Snippet Saturday with the Mean Kitty!


From Jody Wallace:

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors select thematic excerpts from their work and share them on Saturday mornings. This Saturday’s snippet is author’s choice. I thought I’d share a “cat-themed” snippet from an author friend, Jeffe Kennedy!

Go here for the rest…


Vegas Baby!


So far there are two entries in the Rogue’s Pawn Giveaway, and this is my favorite. Of course, the other is only slightly less brilliant:

BSs8eNjCUAA33cLYou’ll note that both of these are from Carien at Pearls Cast Before a McPig, so she stands to win Monday’s Cover Reveal drawing unless the rest of you plan to get busy this weekend! I know you all are thinking about it, cuz you’ve told me so. Make those fun ideas into reality! I totally want to see the Rogue Prawn interpretations.

Tomorrow I’ll be featured on the Dear Author blog for their August Extravaganza. Nice way to say goodbye to August. ~waves nostagically~ Stop by if you can!

Also, if you’re looking for a great local writers and readers conference this fall, check out Fiction Writing in the Digital Age, taking place in Las Vegas this October. Among others, my Kensington editor, Peter Senftleben, and my agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, will be there. I’ll be giving what should be a very fun cross-genre workshop:

More than Wham, Bam, Thank-You M’am – Wooing the Female Reader

Over and over, statistics show that more women are reading fiction than men, particularly on e-Readers. With the overwhelming success of works like Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight, it bears examining just what female readers are looking for – and what they’re buying. This workshop will examine how romance can be used to both attract readers and illuminate characterization. Sexual attraction can both entice and ratchet up the overall tension of any plot. Jeffe Kennedy, award-winning author of numerous series of erotic romance and fantasy, will walk participants through examples from literature and movies, to illustrate what women really want from a story.

Small conferences like this are great for meeting the industry folks in a more informal way. And besides, Vegas Baby! You’ll also see on the schedule that there are a couple of signings, so if you’re in the area, stop by and say hello!

Rogue’s Possession Cover Reveal and Scavenger Hunt!

025What’s this?

Oh yes. You know.

Or, at least, the small community of rabidly passionate Rogue’s Pawn fans (you know who you are) are doing little chair dances right now.

That’s right. I haz hard copies. And I’m giving them away.

So, here’s the deal. I only have these five. These are the ones that Carina printed for the final judges in case the book finaled in the RITA awards. Since it didn’t, Carina sent these to me. There were also five books that went out to the first round judges, so they’re out there swimming in the world (or have gone to the big recycling bin in the sky). Otherwise, these are all there is for now. Do you know what that means? YES!

*Collector’s Item*

Now, because these were printed for the contest, they’re not high quality. They’re mass-market paperback sized and have all the same content as the digital book, but it doesn’t look or feel like a standard mmpb. Fair warning.

That said, I want you guys to have them, so you have something physical to hug and cuddle.

Yes, I know how you people are.

In celebration of the sequel, Rogue’s Possession, launching on Monday, October 7 and the cover reveal happening this coming Monday, September 2, I’m sponsoring a giveaway scavenger hunt.

Okay, so, the question of the moment is:

What do you have to do to get your paws on one of these for your very own collection?

Show your love. I want pictures. Send me a photo of Rogue in the wild, with you or without you. It can be just his name on a piece of paper or a lovely man with the sign around his neck. Or be creative – find your own Rogue! You can also print out one of the two covers and take your picture with that. Or show me what you think Rogue’s “possession” might be.

Then post the picture – Twitter, Facebook, your blog, in the comments here – anywhere at all and be sure to tag me. If I don’t comment or reply, be sure to ping me so I’ll see it. Use the hashtag #ILoveRogue.

Each Monday, I’ll draw a winner, on:


For every picture you send me, you get another entry “ticket.” Anyone who doesn’t win in the previous week will get added to the next week’s drawing. International is fine – I’ll pay the pound of flesh to ship this to you.

On release day, 10/7, we’ll do something super-special. More than just copies of Rogue’s Possession, though we can do that, too. In fact, let me know what you want and we’ll make it happen!

I’m so excited about this sequel finally coming out, and hearing you all making excited noises, too, just heightens the fun!

Now, hie thee out there and post some pictures!

