Friday, February 29, 2008

Va-va-va Voom!

Last night it was monstrously cold here. My husband and I ate a late dinner, then settled in before a roaring fire with huge mugs of hot chocolate. Neither of us was inclined to play chess, or cards or read. Then, what better way to pass a frosty Thursday night than by watching a movie? My husband graciously allowed me to choose the movie for the night. I know he figured I'd choose something like The Remains of the Day or Pride and Prejudice or even While You Were Sleeping. All favorites of mine, but I didn't choose any of them.

So, what did I pick from the movie library? Raiders of the Lost Ark. Why an adventure rather than a love story? Well, that Harrison Ford is one hot hunk. And I've got a mind to write a story about an archaelogist. Recently I saw a documentary on the treasures of Egypt and it's got me thinking. Tonight, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Still going after watching the handsome hero, all in the name of research, mind you.

What's your idea of a hunky hero? Adventurer? Or someone tamer?

By the way, tomorrow's the day Vineyard Mambo releases! I can barely keep myself from laughing out loud. :)

Happy Leap Day! And have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

When the earth moved

The earth moved for me last night. Ah, I hear your salacious little giggle. You are thinking I mean metaphorically but actually I mean, well, actually. There was an earthquake in England and I was wakened by my bed trembling beneath me. A really strange experience. It was quite frightening and had me wondering how terrible it must be to be in those really big earthquakes. When the earth moved beneath your feet and you have no balance, it must be horrendous.

The last time I was anywhere near an earthquake was in New Zealand. I was leaving for the station in a taxi from the YHA where I had spent the night. The driver asked me if I had felt the 'quake. Well no I hadn't. I had slept through it. It gave me a bit of a quiver though, for I had been on about the twentieth floor!

Thank goodness we have not had violent earthquakes in England. I remember the last one. I was teaching then, a group of really naughty boys. If you did not watch them they would escape through the window! We were reading, then the storage cupboard started to rattle. Nonchalantly I said. "Come out of there Gavin!" Imagining that straw headed Gavin had crept in while I was engaged elsewhere. You can feel how shocked I was when Gavin piped up, in a, for him, timid voice. "But I'm here Miss!"

I said it must be the wind and that calmed the kids, only when I heard the news did I realise it was an earthquake. The kids were to excited the next day and could not wait to rush up and tell me that we had shared this nique experience.

So here I am, unharmed, musing on what had happened to disturb my sleep and thinking about those times, long ago, when the earth really did move!



Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Word From Our Publisher

The Larks have had a lot of good news lately -- Debbie's new book, Margaret's contract and Sarita's new book. Also our publisher has had some good news and where would be without Whiskey Creek Press. So I'm sharing a portion of a WCP press release that mentions awards, nominations for awards and an anniversary next month. Bravo WCP!

March is Eppie Award Month at Whiskey Creek Press. WCP has a total of seven 2008 Eppie Finalists books this month for the ebook industries most prestigious award. The Eppie Awards will be presented at the annual EPICon, held this year in Portland, Oregon Saturday March 8, 2008. Winners will be announced at the gala awards ceremony sponsored by EPIC and attended by publishers and authors throughout the ebook industry.

Whiskey Creek Press published its first two titles in March 2003, including The Sweetest Gift by award-winning author Janet Mills, and has since published nearly 700 titles by over 250 authors. Whiskey Creek Press has been named the Publisher of the Year by Fallen Angel Reviews and has also been named “Favorite Publisher Top Five” for three consecutive years in the annual Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. Whiskey Creek Press is also celebrating its fifth anniversary during March, and will be giving away free ebooks and sponsoring a huge scavenger hunt.
Whiskey Creek Press can be found at either company website:
The all-genre General Line at
The erotic sensual Torrid Romance Line at

Whiskey Creek Press LLC is a Wyoming company and its Publisher and Executive Editor is Debra Womack. Senior Staff members include Torrid Romance Line Executive Editor Jan Janssen, General Line Senior Editor Marsha Briscoe, Torrid Romance Line Senior Editor Chere Gruver, and Review Coordinator Kate Scott.

