictures of my new neice. She is adorable, blond, blue-eyed, cuddly, calm, and horribly obese. I want to take my brother and shake him silly. A six month old baby should not look like a weeble. (Weebles wobble but they don't fall down.) Babies should have necks. They should have knees and ankles. Will someone please tell this family to stop stuffing this child? The worse thing is I absolutely adore my brother. And I'm going to see the bundle of joy in a few months. I can just imagine how much fatter she'll get. A chubby baby is cute. A fat baby just looks stuffed - as if it might explode any second. And she was such a beautiful newborn. *sigh* I suppose it really isn't my problem. I am just the aunt. And I suppoes also that saying anything will just make everyone uncomfortable. And angry. After all - children are like your books. You hate any sort of criticsm, just look at authors comments when they get a bad review. You'd think someone said their baby was fat, for heaven's sake.
So, there are some things I will never do.
Never tell my brother his baby is fat.
Never tell a reviewer she or he is a bad reviewer because they didn't 'get' my book.
Never tell an agent/publisher "Look, you passed on this project but so and so took it!" (after all - it could go on to be a Resounding Flop)
(I just read this on an agent's blog and I was astounded. People actually do this?)
I will also never go bungy jumping, but that is because I'm a chicken and has nothing to do with manners.

A bit busy lately!

So sorry I haven't posted, I've been a little busy. I got edits back from my agent and wanted to finish those, and I'm determined to finish May's story before I head off to Germany.

Number one son is getting ready to join the volontary fire department. He has had lots of meetings and tests, and soon will be starting training. He's excited. Number two son is in the US in college and had an infection - went to the hospital, and got a 700$ bill. Thank goodness we were insured. My question is, how do Americans do it???

My daughter is on vacation and her cousin is here visiting. It's nice to have the two girls, they entertain each other and get along famously.

I have an English lesson this morning - so I'm off to find some books to read with my student!

Have a lovely day!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Kate made me do it...

Toot my horn, that is. She's been posting about the importance of promotion, and I was so happy about the kind comments I got about 'Angels on Crusade', I decided to continue. (I know you don't come to my blog to hear about my books, lol. You come for stories about personal trainers in my cereal box...) but today I just got word that Virtual Murder is available at Powells!

(here is the note I got in my e-mail this morning!)

Virtual Murder
by Jennifer Macaire
is now available in TRADE PAPER at $14.95. To learn more about the book, please proceed to:

Your best chance to get this book is to order it online immediately -- phone or
walk in ordering will not be as effective as the lightning fast power of the

OK - a word or two about this book. It's science fiction, it's not romance, although it's pretty hot and sexy, lol. It's for ages 16 and up. It was a finalist for the EPPIES and in the paperback version it's paired with a never-before-published novella called 'A World Between' that is more romance but is definitely sci-fi and is a really, really cool story if I may say so myself.

Here is an excerpt of Virtual Murder:


Where are you off to, lady? For I see you,

You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

~Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

He had blond hair, bleached almost white by salt water, and turquoise chips for eyes. Dressed in the Virtual Tours uniform of khaki shorts and a white button-down Oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he also wore a whistle around his neck for no other reason than aesthetics. A red bandana flirted insolently out of his back pocket.

He put one hand over his eyes, shading them from the bright sun. With the other, he motioned to the gangplank, calling in a loud voice, "Welcome to Virtual Tours. I'm Mitch, your tour guide for this leg of the voyage. This way, ladies, please watch your step. The boat will be leaving in five minutes. Take your assigned seats. The number on your ticket corresponds to the seat number, clearly indicated on the front of each chair. Can I help you, ma'am? That's right, third seat on the left. You'll have a magnificent view of the island as we cruise by Redhook."

When all the tourists were boarded, he waved to the captain and jumped into the cabin. He strolled down the aisle, making sure everyone was seated. Pausing in front of a woman wearing a red sundress, he flashed a brilliant smile. "Hello, Rhonda. I saw you in the sending room at the tour headquarters. I hope you have a pleasant trip. If there's anything you need, don't hesitate to ask."

