Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The First Chapter of NQD

I've posted the first chapter of 'Not Quite Darcy' below. It'll be available on Jan 6th from Amazon and other 'fine retailers.' Ha! I've always wanted to say that.  Next stop: The Home Shopping Network! Okay, with no further yammering - chapter 1!

 “You can’t leave the ball, my pet,” Lord Coleridge Darrington murmured into her ear.
Anastasia shivered with desire as he grasped her by the waist, pressing her body against his hard…
Brring. Brring. A sound tore Eliza from the pages of her book and plopped her back
behind the office desk at the empty model home.
“Goddamn phone.” She pulled her eyes from her book and shot a death glare at the
cursed plastic, blinking intrusion.
She set her paperback facedown on the desk and picked up the receiver. “Olde Stone
Forest Manors. This is Eliza Pepper. How may I serve you?” Serve you? She despised that greeting. Each time she said it, the words chipped away a sliver of her soul.
“Liza! Skip here.” Her boss’s overly enthused voiced buzzed in her ear. “How’d we do
this week?”
This week had gone pretty much like every week had gone since the big housing bust,
but Skip already knew this. Selling McMansions in a crap economy was only for the very
foolish or very desperate. Eliza herself was a little of both.
“Fifteen walk-ins.” Eliza tidied up her desk in preparation for the weekend. “And I
booked a return for you tomorrow morning at ten.” She glanced up at the white plaster
vaulted ceiling. The skylights winked in a fading light.
“Is the applicant viable?” Skip asked.
“Looks good so far.” Eliza grabbed her book bag and began placing her paperbacks
inside. “He’s a writer for Prison Dance-Off.” Save her from a world where reality shows
needed writers.
“Well.” Skip sounded disappointed. “I suppose one is better than nada. Talk to you next
week, Liza.”
“Next week then,” Eliza said, trying and failing to fake enthusiasm. She wondered if her
boss of over a year would ever bother to actually learn her name.
She hung up, then tucked her business cards into the top drawer and replaced them
with Skip’s. She picked up her dog-eared historical romance. After marking her place,
she turned to the cover. She glanced back at her boss’s card. The windblown, half-dressed English lord was so much easier on her eyes than Skip’s plastic, grinning visage. She looked back at her book.
“Thank you, Lord Darrington. You got me through another week. Which reminds
me—we have a date after work, don’t we?” Her voice echoed off the stuccoed walls. “And talking to yourself is a sane thing to do when you have a job like mine. It’s only when the voices talk back that they classify you as certifiable.”
She skipped down the steps and slid behind the wheel of her compact with a grin.
She positively thrummed with anticipation by the time she eased her Mazda into the
flow of rush-hour traffic. After fifteen minutes of stop-and-go lurching, she pulled into
the downtown shopping district, surprised to find an empty space directly in front of her
destination. She couldn’t help but feel as though Lady Fortune had tossed a favor over the
fence as she nosed her car into the spot.
Times Past. The elaborate script of the store’s sign was tasteful, discreet. When she’d
spotted the shop a few days ago, it had looked promising, but she’d been just late enough
for work that she hadn’t had time to get a good look. Wanting to relish the experience, she stopped before the window to savor the wonders it held.
The display was crammed with delights. An old-fashioned writing desk was wedged
between a set of antique chairs. A tea set, carefully arranged, perched on top of a pile of
Dickens’ books. Front and center was a dress. But it wasn’t a dress—not exactly. It was The Dress. The bait which had hooked her while driving past earlier that week. Up close, with only a sheet of glass in her way, the gown was so stunning it took her a moment before she remembered to exhale.
To Eliza’s semi-trained eye, the dress appeared to be straight out of the Victorian era. It
was perfection. Made of moss-green brushed satin, it was trimmed with black lace. Its wide sleeves tapered down to end in a delicate point at the wrist. The folds of the material seemed to shimmer with motion, even though the gown itself remained perfectly still.
The mannequin’s face hid behind her tastefully placed fan. A small bit of paper was
pinned to the gown’s bodice, in the exact spot where someone might wear a “Hello! My
Name is ______” tag. The message printed on it in elaborate script read, Time is short. Make it count.
A shiver skated up Eliza’s spine. What an odd note to find pinned to an antique dress.
Though it proclaimed its strange message to anyone who paused to look close enough, the warning felt personal, intimate.
Never the sort to be put off by peculiarities, Eliza twisted the doorknob and stepped
inside the intriguing store. A tinkling bell above the door announced her arrival.
She scanned the interior with eager eyes. The shop seemed devoid of sales staff, but
was stuffed to the point of bursting with an eclectic mishmash of items from bygone eras.
Shelves were packed with clothing and knickknacks arranged in no kind of order. Men’s