Monday, February 25, 2008

They say a picture's worth a thousand words...

Sigh...strong jaw, bulging biceps, wash board abs, firm mouth that I bet would turn soft and coaxing under the right circumstances. The mystery beneath that good ole boy white cowboy hat. What a contradiction! I bet there's nothing good about him. But he does inspire, doesn't he? He just reeks of the strong, silent type. Maybe a little moody. Definitely sexy. And let's face it, ladies of all ages can enjoy looking at a handsome man in his prime.

I'm in the process of finishing up revisions of a cowboy book when a friend sent me this picture. I'd like to think he's exactly what I envision my cowboy hero to be. Okay, maybe my hero's hat is a little dirty and sweat stained from all those days working the range. His jeans are old and faded, but fit just as snugly. And those muscles? Well, of course he'd have those muscles from riding a horse all day and wrestling with cows!

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. I bet I could come up with a thousand if I was forced to. I'd rather look, in stead:)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Since you asked...

I'm posting the blurb for Vineyard Mambo, my first mystery novel. It releases on March 1st from Whiskey Creek Press and I am absolutely over the moon about it. Have a great weekend!:)

Mambo. Merlot. Murder.

Who killed Milton Falls’ nastiest neighbor? And why? Anna Romeo, vineyard owner and librarian, wants to know.

Used to be doors went unlocked, neighbors visited on porches and gossip centered around who had the biggest zucchini. Now that murder’s come calling all bets are off. Arson, burglary and cryptic tea leaf messages fill Anna’s days—and nights—with love, mystery and adventure.

Can Anna unlock the key to the murder that’s got everyone on edge? And, more importantly, can she do it quickly enough for the annual Zucchini Festival to go on as planned?

Only time—and a bit of luck—will tell.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Secrets, Grins and Dreams

I've got a secret. Well, maybe it's not a huge secret. But the way I feel about it? Now that's a secret. Really. I'm sure it's, or not. No, now that I think about it, it's probably no secret how I feel about my not-so-secret secret.


And I'd thought I was keeping mum.

For anyone who hasn't seen me bouncing around like a child who's waiting for Santa, I'll let you in on what's apparently the least well-kept secret around. I've got a book coming out next week and I'm over the moon about it. Really, really, jumping up and down excited. Almost sleepless over the news, to tell the truth.

Why? Well, there's some measure of excitement with every publication, at least for me. I'm thrilled by the idea that I get to share my thoughts and ideas with readers. It just makes me happy. So whether I've got a story coming out in a magazine or journal or anywhere else, I'm tickled during the countdown to publication days. Just one of those grinning fools, I suppose.
But this particular book has me grinning so broadly my face hurts. I kid you not, that's the honest truth. Last night I grinned myself to sleep. :)

Oh, right -- you're still waiting for the why to be answered, aren't you? Oops! Sorry! I'm thrilled over this release because it's my first mystery. That's right! A mystery! I love mysteries, and to think that one of mine is coming out is enought to -- there, it's happening again. The uncontrollable, unstoppable grin is back in place.

When I was a child I loved mysteries, loved figuring things out and solving puzzles. Now that I'm an adult I still love them. Maybe more so, even. I've always been intrigued by the idea that someone, somewhere, is behind every mystery or puzzle. Someone dreamed up the mystery for us to solve, and I've always marveled at the making of the mystery.

My upcoming release is the realization of a dream in that I've finally become part of the group I've always admired, those who provide the puzzles that need solving.

Realizing a dream is a good reason to grin, I guess. Thanks for being here to share this moment with me. But beware. Next Friday is the day before my book comes out...I could be singing by then and that, I assure you, could get scary. Maybe you'd best bring earmuffs!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Waiting Game

What do you do while you are waiting for THE letter? What letter, you ask, puzzled by the ambiguity of the question? Well where writers are concerned there is only one letter. The one from the publisher to whom you have submitted your opus.

Will it be yes or no? Will it be a positive no. A positive no, do I hear you scream? Well yes, there is a positive no. There is the kind of no that explains why this time around they won't be buying, however they think you have potential. You can submit more to them, they would be really interested in seeing other stories. That is a positive no.

Of course the most horrid no is the one that just has a printed slip. "The Editor regrets..." This is a miserable thing to receive, I guess I could paper a small bedroom with those - did I say small bedroom? I am just trying to save my blushes, I could probably paper the Taj Mahal if I had a mind to.

The sweetest of all is the YES letter. Oh, the thrill of it, the beat of your heart, the joy that sings through you when you receive that approval. There is nothing sweeter apart from falling in love! Yes, folks, I would put it up there with that.

Here I intend to indulge myself with some good news. Last week I received a yes from my British publisher. It was a record for me - they had the novel on their desk for just three days before letting me know they were going to publish. I have in the past waited anything from six weeks to eighteen months, so that takes some beating. It was as sweet as the champagne that John and I quaffed later that day!



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Plot for One

Last week I was watching a Frasier rerun and there was Niles on the phone ordering up a 'plot for one.' Being a writer, I assumed he was purchasing a story line for a novel. But that wasn't it. The divorced character was in a gloomy mood and ordering a solitary cemetery plot.

Still, It got me thinking. Don't writers always start with a plot for one? If your material doesn't delight and please you, it's doubtful it's going to snare readers. There are exceptions, I know. Famous writers are sometimes forced to grind out books in a series they are tired of.

But as a nearly unknown, I can choose my plots and characters. Last year I read a Mary Balogh novel about a woman falling in love with a hero gravely injured in the Napoleonic wars. He, of course, didn't feel anyone could love him. It was a marvelous book and got me wondering if I could write a romance where the heroine is disabled and though accomplished and attractive feels unloveable. And so I asked Margaret Blake if she would read a light romantic comedy where it's the heroine (not the shot-up detective) that is disabled. She told me to go for it and so I have. And though I have a book that may be a trifle difficult to market, I've had a wonderful time writing it.

Monday, February 18, 2008


What does that mean? Hubby and I worked outside the other day adding scalloped edging around two Century plants we have at the end of the driveway. We wanted to add stone edging but couldn't find the smaller circles so had to substitute with a fiberboard kind of material. It's sturdy, scalloped like we wanted it, has a ten-year warranty against rot and water damage, and is attractive. What more could we want?

Neighbors across the street came over and said it looked good and asked where we got it. They examined it saying they'd never seen it before. Beaming, we told them where they could buy it. Maybe we started a trend and other neighbors would get the hint to start working in their yards! After all, it's that time of year.

Five minutes later our other neighbor came home and seeing us working came over to chitchat. He glanced down at the edging and's different. What does that mean?

It's different...over the years I've come to realize when you get a response like that it means they don't like it. New hairdo...'s different. New car, lawn ornament, outfit or dish, it's different. What, do they think we're stupid? LOL We all use the same response when we can't bring ourselves to lie and say it's beautiful, tastes great, looks good.

What do you mean when you say it's different?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happily Ever After

Or, in writer's jargon, the HEA. If you plan to write a romance novel, it's something you've gotta have. Just gotta. No ifs, ands or buts about it. In one way or another, there's to to be a HEA. Because that's what readers want. And savvy writers...well, they give readers what they want.

In romance novels the Happily Ever After can be accompanied by any number of things. Hearts. Flowers. Heaving bosoms. Manly stirrings (you know the ones, don't you? Come on, think about it for a minute. That's right, those stirrings. Now you've got it!). Proclamations of love or faithfulness. Passion. That's right. The Happily Ever After in romance novels is often accompanied by passion, or at least the hint of passion.

But have you noticed the HEA is hardly ever --never, almost-- set against the whine of a dying transmission? Shrouded in the stench of a backed up garbage disposal? Or that undying love is rarely proclaimed with a runny nose? Wearing stinky sweat socks? Or muddy boots? Bosoms never heave while wiping cat fur from the front of a Save Lives! Spay an Animal! sweatshirt? An manly stirrings? Why don't they ever stir while the man attached to the stirring is stirring a pot of soup, cooking up a lasagne or even grilling a cheese sandwich? Hmm? Why?

Does it mean that romance doesn't have all these less-than-lovely components? Absolutely not! It just means that most readers want to see the glow, surge of passion, delicate touch of lips and, let's face it, the heaving bosom and manly stirrings of first love.

But, as those of us who have been fortunate enough to find our own HEA know, those things aren't really the true HEA. They're merely the start of the whole adventure. Happily Ever After, with all the trimmings, commitment and foreverness is accompanied by soup, sniffles, pesky appliances, animal fur, bigger-than-planned-for expenses, noisy mufflers, stinky socks and clogged drains.

I know you're shaking your heads right now but I'm serious. Happily Ever After, if it's true, until-death-do-us-part love, comes with its share of glitches, bumps and hurdles. And getting past all those things to remember the love that brought about the arrangement?


Now that's a real Happily Ever After. The stuff that, you know, romances are made of!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mind Travelling and the other kind!

Have you ever looked forward to going somewhere and then been terribly disappointed when you arrived?

Well it can happen with our work too. An idea comes bubbling to the surface of our minds, this sounds great we think. We analyse it, mull it over, change it around in our head, yes this is the biggy, and so we set about writing it all down. We get up to about 18,000 words and then think, what the heck am I doing with this junk? Boom, you come crashing right down.

Yet before you discard it, look again. This little bit here, this girl, I like her, I like what she stands for, I can't chuck her in the trash, and what about that other gem - that scene there. Sure, l6,000 words can go but that 2,000 well that is really going somewhere.

Thinking on this put me in mind of a trip I took to Tuscany. Gosh the hotel was awful, the people that ran it so rude and unpleasant, and because I was travelling alone, the room allocated to me (after I had paid a whopping supplement) was more like a dog kennel. Complaints were ignored with a shrug of the shoulders.

The town was nice, it was on the Tuscan coast, Marina Pietresanta, a lovely place. But I was SO miserable and could find nothing good about my stay there. However, one day we went to Florence. A magical city, guaranteed to take you out of yourself. On the way back we stopped for a pre-arranged dinner at this little village in the Chanti hills. It was a warm, balmy early autumn night. I wandered first of all into an olive grove, the silence was breathtaking, the green of the grass unbelievable. Later I stood on the terrace at the restaurant, a glass of cool white wine to hand. The terrace gave a view out over the wonderful Tuscan hills. The sun was going down and the sky was criss crossed with scarlet ribbons. The food was good too, and if I tell you the owner looked like he should have had top billing in a Harleqin romance, you will catch my drift.

So out of disappointment comes surprise and pleasure, just like when you are writing. Look for the nuggets never mind about the huge junks. You can build on the little believe me - "little apples are so sweet!"



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hooray for Beagles

It happened! A beagle won best in show at the Westminister Kennel Club. In the hundred year competition, this have never happened before. So being owners of a beagle mix, we are celebrating.
My husband and I are chilling some champagne and tonight we will watch the movie, Underdog to the Rescue. Our little dog hasn't won any competitions but he has overcome termendous odds. When we got him from rescue he had clearly been abused and was scared and snarly. Today he is quite a loveable guy. And wait until I tell him the great news about Westminister. Will that ever help his self esteem.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saving Private Ryan

I watched it last night. Not because I wanted to but because my hubby watches everything and anything that has to do with WWII. For those of you who don't know, Saving Private Ryan is a movie staring Tom Hanks. His mission is to find Private Ryan and bring him home. You see, he's the remaining son in a family who'd just lost their three other sons in the war. So sad.

My hubby was there, he lived it. He was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed, he's been on a sinking ship. I guess that's a part of his life he can't let go and he rarely talks about. I can't tell you the times he's said to me, "This is history, you'll learn something." How can I tell him, I don't want to learn something that's so heart breaking and meaningless?

I wouldn't be good in war. I'm not a coward; at least I don't think I am. I just don't think I have it in me to hurt someone. When I was a kid growing up I remember the couple of scrapes I got into in school, like most kids. This one girl and I got into a fight and my idea of hurting her was sitting on her and pulling off her fake fingernails. Of course, back then they were the stick on kind you bought at the drug store so they were easy to remove. Whenever my sister and I would fight I would run to my bedroom and lock the door, because I didn't want to hurt her.

