Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free Coffee!



No joke. I know...I sometimes throw a title up to grab your attention. But this one's true. Barnes and Noble have coupons on their website for a free coffee, tea, latte, espresso or cappuccino. AND a coupon for 15% off any one item in the store. Coupon expires 10/31/08.

So...save money, save brain cells, save a starving author. Go. Today. NOW!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Pop Quiz: Help Me Choose a Title

Lucky you! I'm still in Conference Glow Mode. So for today's Pop Quiz (and pretty much for all of November) help me choose the title for my upcoming release with Avalon Books. All month long I'll be posting snippets from the work (bear in mind: this is the way the manuscript reads prior to my editor's interference so the final product will change a bit!) Read along and help me decide, based on these excerpts, which title best fits my latest story!

Ready?

Here's today's snippet from Chapter One:


When Nicole Fleming squirmed, the flatulent sound of sweaty thighs unsticking from her leather chair resonated like a blaring trumpet. Inside the conference room for the law offices of Stern, Stern and Weitzman, two pairs of male eyes mirrored disgust. Oh, God, how embarrassing. Why hadn’t she worn pantyhose today?

Because encasing legs in nylon during Manhattan’s dog days of July better suited a game show challenge than a will reading. Between the hellish temperatures in subway tunnels and the swelter rising up from city asphalt street-side, an extra layer of clothing would have wilted her long before she reached the mausoleum lobby here.

Fresh heat rocketed up her cheeks, and she muttered a low, “Sorry,” to the staring gentlemen. Silently praying they didn’t think she’d eaten a dozen burritos for lunch, she focused on the wall of leather-bound books to her right. Their red and green spines, embossed with gold lettering, were at least two inches thick. Had the attorney really read all those books? Who had that much free time? Not her. She barely finished one month’s Cosmo before the next issue landed in her mailbox.

At the head of the long mahogany table, Andrew Stern, Esquire, cleared his throat and shuffled the papers atop a manila folder. “If I may continue…?”

Nodding, Nicole straightened. The man seated across from her stared with the intensity of a buzzard on a dying gazelle. Who was this guy? And why were there just the two of them in this room with the attorney? Papa Joe had dozens of friends, and, if memory served, a daughter with a family of her own. So how come she was stuck with Mr. Monogrammed Shirtsleeves and the unblinking vulture of doom? Where were the truly grieving? Those who’d loved Papa Joe the way she had?

“There are, of course,” Mr. Stern said, gaze focused on the sheaf of papers, “a few charitable donations and family obligations. But the bulk of Mr. Corbet’s estate will fall to the two of you, depending upon your adherence with his final wishes.”

Some estate. As far as she knew, Papa Joe’s only worldly possession was a mangled mass of chrome, once a primo 1980 Harley Davidson Roadster. At least, until a tractor trailer made an illegal U-turn, destroying both ride and rider. Tears pricked her eyelids. Never again would she hear his folksy voice, spouting the wisdom of the ages. His chipped-front-tooth smile would never flash in welcome. She’d never again smell his unique odor of motor oil and Old Spice in her kitchen.

“Exactly how much money are we talking about?” the vulture asked.

His callousness transformed Nicole’s grief to smoldering anger. “Wow.” She forced a light air far from the turmoil churning her gut. “Did you leave your membership card at the door?”

Dark eyes flashed like the silver wrapper on a semi-sweet chocolate bar. “What membership card?”

“The one that verifies you’re human.” When he continued to stare blankly, she added, “You know. A guy with a working heart.”

With the speed of a snapped cable, his jaw dropped. Good. In the few minutes she’d spent with him here, she’d picked up his vibe. Few people dared challenge him.

Correction. Few women dared challenge him. No wonder, really. Whoever he was, this man had the sultry look of palm trees in sunset, drinks with teeny umbrellas, and warm Caribbean water kissing bare flesh. Under normal circumstances, she might have found the whole Fantasy Island package a turn-on. But Papa Joe’s sudden death had encased her in dry ice.

Eyes narrowing to cobra slits, the man whirled to the attorney at the head of the table. “Who is this woman?”

Mr. Stern blinked several times. Finally, he cocked his head. “Mr. LaPalma, this is Ms. Fleming. Nicole Fleming. Your grandfather’s stepdaughter.”

As if swerving to avoid an oncoming truck, Mr. LaPalma suddenly rolled back his chair. “She’s the succubus’s daughter?”

Fine hairs danced on Nicole’s nape. “Could you control the urge to talk about me like I’m the senile auntie in the corner? If you want to know about me, Mr. LaPalma, why not ask me?”

A smile, filled with the same snake-like malice as his eyes, bloomed over his face. “Yup. You’re the succubus’s daughter, all right.”

Any response she made now would only cause delight. So she ignored him. Not because of some perceived insult at his calling her mother a succubus. After all, Papa Joe had assigned that particular term of endearment to his ex-wife years ago.

No. Having this stranger draw a link between her and Ice Princess Rhoda stung. Okay, so maybe she should have expected a rude retort after her crack about him not being human. But his barb had struck extra-tender flesh. Hands folded in her lap, she settled her gaze on Mr. Stern’s disapproving frown.

“I’d advise you two to put aside whatever petty differences you harbor,” the attorney said. “Your tasks will be inordinately easier if you get along.”

“T-tasks? What tasks?” The E train barreled through her veins, sparking jitters in her blood.

With an exaggerated sigh, Mr. Stern removed his wire-rimmed glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Perhaps we should move on to the video.” He flipped a button on a control panel on the wall.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

Wow! What a crazy three days! First of all, let me say The New Jersey Romance Writers Rock! If you ever get the opportunity to attend their Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, go. These ladies really know how to host a fun, informative, exciting event. (And on the heels of their announcement regarding next year's keynote speaker, you can bet I'll be back in October 2009!)






I adored Lisa Scottoline's books before this weekend. I've even turned on a few friends to Ms. Scottoline's unique brand of humor, suspense, and legal thrills. But now, I love the lady behind those books. Maybe if Bertrice Small won't adopt me, Lisa will? Savvy, funny, and down to earth, Ms. Scottoline wowed the attendees with her keynote speech and then filled the amphitheater to SRO for her workshop on How to Write a Novel.



There were plenty of networking opportunities and aha! moments. My traveling companions and I made the most of our time. We did some brainstorming on our current WIPs. We pitched our stories--even when we weren't prepared to do so (and got some encouraging news from said pitches!) and even came up with a title for my upcoming release for Avalon Books. In fact, if you look to the left margin, you'll see a poll I've created. There are three titles in competition for my story. Pick one and vote. Or...hang in there for a day or two. I'll add the "unedited" opening of this new story to the blog (as soon as the Day Job's demands allow) and then you can help me choose the perfect title for this soon-to-be masterpiece!

And yes...I found the Romance TV crew shining a light in my face and thrusting a microphone at my mouth. Of course, I was in Full Conference Enthusiasm Mode at the time so I came across as Romance's Biggest Geek. But I wear the banner proudly. Cringe if you will, but I love this biz and its people. No one else has to make a fool of themselves for romance: I've taken care of that position for the next ten years.

The best thing about attending a conference, whether it's local or National, is the excitement you leave with. All the ride home, Debora, Candy, and I discussed what we'd learned and how we couldn't wait to tackle our own WIPs once again.

Also thanks to the ladies of Passionate Critters for giving me some of the best laughs of the weekend. (Everybody likes us, right? ... Don't they?)


Friday, October 24, 2008

Greetings from New Jersey

Yes, we made it safe and sound. And we survived our first day of workshops.
What did I learn so far? Soft contemporaries are on the rise! Yay! Blanc de noir is a really nice pink champagne. And my roommate sleepwalks when she's had too much chocolate before bed. I've reconnected with a lot of writer friends and made some new friends in the lobby and during the cocktail hour reception.
Tomorrow I'll be involved with editor/agent appointments, the keynote lunch with Lisa Scottoline, and the literacy booksigning. More (with photos) later!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Jersey Bound

I'm on my way to The Garden State for the Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. Pals Debora and Candy will be my trusty co-pilots. Rumor has it Deb has packed Godiva liqueur in her suitcase. Well, that takes care of two of the four basic food groups: chocolate and booze. They'll also be helping brainstorm a new title for my upcoming release with Avalon Books. Since I'm bringing the trusty laptop with me for this event, stay tuned for additional info on all the fun and facts of this outstanding Conference!

