Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

My photo
I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Friday, March 30, 2007

And then my leg fell off....

OK, that's an inside joke with Benjy, my 17-year-old, that draws upon my propensity for whining. I list a long string of sad, woeful events and end it with "...and then my leg fell off." For example: "I was writing for so many days, and my carpel tunnel kept me up at night and then I was too sleepy to write any more and got further behind and my book was late and then my leg fell off." I guess that's my joking way of acknowledging my own whininess.

And that's what happened, but really it's "... and then my brain shut down."

I should have been able to get more done today, but my head is tired. So instead of forging ahead tonight (I finished Chapter 24 at about 7 p.m.) I'm editing what I already have. And in the course of doing so, I came up with this little snippet to share.

YES! Another excerpt. Now, remember, Marc, my hero, has been in prison for six years. Before that, he was in the Army. And he's been in love with Sophie since he was a teenager.

From Unlawful Contact:

As they finished the meal, he told her about boot camp and how the meanest master sergeant on the face of the earth—a bastard by the name of Stracher—had kicked his ass into gear. He told her how he’d discovered he had skill with target shooting. He told her how he’d been transferred into Special Forces after 9/11 and deployed to Afghanistan as a sniper, where he’d spent a winter high in the frigid mountains near Tora Bora.

“It must have been very hard.” Her cheeks were flushed, her body relaxed, her gaze focused on him, a dreamy look in her big blue eyes. She was obviously feeling the champagne. “I’m so glad you made it home in one piece.”

“You know what kept me warm at night?” He leaned in closer, brushed a strand of hair from the satin of her cheek. “I kept thinking about this beautiful girl from my hometown. I only spent one night with her—just one night—but it was the sweetest night of my life. She gave me her virginity and told me to shoot for the stars. I tried, Sophie. I tried to shoot for the stars.”

He must have been feeling the alcohol, too, or he never would have said anything like that. Or maybe it wasn’t the champagne. Maybe it was just being near her like this.

She turned her head, nuzzled her cheek against his palm, her skin unbelievably soft, her eyes drifting shut. “Did you really think of me these past six years?”

He ran the pad of his thumb over her lower lip. “Oh, yes. I thought about you. Dreamed about you. Fantasized—”

Her eyes flew open, her pupils wide and dark. “About me?”

“Yeah.” Slow down, Hunter. Do you really think a woman wants to know that sort of thing? “Does that bother you?”

She shook her head, the flush on her cheeks going deeper, her lips parting on a breathy whisper. “I was just thinking we could… you know… try out a few of those, um, fantasies. While we have the chance.”

And that right there outstripped any fantasy.

His tried to say something, but all the blood in his body had rushed to his crotch.

“So, Marc Hunter, where do you want me?”


Where did he want her? God, he wanted her everywhere. Against the wall. Spread-eagle on the bed. On her hands and knees. In the hot tub. On the dining room table. In the Jag. Hell, on the Jag.

He searched his mouth, found his tongue. “It’s not so much where I want you, Sophie, as it is how. Nothing tastes quite like a woman, and no woman tastes like you.”

She gave an almost inaudible gasp. “Then you want…”

He stood, reached for her, drew her on to the couch beneath him. “I want dessert.”

He kissed her out of her blouse, suckling her through her bra until she was whimpering and writhing beneath him, her nipples straining against the wet lace. Then he moved on to her pants, drawing the fabric down her long legs, tasting his way down her silky skin, over her sensitive calves to the tips of her little toes. But as scrumptious as her skin was, this wasn’t the taste he hungered for most.

He worked his way back up her legs, nudging her thighs apart with his hands, inhaling the wild, musky scent of her arousal, filling his lungs with her. Yes, that was it, the scent he’d wanted inside his head for so, so long. But now he wanted a taste.

He licked her inner thighs along the edge of her panties, heard her gasp, her fingers sliding into his hair, rough lace and soft skin both sweet against his tongue. Then he drew back and licked his way up the lace where it covered her cleft, the soft folds of her labia beneath. When his tongue felt the tiny bud of her clit, he held himself still, flicking it through the thin cloth, feeling it swell.

She whimpered, lifted her hips eagerly toward his mouth. “Please... Hunt!”

He chuckled. “Sorry, but this is my fantasy, and I’m going to take my sweet time.”

She gave a pained moan. “Is this your ‘torture Sophie’ fantasy?”

“No, it’s my ‘Sophie lets me do whatever I want to do’ fantasy. I’m going lick you everywhere, until your scent is imprinted on my brain, until I can taste you all the way down my throat, until your juices saturate my skin. So settle in, because it’s probably going to take a while.”

He saw her belly contract, felt her shiver, and knew the idea excited her.

“But… what about you?”

“Sweetheart, this is for me.”


Then things heat up from there. Let's just say Marc knows what a tongue is for, okay?

So that's from Chapter 21, I think....

Hope you enjoyed it. Just Saturday and Sunday and Chapters 25-30 plus an epilogue to write. Ain't gonna happen. So I guess this book will be late again. But to have clicked off five or six chapters in 10 days is pretty darn good. Now, hopefully they don't SUCK.
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Four days left to go!

There are four days of my vacation left, and seven chapters left to be written. At most I'll write four more chapters, which means I'll be struggling to finish this book, with edits, by the end of April — a full month later than my postponed deadline of end of March.


And of course I will probably decide a dozen times between now and the day I mail it to New York that the story sucks and is the worst book I've ever written. That's what I said about Surrender. I called my editor and said, "I need to apologize ahead of time. This is the worst piece of crap I've ever written."

I liked Hard Evidence and Ride the Fire, but otherwise I've hated most things I've written, and I think that's how it's going to be with Unlawful Contact.

Hopefully, these next chapters will flow quickly and in the right direction so that I don't have to lose time to massive rewrites. That's something I dread. But, hey, if you have to rewrite, do it sooner rather than later. That's one lesson I've learned.

I thought I'd share another photo of that hot model. Not sure what he's doing here, but I wish he were doing it without pants. :-D

I think the RITA finalist high has worn off and it's back to work. OK, no I'm still smiling like an idiot, even if I am only getting four hours of sleep.

And thanks again for your wonderful, supportive messages! They really help!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's official!

The FedEx truck just left me with my official notification from RWA that Surrender is a RITA Finalist. Included was my lovely, gorgeous, wonderful RITA Finalist pin — a tiny silver pin version of the gold RITA statuette. I think I'm going to wear this every day of my life from now on. :-)

I hadn't been planning on going to this year's RWA conference. I wanted to save the money. But, now that Surrender is a Finalist, wild horses couldn't keep me away. I'll be attending even if I have to walk the entire way to Dallas.

So who's coming to Dallas?