vests mixed with old wooden toys and kitchen gadgets were heaped in a pile on an elaborate fireplace grate.
It was a delightful mess.
Eliza stepped toward the gown in the window. She slid her hand through the folds of
green fabric, touching the material lightly. She closed her eyes and allowed a smile.
“May I help you?” An English-accented voice asked from behind her. Eliza bit back
an eep of surprise and turned around. An old, stooped man stood a few feet away. He was
dressed in Victorian garb, a gray and black suit with vest and cravat. To complete the picture, he even sported a pair of white muttonchop sideburns.
She gave the man a wide grin. “Hi.”
“Good afternoon.” His lips parted in a friendly smile. “Do you require my assistance?”
“You have an English accent,” Eliza blurted.
The old man nodded. “It’s an unfortunate side effect.”
“Of what?”
“Being English.”
The man was wonderfully odd and seemed the perfect proprietor for such a shop. Eliza
clapped her hands together. “Ha, that’s great. And we have so few antique stores in Cali. So happy to see you’ve come along. I’m Eliza Pepper.”
“Ah, how very friendly of you, Miss Pepper. Archibald York, at your service.” He gave a
formal bow, from the waist.
“Beautiful dress,” she said, turning her attention back to the window.
“It is. Over a hundred and thirty years old, that gown. It’s quite dear.”
“Do you mean dear as in adorable, or dear as in expensive, the way English people do?
You can’t mean deer as in mammal. I guess you mean the English one.”
He chuckled. “What a singular way you have with language, Miss Pepper. And you
seem quite fluent in the English version of English as well. I must inquire, are you also an
aficionado of times past?”
She nodded vigorously. “Oh yeah. The Victorian era is my absolute favorite. I read
about it all the time.”
“Ah, a scholar of the nineteenth century, are you?”
“Sure. Back home I’ve got more than a hundred books on it.” To mask her guilt, she
turned her attention back toward the dress. No need for York to know that her research
consisted of romance novels and—when she was feeling particularly ambitious—Jane
“That’s excellent news,” York said.
“I can’t seem to find a price tag on the gown. It’s probably way out of my range, but I
have to ask—how much is it?” She hoped her attempt to change the subject didn’t sound as transparent as it felt.
“I suppose that might rather depend on a great number of things.” He smiled at her in
a grandfatherly way. What a peculiar answer to what had to be the most common question asked of a storekeeper.
“What’s the asking price?” she pressed.
“My…compatriot, err, my partner, is doing paperwork in the office. He could give you
the particulars of that dress, I believe. If you’ll come with me.”
York turned and shuffled through the burdened tables toward the back of the store.
Red drapes shrouded the doorway. He tugged them back and stepped aside to allow Eliza
to enter.
Where the shop had been an untidy jumble, the back room was ordered and artfully
arranged. A small sofa huddled in the corner beneath a lace-curtained window, and gold framed scenes of the English countryside graced the walls. An old-fashioned roll-top desk sat in the center of the room and Eliza could just spot the top of a man’s head behind it. A large rectangular object hung on the wall beyond the desk. Though it was covered by a black cloth, the mysterious object dominated the room.
“James? I believe we have a promising potential.” York paused for a moment and flitted a glance toward Eliza. “I mean to say, ehm, this young lady is interested in making a purchase.
I thought you might speak with her.”
The man behind the desk stood. He looked to be in his mid-thirties and he, too, was
dressed in Victorian garb, but with a far more devastating effect than York. His tight, gray suit coat emphasized his broad shoulders and his glossy black hair was just long enough to brush the edge of his collar. A hint of five o’clock shadow darkened his perfectly chiseled chin. If only that crisp white shirt were unbuttoned and a strong breeze managed to blow through the room, he’d look like he’d stepped from the cover of one of Eliza’s books.
She raised her gaze to look into his eyes. Stormy, as she knew they would be. Suddenly,
her legs felt like they’d been turned into overcooked pasta. Completely out of her depth, she gave her best approximation of a smile.
“Ah,” she heard herself say. Polysyllabic words, or any words at all, had jumped ship.
“I beg your pardon?” His upper-class accent dropped the Rs, turning pardon into pahdon.
When she tried to take a breath, her lungs were entirely uncooperative. If she fainted
dead away, would he catch her, or would she just end up laid out across the floor? The
chance of feeling those arms around her might be worth the risk of concussion.
“Allow me to introduce Miss Eliza Pepper,” York said. “Miss Pepper, this is my partner,
Mr. James Lancaster.”
After turning her gaze from Tall Dark and Devastating, she stared at York until her
legs returned to their less noodly state and her breathing normalized. “The dress? I was
wondering how much it was.”
“Dress? Again, I must ask to beg your pardon, Miss Pepper. Which dress would you be