Monday, October 20, 2008

SOLD!



I got The Call from Faith Black at Avalon Books today. She's buying another of my manuscripts for her Summer 2009 lineup. I'll have to change my title, which is currently Two For the Money, so inspire me!

TFTM is the story of Nicole Fleming and Dante LaPalma: two people with nothing in common but an old man's legacy. Joe Corbet has promised them a great treasure awaits them...if they're clever enough to solve his riddles within a six month time frame. According to Joe's will, Nicole and Dante must participate in various excursions. After each adventure, a new clue will be presented and another requirement awaits. Only when they've completed their journey will they discover the treasure meant just for them.

Along the way, Nicole and Dante will be forced to share their secrets and place their faith in one another. But if they can learn to work together, they'll discover what's truly important in life. And maybe, just maybe, they'll find the greatest treasure of all: love.

So...? Thoughts? Ideas? Let the brainstorming begin!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Countdown to NJ

Yep... we're in the home stretch for the trek to NJ's Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. Since slips of paper seem to disappear in the vortex that is my desk, I thought I'd post my To Do list here so I can keep track online. If you're attending, feel free to add your own To Do's or suggest what I might be forgetting.

Things to do:

Pack (naturally)
Wash and vacuum car (I'm the designated driver for my group)
Make my tote bag (I made everyone else's but neglected to do one for me--duh!)
Map out the route and be sure GPS is charged and ready!
Gather my books and goodies for the literacy signing
Print copies of my WIP chapters for my meeting with my crit buddies
Prepare the kids for my absence (stern warnings to attend school, arrange rides for work and football practice, etc.)
Make sure I have plenty of small bills to make change for book sale
Practice elevator and bar pitch for agents and editors
Make final arrangements with carpool buddies

Added: Charge batteries for laptop and camera

Did I miss anything?

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's Paperback Release Day!


Today's the day! A Little Slice of Heaven is now available in paperback from your favorite online bookstore. You can buy your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or at The Wild Rose Press!

And if you plan to be at the NJ Put Your Heart in A Book Conference next week, be sure to come by the literacy signing where good bud, Candace Gold and I will be selling autographed copies of our books.

Live on Long Island? Stay tuned for information on a very unique book signing I'll be doing in the East Setauket area! Wherever, however, and whenever you buy it, I hope you'll enjoy my Cinderella-in-a-pizzeria story, A Little Slice of Heaven!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why Men Need Mommies--Example 1

I sense another of those recurring themes here on Flights of Fancy. This one dealing with the dh and some of the reasons (to paraphrase My Big Fat Greek Wedding) "It's lucky for him he has me to tie his shoes!"

Today's example actually happened Sunday before football. We're all in the car waiting for the dh (a normal occurrence in our household.) After several horn blasts and a shout out the window of, "Will you come on already?" the hubster strolls out of the house with a thermal travel mug filled with coffee and a weird look on his face.

As he gets into the car, he turns to me and hoists the travel mug while saying, "Do you know you can't put these things in the microwave? They make sparks."

I...am...speechless...



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Judy Tagged Me!

My Suite Judy Bloo Eyes, aka Judith Leger, just had to assign me more writing. As if, dear crit partner that she is, she didn't realize I've set myself an impossible task with my WIP. But, since I love her so much, I'll play along. Okay, Jude, what are the rules?


I'm supposed to tell you six things about myself and tag six friends. What? Like I haven't already divulged all my deep, dark secrets here? All right, all right. Let me think...



1. I'm addicted to television. No, seriously. One of the first things I do when I come home, wake up, etc. is turn on the TV. I can't sleep without that familiar glow in the background (dh usually clicks it off sometime in the middle of the night). I don't sit on the couch, my gaze glued to the screen. But I absolutely have to have it on at all times.