The conference itself is open only to those who register. However, on the evening of Wednesday, July 11, RWA hosts a big even that's open to the public — the annual literacy signing. Anyone who want to attend is welcome. Most of the authors who participate in the conferece join the signing.

Leiha, Su, author Gennita Low and Lina strike a pose at last year's literacy signing.

Ask any of the RBL Party Crew who came last year and they'll tell you how they were able to buy autographed books and talk with their favorite authors. It's a one-of-a-kind event in the romance world — almost 300 authors together under one roof. The crowd is usually enormous, and the first year I did it, I was overwhelmed and somewhat in shock. Some readers show up with suitcases!

Mich, Linda T, and Su share a moment with the extraordinary Nora Roberts at the literacy signing.

I'll post more information about the literacy signing a the conference draws near.

Debbie, I hope you can drive down and make it.

I'll be arriving at the conference some time on Wednesday and staying through Sunday morning, so those who can't make the Wednesday signing can perhaps set something up Saturday morning.

Author CJ Barry/Samantha Graves will be signing copies of her new romantic suspense book, Sight Unseen this year — when she's not drinking wine with me.

The awards ceremony is Saturday night, and win or not, I want to celebrate.

Almost done with Chapter 22... Six days and still so much writing to do!
Sunday, March 25, 2007

Surrender is a RITA finalist!

There's some truth to the idea that things happen when you least expect them. For me, that means things could be happening all the time because I'm pretty oblivous. I did not know that today was the day Romance Writers of America was announcing finalists for the 2007 RITA Awards.

I can't tell you how excited I was when I got the call. My parents were here for a brief visit. We were logged on to my Skype, chatting with my baby sister in Sweden when the phone rang. I answered it, expecting it to be one of my sons. Instead, it was RWA calling to say that I was a finalist for Surrender. I almost fainted. My mother thought something was terribly wrong — doubly so when I burst into tears. Then I got off the phone, screamed and jumped up and down. I told my parents (my dad had no clue what that meant), and my mom and I were hugging, when we heard a little voice coming from my computer. "WHAT'S GOING ON?"

My sister lives in Stockholm and is unnaturally, even preternaturally beautiful. Strangely, she does not think so. To punish her for being an idiot on that score, I'll post here baby picture here:

Here she looks a bit like a shrunken-head version of my dad. But trust me. She grew up to be gorgeous. But enough about her...

So, my historical Surrender is a RITA Finalist in the Long Historical category, and I'll be going to Dallas to the RWA convention there. I'm blown away and so excited! I'm in with some very serious historical authors, which is a little intimidating. But I love Iain MacKinnon and his Rangers. So keep your fingers crossed!

The RWA conferences is where I got together with the RBL Party Crew last year. This year, I hope to spend quality wine, er, quality time with Bonnie Vanak, CJ Barry/Samantha Graves, and Gennita Low. I hope that author Norah Wilson will be able to come down from the Great White North and join us! And, as always, I hope to see as many friends and readers as I can during the big literacy signing on Wednesday night.

In the meantime, all this excitement means I haven't written a word today! I finished Chapter 21 last night and was pretty pleased with it. Eight chapters and seven days to go!
Saturday, March 24, 2007

The first love scene in Unlawful Contact

Thanks to everyone who stopped by! It was fun to share such an important part of the book with you. If you missed it, sorry! But stay tuned. I do plan to post more excerpts in the coming months. And that photo really is from Colorado Monument. Pretty place to have sex, huh? Provided you're not on a cactus or next to a rattlesnake, of course...
Friday, March 23, 2007

T minus nine days and counting

That's Joanie and Lina from RBL Romantica exercising their right to sin on behalf of wild women everywhere. The two are in Las Vegas with the RBL Party Crew and sent this to me last night at 2:30 A-freaking-M. I was asleep. Was. They're both gorgeous. And here's a shout-out to Joanie, who sent me some delicious Tim Tams — that's Australian for "freaking yummy chocolate cookie," mate. Thanks, Joanie! And thanks for the photo, Lina-lass.

Thank you all so much for your wishes and vibes and Second Chakra energy. :-)

I got some writing done, had maybe 800 words left on Chapter 21 by bedtime. I started working on it early this morning, then cut the scene I had written out and decided it try a it a new way. But I failed to paste the scene I had cut into a new file to save it, so all of that work is lost.

That weird sound you heared at about 2:45 Mountain Time was me screaming, after I decided to go with the original version of the scene and discovered I get to rewrite it. YAY!

At the heart of things is this important issue: What obligation do I have to reality when writing a sex scene? If I want my characters to make made passionate monkey love in a hot tub, do I need to account for the following facts:

1. Men's nuts vanish in high heat, and sustaining an erection isn't necessarily doable.

2. Condoms do not like hot water.

3. Women's natural lubrication tends to wash away, making any kind of in-water sex less sexy than it originally seemed it would be. That slick glide — you know the one I'm talking about — just isn't there no matter how turned on you are. As a Pisces who has tried every form of water she can fit into with a man, take my word on this.

I'm willing to ignore the last fact. Fact No. 2 is pretty important. And fact No. 1 is... I don't know. Is it important? Our heroes do a lot of things nonfictional males can't do. What do you think?

Also, I have a devious, nefarious plan. I'm going to post the entire first sex scene from my novel on this blog... for a total of two hours. Tomorrow night at 7 p.m. MT (we're on Daylight Savings already and are one hour ahead of California and two hours behind NY), I will post the scene. Then at 9 p.m., I will delete it.

To help get you in the mood, how about another picture of that yummy model. This time he's in a suit, not leather, and he's not wearing shades. I wish he weren't wearing anything.

OK, time to reinvent yesterday's scene and move forward at lightning speed!
Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Final Push

Nothing gets to me like a hot man in water...

Now that you've had your protein for the day, I thought I'd whine and worry a bit.

After writing my first novel, I realized that writing books is an awful lot like having a baby. You carry other people inside you, gestating their story. They're inside you for months, growing and growing. You do all you can to make sure their story turns out well, putting 100 percent of yourself into their development, even when it leaves you exhausted. Then things get rough. The book is due, and you almost can't take it any more. Instead of physical, the extreme pain is emotional, but everyone is still standing around shouting at you to push it out.

"Push! Push! Come on!"

And you really don't know if you can do it, even though you've done it before.

Then it's out! And the pain stops... sort of. But then you're an emotional wreck, crying and feeling blue for no apparent reason.

