Happy last day of March. What a fine day to welcome Maggie Toussaint. Spring is showing off in Georgia and it's about time! I knew letting Maggie choose her topic was brilliant. I knew I could trust her to say what we need to hear. I was right, and so is she. Welcome to the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers blog, Maggie. Take it away!

Write what you know

By Maggie Toussaint

Write what you know. I can’t tell you how many times I heard this advice as a new writer, how many times I still hear it. Sure you can research to your heart’s content, but there’s nothing like knowing something, of having experienced it firsthand. When you convey that level of understanding, the words leap off the page.

That’s what writers, editors, and readers want.

A story that leaps off the page.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I decided to try this approach.
With an eye toward blockbuster sales, I listed my previous careers: aquatic toxicologist, technical writer, chemist, industrial hygienist, biologist, college student, golf course worker, movie house ticket sales… None of those screamed best seller. They’d been rather routine jobs.

Had I missed the point of write what you know? I was more than these job titles. I was a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a guitarist, and so much more. I’ve felt loss and injury and injustice and yearning for things I couldn’t have. I’ve marveled at a baby’s perfect fingers, hugged a sleeping puppy, and fried myself silly under the southern sun.

A resounding aha moment occurred. It sounded a bit like mental thunder, felt a bit like virtual lightning. Could writing 3-D characters really be so easy?

Once I changed my perspective, character possibilities rolled in like flood tide. I’d known the terror of being in a car careening through a ditch on two wheels. I’d known heartache from bad breakups with boyfriends. During my rebellious teen years, I’d inadvertently hurt myself and others with my behaviors. I’d been the mother of an unconscious child, despairing and praying.

A glittering universe of ideas beckoned.

I rolled up my sleeves and let the ideas flow.

The longing I felt to
, connect with my late father became the story seed for HOUSE OF LIES. The sisterly tug of war over jointly held property became SEEING RED. The shadowed woods where I kept losing my golf ball became the murderous setting for IN FOR A PENNY. And the financial black hole of keeping a nonprofit for horses going became NO SECOND CHANCE.

Were these entire books scripted from my life? No way. But the story seeds, the “what if” moments, came from an emotion attached to events I’d experienced.

Once I embraced emotional depth, characters yammered at me day and night. Don’t get me wrong - my friends and family aren’t poured onto the page verbatim. (Only my mother would read that!) Instead, I layer my characters taking a bit from this person a bit from that one. It’s like having an entire wardrobe of coordinating separates. You match them up, add a little attitude, and off you go.

Here’s what I learned. Write what you know and who you know. Do it in a way that is interesting and expressly you. Be real about the truths in your writing.

Agree or disagree? Leave a comment and your email addy. One lucky commenter will win the Maggie Toussaint book of their choice. The winner will be announced in the comment section of this blog, so check back by noon on Thursday to see if you won.

And, since I have your attention, two new Maggie Toussaint releases are on the horizon. MUDDY WATERS, a fall 2010 romantic suspense, features the secret passions of a small town. ON THE NICKEL, a March 2011 mystery, sprang from the indestructible car my daughters drove in high school.

Maggie Toussaint
www.maggietoussaint.com
www.facebook.com/maggietoussaint

No Second Chance
, buy a book, help a horse

ISBN 9781601541628 buy it: Amazon The Wild Rose Press Kindle


It's our turn to ask questions and I expect good ones.

Greetings Faith.  We're delighted to have you visit with us. ~

1: What do you most like about writing? Least like? What made you want to be an author?
What I like the most…I love creating characters.  How they talk to me, how they won’t move if I’m not going in direction they want me to…lol. 
What I like the least…second guessing myself after the book is finished.  Like when all the edits are done, the galley’s finished, it has a release date, etc, and I’m going, maybe I should have done it this way.  I am also not very fond of editing my own work…lol.  
 What made me want to be an author?  Well, it’s like this, I don’t think I had a choice.  From the time I was old enough to know what an imagination was, I was daydreaming.  I dreamt of heroes, heroines, plots, all kinds of stuff that took me away.  Once I discovered romance novels, I couldn’t stop reading them.  So many exciting worlds!
 2: When did you decide to write romance and how long have you been at it? Also, have you written other genres? 
 I decided I wanted to write romance in the sixth grade.  Yep, when there were dragons and dinosaurs…lol.  I have been seriously writing since 2000.  No, I stick to romance.
3: How do you get over writer’s block? 
Now you are speaking my language…lol.  I actually interviewed a professor who helped me get over writer’s block.  You simply turn off your monitor and write blind so to speak.  Don’t worry about the mistakes, just visualize the scene.  It works.  Here is the link where you can find the article if interested.  http://thewildrosepress.com/publisher/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1047&Itemid=142
4: How do you come up with your ideas?
Most of my ideas come out of the blue.  From a dream, watching someone walk down a road, just a passing thought, a thunderstorm.
5: Do you ever have problems not going over the top details and plot lines? Do your characters take over?
My characters do have a mind of their own, but so far they have not proved to be too bad…lol.  I think that my details and plot lines balance out pretty well.
6: How did you find a publisher? 
I entered the Through The Garden Gate Contest and got a request from Pam Winger at The Wild Rose Press to revise and resubmit.  I did and then I submitted a paranormal.  I was truly blessed!
7: On average, how long does it take to write your books? 
That depends.  My first book, which is not pubbed took over seven years with a five year hiatus due to family crises.  I have written a book in less than two years, two months, two weeks, and six weeks.  I think it depends on the subject and if I can just find the time to sit down and let the muse take over.
8: Do you have a person in your life that you would consider to be your inspiration?
Wow, that is a hard question.  There are more than one.  My husband who fought the battle of a brain injury and lost, my daughter who cared for him and put her own life on hold, and special friends who are authors who wouldn’t let me quit.
9: Who’s your favorite author to read? Favorite book?
Now, that is a question, I feel I just can’t answer.  We don’t have enough space…lol.  I love to read medieval and regency authors, as well as vampire authors.
10: How do you cope with rejection?
My first rejection made me want to tear up the manuscript.  It was for a contest.  A friend stopped me…lol.  Since then I’ve been rejected several times and still dread the dreaded rejection.  Now, I try to read it without getting my feelings  hurt, put it away for a day or two and then look at it again, and stubborn as I am, I try to rework the manuscript to make it better.
11: Do you base your characters on people you know?
Not really, although I might use certain characteristics or surnames from people I know.
12: How do you determine the goals of your characters? 
That is a good question.  I’m not sure…lol.  I tend to sit down, write out the first few chapters, and then take a look at GMC.  I know that’s not the way it’s suppose to be, but I have to get into the characters heads before I know what their goals are.

