Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I've Read in 2010

Since 2010 is coming to a close, and I don’t suspect I’ll be finished with the current book I’m reading by Friday, I’ve decided to list all the books I read (completed) in 2010. (This is taken from the list I keep updated on the right-hand column, but that will go away on January 1st to start a new list). Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you have any favorites.

I’m always looking out for the next Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau Vampire Series and Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series. I may get that way for Kerrelyn Sparks' Love at Stake Series, too (but so far, I’m reading the books my daughter owns, so I don’t have to wait for the next book for awhile). Another anticipated book next year is Brett Battles' "The Silenced", since my name is mentioned (I get killed!!).

I don’t know if I’ve ever read this many in a year before, since this is the first time I’ve ever tracked my reading habits. So for now, it’s a record. Maybe next year I’ll break the 50 mark.


1. Stephen King "Under the Dome"
2. Gerry Bartlett "Vampires Have Curves"
3. Laurell K. Hamilton "Danse Macabre"
4. Lynsay Sands "Love is Blind"
5. Lynsay Sands/Pamela Palmer/Jaime Rush "Bitten by Cupid"
6. Julie Kenner "Tainted"
7. Renee Vincent "Raeliksen"
8. Lynsay Sands "The Perfect Wife"
9. James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet "Sunday at Tiffany's"
10. Sharon Page "Blood Red"
11. Judi McCoy "Making Over Mr. Right"
12. Michelle Hauf "My Vampire Husband"
13. Charlaine Harris "A Touch of Dead"
14. Laurell K. Hamilton "The Harlequin"
15. Lynsay Sands "Born to Bite"
16. Charlaine Harris "Dead in the Family"
17. Barry Eisler "Fault Line"
18. Stephenie Meyer "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner"
19. Emily Bryan "Stroke of Genius"
20. Laurell K. Hamilton "Blood Noir"
21. Toni Blake "Reckless Summer"
22. Meg Gardiner "Liar's Lullaby"
23. Kerrelyn Sparks "How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire"
24. Brett Battles "The Deceived"
25. Kerrelyn Sparks "Vamps and the City"
26. Allison Brennan "The Hunt"
27. Kathleen Dante "Entangled"
28. Stephanie Tyler "Hard to Hold"
29. Kerrelyn Sparks "Be Still My Vampire Heart"
30. Laurell K. Hamilton "Skin Trade"
31. Suzanne Collins “Mockingjay”
32. Paty Jager "Doctor in Petticoats”
33. Allison Brennan "The Kill"
34. Kerrelyn Sparks "The Undead Next Door"
35. Robert Gregory Browne "Down Among the Dead Men"
36. Gia Dawn "Dunmore Rising"
37. Barbara Monajem "Sunrise in the Garden of Love and Evil"
38. Brett Battles "Shadow of Betrayal"
39. Stephen Jay Schwartz "Beat"
40. Leanna Renee Hieber "The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker"
41. Susan Lyons "Sex Drive"
42. Seth Grahame-Smith "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter"
43. Kate Douglas, Noelle Mack, & Vivi Anna "Sexy Beast"
44. Judi McCoy "Hounding the Pavement"
45. Dean Koontz "Breathless"
46. Julie Kenner "Torn"
47. Julie Kenner "Turned"
48. Kerrelyn Sparks "All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Goals Accomplished

Since September, I belonged to a Yahoo! Group called “100 Day Challenge.” It was to help me accomplish goals I set to have completed by the end of the year. One of those goals was to finish crocheting a tablecloth I promised my friend for Christmas LAST YEAR!

Well, thanks to that group, I was able to accomplish that goal (and most of the others I set). Sometimes it helps to tell other people your goals – it certainly motivated me to get them accomplished. Anyway, I wanted to post some pictures of that tablecloth, because I am pretty proud of how it turned out.

I would have posted these sooner, but it was a Christmas present for my dear friend, so I didn’t want to spoil the surprise (and I believe she was surprised when she opened it on Christmas day!).

The top photo is a full shot. I tried to get some of the detail on the bottom photo.

Eighty some rows, and many hours later (those last ten rows alone took about three hours each!) I finally finished it. Maybe if I had set this goal last year, she would have gotten the gift when promised. But better late than never, I guess. I'm glad to have finished this project and will probably NEVER crochet another tablecloth (and to think I wanted to make a larger one for myself - not anymore).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yummy Yummy

Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you love trying new ones?