Bucking Along with the Mouse and Twitter Rodeos

009We haven’t had a Jackson pic on the blog for a bit. Here he is, being writer’s block. He’s very good at it. When he wants to be on my lap, I *must* move the laptop computer and give him access. Note the expression, also – which is one hair before head-butting me for more petting.

This morning when I logged onto Twitter, I saw this article about a hacker getting into a slew of Twitter accounts. I read this bit:

Active Twitter users should immediately revoke all third-party apps tied to their account. To do so, visit Twitter’s application page and click “revoke access” for each app listed. You can then go through the connection process again for the apps you still want to use.

Cleaning house like this is a good practice in general — you may be surprised about how many third-party providers you granted access to your account since signing up.

And decided it was probably good advice. They were right – I *was* surprised. I bet I’d granted access to something like 40 3rd party apps. I revoked them all, feeling all the virtue of the spring cleaning effort. After all, I could just go through the connection process again for the ones I wanted to keep! Tra lay, tra lay.

Not so much.

The first thing I did was re-open TweetDeck. Now, I did a post on Word Whores on Sunday, smugly explaining how I manage the Twitter Avalanche of Input by using lists. Many, many lists in carefully ordered columns. Well, when I revoked access, TweetDeck dumped all of my columns. I had to re-add and re-order them all.

It was probably good, because I discovered I hadn’t updated some of my lists recently and one was public that I’d meant to be private. Alas. Still it sucked up time I hadn’t planned on and now I feel like I’m running behind.

This all came after I got online, which was also delayed by an extended mouse rodeo.

See, we have the kitty litter boxes out in the garage and a cat door for the kitties to go from the house to the garage. This works out great and we’ve done this in all three houses we’ve owned, although it was the basement area in the previous two. Keeps the litter box odor and detritus from the living space. However, in this house, mice can penetrate the garage. They worm their way in, especially this time of year, stockpiling food supplies for winter. Fortunately, our cats are good hunters and catch the mice. Unfortunately, they mostly enjoy the capture part – and they want to share the joy of their prizes. So they bring the mice into the house.

Usually in the middle of the night.

We can pretty much ignore the tell-tale sounds of the hapless mouse being chased from cubby hole to hiding spot while we sleep. Thus, in the morning, we’ll rise to the kitties holding vigil in front of the couch or armchair, where the mouse will have taken final refuge. David will get his work gloves and we’ll tip up the heavy furniture. Working like a pride of lions, David and the kitties will round up the mouse and David takes it outside.

I know, I know – where it likely learns no lesson at all. Sometimes I wonder if these are the same mice, over and over. But we’re a catch and release household.

This morning, however, was not a seamless operation. We blame Jackson.

Jackson is really bad about loving to play with the mice. So bad that, given the least opportunity, he’ll snag the mouse and run off with it, depositing it in yet another part of the house. Today it was my office. The bookshelf was bad enough – requiring the removal of many books – but then the mouse got into the motor compartment of my treadmill. This meant getting out the screwdriver and removing the cover to the compartment. I said, oh well, the maintenance instructions said to remove the cover every six months and vacuum it out. I’d been meaning to do that. David got the tools. I got the handheld vacuum cleaner. Jackson got locked out this time.

So, plus side, the compartment WAS full of dust and cat hair, so it needed to be done. On the down side, the mouse was a PITA to get out from under the motor. We finally chased him out of there and he ran under the printer stand. More dust and dust bunnies. David finally captured the feisty bugger and he’s has rejoined his kin with a fine story to tell. I set to vacuuming, feeling the virtue of the spring cleaning effort.

All told, this took about an hour out of our morning, putting me behind. Which was further exacerbated by the Twitter thing.

Funny how some days are like that.

Taking Stress Seriously

Master of the Opera, Act3 Phantom Serenade (ebook)The cover for Act III of the Master of the Opera e-serial coming out starting December 31. No blurb for this one yet, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

You know you want to.

So, this week was kind of difficult for me due to the day job. A big project was due on Tuesday. It’s a long story, but let’s see if I can summarize. I worked on this project as one of the team leaders for about 13 years, until it was finally cancelled. Early on, I began recording our protocol – the rules we followed for making audit decisions – mainly because that’s the kind of girl I am. Eventually we were tasked to take our informal document into a more formal format. Over the years, it became a terrific and popular tool in our niche field. I was referred to as the “Protocol Queen.” Yes, I admit it – I was proud of it and my work on it.