I've had "post-partum" depression with every book, most especially Ride the Fire, and sometimes I wonder if that makes me reluctant to finish them. It's horrible having to say goodbye to people you've shared your head with for months and months, sometimes years. After Ride the Fire, I was a wreck for six weeks, crying at the drop of a hat, truly feeling terrible, grindingly tired, weepy and depressed.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Today I start my 10-day vacation, my chance to rocket ahead and finish Unlawful Contact, which has taken me about twice as long to write as it should have. I have 9.5 chapters to write (about 30,000 words) and 11 days to do it. Given that I normally write about 1,500 words a day on a really good day, this is unlikely. Still, it's what needs to happen.

Sue, to answer your question, Unlawful Contact is tentatively slated for a February 2008 release, with the next book in the series coming out in March. However, for this to happen I must finish this book now and get the next one in on time, also. Let me sum up the odds this way: iceberg's chance in hell.

So I need some writing miracles — lots of them. Please send your good vibes winging this way, particularly all you pregnant women, who are overflowing with Second Chakra energy right now. (Yes, I really am from Boulder.)

I'm not sure how much blogging I'll do in those intervening days. Maybe I'll keep you all up to date on my progress and toss in a few excerpts, too.

So, right now I'm halfway through Chapter 21. The goal is to reach Chapter 30 by April 1.

Keep your fingers crossed!!!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No new is... no news

Did that get your attention? It's a little tidbit my friend Kally sent me today.

I spent today beating my head on the wall. Having gone through more than 100 pages of documents, I spent the morning in interviews with a variety of people involved in the insider story. By noon, I knew that the story was not what it had seemed, and by 2:30, I had dropped it. Which meant that the enormous space I had set aside in the paper for this article was now going to be blank space...


The problem wasn't with the Insider. This person acted out of sincerely held beliefs and concerns and did a brave thing. The trouble is that the behavior that seemed suspicious on paper came with good explanations. Unlike people who have something to hide, every person I interviewed was happy to talk with me, generous with his/her time, clear, willing to answer any question I asked, even the rough ones. No one yelled or threatened or any such thing, which is very unusual for people who have big secrets to hide.

Now, unfortunately, those who were concerned about the goings on that I investigated will probably be very disappointed. Their essential issue remains, and it's an ideological issue that can't really be resolved through an investigation. Sorry to be so vague, but that's how it is. It's a matter of beliefs, and, in truth, everyone has the same goals in this case (it involves health care).

So, at 2:30 I had to come up with a full page of content, which I did in about 30 minutes, thanks to wire service. We're running a guest piece about the fact that last year was the deadliest year ever for journalists, with 55 journalists being killed in the line of duty and how freedom of the press is declining worldwide.

I hate it when I have to disappoint people. I hate it when I have to grill people. I hate it when I have to put something in the paper that is going to tear someone's life apart. But my obligation is to the truth, and today, I went fishing with a very long pole. I even jumped into the water with a net. And I caught nuthin'.

As Tessa says to herself at the beginning of Hard Evidence:

If the cops weren’t crooks, that was a good thing. Unfortunately, “Nothing Bad Happening” didn’t make for a splashy sixty-point headline.

Only one more workday left till I go on my 10-day writing vacation to try to finish my book! I'm very exicted and hopeful that I'll get through a lot of chapters between Thursday and April 2.
Monday, March 19, 2007

Boulder Confidential

So let me tell you what turns me on besides hot, sexy men — documents that are stamped "Confidential: Do Not Distribute" or "Extremely Confidential." I get positively hot over emails that come with legal warnings — "If you are not the intended recipient of this email be aware that this material is restricted and you may be in violation of state and federal law."

And today is a hot and spicy day in my office at the newspaper because an insider has delivered a fat file of such documents for my perusal. Juicy!

(My teenage son hates the word "whistleblower." He's grown up hearing it, and he says it's dumb. He says the word "insider" is much cooler. So I'm using that word.)

I've read through them, marked them highlighter and tabs, and need to make a timeline and start doing interviews. I expect the people I'm interviewing to be extremely pissed off, but that's the way it goes. I don't know that this will reveal any heinous wrongdoing. It's more likely that these documents reveal some unethical actions that point to conflicted interests and a lack of concern for responsibilities and the public. Is that vague enough for you?

So, I'm off to take a quick walk in the Rocky Mountain sunshine and then it's back to work! And posted above is what I'll be looking at. This is a view of the Third Flatiron, which is right in front of my office.

And here's an aerial view. My office is close to the mountains toward the south (left) of the photo. The big red rock slabs are the Flatirons. The big buildings with the red roofs in the foreground are the university I attended.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My naughty heroine (with excerpt & possible spoilers)

In a reply to my last post, Chez said that romantic fiction for her isn't about being politically correct, it's about fantasy. And I so agree. I would add that romance is about fantasy, but it needs to be believable fantasy. That's why characters need to have flaws. Books about perfect people doing perfect things aren't fantasy, they're boring.

So I thought I'd give a few hints about the choice my heroine, Sophie, just made that's going to get me slammed. How do I know it's going to get me slammed? My experience with Tessa from Hard Evidence.

Tessa Novak is one of my favorite heroines because she's smart and courageous, and she's also very girly, but not stupid girly, not "Oh, I chipped a nail!" during a shoot-out girly. And her girliness, together with one decision she makes that endangers her life resulted in some readers hating her and posting all over the 'Net about it. Yep, poor Tess — she got herself some playa-hatuhs out there. And yet the stupid decision she makes is not only essential for bridging the gap between her and Julian, the hero, it's also provides an essential piece in resolving the mystery of the shooting she witnessed.

Now, every reader needs to decide for herself what the thinks about a story. It's not the author's job to tell readers which parts of the story are significant or how it fits together or how an action fits a character. The reader has the privilege of making those decisions based on the words the author gives her to read. So if people decided that smart Tessa is TSTL, then for those readers Tessa was TSTL. So I'm not criticizing those readers who disliked her. I'm just using that experience to predict how some readers will respond to Sophie.

Sophie isn't quite as girly, but she's still very feminine—something I think some readers don't like much. (I say this as a card-carrying feminist, okay?) And she also makes a choice, this one very personal. The man she will eventually admit she loves (see photo two posts below) is LWOP — that is to say, he's been sentenced to life in prison without parole. Although he broke out of prison (see excerpt below), they both know he'll eventually be caught and will wind up in the Big House doing the Long Ride. When he dies nothing of him will be left in this world. So what does Sophie do?

After their first sexual encounter, which is unprotected, she opts not to take Plan B, the morning-after pill. In fact, she spits the pill into the sink. But why tell you about it? I'll show you. (Helpful hint: Sophie calls Marc Hunter by his high-school nickname — Hunt.)

From Unlawful Contact

Making a to-do list in her head, she finished combing her hair, put on her makeup and slipped into the blue cotton T-shirt and gray boxer briefs Hunt had given her to wear until her clothes made it through the washer and dryer. Then she took the packet of Plan B out of the bag and opened it, reading quickly through the directions.