I used to bake during the holidays. Until eating the results put on too much weight. Having a small family with different tastes usually backfired (or maybe it was my plan?) and I would end up eating most of the baked items.

Until I wrote my short story GLORIFIED BROWNIES, which you can read by clicking here, I hadn’t really baked anything in a long, long time. When I went in search of the recipe for this short story (I had to share a recipe with the group I read the story to), I couldn’t find it anywhere in my house. It was my grandmother’s recipe, so I contacted my sister and got lucky. She found the recipe and sent it my way.

I’d forgotten how addicting these brownies were. It was a good thing I took them to a party (although I had to sample them to make sure I wasn’t bringing crap, you know?) or else I might have eaten the whole batch!

So, if you like messy brownies, with lots of chocolate and marshmallows, you’ll love this recipe. My grandmother called it Glorified Brownies. I think it was her favorite recipe, too. But beware. This is a messy brownie. The frosting never really hardens (but it tastes great) and it’s a pain to cut (the marshmallows make it difficult). I can’t imagine what it would be like with nuts (I don’t like nuts in my brownies, so I’ve never made it that way), but I’m sure it will resemble rocky road.

If you decide to brave it out and make these, please let me know how it turns out for you!

Glorified Brownies

¾ cup flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick margarine less 1 inch (softened)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (optional)
½ pkg mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa & salt – set aside. Cream sugar, margarine, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture. Fold in nuts (optional).

Spread batter in greased 13 x 9.5” pan. Bake 18 minutes at 350 degrees. While hot, pour marshmallows on top and let melt. Cool completely.


1 stick margarine less 1 inch (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
4 Tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients until spreading consistency. Frost cooled brownies.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas is Coming and I'm not Ready

Oh. My. God. I think this is the same post from last year!

I'm starting to see a pattern here and I can’t believe how bad I’ve become. I didn’t have a vacation as an excuse this year. Nope, just plain ol’ procrastination.

The tree went up two weeks ago, but wasn’t decorated until this past weekend. The Christmas cards went out on Tuesday and the package for California went out yesterday. I did get most of my shopping finished on Black Friday (via internet – I was smart enough to stay away from the stores), but I still have to shop for my husband. And then there’s the stockings. They are always the last minute purchase for me!

So with snow on the ground, and air that belongs in a freezer, I’ll be braving the stores tomorrow and hopefully won’t come home until I’m finished.

I certainly hope you’re better off than I am. Maybe next year I'll plan better. Maybe next year I'll start sooner. Maybe. But I ain't holdin' my breath!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Short Christmas Story

Recently, I attended two writers group meetings/parties, where there was an assignment to write a short story. I took the two requirements and cheated - I wrote one. One that met both requirements.

Requirement #1: A short romance with a tasty recipe.
Requirement #2: A short story that can be read in 10 minutes or less, preferrably with a holiday theme.

The first reading took place on Dec 1 at Books and Company. I hate reading out loud and I was nervous, but I got it done.

The second reading took place on Dec 11 at a Christmas Party. Again, I read it out loud, but it was in a more intimate setting (not in a book store where just ANYONE could listen).

I didn't get any BAD comments (maybe they were being nice?). Anyway, I thought I would share the short story with you all. It's not meant to be anything but entertaining. I hope I do that.


The morning before Christmas, Lynn looked out the French doors and watched the snow fall softly to the ground. She loved the snow. How it made the world all quiet when it fell. If she weren’t holed up inside the house with a broken leg, she’d be out in it, reveling in the sereneness of it all.

She hobbled into the kitchen. Damn cast. If she couldn’t have her solitude outside, she might as well have it in the kitchen. The house was quiet – her parents at work and her brother off on some last minute shopping. No better time than to fix her grandmother’s favorite dessert, Glorified Brownies. She couldn’t find the recipe anywhere, but knew the basics: brownies, marshmallows, and frosting. She held the boxed mix and canned frosting and looked up toward heaven. “Hope you don’t mind I’m cheating, Grandma.” Inside her heart, Lynn was sure she didn’t.

She opened the bag containing the brownie mix and poured the contents into a bowl, causing chocolate dust to float in the air.

The front door opened and slammed shut. “Hey, Linnie. Whatcha makin’?”

No. Her quiet solitude just flew out the door. Of all the people who could come visit, why him? He strutted inside the room as if he owned the place. When he removed his coat, snow from the shoulders fell to the floor, but all she saw was his chest. Then he removed his knit cap, uncovering a blond shaggy mess that he quickly ran his fingers through. He was still handsome as ever and she had to snap herself out of the spell he always managed to put her under.