Rhonda blushed and leaned over to the woman next to her. "My, isn't he a nice-looking man?"

The woman smiled at her in a conspiratorial manner. "They're all gorgeous! The Virtual Tours Agency goes out of its way to please their clients, in this case overworked career women, like us."

"I still can't get over it. I feel exactly as if I'm sitting on a boat, speaking to you. I can even smell suntan lotion, sea air, and the diesel fuel from the boat's engines. I'm having a hard time believing it's all an illusion!" Rhonda gave an amazed laugh.

"Okay, I'll prove it. What seat are you in?" the woman asked.

"The first seat on the left, window seat, with plenty of leg room and a superb view. Why do you ask? You're sitting right next to me, in the aisle."

"No, dear. I'm sitting in the first seat on the left, next to the window, and you're sitting on the aisle. We both asked for the same seat, and the Virtual Tours gave it to us."

"Well, I'll be! I'm Rhonda, by the way, from Nashville. You must be a regular virtual-traveler. It's my first trip," she said with a nervous smile.

"My name's Veronique. I'm from Paris," she said. "If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask. I've been doing these trips for three years now, once every six months."

"That's wonderful." Rhonda settled back in her seat. "Oh, look at that view! The sailboats in the harbor, the sunlight sparkling on the waves and the islands in the distance, it's all so romantic. I can't wait to get to Tortola. I'm staying in the Sea Cow Hotel. Are you staying there too?"

"No, I'm going on to Virgin Gorda, but I've been to the Sea Cow. It's wonderful. Ask for the stuffed grouper, it's divine."

"How do they make everything seem so real?" asked Rhonda.

"Everything is real, in a way. Even this boat, the 'Bomba Charger', is an actual ferryboat making its way from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda, stopping in Tortola. It's extremely sophisticated from what I gather, which is why virtual tourism costs nearly as much as a real trip does."

"It's a two-week adventure, with all food and drinks included in the deal!" quoted Rhonda.

"You're getting everything intravenously, chérie, don't forget. And in reality, it only lasts for two days. On your virtual trip, you won't sleep but a few minutes a 'night', although you'll feel as if it's been a full, eight hours. We won't get stiff either; electrodes take care of stimulating our muscles for us while we sleep."

"I know," Rhonda giggled. "I was nervous when they explained that part to me. I hate thinking of my body lying back at the institute, with all those wires and tubes in it. But I always wanted to go to the Caribbean, and this seemed like the perfect plan."

"It's a great idea. Especially for people like me, who work practically non-stop. You cram two weeks into only two days. I feel so refreshed after these trips. I'm even more relaxed and toned than after a real vacation, believe me. The scenery is unspoiled, no waiting in dreary lines, and we can do anything we want from scuba diving to hang-gliding in total security. Our guides take care of our slightest wish."

"Our slightest wish?" Rhonda felt a spark of interest and twisted in her seat to get a better look at the blond man. "Do we get to ask them out on dates?"

"No!" Veronique shook her head emphatically. "You can't even get near them. I've tried, believe me. But they don't let you touch them; it's against Tour rules. It's frustrating, especially at the beach, when they're strolling around in their bathing suits." She sighed. "But there are other people. I've met a few other tourists and even dated one for a while after I got back from the virtual trip."

"You exchanged names and addresses?"

"Of course."

"And he wasn't, you know, disappointed?" Rhonda asked.

"Why?" Veronique sounded amused. "Don't tell me you've chosen a virtual body for your trip?"

Rhonda nodded, reddening. "I'm not as young as this! When the tour operator asked for a photo of me, I sent them one of me in my twenties. I wanted to feel young again. It's amazing what the brain can do. I feel as if I've gone back in time." She hesitated a moment. "Forgive me if I'm being rude, that your real body?"