referring to?” Lancaster’s baritone rumbled.
Before she could answer, York spoke. “Miss Pepper is a scholar of the nineteenth
century. I thought her a most promising candidate.”
“Is that so?” James Lancaster appraised her with a haughty look that made Eliza
immediately think of Mr. Darcy.
“I think there’s been some confusion.” Eliza wasn’t in a hurry to say goodbye and yet
they’d clearly misunderstood who she was. “I’m not here to apply for a job. I’m just interested in the gown in the window.”
Lancaster swept his well-manicured fingers toward the chair in front of his desk. “Please
have a seat.” His voice was commanding and Eliza found herself halfway sitting before she’d made a conscious decision to do so.
“Do you interview all your customers? It must be exhausting.”
“We don’t interview all our customers, no. In a month, you would be the second—
interviewee—as you put it.”
She felt a spark of irritation that he’d ignored her question about the dress yet again. But
then he turned his gray eyes on her and something in her chest melted into a gooey puddle.
“So, Miss Pepper. You’ve studied the Victorian era, have you?”
“I’ve read a library full of books on the subject, yes.” Which wasn’t a lie, technically. Just mostly.
Lancaster tented his fingers on the desktop and looked at her with skeptical eyes.
“Before we discuss the dress, please allow me an indulgence. Do you consider yourself
to be an adventurous person?”
“Ah, maybe? And what does it have to do with the dress? Is being edgy a purchase
requirement or something? Only bungee jumpers need apply?”
“You have a most peculiar manner of speech, miss,” Lancaster said in a flat tone.
“I’m peculiar? Me? I’m just asking about the dress. You’re the one with the creepy
personal questions.”
“I assure you that my intentions are anything but ‘creepy,’ as you so charmingly phrased
it.” The man had the nerve to look affronted. He might reduce her knees to jelly, but the
Lord of the Manor ’tude was beginning to rub her a little raw.
“Miss Pepper, please,” York said. “You must forgive James’s manner. He’s better at the
business end of things. I tend to handle the social aspects of our partnership.”
“Well, I just wanted to know—”
“Yes, I understand,” York continued. “And we’ll get to that, you have my word on the
matter. It’s just that meeting you, discovering you’ve studied the nineteenth century—you seemed a perfect fit for another endeavor.”
“Archie, I hardly think we’re well enough acquainted with Miss Pepper make the
ambitious leap to that assumption,” Lancaster said.
“You are overly cautious in these matters, James. And our window here isn’t unlimited,
you know. We’re far behind quota as it is.”
Lancaster sighed and appraised Eliza with raised brows.
Eliza twisted her purse strap between her fingers, conflicted. Part of her wanted to
jump out of the chair and make a break for the exit. But another part of her, the bigger, more curious part, longed to linger. Besides, McBroodypants Lancaster seemed so adverse to her that it egged on her stubborn side.
She pushed a little further, folding her arms. “The dress. How much?”
York gave a good-natured chuckle. “She’s got determination, James. We could do worse.”
“We could also wait for a more suitable candidate,” Lancaster said.
“You felt we could wait during the Rasputin situation as well,” York grumbled. “Need I
remind you how that turned out?”
With a twang, Eliza felt her last thread of patience snap. “This right here is why people
shop online.” She stood, her purse gripped firmly in her hand, and stepped toward the door.
York moved to block her path and offered an apologetic smile. “Miss Pepper, forgive
our somewhat cryptic manner. I fear we’ve tried your patience most horribly. I do feel,
however, that once you’ve heard us out, you’ll find it worth your time.”
Eliza took another step toward the door.
“In addition,” York said, holding out his palm, “to thank you for your time, I’m willing
to offer you the gown in the window for twenty dollars.”
Lancaster made blustering sounds behind her back. Though she was no expert, the
gown had to be worth several hundred.
“I’d be robbing you. Fifty bucks. Not a dollar less than fifty.”
“And she’s got a strong sense of ethics.” York beamed a smug smile over her shoulder to
his partner. “At this point, your reluctance is only a matter of pride.”
“Very well.” Lancaster’s tone was resigned. “If you’d please just give us a few more
moments of your time. No more than thirty minutes. We have a proposal for you. After
which, should you choose to accept or reject our offer, the gown shall be yours for the
ridiculous sum of fifty dollars.”
Eliza shook her head. She knew she should feel victorious, but the whole situation kept
twisting and turning in such odd ways she had difficulty keeping up.
She stepped back and eased herself into the chair. Her stomach twisted. She only hoped
her exterior projected calm and cool, since her insides were currently in freak-out mode.
“Okay, it’s a deal,” she said. “Give me your pitch.”
“My…pitch?” Lancaster asked.
“Yeah. Your spiel. Go ahead and try to sell me some Amway or make me listen to your
indie demo or whatever it is you’re building toward here.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

What's that you say?

Something very surprising happened to me just over a year ago.  I began to lose all my hearing in one ear.  And I made the discovery that the 'good' ear was also pretty bad.  Well, crap.  As I've moved through this process I've learned some things.  Chances are that you aren't going deaf, which is awesome!  Go you!  But ... being in the world, you might have to deal with people like me, who are.  So here's a short little list about how to deal with hearing loss on both sides.

  • It's hard for us to ask you to repeat something.  When we do, please don't say 'nevermind' and refuse our request. We know we missed out on something and when you do this it isolates us further and makes us feel as if we don't count as much as 'normal' people.
  • We may have difficulty hearing you, but we didn't suddenly drop fifty IQ points.  You don't have to dumb something down for us.  Simply repeat it.
  • Louder isn't always better!  This one surprised me.  Often times I can hear the volume of what you're saying, but I can't distinguish the sounds you're making.  Enunciating helps me more than dialing it up a notch.
  • Finally, look at me when you're talking to me. For one, the sound simply carries better. For another, I can pick up a lot of cues by watching your lips.
  • One of the hardest things I've had to learn is when to tell people I'm partially deaf. Who wants to announce a hearing issue when they first meet someone? You need to suck it up and do that to help avoid awkward moments like the time the hostess of the party had been yammering in my ear for who knows how long while I'd been happily ignoring her.
  • Add value!  I've learned sign to a few fun phrases. So after I explain that I have a hearing issue, I can teach them something useful, like how to say "Die in a fire!" and "You make baby Jesus cry" in ASL. It's an ice-breaker at any rate.
  • Reduce background noise.  Sometimes this one isn't on you, but when you can, go for one-on-ones with people. Turn off the tv, the music, find a quiet room.  Less sound filtering is better!
  • Take it with as much humor as you can. The people you love are adjusting to this new you as well. If you accept it with good grace, those around you will as well. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Very Hip Tea with Ellen Harger and Channing Tatum

So I read this fantastic book called "The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones" by Ellen Harger. There are a so many things to love about Ellen and her book that its almost impossible to pick only a few.  Her main character, Gillian, is struggling in life, but maintains such a wonderful (and realistic) sense of humor that you can't help but root for her. In addition, Ellen's writing style is just a joy to read. She manages to conjure up with words such clear and clever mental images that I almost hate her a little for not having thought of it myself!
I asked Ellen a few questions.  And though in reality our interview was via email, it would be fine if you pictured us having tea at a really hip spot. And let's say Channing Tatum was our waiter. (Why not?) He was very impressed with our sparkling wit. He was so drawn to us, in fact, that the other customers may have felt a teensy bit neglected.

A quick excerpt from "The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones."