2. I have very strong political views. Umm...yeah. I'll keep them to myself and not bore you with my opinions on what's wrong with the world, but I do keep up with what's going on in the political arena. Which probably explains why my son gets into heavy political debates as often as most other eleven-year-old boys talk about toilet humor.



3. I'm not impressed by money or labels. I live in a small three-bedroom ranch house, nothing elaborate or grand. I drive a Honda Accord (in fact, when car-shopping, dh and I debated the Accord vs. Acura's TL. I won because the Honda had three inches more leg room in the back seat. I know what's important to me!)

I've never paid more than 20 bucks for a purse. (Why? I'm only going to use it for a few months to carry no more than 30 bucks worth of crap in. If I could carry a paper bag and get away with it I probably would.)

I don't care how much you spent on your drapes, what designer's tag is inside your blouse, or why you need to drive that behemoth SUV for you, your spouse, and your two kids. Want to impress me? Do something for someone besides yourself. Not for glory or repayment, but simply to be generous to a person who might not be as fortunate as you. Then you'll have my attention.




4. My creativity does not extend beyond writing and cooking. I can't draw anything more elaborate than Snoopy lying on his doghouse, and can't even pick out flowers for my garden without an army of more artistically-inclined people to provide insight as to why red mums don't go with purple heather. Need to bake a cake without eggs? I'm your go-to gal! Need help with a school project that requires paint, markers and glitter? "Move along, folks. Nothing to see here..."



5. I'm not ready for my little girl to grow up! Okay, so no one is. Probably. But we're currently shopping for colleges and I dread the idea of letting her go off on her own next year. Not because I worry about her--she's savvy, self-assured, and sophisticated. She's probably more mature than most full-fledged adults. No, I'm selfish and I admit it. I'll be lonely without her. Is it wrong for me to hope she picks a place close to home so we have a few more years together?



6. I love funky jewelry. Earrings and matching necklaces with big chunky stones, handcuffs, big swooping hearts, and feathers--oh, how I love feathers! (A leftover from my rocker teen years in the 80's). No bracelets 'cuz they get in the way when I'm writing and I only wear my wedding ring on my fingers. But nothing's too crazy for my neck or lobes.



Whew! Okay. That does it. Except for the tough part. Six friends. Let's see...



1. Debora Dennis. Naturally. She's one of my soul sisters and a super talented writer who always keeps me laughing. Isn't it obvious why she's my travel companion for most conferences and chapter meetings? Like some spice with your laughter? Check out her works for Blade Publishing: The Kandy Shoppe and coming soon, A Knight to Remember. You'll be charmed from Page One.



2. Candace Gold. My other soul sister. Talented, fun, and guaranteed to skew your view of the romance world. Candy's a one-woman dynamo and I'm lucky to have her in my life. Don't believe me? Take a gander at her books, A Heated Romance or Autumn Leaves. You won't be disappointed!



3. Sandra Cormier aka Chumplet. You shouldn't have mentioned no one had tagged you yet, sweetie. Sandra writes vivid romances and her blog is a must-read for me every day. Check out her latest releases, Bad Ice or The Space Between. You'll fall in love with this talented lady's prose!



4. Shelby Reed. Wake up, Shelby-Lou! Your readership is calling! Use the RWU blog to respond but let's hear from you. If you're not familiar with this uber-talented writer, run--don't walk!--to your nearest bookstore and pick up a Shelby Reed book. Whether it's The Fifth Favor, Midnight Rose, Seraphim or any of her other magnificent works, this lady will make you weep, make you sigh with pleasure, and leave your head in the clouds long after you've reached The End.



5. Ali Katz. Another talented author and critique partner, Ali writes hot and sexy with a paranormal edge. Her recent work, Glory is receiving rave reviews. Check it out!

6. Wildcard! I have so many other writers I'd like to add to this list, but don't know if they've been tagged by others. So, if you'd like to reveal six facts about you, consider this your wild card and go for it!