Thursday, December 14, 2006

Introducing Jane and getting rid of the Holiday Blues

I have a new laptop! It's silver and shiny and best of all, it works! I've decided to name her Jane. Yes, I know it's rather cheeky of me. But I might as well channel the best, right?

After almost an entire month of no computer, I'm thrilled to be writing again. But now I'm trying to make up for all the time I've missed, and the rest of the world is trying to do Christmas...

Which brings me to the second part of my post. The Holiday Blues.

Did you know that this is the most stressful time of the year for women?
I heard that little statistic twice last week. Once, on the radio, while I was taking the kids to school, and then later that day while I was hanging more Christmas decorations in the house and watching Regis and Kelly.

I admit, I'm no Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart or Jennifer Crusie. But I'd like to be. Of course, all these self-expectations tend to make one rather critical of oneself and that can only lead to one thing. The blues. Lucikly, there's nothing better to cure the blues with than a good book or movie.

Here's a story written by the talented Ellen Peters that's sure to cure any holiday funk. Best of all, it's a short, quick read. Perfect for the Holiday season. I have to admit, though, I did shed a tear. But's its the good kind of tears (the kind you get with a Happily-Ever-After!)

Ava Carrolton has decided to make her own fate this holiday season. Tired of being alone and hoping to find love, she finally agrees to date the dashing and persistent owner of the department store where she works. Who wouldn’t enjoy spending time with a man who looks like a GQ model? But, she has one misgiving. She doesn’t feel The Spark with Mr. Debonair, so how is she to know if he’s The One?When Ava literally bumps into Noah Shepard, every girl’s definition of The Boy Next Door, they form an unlikely friendship. As they bond, Noah seems to transform through Ava’s eyes. His thick frame glasses and shy stutters fade away, while a knight in shining armor emerges. Will Ava choose excitement and security with the handsome store owner, or a lifetime of making snow angels with a man who’s anything but ordinary?

Snow Angels is available at The Wild Rose Press. I promise, it won't disappoint!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Just a few days left to vote!

I've been a really bad blogger lately. But I have a good excuse. My computer crashed over a week ago. I thought it'd be fixed by now, but apparently, it's dead. Beyond any computer CPR.

Just writing those words makes me cringe.

Luckily, my writing is backed up.

Which brings me to the point of my post. Other people's writing. There's less than a week left to vote on round 2 of the American Title 3 contest. This round features Best Hero and Heroine description. Take a minute to go to the RT Site and vote.

Oh, and on a wonderful note, go to the TITLE WAVE blog for some awesome news on Gerri Russell's The Warrior Trainer!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The day the squirrel ate my hambuger

I've been dissing my own blog.

The reason for that is simple. I've been multi-tagged by both Mel and Lucy to come up with 5 interesting things about myself and I've been avoiding writing that post like the plague. I honestly can't think of 5 really interesting things (not that I can write in a blog, anyway). So, I'll just tell you one not so interesting, but very important thing that happened to me early in life.

When I was four, a squirrel swooped down from a tree and stole my McDonalds hamburger.

It changed my life.

But for this story to make any sense, I have to go back to the beginning:

First of all, you wouldn't know it from looking at me, but I'm a really finicky eater. Ask my friends, I drive them crazy. As a kid, I never ate mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup. Or any sauce or condiment of any kind. It just weirded me out. So whenever we went to McDonalds (which was the greatest treat in my mind at age 4) my mom or dad had to wait in line while they cooked my "plain" hamburger. This always made me feel a little guilty, since the rest of the family had to wait. But, oh well.

The day of the Great Squirrel Incident (yes, that is still how it's referred to by my family), we took our food and went outside to this little picnic area in back of the McDonalds. I took a bite out of my hamburger, and as all 4 year olds tend to do, ran off to play.

My mother warned me. "Don't leave your food unattended!"

But I ignored her.

A couple of minutes later, a large, beasty looking squirrel swooped down onto the picnic table, plunged his razorlike fangs into my McDonalds hamburger and carried it off.

I was mortified.

I cried.

I begged my parents to go into the McDonalds and order me another plain hamburger.

"No. But you can have mine," said my mother, offering me her hamburger, dripping and laden with all sorts of nasty looking condiments.

I sniffed and raised my chin. "No, I'd rather starve," I said. (or something along those lines)


You can tell that I pretty much had the Cuban version of an Ozzie and Harriet sort of upbringing when I tell you that this was one of the most traumatic events of my childhood (along with the whole mammals and breastfeeding thing). But, I learned a lot about myself that day.

1. Sometimes, I'm just too subborn (aka stupid) for my own good.

2. If you don't listen to your mother, something bad will surely happen.

And most importantly, watch out for lurking squirrels. They might look cute, but they're really rats in disguise.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

At last!

An episode I can finally sink my teeth into!

As sad as it was losing Mr. Eko, I was a little relieved to see the show is getting back some of it's oomph. From the moment Lost premiered 2 years ago, I've been an ardent fan, but lately, I felt like the show was slipping.

I was so disappointed in the Season opener. Please, writers, no more wimpy Jack scripts! I used to love Jack, but they are totally ruining him for me. If he falls for Juliette's pleas, I'll have no respect left for him whatsoever. (I totally agree with Sawyer's instincts on this one-Blondie is not be trusted)

Still, I had to keep giving the show another try. And each episode got a little bit better, but last night, I was totally blown away. THIS is what I want! A show that will leave me wanting more! I cried at the end of last night's episode and I don't ever remember crying during Lost. Not even when Shannon or Boone died.

Now I have to admit, I'm a little pissed that next week's show is the Fall Season Finale. That means no more Lost for another couple of months. I really hate when networks do this. Instead of Lost, they're going to sub in a new show to try to get us hooked. Grr....

On a sad note, I've heard rumors that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is going to be cancelled. Yup. It's Love Monkey all over again, damn it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

blog hijack!

For a special message, click here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Well, not quite, but almost.

I finished the first rough draft of The Church of Bunco!

Honestly, I thought it would never get finished. I'm such a plotter, and this book refused to be plotted. I tried. I really did. But like some character from a Stephen King novel, the story took on a life of its own and just laughed and flipped me the finger whenever I tried to force it a certain direction.

I can remember when the idea for the book first came to me. It was in Reno during the RWA conference. A bunch of us had gone to Circus Circus to eat dinner and I was wearing my special Bunco bracelet (a silver flexi kind of thing that has little martini glasses and dice charms hanging off it). I remember sitting in the taxi cab and playing with the little charms and thinking about my bunco group and it all sort of came rushing out.

That night, while spewing the idea out to Mel, she helped me come up with the title (which also pays homage to my sort of love-affair-obsession with the film, Bull Durham).

So while it's far from readable, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I actually know what happens now:) I figure it will take about 2 months to come up with a readable copy to give to my fabo cp's, but I'm so excited (and more than a little relieved!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

American Title 3 starts today

Flavia and company are back at it today as Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine kicks off the American Title 3 Contest with the Best First Line.

But it's not their opinion that matters. It's yours. It's the voters who decide who will win the contest and become the next American Title winner and have their book published by Dorchester.

Over the last ten days, the American Title 2 finalists have been posting interviews with the AT 3 finalists on the Title Wave blog.

It was a hard choice to make. The entries are all fabulous. But I picked one and voted. It's simple, just go here, read the entries and vote. Voting will continue on until October 29. Then the two entries with the lowest votes will be eliminated and a second round will begin.

Good luck to this year's finalists!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ER Scare

I had just settled into work the other night when I get a call from Mike Geraci. That, in itself, is a little scary. In the 21 years we've been married, I can probably count the number of times my husband has called me at work on one hand.

Mike: Hey (said weakly)
Me: Oh my God, what's wrong?
Mike: (long pause) I'm in an ambulance. They're taking me to the ER.
Me: What happened? Were you in a wreck? (breathing a sigh of relief. If he was in a wreck, then it must not be too bad if he can talk on the phone, right?)
Mike: No, I just got a little dizzy and they're bringing me in.

Translation: His blood pressure was sky high and he almost passed out.

Now, my husband has never been diagnosed with high blood pressure. But, he also hasn't been to the doctor in the past year. He's one of those men who only goes to the doctor when he's on his death bed. So apparently, his BP has been creeping up and now it's slapped him in the face. The fact that he drinks a pot of coffee a day, is about 30 lbs overweight, and runs 5 miles one day, then does nothing for 2 weeks. has finally caught up to him. Not to mention all those cigars he smokes on the golf course. And except for the cigars and the pot of coffee (I'm just a half a pot a day girl) I'm guilty of all the above and more.