My fictitious man taunts me during work. He wants to know more. It’s intoxicating to feel interesting. I’m so addicted, I sneak a little blog time at lunch. This leads to making notes about our story. Do I write posts for him? Or just write letters to my mysterious man? The project has moved beyond journal and into a full fledge fantasy.
Plus, the silliness encourages my desire for divorce, but I can’t shake doubts because I can’t answer why with any satisfaction. My only concrete reason to end my marriage is a compass-like pull in my gut pointing toward release. I’m certain there’s no checkbox for that on divorce forms.
I can only hope my jump wasn’t noticed. “Yes, Joyce?”
“Be sure to have all the new payroll files finished today.”
Assurances made, I make labels and enter data for the five forms per file. It’s drone work, allowing me to blank back out to my only concern. Since the blog is fictitious, a place for release, I won’t give my mystery lover an identity. That way he can conform to my every whim. He’s just an expression of wanting, of wanting me. He has no face, no voice, no birthday or job dissatisfaction. He’s not bound to the daily grind of mercilessly boring reality.
Today he’s scruffy like the hero in the movie “Once.” It’s an odd choice because the stars don’t end up together. The leading lady remains faithful to her husband, determined to make it work. The hero goes on and the possibility, the potential, is never tested. The sexuality is so tempered that its absence induces longing in the audience. It’s that connection, even with the sacrifice, that digs through the bullshit. It’s about a deeper connection than mere sex.
Sex. Sex is a once a month ritual I check off the calendar like scrubbing the toilet. My husband doesn’t ask for it, so I’m allowed to maintain the minimum necessary to differentiate between spouse and siblings. My desire deflated pretty quickly after we said I do. Sex in marriage is like an all-you-can-eat buffet - you pay once and don’t go back for seconds.
After the fire, my desire flat-lined completely.
I held children at bay, too. I like kids but the cost scares me. Everyone says you can’t plan for it, a family, but I like checklists. So I required a baby line in our monthly expenses, and no taking it from savings. How could we afford college when we couldn’t save more than a few hundred dollars a month?
I’ve always been responsible, trying desperately to stave off catastrophe. The fire was free. It cost everything.


Questions for Ellen (by me, with Fictional Channing Tatum looking on in admiration)

1. Fire is a purifying agent in this book.  What did it burn away in Gillian’s life?
I love this question and the simplest answer is excuses.
Before the fire, the memories of who Evan and Gillian were as a couple surrounded them: photographs, merged collections, and furniture picked out together. Even if unhappiness tapped at the window, memories encouraged Gillian to close the shades by gently rubbing her neck with “Remember when?” Fire burned away all the baggage that bound them together.
It also purified her mixed emotions into concentrated sadness. The loss of belongings revealed a deeper loss of dreams and identity, forcing Gillian to climb out of her depression by asking difficult questions. Her questions weren’t perfect. In fact, they’re often selfish--the ashy residue she must clean off.

2. Mr. Write is a difficult to get a bead on, for both the reader and Gillian.  There is something very magnetic about ‘the unknown’.  What is the most compelling aspect of him according to Gillian? 
She’s definitely attracted to his unknown, but also to his interest in her. When she creates the blog, no time is spent on her imaginary lover’s physical details. Her desire is to share thoughts she’s scared to say.
When a stranger responds, two things happen. First, her fantasy is potentially threatened by a prankster, making Gillian protective. Her blog is important because she’s already healing before he asks to dream about her. Second, by returning, Mr. Write transforms blog as therapy into physical desire. It begs the question, was Gillian angry or lonely in her marriage? Which came first, the lack of talking, or touching?
Ultimately, what I learned from Gillian was that blog was about communing with herself. She stopped appreciating her own individuality and doubted her value.

3. Swag!  What’s not to love about little giveaways that authors do.  Tell me all about your swag, won’t you?
We all want fun but practical ideas. While brainstorming with a friend who’s a born party planner, she got a funny look and said, “Matchbooks.” The pros and cons popped like firecrackers: matchbooks promote the theme of fire perfectly as well as being practical, look like tiny books, and are collectible. The cons exploded as: where, how, how much? A little internet search and I found a budget friendly approach: print custom stickers and buy white matchboxes off of ebay. The assembly was easier than I hoped and they’re a big hit.

4. Books change a lot between the first conception of the story and the final draft.  What is one of the biggest shifts that this tale took?
Originally, Mr. Write looked up Mrs. Jones on the internet. He was a guy she wanted to date years before, but he was married. The blog was a place where they wrote love letters as two fictitious characters.

5. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?  If so, what pushes you past the wall?
I have no fingernails because when writer’s block hits, I worry the weak spots with my thumbnail until the nails tear. I search for imperfections as I try out different words. In fact, writing answers to these questions, I lost the nail of my ring finger on my right hand as I struggled to express my thoughts.
I’d say writer’s block is part of the job, but the fact is, its fear. We all worry about capturing a new phrase, corralling words, and using creative alchemy to unfurl a moment like a magic carpet that suspends a reader beyond disbelief. We agonize over word placement until a sentence snaps with the zip of a tightly wound towel.
There’s only one real secret to writing and that’s to write. You push past writer’s block by not letting it bully you. Writer’s block is the brute muscle for fear, doing its dirty work. It shows up and glowers at you until you say, “I can’t tonight. I’m not feeling it.”
As my editor, Becky Dickson says, “Writing something bad is better than writing nothing at all.”
Even though I know this, deadlines are fantastic motivation for me. I also like to block out the sounds of home by listening to music with giant headphones. 


Now, the question is - how hard do you want to read Ellen's book?  I know Fictional Channing Tatum has already run out for his copy! Go fast! You might not catch him, but you can enjoy the view running behind him.

Ellen's website is here.
Her book trailer is here. 
Her bio is here (literally):


I'm a word gypsy and emotion sifter, writing about broken condoms, unhappy marriages and women's issues at the chick-lit end of women's fiction and the women's fiction end of chick-lit.
     I believe great storytelling asks readers to confront what they've stuffed deep down. We all get blinded by emotion and stuck in ruts. In June 2005, I woke up to a wall of fire. Watching the flames eat away my life was my biggest turning point in life.
     My first novel, Strong Enough, released February 20113.  My sophomore work, The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones, debuts this July.

Disclaimer: As far as I know, Ellen doesn't have a thing for Fictional Channing.  He just inserted himself into my Tea Room of the Mind and neither of us had much to say about it.  Mr. Tatum does not go quietly, as it turns out.  My apologies to Ellen.

Do you have questions for Ellen?  Comments?  Channing complaints?  Leave below!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Big Bar of Soap

I needed some swag to give out to promote my soon-to-be-released first book, NOT QUITE DARCY.  I hit upon the idea of making little Victorian style soaps, in bright pink to match the cover.

Somehow, 25 pounds of soap is much bigger and heavier than it seemed to be on the website! Banana for scale.

Naturally, my son began to claim it as his project and found a saw...

Once it was in reasonably-sized chunks, I got to play Walter White and get all measurey.

Then I carefully parsed the color block dye with a very precise scientific instrument cheese grater.

After I had the right amount of soap and dye, I melted that stuff up.

Then added the raspberry scent

And poured it into the molds.

Authentic plastic!  Just like Victorians used to use!

Pop them out of the molds to see sweet, little Victorian style hearts.

All ready to give out for book release!  I only wish there'd been enough room to include jokes about naked Queen Victoria - dammit.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bad Ass War Women

Elsie Knocker (and how great is that name) and her bff Mairie Chisholm.  Even before World War I, they were kind of badass. They got to know each other through their hobby, stripping down and racing motorcycles in a culture where women riding bicycles was seen as scandalous.

When England entered the war in 1914, Knocker wrote to Chisholm that there was "work to be done." Chisholm hopped on her bike in in Dorset and popped off to London with the intent of being dispatch riders for the Women's Emergency Corps. Although initially the women were frustrated at not being allowed the front lines. While Chisholm was riding as a courier, she was spotted making hairpin turns around a city by Dr. Hector Munro. He was setting up a Flying Ambulance Corps to help the Belgians who had been caught in the German invasion. Munro invited the women to join his team.

Chisholm said, "Munro was deeply impressed with my ability to ride throught traffic. He traced me to the Women's Emergency Corps and said, 'Would you like to go out to Flanders?' and I say 'Yes, I'd love to'."

The women were stationed well behind the lines and quickly grew frustrated by the loss of life due to delayed treatment at the front. In November they left the corps and set up their own aid station right on the front lines in a little town called Pervyse. It was 100 yards from the trenches. They spent the next three and a half years tending to the wounded. Since they weren't affiliated with the Red Cross, they had to raise all their own funds - for bandages, food, etc.