Veronique shrugged. "Give or take a few pounds, wrinkles and gray hairs. It's true our brains can imagine us young again, but we can't choose a completely different body. It would be impossible to keep up the illusion. As soon as we saw something that captured our attention, we'd change back to the body our brain was familiar with. That's why the tour guides are all so young and handsome in real life, too." She winked at Rhonda. "You'll meet many people on your virtual trip. The trick is learning which ones are real and which are simply computer-generated images. There's nothing as embarrassing as finding out you're flirting with a figment."

"A figment?"

"That's what people created from a computer program are called. Real people's projections are called virtuals."

Rhonda was dismayed. "How can I tell the difference between a figment and a virtual? I thought everyone was based on a real person!"

"Well, figments usually wear white uniforms. The best way to be sure is to ask, but if you don't want to appear rude, just ask if he's been on many trips before. A figment will reply that he's part of the program."

"I can't thank you enough for your advice," said Rhonda. "Can you touch someone in this, um, world?"

"Of course. Try, touch my arm!" Veronique grinned, patting her arm.

Rhonda reached over and touched her forearm. She could feel everything-the woman's skin, her gold bracelet and even the fine hairs on her arm. "Amazing," she murmured. "How do they do it?"

"Sensor devices, implants. It's all done through the brain, all highly sophisticated. You'll taste the food, feel the sand on the beach, splash in the ocean and burn in the hot sun. The only thing that isn't the same is making love." Veronique lowered her voice. "As you probably have heard, it's a Net prohibition. It's about as exciting as filing your nails."

OK - I wanted to add that the whole first chapter is on excerpt at my website - just click on 'My Books' and 'Virtual Murder'

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter time again...

(a photo of 'les Grands Chartreuses' monestary in Isere, France)

Well, it's Easter time again! Lent is drawing to a close, and spring is here. I can wake up now and leave the back door open, letting in a nice breeze instead of an icy wind.

Today I'm spring-cleaning the house and my son is going to mow the garden...(he doesn't know this yet...) So that tomorrow everything is sparkling clean. My husband is in the south of France and won't be back until Monday. He's playing polo there in the sunshine - lucky!

It's vacation and everything seems to have slowed down. The village is very quiet. A lot more people go off on vacation now than at Christmas time. The roads are better, there is still snow in the alps, and springtime is lovely anywhere - at the shore or in the mountains. We spent Easter break at the sea-shore one year and it really was lovely. France had a wonderful coastline - from the rocky shores of Brittany to the high cliffs and large sandy beaches in Normany, and the south, of course, with its deeply scalloped coastline with alternating sandy beaches and rocky bays. And although swimming is still out, it's warm enough for kids to wade, catch crabs, and play in the warm sand.

In the alps there is still snow at the highest ski stations, and lower down there are lovely hikes to take around steep trails to see old castles and monestaries hidden in the valleys. We went to see 'les Chartreuses' one year in the spring. The monks were just moving the cows from the winter stables to the first level pastures, and there was no sound but the cows lowing and the birds chirping, because the monks of the Chartreuse monestary have taken a vow of silence. And along the trail are signs asking for hikers to respect the quiet and not speak. So the whole valley in encased in a deep silence. It's quite lovely.

At any rate, have a wonderful Easter weekend no matter where you spend it!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Angels on Crusade


Copyright © SAMANTHA WINSTON, 2005.

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

The nurse in charge of freezing my molecules inserted a glowing needle into my arm and had me count backwards from ten. I got to zero and stared at her, perplexed. “Now what?”


I obeyed without question. Ten years of prison had left their mark.

Then a cold wave washed through me. I felt my blood freeze. No one had told me it would be so painful. My teeth chattered and the place where the needle was inserted into my arm ached and ached. The pain grew. Frost bloomed in silver flowers on my hands and face.