So, Mike's little ER scare has been a big wake up call to us both. We aren't as young as we used to be. We have 3 kids, a huge mortgage payment and college and braces... and you get the rest.

Time for the Geracis to make some big lifestyle changes.

PS. The only bright note in the ER visit was that, luckily, I had a book with me! (I keep the current book I'm reading in my bag at all times, cuz, you just never know) Anyhoo, I finished "Ex and Single Girl" and I loved it! After Mike had been given all these drugs, he went to sleep for about 3 hours while we waited for test results to come back, and I think I would have gone crazy if it wasn't for having something great to read. Proving yet again, that romance writers do make a difference in the world, right?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Stewie: You know, that novel you've been writing?

Stewie teases Brian about the novel he's never finished... after 3 years.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Who Will Be Next?

In less than 2 weeks, the American Title III contest will be in full swing. For those of you who don't know, American Title I was won by Janice Lynn and her fabulous Jane Millionaire. And in January, Gerri Russell's The Warrior Trainer will hit the bookshelves.

Starting in just a few days, the Title Wave blog will run exclusive interviews with the American Title III finalists. Check out these awesome titles:

Meretta Pater – RISING SIN
Sally Stotter – DARE YOU
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom – BARBIE AND THE BEAST
Cathy Pegau - HAUNTED

I wish all the contestants good luck!

And on a more personal note: KIA progress: 10 pages yesterday (woo hoo!)

Kristen asked me what KIA stood for (great question, btw). The KIA marathon is in honor of a former RWA Online member, Kia Cochran, who died of breast cancer. And since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it's the perfect time to host it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Starting the KIA

Okay, so I was supposed to start the KIA (RWA Online's fabulous yearly marathon) yesterday. Due to being out of town, however, my page count so far is zip.

Hopefully, that will change starting today. I'm determined to plunge forward with the rough draft of my current wip, Church of Bunco. I'm about 150-160 pages from THE END.

I can do it. I know I can. I just have to insert butt in chair and keep it there. I blogged about writing marathons on the Title Wave blog, so I have to do it. Right?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Freudian Moment

So I was talking to Mean Bitch Mel the other day. "Then I need to segue-way (sp?) to the next scene," she says.

"You need to what?"

"I need to segue-way."

"What's that?" I ask, my palms beginning to dampen.

"Maria, you know, segue-way."

"Uhm, I've never heard that word before."

"You're kidding. You've never heard the word segue-way?"

Oh, God. It's Fifth Grade all over again...

Seque-way back to 1969... I'm sitting in 5th grade Science class at Ascension Catholic School. It's mid-afternoon. It's hot and humid, because this is central Florida. Sister Immaculata (yes, that was her name) was writing characteristics of mammals down on the chalkboard.

Mammals have hair on their bodies... Mammals are warm-blooded... Mammals give milk to their young...

I raise my hand. "Sister?"

"Yes, Maria Palacios?"

"I think you made a mistake."

Beedy nun eyes stare me down. "Oh?"

"Yes, sister. We're mammals and we don't give milk to our young. We have to feed our babies out of bottles."

A huge collective gasp erupts. I slowly look around the room to see 29 pairs of 5th grade eyes looking at me in horror. My best friend shakes her head and looks on in sympathy.

What? What have I done? I ask myself, sliding down in my seat.

Sister ignores my question and keeps writing on the chalkboard. Thirty minutes later, the bell rings and Sister asks me stay after class. The sweat is pouring down my back as she hands me an envelope addressed to my mother. The entire bus ride home no one looks at me.

I give the envelope to my mother, certain that I'm about to be expelled for some crime against God and mammals. My mother reads the note from sister, then pats her bed and asks me to have a seat. She then gives me the "talk". Mortified, I find out that, uhm, yes, all mammals do give milk to their young, along with a whole bunch of other stuff I'd never even knew was possible. (note: I grew up in the Cuban household version of Leave it to Beaver...)

I trudge to school the next day wishing that I was a better actress, because my mother wasn't fooled by my dramatic coughing fit that morning. Gradually, all the kids forgot about it. But I never asked a question in class for the rest of 5th grade. Or 6th, for that matter.

Of course, that was 36 years ago and I really don't give a rat's ass what someone thinks if I don't happen to know something and have to ask. But it's funny, how the physical reaction is still there. Which of course, means that deep down, I must sort of care.

Since Mel and I had this conversation, I've heard the word segue or segue-way used at least 3 times. Which leads me to wonder... Am I really that unobservant? Or is this some sort of world plot against me?

Friday, September 22, 2006

What were they thinking??

I'm so disappointed in Macho 1 and Macho 2 (That would be JP and Ozzy of the Hispanic Team in this season's Survivor) They actually threw last night's immunity challenge so they could vote out poor Billy. There they are on the left, gloating.

Now, don't get me wrong. Poor Billy needed to go. He was on the lazy side and couldn't keep up in the challenges. Plus, he never really fit in with the other 4 members. As Billy put it, he fits in more with the heavy metal culture, than the Hispanic culture. But at this point in the game, it's all about numbers. Cecelia and Cristina realized this ( of course, they did. They are women) But Macho 1 and Macho 2 are thinking with, well, I don't know what they're thinking with, but it obviously isn't the grey stuff on top.

The fun twist to their evil plotting is that they were stupid enough to send Yul (of the Asian team) to Exile Island. Since the Asian team is kicking some major butt all around, they figured they would send the strongest member to Exile Isle to "weaken" him. Of course, it took Yul all of about 3 seconds to find the Immunity Idol. Ha! I can't wait to see the looks on the Macho boys faces, when Yul pulls that one out.

On a brighter note, last night's premiere of The Office did not disappoint. Not one bit. It was hysterical!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Imperfection, Thy Name is Hero

For the longest time, if asked who my favorite romance hero is, I've always responded the same way: Justin Alistair, the Duke of Avon. The devilishly imperfect, cold-hearted, arrogant, pleasure-seeking, revenge-obsessed hero of Georgette Heyer's, These Old Shades. I even quote the book in my RWA Online signature, because it's one of the best romance lines I've ever read.

The line comes in the final scene where Justin is trying to convince Leonie (the heroine, who also happens to be his ward) that he isn't the right man for her by cataloguing all his weaknesses. His reputation is damanged, he's never been faithful to one woman, he's selfish, weak, spoiled, he's too old for her, etc... He then finishes this little speech by telling her she's worthy of a better husband than he.

"I would give you a boy who might come to you with a clean heart, not one who was bred up in vice from his cradle."

"Ah, Monseigneur, you need not have told me this! I know-I have always known, and still I love you. I do not want a boy. I want only-Monseigneur."

"Leonie, you will do well to consider. You are not the first woman in my life."

She smiled through her tears. "Monseigneur, I would so much rather be the last woman than the first."

Sigh... at this point in the book, I'm crying. No matter how many times I've read it. Because despite all of Justin's calculating schemes to use Leonie as revenge against his worst enemy, in the end, he risks everything, gives up everything for love. And in doing so, wins me over every time.

Which brings me to The Taming of the Duke. I've just found a hero who can light a candle to Justin Alistair. And coincidentally enough, he's also a duke (maybe I have a thing for dukes?) I don't know how Eloisa James pulled it off (well, I do know, because she's ridiculously talented), but she did. She made me fall head over heels in love with an alcoholic duke with a protruding gut. Doesn't sound too romantic, does it? But Rafe Jourdain, Duke of Holbrook now has a place alongside my beloved Justin as Favorite Hero.

The Taming of the Duke is the 3rd in the sisters series and we meet Rafe right away in book one, Much Ado about You. Now, I liked Rafe instantly from the beginning. He's a big teddy bear of a guy who dutifully embraces his guardianship to 4 young women he's never set eyes on. But he's also an alcoholic. And Eloisa doesn't pull any punches here. He's let himself go, his estate go, and while he still manages to keep it all somewhat together, he's not the sort of confident Regency buck we're used to having as heros in our historicals. Everytime Rafe takes a drink, we cringe. We never know exactly what's going to come out of his mouth.