She’d never had to use it before because she’d always been ultra careful — no mistakes, no lapses, no slip-ups. But last night had taken her completely by surprise in so many ways — how badly she’d needed him, how intense the sex had been, how connected she’d felt to him from the first kiss until she’d fallen asleep with his arms wrapped around her. She hadn’t thought about protection until this morning.

Which is probably why they call it the morning-after pill.

She read the directions, then walked out to the kitchen to get a glass of water, pill pack in hand, the grinding beat of Nine Inch Nails drifting up from the basement where Hunt was lifting weights. She searched the cupboards till she found a drinking glass, filled it with water, and popped the first pill from the packet into her hand. The drug wasn’t foolproof, but it her only option now that…

I always wanted… to be a father… to have a family.

She brought the pill to her lips, then hesitated, Hunt’s words coming back to her. Once the police caught him — and it could happen at any moment — it would be over. He would never have another chance to do what they’d done last night. He would never again have the chance to make love, to lose himself inside a woman, to make her pregnant. He would never have another chance to be father, and she would never have another chance to…

Have Hunt’s baby?

God, she could not be thinking what she was thinking!

The pounding of her pulse, the little wave of dizziness, told her that she was.

But she couldn’t have a baby now. Her entire life was a mess. Bad guys, good guys, heroin, prison, guns — all that stuff. If she lost her job, if she lost her career, she wouldn’t even have a way to support it. And if she was exonerated and got her job back, how would she handle working at the paper with a newborn? If she went to prison…

She stared at the pill where it lay, bright white, in her palm.

What if right now egg and little spermy were on a collision course? What if they were about to merge? What if she was only hours away from becoming pregnant?

This pill could stop it all.

That’s what she wanted, wasn’t it? Of course, it was!

No way had she gone to college to wind up being some man’s babymama, even if that man were Hunt. Hadn’t she thought through this the other night at the grocery store? Yes, she had — although pregnancy had been part of a little fantasy then, not a real possibility.

Sophie put her hand on her belly, imagined it getting big and round like Tessa’s, Hunt’s baby growing inside her. Her womb clenched, signaling its approval, a shiver of something like desire pulsing through her pelvis. Obviously, her biological self was into the idea.

But what about the baby? He or she would grow up without a father, either because daddy was living in Mexico or rotting in prison… or worse. Sophie had witnessed first-hand the shame that children of inmates carried with them — the stigma, the anger, the deprivation. It wouldn’t be fair to bring a baby into this mess.

There’s no "happily ever after" for us, Sophie. There’s now. Only now.

She raised her hand to her mouth, dropped the pill onto her tongue, took a mouthful of water to wash it down… and spat it in the sink.

It slid into the garbage disposal and was irretrievably gone.

Quickly, as if afraid she might change her mind, Sophie popped the second pill from the packet and dropped it into the sink, too. Then she turned on the faucet.

Heart pounding, she shut off the water, turned away from the sink and leaned back against the counter, trying to catch her breath and wondering if she was crazy.

God, what had she done?


My son said this makes him lose respect for Sophie and ruins the story for him. But he's a 17-year-old male who's not one bit interested in babies and who might not understand the way that a child can enable you to hold on to someone you loved. I see what Sophie does as a symptom of the love she feels for Marc and of her willingness to sacrifice for him to give him something he otherwise would never have a chance of having — a child. Even if he doesn't get to be a part of the kid's life, he would at least know he had a son/daughter. Put yourself in a lifer's shoes and see how that fits. (BTW, this novel draws heavily on my years of covering prison issues, including my own 24-hour stay behind bars as a bogus felony arrest complete with strip search. More on that in another post.)

So that's the controversy. Maybe it won't be so controversial. Who knows? But I knew when I wrote that scene with Tessa, someone would say, "TSTL!" And I was right.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!

And just to make sure it's wonderful, how about another photo of Daniel Bueno, aka Marc Hunter?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Padraig's Day

Don't expect shamrocks or leprechauns or other St. Paddy's silliness here. As my Irish friends point out, the real St. Patrick's day has nothing to do with green beer or any of the other iconic elements that make up Green Halloween in America. In Ireland, it's a church holiday. Strangely, some cities in Ireland now host St. Paddy's Day parades in an effort to keep up with American tourists, who decide to spend St. Pat's in the Old Country, only to find the only celebration going on is during Mass.

Perhaps because I've written stories set in Ireland and am largely of Irish descent, I take St. Patrick's day seriously. So I thought we could celebrate the day by honoring Irish beef.

Beef has always been an important part of the Irish diet, right up there with potatoes. That's why there are so many Irish. When a woman's diet includes significant amounts of Irish beef, she's more likely to produce strong, healthy offspring — and lots of them. There are millions of Irish in the world today because of Irish beef.

I, myself, have been trying to increase my daily intake of Irish beef in an effort to improve my overall well-being. Ideally, I would like to incorporate Irish beef into each meal. Three times a day is not too often for me when it comes to consuming Irish beef. Three times a day every day would be a welcome change for me.

Irish beef is deeply satisfying. It meets a woman's RDA for protein and has been found to aid in stress reduction, soothing a woman's hormones, helping to maintain mood and even easing menstrual cramps. In fact, frequent consumption of Irish beef completely eliminates menstrual cramps and, indeed, menstruation.

Irish beef goes well with wine, beer, whisky — all kinds of alcohol, in fact, making it easy to serve. Although Irish beef can be consumed cold, it's much more satisfying when hot or even completely raw.

Irish beef — it's what's for dinner.
Friday, March 16, 2007

Spring Fever

I'm so glad everyone enjoyed the excerpt and a look at luscious Daniel Bueno. He's a Brazilian model. I wish he were my mattress.

Rosie, Joanie, Kristi, Gaby — Your books are in the mail. Finally! Ro and J, yours should get to Rosie's by Monday. I sent them priority to make sure. I hope you all enjoy the stories. And you have to email me and tell me which parts you liked best (or hated most, if that's the case, lol!).

Today is gorgeous! It's going to hit the 70s today, and that snow from December is finally completely gone. Yesterday was a typical Colorado day. Morning looked good enough. I got dressed — denim skirt, linen top, sandals — then I hit the coffee shop, where I wrote and chatted with Sean. In case you've forgotten who he is, here's a little reminder:

So there I was dressed for spring, when a big bank of clouds rolled over the mountains and it started snowing. I had a lunch set up with my wonderful, beautiful friend Sara and ended up running around town in sandals while it went back and forth between rain and snow. And now today... 70 degrees.