The pain was so intense I passed out. My last thought before I fainted was wry. The program was going to lose their corrector. I was dying.

* * * * *

I didn’t die. I woke up lying on my back in the middle of a large mud puddle. Rain pelted my face, and my body convulsed with painful tremors. For several minutes, I felt so awful I wished I had died.

Groaning, I rolled over and propped myself up on my forearms. My clothes were drenched and filthy. I tried to stand up, but my legs wouldn’t hold me. I crawled off the road and collapsed behind a large bush. I had no idea why I’d been beamed into the middle of a road. I could have been killed. I looked closer at the road and sighed. If anything were going to come down it, it would probably be an ox plodding before a heavy farm cart. The farmer would have been able to stop in time.

Unlike me. I hadn’t been able to stop my car in time. I’d killed a child, and I’d been punished with life in a reproduction prison where I spawned one hundred and twenty possible children. Every month an ovule was taken from my body and fertilized and the egg was implanted into an artificial womb. For ten years, I reproduced. I lay on a metal table once a month and donated an ovule, and in between, I worked at the prison library, copying ancient paper books onto gel matrix for safekeeping.

Then I’d been given a choice. Go back in time and change a mistake, or continue to live in a prison, in solitude, where my only jobs had been to produce eggs and reproduce books.

My mission now lay before me. I closed my eyes and tried to remember exactly what it was I had to do. Unfortunately, there seemed to be an empty space in my brain where all that information was supposed to be. I couldn’t remember the first thing about it. I shivered with panic and cold. If my mission failed, the Time Correction Foundation, the omnipotent TCF, would erase this portion of time and I’d be erased along with it.

I took several deep breaths and calmed my nerves. All right. It was coming back to me. I had to convince a young boy not to join the ill-fated Eighth Crusade and therefore save the future crown of France.

I huddled in the gorse bush and wiped the mud off my dress as best I could with my hands and thought of my mission. It had all happened because of a mistake. Time travel was reserved for a select few—highly trained journalists chosen to go back in time and interview famous people. The journalist who’d caused the error I’d been sent to correct had spoken of the crusade in front of a boy who should never have heard about it.

The careless man had taken holograms, as the regulations instructed, but he hadn’t checked to make sure nobody else listened to his interview with Queen Marguerite. Jean de Bourbon-Dampierre had been near enough to hear. On the hologram, he looked up from his reading as the journalist began to speak. Because of what he’d overheard, the boy had slipped out of his bedroom one night and run away to join a ragtag gaggle of youngsters on their way to save Jerusalem.

Jean would not do anything of note during his life, but his descendants would eventually rule France. By running away, he changed the course of history dramatically. I was supposed to find him and bring him back. If I succeeded, I’d be allowed to live the rest of my life in the thirteenth century. If not, I’d be erased, along with all the mistakes the journalist had wrought in only two sentences.

Just two little sentences which had been approved for the interview, for the queen, but not for Jean de Bourbon-Dampierre, visiting with his mother and sister at the court. “My Queen Marguerite, what have you heard of the crusade your husband, the king of France, has embarked upon? What about the group of youths calling themselves crusaders who have nearly reached the sacred Cathedral?”

The words had echoed weirdly around the room, and that evening Jean packed his meager belongings in a leather bag and clambered nimbly down a castle wall in search of adventure and a way to get out of his Latin studies.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The personal trainer in my cereal

I bought my regular package of sugarless fruit and fibre cereal and lo and behold, there was an exercise CD within. I decided it was fate - it's vacation here and my gym class won't start for another two weeks. So, I put my gym clothes on, moved the coffee table, and put the CD in my computer. First two little cartoon heads came on - Monique and Dave - and they told me about my new gym program - complete with a healthy diet (consisting mainly of the sugarless cereal, I imagine. I sort of skipped that part.) Then they asked me some questions about my height, weight, age, etc. Being a pathological liar, I put down:

Name - Princess Noodle (now everyone knows what name I use in the gaming sites)

Age - 25 (of course!) (d'oh!)