Other than the fact that both Justin and Rafe are dukes, slightly older (Justin is 40, Rafe is in his late 30's) and both men fall in love with their younger wards, I wondered how two men, who seem so different on first glance, could both be so appealing to me. Rafe is slovenly and unkempt. Justin is so meticulous in his appearance, that he almost comes off as foppish (almost!). Rafe could care less what society thinks of him, Justin is all about image. Rafe's self esteem is rock bottom, while Justin thinks the stars revolve around him.

But on deeper examination, and on all the levels that count, I find both men very similar. And more importantly, they embark on a character arc, that in the end, reveals the true man deep inside. And it's that lovely character arc, done so subtly, and so well, that makes me fall in love.

Both my heros are uncomfortable in their role as duke-Rafe, obviously more so, while Justin's discomfort with his title is more subtle, but it's there. And both men eventually grow into their noble roles, taking on the responsibilities of the title they were born into.

Rafe uses alcohol as a crutch, while Justin uses his need for revenge. In the end, both give up their crutch. Partly for the heroine, and partly because they have to. The crutch just doesn't work anymore.

And lastly, and most importantly, both men go the ultimate distance for love. Justin sacrifices his need for revenge, letting Leonie's needs come first. He tells her he isn't worthy of her, that she deserves someone better than him. But of course, in Leonie's mind, there is no one better (smart girl!) Rafe must battle the bottle and his low self-esteem in order win Imogen's heart. He thinks so little of himself that he woos her in the guise of another man. But ultimately, to win her, he must do the thing he fears the most--reveal himself completely, with all his faults and all his vices.

Both men have to grow into the man that the heroine sees deep inside, or as screenwriting guru Michael Hauge puts it, into their essence (If you didn't go to his workshop at Nationals in Atlanta, make sure to listen to the tape. He was fabulous!)

And that's what I think is ultimately the most satisfying part for me in a romance. Seeing that imperfect man grow into the man the heroine needs him to be. The man the heroine "sees" from the beginning and loves and knows is there. It's that journey of self-discovery that makes me sigh, cry, laugh, etc... because without it, the romance just isn't complete.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I found my Steve!

I was having a terrible time putting a face to the hero in my current wip. I always give my characters "faces" and here I was, halfway through the rough draft, and still no face for my most important character. My hero! So after a lot of inspiration and help from my friends over at the Title Wave blog, I finally found him.

Dermot Mulroney, who, coincidentally, I've always found a little wooden, but no more. Now that I've "given" him my hero's personality, I'll never think of him as anything but Steve!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I can almost smell Fall...

Only 3 more days and 14 more hours left till Survivor!

Bursting my bubble a bit, I've just been informed by Mel and Erin (who shall both, henceforth, be known as The Traitors) that they aren't going to be watching Survivor this season. I don't believe it for one second. Erin says it conflicts with Grey's Anatomy, but GA comes on at 9, and Survivor comes on at 8. So what's the problem, Erin?? And Mel, well, she'll cave in. I guarantee it (insert wicked laugh here).

This Tuesday is the premiere of Dancing with the Stars. I got hooked on it last season. I can't wait to see Jerry Springer make a total fool of himself on national TV. Oh, wait. He's already done that on his own show.

Highly recommended--from one of the Traitors, that is-- is Studio 60. (She got the pilot show from Netflix ) It's scheduled for Monday nights, which is good, because my Thursday night DVR recording schedule is getting pretty full.

Then of course, there's The Office and a few more shows that I absolutely have to watch. But, it's beginning!

And on a slightly different note... Today was my day to blog on Title Wave. Go check it out. I need some help with my hero!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm almost there!

Yeah, right.

How many times do you fudge exactly where you are? I do it all the time. My kids are sooo on to me.

"Mom, where are you? Practice was over 5 minutes ago."

"I'm right at the corner of John Knox Rd and Meridian." (or at least I will be in about 5 minutes)

"Hmmm.. okay."

In the opening scene of the movie Sideways, the lead character is just getting out of bed when he tells his friend he's almost there... this goes on while he showers, stops by the local coffee shop, is on the freeway with no traffic, etc... It's a funny scene and it really rang a bell with me.

My nephew Ryan and I discussed this little phenomena on the drive down to Destin last weekend. He's says its a product of cellular phones and our fast paced lifestyles. We're in constant communication with each other which makes us feel accountable for our every move. What do you think?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Off to the Beach

It's been a rough week, but today, we're heading to the beach!

Growing up in Melbourne, Fl, I always took the beach for granted. I mean, everyone went to the beach everyday, right? Ha! After graduating college, I moved to Arizona. The mountains were breathtaking and the weather was almost perfect. But there was a part of my soul that longed for the water and the sand, and yes, even the humidity. Hard to imagine, but true.

Now I live just 2 hours from some of the most beautiful beaches in the US. Today, we're heading out to Destin, where we'll do a side trip to Seaside. That's where The Truman Show was filmed. My entire family (parents, sister, hubby, nephews, kids) will all be together to celebrate my dad's 74th birthday tomorrow. I can tell you in advance, that a good time will definitely be had by all!

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Go Ass over Titties

That's what Helen Mirren was hoping not to do as she walked on stage in her big heels to accept her Best Actress Emmy for her fab role in Elizabeth I. And she succeeded brilliantly. I adore the woman. Love everything she does. And she's not only a great actress, but she also knows how to give a great acceptance speech, too.

I'm not one to really watch award shows (except the Oscars, those I watch religiously) but I caught enough of the Emmys to know what was what. And it was actually a pretty good show if you could stand all the interruptions from the friggin commercials.

I was thrilled to see that The Office won for Best Comedy. Finally! A show I love gets recognized. Usually, when I really like a show, it just gets canceled, a la Love Monkey.

One of the highlights was the reunion of the original Charlie's Angels to give a tribute to Aaron Spelling. All 3 ladies looked wonderful, as you can see by this pic. Kate Jackson gave the best speech of all and even made her fellow angel, Farrah, shed a tear. It was for me the best moment of the show. Very nostalgic and by the camera sweeps of the audience, most of them were moved too.

Without doubt, the fashion disaster of the night was Candice Bergen. If gowns have a title, then hers would be: Rodeo meets the Emmys. What the hell was she thinking? Or rather what was her dresser or whoever puts her together thinking, because I refuse to believe that the wonderful, beautiful Candice actually put this look together.

Another Emmy low point was Stephen Colbert being beat out by Barry Manilow. But we won't even go there.

All in all, though, a good time was had by all. Now I'm just ready to get the new television season under way.

Just 2 and a half weeks till Survivor!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What are the networks waiting for??

Are Jim and Pam finally going to get together?

This is a question I've been agonizing over all summer. And I've finally reached my breaking point. I need NEW episodes of The Office!

And what about Jack and Sawyer and Kate? Is Michael really going to just sail away and leave them in the hands of the Others?

School has been in session now for over two weeks (at least in this part of the country) so why can't we just officially call an end to summer and get the new tv season under way? I don't watch a lot of tv, but what I do watch, I'm hopelessly addicted to.

Like Survivor. Finally! September 14 begins a new season. The buzz is that for the first time, the teams are going to be divided by race.( ? )Yeah, that was my initial reaction, too. In the past, they've split up the teams according to sex, but this race card thing is new. Supposedly, there will be 4 tribes made up of 5 people each- a Caucasian team, an African-American team, an Asian team and a Hispanic team. Should be interesting, huh?

I blogged too soon

It's official.

Pluto is dead.

Apparently, the Scientific right or left? won today and Pluto has been kicked out of the Solar System (as a planet that is). So My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine... (nothings, I guess)

Much Ado about Pluto

I have a confession to make. I'm one of those people known in the political arena as a persona non grata. In other words, I'm a political Moderate.

When I was younger, I was a die hard Liberal (as all good college kids, should be). Then I started working and paying taxes and entered what I call the "House buying and Kid Birthing years." This was during that time we lovingly called Reganomics. So I did what a lot of people of my generation did (secretly begged Jimmy Carter for forgiveness) and became a die hard Conservative.

Now that I'm a little older, I've swayed back (forgive me Ronald) into that grey sphere, that lovely no man's land known as Moderatism. Both loved and despised by the Right and Left, we're stuck somewhere in the middle. Which brings me to my subject: Pluto.

Just like a lot of people around the world, I've been watching the Pluto debate with much interest. As Stephen Colbert of the The Colbert Report says, "A thousand science projects hang in the balance!" By the way, I find that man so damn funny, and as a result, more than just a little sexy... but I digress.