Faith, we have much in common.  Thanks so much for your honest, touching, and witty answers.
For more on this talented author please visit her website at:http://www.faithvsmith.com/

Friends Comments


For many years I worked in medical and dental offices. My last job was with a semi crazy dentist who was a very strange man. I think he was bi-polar. Anyways, the other girls I managed and myself got along very well. We were always laughing and having fun with the patients.


Funny Comments

They loved us. How great is it to go to a dental office and have fun
Funny Comments

The head assistant was Polish and I learned how to swear in Polish, something my Polish grandmother woulda laughed hysterically over.
She was always trying to put signs on my back that said, "kick me". So I decided to get her back
Funny Comments
real good!Lucky for me she has a sense of humor.

Funny Comments

I wrote a sign, (I know I'm awful hee hee), It said, "Honk if you got happy last night." In big black letters, and I put it on the back of her van. She walked right past it and never saw a thing.
We finished up the day and she left. I only live a few minutes from where I worked, but she had a forty minute drive.

Funny Comments

After about an hour or so I got a phone call. She was yelling at me in Polish, I recognized some of the swear words. In the background her husband was rolling on the floor laughing and talking in Polish, you could tell he loved it. She started to laugh and told me what happened.
At first she thought it odd that people were smiling at her and yelling as they drove by her. Some people cheered, but the reaction was so frequent that she couldn't figure it out. She drove home waving to people who all honked and waved to her. She had no clue, but she wondered. A car of teenagers at a light offered her a prophylactic. Lucky for me she had a great sense of humor.
When she got home she told her husband about all the honking and waving. It wasn't until he went out to close their gate that he saw the sign and brought it to her.
Funny Comments

She never got me back, that joke was untoppable! To this day she talks about it and we laugh. Bonnie is such a good sport and such a good friend. Love you Bonnie!
Honk, Honk!

Kisses Comments

We’ve all heard the old adage, ‘When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. ‘ The saying is an optimist’s advice to a pessimist on navigating the hard times of life. But how much lemonade can one person make? Or drink?




If you’re going to keep it for yourself, I guess you’d get tired of the drink real fast. The smell of lemons would sicken you. The acid would burn your skin. Sweetness would be lost on your taste buds. But, if you’d plan to share the lemonade with your family or friends, you could make a little more, right? Others might be able help you put things into perspective. Maybe help tweak your recipe.

And if you decided to look beyond those first thoughts and think outside of the box, you’d realize you could experiment, develop a really great, unique recipe for lemonade and share it with the world. Doing so, might lead you down a path you’d never thought of taking. One that might be the sweetest road you’d ever traveled.




Cheers!

Good afternoon, ladies,

Miss Mary Tutors stopped by today and left an assignment for each of you. She would like for you to read the following sentences and see if you can find those that contain no grammatical errors. I told her you weren't into grammar lessons, but she gave me "the school teacher look". When she raises one eyebrow and looks at me over her glasses, she is one scary old woman. No sweet Mary Poppins, that one! She put her small hands on her ample hips and tapped her size 5 1/2, black, old lady, lace-up shoe. I don't argue with her when she's like that.
Here are the sentences and have fun.

Do you see any errors?

Put the book on the table.

I need the book on the table.

John ran inside the house.

John ran inside.

John ran in the house from outside.

The boy under the table is a jerk.

The small boy ran under the table.

Those books in the package are my favorite.

The people in our building work on weekends.

Running in the evening relaxes me.

All boys must get their coats from the cloakroom.

Every football player need to visit their doctor.

Everyone need to visit their doctor.

Nobody in my family like to read.


Well? Did you find the errors?

A wonderful childhood memory of mine is arriving home after church one Sunday to find a clump of yellow daffodils, beaded with rain,  blooming beside the back door.  New flowers to me because I’d spent my early years in Taiwan where my parents both taught English.  We had a banana tree there, but no daffodils.   Rushing to the flowers in delight, I buried my face in the moist petals and breathed in the essence of spring.  To this day, nothing says spring to me like the fragrance of a simple  daffodil.

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” ~Gertrude S. Wister  *I totally get this quote :)


“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. ” ~ William Wordsworth

“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty.” ~ Shakespeare

“It is daffodil time, so the robins all cry, For the sun’s a big daffodil up in the sky, And when down the midnight the owl call “to-whoo”! Why, then the round moon is a daffodil too; Now sheer to the bough-tops the sap starts to climb, So, merry my masters, it’s daffodil time.”
~ Clinton Scollard
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Its loveliness increases. It will never
Pass into nothingness….Such the sun, the moon.
Trees old and young; sprouting a shady boon For simple sheep; such are daffodils With the green world they live in.”  ~John Keats

“Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.” ~ Lydia M. Child


“It is not raining rain to me,
It’s raining daffodils;
In every dimpled drop I see
Wild flowers on the hill.” ~ Robert Loveman

“If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.”  ~Terri Guilleme
ts


*My tiny pom-poo and faithful friend Sadie Sue.

