29 January 2010

Time machine, anyone?

I've noticed something odd lately. I'm getting... older.

Duh, right? But really, I still feel basically the same inside as I did when I was in my early twenties. Only now... hmmmmm. Some things are changing. I'm not sure I like it. Okay, honestly, I know I don't, at least not when it comes to the purely cosmetic and... I'll admit... vain things in life.

I bring this up because today I got my first pair of bifocals. (shudder) I should have gotten them a year ago, but that young person still living inside me shouted: "NO! Those are for old people!"

It got to the point where I couldn't read for pleasure. Believe me, that is NOT acceptable! So, the mature me slapped the youngster around and shouted back this time: "Shut up, idiot! I need these."

A person can only squint so hard before getting a headache. I am not one of the lucky people who can remove their glasses and hold the printed page/bottle/whatever at arms' length... that nasty old astigmatism makes me impossibly blind as a bat.

Thank heavens for progressive lenses. Although I know these are bifocals, no one else has to. Unless I tell them. The other signs of aging, however, are a little harder to hide. And so, I present...

You might be getting older if:

1. You consider late-night television to be anything that comes on after nine p.m. Ten on the weekends.

2. Your idea of a great weekend means staying home, reading and watching television. Anything 'exciting' usually involves trauma and mayhem you'd rather not deal with.

3. Anything fried, spicy or the least bit acidic... ie, anything you ate during high school/college on a regular basis... will cause heartburn or an upset stomach. Bring on the Pepto! (Corollary: Antacids become your fifth major food group.)

4. It seems you only have to think about fattening foods in order to gain weight. Seriously. I swear it's true.

5. You frequently find yourself using the phrase: "I remember when ...." or "Back in my day...." You get the picture.

I could go on, but I won't. However, feel free to add a few of your own. If you can remember them. (GGGG)


28 January 2010

Thou Shalt Not Tweet

With the onset of blogs, social media, and, in particular, Twitter, there have been as many articles written about how to use it as how NOT to use it. Lately I keep seeing lists of things that only gauche plebes devote 140 scintillating characters about to share with the world.

14 things you're not supposed to Tweet about if you're cool:

1) Kids
2) Cats
3) Anything that happens in the bathroom
4) Exercise programs or going to the gym
5) What you're having for breakfast/lunch/dinner/coffee break
6) Social Media / Twitter being broken
7) Random "meaningful" statements
8) The weather
9) Your mental state
10) Your sex life
11) Your daily whine/negativity
12) Your number of followers
13) Everything you do in your boring day
14) Socks (Or, I guess, your clothes in general)

Did I miss anything? I don't know about you, but this covers most of the stuff I think about and am interested in. (Feelin' a little unnecessary here, and I'm sure legions of hipsters would agree.) Taking into consideration all the additional cautions out there about posting too many links or retweeting frequently, what does this leave as acceptable Twit fodder?

iPad jokes? or is that too close to social media tripe?
Pithy observations about politics? Or is that too close to #7, random meaningful statements?
Scathing, 140-character commentary on customer service at X company? Or is that too much negativity?
Participation in things like FollowFriday and MusicMonday? Or is that too close to #12 and #13?
Links to your blog entries that also follow the above do-nots and thus aren't about bourgeois topics?

Bueller? Bueller?

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/ (Can I LINK to my cat site since it's about, you know, cats who don't LOL?)

25 January 2010

The Zombies are Here!

My first zombie story is out! It's a novella called "Simon Says" in the HALF PAST DEAD anthology from Kensington Brava. Look for it in a bookstore near you. Here's the blurb:

Special Forces soldier Simon Blackwell ended his affair with Mariana Daniels three years ago, but he hasn't stopped protecting her. Mariana has no knowledge of the dark, deadly creatures that lurk in the forest surrounding her clinic, or of the mysterious powers that make Simon the only one who can defeat them. But soon he'll have no choice but to reveal the truth, and urge her to trust in an explosive passion that never faded...

Buy it now from Amazon or wherever you buy trade paperbacks!

And the first novel in the series is coming out at the end of February. It's called ONCE BITTEN, TWICE DEAD. Here's a little bit about the book:

Thrills, chills and a smoldering sexy hero combine to unforgettable effect in Bianca D'Arc's irresistible new novel of paranormal romance...

