Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Dedication/Acknowledgement page at the front of a book is a meaningful way to recognize those who have played a part in the creative process. Due to its importance, I then must stress about it!

I’d like to thank the Academy, all the regular people, my sixth grade teacher, the Creator, my soul mate, whoever invented the internet… When I write the dedication for a book, the last thing I want to sound like is an award recipient who needs to be cut off by the musical ‘hook’ due to nonsensical rambling!!

There’s also the issue of being repetitive – I have a relatively small circle of friends and family. My hubby is more than content with the number of shout outs he’s received. Certain people have actually turned down the opportunity to be a dedicatee!?!! One of my books has no dedication due to the fact that writing it was delaying the project, and I’ve even dedicated one to myself!

I kind of like the ones with code; initials, abbreviations, inside jokes or references nobody understands, but I can’t do that too often or readers will just think I’m crazy.

For my daughter, who suggested I blog about writing dedications.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Season of Shifting Gears

If you’re like me you’re probably working double time these days in all areas of your life and perhaps not seeing the results you expected. Is that happening to you? It’s certainly happening to me. I’ve fallen into the valley of diminishing returns and now must build a staircase and climb out.

This week I forced myself to look at my day-to-day and even hour-to-hour habits to see where I can plug a few energy leaks.

Exhibit A: I eat sensibly and work out often, yet yesterday a friend whom I’ve not seen at the gym in two years leaned close and whispered, “are you pregnant again?” This guy is a good observer with the keen eyes of an ex-cop and yet he did the stupid thing, he asked a woman if she was pregnant… I had to admit something painful. Two years ago I was pregnant, the baby made it almost five months but I lost it. I’m an older mom and I know that was my last baby. The same weekend I was miscarrying, my mother-in-law, whom I loved dearly, called to say she was terminally ill (she died five-weeks later). I was on autopilot after that for many months.

For some reason the weight I gained just won’t leave because I’m hanging on to it. It really didn’t bother me, in fact it was a comfort but I clearly saw through my friend’s eyes that I needed to let the emotional weight go regardless of what happens to my real weight. I had my revenge. I dragged my friend into his first yoga class and was gratified to see him sweating so hard his hair stuck to his scalp. That will teach him to ask a chubby woman if she’s pregnant…

Exhibit B: There’s a harsh irony in this next point. This week at my husband’s request and for the first time, I actually logged the hours I spent reading and answering emails on the loops, writing blogs or visiting other blogs and commenting. Guess what? I logged 15+ hours, and last week was a “light” week. I often spend more time on this stuff. 15 hours is a part time job. I realized that at the slow rate I work those 15 hours would be better-spent writing or giving a few quality hours back to my family.

Exhibit C: Last Thursday I attended a special Autumnal Equinox yoga class that began with a breathing mediation on our inner fire and mentally stoking that fire to a roaring blaze. The instructor then asked us to toss anything into the fire that we couldn’t bear to carry any longer. What followed was a killer-hard extremely physical class that left everyone drenched with sweat and a few people in (cathartic) tears. Holding a few of the more difficult poses with my limbs trembling, the instructor would walk past and say, “If I asked you to stay in this position all day what would you give up?”

It was a great question to ask. What was weighing me down? The first thing that popped into my head was “Emotional scar tissue”. I had to let it go. The second thing was “Unrealistic expectations”. Believe it or not that one was more difficult to let go because unrealistic expectations are so strongly connected to hopes, fantasies and goals, which are all wonderful things except for the “unrealistic” part…  Surprisingly, real responsibilities felt featherlight because I knew they were necessary. It was only the unnecessary burdens that caused drag.

This week has left me with a new manifesto to stop wasting my limited energy and time and find ways to reclaim a little progress in my life and push forward. These are challenging times and it’s a safe bet they aren’t close to being finished with us. I can sense another big wave of adjustments on the near horizon.

In this season of harvest, unburdening and shifting gears, I dare you to be honest and comment about a draining or unnecessary thing you are willing to let go of.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting It Done!!

As you read this today, I am sequestered in my writer's cave, ignoring family, friends and the outside world in general - deep, deep, (did I mention deep?) in edits for Emily's Destiny! I'm beyond thrilled at the recent news that it will release November 30th!!

I've had the priveledge of working with a number of editors during my career. I count on and appreciate their input and expertise, and have learned a great deal from each and every one of them.

When I turned in Emily's Destiny, I, of course, loved it, but knew deep down it still needed that ever-elusive 'something' to take it to the next level. (So did my beloved critque partner, and I appreciate her not getting annoyed with me for having an itchy 'send' finger.)

Luckily, once again, I find myself working with an editor willing to take the time to teach, mentor, and encourage me to be a better author.

Edits are rarely easy, and I always set near impossible completion deadlines -this time I allowed myself only one week, tomorrow is D-day - but I am seriously inspired/excited/dedicated to giving Emily the destiny she deserves!

Enjoy a fantastic weekend, everyone!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Autumnal Equinox and International World Peace Day

Friday September 23rd marks the actual autumnal equinox and official first day of fall but it’s cool and foggy today, and I’m used to celebrating the autumnal equinox on the 21st of the September, so that’s what I’m going to blog about.

Autumn is my favorite season. I live in an agricultural county our neighborhood is surrounded by orchards and farms. Autumn means a break in the heat, sprawling pumpkin patches, overflowing farmers’ markets and a lot of visual beauty.

It also signals the time to start slowing down and getting readjusted to the coming time change and darker days. I use autumn as a time to draw my energy inward and take stock of the year’s unfinished business. This is the time I plan ahead always with the hope of finishing the year on a high note.

I’m celebrating today by hanging a double string of orange Halloween lights on my fireplace mantle and adding a few small pumpkins and candles. Tonight, I’ll make a pot of turkey vegetable stew that has nine different kinds of veggies from the local farmers in our area. I love seeing the vibrate colors together in the soup pot. Hopefully we’ll have our first fire in the fireplace in many months.

In my mind the equinoxes are always special but the autumnal equinox is my favorite because it signals a time to set fresh goals and plant a new harvest of the creative kind that can be worked toward during the winter months. It’s also time to change my work schedule, enjoy the little things fall has to offer and just be grateful for what I have.

By the way today is International Peace Day. I know it sounds cliché but peace begins within. Take a moment today to celebrate something wonderful you’ve accomplished or something special that makes you—you, and take that confident, beautiful feeling into the world and let everyone you meet today catch a draft of that sweetness. Let’s love ourselves and be a little bit kinder to each other.

Do you celebrate the autumn equinox, or have something you enjoy about the changing seasons?


Amber's Goings On

I’ve wanted to share writing related blogs with everyone, but I can’t seem to stream sentences together these days. I am in edits for my book I Wanna Sext U Up. No release date yet, but that’s because my editor isn’t sure how long it will take me to get them done. :o)
I really like this book. It’s about Do-It-Yourself reality show. Beckett and Riley will makeover a kitchen and he’ll help her makeover her stale sex life!
I have been thinking about writing – A LOT. One of my publishers had a call out for stories on Coming Out. There’s an idea brewing in my head. Another publisher has a call out for Legal Briefs. Both stories will be M/M. I haven’t written a M/M in ages, but having ideas is a GREAT thing for me. Maybe, just maybe once the edits are done I’ll start a new book. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Happy Tuesday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ack! Bam! Crash! Another Friday!

So, coming very soon, Is It Spicy?

No, not romance, but a great title for erotica, don't you think? It's a fun short story.

More as soon as I have the time, which is also in 'short' supply right now.

I'm getting better and finding and using covers from internet freebies - remember ladies, it takes time to find exactly what you want and you might have to do some cutting. Definitely a learning process but well worth the effort.

Have a wonderful weekend! Julia

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Love A Challenge, I Think!

Are you a plotter or panster? Do you get up with the roosters or stay up with the vampires? Does music put you in the mood, a TV show or movie, or do you require complete silence? Which comes first, your characters or their story? An author’s creative process is as unique as the stories they craft.

When asked about my writing process, ‘linear’ is always my first response. I cannot skip around in a story. If I get stuck on something, I ponder, walk away, stare at the sentence I wrote two hours before, re-read all preceding text, watch the fish in the tank next to my desk, start a new file, and in extreme cases, go do some dreaded house chore. It is not uncommon for a WIP to remain stalled for days, or sadly more, until I figure out whatever I need to figure out.

After thoroughly enjoying challenging myself to write Matt’s Return, and Emily’s Destiny, both short, short stories, last week I started feeling the urge to write something a bit longer. I re-visited a couple of stalled WIP’s, but nothing piqued my interest.

Then, as is definitely a giant part of my creative process, I had a dream, and knew what I was writing next! – the prequel to Sensations (releasing November 9th from Resplendence)! I awoke excited and energized to write Carol and Colin’s story. I’d already given a glimpse into the characters, their whirlwind courtship, and hinted at a potential Dom/sub thing going on; hallelujah, bring on my next book!! The first three pages flowed effortlessly.

You all know where this is going, right??? ‘Pre’, i.e. ‘before’, oh crapsticks!!!

I’ve now re-read Chapter One of Sensations ad-nausea. Why did I have Carol describe her and Colin’s first meeting with such an interesting combination of detail and mystery? Okay, she’s “free-spirited”, but why is he “exactly” the type of man she needs? Why did I state more than once that their courtship happened over exactly six weeks, and why in the hell didn’t Carol call her out-of-town best friend during this whirlwind courtship?? What exactly did Colin “whip out” that first night?? I meant it to be double entendre goodness, but now….

Apparently, another challenge looms!!!!!!

Oh, by the way, on Monday, September 19th, I have an interview posting at

Please stop by!!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rest In Peace Andy Whitfield

Today’s blog is brief. I’d like to formally take the opportunity to say good-bye to Andy Whitfield who died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma last Sunday at the age of 39.

For a couple of years I’ve had a picture pinned up in my studio of Andy Whitfield in his “Spartacus Blood and Sand” leathers. I think he was gorgeous. My son who was nine when I put the picture up, and was far too young to be watching the graphically violent show on Starz network, looked at the photo and said, “That man has beautiful eyes. He looks kind.”

 I thought that was a funny way to describe Spartacus but Andy Whitfield did have kind, beautiful eyes and maybe that’s why he made such a good Spartacus. He came across as a highly capable but reluctant killer.

I’m saddened because constant reports were shared in the media, even as recently as late July’s Comic Con in San Diego that Andy was doing better. Obviously that wasn’t true and it’s our loss.

Lucy Lawless (Xena Warrior Princess and Spartacus Blood and Sand co-star) is quoted as saying:

"Obviously, Andy Whitfield left an indelible mark on all of us in the 'Spartacus' family. He was a gentle man who never said a bad word about anyone, a gifted photographer, engineer (no really!) and a brilliant actor. Andy's incandescent film presence made men want to be him and women want to marry him. Andy's two babies will always know that their Daddy cherished them and their mother, Vashti, above all things. How lucky we were to have him grace all our lives. Godspeed, Andy!"

Well said Ms. Lawless.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Fawning all over the place

No more than a day old!
I try to tend my garden. Herbs. A few roses. One day awhile ago, here in parched Texas, I went out in the noonday sun to pick a few herbs for salad for dinner. I nearly stepped on one of these! He was nestled up against one of the rocks with which we surround our herb and flower garden and then fence it off. Mama must have thought this a safe place to leave Baby. Fine. Great idea, Mom. Except that you should have told me!
Since our buddy Prince passed away the day after Easter, we have been visited more and more by Mama Deer, her Baby/ies and Brother, Sister, et al.
Here are 2 of the better shots I was able to get!
Cuddled up to the herb garden
Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Never Forget

I forget a lot of things; names, what I was looking for when I walk into a room, a funny anecdote during a conversation, putting gas in my car that has a broken gas gage! Dates, on the other hand, stick in my mind like glue; birth, death, anniversary, appointments, deadlines, and events -past, present and upcoming.

The morning of September 11, 2001, I was at my desk at work, talking to my Mom on the phone. Mom was excited that her best friend was on her way over for coffee and a nice long visit, I was worrying about my daughter's afternoon orthodontist appointment because we were finding out how much longer she had to wear an expansion bridge. A co-worker came running into the office, saying we had to turn on a radio, and get the TV from the lounge. I told Mom I'd call her back.

The numerous new programs, and re-playings of those made right after the tragedy, are both difficult to watch, and impossible for me to turn away from. Everything changed that day.

We as a nation, as a global community, as humans, must remember.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Barnes and not so Noble...

The Borders bookstore in our county is gone and we have to deal with that reality, but now something has gone awry with the marketing department at Barnes and Noble…

In the middle of last month, during what I think of as the dog days of August, the peak of summer reading, when we all want to collapse in a cool corner with a good book, our local Barnes and Noble bookstore decided to completely gut their romance department.

Barnes and Noble did a lot of other uncalled for things in their store that bode ill for future business, but I’ll stick to the romance section because it hits close to home.

First of all, I couldn’t find it. The romance section had been moved into a dark corner at the every end of a large, two-story store with escalators running up and down the middle of it. Not only was the romance section sparsely stocked—it was less than half its previous size. Many popular publishers, including the one I write for were conspicuously missing. Not a single title from their press was represented on the shelves. Management told me many popular imprints were not being stocked. What’s going on?

I thought romance accounted for a huge percentage of book sales? Has this changed? Not only had the romance section been greatly diminished it was being hobbled as well. Many of the books were stacked on shelves five and six layers high. I could barely see the full titles of books on the top shelf and reaching up to them was out of the question. I’m a tiny person. My fingertips could tap the top shelf, but I couldn’t reach the books. In general the female population is smaller than the males but guess what? No ladder in this section—none.

There was an anchored ladder in the men’s sport section. It was thoughtfully placed there so naturally tall guys could safely reach the books they wanted… What’s up with that? Do they expect the women to climb the shelves like lemurs?

I politely brought this problem to management’s attention and they said it was a Barnes and Noble “corporate decision” to place the smallest paperback novels up very, very high where only basketball players could reach them. One manager promised to place a ladder in the romance section. I went back a week later, no surprises—no ladder.  That day I saw a woman in high heels trying to bat a romance novel off the top shelf with the sleeve of her sweater. She was very motivated, hopping up and down and in danger of twisting an ankle, but at least she was trying to get a book. I don’t know if she got the book she wanted or if she simply settled for the first book she knocked off the shelf…

The treatment Barnes and Noble has shown its female customers is thoughtless to say the least, and bad business on top of it all. I’m almost inclined to believe Barnes and Noble wants their romance reading customers to go away. Placing product out of reach is a crumby and insulting business model. It’s a ridiculous and extremely alienating “corporate decision” to inflict on customers. Especially us vertically challenged gals who have to go searching for tall people in the store willing to hand us our “My Secret Blood Oath Sweet Savage Barbarian Rebel Prince Werewolf”. 

I don’t want a stranger reading that title aloud to me in the store and leering at the cover—I really don’t.

Shame on you Barnes and Noble, I left the store empty handed because I got tired of asking for assistance every time I wanted to glance at a book.

Did the Barnes and Noble bookstore near you monkey around with the romance section?


Jumping Ship

As you all know I’m taking a break from writing. In all reality I haven’t written since April or May, aside from 5k to finish a contracted book.
In addition to reading I’ve got a new addiction – the Investigation Discovery channel. I love this channel. I especially like the show Deadly Women. These women and their crimes fascinate me. What makes their brain tick? What makes them snap enough to take a life or in some cases multiple lives?
I also like to watch Aphrodite Jones. She writes about some intense killers.
So where am I going with all this? I’ve found the desire to write True Crime books. I really want to write about crazy women or men. I want to step out of my comfort zone and take on something totally new and challenging.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not some crazed person. I just find twisted people fascinating. I personally could never harm anyone and in all reality if I wanted to get away with murder I probably could have in my first marriage. ;)
Anyway I’m going to start researching and see if I can find some interesting subjects to write about.
I’ll keep you posted.

Oh and a special Happy Birthday to my oldest daughter, Brittany! Love ya honey.

Until Next Tuesday!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Biology? Plumbing? What's your sub-genre?

My Regency!
Regency, medieval, contemporary Texas!  Loving all these periods, I also write them! The challenge to change my voice has never been one.
While I attribute that to my undergrad and grad studies and my extensive world travels, I also attribute my ability to shift to my childhood when reading was an inexpensive way to pass my summertime. I was an only child, you see, and so I found great comfort in the offerings of my local library! But in addition and to my mother's dismay, I loved reading her nursing books. And to my father's confusion, I liked reading his plumber's journals.
Say what?
Yes. And to this day, I understand human biology and medical practices better than a lot of lay people. (I am also very healthy so thank god, I do not need to use much of what I know!) But as you might now gather, I understand all too readily what might be wrong with heating systems, cooling ones and regular water pipes. (Here in parched Texas, we have problems with the land so dry that the underground pipes shift, bend and crack. The water wells break down. The air in the system groans and moans. Okay, enuf, you say!)
     But now you know that Cerise not only understands physiology, biology and got great grades in Chemisty too, but she is a good plumber. 
None of that fine knowledge is in any of my books, but now that I mention it....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Am I Becoming a Cougar? Nah....

Coming Soon.....

I am noticing that younger men seem to be greatly attracted to older women who write erotic romance.  Is it because we aren't afraid to express our sexuality?  Do they think we are teasing them when we fail to blush at some outrageous innuendo?  Does writing hot romance suddenly place this large, blinking red sign across our forehead that reads "Here I am...drool over me!"?

Now, don't get me wrong.  I truly enjoy flirting with younger guys.  But when someone indicates they would like to take the flirt to a more personal level, I freeze frame!  Now, I am not normally considered "drool-worthy" by any means.  And at my age, I have issues about getting down and dirty with a man 20 years my junior.  But it sure is fun to flirt....

Maybe if I could drop 50 pounds...and get liposuction...and a face lift... and maybe a tummy tuck ( a BIG one!), I would feel less nervous about changing from a fun flirt to a "get-up-close-and-dirty-down" with some young hottie.  Of course, a man 20 years my junior is certainly not "young"...LOL!  But he is waaaay younger than me.

Does this conversation make me a Cougar?  Or does it simply make me a wishful-thinking, dirty-minded old fart?

Either way, it certainly adds spice to stories and I am going off to write again!

Fran Lee

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yikes! I am so busy!

Two new books up on Amazon and another coming soon.

Links: Liz and Me

My Everything

Thanks for your patience! Sorry, gotta run! Love to all, Julia

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On Sunday, I turned in my second 'Erotic Gem' short, short story, Emily's Destiny, to Resplendence Publishing! Emily is a very lucky woman - she has two alpha male mates dedicated to seeing to her every pleasure!!

Recently, my pleasure has been having some time to devote to reading. I've re-read some favorites, and discovered a couple of new to me authors!

I'm writing this on Wednesday night. Tomorrow, one of my dog children, Rex, is having surgery to remove a tumor. Over the years we have taken care of many animals in various stages of need, but each situation is unique, and I'm nervous. Best case scenerio is that he'll come home on Saturday with two drainage tubes and need to be completely limited in his activity. As always, our living room will be converted into the infirmary due to us being able to gate it off from the rest of the house. Hubby brought home pieces of foam that my daughter used to fill the 'comfy bed' she sewed for him since he won't be able to jump into our bed for a while. We've also had long, heartfelt talks with Maggie, our other dog, about the reasons why they will have to be kept separate for a while (I'm not sure she gets it!?!!).

Have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend~