13,600 / 20,000 (68%)

Samba story
7,926 / 8,000 (99.1%)

S.M. (Book 1)
580 / 10,000 (5.8%)

S.M. (Book 2)
1,010 / 10,000 (10%)

4,032 / 10,000 (40.5%)

ASPCA Day is April 10

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Friday, April 28, 2006

The Fate...

The fate of man,
hangs in a balance,
on the thin edge of a knife.

If led by his cold calculating mind,
his own selfish acts, he would die in ice.

Yet, if guided by his passion,
consumed by his needs, he would burn in fire.

Push but a little,
and all will be lost.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Muses runes my brain

You know what I get when I indulge in too many oreo cookies? Hyper Muses from Hell! Oh yeah, at first, they were pretty subtle. Just sending me little messages, like check out websites on this or that topic, or pick this or that book on this topic when I went to Borders this Sunday. I still didn't feel like writing. Then I re-read this great mystery story, Charmed to Death, by Shirley Damsgaard, in which the heroine is learning to use the runes. Add to that a few of my fellow writers are writing stories about runes. Next thing I know... BAM!!!... I'm hearing these voices, seeing these scenes before me, and dreaming this things.

I can't give you too many details. My writer's paranoia forbids me to do so. *lol* But all I can tell you is that it involves a handsome detective (Matt), a sassy heroine (Ann), and the runes. Oh, a few other strange things I can't talk about yet. So far I've written 2,100 words. It's a murder mystery with lots of great sex scenes and romance. So it won't be too mysterious nor too romantic. OMG, it's gonna be so...unpublishable. I LOVE IT! *evil smile*

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Miss a Bite

Oh my gosh! I can't believe I can be this absent-minded. I thought today was the 22nd. so about 10 minutes ago I sent my Bite entry to Faith. She just answered me telling me the contest had ended yesterday at midnight. Boy was my face red or what! *lol* Well, kids, things like this happen when you get old.

A little ray of sunshine

Hope those soulful brown eyes bring you today joy and peace in your life.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Just saying hi...

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Feeling like poop

Gosh, it's been almost two week since I finished with the edits, and I've not lifted a finger to type anything since then. Nope, not a word. I don't know what's wrong with me. *sighs* Not even a single idea has popped into my head. I tried to go back to the wereanimal story for the DDD anthology, but after staring at it for 10 minutes, I closed the file and sat to watch TV instead (re-runs of 70s Battlestar Galactica - woohoo!). I just feel so... blah (that's the technical word for feeling bored and not knowing why and nothing interests me and I'm without energies). Of course, the fact that I'm not writing makes me feel guilty. So last night I went by Vivienne's chat at the Romance Studio hoping to my Muses would get while supporting a good friend and excellent writer (and add a kick ass critiquer with the corkiest sense of humor *lol*). But nothing. I mean, the chat went fantastic. Tonz of great writers from Cobblestone Press showed up, and the chat was great. But...no inspiration knocking on my door. I'm lazy. And bored. Lazy and bored. Not a good combination. Oh man... I think I'm going dig into that bag of oreos and munched my guilt away.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I've been charmed...

A couple of nights ago I finished reading the second installment of the Ophelia and Abby Mysteries, Charmed to Death, by Shirley Damsgaard. I was a bit hesitant about buying it because I'm usually disappointed with the sophomore books of a serie. But the totally awesome cover charmed me. And after reading the blurb, I figured I could give it a shot. Boy, am I glad I did! What a great read! I couldn't put the book down. It had everything. A dash of action. A good measure of romance (I hope detective Comacho shows up in the third book!). And a tickle of magick and good humor. Best of all it brought a sense of closure to the heroine. I won't get into details because I don't want to spoil it for you. *winks* If you want to find out what I'm talking about, you'll have to read the book. However, in case you're thinking about reading this book, I suggest you read the first one, Witch Way to Murder, first.