So as someone who is constantly ribbed for her political "blandness", her "moderate-middle-of-the-road- politics", it cracks me up that the Pluto debate has become a victim of what I like to call Scientific Moderatism. Yup. The Scientific die hards on both sides lost out. When you don't like the definition of something, then make up another one. Of course, now that Scientific correctness means we will have to add 3 more planets to the solar system. My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas, is no more. Poor kids. How the heck are they going to add Charon, Ceres and best of all, Xena 2003 UB313 to that little science class mnemonic device?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Decoding Rejection

Louisa is over at her blog decoding rejection letters. This first one is a doozy!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I need more books...

like I need a hole in the head. But who cares? I'm going to buy more anyway.

Next on my TBR list is The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith. Lucy recommended it, and I've always wanted to read it. But then I realized that I don't have it! So, despite the fact that I have piles of unread books lying around, I need to make a trip this weekend to Books a Million and get it. Along with a few more books that I simply must have. Meanwhile, I'm eating up Eloisa James' Kiss Me, Annabel (so far- fantastic!)

It only took me nearly a month (lots of interruptions), but I just finished reading The DaVinci Code. I know, I'm like the last person in America to finally get around to it. I liked it. It was a well-paced interesting read. Although I do have to say I feel just a tad bit betrayed by Dan Brown.

Warning: Spoiler about to take place.

I loved the fact that Sir Leigh turned out to be The Teacher. It was a great twist. However, after being in Rhemy and Sir Leigh's deep pov many times, I can understand why once upon a time, people were so upset with Agatha Christie that they threw her out of the Mystery Writer's Club. (At least I've heard that this insult was done to Agatha, but don't quote me or anything) As a reader, if you're in a character's deep pov, shouldn't you be privy to what that character knows? I could have dismissed that, except for the scene where The Teacher murders Rhemy by putting crushed peanuts in his brandy (diabolical, wasn't it?). Rhemy never once thought of The Teacher as anything but that, never spent his last minutes thinking about him as Sir Leigh, etc... Sybil (my friend from work) says that only a writer (that would be me!) would think that way. I don't know. But it was a good lesson in how not to do something, although since The DaVinci Code made a zillion dollars, I suspect not too many readers were as prickled about that as I was.

On a humorous note, at least I find this funny, and I suspect that Mel will too, I actually emailed Louisa instructions last night on how to add a "What I'm Reading" sidebar to her blog. Yes. Me. The most technically challenged woman in the modern world is actually dispensing computer advice to others. Scary, isn't it? But Kristen helped me with this and she made it so easy that even I could do it, so I have every faith in the world that smart Louisa can too.

Monday, August 21, 2006

In which Maria talks about murdering her Darlings...

Not my three flesh and blood ones (although some days that idea can seem appealing) .

Today was my turn to post on the Title Wave blog. I never know quite what to say, but after spending last week trying to polish up the first 100 pages of my current wip, it wasn't too hard to come up with a topic.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rejections Wanted

"The writing shows a lot of promise, but I'm afraid the story ultimately rests on too many misunderstandings to move the plot and romance forward."

"I really enjoyed the fast pace and the fresh storyline, but I'm sorry to report that I didn't fall head over heels for the novel as a whole."

These are just a couple of excerpts from my own little pile of rejection letters. And being the Queen of "I know there's some hidden meaning in there somewhere", I've often wondered if those phrases mean exactly what they say. As a writer who adores the concept of subtext, I could drive myself crazy thinking about it.

But ultimately, when I receive a rejection, I just have to content myself with the fact that the editor just didn't love my story enough to buy it. Or that I'm just not quite there yet. Either way, it means the same thing. Keep writing and keep submitting.

Starting today, Louisa is dedicating her Wednesday blogs to decoding rejection letters. Working as an editor at Berkley for 4 years has given her a bit of experience with the matter. If you want her to decode your rejection letter, just send it to her at: Oh, and make sure you put the word "Rejection" in the subject line.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stephanie in DC

Daughter #1 just came home last night from a trip to DC. She flew out of Ronald Reagan airport where security is now once again at an all time high. After being searched and "poofed" (her words, not mine) she discovered that her flight had been overbooked. This caused a delay leaving Washington that caused her to miss her connecting flight from Charlotte. So after rerouting to Atlanta, where she waited a couple of hours, she finally caught a flight home. It was her first airline mishap, and she handled it great.

This is a pic of her on one of those cool scooters. Apparently, this is the newest way to see the city. You hop on these scooters and get a tour of the sights. I remember seeing DC as a kid in the middle of summer and walking and sweating, and walking and sweating. Unfortunately, I think you have to be at least 15 to ride the scooters.

Press Secretary of the Future?

Here's a pic of Stephanie in front of the Pentagon press podium (fun and a little scary, too!)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Frances McDormand Syndrome

Frances McDormand Syndrome is my new name for what happens when your secondary characters steal the show. Whenever she's on the screen, I just can't take my eyes off her. I've always been a huge movie buff and I like to use movies to learn about story telling. That's one of the reasons I was so psyched to go to Michael Hauge's workshop at Nationals this year. His workshop was the best singular ws I've ever attended at an RWA conference, so if you didn't go, buy the tape!

Now I know Mel is going to pelt me with rotten fruit for saying this, but I just found out last night she didn't like the movie, Chicken Run (!?!) so I don't feel a bit bad saying that Frances McDormand Syndrome is one of the reasons that Failure to Launch just didn't do it for me as a love story. The secondary characters overshadowed the primary ones and made them seem sort of dull. Yes, even a shirtless Matthew McCounaghy, who I think is hot hot hot, just plain took second fiddle to Kathy Bates and a naked Terry Bradshaw. Now that is one love story I would have loved to see! But I'm digressing here. I think the point I'm trying to make is that your secondary characters can either make or break a story and the line between the two is precariously thin.

I was talking to Stephanie (daughter #1) the other day about the film, Something's Gotta to Give, a movie I really love. There was no Frances McDormand Syndrome going on there.The secondary characters (and Frances being one of them) added beautifully to that film. They totally did what they were supposed to do without taking away from the primary characters. But we both agreed that once the story left the beach house, the film seemed to drag a bit. The second half just didn't seem to have the "oomph" that the first half did. There was very little Frances McDormand, very little Keanu Reeves, and a little too much emphasis on the stale "dancing naked Harrys" joke. The movie still works for me, and I know that the second half of the film is all about the decline of the romance, but I've always wondered if beefing up the secondary characters in the second half would have made it better.

Monday, August 07, 2006

How writing is like housework

I've tried it before, but I've failed miserably. But this time, I'm determined to just write through the rough draft. You know, the vomit draft? The one you just spew on paper and not look back at? You one you don't edit as you write?

Let me tell you, it's a lot harder than I thought. I SO want to go back and edit. For me, that's the fun part of writing. Making the story better. Polishing it up until it shines. But intellectually, I know that it's a big waste of time, because it's not until I finish the story, that I really know my story and my characters. And it's at that point, that the edits really make the most impact. And since one of my goals is to write faster, then editing right now for me is just a waste of time. Sort of like setting out to clean the whole house, but never getting out of the kitchen because you keep finding a new crumb on the floor to sweep. So I'm trying to ignore the crumbs and just move on to the next room... or rather the next chapter.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

On Blogging

I decided it was finally time to hijack Mel's blog. I have to admit, it was so much fun, I might just do it again...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

On Writing- Sexier

Stephen King might have cornered the market On Writing, but I'm determined to corner the market On Writing-Sexier. One day, when I'm a famous novelist and millions of fledglings hang on my every word, I'm going to write a how-to-book with that title.

There was one buzz phrase I kept hearing over and over again in Atlanta. Sex is in.

Well, hell, I never knew it had gone out.

But seriously, stories in every genre are getting steamier and steamier. And erotica is one of the fastest growing markets in women's fiction. Just ask the waiters at the Georgia Aquarium. They got an earful during the Passionate Ink Luncheon (but that's another blog altogether)

To paraphrase my lovely agent, "What's selling in today's historical market is sexier than it used to be." And I can definitely see what she's talking about. Our entire culture has gotten sexier. Sex sells everything from cars to household products, so it's natural that it should be reflected in our stories.

My cp's write great sex. Hot Demon Sex written a la Louisa or Bitchin Fiction a la Mel.

Can I write sexier? You betcha. After all, a little bondage never anyone, right?

Now I just need to come up with my own little brand...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What Maria did at Nationals...

In the infamous words of Jack Nicholson, "I'm back". Or was it Stephen King who should get credit for that?