I took yesterday off work and started to read Unlawful Contact from the beginning so I can pick up the emotional threads again and get back into it. I got halfway through what's written and now need to pick up and get done reading so I can write. I don't do this very often, only when I fear I'm in danger of losing my mojo. It takes a lot of time.

Also — ahem — I was up late last night finishing JR Ward's latest. I eat those books up and love them, even though I really do not like paranormals as a rule. But thank GOD there won't be another one for a while. Now that I'm through Tara Janzen's series and JR Ward's series, maybe I can focus on my own writing.

I hope everyone has a luscious day.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A closer view of that face

What else is there to say, really, besides what Joanie said!

By the way, Joanie, that bit about kicking him out of your bed had me LMFAO at work in the midst of a freaking crisis. Oh, well, at least I was laughing.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

By popular demand: Excerpt from Unlawful Contact

First, let me show you, if I can, the face I have in mind when I think of Marc:

Note the very full mouth, the hollows beneath the cheeks, the slightly dangerous, completely sensuous look. Oh, yeah, that's Marc to a T.

Here's a bit of background to help the story make sense. Marc was the school bad boy. Bad. Boy. Bad. He managed to graduate — just barely — and went into the Army to get himself straightened out. But on his last night before leaving for boot camp, he sees pretty Sophie Alton, a sophomore, threading her way through a kegger in the boonies, in tears because a couple of bitchy chicks have been picking on her for being smart and virginal and for having lost both parents in a car accident. He watches as Sophie stumbles blindly away and into a nest of meth-heads. Naturally, he goes to her rescue. What follows is every teenagers dream. (Needless to say, Sophie is no longer a virgin.)

Fast forward 12 years...

Sophie is a successful member of the I-Team. She's been following the struggle of mothers in prison, when one of the young mothers disappears from a halfway house with her infant daughter. Sophie gets a tip to interview the girl's brother, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. She follows the tip, and gets a whole hell of a lot more than the interview she's expecting...

From Unlawful Contact

Cold steel touched Marc’s skin, the handcuffs closing with a series of metallic clicks. Then, sandwiched between Cormack and another guard, he walked down the long hallway and through the first checkpoint, ignoring the shouted warnings, obscenities, and threats that followed him.

“You think you the big bitch, don’t you, Hunter?”

“Better watch your back, Hunter! I’m gonna kill you before I kill my number!”

“Check it out! Hunter’s going to lay some pipe. Is she pretty?”

Marc felt his pulse pick up as they left the maximum-security wing. He tried to tell himself it was just the thought of what he was about to attempt that had his adrenaline going, but he knew there was more to it than that. It was also the thought of seeing Sophie again.

It had been twelve years since that night at the Monument, twelve years since they’d sipped sodas and shared their dreams, twelve years since she’d made what had probably been the biggest mistake of her young life and given him her virginity. He’d always wondered how she felt about it afterward, whether she’d had regrets. He certainly hadn’t. Memories of that night had helped him get through boot camp, sustained him through the freezing cold of Afghanistan, and brought him back to Colorado when his term of enlistment was over.

No, he hadn’t forgotten her.

I’m the kid who always gets in trouble, remember?
Not with me you’re not.

That night had changed his life—for a while. He’d gone into the Army with a different sense of himself, had pushed his way up through the ranks, earning the insignia of Sergeant First Class before giving up the green. He’d parlayed that experience into a post with the DEA, hoping to put away the kind of scum who’d sold drugs to his mother and sister. But in the end, it hadn’t mattered. He’d ended up exactly where everyone had known he would.

Why not shoot for the stars?

Marc had shot—and missed.

Tension drew to a knot in his gut as Cormack led him through the last checkpoint and into the visitor’s area. He was lower than a snake’s ass for even thinking of putting Sophie through this. But she was his only ticket out of this place, and Megan and Emily needed him. Hopefully, the fact that Sophie knew him would give her some measure of trust and keep her from becoming too afraid—or putting up a fight. Then again, if she reacted too strongly to seeing him or was too friendly, the guards might get suspicious.

And then he’d be fucked.

“You taking it from here, Kramer?” Cormack motioned Marc through the next gate and stepped aside.

“Yep.” Kramer adjusted his leather belt with its Glock .45 and looked at Marc with obvious disgust. “Why anyone wants to talk to this piece of shit is beyond me.”

Some of the tension inside Marc settled. He liked Cormack and hadn’t been looking forward to roughing him up. But he had no qualms about kicking Kramer’s ass. In fact, he’d probably enjoy it. Kramer was a cold bastard who got off on breaking inmates’ balls.

“Over here, Hunter.” Kramer led him toward one of the visitation rooms. “You got thirty minutes. And just in case you got ideas about putting your hands on that sexy bit of gash, just remember I’ll be standing right behind you.”

Bit of gash?

Yes, Marc was going to enjoy this. He met Kramer’s gaze, smiled, the edges of the little shim he held in his mouth sharp against the inside of his cheek.

I’m counting on it, asshole.

Then through the Plexiglas window, he saw her.

He quit breathing. His step faltered. His mind went blank. He didn’t notice Kramer opening the door or ordering him inside or shoving him into a chair, one beefy hand on his shoulder. He was oblivious to the heavy click of the locking door, Kramer’s hulking presence behind him, the weight of the handcuffs on his wrists.

He was aware only of Sophie.

She was even prettier than he remembered—not a teenage girl, but a woman. Her strawberry-blond hair was still long, and she wore it up in a style that was both feminine and sophisticated. Her gentle curves seemed fuller, softening the professional cut of her navy blue jacket and skirt. Her face seemed even more delicate, her cheekbones higher, her lips sweeter, her eyes impossibly blue.

Fairy sprite.

He bit back the words and drew in a deep breath to clear his mind.

A mistake.

Her scent slammed into him, subtle and fresh and so very female, igniting every drop of testosterone in his blood. How long had it been since he’d smelled anything but the sweaty bodies of other men? If his hardening cock was any indication, too goddamn long.

Jesus H. Christ!

He fought to clear his mind, to think, to relax. He needed to focus, to rein in his hormones, to control his emotions. Anything else would get him killed.

She seemed to study him, her expression detached, her hands folded in her lap. She wore on rings—no engagement ring, no wedding band. She reached to shake his hand. “I’m Sophie Alton from the Denver Independent. Thanks for agreeing to meet with me.”

That’s when it hit him.

She didn’t recognize him.

She has no idea who you are, Hunter.

The realization came like a fist to the gut, cutting short his breath, the force of it taking him completely by surprise. It had never occurred to him that she might not remember him. It didn’t seem possible, but he could see in her eyes that it was true.

He willed himself to speak, took her small hand in his, tried not to look like a man whose world had just imploded. “My pleasure.”