They ended up saving thousands of lives and only stopped when forced to due to injuries suffered in a gas attack.

Yo, WW2?  Elsie and Mairie called.  What’s all this rot about the “greatest’ generation?  (That’s right!  I just did a women in war sacrifice throw down.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Torn Between Two Covers


"Don't post this shit about book covers on your blog," they said.  "People don't DO that," they said. Or they would if I had voices that talked to me.  Luckily, I am sane, so I don't hear those voices and am posting this anyway.

Right now I'm torn between two choices for "Not Quite Darcy".  Do you have a preference?

My editor wants me to ... as she said on the art form she gave me ... "This story is BIG on humor, so something whimsical, light-hearted, with a play on time-travel. The setting is nineteenth century England, but it’s hardly your typical historical, so we’re better playing up the humor than the historical bent."

Without going pie in the face (and ignoring any pudding that might go in faces, ahem!) which of these two choices do you like?

Choice A (Or Silhouette):
Have two silhouettes, with their backs to one another, male and female.  The male would look traditionally Victorian.  Either in profile or full view.

The female would look more like this:
Or a full body version.  Carefully avoiding any copyright infringement and getting rid of the ipod, sadly. (Publisher has a legal department, right?)  If the image is profiles, Eliza could be blowing a bubble.  If it's full body, figures would still be back to back. She would be in modern dress - dancing with a feather duster or we could swap that for a broom if  you like. William could be holding out a book, ever so politely.  Key would be juxtaposing the ipod manic girl with the standard rigid Victorian silhouette and I think full body does that most effectively.

Background to be hot pink.

I feel this one captures the feel of the book the best and answers my editor's wish for it not to look like a typical historical.

CHOICE B (or Fuzzy Focus)
How about this?
Since the title would lend itself to such a cover.  But instead of a fugly guy with a disturbing collar, a handsome guy just out of focus.  Like this one.

Also, to lighten this one, it could be done as a blurry photo with a bright 'wash' of yellow or pink.  So it doesn't look like Deadly Serious Literature.

So?  You there?

Which one do you like better?  
If you like choice one, full body or profile?


But really, thank you.  I owe you pie.  Or a fruit basket.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Free Speech for You n Me

This Duck Dynasty Debacle doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, does it? So I'd like to take this opportunity to say two things about freedom of speech.  Maybe they've been said before on other blogs that are actually read – I don’t know.  I don’t read a lot of blogs. I can only tell you that my corner of Missouri remains silent on these slightly troubling nuances regarding this issue.

Freedom of Speech and Glorious Capitalism
Freedom of speech is granted in our constitution and says that the government can’t give you shit for speaking your mind.  It does not say that the government will force an employer to allow his employee to say any damn thing that crosses his mind.  The Duck Dynasty guy is an employee of a television channel. They write checks to him in exchange for his performance on the show.  If he says something that is going to piss off the vast majority of the most desirable demographic, it is their right in a free enterprise system to censure him, fire him or do any number of things.  (For the record, the most desired demographic for advertisers is 18-37 year olds – and of those people a whopping 67% are in favor of gay marriage.) So if you’re outraged that his tv channel slapped his wrists over this, what exactly would you propose happen here?  Do you want Big Government to regulate employee relationships in private businesses to that degree?  Really?

Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Stop with Ducks
For those who shout about toleration and how much you adore freedom of speech – I’m right there with you.  But I have two questions for you.
  1. Since you love freedom of speech so much, I’m sure you wrote impassioned blog entries when one of the Dixie Chicks said she was embarrassed of George Bush.  You didn’t huff in outrage, but boldly stood up to those who would have shamed her. Right? Because freedom of speech.
  2. When the Westboro Baptist Church pickets soldier’s funerals, do you also write letters to the editor defending their right to express themselves?  I'm betting you don't do this any more than I do.
If this issue was truly about freedom of speech, you’d have been doing those things all along.  When you are silent on those instances and instead come out in defense of the Duck Man, I can’t help but think the real issue isn’t about his freedom of speech as much as it was the content of his speech.  Since he’s on your team, you’ll defend him. Fine.  You have the right to do that.  But at least have honesty to stop wrapping the issue up in the constitution and come right out and admit - 'It's about the gays.'