Height - 175 cm. (a lie, a lie!)

Weight - 55 kilos (an even bigger lie - oh, I'm in for it now.)

I hit enter and waited for Monique and Dave to die laughing. They didn't. The cartoon talking heads then asked me to peruse their profiles and Choose One of them as my Personal Trainer! (gasp - my own personal trainer from a cereal box!) I chose Dave, only because he was cuter than Monique (who needed something done with her hair) and in his profile the word 'fun' appeared more often than the word 'serious', which Monique used too much for my comfort. So, I chose Dave and Monique whined something about being disappointed but if I changed my mind, she was always there...which kind of creeped me out for a minute until I remembered they were just cartoons on a CD. OK.

I then got to fill out my schedule with this little calendar I keep on my desktop which will beep or do something annoying to remind me "It's Time to Exercise with Dave!" (Oh, I wish.) Anyhow, I finish that and then chose the "Exercise Now!" button. Let's Go!
Dave appears, all buff and holding a whistle and a towel - he looks like a life-guard. He tells me that my training session is divided into three parts, the warm-up, the work-out, and the stretching. I hit warm-up and off we go. Dave says, "Stand up straight. Lift knees as if marching in place." I wait for him to do it along with me, but he only does it once and stops. Some trainer. I do that for about two minutes and switch to warm up number two. Something about deep knee bends. Then I click, click, click ahead to see what joys await me and see sit-ups, leg-lifts, etc. etc. I'm disappointed. Dave is no fun at all. Where are the aerobics and rock music?

So, I keep Dave on the computer while I load Bon Jovi on my cassette player and off I go. I decide to try to remember my work out from the gym. I start with the easy step-touch. OK - that's fine. But what does my teacher do next? And what do I do with my arms? I can't remember. I realize that during gym my brain switches off and I simply copy what the teacher does like a mindless robot. I move my arms up and down (I feel like I'm about to take off) and my daughter comes in, sits down with the dog in her lap and watches for a few minutes. I put some extra effort into my moves, hoping to impress my daughter with the importance of a good work-out.

"Mom," she says after about five minutes. "You're traumatizing the dog."

Over on the computer screen, Dave watches impassively. I'm starting to like him better than my daughter. "Don't you have any homework?" I puff, as I step-touch and wave my arms.

After half an hour I'm tired and do my sit-ups with Dave cheering me on, then my stretches, with Dave offering advice (don't strain yourself. If it hurts, you're doing it wrong.) Oh, well then, I better stop Everything! I finish my 40 minute work out and turn Dave off. He waves goodbye and says, 'See you soon!'

Maybe Dave. Maybe.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Miss Snark's contest

Miss Snark's contest is over, and the winnner is Stephan with entry Number 12 - very fun entry! (you can read it here - along with the other entries. I particularly recommend number 77 if you like Harrty Potter X rated, lol!) Mine actually got to be a finalist, so I'm pleased as can be. The competition was stiff and the rules daunting...But we all had fun!

Here's mine:


“Drop everything and give me ten bucks,” said galleycat. “I'll get you out of this mess.”

“No.” I was going through with it. I spit on my hands, picked up the bat, and strode out to the pitch.

“Bat Segundo!” came the call from the ump.

The crowd looked at me from down their long noses, but I pretended not to notice.

“This isn’t for the likes of you,” yelled a man in the stands.

I wanted to tell him he looked like a terrapin, but the ball was streaking toward me and I closed my eyes and swung with all my might.

I connected with the ball and felt the shock right down to my toes. The ball streaked towards the stands and whistled over the crowd so low they had to duck. I’d hit it completely wide.

“Strike one!” called the ump.

Titters from the crowd.

I gritted my teeth and tapped the bat in the dust.