Have I peaked your curiousity? Okay, here's the story in a nutshell. Ophelia has psychic powers, which is kind of hereditary in the women of her family, particularly from her mother's side, but she denies the powers after she forsees her best friend death and is unable to stop it. So after suffering one major nervous breakdown, she moves to the small town where her grandmother, Abby, a hereditary Appalachian healer, lives, so she can live a normal life. Of course, if Ophelia thought she could escape her heritage, well, she's got another thing coming. Abby is the adorable 74-yrs-old granny we all would love to have. Funny, strong, sensitive, wise. With her guidance, Ophelia, the reluctant student, has to learn to come to terms with who she is - a psychic and a witch. Easy, right? Nuh-uh. Not when, thanks to her psychic powers, she finds dead bodies before the police does, and somehow she gets involved in mysterious cases when all she wants is to be left alone to be normal. *lol*

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Colorgenics Quiz

Personal Profile

You are very ambitious and because you seek and need recognition, you try in your own way to impress people and you want to be looked up to - to be both popular and admired. You feel that there is a gap which separates you from your fellow man, or woman as the case may be, but this anxiety is an unnecessary one. Keep on the way you are going and you may surprise yourself.

You 'need to be needed'. As an idealist you are intolerant of anything short of special consideration from those close to you. If you do not get what you seek you are apt to become reclusive and you will close the doors on all those within your sphere of influence.

You feel tired - worn out and listless. The last thing that you want to do is to be in an open conflict with those around you that are forever tormenting you. What to do? That's the rub. You are feeling that you are being choked - unable to breathe.

Whatever has caused the situation, you just don't seem to be able to sustain or maintain relationships as you would wish to. What you really seek is to be able to develop a relationship with someone with whom you can truly share: Love, Serenity, Peace and Quiet. But you are a very demanding person and it is your nature that leads to disquiet and discord: you are like the tide, flotsam and jetsam... One minute you experience 'highs' and a few moments later 'lows'. This obviously will introduce discord into any relationship and with this demanding attitude - the ideal state you desire is unable to develop. Despite the urge to gratify your natural desires, you impose a considerable self-restraint on your instincts in the belief that this demonstrates your superiority and raises you above the common herd. You are extremely critical of everything that is presently going on around you and you find it difficult to listen to or to take advice from anyone. You enjoy the original, the ingenious and the subtle.

You need to be respected as an exceptional individual. This is the only way that you can hope to achieve the status that you wish to achieve. You set yourself very high standards - and come what may - you abide by them.

- Colorgenics

Monday, April 17, 2006

A little reading for today...

Last week I was off for Easter vacation. I thought I'd enjoy having 10 days free, and I even made of things I wanted to do. To make a long story short, tomorrow I'm back to work (yuck!), and I didn't enjoy my vacations. Things went totally wacked. So after running into Miguel Angel at Kmart today, I felt compelled to read the cards tonight and this is what I got.

Five of Wands
in the Past position.

You are in a competitive situation. See it for what it is: an opportunity to grow and to help others grow. Although competing with others, you are really in competition with your self. Do your best, for your own good and for the good of others.

Ten of Pentacles
in the Present position.

You have reached the end of a cycle. You’ve learned all you care to learn, you’ve invested all you want, you’re ready to move on to something new. Just as you received a gift to start off, why not share your abundance with someone else?

Seven of Pentacles
in the Future position.

You have sown seeds of some sort. They are bearing fruit and it is time for the harvest. Take time to compare the investment with the results. If it is not what you’d hoped, determine what you can do differently next time.

After seeing this, I realized there was something I might be overlooking. So I did a one Rune reading.

Uruz is the name of the Auroch, an extinct prehistoric ox. This animal was strong and brave, and was the focus of rites of manhood in older days. Reversed, this rune symbolizes either the lack of challenge, or the lack of preparation for a challenge. This rune suggests that you must reach deep within in order to gain the power you will need, whether to get out of your current rut, or to face what appears to be a hopeless situation.

O-okay... time to meditate on this.

Me? Bashing graphic artists? Hell no!

For those of you who read my post on book covers sharing the same photos, I'd like to add a little here in respond to a message left to me about my brashness to put down cover book designers. *lol* For those of you who read the post thoroughly know I never bashed any cover artist for doing their job and for trying to do it right. Au contraire, I applaud the fact that they're willing to take such undertaking. I've seen the works of cover book designers such as April Martinez, Jax, Cathi Stevenson, Trace Edward Zaber, and Dawn Seewer just to name a few of the ones I hold nothing but respect for their works.