Coming to her senses, she used anger as a shield. He didn’t deserve to call her that endearment when she wasn’t any more than his friend’s sister. Well, two could play that game. “Michael isn’t here, Raphael.”

Michael and Rafe, as he preferred to be called, had been friends since grade school and she had secretly had a crush on him until he graduated high school and left her behind. It hurt that he never seemed to look her way and the only time she’d see him was during school break, but she eventually got over it. Going off to college could do that to a person.

He narrowed his baby blues at her and then smiled. “Ouch. I still wonder what my parents were smoking when they came up with that. But I get it. Lynn. You didn’t seem to mind me calling you Linnie when you were ten.”

“Well, in case you didn’t notice, I’m not ten anymore.”

She was right, she wasn’t ten anymore. And it wasn’t like he didn’t notice her, he did. He noticed her curves and the way her short brunette hair curled around her ears. And she had the warmest brown eyes he’d ever seen. But she was Mike’s baby sister, so he had treated her like one, too. It had been safer that way. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to be safe any longer.

Rafe ran a hand over his unshaven face. All of a sudden he felt like a slob, coming in here, flinging snow and apparently getting on her wrong side. She almost acted like she hated him. He hoped to God she didn’t.

He went into the kitchen to grab a paper towel when he saw her leg. Mike said something about her falling, but Rafe thought he was joking. “You broke your leg?”

She looked down at the subject of interest. “No, I just like to wear this because it keeps my leg warm.”

“Damn, girl. How come you’re not sitting down? You should have that thing propped up.”

Lynn raised one eyebrow and placed a hand on her hip, getting some of the chocolaty flour mixture on her jeans. “I’m not an invalid. Besides, I have things to do.”

Tempted to brush the mess away, he was afraid she’d take it the wrong way. “At least you can sit on a stool while you do that.”

He went around the counter to get one when he stepped on the melted snow. The next thing he knew, his feet went flying and his butt landed on the floor with a thud. Curses that would make his mother question his upbringing came forth with a vengeance.

“Oh my God, Rafe! Are you okay?” She peered over the counter, eyes wide, with a real look of concern on her face.

Well, maybe she didn’t hate him after all. He held on to the hope.

“I’m fine.” Nothing felt broken, except maybe his pride. Slowly he stood, avoiding the puddles and another fall. His butt was wet and throbbing just a bit, but he certainly wouldn’t admit that to her. Lynn held out some paper towels.

After he cleaned up the mess, he retrieved the stool as he intended and placed it in the kitchen, by the counter. “You can sit while you work, at least.”

“That’s stupid. I’ll only have to get up and down.”

“No you won’t. Consider me your helper.”

Her helper, huh? It reminded Lynn of when she helped her grandmother make the brownies. Maybe she didn’t have to be alone to remember.

Rafe was great. He never once complained fetching all the ingredients, even when it appeared he was in pain. Her heart had stopped a moment when she saw him go down; his head had nearly hit the countertop.

She spread the batter into the pan and handed it to him to put into the oven. After he set the timer, he came over and looked at the spatula. “Can I lick that?” he asked.

“Sure. All helpers get to.” She smiled, remembering Grandma told her the same thing.

After he scraped every last bit of batter from the bowl, he actually washed the dishes, not letting her move from the stool. When he was done, he brought another stool around and sat down next to her. They still had ten minutes until the timer went off.

He propped his elbows on the counter as he leaned back against it. “I’m surprised I didn’t find you outside in the snow when I got here. You usually can’t resist a good snow falling.”

“Well, the cast makes it a little hard. Don’t want to get my toes frostbitten,” she said, wiggling them for effect. “But how did you know?”

“What, you don’t think I see you? Is that it?”

That’s exactly what she thought, but before she could say anything, her brother barged in. The connection she was feeling with Rafe vanished when Michael offered to stay and help finish the brownies and maybe even sample some. So after she added the marshmallows and frosting, they sat around the counter and each had a piece, toasting Grandma in the process.

When Rafe announced he had an errand to run, Lynn’s heart sank a little. She thought maybe he was interested in her after all, but when her brother showed up, he resorted back to his old ways of avoiding her. Who was she kidding anyway? Their relationship would always be one way and she had to face the fact.

Later in the afternoon, while she was sitting in the family room watching a movie, Rafe returned carrying a large Christmas present. Her leg was propped up on the coffee table and she had a shawl over her exposed toes.