“Your mother wears army boots!” Got I was tired of that old snark. My best friend galleycat usually stuck up for me in a muddle. But in this crowd of promenading poodles he was strangely cowed.

“There’re too much people here, you shouldn’a never signed up,” said galleycat. He was standing just next to the line of aspiring hitters, most of whom were twice my size and weight.

The roar of the greaspaint nearly drowned out the smell of the crowd-my head was spinning. I stuck my chin out. “I can hit the ball further than those pansies.”

The ball came at me, faster than before, like a will of the wisp. I swung again, and this time the ball shot straight up in the air.

“Girls can’t bat!” screamed someone from my right.

“I get one more try,” I screamed back, exasperated.

“Strike two.” The ump grinned at me.

The last ball was mine. I hit it over the crowd, over the fence, out of the field. Galleycat jummped up and down and screamed, the ump took his mask off and swore, and the pitcher spat in the dust and said, “I don’t care how hard she hits, I'm not having no Girl on my team.”

“Who says I wanted to be on your team?” I said. I put the bat down dainty as you please. “I just want you to think about me when you're playing a real game, and you're two outs and one run down.”

Galleycat and I walked past the line of try-out hitters, and I heard one mutter, “Damn, she hits the ball like Paul Bunion.”

Friday, April 07, 2006

Interview with Author Beverly Havlir!

Bev is one of the authors on the POM's list (as in Pom Pom girls because we cheer each other on! - nothing beats having friends!) And since I adore her and her books, and since she happens to have a new book out Today! I wanted to share her with you - So (drumroll please)...Here's Beverly!

Sam: So, can you tell us how you decided to become an erotic romance

Bev: I've been a lifelong reader of romance, but for me there was always something missing. A little extra spice, if you will. *g* That motivated me to write my very first manuscript with some very hot sex, and I haven't looked back since.

Sam: What is your favorite thing about writing for Changeling Press?

Bev: Everybody at Changeling Press is just great to work with, from my editor to the cover artist and everyone in between. The other authors are friendly and just helpful. It's an awesome atmosphere. I like it a lot.

Sam: What is your birth sign, and how do you think it influences
your writing? LOL (being very New Age here...)

Bev: I'm a Cancer, and as such, I'm very moody. LOL. My writing depends on my mood . *g* There are times when I write up a storm, when the story flows and the dialogue sparkles! Then there are the days when I can't write anything that makes one iota of sense. I drive myself crazy! LOL.

Sam: Is it hard to juggle writing and 'real life'?

Bev: It is. It takes discipline. When I first started writing, I had a hard time balancing work and real life. Now I've devised a schedule of sorts so I can get my chores and errands done, and get my writing in. My husband and kids are very supportive, and they understand when I need the "me" time so I can write. LOL.

Sam: What really nutty thing do you do Because you are a writer?

Bev: I have a habit of watching people and making up stories about them in my head.My husband laughs and says "You're such a writer!" LOL. I just can't help weaving stories in my mind. I've done that since I was a young teenager. Also, I have a tendency to predict the endings of tv shows or movies, which drive my kids nuts!

Sam: Anything coming soon you'd like to tell us about?

Bev: I have a book coming out in May from Ellora's Cave. IRRESISTIBLE is an erotic romance with a little bit of a twist, since its about a married couple. It's something new for me, and I really like this story. So please, watch out for it on May 3rd. I will also be having a contest to coincide with this release. I'll be giving away a custom made fashion tote bag with lots of goodies inside. I'll have more info up soon in my website or check out for a photo of the beautiful tote bag I'm giving away and also for more details.

Bev's new book: Bandar: License to Pleasure

Blurb: The mission is simple. Sneak into Utuja and rescue Lara Conway, kidnapped daughter of the Earth Federation’s Premier. Vartan doesn’t reckon on a beautiful spitfire who fights him at every turn. Soon, he’s grappling with a bigger problem -- how to keep his hands off her.

After a harrowing ordeal, Lara Conway is happy to be rescued. Even if it is by a rude, gorgeous studmuffin who doesn’t seem to like her but eats her up with his eyes. Danger lurks around them as they try to outrun the Xerexians and get off the planet alive. The erotic pull of temptation and passion shadow their every move. In the heat of the jungle, Vartan and Lara will strike a bargain for A License to Pleasure.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

the Very Best Real Tomato Sauce

Now the secret to this is slow cooking. You really have to do it on a day where you're going to be home and you can be around to stir this once in a while. (Note that it does not take much watching or work.)
Cut up one clove of garlic and put it in a pan with about a quarter cup of olive oil. Then you put the tomatoes in (cut in half, face down) and cook on low - medium -low until completely mushy. (This way, if you want, you can lift the skin off the tomatoes when they're cooked.)
When they are mushy stir, and add a teaspoon of sugar, a half a teaspoon of salt, and a half a cup of red wine. (Drink the other half - lol)
Then cook & stir some more until it starts looking almost creamy.

You can add sliced smoked ham, parmasian cheeze, basil, cooked onions, or some cooked ground beef to this recipe and make spagetti sauce, or use it to make lasagna. Or just drizzle it over some fresh noodles and enjoy with a nice glass of red wine!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Let's Play Corrupted Wishes!!!

Here's how it works:

Person 1 makes a wish
Person 2 grants it, with a hilariously unpleasant twist, then makes a wish of his/her own.
The next person then corrupts THAT wish, and makes his own wish, and so on.

Like so:

Person 1: I wish I had a Maserati.

Person 2: Your wish is granted! You have a Maserati. By Matchbox.
I wish I could fly.

Person 3: Your wish is granted! You can fly! You just can't land.
I wish every day was Christmas Eve.

Person 4:
Your wish is granted! Every day IS Christmas Eve--and you're in retail.

I'll go first.

I wish I was on vacation.
(play in comments section)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Date change!!

My chat is now this Sunday April 9th at 2 PM EST!

I'm a featured author this month at Erotic Escapades

- Click on my picture to read the interview where I name drop
shamelessly, talk about upcoming books, and give away the secrets of
my past...

And don't forget to join me on April 9, 2006 at 2 PM EST in the
Erotic-Escapades Chat Room where moi, Samantha, will be
talking live to all of my fans!!!
(or both of them - please - come one come all!)

Don't forget:

April 9th at 2pm in the Erotic-Escapades Chat Room! Be there!

(I'm giving away prizes...)


Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fool's Day!

An April fool in France is called an April fish - why? No one is really sure.
'April Fool's Day' supposedly started in France according to the French (this is so typically French you can't believe it) when one of the kings (Louis? Henri? I get them all mixed up) decided that the calender year would now start in January and that all over France it would be The Same for everyone. (Before, apparently, each region had a different New Year's Day, most being on the first of April. Well, everyone accepted January 1st, but there were (there are always) those who resisted change and hung on stubbornly to their day...The first of April. And those people were made fun of by others. And this developed into the April Fool's day.
"Hey you fool, stop celebrating today - New Year's day was three months ago!"
Now, a little harder to explain is the fish. In France, on April fool's day, children cut out a little fish in paper and tie or tape it to some unsuspecting soul's back. They then spend the rest of the day giggling about it. Why a fish? Some say it's a cross-over from Easter coming soon & the sign for Christians(Christ - Fish - April Fool's fish) But most people just think that of all the animals a kid could draw and cut out easily and quickly - a fish was the easiest. The person with the fish on his back was ridiculed all day long (The Fish fool!) and thus 'Poisson d'Avril'.
Now, in Germany, they also have April Fool's day, but there they call the day by the name of an animal - any animal at all you can imagine...But not a fish. It's never Fischtag in Germany. Hundtag, pfordtag, name it, but not a fish. (and please pardon my german spelling)
At any rate, Happy April First!