No matter. Atlanta was absolutely fabulous. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. I'm rejuvenated and ready to pound out the Great American Love Story. Notice I didn't say the Great American Novel. I'll let loftier souls work on that one. Call me shallow, but I'd be thrilled to write the next hot beach read and whore myself out to Kelly Ripa, if she'll have me.

Sunday- Day One... Since I only live 4 hours from Atlanta, I decided, being the clever girl I am, that I would drive. I could bring all the luggage I wanted, including a cooler, and there would be no mean airport people to tell me otherwise. I could even prove indispensable to my cps and pick them up at the airport. Somehow, that plan didn't work out and Mel and Louisa ended up taking a cab to the hotel. Not only did I leave just a tad bit late from Tallahassee, but all the trunk room in my little Suzuki Forenza was taken up with the suitcase, cooler, water bottles, beer, diet sodas, and all the essential munchies needed for the week. A girl has to have her priorities, right?

So I got to the hotel, excited to see Mel again and meet Louisa for the first time. As I handed over my car keys to the parking attendant, he asked for my name for the claim ticket.

"Maria Geraci", I answered, spelling it out for him.

"That sounds Italian," he said.

"It is," I responded. (Although there isn't a drop of Italian blood in me.)

"It also sounds very romantic," he said with a sly grin.

I laughed. "It is," I assured him.

And thus began the beginning of a beautiful relationship. The staff at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis actually seemed excited to have 2000 plus romance writers invading their turf. This was my fourth RWA National conference, and I think this was by far, the friendliest staff yet.

To read my Nationals "synopsis" go here.

More to come tomorrow...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

30 days and Counting...

In exactly 24 hours, I 'll be leaving for Atlanta! But there's still so much to do.

Beginning with dropping off the nephew. Keeping with our annual summer ritual, my sister and I keep each other's boys for a week. This was my week to keep Jonathan and it's been great. I love him to death--even though he and Kevin have stayed up every night playing XBox and sleeping during the day like a couple of video game vampires. They did, however, see enough sunlight to get in 3 rounds of golf. Other than that, it's mainly been a orgy of round-the-clock eating and playing. 15 year olds. You gotta love em.

So I'll start off my day by doing some laundry, then meeting my sister halfway to Orlando which means a 2 hour drive to Gainesville (or home to the University of Florida Gators) yuck.

After I drive the 2 hour trek back, I'll do some more laundry. Then I'll pick up groceries for a week.

Then maybe get in a couple more loads of laundry.

Then comes the hard part. Figuring out what to wear for Nationals. Or rather, finding what fits to wear for Nationals. Unfortunately, I haven't been as good a girl as Mel has been. Then once I do that, I have to pack. And somewhere in between all this, I'm on call at the hospital from 7pm-11pm tonight. Not so bad considering it's only 4 hours, but it's been so damn busy I can only hope I escape my call without having to go into work. Not that I don't love birthin babies, but I'm on vacation, for freaks sake! How did I get stuck taking call during my vacation???

The good news is this: In order to pack for Atlanta, I am now forced to unpack the suitcase that has been sitting in the corner of my bedroom for approximately 30 days since our Acapulco trip.

My husband is absolutely thrilled.

Of course, the suitcase countdown will begin all over again when I get back from Atlanta. He he.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Countdown to Atlanta

Gina and I in Reno last year.

In one week, I'll be in Atlanta, attending RWA's national conference. I can't wait! If you want to see what it takes to get ready for Nationals, go check out my post on the Title Wave blog.

Here's a few more pics from last year's conference in Reno.

Mel and I in front of the Mex-Tex Restaurant. How come she looks taller than me??

Kate and I. From the look on our faces, we must be talking about her books. whew!

Yeah, I wish!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why labels are so important

If you bought a Snickers Bar and unwrapped it to find a Milky Way, would it really make a difference? They're both candy bars and they both contain chocolate.

I, for one, would be pissed. I love Snickers. But Milky Way bars leave me cold. And candy bars are only the beginning. Most people want what they want, and they want it now. There's nothing more frustrating to me to expect one thing and end up with another.

Point in case: The Family Stone. Loved the previews. Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Luke Wilson. What's not to love about that? All the clips were hilarious. I even blogged about how stoked I was to see the movie. So I went expecting a comedy. The movie has been out long enough on DVD now, that I don't think I'm spoiling anything to say that all the funny parts are in the previews and ultimately, it's more a family drama than comedy. Boy, was I not happy. Not that I don't like family drama. When I'm in the mood for it. But it was the holidays and I wanted what I was promised in the packaging-- a comedy. Not family melodrama that makes me feel guilty for not keeping my appointment to have my boobs squashed (a la mammogram).

Another example: Adam Sandler's Click. I went to see that last weekend. Again, all the funny bits are in the previews. Except the bit about the kid getting hit in the head with a baseball. Am I like, the only person in America that doesn't think that's funny? Yeah, the kid is a complete shit, but we're talking possible head trauma here. Okay, I know that's the mother and the nurse in me coming out, but I just don't think a kid getting whacked in the head with a baseball is funny. Sorry.

Click is basically a modern rip off of Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Done very badly. When the highlight of the film is the family dog humping an oversized stuffed animal, you know the writers were desperate.

So, what's the point of my blog? I guess it's Don't Piss off the Consumer (that would be me). Not that Hollywood really cares about my $8. Both films made millions. But I feel better just griping it about it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Talk about Firecrackers...

Woo hoo! Two of my friends had new book releases this 4th of July. W riting YA (Young Adult) as Caridad Ferrer, my friend Barbara Ferrer saw her very first book come out on Independence Day! It's a smart, funny book about a Cuban American teenager who enters a Latin style American Idol contest causing her to come to grips with her identity, titled Adios to My Old Life. Isn't it a gorgeous cover?

(Hey, I'm am a Cuban-American... now why didn't I think of that?)

Probably because I have no musical ability whatsoever, and Barb has tons. She was actually a Marching Chief (he he, gotta love those Seminoles!) I'm getting copies for my mom, my daughters and anyone else that I can think of. It's guaranteed to be a great read!

And speaking of great reads, just one look at the cover to Planet Mail and you know you're in for something hot hot hot. I actually had the privilege of reading this in its first draft, and let me tell you, you won't be able to put it down! This is Kate Pearce's 2nd book for Ellora's Cave and it's a real page turner. Think intergalactic Vikings and lots of sex.

(Hey, I've seen Star Trek and I've had sex before... now why didn't I think of that?)

Okay, well all I can say in my defense is that I don't have half the imagination that Kate does! And no, I won't be giving this book to my daughters. Not yet, anyway. But I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast, funny, ultra sexy read. This book will not disappoint!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Finding the time to write... or Day 8 and counting

I still haven't unpacked the vacation suitcase. I told you. It's a mental block. I did, however, reorganize my entire kitchen and clean my garage over the holiday weekend. Which left me little or no time to write. It seems that the suitcase and the writing are both in limbo.

That will be taken care of tomorrow, thank you. I've gone 4 whole days without writing and it just feels wrong. Like I haven't brushed my teeth or something. Recently, on the RWA PRO loops, a question was asked: If you knew that you would never, ever sell, would you continue to write? Several people answered no. They wouldn't. Some said they would continue to write, but without the fervor they put into it now. I didn't formally answer on the loop, but I will here. My answer isn't simply a yes, it's a Hell, yes! Even if it's only for 30 minutes, I have to keep on going forward. Keep writing until the story that's taken over my head is down on paper.

And speaking of stories that take over your head, I just finished Welcome to Temptation. It's Mel's favorite Crusie book and I can see why. Wow. I love the characters. Especially that yummy Phin. He's going to be in my head for a long, long time.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pistols at Dawn

Fellow American Title II Finalist, Michele Ann Young's first book is now out! Pistols at Dawn is a Regency set historical full of danger, romance and intrigue. Read all about it here on the Title Wave blog.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Cat Crap Part II (or Day 4 and counting...)

Yup, the suitcase is still unpacked. Thank God I have company in this rather little bizarre habit of mine. Hellloooo Erin and Ellen! Actually, Everybody Loves Raymond (a really funny sitcom that is no more) had an episode about just this (the wife leaving her suitcase out for a bit after the vacation was long over) But I promised MG (Mike Geraci) I'd unpack it this weekend.

Now, on to Cap crap part 2. For those of you that read my blog about Cap crap part 1, you know that I sort of smashed my 2 cars together after being distracted by Lucky the cat's crap in the garage. Well, Lucky has struck again.

I came home from work Friday morning, totally exhausted after 12 hours of birthin' babies, only to discover a really bad smell when I walked in the house. (MG swears it wasn't there when he left for work.) Now, MG leaves for work about 6:30-7:00 am. I came home about 7:30-7:45, so Lucky only had about a 3o-60 minute window to do the deed. I followed my rather spectacular olfactory talent (the one that apparently you have to be female to have) directly to the source within seconds. Lucky had crapped all over my beautiful Ralph Lauren queen sized bed comforter. The one I bought just a few months ago.

I almost killed that cat.

Thank God that he was no where in sight.

So, I did the best I could to scrape the stuff off, heaved the 100 lb ( I swear, it weighs a ton) comforter off the bed and dragged it to the laundry room, which of course, is on the other side of the house. This is where things started to go wrong. If I had been thinking, I would have stuffed the comforter in the my car and driven to the nearest Dry Cleaners. Now, in my defense, I did read the laundry tag on the comforter. I SWEAR it reads, "May wash in delicate cycle in Extra Capacity Washer--yes, Maria, this means your Super Duper Kenmore Washing Machine".

I swear, that's exactly what the tag says.

Thus, I load up the washing machine with cold water and Woolite, and begin to stuff it in my machine.

Maybe, just maybe, I get about a fourth of it in, before I admit to myself that the tag must be wrong. My Super Duper X-tra capacity Kenmore just isn't going to do the trick. So I leave the the section of the comforter that Lucky liked best in the washing machine to soak and go off to have a bowl of ice cream . Somehow, the ice cream makes me feel much better and I go off to sleep because I have to work again that evening.

I wake up at 2 pm with that awful feeling that something just isn't right. Oh, yeah, I think to myself, I have about half my comforter stuffed in my washing machine full of water. What to do next? I come up with a most brilliant plan. At least, it seemed brilliant at the time. I decided to drag the comforter out of the washing machine and toss into the kid's bathtub. This seems rather logical to me. Doesn't it? I mean, surely, the bathtub is large enough to hold the comforter and it's just down the hall from the laundry room. Yes, perfectly brilliant. I can hand wash the comforter in the tub. A most excellent plan.

Now, of course, suffice it to say, that if while dry, the comforter weighs a ton, it weighs nearly 2 tons wet. It takes me and my 15 year old son to pull the comforter out and drag it down to the bathtub, where I discover that, yes, my bathtub is too small to hold the comforter to wash. Sigh...

This is where the story gets too long to blog about. Let me just end with this.

End Result:

Comforter is now washed and drying in a rigged up apparatus that MG set up in the garage (because you know that my Super Duper X-tra capacity Kenmore Dryer isn't big enough to hold it.)

And... somehow, in all my gyrations (although I'm still sticking to my story-- I NEVER tried to actually wash the damn thing) the spin cycle in my washing machine is now broken. The little black belt that does something beneath the machine burned out. This is a most bizarre coincidence, in my opinion...

Cat crap tally for June:
2 dented up cars
1 broken washing machine

It's a good thing I love that cat.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day 1 and counting...

Okay, Mel, I'm back. Thanks for the blog patrol duty!

So I go back to work today. This means that vacation is officially over and the battle of the suitcase begins. For some odd reason, I have a mental block that involves unpacking my suitcase after vacation. This drives Mike Geraci crazy.

It's not like I'm messy or anything. We've been back from Acapulco since Sunday and I've cleaned, done laundry, bought groceries, etc... but for some reason the idea of unpacking my vacation suitcase completely wears me out. I think this is definitely one for Freud.

Speaking of vacations, I had a fabulous one! Acapulco is absolutely breathtaking, although the heat and humidity was a killer (and this coming from a Florida girl!) So hot was it? It was so hot, that within 2 minutes of getting a soda with a glass of ice, the ice would be completely melted and you'd be looking at drinking that "Coca Cola light" lukewarm. The first thing I did when we got to Atlanta was get an ice cold soda.

I did manage not to get sunburned this year (Thank God) Although I do have this mysterious little red burn next to my collar bone on the left side. You know, right next to where the bathing suit top strap is? How is it that one teeny tiny section where you don't get the sunscreen on well enough can burn like that? Kinda shows you just how well the sunscreen actually does work. I would hate to be that red all over.

Let's see, reading done on vacation:

Much Ado about You -- Fabulous! Next trip to the bookstore, I'm getting the next book in the series--Kiss Me, Annabel.

Macbeth-- Yes, I actually reread Macbeth while on vacation by the poolside. My current wip has a bit of a Macbeth theme in it and thanks to some inspiration from Louisa, I decided to read it again. And am I glad I did! I had forgotten just how much I really loved the play.

More vacation stuff to come...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hurry up.

I know you're home you may as well get back into the groove of the blog-o-sphere.

We need pictures and details.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Out of the Closet Reply

If you're looking for Maria....You'll have to search here:

She's busy right now soaking up the sun and flirting with the pool boys. I'm jealous. I tried to convince her to let me go as her oldest daughter, but that didn't fly. Humph.

Anyway, she'll be back sometime next week.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cat Crap

It almost ruined my day. Ruined and almost being key words here.

Yesterday was just another day in the Geraci household. Mike was out of town again, on business, and I was running Kevin (14 year old son) to a tennis tournament. Lucky, our beloved family cat, had apparently gotten trapped in the garage and did what he normally does when he gets nervous. He crapped. Not pretty little hard turds, like Lizzy, our not-so-beloved family cat does. No. It was a runny mess. He not only crapped all over the garage, he also did a nice little pile right on the my son's tennis bag. After a few expletives and disenfecting the tennis bag, we piled into the Expedition where then, in my haste, I promptly ran smack into the other family car.

Yep. I ran right into my own car.

Now, this probably wouldn't be so bad, except that when I realized I had done this, I tried to go forward, and God only knows how, ending up "hooking" both cars together. The right rear end of the Expedition was now linked to the left rear end of our little Suzuki Forenza.

After freaking out for a few seconds and cursing Mike Geraci (afer all, if he wasn't out of the country, he would have been the one taking Kevin to tennis, so none of this would have happened. Right?)I called AAA to come help.

"Your car is what?"

"It's hooked to my other car."

"Uhm... ma'am, how did that happen?"

"I ran into it."

"Oh. Well, so , do you need a tow truck?"

"I need something."

"Hmmm... there's a 2 hour wait on tow trucks. But I can get you a guy with a wench within the hour."

"Yeah! A wench, whatever that is, it sounds good!"

About an hour later, this kid (he looks about 18) shows up with the wench. "Wow. I've never seen anything like this before!" (insert excited voice)

"Want to take a picture?" I ask.

"Uh, no, ma'am."

One hour later (in 90 plus degree Florida heat and humidity) poor wench boy still can't get my cars unhooked. So he calls for one of the popular tow trucks. Another hour later, tow truck guy comes.

Tow Truck guy, whistling under his breath, "Wow. I thought I'd seen it all!"

"Can you get the cars apart?" I ask, praying he'll say yes.

"Uhm, we can try. But first, we need you to sign this waiver."

So I sign the waiver that basically says that in trying to get the cars apart, I understand that they could do mega damage to both cars.

After about 30 minutes of pulling and tugging, my cars are free!

Both guys and their AAA approved trucks head off. "Have a nice day, ma'am!"

The good news:
1. both cars are driveable.
2. Only the little Suzuki needs body work.
3. With hubby out of the country, I think I can get it fixed before he gets home and discovers it.

So no one was hurt and I provided an entertaining story for the AAA people to laugh over. All in all, it could be a lot worse.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Woo Hoo!

Okay, so I'm not such a blog dummy after all. I finally did it! I was able to upload an image to my sidebar. This might not seem like a big accomplishment to most people, but believe me, for me, it's big.

I have my wonderful RWA Online friends, Lucy and Kait to thank for that. Lucy for suggesting Kait, and Kait for talking me through the process. Thanks!!

Speaking of blogs, here's a fabulous one hosted by the editors at Avon Publishing.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What I'm reading

Isn't this a gorgeous cover? Since I'm computer addled and can't quite figure out yet how to do this on my sidebar I thought I'd put the picture up here. So far, I'm really loving this book!

Madame Mirabou's School of Love
by Barbara Samuel

Sometimes real passion means living the life you’ve always wanted.