When police officer Sarah Petit investigates a disturbance in an abandoned building, she expects to find a few underage drinkers. Instead, she's attacked by creature straight out of a horror movie. Waking a week later in a hospital, Sarah is visited by Special Forces soldier Captain Xavier Beauvoir. The zombies who attacked Sarah are the result of military research gone terrifyingly wrong, and Sarah's immunity to the virus makes her the perfect person to help Xavier eradicate them. But his smooth Cajun accent, whiskey-colored eyes, and dizzying kiss are risky to her in a very different way.

Sarah attracts danger like a magnet -- and the smart, fearless cop attracts Xavier too, instilling a bone-deep need that's undermining his steady facade. Enlisting her aid is a necessary gamble, but vicious undead creatures are not the only enemy they face. And the only way to keep each other safe is to trust in an instant connection that could be their greatest strength -- or the perfect way to destroy them both...

The book is available for pre-order from Amazon and will also be available for the Kindle.

While I'm plugging new books, I should also mention that three of my vampire novellas have been collected into a single print volume called BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD. It's available now for pre-order on Amazon. Or you can get the individual stories in ebook formats. The volume contains the stories: ONE & ONLY, RARE VINTAGE, and PHANTOM DESIRES.

Here's a little bit about each:

Three mortal women discover the loves of their lives…the vampires of their dreams.

One and Only - Vampire Atticus Maxwell stands at the edge of his own oblivion…until the faint heartbeat of a desperately wounded mortal woman calls him back. The terrible crash that almost took both their lives has brought him a woman who just might give him a reason to live again. No barrier to their love seems too great—until they learn the crash was no accident at all…

Rare Vintage - Marc LaTour is drawn to Kelly when she goes to work for the newlyweds Atticus and Lissa at their vineyard. He moves into the mansion on the pretext of needing a place to stay while his own home is remodeled. Then an upstart vampire challenges him to a fight to the death. Kelly is willing to trade her life for his — but can he save her from himself?

Phantom Desires - Dmitri Belakov enters the scorching hot dreams of the woman who just bought the farmhouse that rests above his secret lair. He must either bargain with her or kill her, but she is much too intriguing to dispose of so easily. When he discovers she is his One — his perfect match — he’ll do anything to keep her by his side... forever.

Warning: This book contains three individual tales of vampire lust, sexy neck biting, a little naughty dreamwalking, a touch of ménage action and lots of everlasting love.

I hope you'll enjoy all the new releases! For more information visit my website at http://www.biancadarc.com/

23 January 2010

Divination: Celtic Ogham - Saille

Pronunciation: sahl-yeh
Tree: White Willow (Salix alba)
Letter: S
Deity: Brighid, Cailleach, Morrigan
Month: February, Imbolc, aka "Witch's Moon" or "Moon of Balance"
Color: Yellow (some sources say any bright color)
Animal: Hare, cat, hawk
Planet: Moon
Flower: Primose
Gemstone: Moonstone

The white willow's young branches are feathery, flexible and droopy (though not as droopy as the weeping willow). It grows in wet soil near rivers and streams and has long history in healing and religious ritual. Orpheus was said to have received his gift for poetry by touching the willows Persephone's sacred grove. Since then, many artisans have followed his example to gain eloquence, inspiration and skills.

The Christian celebration of Easter sprang from the ancient of Druid creation mystery that says the universe was hatched from two eggs hidden within the willow's multiple trunks. In spring rituals, colored eggs were placed within a willow to commemorate this event, then eaten at Beltane.

The Celtic word for Saille means sudden outburst of emotion, action or emotion. In Native American culture, the willow's gentle branches were said to sweep away fear. The branches are said to be ideal for Wiccan besoms, divining water, and finding lost objects.

Water always seeks a stable level. In divination, when Saille appears it could be telling you to pay attention to the imbalances in your life, be they physical, spiritual or interpersonal. You could be entering into a time of bursting psychic growth, intuition, imagination - or maybe self deception! A time of enchantment is at hand; new winds are blowing and you need to be prepared to adapt.

Saille could also be warning you of danger to you or loved ones, probably from an older, cronish woman. The lesson she brings will be unpleasant, but in the end all will be well.