Other than serial killers, rapists and psycho villains, is there such a thing as an unredeemable hero? I started pondering this question after the Tiger Wood’s fiasco.

Throughout fiction and the movies there are men who’ve committed horrible deeds and yet we decide they’re worth saving. Why? Consider uber-sexy Brad Pitt who played Achilles in the Hollywood version of the Trojan War (Troy); or Viggo Mortensen who portrayed an ex-hitman in one of my favorite movies, A History of Violence. Both of these characters performed brutal acts. Both were tortured souls battling inner demons. Both were easy to hate.

So what made me cheer for them? After all, a hero who’s totally unredeemable is a selfish human being. His every act is for his own pleasure, every thought to further his own purpose. Saying I’m sorry for my sins or that I made a mistake is not enough to redeem such a person. Even finding a medical diagnosis to try and explain away his actions isn’t enough to make him worthy or forgivable.

What does?

Running away from the horror as Viggo did in A History of Violence wasn’t enough. Usually these men have to sacrifice the one thing that has always defined them. Unlike the heroes in a typical story they are not simply changed by a simple act--for example, letting go of revenge in order to grow as a character. Because they didn’t start out a hundred percent honorable, they have to change at the core. The trait that people admire about them often has to be squashed. The powerful warrior has to allow himself to be defeated. The monster living inside him has to allow itself to be loved. Only then can the redeemable hero emerge.

Share your thoughts. Can you think of other characters people might consider unredeemable?

Please welcome our guest, Michelle Roper.


Spring into Writing
It’s spring. Daffodils are blooming and awakening from their winter’s slumber. Each year, I look forward to my first sighting of the friendly yellow blossom because it means warm weather, flowers, and green trees are right around the corner. It feels great to inhale fresh air after a long winter stuck inside. It’s also a good time to take stock of my life and where I’m at this point in the year. A lot of times I find myself shaking my head and saying to anyone who will listen, “I can’t believe it’s March, already.”

I know at the beginning of the year I have a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. Usually, I have a ton of writing goals, and I’m sure most of you do, too. They usually come in many different varieties and intentions like seeds in a garden catalogue. Maybe some of these examples are on your list.

Finish the first draft of a new book.

Write every day.

Edit the book I wrote for Nanowrimo.

Finish the synopsis for the contest.

Send out a partial.

It doesn’t matter the goal, now is the time to take stock because when December rolls around, you want to look back and say I did it. I did reach my goal, and I am further along in my writing career. I stay focused.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Nice words you’re thinking, but I have other responsibilities. I know. I know.

Here’s a sample list of excuses for not writing. Recognize yours?

I don’t have time to write.

I’m busy with my kids.

It’s been a month since I’ve written because I’ve been working on a project for work.

The contest deadline has passed.

I have made all those excuses at one time or another. That’s why it’s important to have check points.

That’s why seeing the first daffodil is important to me. Time to take stock.

One thing I’ve learned along the way in my writing journey is that you have to check in with your writing every day. Here’s what I do to help me keep focused.

I write in my journal ever morning. A lot of times I start solving problems in my manuscript.

When I make my to-do list—I write what I want to accomplish on my writing. Vacuum. Write three pages. Dog needs walking. Etc.

Write deadlines and contest entry deadlines on your calendar right along with doctor and dental appointments. This way the family is aware of the writing schedule, too.

I keep a sticky note with my writing goals on my computer.

Sit butt in chair and write.

Basically, we have to take action and stay focused on our writing goals each and every day even in the whirlpool craziness of everyday life. A new season means new beginnings, and it’s time to take our New Year writing goals and resolutions and make them happen. Find a daffodil and let it be a visual reminder of your writing and what you want to accomplish.


Michelle Roper co-writes with Berta Platas under the pseudonym of Gillian Summers. As Gillian, they write about the adventures of Keelie Heartwood, starting with the Faire Folk Trilogy. Keelie’s story continues in the SHADOWS OF THE REDWOOD, the first book in the Scions of Shadow trilogy which will be released on June 1st, 2010.

When not writing about Keelie and her mischievous feline companion, Knot, Michelle is busy walking her two Siberian Huskies, Arwen and Raven and seeking their input on plotting, characterization, and world building.

Don't you love this cover?


Tuesday Michelle Roper will be our guest!
She writes as Young Adult Fiction as Gillian Summers!
Come ask her tons of questions!

If you want to be prepared check here. www.gilliansummers.com

Ask her who was the first boy she kissed.

Remember that Jianne Carlo, our intrepid traveler, began her journey in Florida. She bypassed a wagon train. She and her honey used a more modern means of transport with horses under the hood instead of hitched to a wagon. They braved snow storms in Mississippi and Texas.
Posted by Mama Mary, because someone's on the road.

Day 7
OMG what a terrific day. We toured downtown Santa Fe, winding our way through art galleries and stores displaying a wealth of local artists’ crafts. We stopped at one in particular, Manitou, a definite must see if you’re in the city. Little did we know we’d end up spending the night with the proprietor.

We ate tapas all day long, starting with breakfast at The Sleeping Dog, then meandered to a café where the owner served us Turkish coffee and we discovered that he had moved to Santa Fe from South Florida.