Fast forward to now – the project was axed due to lack of funding. This year we were tasked to make a final update to the Protocol, set it up so people could use it without us and set it free. Of course, I did most of the work, along with a junior person. Then we ran into a SNAFU with the client currently in charge. My boss got into trouble for no fault of her own and we ended up burning a LOT of hours dealing with the problems. Our big boss asked someone else in the company to step in as project manager, to help deal with the client. At the end, the new manager did her QA. On Tuesday morning, the day it was due, I discovered she’d not only done her QA on an old version, she’d done it without Track Changes due to time constraints. The document was 125 pages. My junior person did a document compare, to make sure all the fixes we’d made between the version she changed and the good one, got transferred over. She said the edits were so dense, she could barely find our previous fixes.

I didn’t have time to read it, so what had been my baby went out that way.

I tried to let it go.

But what had started as a headache and feeling tired the previous week, turned into a full-blown, knock-me-out being sick Wednesday morning. I felt exhausted, achey, crushing headache, nauseated, roiling gut – I was miserable. Unable to think, I had to take a sick day – both from day job and writing – and spent the day whimpering in my armchair.

For the record, I’m not really a migraine girl, but I do get headaches when I’m sick.

Fortunately, I live with a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and he gave me acupuncture and some teas and by that night I was somewhat human again and much better the following afternoon.

It doesn’t escape me, however, that the project was over and I spent time resting and letting it go.

This reminds me of an article I’ve saved, because I wanted to blog about it. It’s an interesting article and well worth reading. In fact, I think everyone should probably read it and see if they recognize themselves. This gal ended up going completely bald from stress.

I was in Chicago for a sales conference, and I remember being in the hotel room and seeing that my hairline looked weird. I thought maybe I was just having a bad hair day. When I got home, I had a quarter-sized hole in the back of my head. I went into panic mode. I was seeing this guy, who is now my husband, and we were spending a lot of time together, so I was like, “You need to just look at this. Am I crazy? What do you see?” Within a week, I went to the doctor who told me I have Alopecia. It’s a genetic condition, but it doesn’t necessarily manifest until stress triggers it.

My doctor asked if I had gone through a traumatic event recently or if anything had changed in my life. I said, “No, but it’s been pretty stressful at work.” I had been thinking, “If I don’t get this promotion, I’m going to quit.” That may not seem like a big deal, but I felt like I had helped build the company, and I thought I would be there forever. I don’t know if it was the stress I’d felt struggling so hard to find the right fit at work and then the fear of leaving that made me go bald, but it was definitely a huge contributing factor.

This struck me, because it reflects so much of what gives me stress – that emotional commitment to my work. When she talked to her manager:

I went to speak to my manager. I said, “Look. I don’t know what needs to happen here, but I’m overwhelmed. I’m losing my hair.” He didn’t know how to react. He just looked kind of dumbfounded, because at that time it wasn’t obvious yet. I was still able to maneuver my hair so no one could tell. Maybe they just thought it was in my head. My manager said, “I know you want to move into this new position. Are you saying you can’t put those hours in to get there anymore?”

I think what’s striking about this is, how little the medical establishment and employers credit stress for what can be massive effects on our health. It’s one of those “It’s invisible, therefore it can’t be real” things. (For the record, my boss is wonderful and totally gets it – this was out of her hands.) The doctors look for trauma. The employers want us to get over it and move on. Neither of these approaches gets at the real problem.

Once, when we were in Scotland on vacation and riding one of their lovely trains, we overheard a conversation between a woman and her companion. She told her friend, “My doctor says I have the heart of an American. I have to slow down and reduce stress or it’s gonna kill me.”

That has stuck with me ever since. “The heart of an American.”

Apparently the international symbol for stress.

But, as Americans, we don’t realize it. We’re so accustomed to living with certain stress levels that we’re only aware when it really puts us out of commission. Even then – as I did – we tend to blame it on a virus or some such. And it could have been a virus that made me sick (that’s what it felt like). If that’s the case, then emotional stress of the preceding days diminished my immune system enough that it got the upper hand.

I don’t know that there’s any solution but to take stress seriously. At least for me, it’s something that can affect me profoundly. It’s something just to “get through.”

Fortunately, today is Friday.

~does the Friday dance~