I design images myself, for both websites and book covers, so I know how hard it is to create unique images. I've been known to spend weeks tweaking images, never being happy with the product. (What can I say? I'm a perfectionist. *lol*) At times my poor PC has collapse (even though it has 2GB of RAM) because it can't take the load of having PhotoShop and other programs opened while I work on an image (which is usually several MBs). (I thought about increasing the RAM, then I realize I might need an Apple Mac instead. Too expensive, so fat chance.) I've even used stock photos many times to create book covers. (Thank you for small favors!)

But I'm also the owner of small publishing company (no, it's not an ebook publisher) for textbooks. As both graphic artist and publisher, I'm familiar with their prices of these stock photos, which aren't exactly cheap. And if you don't believe me check out their prices! Sometimes you have to pay a couple of hundred dollars for one photo. And even paying the high price for the high quality kind doesn't mean exclusivity. (Doesn't that suck? You betcha! Oh well... That's the game we must play with stock photos, people. *sighs*) Also I'm very much aware of how limited stock photos are. I mean there are so many images you can get. (Check out one of my favorite hunting places for stock photos, 1StopStock.)

However, my understanding on these issues doesn't take away my concern about the uniqueness of a book cover when I'm working on one. As the owner of a publishing company, I know how tough the competition can be. A book cover can make or break a book. Authors, publishing companies, and graphic artists agree on this. So I'm aware that having 3 - 5 books with the same image in the cover in a bookshelf can be confusing for the consumer. It's a cold hard fact. Mind you, I'm not trashing graphic artists when I say that. I'm just simply saying that I put those who work for me in the graphic department to work hard and try to make covers as unique (and distiguishable) as possible. I myself spend hours, sometimes days, researching book covers among textbook companies to see what's out there.

For instance, recently a colleague of mine wanted to put out her book on writing a paper for one of her courses. She wanted a photo of a bridge on the cover since the word "bridge" appears on the title. Fine. I searched for photos with bridges and found one that I worked fantastic for the cover. Perfect size and all. I just had to add the title and the author's name to it ...tah dah!... instant cover with little effort. I was in graphic artist heaven to say the least! I even did the Snoopy dance. Until...I did some research and found out that one of those big textbook companies (I'm not mentioning name out of respect to them) already used a photo that 95% similar to mine. It was the exact same bridge. The only difference was the angle the photo was taken. And even to the untrained eye you could tell that there wasn't much difference in that area. You might be wondering what I did. Well, after banging my head against the desk, cursing a bit, crying a lot, and eating two bags of M&Ms (which almost caused me a stint at the hospital 'coz the insuline shot to the roof), I deleted my work and started all over again. (I'm very serious about the work I do. Told you I'm a perfectionist. Sue me! *lol*)

Another thing I'd like to point out is that creating an image of Poser or Daz 3-D doesn't mean it should look plastic or rubbery. Sadly, we, writers and readers, have been exposed to those types so we think that creating an image in one of those 2 porgrams is bad. *lol* Not true, my fellow writers and readers! Not true. *g* But if you all don't believe me, check out the DAZ 3-D gallery. You'll see some images that will astound you with their realism.

Of course, I'd like to point out too that for those wonderful graphic artists to achieve such level of perfection, they must go beyond Poser and Daz 3-D. Notice that they usually clean and perfect their images using Photoshop and 3D Studio Max. There are those who use Paint Shop Pro. Not a big fan of the latter, but hey, it works for some, so who am I throw stones? *g* Oh, and add Bryce to the mix.