If I was fighting for my life, or for those I love, that might be different. No, I know it would be different. I want to live like anyone else. However, war will forever be senseless to me.

Friday, February 8, 2008

100th post

Yes, that's right. It's hard to believe but this is the Larks' 1ooth post. Isn't it incredible how time flies when you're having fun?

I feel like I should write something wildly interesting, terrifically witty and jaw-droppingly revealing for this milestone post. Something exotic, over-the-top, newsbreaking.

Alas, I have nothing. Nada. Niente. Zip. Zero. Zilch. My mind, as they say, is a blank. Mea culpa.

For the past few days I've been chin deep in edits. Sort of on a time crush with this one so they have consumed almost every waking moment. It's all I can think about... Characters (did I change that one's last name in Chapter 14 to match the earlier chapters? And I must remember to change it all the way through to the, don't forget). Capitalization. Punctuation. Grammar. (Good God, grammar! Have I left anything dangling that shouldn't dangle? At least not publicly dangle? And if I have, will my husband be embarrassed by it? Oh, the whole dangle issue drives me nuts!)


Don't get me wrong, I love edits. Really, I do. I love to see the little red marks and comment balloons. I love the feeling of having my story honed and polished. But the part I like best about edits? The same bit I like most about writing a book, seeing "The End."

Probably the same way you feel about this post, huh? :)

Have a great weekend! And thank you for joining us for this 100th Lark Post!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I recall Debbie writing last week that she would enjoy going through a storm, she would be warm and comfortable and safe inside and be able to let her imagination run riot.

It got me thinking about the bad weather and how it could be seen as romantic. Picture the scene, the wind howling outside, you and your beloved inside by a roaring log fire (apple wood as it smells so sweet). A white fur rug, a bottle of good wine, stacks of food in the freezer. It would not matter if the electric went off either because you could use candles, so much more romantic. You would not need the services of an electric blanket either; you will be creating enough sparks without that!

I remembered a film I had seen years ago, it made a lasting impression. "Room at the Top" starring Laurence Harvey and Simone Signoret. They went away for an illicit weekend to the coast. The scene showed them on a wind swept beach, above them a glowering sky, swirls of rain soaking them but they were deliciously happy. Running and kissing and then when they got back to the cottage, there was a roaring fire, the wine and, and...

If you are young and madly in love you are invincible, nothing will get you down, all you want is to be with our partner. It is the stuff of romantic novels and films, is it not? But would it be romantic caught in a storm, five kids in the house, or if you are elderly? Then perhaps we would veer from the romantic to the tragic.

I think stormy weather works best with romance, then we can enjoy it, whether are reading a book or watching a move. It is comfortable, we think we would like to be there...but the reality? Who wants to even think about that!



Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chasing the Dream Job

After Super Bowl Sunday and Super Tuesday, it’s good to have a plain old Wednesday. But this week of superlatives has gotten me thinking about careers. Being a football player had never appealed to me. There’s too much risk for injury. I’m also surprised so many people want to be President of the United States. The pay is far less than a football player and the challenges are enormous.

As writers, we get to give our characters different jobs. So I’ve had a chance to try different careers and my very favorite – don’t laugh – is librarian. Where else can you serve people without charging them?

I constantly use that profession in my stories. In my story, Overdue for Love, the hero is a sexy reference librarian. And as my heroine Jan says many might find “the guy’s career to be kind of sissy, but in reality it was rather grueling. I’d seen him work the phone and computer to find an open shelter for a homeless person, give airport directions to someone whose English was nearly nonexistent and get a giggly teenager to narrow a research project to a manageable level.”

The police also serve and detective is another of my favorite professions. I’m constantly writing about detectives who daily vow to serve their communities with humility and treat all residents with respect. Sometimes it isn’t easy for them. In my novel, No Doubt, Sunny Cloud must deal with a homeless alcoholic teenager who claims to be his long-lost son. Headache? You betcha.

I have another fantasy profession but unfortunately my experience is so far too limited to write about it. But if Bill and Melissa Gates want to hire me on as a philanthropist, I’m available. And I'd love to hear what your dream job is.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cupboards, Closets and Drawers

I was just thinking. I do that once in a while. I know why God invented cupboards, closets and drawers. The average person might use them for convenient storage areas for their valuables or seasonal stuff they don't want out all year. However, I fully utilize mine in every way.

I can fully understand the reasoning behind cupboards and drawers in the kitchen. I mean, come on, isn't that obvious? They're the perfect places to store kitchen stuff; the junk drawer (this is a drawer usually located at the top for convenience) is for everything else.

Closets aren't just a place for clothes and shoes and those purses you can't part with. They're also great places to stuff luggage sets, isn't that what the back of the closet is meant for? Store bins of gifts you've bought for people over the years and than forgot to give out, or found something better to give them. How about those pictures you never found a place to hang? They don't take up much room. Why, I even have a chest of drawers in one closet, every drawer jam packed with junk, I mean valuables. Oh, I almost forgot the two cat carriers. If you can close the door than you have room left over and you're not doing something right.

Cupboards come in great for storing the smaller stuff that would otherwise get lost in the closet. Stuff like your stash of booze, some so old that it would probably kill you if you consumed it. All those different sets of liquor glasses that used to go in the bar you had. Cupboards can also be used to store the photo albums you've filled over the years, old books that won't fit on the book case you have, records for the record player you don't have, videos that were replaced with DVDs, games you don't play anymore. The list is endless what you can hide in there. Hide? I meant store. After all, you might need that stuff some day.

Drawers were invented for the smaller stuff that would get lost in the closet and cupboards. Isn't it funny how most drawers turn into junk drawers?

Don't even get me started on the antique wood boxes I have around the house. But they come in handy for storage and you can also put stuff on top of them:)

On the bright side I have to say my house looks neat and organized. No one knows my secret. I only pray they don't look under any of the beds:)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Guess What!

I just purchased "NO DOUBT", "BELOVED DECEIVER" and "SNOWDANCE"! They sound like great stories and I can't wait to read them my friends. Now, I just need to find some free time:)

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Ice Storm Cometh!

I'd planned to sit and chat with you this morning. I've got a talk about heroes, heroines and their occupations going through my head but that's going to have to stay put until another time.

You see, the northeast is under an Ice Storm/Winter Storm Watch. Warning. Whatever. Every channel has dire predictions flashing in orange, red and pink across the television screen. Schools have all cancelled classes. Snowplows are already scattering that ice-melting mix on streets even though nothing's fallen from the sky yet. They're getting ready. They know it's going to come at us full force.

Me? I know it too. I can just tell. Even if I couldn't feel it in my bones, there's my garbageman's behavior. He's just picked up our trash--three hours early. In the dark. And after he tossed our refuse in his truck, he didn't bother to walk back to the edge of our driveway to return our recyclables bin. Instead, he stood in the center of the road and tossed the bin toward our lawn. It almost made it. Almost, but not quite. No, anyone coming round the corner too quickly would have surely crunched over the green bin so I've just come back inside. Yes, I donned my snowboots and down jacket over my pink polka dotted fleece pajamas, slid down the slippery-as-an-ice-floe driveway and retrieved the recyclable bin.

And you thought a writer's life was a glamorous one, didn't you? Ha!

Anyhow, back to the weather, and away from the mind picture I've just given you all of a silly woman in spotted pj's sliding down a slopey drive...

I feel like the television stations should just flash "Hold on to your britches! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!" and be done with it.

Downed trees, power outages, ice, snow, sleet, a messy commute and cold, dark day. The funniest thing is that I love living here in Snow World, love the excitement and adventure of cold winters followed by beautiful, if short, summers. Let's not forget the balmy spring breezes or riot of autumnal colors that we're graced with in the northeast. Yeah, I love it all. Even days like this one. Maybe especially days like this because once the storm's passed we're going to have a lot to talk about, for a long, long time.

But now? I've got to dash. Got to lay wood in the fireplace, make a hearty breakfast and check the generator. Next time we'll talk about writerly things. Today I've got a storm coming and I couldn't be more thrilled!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!