It could also be time to root out your tendency to ignore the dormant feelings that lie hidden; to pay more attention to intuition and hunches rather than logic.

To see more in this series, click the tags at the bottom of this post.


22 January 2010

Steampunk Workshop

Interested in Steampunk? Then click over to the Romance Diva forums (you have to register, but it's free) and get in on the discussion with these great authors!
Zoe Archer
Gail Carriger
Katie McAllister
Meljean Brook
Sarah Hoyt
Dru Pagliassotti

20 January 2010

But I'm not inspired

I've been in a funk this past week. I've squeezed out a few hundred words a day, but no where near reached my daily minimum. Everything around me seems to be "keeping me from writing"* and my inspiration level has been set at non-existent.

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

~Gene Fowler

The kids only have two and a half days of school this week. Mentally I gave up on the days they'll be home before they week even started - how will I get anything done with the kids around anyway?

My local NPR station switched its morning programing, and how can I expect to concentrate when my usual shows aren't on at the accustomed times?

My laptop wallpaper is old and no longer inspires me. But ninety minutes spent surfing for new paper last night didn't result in anything more exciting.

The news is full of heartbreaking stories of the dead, missing, and too-few survivors in Haiti. My heart is heavy, and I'm not feeling the sexy vibe.

Hubs is in transition with his job, and pops into my office (or calls me from the other end of the house) at least twice an hour. Half an hour ago he was in here talking to me, and after my fourth "huh" in as many minutes he asked "Are you listening to me?"

Sheepish look from me. "Not really, I'm trying to work."

"Why didn't you say so?" he muttered before he walked away, leaving me alone.

I can feel the silence swelling around me. It's even more distracting than his talking.

Now you tell me, with all that going on how can anyone expect me to get any work done?
If you've made it this far, are you ready to throw a bucket of cold water over me yet? Because really, I think someone needs to.

Yes, the kids have a short school week. This happens multiple times a year. They're also old enough to actually leave me alone for 30 minute stretches if I plan around it.

NPR switched programming on me. Not a life altering event, unless I have totally lost the ability to go with the flow. I have NOT become that person (yet).

The events in Haiti are terrible. But even in tragedy, my deadlines need to be reached, my commitments met.

Desktop wallpaper - really? Did I honestly think for longer than 10 seconds that this was my problem? (Sadly, yes. Can I have my ninety minutes back?)

Neil Gaiman says,

"One word after another. That's the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine it's the only way to do it."
Those words have been my desktop wallpaper since November, inspiring me every day when I sit down at my desk. Now why didn't I just copy this picture over to my laptop last night, instead of looking for inspiration on Google Images.

So what's really been "keeping me from writing"* all week? Me.

It's all me. None of the above excuses, or the other two dozen that were just too lame to even put on the screen, had to keep me from writing. Now that I've written all this out, I can see that it's all been nothing but a bunch of poor-me'isms that I turned into a huge waste of time.

Two more of my favorite quotes that popped into my head today.

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
~Thomas Edison

Why didn't I have this talk with myself six days ago? The only person who can fix me, is me. No one else can put my fingers on the keyboard, and the elves sure haven't been coming in the night.

But just in case - if anyone has a favorite source of inspiration, I'd love to see it.

18 January 2010

Warts and All....

I’ve been reading a great deal of urban fantasy and paranormal romance lately. There have been a few new pieces, but primarily I’m revisiting old friends of favorite series and remembering what made me excited about the genres back in the beginning. Reading all the of the books so close together, I’ve noticed the “Beautiful Swan/Ugly Duckling” phenomena in all it’s glory. Specifically its been the beautiful swan that due to upbringing and general womanly insecurity still sees herself as the ugly duckling.

Being inundated by the repetition of it has led to a lot of discussions lately. As writers and readers, do you find this particular “humble heroine” more relatable than a confident heroine? Is it important to know the heroine is humble and doesn’t realize how truly beautiful she is despite the two, three or ten men falling at her feet? Should the reminder of her humility be addressed once or twice, or sprinkled liberally throughout the book and series?

I think if you had asked me ten years ago I would have come down firmly on the side of humble. Chick Lit and Erotica were beginning to pimp the sexually empowered woman, which was wonderful, but not always done well. Many times a heroine came off as sexually predatory, shallow, or just mean. After another decade under my belt convincing the women around me that yes, he meant what he said, and no I’m not just saying they’re attractive because we’re friends—ooooh confidence!