Nicole Bridges still can’t believe she’s taken up residence in a Colorado apartment complex nicknamed “Splitsville.” She’s still reeling from her husband’s affair, a divorce she never saw coming, and having to leave the upscale, comfortable world she helped make for her ex and their teenage daughter. With little money, even less work experience, and no idea what to do next, she takes tentative steps–if only to keep her head above water.

Along the way, Nikki unexpectedly finds herself falling in with eccentric new neighbors–and being seduced out of her funk by a charming, elusive ex-Londoner. And through her delight in the sensual elements of perfume, she will discover the courage to form bonds she never imagined. When a discarded flyer printed with the name “Madame Mirabou” provides the spark of inspiration, Nikki dares to blend the fragments of her life into a fragrance that’s uniquely and passionately her own.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Writing Snappy Dialogue

My friend Gina blogged the other day about the film Casablanca. It was a great post. One of the things she talked about was the wonderful dialogue in the film.

So here I was, writing a crucial scene (aren't they all?) between the hero and heroine in my new historical wip, and I thought, what better timing is this? It really got me rethinking about how to write good dialogue.

I'm a firm believer that no matter what genre you're writing in, audiences of today want to read dialogue that they can identify with. So even though I'm writing about a man and a woman who are living in 1815, and I have to make their dialogue sound realistic for the time period, I also have to write dialogue that rings a cord in my reader's psyche.

I heard once that if you want to learn how to write good dialogue then you should read screenplays. Which has always made a lot of sense to me. But I think you can probably learn just as much (and have a lot more fun while you're at it) by watching those old movie classics from the forties.

If you want to learn about writing snappy dialogue, there's no better movie in my opinion than the 1940 screwball comedy, His Girl Friday. I watched the movie again the other night after reading Gina's post (it just so happened that I had it on my Netflix list and it was at the house--talk about timing!)

The plot is simple: Cary Grant plays a suave, but tough newspaper editor who finds out in the opening scene that his ex-wife and star reporter (Rosalind Russell) is going to get remarried and is quitting the paper. Well, with just one sophisticated cock of his eyebrow, we know Cary Grant isn't about to let this happen. What follows is 90 minutes of the most delicious romantic comedy you'll ever watch.

One of the most fascinating parts of the film is the breakneck speed of the dialogue. My netflix cover says this: One archivist actually timed the hurricane delivery of the actors at 240 words per minute, about 100-140 wpm faster than the average speaking rate! But as a writer, what fascinates me the most isn't so much the fast delivery, but the fact that it's funny, smart and filled with sexual innuendo. So even though this movie came out a couple of decades before I was born, and the references are outdated, I can still find lots to identify with. And that's what I want to do with my own characters in my own stories. I want their dialogue to resonate with my readers. And what better way to do research, than sit in front of the tv with a bowl of popcorn and a great old flick?

Monday, May 22, 2006

American Title II Winner Announced!

Now that the Romantic Times Convention has come and gone, I can finally announce who won the American Title II contest. It was Gerri Russell with her wonderful Scottish medieval manuscript, The Warrior Trainer.

It's been a long six months and while a part of me is sad the contest is over, I'm thrilled that Gerri's dream of publication is going to come true in January of 2007!

Friday morning at the convention, the finalists had a breakfast that I had hoped to attend, but unfortunately, work and family obligations kept me away. But I plan to make up for it by partying in Atlanta this July when I meet up with the finalists who will be attending the RWA National convention.

Reading about Gerri's experience brought a big ole fat lump to my throat.

Oh, and check out the beautiful cover Dorchester designed for her book!

Felt like being sneaky

I haven't hijacked Maria's blog since she unveiled her new look, so I thought today would be a good day to pop that cherry.

Here's another picture of Clive, courtesy of our CP Louisa. (who still doesn't have a blog so I STILL can't link to her) Clive is currently Maria's inspiration for her latest Regency Set Hero. MMMMMM and what an inspiration he is...

And let me tell you, this is a story you won't want to miss.

Louisa (from here on known as "the blogless one" or TBO) is writing a story about a Big Demon who is also a hunka-hunka-burnin' love. Anyone familiar with All My Children will recognize this sexy actor :
and since I just finished reading her love scene, I can honestly say, I want myself a demon lover, too. TBO is a helluva writer.

My current hero is a combination of two men: Jude Law and Heath Ledger. Who wouldn't want some of that?

Friday, May 19, 2006

My new Look!

Thank you Gemmak Designs!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

MI 3

On Mel's recommendation, I went to see Mission Impossible 3 on Mother's Day with Mike and the little kids (ages 13 and 14-so I guess not so little)

It was great. Lots of action. And I mean, lots of action. My favorite part of these movies is when they do the mask bit. You know what I'm talking about. When they "create" a perfect image of someone with a rubber mask (but you actually know it's the actor playing himself)

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a great bad guy. And Tom Cruise, well, he was Tom Cruise. I'm convinced the guy must have found the Fountain of Youth. He's like 42 and still looks 12. Although a very hot 12.

I give MI 3 a big thumbs up. But, I must warn you. There's lots of explosions. My friend Cindy from work is convinced that Tom has put subliminal messages promoting Scientology into the explosion scenes. If I start acting weird in the next few weeks, then we'll know she was right...

Monday, May 15, 2006


Mel has said she will never again watch American Idol after Chris got the boot last week. And we both said we wouldn't watch Survivor again if Danielle won the million. She didn't. Which means we'll still be watching the show, but it was close. Danielle and Aras in the final 2 was just wrong. It so should have been Terry and Cirie. They were by far, the best players out there. But as usual, those who fly under the radar get rewarded. At least both Terry and Cirie won cars, which is a bit of a consolation. And at least we got to hear Shane one last time. No matter what anyone else says about it, I still like him.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Internet Junkies Anonymous

You know you are hooked to the internet, when...

You get in the car with your laptop, drive to the nearest hotel, then hang out in the parking lot just to use their wireless internet connection. Yup. That's what I've had to resort to in the past couple of days just to get my fix (said hotel was the one we stayed at recently when we were remodeling our floors) Yes, I know, I could probably go to Starbucks and have a cup of java while legitimately using their wireless internet, but somehow, this hotel parking lot thing seems a lot more fun.

For someone who spent most of their life without the internet, you'd think a few days without it would be a piece of cake.


I'm dying out here. For some reason, Tuesday morning (My God... has it only been 3 days?) I woke up to no internet access. I think it has something to do with that pesky modem/router thing set up in the den. After figuring out that the cable wasn't out and playing with said modem/router for half a day, I finally gave up and let Mike Geraci take over. A new router and modem later, it's still not working. Hubby promises he'll have it all taken care of this weekend, or early next week at the latest. Let's hope he's right, because I'm beginning to scare myself.

That said, I'm expecting a new "look" for my blog. I wanted something fun, something that said a little bit about my personality and what I write, so I requested a blog makeover from Gemmak Designs. If you go down to the lower right hand corner, you'll see her In Process column. I'm currently in process! Marcia--that's me. Sigh. I'm not sure why Maria looks like Marcia to so many people, but I'm used to it. I gave her a few ideas, color schemes, etc and I'm anxious to see what she comes up with.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


God Lord. What the hell is that ???

That's just one of the reasons that I screamed NO! when Shane's flame was snuffed tonight. Love em, hate em, or think he's ready to be Baker Acted, it doesn't matter. He's one of the most entertaining Survivors ever and I'm going to miss him.

Tonight, in some sort of weird power play, Aras and Cirie turned against Shane. I'm still not sure why, except I guess they think that whiney, spoiled Danielle will be easier to beat in the final 2. But for Aras to say that he can back out of his alliance with Shane because Shane wanted to take Courtney to the final 2 is just bull. Aras really disappointed me tonight. He was a total ass.

I really hope the final 2 are Terry and Cirie. Both of them have beat the odds and deserve to be there.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Lucky Break

My friend Jan Conwell's new book just came out today! I had the privilege of reading the first couple of chapters last year while she was working on it and it was fantastic! It's available through Triskelion Publishing.

Here's the blurb:

Fiona Wright has no money and no job, but plenty of unpaid bills. When she’s offered a lucrative job teaching aircraft maintenance, she takes it—qualified or not. Will McCrae, assigned to train her, is her perfect idea of Mr. Wrong.

TSgt Will McCrae's job is to turn a flighty, overdressed, neo-hippy into an Aircraft Maintenance instructor. Despite his misgivings, when duty calls, he answers, strictly by the regs. But how exactly are the regulations going to help him, when she walks through his classroom door—and into his heart?

Monday, May 01, 2006

A little Inspiration can't hurt

Especially not when it comes in the form of Clive Owen.

So I'm trying to write 2 things at once. My new historical, In Love and War, and keep up with my contemporary, The Chruch of Bunco. In order to get my mind going in the right direction I really need a strong visual picture to keep me on track. Since my hero in In Love and War is physically modeled after Clive, what better way to keep things straight than this picture over my computer?

Friday, April 28, 2006


Terry is this season's Survivor super stud. No doubt about it. I think the man pees testosterone.

But last night proved that Cirie is mentally in control of the game. She single handedly got Courtney's flame torched. Did you see the look on Shane's face? Huh? He was totally stunned. Go back to your blackberry, Shane, Cirie will tell you who to vote out next week, cuz I have news for you. She's planning to take you to the final 2. That is, if she's smart. Which the woman has definitely proved she is (and she can catch fish, too)

With the annoying Courtney gone, the most logical person to take into the finals will be Shane. Anyone, even Shane's imaginary blackberry can beat Shane.

The question is now, what will win out: Terry's brawn or Cirie's brain? Stay tuned till next week...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Would I do it again?

Gina announced on the American Title 2 loop the other day that Dorchester Publishing is now calling for entries for the American Title 3 contest, which really brings home the fact that American Title 2 is over. Almost, that is (The winner of AT 2 is still to be announced during the Romantic Times Convention in May taking place in Daytona Beach).

The news made me a little melancholy. Has a whole year gone by already? And why does time seem to move faster as I get older? And more importantly, knowing what I know now, would I enter AT 2 again?

I can answer that last question with an enthusiastic YES.

Now, I admit, there are times when I went a little wacko with this contest, which my wonderful friend and cp, Mel can attest to . Remember Mel, on pain of death you can never repeat anything I said during the time period I now jokingly refer to as "those crazy 48 hours". But other than that, I can absolutely, positively say the contest was one of the most positive experiences of my life.

Some of what I learned:

I received validation as a writer. I thought I had a pretty good story, and I thought I was getting "there", but having a publishing company think my ms was good enough to publish feels pretty damn good.

I learned all about deadlines. When people at RT say ASAP, they mean yesterday :))

I REALLY got to know my story. Having to write character sketchs on your hero and heroine in less than 75 words can make you get awful cozy with your own characters. Oh, and can you send that to NY ASAP, please?

I had a great excuse to tell people that I'm a writer. A lot of people already knew, but a lot didn't.

I learned tons about self-promotion. This was painful for me at first, and it's still not my cup of tea, but I'm getting there...

I got this great blog :))

I got to know 10 of the nicest, most supportive writers ever--my fellow American Title 2 finalists.

And last but certainly not least, I learned that my friends rock, which I knew, but I truly didn't expect the level of support I received from friends and family. And that, made even "those crazy 48 hours" worth it.

So for those of you thinking about entering AT 3, I say go for it! You never know what great things just might be in store for you.

Friday, April 21, 2006

My Publix Love Scene

This one's for you, Keely...

I have a standing joke at work--before going home I'm hitting Publix. Since I work at night and get off at 7am, it's the perfect time to grocery shop. It's still cool (relatively so, being that I live in Florida) and there's no one at the store. I can zip in, and zip out. I say this at least once a week. Do I actually go to Publix? Sometimes, but more often, by the time 7am rolls around, I'm just way too tired after 12 hours of birthin babies and all I can think about is bed.

But the other morning I was determined. I had to get dog food. So I made my usual announcement at work, "I'm off to Publix!" Keely just laughed. She knew for sure that when I came into work that night, I'd say I had skipped out. Well, in retrospect, that's would I should have done. But then, maybe not. I actually got some good writing time in...

Once I got in the store, I not only got dog food, I was on a roll. I got an entire cart full of groceries (Must be those subliminal messages they put in the Muzak) By the time I was finished, I was exhausted and completely ready to hit my bed. So instead of taking my groceries out to the car myself, I let Bobby (the sweetest bag boy in the world) take them out. Now, since I was in my hospital scrubs, I had my keys in one pocket and my debit card in another. I guess I must have used my keys at some point to open the car trunk. Right? All I know is when Bobby slammed down the trunk to the car, I had that eerie creepy feeling that something wasn't quite right. But it was too late. The car was shut down, and yup... you guessed it. I had no keys. Poor Bobby. You should have seen the look on his face when he realized we had just locked the keys in my trunk.

Now, if I was thinking (as opposed to whatever was going through my head) I would have called AAA and that would be the end of it. But I forgot all about AAA. Instead, I called Mike Geraci to come save me. Unfortunately, Mike Geraci works on the other side of town and was already in his first meeting of the day. But he promised he'd get there asap.

So I found an empty bench in front of the Bone Fish Grill (conveniently located right next door to Publix- I only wish they were open at 8am so I could have gone in for a stiff drink) and did what all serious writers do. I wrote. Now, I had no paper with me. But I did find a pen on the floor and I had a grocery receipt longer than I want to think about, so I improvised. I wrote (in my own convulted shorthand) the love scene to my new historical on the back of the grocery receipt. Originally, I had titled that scene the Yes/No love scene (I give all my scenes little titles) but now, of course, it can only be referred to as My Publix Love scene. Of course, it needs some serious layering, but hey, it's a pretty good scene!

One hour later, as I was dozing on the bench, my hero arrived and I was saved. By this time, the parking lot was full and the temperature was already in the mid 80's and climbing. You should have seen me scramble to grab that grocery receipt. No way did I want to leave that behind. I can only imagine the look on some senior's face if they had found it and read the back!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Psychotic Bunnies

Remember Bunnicula? That great childrens book in which the dog and the cat (Chester and Harold) thought the family pet bunny was really a vampire in disguise? Well, apparently they aren't the only ones who should be leery of Bugs and his relatives. My friend Kitty's sister-in-law, Erin, was attacked last Saturday by the Easter Bunny.

Pretty creepy thinking about who might be under those suits, huh?

Maybe one day I'll work this into a story. But then, no one would probably believe it!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Diana's Diversions: Julie Elizabeth Leto on Getting it Written

Sorry, Maria. I didn't mean to hijack your blog today. I linked to Diana's post and I guess you had blogged last so it linked to your blog instead of mine. LOL

Diana's Diversions: Julie Elizabeth Leto on Getting it Written

This is a great post.

I'd like to add my thoughts to it...

I've been writing almost 4 years exactly. In that time I've finished one manuscript and I have 2 more half complete and a 3rd in proposal form. (about 75 pages and fully plotted out)

I worked on my complete manuscript for 2 years. I kept going back and revising the first few chapters and not going forward. It really hurt my writing. I became stagnant because I stopped learning the craft. I can't tell you what a feeling it was to finally finish the manuscript!

Finishing was a big deal...but I think the most important thing is to just write. Don't get stuck in trying to make your first few chapters perfect. Just write. It makes a difference. Your voice gets stronger with every new scene you write.

Your style develops with every new idea you start.

Your passion for the craft of writing increases with every breakthrough you have!

By the end of this year, I will have 2 more completed novels. I've already started playing with another 2 ideas. These ideas didn't come to me until after I finally finished the first manuscript.

You have to write forward, otherwise you're just treading water.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Displaced Person

Remember reading this in high school? Okay, well, maybe not. But work with me here. I went to Catholic school and O'Connor was high up on the reading list. Lately, I've been facing my own displacement issues. For the past 2 weeks my family and I have been living in a state of constant interruption while the floors in the house have been torn out and replaced (How Mel did this for months and months I'm not quite sure)

Not that I'm complaining. I hardly even recognize my own house. It's like it's had plastic surgery. The floor magician, Dave (aka Hollywood) and his little dog Sherwood have become regular fixtures at casa Geraci. I'm almost going to be sad to see them go. Almost being the operative word here. I don't mind admitting that I'm counting the days when I can go back to hanging around in my pj's eating bon bons and writing all day long. Ha! (in my dreams!)

Speaking of writing... I decided to give The Church of Bunco a short hiatus while I polish up the opening to my follow up historical to The War Bride. It's tentatively called In Love and War. I've pretty much gotten the first 3 chapters down, but I now need a synopsis. Sigh... I'll let you know how that goes.

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