Now, let me be very clear about the use of these programs. It's NOT easy to create an image on Poser or Daz 3D that looks "real." I know. I've worked with both. My images still look like plastic dolls. *rofl* I need to download some of the skin textures and stuff like that. And of course, I need more time to get acquiented with the software. But alas, the latter is almost impossible since I have a full-time job with a screwed-up schedule. *sighs* Anyway, my point here is if any of you think you can sit and pop one in a couple of hours, well, unless you're an super expert using the program, it might take you days. Richard, one of my fave graphic artists and friend, has worked for weeks on an image just to get it to look real. The last one he sent me took him 10 weeks to finish. At first I thought it was a photograph, so when he told me that it wasn't, I was like "Do I look like I have the word stupid tattoed on my forehead?" To make this short, it took me hours to finally realize it wasn't a photograph.

Yet, it's true that I've seen many graphic artists who aren't too expert using Poser or DAZ 3D to create terribly looking book covers. And I know I'm not the only who agrees with this. Personally, I find that a very unbecoming behavior of the graphic artist. Second, such graphic artists undermine their credibility within their craft. And ultimately, such acts hurt the sales, which leads to hurting both the author (who won't get as much in royalties) and the publisher. Any graphic artists knows I'm not bashing anyone for saying this. It's the same with editors who do a lousy job editing a story and out it goes, mistakes and all. That's irresponsible behavior.

Now getting back to the topic. As you all can see, I do know my way around book covers. I may not be at the same level and the caliber of the graphic artists mentioned above; however, I hate to speak in ignorance so I always try to learn things and be expose to things before I open my mouth. As I said before, I never meant to bash anyone's graphic work. If it sounded like I did, then please kindly re-read the post. Take notice that I asked fellow writers 1) how they felt if they found out the photo of their book was shared by 3 - 5 more books, 2) if they felt this could affect their sales or not and why, and 3) how they could try to avoid this problem if possible. If these questions sound like bashing someone's artwork, please feel free to email me and let me know. The truth is I hate to be misunderstood, or have my intentions misinterpreted. *g*

To the authors and publishers: If I asked these questions and posted pics of the books covers (especially the one with the fireman), it wasn't done out of lack of professionalism. I feel that as writers we need to know how best to deal with problems that might affect the sales of our books, which not only affect us as writers but to the publishing companies too. So maybe next time an epublished author writes a story involving a fireman, instead of asking for one on the cover, knowing well there aren't many sexy half-naked fireman pics around, he/she will talk to their graphic artists, who are true experts on creating book covers, about other possible options.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What's in a name? Book titles...

While I was discussing book covers, erotic romance writer Celia Stuart posted about how books covers like book titles can't be copyrighted and that's why there are so many titles that are similar. So that got me thinking about the book titles. And being a little paranoid, last night I found myself researching my working titles on B&N and Amazon.com. Luckily most of them aren't taken.

I admit I strive to come up with a title that's not exactly totally unique, but somehow pertains to the story. For me, the title has to somehow reflect something on the story - be that the theme, the mood, the setting, the characters, etc. Yet I've never considered the importance of the uniqueness of a title of a book, and how that can affect sales before. I mean, as a reader, I can see where I can be confused when there are two or more books written by different authors sharing the same title.

So my question to you, writers, is, do you think about the uniqueness of your book title when naming a book? Do you research it before you decide on it? Or you just simply like a title and go with it?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Is it me, or is it hot in here?

Remember when I posted about book covers sharing the same pics? Besides Ablaze published by Ellora's Cave and Five Alarm Neighbor published by Cobblestone Press, two more book have appeared with the same fireman on their covers. One was sent by fellow romance diva and writer, Kristen Painter, Blonde Bomb Tech published by Siren Publishing, and the last one, One Foor Forward, is published by Linden Bay Romance

Yikes! This fireman sure gets around! *Can you hear the Beach Boys singing "I Get Around" in the background?*

Friday, April 14, 2006

Romance male models

Yesterday instead of writing (the Muses weren't in the mood to cooperate), I decided to spend my time undusting some of my romance novels so I could move them to the new house. As I picked each book and cleaned the dusk out of their covers, I started thinking about book covers (yes, again!).

Remember back in the 90s when your panties would just simply melt at the sight of Fabio's half naked body gracing the latest cover of your favorite romance novel? Or how you could drown in the intense gaze of Rob Ashton's feline eyes staring at you on that book cover? And all it took was one look at John DeSalvo or Steve Sandalis (Mr. Topaz) in those striking poses to make you fantasize it was you in their arms and make you forget that your kids were running around the house screaming and dinner was burning on the stove.

C'mon girls, let's be honest. Many of us bought those romance novels because we were big fans of one those super romance male models. Oh, don't give me that look. You know, the one that says you don't know what I'm talking about 'coz it is so not working, ok? I'll bet you still remember the name of all 3 Bartling Brothers. (Three tall, muscular, blonde brothers... hmm... now that's one sexual fantasy I like to call "The Blond Ambition" *winks and grins evilly*)

Now let's snap out of our little sensual fantasies, and let's back to the subject. Yes, the super romance male models. That's what we had back then. Fabio got the ball rolling, and from then on, each publishing company used to have their own exclusive male model to grace their book covers over and over and over again. And we begged for more. Why? Because sex sells... Yeah, but we knew that. And we didn't care.

So I'm going to be honest with you. I miss those days. I miss the days when I knew the name of the hunk-alicious man in the book cover. I miss the excitement of buying the next book because Cherif Fortin was in it. Or eagerly await the release of a novel because Joe Anselmo was posing for its cover. Instead now I find myself staring at the face (or body) of a nameless guy from a stock photo - or worst yet, a created one using Poser or DAZ and that looks like rubber/plastic.

Gosh, I sound like a sick puppy here, uh? *lol* But, am I the only one who feels this way? Do you miss the romance male models? Or do you enjoy these modern covers with faceless male models or totally rubbery ones?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Same photo, different book

Since I last talked about book covers and the power they hold to bring buyers, I'd like to keep the book thread in this post. However, now let me talk about something that has bothered me for sometime - the use of free stock photos on book covers.

For those of you who don't know what this is, stock photos are available for the consumer. This doesn't mean the photos are free for grabs. You have to pay a small fee to use them. Okay, so the fee isn't that small. *lol* Still they are cheap if you compare them with exclusive photos which can cost a few thousands. And here's the catch. Stock photos are not exclusive. Even if you pay to use them, others will pay to use the same pic you do.

Okay, so now you see where I'm going with this, right?

Many epublishers are using these stock photos to create book covers. And when that happens, you'll find more than one book cover with exactly the same photo. Check out these. On the left is the cover of Ablaze published by Ellora's Cave, and the one in the right is Five Alarm Neighbor published by Cobblestone Press.

Now erotic romance writer Jordan Summers brought up the similarities between Angela Knight's Master of the Night and Susan Sizemore's Master of Darkness book covers. So I went to check them out...and it's true! Both have the same male model!

Is this an author's worst nightmare or what? The first two are released about the same date too. I don't know about you all, but this whole thing about the book cover sharing the same photo totally freaks me out. It's too whacked. Maybe I'm being silly.

But as a customer, seeing something like what I'm showing above would be confusing, you know. I'd see one book, then maybe later on another with basically the same cover, and maybe I'd not buy the second one because I'd think I already have it.

So my questions are: As a writer, have you thought about the originality of your book cover and how that might impact sales? Is it important that the artwork in your books stands out? Will it bother you to know that another book has the exact same photo?

Inquiring minds want to know... *g*

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Let's talk about men, girls

"Never judge a book by its cover."

Okay, it's not really about men itself. It's more about book covers. We've heard the above saying tonz of times, right? C'mon, let's be honest. We do judge books by their covers. I know I do. I'm a sucker for a good cover. *lol* I just came from Borders. I bought Kinley MacGregor's Sword of Darkness. But I couldn't help myself. Just look at that cover! Wouldn't you wish to have that man looking at you that way? Oh, I know I'd give ANYTHING to have a handsome man like that one giving such a hot look. *purrs* Admit it. We (mentally) swoon and drool when we see those wonderfully hot male models in the covers. They're the stuff our fantasies are made off.

Of course, you all know my pet peeves when it comes to book covers. Badly done ones, like the ones using Poser. If the figures don't look real, I won't buy it. Period. And you all know how I hate it when covers despict the hero and the heroine all wrong. Excuse me? The story says she has red hair, and the model in the cover is blonde. Hello? Red? Yellow? Duh? But let's not talk about that now, ok?

If as readers we're affected by the covers, as writers we know that good covers move books. Let's face it, covers make a world of difference. A good book cover means cash in$$$

So my question to you all is this: When the graphic artist of your publisher contacts you to work on the book cover of your story, how do you decide what you want to see in it?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Keep on truckin'

Last night I tried to snap out of the writing funk I've been in since I finished editing the vamp story. Yeah, too much editing can get in a slump, you know.

First, at Romance Divas, Faith posted about Freya’s Bower seeking writers to write what she calls "Bites," short stories. So I opened the file for the short steamy story I wrote for the January contest. I'm planning on sending it to her. If she likes it, I'll propose to expand it a bit. WAIT! Don't hit me with the pillows yet! I said, just a bit. Add more of the 5 senses description thingy to it.

Then I opened the file and read what I'd written so far on my story for DDD. But I just couldn't get in the mood. So I tried putting music in the background. You know, something sexy, like Britney Spear's Slave for Your Love or Christina Aguilera's Dirrty. Didn't work. I even put some Aretha Franklin. No dice. Well, I put the story aside and logged on the net instead. It'd been a long time since I've downloaded music that installed the software again. And off I went to download all these disco songs from the 70s. Don't ask me why I did it. But while I was tapping my foot at the beat of Turn the Beat Around and Sylvester's You Make Me Feel, I began to see tendrils of ideas slowly slipping into my head. I think I've got my groove back.

To quit...or not to quit

Some time ago through Angelle Trieste's blog, I checked Jack Konrath's blog out, where he listed 20 reasons to quit writing. He went as far to say, "If you see yourself on here, it may be time to try your hand at something else." So I skimmed through the list, and these are the ones that described me:

1. You've been doing this for more than five years, and haven't sold anything. (Okay, I've been doing it for only 2 1/2 years. So I've got 2 1/2 years more to go.)

3. Writing causes you pain. (Well, this last re-write was excruciatingly painful. I'd rather have a tooth pull out with anethestic.)

5. You're great at starting stories, but never finish them. (This so describes me!!!)

6. You want to be a writer, but spend all your time going to classes and researching, but never get any writing done. (Oh, oh! This is so me!)

The way I see is if I keep this up for the next 2 1/2 years, I'm elegible to quit writing. *lol*

Monday, April 03, 2006

Here I am baby...

...signed, sealed, delievered... *plays Stevie Wonder in the background*

That's how my vampire story is. Four minutes ago I clicked on the "Send" button, and now the vamp story is sitting in Cobblestone Press inbox awaiting to be judged.

Now that is done, I'm ready to get back to my werepanther story. What do you mean what werepanther story? You know, the one I still have to write for the DDD anthology? Cassandra already finished hers for the anthology, and Vivienne still starting hers. I'm smack right in the middle of mine. I have 10K out of 20K. Most of it raw sex scenes. I need to get some plot going. *lol*

Are you all ready for a new round of whinning and bitching? *evil grin*

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday's test

What type of Fae are you?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Happy April's Fool!

It's a new month and what a way to start. The new moon is out. And to see how this month will go, I dropped by the Astrology for Writers, Editors and Filmmakers website to see what this month has in store for me.
Cancer: Venus will move into Pisces, giving you new offers of all types. If someone wants to team up, make sure their credentials are deeper than just passion for the work. You need experienced people around you, and uncredentialed coat-tailers are a drag ...no pun intended.
Wow! So I'll have offers, eh? So last month wasn't good for contracts, but this one is. I guess it was a good thing I held out and didn't send my vampire story to Cobblestone Press last month then. *chuckles* As for the latter, I don't know if someone will offer to team up with me. I've already teamed up with Vivienne and Cassandra for the DDD anthology, and both have excellent credentials as writers. In any case it's me the one lacking writing creditials. *lol*

Due to the festivity of the day, I have a treat for you, but it's just for today. I've been working hard on something, and I'll allow you a peek. This will last for a few hours only. If you don't click fast, you'll get a trick. Follow the Fool and see where it takes you...