Helluva blow to the ego, isn’t it, dumbass?

But it was more than that.

It meant that she would be terrified.

He looked at her sweet face, saw the girl he’d made love to—and wondered how he was going to bring himself to do this to her. Then he thought of Megan, alone and running for her life, her baby in her arms, and he knew he had no choice. He’d already lost his sister once. He wouldn’t risk losing her again.

Sophie pulled her hand back, feeling strangely ill at ease. There was something about the tone of the inmate’s voice, something in the way he looked at her…

She set her digital recorder in the middle of the table, cleared her throat. “Since I can’t have my notebook or pens here, I need to record our conversation. I hope that’s all right with you, Mr. Hunter.”

He nodded, his eyes focused entirely on her. “Whatever you want.”

Marc Hunter wasn’t what she’d expected. She’d known he’d be tall because his sister was tall. But Megan was also fragile and out of shape, the result of heroin addiction, a sedentary life and years of prison food. There was nothing fragile or out of shape about Marc Hunter.

At least six-foot-three, he was athletic and well built, his orange prison smock stretched across a broad chest, the sleeves of his white undershirt rolled up to reveal powerful, tattooed biceps, the U.S. Army’s eagle and shield on his right arm and an Aztec sun on his left. His brown hair hung to his shoulders, thick and wavy. A dark beard covered the lower half of his face, concealing most of his features, emphasizing his high cheekbones and giving him a threatening look that was lessened somewhat by a full mouth. His eyes were a piercing green that seemed to see beneath her skin.

Even if she hadn’t read his criminal record, Sophie would have known he was dangerous. He had an air about him—intimidating, menacing, aggressive.

A killer.

She pushed the record button and struggled to compose her thoughts. “Um… As I’m sure you know, I’ve been following Megan’s situation since—”

“I’ve read the articles,” he said, adding, “obviously.”

She hadn’t revealed to DOC officials that her interest in this interview had originated with an anonymous caller sent by the inmate, sure they’d refuse to grant her request under those circumstances. She wasn’t going to acknowledge that fact now, either, not with Lieutenant Kramer listening. Mr. Hunter might not care whether he aroused their suspicions, but she did.

“What you might not know is that I care very much for Megan and Emily and haven’t been able to think of anything else since they disappeared. I was hoping you might have some idea why she vanished or where she’s gone.”

His lips curved in a slow smile. “And here I thought you might be able to tell me.”

Confused, Sophie stared at him. He had contacted her, hadn’t he? The man who’d called had told her that Marc Hunter would be able help her with Megan. And yet Hunter was sitting here saying that he hoped she had information. It made no sense.

His smile faded, and his expression grew serious. “Megan is a very troubled woman, Ms. Alton.”

And you’re a model citizen!

Sophie kept her expression neutral and waited for him to say more.

“She’s been fighting drug addiction since she was a teenager, and every time I think she’s made it, she relapses.”

No news flash there. Sophie had already reported this in her articles. “Are you saying you think that’s what has happened this time?”

“That’s what your article led me to believe.” He stretched out, his muscular leg brushing against hers beneath the table.

She sat up straighter, tucked her feet beneath her chair, wondering if the contact had been accidental. The guy had been in prison for six years, after all. He wouldn’t be the first inmate she’d interviewed who’d tried to make physical contact. “I know Megan was in touch with you. Did she say anything to make you think she’d started using heroin again?”

“I haven’t had contact with Megan for years. We’re not allowed to communicate with one another, as I’m sure you know. What did she say to you?”

Growing annoyed by this purposeless, circular conversation, Sophie found herself glaring at him. What kind of game was Marc Hunter playing? She glanced up at Lieutenant Kramer, who looked like his mind was a thousand miles away, then back at Hunter. “Is there anything about Megan you’d like to tell me, Mr. Hunter?”

He started to speak, his words cut off by a coughing fit. He raised his cuffed hands to cover his mouth, croaked out, “Can I get… some water?”

Lieutenant Kramer nodded, and Sophie realized he expected her to get it.

“All right.” Biting back a retort about middle-aged men and sexism, she stood, crossed the room to the water cooler, and filled a little paper cone.

Why had Hunter wanted her to come down here? If he had something to tell her about Megan, why didn’t he just tell her? He’d known a C.O. would be present during the interview, that he wouldn’t be able to speak with her privately.

She carried the water back and held it out for him.

It seemed to happened all at once. The splash of cold water against her wrist as he exploded out of his chair, hands somehow free, feet flying. Her own scream as Lieutenant Kramer fell, unconscious or dead, his weapon out and in Hunter’s hands. Hunter’s iron grip as he grabbed her wrist and yanked her roughly against the hard wall of his chest.

Their gazes collided, his green eyes as hard as jade and unreadable.

Light-headed, her body shaking, her pulse frantic, she gaped up at him, tried to jerk away. Then her splintered thoughts drew together, formed one word. “N-no!”

“Don’t fight me, Sophie!” He wasn’t even out of breath. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

From outside in the hall came shouts and the shrill peal of an alarm.

They knew. The guards knew. They would stop him.

They would protect her.

Stay calm, Alton. Stay calm.

Even as the words entered her mind, she found herself spun hard about, her back crushed against his ribs, his arm locked around her shoulders. She heard him click off the safety on the gun, felt the cold press of steel against her throat, and then she did understand.

You’re his hostage, Alton. He might kill you. He might kill everyone.

She shuddered, felt her knees turn to water.

This couldn’t be happening. It could not be happening.

Marc felt Sophie’s heart pounding, saw her lips go white, and hated himself for doing this to her. Then she did something that made him hate himself even more.

“Pl-please don’t! I-I h-helped your s-sister!”

It was nothing less than a plea for her life, a desperate appeal to his conscience.

Too bad he no longer had one.

“I know.” He pulled her toward the door, almost lifting her off her feet. “And now you’re helping me.”
Monday, March 12, 2007

YAY! No surgery!

Monday. Again. Already. And I only wrote 2,200 words over the weekend. I needed to write at least 3,000...

Confession: I read two JR Ward novels over the week/weekend, too. I'm sucked in to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and I don't even like paranormals. D'oh!!!

The highlight of my day today was watching a video made from a special CT scan of my own head. I watched from the top of my skull down through my brain, sinuses, mouth etc. It was really cool to see my eyeballs appear out of the depths. They really are round. I could see my optic nerves. Everything. Funky! And, yes, I do have a brain. That was a relief to see.

The purpose of the scan was to see if I need to have yet another sinus surgery, and the answer thankfully is no. That's a huge relief.