After exploring the beautiful St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral and several of the small parks interspersed between the adobe buildings, we ate Zarzuela, a shrimp and mussel stew at La Boca, and around 7 p.m. we walked to our last stop, El Meson, intending to have an early night and rest up for the Grand Canyon trip. Hah! Talk about the best laid plans…

I decided to set the second book in The Hades Squad series, Lucifer’s Choice, in El Meson and asked permission to take a few pics. While I was doing that, the DH (and for those of you who asked, mostly it refers to the dahling husband, sometimes to the danged husband, oftentimes to the devil of a husband) struck up a conversation with two men eating at a neighboring table.

One was the proprietor of Manitou, the other an amazing singer, David Clayton. Somehow we moved onto Vanessie’s, a nightclub featuring the talented Al Rogers. And guess what? Al lived in Holland for 20 years and spoke Friesian - the dialect of the area where the DH was born. Quite the coincidence, eh?

We met two other artists, one a retired B-movie star who had just turned 82 and his lady friend of 93, who both got up and belted out 60s classics like My Way, Moon River, and Amore.

OMG what a terrific day. We toured downtown Santa Fe winding our way through art galleries and stores displaying a wealth of local artists’ crafts. We stopped at one in particular, Manitou, a definite must see if you’re in the city. Little did we know we’d end up spending the night with the proprietor.

BTW, he’s been married 8 times!

All in all, a wonderful day and the perfect ending for our stay in Santa Fe.

Cheers,
JC

Days 8-12
We saw every topography while journeying from the Grand Canyon to Nevada, going from the lush pinion pine of Kaibab National Forest to crossing the continental divide and climbing dry cutout hills, then through a semi-lush mountain pass with shining snow-white caps, and finally driving past valleys and valleys of dry Arizona dessert.

The Hoover Dam border of Nevada and Arizona dropped our jaws. What an engineering feat. And the steep ranges we traversed to get there. Astounding. I keep using that word, don’t I? But the US of A is absolutely, unequivocally astounding.

While the ethereal, spiritual beauty of the Grand Canyon is awe inspiring, the ostentatious overindulgence of Las Vegas bombards the mind. No quiet here, no hearing God whisper to you. No, instead Vegas overwhelms the senses, the blaring music, the clanging of slot machines, the woo hoo of a winner, the flashing neon everywhere, the stench of cigarettes all combined to drive us to find a quiet Italian restaurant where we had an excellent dinner. My entree choice, the Osso Buco, the best I have ever had.

The following morning, eager to explore the city, we walked and walked. First MGM, the casino, the restaurants, the shops, and the attention to detail blew my mind. I visited Vegas only once before, thirty years ago. The city designers have done a marvelous job encouraging pedestrians with the walkways over roads, the interconnections to hotels and Casinos, and it’s wonderful to see the crowds thronging the strip.

And then the shows - we saw Santana the second night at the Hard Rock Hotel. What a concert! We had terrific seats, six down from the stage, in a remarkably intimate arena. The sound system rocked and so did we -- nothing nicer than going to sleep with the strains of Samba Pa Ti in your brain.

Sunday morning we went to a Champagne Brunch and then relaxed and vegged until late afternoon. Last night we walked the strip and the atmosphere once the sun goes down morphs into something Fantasy-Land-like reminding me of the electric parade and Tinkerbelle and the fireworks at Disneyworld. We explored Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio, New York New York, and had happy hour at Sea Blue, eating dollar oysters and shrimp, and ending with a lobster corn dog – yummy.

I never expected to enjoy Las Vegas, but between the fascinating people watching, the amazing shows, the complex skyline, and the delicious, albeit way too expensive food, I’m having a blast.


Cheers

When East meets West, Cultures Collide, Passions Sizzle…

email: jianne@jiannecarlo.com

url : www.jiannecarlo.com

latest release:

JC_ValentineVoodoo_coversm


books: Valentine Voodoo, Manacled in Monaco, T is for Temptation, D is for Desire, Notorious in Nice, White Wolf

by Joelle Charbonneau

I love walking through bookstores. To me it's like a room full of chocolate coated pretzels without the calories. Or maybe kettle corn. I’m a sucker for kettle corn. And by the number of titles stuffed in my shelves, it’s clear I can’t resist buying books. I love browsing the front tables to see what's new. More often than not, I go into a bookstore intending to purchase one or two specific books and end up walking out with a bag full.

Lately, I’m been considering why that is…aside from my obvious book addiction. Yes, I read the inside flap or the back of the book blurb to see if the book is up my alley. I flip to the first page and see if the book captures my interest immediately. If the book passes those two tests I head for the checkout counter.

But why did I pick up those books in the first pace? The cover, of course. We always hear that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Still, unless it's an author you already know and love, how else is a book supposed to get a potential reader’s attention? Russell McLean led a great discussion on the DoSomeDamage blog not too long ago about how covers affect the way he thinks about a book. Which makes sense. The cover is the first impression for most readers. It’s a lot like dating. While the outside package isn’t as important as the inside, it is the first thing you see. If the person has a multi-colored mullet and smells of garlic, you might not be inclined to get to know them further no matter how smart or funny they are.

And everyone’s first impression is different. One reader’s perfect cover is another reader’s automatic ‘no way’. Sue Grimshaw, Borders romance buyer and all around fabulous person, tells us that romance covers showing bare-chested men fly off the shelves. And I believe her, but those covers don’t speak to me. I don’t know why. I’m not opposed to fantastically sculpted male chests. In fact, I highly approve of them. I just don’t pick up books because of them. Now I’m just guessing, but I’m pretty sure lots of male readers think a sexy woman in a low cut top is interesting, but those guys won’t pick up novels featuring that same thing on the cover.

I guess what I'm saying is each person’s first impression of a book is different. As authors, we hope the cover that wraps around our words speaks to as many readers as possible. I know I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that my cover does. After much nail biting, I finally have one. The question is: what impression do you think Skating Around the Law’s cover coveys to a browsing reader? And please, tell me: what kind of covers you are drawn to in the book store? I’ll be taking notes.





Yes...even Phineas and Ferb tackle this issue. It's about 35 seconds into the video. Sorry, I'm not technically savvy enough to edit. And let's face it, Phineas, Ferb and the gang are fun. So please enjoy.

This is less of a book review and more of a commentary:

I’ve just finished a novel called Strip Search by William Bernhardt, and it ties in rather neatly with the recent Supreme Court decision on whether or not Thimerisol can cause this condition. Since it has also been announced that there is a new genetic test which can determine a predisposition to the disorder, I thought to mention it here. The test, G-banded karyotype, can identify chromosomal aberrations and the X-genetic. CMA detects chromosomal abnormalities, making it the best available genetic test for autism spectrum disorders. Using the CMA test by itself has tripled the detection rate and it has been suggested that it be added to first-tier genetic testing for this disorder.

That’s good news for everyone and perhaps it will also help to bring about development of a cure or, if not that, at least a way to help those children stricken become more viable members of society and ease the grief, guilt, and dismay most families with autistic children experience.

How does this pertain to Strip Search? I’m sure you’re asking yourself that question about now. Simple, the “hero” of the novel is autistic.

Strip Search involves a homicide investigation, as seen through the eyes of two people:
Susan Pulaski and Darcy O’Bannion.

Susan is a Las Vegas police behaviorist. She’s recently lost her husband, David, an LV homicide detective. Everyone—David’s family, his partner, even Susan herself—blames her for David’s death. Susan still misses David, dreams about him, sometimes feels as if he’s in the room with her, and as a result, she’s wracked with guilt and remorse and has become an alcoholic. After months of detox and therapy, she’s slowly being eased back into work by LV Police Chief Robert O’Bannion whose son she befriended when the Chief was hospitalized after being shot. Susan’s relationship with the younger O’Bannion is an odd one and at one point, during a counseling session, the psychologist she is required to see obliquely asks if she intends to have an affair with the Chief’s son, and almost—but not quite—suggests it would be good for her if she did.

Susan is outraged but it make as her wonder about her relationship with Darcy, then and on other occasions.

Chief O’Bannion’s only child was named after the character in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, his father’s favorite author. Darcy O’Bannion is twenty-six, nine years younger than Susan. He’s also an austistic savant, diagnosed at the age of three. He is incapable of sensing irony or sarcasm, doesn’t understand jokes, dislikes physical contact, and is unable to distinguish facial features, relying on smell, clothes, and bodily movements to recognize people. Though able to care for his own daily needs and having a job at a local day-care center (Darcy likes children because they are most accepting than adults), he spends most of his time—when he’s not with Susan—at odds with his father. Because of his child-like manner of speaking, his eccentric way of looking at things, and his seeming innocence (though Darcy understands about evil and is cunning enough to escape alone from a killer) the Chief continues to treat him as an incompetent, trying to shield his son from a world where he thinks he can’t survive. Darcy wants to become a policeman, something Susan encourages, to his father’s dismay. His own take on his relationship with Susan is startling. He acknowledges he loves her though he admits he has no concept of love. He wants Susan to adopt him so he can escape his father’s stranglehold on his life. He seems to have a partial idea of what living with Susan would involve, though he admits he has no idea how to “do” sex, and probably wouldn’t like it anyway since it involves physical contact and he doesn’t like to be touched. Nevertheless, he thinks it would be nice to make a baby with Susan—apparently not exactly equating sex with that aspect—because he likes babies and he thinks it would make Susan happy. Except for the adoption part, Susan is unaware of this aspect of Darcy’s interest in her. Born with a photographic memory, his knowledge of facts helped Susan solve a particularly gruesome murder case, but all this does is make Chief O’Bannion force Susan to promise she won’t include his son in any more investigations. It is Darcy’s own attempts at becoming an independent person which lead directly to his involvement in the case narrated in Strip Search, bringing him face-to-face with a killer who uses math to choose his victims.

Part of the story is told from Darcy’s point of view, with stream-of-consciousness paragraph-long sentences in which he views himself as a computer, forcing himself to stop and reboot on occasion when he gets so overloaded with facts he can’t communicate. Those sections are an enlightening look at how an autistic person’s thought processes may actually work, revealing that behind the mass of facts, hidden behind the mask of indifference and incoordination is a person more intelligent in some ways than some of us will ever be. How he reaches out to other people only to be patronized or ignored because they don't understand hurts him, though he realizes why. Darcy knows he is difference; he also knows he's smarter than most. He just isn't certain how to compromise these two aspects into something other people than Susan will accept.

I found myself skipping parts of the story just to find Darcy's takes on the situations. The story itself follows the usual outline though its subject is unique, and even those who don’t like police procedurals or suspense/mysteries may enjoy reading Strip Search for the insights it gives into an autistic savant’s mind and character. For those who do like this type of mystery, it’s an exciting story, too, though the explanations of mathematical formulae went right over my head, providing I'm not a savant of any kind!

“May those who love us, love us. And those who don’t love us, May God turn their hearts; And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, May He turn their ankles, So we will know them by their limping.” ~Irish Blessing
Contributed by my husband. :)

My friend Patricia Mann’s late father, Bob McCluskey, was an Irishman.  Here are some sayings found among his papers which she has kindly shared with me and I with you~

“When I feel them a-coming,
A spell of the blues.
Feel worried and troubled,
Don’t know what to do,
I then turn my thoughts
Dear friend, unto you.
And know I’m not alone–
You have troubles, too.

Then mine become lessened,
As if for flight,
And I send you a wish
With all of my might.
May all your troubles
Boon float away
And may mine join yours
Upon their way.”
****
“Gin ye find a heart that’s weary.
And that needs a brither’s hand,
Dinna thou turn from it, dearie,
Thou shouldst help thy fellow man.
Thou mayest have a hidden heartache,
Sacred from all mortal kin,
And because of thine own grief’s sake,
Thou maun feel for ither men.”
****
“When we feel restless, impatient and discouraged because we have lost something prized or loved, let us remember the first and last verses of Mrs. Wheeler’s beautiful poem, ‘Recompense:’

“Straightway through my heart this fact to-day
By truth’s own hand is driven;
God never takes one thing away,
But something else is given.
It is the law, complete, sublime;
And now with faith unshaken,
In patience I but bide my time
When any joy is taken.”

 
An Old Irish Blessing~and my favorite

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

*Royalty free pics of Ireland




I met Jeane Daly, a lovely lady and dear friend, through the Critique Loop of the on-line chapter, FTHRWA--From The Heart. We were a bunch of novice writers struggling to learn and write according to rules we learned from each other.


We didn't mind reading and critiquing three, or five or even ten submissions a week, while anxiously waiting for our own submission to come back with compliments! More often than not, it came back with a lot of blue or red suggestions, comments, corrections that prompted us to revise and edit and resubmit.


Those were the days, my friends, we thought would ne-e-ver end...

But they finally ended on a happy note for many of us.

Our guest for today, Jeane Daly is a mother of five grown children. Jeane and her husband live in the coastal town of Hingham, Massachusetts. A retired nurse, she has returned to her first love, writing. Jeane, an avid reader, says there’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book or watching a Jimmy Stewart movie.

Jeane, I am so happy to welcome you on the Pink Fuszzy Slippers' blog as you await your first book, LOOKING FOR JIMMY STEWART, published by Wings-Press.

http://www.wings-press.com/Bookstore/LookingForJimmyStewart.htmpress.com/Bookstore/LookingForJimmyStewart.htm

Here are some questions for you to help our readers know you:

Q-Why did you choose this title?
A-Enjoyed all his movies - but after reading the biography of Jimmy Stewart, the husband, father, friend, decided he'd become the personality my heroine was searching for.

Q-Is the book really about James Stewart?
A-No. Only a character with his traits and gentle personality.

Q-What inspired your story?
A-A friend had been laid-off from airline for similar reasons that I'd written about. It took her almost a year to get a job. Sad to say, she's been laid-off again.

Q-How did you receive the Call?
A-Via an email.

Q-Tell us about your journey to publication.
A-I went into this as a real novice. I had taken creative writing courses in college - - but learned more from the online writing courses offered by FTH and other struggling authors. It took almost 4 yrs to complete after many revisions.

Q-Was Jimmy Stewart your favorite actor? Have you see all his movies?
A-Yes. He is my favorite actor. Such a versatile actor - a natural in every role he played.

Q- What is your favorite movie? your favorite book?
A-Sorry Jimmy, but I'd have to say, Gone With the Wind.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Jack flattened his hands on the wall, one on each side of her head, leaned in and smiled down at her. “This may sound strange, but the last part of this evening was the most enjoyable.” His mouth, soft and warm, caught hers in an all too brief sweet kiss. Nothing passionate about it, but it reached every part of her body like an explosion.

Swimming through a haze of feelings and mixed emotions, she pushed him away.

“Why did you do that?” She struggled to catch her breath.

“I hadn’t planned on kissing you. It just happened.” He turned and opened the door.

She thought of Kimmie. “Let’s pretend it never happened, okay? I just want us to be friends, nothing more.”

“Friends it is. And I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable.”

She smiled, hoping she’d made herself clear. “Have a nice flight.”

Jeane, thank you for being with us today.

Posted by Mama Mary.
The previous days of Jianne's trip across country are in previous posts, day 3 is above this one. They started in Florida and are heading across the U S to attend seminars.


We are amazed that her husband is still alive after 3 long days in the car with her, even driving through SNOW in Texas. Men aren't always great on road trips.

Day 4
We awoke to discover Tyler covered in a thick coat of fog.

Nevertheless, like the hardy frontier people we are, we ploughed ahead with our plans to travel to Amarillo. Three hours later, we marveled at the drastic topography and weather through which we had traveled. Fog gave way to the famed mammoth cattle ranches of Texas and winds, which blew the layers of the snow blanketing the fields into a blinding fury for the DH

Then came blue skies and sun, lush green landscapes drifted into scenes of shrubs and low brown grass and oil wells.

To my delight, we bumped into my first ever Saloon! With hunky cowboys and people y’all -ing each other left, right, and center. We watched a boot shod, Stetson-wearing guy snap back a shot of tequila and it was barely noon! I so wanted a photo of the saloon with the name that I agreed to pose in front of Bono’s Saloon (I hate taking pictures). Twice I reminded the DH to make sure the name was in the picture.

The outside temperature dropped and dropped, and went from a balmy forty degrees to thirty-two as we hit Amarillo. The hotel we stayed in, The Ambassador, had free hors d’oeuvres and a happy hour for the couples staying with them for Valentine’s Day. What a lovely surprise at the end of a long seven hours of traveling.

CENT Days 5 & 6

Amarillo to Santa Fe 1

On Valentine’s Day we traveled from Amarillo to Santa Fe, our first long stop in the journey to the Grand Canyon. Man, we’ve been through every form of weather short of hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes. First the snow, then sleet, then freezing rain with the temperature dropping every mile or so it seemed. But, it was a short day of travelling (after 7-hour days, 4 was a breeze), and Santa Fe is absolutely charming and wonderful and OMG so quaint!

Santa Fe with a population of only 60,000 has its own opera house - spectacularly located on the top of a mountain with a vista of valleys and canyons. The art here overwhelms the senses. Even the overpasses on the highways are decorated (and not with graffiti!).

Taos to Santa Fe Overpass

The Rio Grande flows through the town and the adobe architecture blends into the landscape perfectly. This is a state where Mother Nature and humans meld instead of warring.

Now, we never celebrate Valentine’s Day. Never - I hate the way the price of flowers jump astronomically for that date and the DH and I just wandered into a non-Valentine’s thing over the last 33 years. So blow me down when I get gifts and a card on Sunday morning. Sheesh! How to make a person feel bad and good all at once.

And then he arranges for us to have dinner at Geronimo’s, a 5-star restaurant I’ve dreamed about for ages (I loooooove good food). We had a table by the fireplace, and, yes, the pic stinks, but it gives you an idea of the setting - an adobe-style ranch house built in 1678. The food was incredible, eclectic and delicious, the ambiance perfect, and, of course, the DH stands the test of time, much like fine wine aging.

Geronimo 3

We had a great day and night and the following morning decided to visit the outlying city of Taos, about 70 miles north of Santa Fe (as if we hadn’t driven enough in the last 4 days - yeah we’re certifiable). I swear we had the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life at a hotel on the Taos plaza. You know what I mean, coffee that tastes the way it smells.

Charming city, but the drive along the Rio Grande was the highlight of the trip. The sheer cut of the river between the mountains took my breath away.

I cannot get over how astounding and beautiful this country is!

When East meets West, Cultures Collide, Passions Sizzle…

email: jianne@jiannecarlo.com

url : www.jiannecarlo.com

latest release:

books: Manacled in Monaco, T is for Temptation, D is for Desire, Notorious in Nice, White Wolf

Stay tuned for more installments and see if she and her DH are still speaking to each other.

Jianne Carlo continues the tale of her trip cross country with her husband, bless his heart. Early installments can be found on this blog.

We decided to move south the day I was stranded in a field in the middle of nowhere in my first blizzard. That was 32 years ago.

The last time we were in Dallas there was a Coup D’état in the country we were living in. For those of you who don’t know the term (I wish I didn’t) - a coup d’état means that factions of the army try to take over the country and establish a military dictatorship - Cuba, in other words.

So when day 3 of the CENT tour began with - don’t let the weathermen fool you - it was a blizzard not a ‘snow storm’ - us driving through a blizzard to get to just outside of Dallas, TX, the superstitious bent in me started ringing like alarms at a nuclear site. (You caught the location, I hope.)

Turns out it wasn’t as bad as we expected. We had a couple of hours of driving with bad conditions but we eventually reached Tyler, which is a sprawling southern city with not a lot of charm and a ton of snow, which they don’t ever get. The electricity was out everywhere and we arrived, after 7 hours of driving, around 6:30 p.m. starving and a tad on the cranky side.

Did I mention we have bets about whether we’ll still be speaking to each other after 30 days on the road?

The hotel was overrun with locals who had no power checking in to stay warm, and there was an hour wait at any restaurant we found. Luckily, I spotted a little fish place with a sign saying - The Crawfish Are In.

Aaaah, nothing switches a cranky mood to ecstatic like hot gumbo, steamed nitro-spicy crawfish, and a couple of local brews. We ate like pigs, came back happy and warm and full, and topped the night off by watching the start of the Winter Olympics.

We lived in Vancouver for a couple of years and felt very proud of that grand opening.

Today, we’re off to Amarillo, Texas.

Too bad Vancouver’s not getting the snow we are in the south!

Cheers,

When East meets West, Cultures Collide, Passions Sizzle…

email: jianne@jiannecarlo.com

url : www.jiannecarlo.com

JC_ValentineVoodoo_coversm

books:
Valentine Voodoo, Manacled in Monaco, T is for Temptation, D is for Desire, Notorious in Nice, White Wolf

Have you ever wished you had more time and then get it and then waste it? I know I have.

I’ve often said I wish I had six hours more in the day and the energy to go with it. But that is never going to happen, right?

I’ve had days when there was nothing pressing on my agenda and I could’ve used the day to catch up on chores or activities that I’ve longed to do, but instead I became an eggplant who participated in a Law & Order rerun marathon.

Should I be upset with myself? No. Not if it only happens once or twice a year. Everyone needs the kick and just rest once in awhile. Wasting time, letting opportunities to do what you really want to do slip away, day after day, can lead to depression. So the question rises—how do you stop wasting time?

My best tool for not wasting time, is to make a list of things you want to accomplish each month, each week, each day. Some of you may have taken Margie Lawson’s workshop on Defeating Self-defeating Behaviors. In that class, Margie suggests people make such lists. I’ve made lists for years and I was so happy reading from the Psychologist that I was on the right track.

Some people might say, I don’t need a list, I know what I have to accomplish. My answer to them is, I do too. I know what I want to accomplish, but by making a list I prioritize my tasks, I set deadlines and I set goals. In other words, I have a plan.
Some might also say, I don’t have time now and you want me to take more time to make a list. Shhhh..Secret! It takes a few minutes. Usually, I’ll make my list in the morning, but sometimes I might start my list for the next day the night before and finish it off in the morning. And, just so you know, at times, things come up during the day and they’re added to my list and another chore might be moved to the next day. But having that list with me every day motivates me to not waste precious time.
So as an example, here is my list for today.