“Hey Linnie… I mean, Lynn.” He sat beside her on the couch and she noticed he had shaved. “Merry Christmas.”

He held out the package. It wasn’t wrapped very well, the paper bunched on the sides and the ribbon was loose, but she didn’t care. He seemed to have gone to a lot of trouble. She just couldn’t figure out why. “For me?”

He smiled and nodded. “Go ahead, open it.”

Like she used to do as a little girl, she broke the ribbon and ripped off the paper. Inside the box was a very large Santa Stocking. What was she supposed to do with this? “Umm, thanks?”

He chuckled as he removed the shawl and slid the stocking over her cast.

“You’re decorating me? Couldn’t you just sign the cast like a normal person?”

“Hold on, I’m not done,” he said, then pulled out a roll of saran wrap from the box and proceeded to wrap the sock. Standing up straight and proud, just like a peacock, he said, “Now you can go outside and enjoy the snow.”

Rafe did this for her? Tears formed in her eyes and her heart swelled. She didn’t know what to say.

He sat beside her and took her hand. “I had such fun with you today and realized I’ve been stupid not telling you how I feel. I like you. I want to be in your life. I want you to be my Linnie.”

She was sure she was dreaming until he leaned in close and kissed her. His lips were warm and tender and better than any dream she ever had. When he pulled away, she couldn’t resist. “You sure you don’t just want me for my brownies?”

A sly smile spread across his face and his eyes twinkled. “Well, they were good brownies.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Road Trip

Last Saturday we piled into the car and drove to Canton, Ohio. And it was snowing.

We were headed to see our Wayne Warriors play in the Division I State Football Championship Game.

“Don’t worry,” our friend said. “It’s not snowing in Canton. Once we get past Columbus, we’ll be in the clear.”

And he was correct. No snow from Columbus to Canton. But it was bitterly cold. When we arrived at the hotel, I noticed little flakes floating in the air.

“It’s snowing,” I said.

Everyone ignored me.

At 5:30, we climbed back into the car and headed for the stadium. Little white flakes were still floating around, but no one said anything. Our friend didn’t even show us the weather on his phone. I think I know why, too.

By the middle of the 1st quarter, it started snowing and didn’t let up. Sure, it was light, but it was steady. The ground started to get covered. We were getting covered.

It was bad enough to watch our Warriors lose with about two minutes left in the game. It was worse watching it through the snow.

Found out later (like the next morning) we were hit with “lake effect” snow. It was steady and light, but enough to coat the car in snow and ice. And it continued on through the night into the next morning. At least by the time we got home, it wasn’t falling from the sky, but the “storm” we left behind on Saturday dropped about an inch on the ground.

And it’s been soooo cold, it’s still there!

Did Mother Nature not notice it’s still Autumn? I’m afraid of what Winter will bring.

Very afraid.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pitching (But Not a Baseball)

Today, on the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Blog, there was an article about pitches by CJ Lyons. It was very informative and she offered to give some feedback if we wished to post our pitch. I was going to pitch THE UNCOMMON ONE, but I’ve been pitching that, and decided, instead, to pitch my 3rd book (since my 2nd book is a sequel and I don’t plan on pitching it).

Can’t tell you how surprised I was to realize I had a high-concept thing going that was unique – and I didn’t even realize it! Here’s the original pitch I entered for my paranormal romance tentatively titled MEMORIES:

After waking from a night he doesn’t remember, a high-ranking vampire is implicated in an unauthorized turning of a woman who resembles his late wife.

CJ liked the premise and made some suggestions (like the word amnesia – how that could have slipped my mind… oh well). Anyway, after a little tweaking, here’s what I came up with:

A 259 year-old vampire with amnesia is implicated in the unauthorized turning of a woman who resembles his late wife.

So, which do you like? Does it sound intriguing? Does it sound original? Wasn’t sure if I should leave high-ranking in there (some people were intrigued with a concept of rank and hierarchy in vampires, when really my vampire is a Committee Member – wasn’t sure how to phrase that so I went with high-ranking, since he is, in a way).

As you can see from the side panel, I’m not very far in the story, but I think I like having the pitch first. It’s making me focus on what the story really is about, which is important when you haven’t plotted out the whole book (I seem to be a mix between a plotter and a pantser).

Have to say, though, that her comments really inspired me. Now it’s back to editing SARAH’S TURN. Hope to have that finished by the weekend so I can get back to MEMORIES.