I went in to the office today planning to pound out a cover story about a group of local midwives who were helping to train women to deliver babies in Afghanistan who had to leave Afghanistan due to the crumbling situation there and who are now helping deliver babies in refugee camps in Soroti, Uganda. But I didn't get a chance to write a word. Too much mayhem.

I did go to the gym, however, and spent 30 minutes on the treadmill watching hopelessly depressing news on the TV. Someone's always dying somewhere.

I see that the news story I blogged about below has finally made it on to CNN and other national news programs. I'm surprised it took so long. My son is handling it all better now. He's pretty disgusted by the whole thing and feels the kids will get what they deserve.

I also didn't get to do a thing on the whistleblower case. The whistleblower was supposed to drop by a bunch of documents and didn't. I know this person (no gender here) intends to do it and suspect s/he got waylaid or sidetracked by other things. Once I get those documents, I'm going to have to do a crash course in understanding them.

Nikki, I just had to say that your post was incredibly touching. Thanks so much. The truth is, that even if I wanted to write in a different way, there's only so far a person can stretch their own voice before they just start faking it. My goal when I write is to make the characters feel real, so if they feel real to you, then I'm succeeding, at least where you're concerned. Thanks so much for taking the time to post! And come out to play more often if you can. :-)

Ronlyn, welcome back! Glad you got the books!

Debbie H, I hope there've been no more tornado warnings. Scary that you have to live with that.

OK, I'm headed off for a latte (some friends got me a Starbuck's gift card for my non-birthday) and then more Marc and Sophie.
Friday, March 09, 2007


Yes, it's Friday. F-R-I to the D-A-Y.

Today I took the day off from the paper and focused on my poor, abused novel. But before that, I decided it was time to get my hefty arse back into the gym. I went 45 minutes on the eliptical trainer, getting my heart rate up to 85 percent of its max for my age. I wish Lina were here, because I'd ask her if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I can do that for an extended time without feeling out of breath.

I used to be a long-distance runner. I was serious about my mileage and my time, clocking off 10 to 13 miles a day. Then I had kids and fell off a mountain and became a profession sitter. As in Sit In Chairs All Day — one of my Indian names. But still when I work out for long periods like that, I often reach a point where I'm just not feeling tired, not feeling out of breath. Yes, I'm sweating and holding a conversation without panting a bit isn't possible. But I don't feel out of breath or tired. I feel like I could just keep going and going like the Energizer Bunny. It felt strange to see my heartrate up at 168 and to feel... fine. I didn't do any boxing, though. Next time I put the gloves on, it's going to probably kill me.

Then I went grocery shopping and stocked up on organic everything. Yum.

Then I came home to confront Marc and Sophie...

I've been twiddling with the primary sex scene for maybe three weeks now, and I think I'm finally done with that. Now I need to put the afterburners on and jet through the remaining 10 or so chapters of this novel. I'm going part time for the rest of the month at the paper and taking the last week of March off, so that will help.

I wanted to respond to everyone's posts from yesterday out here.

Leiha, I couldn't agree more. The fact that the boyfriend was living with them proved the mom probably needed to be more strict than she was. We don't know the details, of course, but I had the exact same thought. To think this woman gave birth to one of her alleged killers and fed and sheltered the other... Raw deal, that.

Can you imagine giving birth to a child not knowing that the kid would grow up to take your life?

Rosie, I've done a lot of whistleblower investigations. Well, I guess, really only four or five. But that's a fair number. One lasted for a year. People I interviewed had their homes broken into, got threatening phone calls and faced intimidation. I got open death threats. Then they threatened my kids. I ran part of the story and dropped the rest because I couldn't face the threat to my kids (which they proved they could undertake... won't say more).

Another lasted five months. That led to the National Journalism Awards and was probably the most brutal public battle I've ever fought. The team that handled that investigation is what I call the Dream Team and included my friend Terje, whom I insulted in a previous post, for his lack of enthusiasm for my non-birthday.

Another involved a cement plant. That lasted probably three months and involved some minor threats and a bit of sneaking around, er. This is public, right? Ahem. But we're still reporting on the plant, which just got slammed with its highest-ever fine for more than 72,000 air pollution violations. EGADS!

The investigative part of my job is why my agent thought I should try writing romantic suspense. I truly thought journalism was the most boring thing anyone could ever read about, and I still think it's pretty damn dull until someone pulls a gun or you land a big story. But then most people don't have any familiarity with journalism as a profession. Who knows?

Joanie, kindergarten would scare me. That's a lot of small kiddos in one space. The noise alone would probably put me into the psych ward. I think people who can teach and work with small children deserve medals.

Debbie, you make me laugh. "Super P.C."? Not at all. I really hope you're right about getting the job done — it's going to be hard to find the cracks in to this one, though the whistleblower is doing all they can to help make that happen.

Charina, so wonderful to see you here!!!

OK, dinner's done. Time to feed my kid. He's a bit droopy today. SAT test tomorrow morning early, and he's not happy about it.
Thursday, March 08, 2007

M is for Matricide

Today's blog brought to you by the letter "M" and the number "4."

Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They're still in high school, but they move in together with the girl's mom. Boy and girl decide Mom is a drag. Boy asks girl if he should "take care of her mother" for her. She says yes. Boy goes home while a friend drives girl around the block — she doesn't want to watch — and tries to suffocate Mom in her sleep, but fails. Grabs a knife instead and stabs her repeatedly in her mouth and neck.

Now boy and girl and friend with the car have a DB on their hands. Hate it when that happens.

They call another friend, say it was self-defense, ask for help burying Mom somewhere. The four of them drive Mom to a cemetery and bury her in a shallow grave. Then they decide the grave is too shallow and that, sooner or later, Mom will pop up or be found. So they dig Mom up, stuff her in the trunk of her car and drive her home. Now she's bloody and dirty.

Not sure what to do, they leave Mom in the trunk — and go back to normal life. They go to school. They do homework. They try to ignore the fact that Mom is dead in the trunk in the garage. But without Mom around to nag and be a pain in their asses, the music gets too loud. The neighbors call the cops. And suddenly everyone wants to know, "Where is Mom?"

Damned hard question to answer, that.

Arrests follow. The media — pain the ass media — has a field day. Matricide. Teens plot murder. Mom dead in car for a month. (Ew.)

Well, that's the headlines from here, folks. Now here's the kicker — that fourth kid is an acquaintance of my son's. And my son is really torn up about this. He had a lot of respect for that fourth kid. I'm betting the kid will get a fairly light sentence, though he's being charged as an adult with a major felony — accessory to murder after the fact. It sounds like he was deceived and intimidated. Frankly, if my friends confided in me about a dead body... well, I'd call the police.