Not only do I want the real life women in my life to feel sexy and assertive, I’d like to spend more time with heroines who can take a compliment and not fret over her “fat jeans/genes” when every description has her well below average healthy weight. Confidence is the sexiest accessory a woman can put on, but too few pages reflect that. Perhaps as the majority of authors I read are women, this is a genuine reflection of their own doubts as much as an attempt to make a character relatable, still; if I can’t have confidence, how about acceptance? My favorite heroine is the one who can accept herself, warts and all, and still think a man better be damn worthy of it!

What say you? On this day of celebrating a humble man who is talked about as a great martyr an legend, what do you want in the pages of your favorite stories? Do you want more women moving through the sizzling pages of your next read covering their “wobbly bits” and wondering what men see in them? Or are you pulling for, (and perhaps writing yourself), more women who can agree they look pretty damn good today and move on? Do you want the heroine next door? The heroine you can look to as a shining example? Or some entirely new animal to dominate the page?

What’s your opinion on this day of celebrating a man who fought that we could all have equal opinions and the right to them?

Warts And All Ramble Done


16 January 2010

Counting the Minutes

Why is it, the closer you get to realizing a goal, the harder it gets to be patient?

My next short story, “Hoodoo Cupid” will be published by Red Rose Publishing on February 4, and I’m already climbing the walls. The general edits couldn’t get done fast enough. I powered through the line edits in an hour. (Not bragging—the story’s only ten thousand words long.) Where’s the editor’s okay on my okay of the edits? Where’s my excerpt? Where’s my ISBN? I wanna order postcards! Wah!

It’s not like I haven’t been down this road before, and I’ll be going through it all again in a month when my next art book, Fantasy Art Templates, starts its final countdown. But I’m not giving the art book a second’s thought, and the short story due out in May? Faggedaboudit!

Everything is focused on the story I can almost touch. Almost.

Ironically, considering the story is my first contemporary romance, my current situation is a good analogy for sexual tension. The wanting, the impatience, the taunting proximity of something not quite within reach are key ingredients to literary foreplay. Think of Bogart and Bacall in the nightclub scene of The Big Sleep. Physically, they’re close enough to touch, but his professional smarts are telling him he can’t trust her enough. Her secrets mean she can’t trust him either. But they’re so close, close enough to think they might be able to touch someday. They’re ready to explode, but they can’t, so they set off a string of verbal fireworks to let off steam—which only gets them in deeper.

Waiting for publication seldom leads to a clinch with a movie star. It’s more about lining up the tasks so all the promotion gets done in time in a way that serves the release instead of hurting it. If you’re lucky, your spouse or significant other will pick up the tab for a nice dinner or champagne to mark the occasion. But they’re the hero or heroine of a different story. This one’s all about the new publication, and you’re not quite sure you’re going to survive it, though you wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I suspect much of the drama derives from the love affair all writers have with their stories—all their stories. Releasing your book, short story or article into the wild is a lot like introducing a lover to your family. You know the object of your current passion is wonderful, absolutely wonderful, and you want your other loved ones to see your darling in the same rose-tinted light. You’re so invested in the object and the moment, having something go wrong and spoil any part of the occasion is too terrible to contemplate. Even when you know some people will have and insist on expressing their (totally irrational) less than favorable opinions, you strive to make everything perfect, because to do otherwise will mean failing not only yourself but also the one you love.

It’s a little insane. Rationally, I know nobody ever died because the promotional postcards went out a day late. The worst that can happen (a snarky review, for example) really isn’t really that bad. But in a warped way, it’s fun. It’s got all of the thrills, the hormone highs and adrenaline rush of a torrid affair, and you can do it several times a year without anyone calling in the lawyers.

Is it any wonder why I love my job?

Jean Marie Ward

15 January 2010

LOVE AT FIRST SHOT, Fringe, and New Books!

Have you ever had something that rattled in the back of your head and just wouldn't go away? A character, an idea, a little nagging voice?

Most of the writers out there will raise their hand with a roll of the eyes. Of course we have! Well, one of those little nagging stories finally came out of the closet this week.

My Paranormal Romance Novella, LOVE AT FIRST SHOT, released from The Wild Rose Press on Wednesday. This spicy little number spent years smoldering in the back of my mind before I finally sat down and wrote it. TJ Jackson is a doctor who works hard when no one's looking, approaches the world with the type of enthusiasm usually reserved for small children, and believes there's no time like the present to have a little fun.

Emma Feltman takes the world entirely too seriously. Of course, when you're a master mage in training, very few people take you seriously no matter how innately powerful you might be. Since her latest relationship broke up because her lover was a cheating dog, she's been on a sexual hiatus. Unfortunately for everyone around her, the higher her frustration mounts, the more unpredictable her magic becomes.

Now, we learned in elementary science class that opposites attract as long as they're in the immediate vicinity. Ordinarily, these two would probably never be close enough to let the magnetics do the work. So, what brings them together? A dead werewolf, of course.

Here's the blurb:

What do a dead werewolf, a kidnapped coroner, and an inept witch have in common? LOVE AT FIRST SHOT. Emma Feltman is a master mage in training with one minor problem: sexual frustration has twisted her ordinarily powerful magic into an unpredictable force of chaos. Her current job assignment is the Supernatural Clean-up Crew.

When a werewolf is unlucky enough to get hit by a car, Emma's crew is sent in to retrieve the body. Dr. TJ Jackson happens to be the coroner on duty. When it's discovered his mind is immune to magic so they can't erase the incident from his memory, they do the next best thing. They take him with them.

Stashed in a cabin miles from anywhere, Emma and TJ start things off with a bang. Literally. But can a relationship built under extreme circumstances really work?

Interested? Click HERE to skip over to The Wild Rose Press bookstore to check the excerpt out.

Now, you may be wondering what Fringe has to do with the LOVE AT FIRST SHOT. Well, TJ and Emma have a decidedly personal connection to Thursday night television.

While TJ's character may have originated in my imagination, his face looks decidedly like Joshua Jackson all the way down to his signature quirky grin. And watching Fringe really brings TJ to life for me. Curiously enough, Emma's avatar face in my notebook was Emily Deschanel AKA Bones.

Last night, I curled up with a mug of hot tea and thoroughly enjoyed that HD TV I bought my husband for Christmas. *sigh*

Okay, let me pull my mind back on business. If you're looking for some weekend reading, I hope you give LOVE AT FIRST SHOT a glance. There's also another novella that released this week from Samhain that you might want to check out since we're talking about magnetic attraction: SERENGETI STORM by Vivi Andrews.

This is the second Serengeti Shifters book. We're all familiar with the "bad boy" books. But...how about a "Bad Girl" book? Vivi writes a powerful story of love and redemption in her return to the Serengeti world. I couldn't put this story down. Here's the blurb:

The bitch is back, and nothing gets in her way. Except her own heart...

Serengeti Shifters, Book 2

Shana Delray is hissing mad. The pride's Alpha has chosen a mate - and it's not her. Bred to be his consort, she's not going to let some runt of the litter take her destined place - no matter how much ass she has to kick in the process.

Her way back into the pride is Caleb Minor - her former lover, the Alpha's loyal enforcer...and the runt's brother. And if she has to go through Caleb to get what she wants, so be it. She'll do whatever it takes to pry the little usurper out of her way.

Caleb's familiarity with Shana's manipulative ways serves him well when he's assigned to keep the seething she-cat in line. A nearly impossible task, as he's forced to use his body - in more ways than one - to save her from herself. Now if only he can save his battered heart from the explosive desire that isn't as dormant as he'd thought.

Caleb's stronger now. Tougher and harder. And, to Shana's fury, he won't be used. The harder she pushes, the more she finds her heart yielding...and suddenly she wonders if she can somehow win back the man she spent a decade trying to destroy...

Interested? Click HERE to link over to My Bookstore and More for an excerpt.

Now, I'm off to do a little light reading of my own...unfortunately, my own work. :) It's print galley time for ANGELIC AVENGER!,

13 January 2010

Reading while Writing - yes or no

I don't mean at the same time, though multitasking is part of every writer's existence. I mean reading books during the same time period one is writing one. I've heard different takes on this practice, from "Always", to "I just can't, it'll mess up my work," to "I'll read, just not anything like what I'm writing.

Personally I'm in the first camp. I don't understand those that don't. That's not to say it's incorrect, I just don't understand it. I've heard from some that they're afraid what they are reading will creep into their work. Okay, that's a reasonable explanation. I can see that. For myself, reading while in the midst of my own work is the acquifer that fills the well of my muse. I am always scouting for a well-turned phrase or an interesting word that I haven't used recently. I also like to dig through the layers of the books, to see what's working and what doesn't, and where I might be making the same mistakes.

And I usually read books LIKE the one I'm writing. Not exactly like, obviously, but there is some connection. Recently I've been reading books set in the Victorian period or something like it, for example. I have a whole lineup ready in my TBR pile. While the fear of accidental thievery is in the back of my mind (but I have a pretty good memory, so it's very unlikely), reading similar material keeps me in the frame of mind I need to be in to stay "in character" for my own book.

But it's hard sometimes not to compare my work to that of the published, polished books I have in my hand. I shouldn't, I know, but there are occasions I just can't help myself. Especially with really good books. I look at them in wonder. Why can't I write like that? What makes these books so much better than mine (since I STILL don't have an agent and while I've got five publishing contracts to my credit, no NY publisher has come knocking on my door)? There are moments of despair.

So why do I still do it? Because in the end, a really good story inspires me to write, keeps me going when I'm slacking off. I've managed to put down 45,000 words of a planned 80,000 in the last five months, and it's because I've had time to read voraciously. I've read more books in my semester off than all of the previous months combined.

I'm in trouble when Grad School starts later this month, so I'd better get moving!

11 January 2010

Oh, No She Didn't: When Characters Hide Dark Secrets from Authors

You are probably going to think I'm nuts. I don't blame you. If I wasn't a writer, I'd see a doctor about this. You see, my characters don't just talk to me, that would be somewhat...normal. No, my characters keep secrets FROM me.

Has this ever happened to you?

I was going along writing this story as happy as a clam (before the clam is snatched from it's lovely rock and thrown into a pot of boiling water). I knew the characters, knew where I was going, could see the climax up ahead and the end was just around the corner. Lovely.

Then all of a sudden...BAM!

The main character digs in her heels and slams on the brakes. No way would she go my way.

"What? You can't stop NOW," I told her. "Don't you see the climax? The bright shiny 'The End' sign?"

"No! I won't. I can't go there. I'm scared," she said.

That gave me pause. Sure, there were scary things in the story, it is a paranormal, after all, still...Her fear seemed to come from something else, somewhere else entirely.

"Why are you scared?"

"I can't tell anyone," she whispered.

She had a secret? How was that possible? I created her. The story was mine.

Or was it?

After a lot of prodding, my character gave in and told me that dark secret from her past. The one I, the author, never knew. Not quite the "I used to be a man" sort of reveal, but big.

Oh. My. Gosh.

This changed everything. She was right, she couldn't go down my path to the end, it was too straight, too...normal. Her journey was deep and fraught with twists and turns and glorious redemption. It meant an entire rewrite, which of course I'm doing. It is all about the story, isn't it? And real characters. And authors getting out of the way.

I wish she had told me earlier, but maybe she didn't trust me then. Maybe she thought I was nuts.

Authors: Have your characters ever revealed something that you didn't know?
Readers: Have you read a book that had a twist in it that completely floored you?

Kimberley Troutte
Author of:
Soul Stealer
Catch Me in Castile

09 January 2010

Rubber Writer Girl

Writing streeeeeeeeeetches a person. Honest.

Think about it, high school teachers and therapists ask people to journal. Scientists journal to keep track of what they’re discovering—or not. Leonardo de Vinci kept journals. Teenage girls are practically required to have a diary. It’s an epidemic!

OK, maybe not an epidemic. But it is a very, very common practice that is encouraged or required in many cases. Why? Because writing accesses areas of the brain that speaking doesn’t. Writing encourages brain cells that can sleep through a long conversation to wake up and get to work. No, that’s not a real, scientific explanation. I’m a writer, not a scientist (though I woldn’t mind playing one on TV)

When we put new brain cells to work, we sometimes open up new pathways. We connect one thing with another. One mental file triggers another. For instance, when brainstorming, a person may make connections to things they’ve written down and a new idea is born.

Writing down new information assists in the learning process. A person is likely to remember something they wrote down better than something they simply said. Ever remembered what was on a list even if you don’t have that list with you? Some people can’t remember things well unless they write them down. There’s a name for that type of leaning, but I can’t access it right now. Personally, I’m a visual learner. I learn better when I see, or write something down so that I can see it. I’ve heard experts say that no matter what type of learner a person is, the more senses get into learning a subject, the easier it is to learn the material. Writing brings touch and vision into the mix (and sound if you count the tap of the keys, or the sound of the pencil on the paper).

Writing can tap into the subconscious, which is probably why therapists like to encourage journaling. It’s possible to start writing anything that comes to mind and wind up with the solution to a problem or a new and exciting idea. Which brings me to the next subject.

Writing also increases creativity. I’m not sure there’s any scientific proof of this, but I do know that people seem to be able to tap into some kind of creative well when they write. Writers call tapping into this well accessing their muse.

So, we have better learning, accessing new brain cells, accessing the subconscious, and increased creativity. I’d call that stretching. There you have it. Writing can stretch a person, and you don’t have to be a writer to use it.

Now that I’ve written all that, I need to stretch. Until next time!



08 January 2010

Entertainment or Agenda?

There are two topics I try to avoid like the plague─religion and politics. However, a recent trip to the movies has brought a few opinions to the forefront of my mind.

Last weekend, I went to see the movie Avatar, which certainly is pulling in the dough with top honors at the box office right now. Prior to seeing it, I was warned the movie was actually a strong message. Its underlying meaning was how the big, bad United States tries to take over other countries/races. The takeover starts out in a diplomatic/humanitarian manner. When that doesn’t work as planned, force is used.

Even with this in mind, I went to see the movie. Though I kept my mind focused on the story as being “entertainment” one scene chilled me to the bone. It involved destroying something dear to the planet’s indigenous race. What played out on the movie screen was, in my opinion, a parity of the destruction of the Twin Towers. To me, that was a low blow. My heart squeezed as I watched, and yes, even though I knew this was a movie, I cried.

The fact the movie is raking in the money clearly shows people find it very entertaining. I only hope the majority are seeing it as just that, an entertaining movie with action, and a hero and heroine who save the day. Not the agenda behind it.

What happened to doing such things as watching a movie or reading a book to escape the real world? Isn’t that why romance novels are written? Readers want to delve into fiction and be swept away, if only for a short while. There may be some out there, but thankfully I have never come across a romance novel with any other agenda than just that.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it?

D. McEntire author of The Watchers series

Latest Release - Midnight Savior, The Watchers - Book Four

06 January 2010

Books I read in 2009

Last January I decided to keep a list of books I read in 2009. My purpose was to see how many books I really do read in a year. I was surprised to discover that its not nearly as many as I had thought (only 59?!). I didn't rate the books and the only order they're in is the order in which I read them. Below this list are my favorites of 2009.

Freedom's Choice Suzanne Brockmann
Touch of Fire Linda Howard
The Hunted Rachel Lee
Under Suspicion Rachel Lee
A Seduction at Christmas Cathy Maxwell
A Highlander Never Surrenders Paula Quinn
Finders Keepers Sharon Sala
Fearless Fourteen Janet Evanovich
Sight Unseen Samantha Graves
Out of Time Samantha Graves
Veil of Midnight Lara Adrian
Stay the Night Lynn Viehl
Thigh High Christina Dodd
Safe Passage Ida Cook

Dangerous Deceptions Lynn Kerstan
The Golden Leopard Lynn Kerstan
Tall, Dark and Texan Jodi Thomas
Master of the Highlands Sue-Ellen Welfonder
New Moon Stephenie Myers
Don't Tell
Karen Rose
Finding Mary Blaine Jodi Thomas
The Power of Makeup Trish McEvoy
How Not to Look Old Charla Krupp
Don't Go to the Cosmetics.... Paula Begoun
The Warrior Sharon Sala
Living Beauty Bobbi Brown
Real Beauty Sonia Kashuk
Plum Spooky Janet Evanovich
The Secret Wedding Jo Beverley
Sword of the Highlands Veronica Wolff
Warrior of the Highlands Veronica Wolff
The Rose and the Shield Elaine Barbieri
Knave's Honor Margaret Moore
The Notorious Knight Margaret Moore
Hit Hard
Joey Kramer
Master of the Highlands Veronica Wolff
Child 44
Tom Rob Smith
Got the Life Fieldy

The Maiden's Hand Susan Wiggs
Sexiest Man Alive Diana Holquist
How to Tame a Modern Rogue Diana Holquist
The Treasures of Venice Loucinda McGary
The Knights Templar Sean Martin
Protector of One Rachel Lee
Bounty Hunter's Woman Linda Turner
Manhunter Loreth Anne White
The Redemption of Rafe Diaz Maggie Price
In Care of Sam Beaudry Kathleen Eagle
Lie to Me
Starr Ambrose
Ladies Man Suzanne Brockmann
The Lone Texan Jodi Thomas
In the Highlanders Bed Cathy Maxwell
It Happened One Night Anthology - Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jackquie D'Alessandro, Candice Hern
Whispered Lies Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
Shadowlight Lynn Viehl
On the Edge Susan Kearney
Fangs But No Fangs Kathy Love
The Madness of Lord MacKenzie Jennifer Ashley
Immortals: The Calling Jennifer Ashley
Fangs for the Memories Kathy Love

The Heroin Diaries Nikki Sixx

Favorite Book: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Least Favorite: Fangs for the Memories by Kathy Love
Favorite Hero: The Madness of Lord MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Favorite Heroine: Finding Mary Blaine by Jodi Thomas
Favorite Non-Fiction: The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx

Books I Couldn't Finish:
There are a lot of reasons I don't finish a book. Sometimes its just that I'm not in the mood for that particular genre but more often than not its because I can't connect to the characters. For whatever reason, these are the books I couldn't finish:

Skinny Dipping Connie Brockway
The Raven's Moon Susan King
A Knight Well Spent Jackie Ivie
My Wicked Enemy Carolyn Jewel
Wicked Deeds on a Winters Night Kresley Cole
Guarded Heart Jennifer Blake
Bad Penny Sharon Sala
For the love of Pete Julia Harper
Foul Play
Janet Evanovich
Highlander in her dreams Allie MacKay
Highlander Untamed Monica McCarty
Joan Johnston
Take Me Two Times Karen Kendall
Tempted at Midnight Jacquie D'Alessandro

01 January 2010

Happy New Year?

Would someone please tell me where an entire year of my life has gone?

Honestly, I'm not all that sad to see 2009 go -- may it rest in peace. It was not a banner year in either our home or my professional life. Although, I did like getting print copies of DREAM WALK in the mail. :) And that four-star review in the December RT issue was a nice end-of-year bonus.

But, like many Americans, we've had a lot of downturns in life this past year: Money issues; personal crises that are somewhat common in homes with three teenagers (hormones, anyone?); and lots of little, petty irks, such as vehicles that continually break down. Oh, and then there's that pesky rejection and my downward spiral into the "I suck" funk.

Hmmmm... sounds like 2009 was a royal PITA. :\

Or was it?

Despite that list of 'projects' I failed to complete (ahem) and the above-mentioned woes, it couldn't have been completely horrible, right? I decided last night that there had to be something good in 365 days of living. Something. Anything!

So I thought about it... and I realized, yes, it wasn't such a bad, horrible, oh-God-spare-us-another-one type of year. We had more than a few good times. There were a lot of learning and growth experiences for both myself, my dh (I think) and my kids -- and no, they weren't all painful.

We had a lot of laughter ... a lot of good times, despite the crap that was thrown our way by life, fate or our own bad choices. I suppose that sometimes, it's just hard to see the good when you're concentrating on the other.

The upshot is, I'm approaching this New Year of round digits with a new attitude and a different strategy.

1. I'll add nothing to my 'to-write' list unless it's currently under construction.
2. I'll take one day at a time and make myself stop, examine my outlook, and make the most of each one.
3. I'll do something for someone else each day -- even a small act of kindness -- and hopefully forget my own worries in the process.

Otherwise, I make no promises. But I think 2010 is going to be my year of renewed attitude.

May you all have a happy, healthy and relatively pain-free 2010!