1) Deep edit chp 3 and email to reader. DONE

2) Write post for PFS Blog. DONE

3) Deep edit chp 4.

4) Exercise

5) Pick out outfits for up-coming wedding/vacation

There’s more, but these are the chores I really want to accomplish today. Note: exercise is on my list every single day. A 30 minute walk is exercise.

Okay, so what is on your list today?

What contest judges look for

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 10:13 AM | 5 comments »

Good morning,
I'm sure that most of us have entered a contest or two and would love to know what a trained judge looks for in their entries. Well, here is a wonderful list prepared by Marie Force which was published on our Florida Romance Writers group. I think we all can benefit from this and use it for editing our own work, whether for contests or not.

1. Huge chunks of back story dumped early on.
2. Point of view--each scene should be told in one POV.
3. Starting sentences repeatedly with He or She
4. Telling vs showing.
5. Whacky character names that jump out at you.
6. Inappropiate humor
7. Starting the story in the wrong place. Start with action. First page must ROCK.
8. Pace - hit them hard and fast right out of the gate.
9. Avoid clunky dialogue - use contractions.
10. Formatting
11. Make sure your characters physically move from place to place - don't have the reader ask how did they get there?
12. Voice--make sure your voice of your character is consistant with their age
13. Cliches - avoid it. Find a fresh, unique way to say it.
14. Remember your market.
15. Love scenes - do not use gross or unneccessary details that will turn off the reader.

Okay, everyone, hope this helps with your own writing. Happy editing!

Things we can do to help us feel better when we DON'T!

1. Exercise a little more, even if you just dance while you brush you teeth and when you wash dishes or load the dishwasher. Dancing can be just wiggling your butt or your torso. You're alone, move as though you are still a kid.

2 Write a note or letter to a friend, just to say hello. Sometimes emails can work, but some of us can't write or read just one email. I can't. (Like potato chips or Hershey's kisses)

3. Drink a glass of water or make a cup of your favorite tea. I've heard flavored coffee works, but I don't drink coffee.

4. Watch a kid movie, a fairytale you always loved.

5. Read a kid's book or a young adult book. They are shorter for people with no time to read.

6. Pull out your photos to sort. You most likely won't sort many before you're smiling and remembering fun stories.

7. Sit with a pet or be glad you don't have to clean up after one.

8. Moisturize your face. Yes, that will make you feel better.

9. Check out blogs you have found earlier that are always good.


More to come!

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 8:05 AM | 4 comments »

Hi Ladies,
Great deals for my last day posting this month, borrowed from other money-saving forums.

Join Facebook and become of fan for offer from Sunchips (free bag) and Einstein Bros. (free bagel)

Walmart.com is offering the Samsung WEP 250 Bluetooth headset for $16.00. Shipping is .97

JetBlue.com is having a two day $10.00 airfare sale Tuesday and Wednesday only, to and from JFK from select cities. Total each way with taxes comes to $30.00.

Avon.com has a $1.99 sale on eyeshadow, regularly priced at $8.00. If you purchase $10.00 or more, use code AVONFS for free shipping.

Finally, head on over to Lowes. They are having a huge Closet Maid clearance sale to make room for another manufacturer.

Happy Shopping!

Favorite quote: "I can't afford to save any more money."

For more details on digital books, E-readers and the list of participating authors in E-book giveaways please visit: http://www.ebookweek.com/

Jianne Does America!

Posted by Mary Ricksen | 12:59 PM | 2 comments »



Smart Floridians plan their northern trips for the dead, soupy heat of summer. Months like July and August. My normally super smart DH plans our CENT travel to avoid bad spring weather and that's why we're on our 30-day road trip in the months of February and March. You know - winter months.

Attached is a picture of the parking lot in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (where we spent the night).

Note the snow on the cars.

SNOW!

I haven’t seen snow in decades and I boast about that fact.

Another statistic shot to the devil’s lair.

We left on Wednesday (our excuses for this trip are two seminars, one I have to attend, one he has to), had a great but boring drive to Tallahassee, where we had dinner with our son (the young’un) at the most expensive steak house in the city - his choice. Ain’t it grand how all kids have a knack for picking the $$$ and the best food?

Wednesday night we watched the weather news and promptly decided to leave Tally early AM in order to avoid the snowstorm. You know something? You can’t outrun Mother Nature - not in a car anyway.

Hattiesburg, MS, is a quaint college/commuter city with a real downtown, friendly folks, and a ton of chain restaurants. Since we decided to favor smaller towns and independent restaurateurs this trip, we had dinner at the charming 206 Front in the historic downtown in a lovingly restored building dating from around 1890. The menu featured eclectic preparations of quail, elk, mahi-mahi, oysters, and catfish. A lovely meal, a great bottle of wine, and then we watched the snow flurries begin.

I posted pics on Facebook of Biloxi (or the bridge to Biloxi) and Hattiesburg: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=129819&id=1384524304&saved

For anyone who's interested in tracking our progress - I'll be blogging each day's excitement or lack thereof. Here the link: www.jiannecarlo.com

Stay safe in the storm and anyone who’s in New Orleans for Carnival - Who Dat! http://www.jiannecarlo.com/AdminCP/fckeditor/editor/images/smiley/msn/teeth_smile.gif Drew Brees and The Saints rock!

JC

Valentine Voodoo's Out Now! Buy at: http://www.loose-id.com/Valentine-Voodoo.aspx