In other news: A whistleblower story dropped into my lap this afternoon involving a very large sum of money transferred under questionable circumstances, possible fraud, and who knows what at this point. I've got about a zillion documents to go through, and then the real work begins. I think I'm about to make some men in suits very unhappy. Let's hope they're pleasant about it.

How do I crack this nut? How do I get bank records that aren't mine? How do I prove that the money was transferred before the board of directors approved it? How? How? How? These are the questions investigative journalists face. It's a matter of piecing the puzzle together, gaining access to the clues you can by whatever means you can, and proving that some deep, dark secret is the truth.

I always get excited when something like this plops into my lap, but this one presents some really interesting conundrums. I need to crack the nut by March 22. It's going to be a crazy month. Yeah, and there's the small matter of a novel due, too.

Also, I set up an appointment to meet with the good folks about the polluting cement plant north of town. They did a health study proving that the CKD (that's cement kiln dust for those of you who haven't read Extreme Exposure) is causing respiratory problems. Some 30 percent of people living near the plant have respiratory diseases.

So that was my day at work. What did you all do today?
Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Writer's insecurity/Wardrobe malfunction/J-Hole

I think the best compliment I can pay a fellow novelist is to say that reading his/her books made me feel like a complete amateur and made me consider giving up writing fiction for a permanent staff position on the obit desk. It means I was so impressed with his or her (mostly her) writing that my own looks like last week's garbage.

Authors whose writing has impacted me this way include Karen Marie Moning, Laura Kinsale and now... Tara Janzen.

I've been absent from this blog, and largely absent from life, for two reasons. One of them is Tara Janzen's CRAZY series. I read CRAZY COOL a few weeks ago and fell in love with the immediacy of her prose. So for my non-birthday, I went out and bought CRAZY HOT, CRAZY WILD and CRAZY KISSES. And I devoured them, cover to cover.

As a result, I'm now looking at my own WIP (that's writer shorthand for "work in progress") and hating it. Which means I'm not writing.. Uh-oh.

I once had a conversation with Karen Marie about this phenomenon. I told her that her writing was so elastic. She's able to bend and twist and shape it into really interesting, fun, lively expressive prose. Mine, I told her, was more like big blocks of concrete that are clumped down however best I can clump them but which don't DO anything. She told me my writing was like fine silk that slid through a sewing machine, whereas her writing was thick material that got caught on the needle and bunched up.

Yes, authors express themselves strangely...

Anyway, now I'm struck by how Tara (a fellow Colorado author) is able to write in such a way that you're right there with the character -- not outside but inside each character, breathing with them in each moment. That's how it feels to me. By comparison, I feel like my writing is terribly stiff and external.

The truth is that each of us has a voice, and I'm not sure how much can be done to change an author's voice. I do try to challenge myself with each book to have very in-depth characterization, to make each hero different so they don't all feel like they're made from the same alpha-male mold or something. So I can't write like Karen or Tara, and they can't write like me (or so I tell myself -- right now I think a baboon with a crayon could write like I write).

And, incidentally, my favorite Tara Janzen hero is either Quinn or Christian. I like those two heroines best, also. I'm not into kick-butt heroines much — strong and smart, yes, but not "tough" or kick-ass. I like Kid Chaos, too, and Nikki. Who spells her name like my sister Mikki.

The other reason I haven't blogged, besides too much reading and attempting to write my now grotesquely overdue book, is what I'll call J-hole from now on.

Here's what that means:

Ketamine was really popular in the late 1990s. It's an animal anesthetic, but people were breaking into vet clinics and stealing it, then using it. It really knocks people for a loop, sometimes resulting in them soiling their pants. (ICK!) A person who's really out of it on Ketamine (or Special K) is said to be in "K-hole."

I was in J-hole. J = journalism. Busy week at the paper.

In other news, I did something completely UNcharacteristic for me and went shopping for clothes. This was prompted by a wardrobe malfunction yesterday in which my favorite denim skirt split across the ass, leaving my butt hangin' out. The staff at the paper alerted me, and Grace, one of the reporters, helped me retrieve my dignity by taping it together with duct tape. But the tape didn't hold. And people gawked.

I was struck this summer by how nicely people who don't live in Boulder dress. In Boulder, almost anything goes. Women don't shave. People go barefoot. Tie-dye and paisley. Hemp clothes and T-shirts. Climbing gear worn for daily wear. (Tara does a funny job of describing my town, BTW. Travis cracks me up.) An office meeting here might have the CEO in shorts and a hemp T-shirt with Teva sandals or Birks (that's BIRKENSTOCKS) for non-Boulderites.

So I leave Boulder, get dressed up the best I can, go to the RWA conference... and arrive to find myself looking like, well, a fat slob. Lina helped rescue me last year. But I just don't buy clothes. I hate malls, hate to shop, hate the whole scene. I have to say that though I tried to upgrade my wardrobe to something un-Boulder, my tastes run to hippie chic. But at least my ass won't be hanging out...

I've missed you all!
Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me — sort of, Part II

Today is my birthday again! Woohoo!

My parents sent a GIANT bouquet of beautiful flowers to the newspaper. It's sitting on my desk just where it obscures my view of the newsroom. :-)

Last night I had dinner with Ben at Laudisio's, the restaurant Reece takes Kara to in Extreme Exposure. We had a delicious meal of chicken saltimbocco with mixed green salads and rosemary potatoes. For dessert, nothing less than Laudisio's amazing creme brulee. It's a totally culinary orgasm.

Today, I got the flowers, then had lunch with two wonderful women who were my professors when I was a lass studying Classics (Latin, ancient history, classical archaeology) in college. They treated me to lunch at a nice restaurant near campus. We had a lot of catching up to do, i.e., "What have you been up to for the past five years?" Or something like that.

I gave them each a copy of Surrender and Hard Evidence.

They're really such wonderful women and were so supportive of me when I was a student with two tiny kids, only dreaming of writing at that point.

Thanks for all of your wonderful birthday wishes from yesterday. They mean so much to me.

I finished twiddling with Chapter 18 this morning, and I'll probably resend it to my Novel Testing Committee, i.e., Aimee. ;-)

I also got started on 19 and hope to finish it tomorrow. Early tomorrow I'll be getting in my car and driving to Glenwood Springs, passing Vail along the way. I'm spending a weekend in Hotel Colorado with my mum. We've talked about getting away for years and have never done it. So now we doin' it. I'm really excited and looking forward to relaxing in the hot springs, chatting with my mom and writing when she's asleep.

Well, back to work. I'm blogging from the office right now, trying to keep up.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. We had sunshine today and the roads are now clear.

Follow Me


Seduction Game

Blog Archive


Favorite Writing Quotes

"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
—Toni Morrison

"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
—Robert Frost.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale