Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday & a GCC Tour

It's a glorious Friday. Why glorious, you ask? Well, mostly because Saturday is DARA (Dallas Area Romance Author)'s official Christmas breakfast/meeting, and if that's not fun enough my cp's and I are having a mini-party Friday night, complete with queso, crackers, cookies, brownies, wine and other goodies at the Homewood Suites we've reserved for the night. It will be a great time of talking shop, eating, drinking and sitting in the hot tub. Now, what, I ask you, can be wrong with that, huh?

I'm bringing you a GCC tour today for debut novel THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST & FOUND by Allison Winn Scotch. The buzz for this novel is huge, with all sorts of cool mags (Cosmo, to name one) and reviewers offering up great comments. This is definitely one I will be picking up.

Natalie Miller has just had the worst day of her life. But it didn’t start out that way. After all, she’s on her way to the top. She has a bright future ahead of her and is using her determination and smarts to get her—and the senator she works for—where they need to be, regardless of whom they step on along the way. Passing lukewarm bills to please the constituents and leaking stories to the press are mere checkmarks on Natalie’s to-do list. And that’s the way she likes it.

Until, on the very same day, her doctor gives her the shocking news that she has breast cancer and her boyfriend dumps her, leaving Natalie to question everything she knows.

So she decides to take on her cancer the way she does everything—with steely determination. But as she becomes a slave to the whims of chemo, her body forces her to take a time out. She gets a dog, becomes addicted to The Price is Right and, partly to spite her counselor’s idea to keep a journal, Natalie embarks on a mission. She is going to track down the Five Lost Loves of her Life and figure out what went wrong.

Unwittingly, Natalie’s personal challenge to see why good things come and go—and what responsibility she has in it all—forces her to look at her life in a new light. Everything comes under question—her relationship with a mother who drives her crazy, the friendships she could nurture more tenderly, and her knack for pushing away the very people who want to be there for her the most. There’s a wedding, a reunion with the Man Who Got away, and an encounter with Bob Barker himself that helps her face her fears and change her life.

As one character says, “It’s funny, isn’t it? How the thing that cancer changes the most isn’t your breasts or your hair or anything at all on the outside. What it changes is everything else instead.” And just as Natalie uses her bout with cancer to discover what is most important to her, this heartwarming debut will encourage readers to take stock of their own lives.


Your main character seems to have a lot in common with you. You’re both ambitious and stubborn. How is she/he different from you?

It’s so funny, writing fiction, how people assume that because you wrote a character, that you somehow must BE a character. Certainly, I identify with Natalie, my headstrong protagonist, and her voice and personality came easily to me. Her competitive streak and desire to win definitely resonated with me as well, and yes, while I’ve never been sick enough to worry about my mortality, I’ve also been in situations in my life in which I’ve wondered how on earth I would piece things back together, much like we all have. But that said, that’s probably where our common ground ends. Natalie has a mother who isn’t terribly warm, and since The Deparment's publication, I’ve always felt a wee bit sorry for my own mom because she is supportive and nurturing, and I’d never want anyone to assume that the character I created was based on my mother! Natalie also has a difficult time making the distinction between winning at all costs and winning for a purpose, and I’d like to think that I know the difference: I don’t delight in anyone else’s misfortune and believe that there’s room enough in the world for all of our success. This is something Natalie has to learn along the way. And she also discovers that the things that make life fruitful – friends, family, a confident sense of self – don’t automatically land in your lap, and that chasing down success rather than these aforementioned blessings won’t fulfill you. My life is rich in so many ways, and I’m lucky enough to appreciate the wonderful balance that I’ve achieved, whereas again, for Natalie, this is something she’s yet to learn.

I know you blog yourself over at Ask Allison. (Http:// Why do you blog and does it feed you or take energy from you?

Well, I started Ask Allison about a year and a half ago, partially as a promotional tool for my upcoming book release but also partially because I wanted to counter the Miss Snarks of the world and offer some insight into our industry from a writer’s perspective and a kind one at that. Don’t get me wrong: Miss Snark provided invaluable information to so, so many readers and writers, but I’m not a huge fan of dismissing people or making them feel like idiots. We all started out as newbies at some point, and man, I’ve certainly asked my fair share of beginner questions, so my blog hopefully informs and educates without belittling anyone. These days, I’m not just answering questions, I’m chatting about anything and everything related to writing and my life in general. And you know, it both feeds me and takes energy away, if that makes sense. The truth is that I’m super-busy and some days, I just don’t feel like blogging. I mean, on my list of things to do, that just falls completely off the paper. But then I realize that people are reading and learning and engaging in a dialogue (including myself), and that’s why I do it…and that’s the part that fills me up.

Tell us about how Natalie comes full-circle in the book and how it relates to your own life.

It’s funny: on the surface, The Department is a book about a young woman who gets cancer, but to me – and to many readers, so I’ve been told – it’s about much more than that – it’s about a young woman who is trying to figure out her life, what’s important, what’s not, what her purpose is, whom she loves…all of those big questions that so many of us wrestle with as we forge our way to adulthood. And certainly, as I was crafting Natalie’s story, a lot of my own experience rattled around in my mind. For example, Natalie decides, as part of her quest for self-awareness, to track down the five loves of her life and ask them what went wrong. And while, um yeah, I’ve never specifically tracked down my exes, I have thought long and hard about those relationships – sometimes I still do – and have tried to grow from those experiences and reflect on how they helped make me into who I am today. Additionally, Natalie unpeels her life, much like an onion, until she sheds all of the layers that protected her from who she really is and who she needs to become. And I think a lot of us can relate to that – I tried on several career hats until I found my groove as a writer – and I’d think, like Natalie in the book, that just because we make a wealth of mistakes, that this doesn’t mean that we can’t correct our course or be granted eventual happiness. That’s the beauty of life, and of, I hope, this book.

Scotch has contributed to American Baby, American Way, Cooking Light, Family Circle, Glamour, InStyle Weddings, Men’s Health, Parents, Prevention, Redbook, Self, Shape, Women’s Health and Woman’s Day, among others. She lives in New York with her husband and their son and daughter.


"A great way to kick off your summer reading. Editors' choice." – Redbook

"Smart and well-written.” - Marie Claire

"Too good to pass up. You'll laugh a lot (and cry just a little) as Natalie rebounds from the big C and reinvents her life." – Cosmopolitan

"Scotch handles the topic of cancer with humor and hope, never dipping into the maudlin. The changes and realizations that the characters make are profound and moving. An impressive debut." – Booklist

"A bonbon of a book." - Publishers Weekly


Visit Allison at her website, her blog, and buy the book!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas TV

Okay, I give up - Thanksgiving has come and gone, so I guess it's officially okay to get buried in Christmas cheer. A rare event has occurred at my house this week - I've actually watched a decent bit of television. Of course, I'm actually at home these days and I have a raging respiratory infection, but hey, who's counting those things?

So I noticed while surfing the tube that all the Christmas shows are starting to play - you know, all the fun stuff that you waited for every year when you were a kid. Unless, of course, you're young enough to have owned the dvd and watched it on your own television in your own room - in which case, you are far too young to be listening to the rants of a middle-aged woman. But let me explain for a moment how things were - you see, back in the old days, the "good" shows only came on once a year (Christmas stuff, Charlie Brown Halloween/Thanksgiving, The Wizard of Oz), and you either caught it or you missed out. And I REALLY mean caught it - like as in live. There were no VCR (until much later) and definitely no way to pause live tv or rewind.

So I was trying to decide exactly when I should break out my videos and start my traditional once-a-year watching party. Do I sneak them in when my husband is working, or do I torture him with my childish pleasures? I'm thinking torture is in order for the Christmas season. :)

Then there's the issue of what to start with and do you save the best for last. And I have all the good stuff, all the way from Rudolf to that kid that will shoot his eye out with a bb gun. And let's face it, who doesn't love How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original, not that horrid other version)? But I think my all-time favorite is The Year Without a Santa Claus. I simply love Heat Miser and Cold Miser, and yes, I can indeed sing both of their theme songs. Now see, that's information that you definitely needed.

So what's your favorite Christmas show??????

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Well, the glorious four-day is officially over and it's time to get back in the saddle. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Today's my post over at Killer Fiction, so check it out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Writer's Space

If you're a writer then you hear a lot about the tools of the trade - computer, writing books, organizations, a highlighter, whatever. And a lot of discussion is usually over office space. People are of so many different opinions as to what works and doesn't and they all seem to contradict each other. Some feel that you need some glorious writing desk with a huge window and a clear view of trees, birds, the ocean....whatever you have access to. Stephen King says to pick a corner of a room and put your desk up against a wall facing it rather than in the center. He says in the center of the room, you are king and focused on yourself and your space. Up against the ugly wall, you are put in your place and can concentrate on your writing. Hmmmmm. Interesting.

What I've found is that one place doesn't work for me at all. It's changing places that makes me the most productive. Now some might argue that that's because I spent so much time traveling and had no choice but to write in different places, and that might have reinforced the behavoir, but it's always been there.

The reality is, ever since I got my Alphasmart several years ago, I became the roving author. I love the cafe writing in the morning (everyone who reads me regularly knows that one), but if my husband is working a late night, you might also find me at the local Waffle House, sitting at the counter, drinking coffee and pounding away on the keyboard (mostly while coveting those new blueberry waffles they have).

And that's not the end of it. At home, I'll take my laptop and travel within the house. I might work on the couch or the chair or the kitchen table or in bed. If the shadows are right, or I'm editing (and the weather permits), I might sit outside.

Some people swear they have to be "grounded" to a place and their productivity is better, and I can understand that. It's a mental game. You sit in one spot and eventually the mind learns that when you go to that spot, it's to write. That way, the mind will turn "on" more quickly each time you sit and reinforce the idea of writing in that spot.

But it doesn't work that way for me. I guess I'm just a wanderer. I find the different locations spur my creativity. What about you?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Do I Have to Get Up?

I didn't want to get up today. That's actually kinda odd for me because I'm one of those sickening morning people. But today, I have to teach an accounting class (part of my transfer agreement) and I really don't want to. Plus, it's a holiday week, so while everyone else at my company will be winding down and taking it easy, I'll be performing. Yuck.

Today's my blog over at Killer Fiction, so check it out and pop back in here tomorrow for a movie review.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Glorious Friday

It's a glorious Friday here in Texas - why, you ask? Well, because the state finally wised up, realized it was approaching winter, and had the decency to give us a cold front. So when I woke up this morning, it was around 40. Of course, it is supposed to be 70 by afternoon (sigh). And people wonder why they stay sick with colds and sinus problems. But hey, I was able to come home from work, open the windows and cool my house down. Totally saving the utility cost since the hubby and I like it COLD.

It's also a glorious Friday because tomorrow is the day Verizon comes and gives me FIOS. What is FIOS? Well, for anyone who doesn't know (or hasn't seen the commercials), FIOS is basically the second coming of the internet. It's a connection speed faster than lightening and it's slowly rolling out to different area around the country. I cannot wait!

In other news, my official weigh-in was this morning and I've lost another 3 pounds! So let's here it for no traveling and bringing your lunch. It's simply amazing what can happen if you have the ability to graze all day on healthy foods and drink some water.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things Heard in a Cafe

It's Thursday - whoot! And I have to say that this week is going very fast. I think it's a combination of being on a roll with my writing and loving my new job. The only shame is that I have to revert back to the old one and teach a class next week - yuck! But it was part of my transfer agreement - I teach the Dallas workshop for Nov and Dec if they don't have coverage. And of course, they don't have coverage. But at least I'm not traveling to do it.

I had an extraordinary week with the writing so far, although I'm sorta taking this morning off from rough draft to take care of some business stuff for writing and run an errand. BUT, I got five pages done on Monday, TEN on Tuesday, and eight yesterday, so I am almost at my weekly goal of five a day anyway. Not that I'll be taking tomorrow off, but I'll be shifting gears. I've been working on another proposal for another line/publisher - a non-mystery, category idea. If I get news on it, I'll let you know.

So starting tomorrow - or probably today at my lunch hour - I'll be shifting gears back to Ghost-in-Law, in the hopes that I can finish and get it in early. That would be fabulous!

So I was working in my cafe yesterday and there was a guy talking that just made me want to laugh. I was sitting in the very back (because my favorite server worked in the back yesterday) and that's usually where groups congregate - pulling tables together and having church/work type "meetings" over breakfast. So the group meeting next to me was a bunch of carpet cleaners and here's the conversation I overheard:

Carpet Cleaner Boy is stating how angry it makes him that people don't want to hear the truth about their carpet and what needs to be cleaned. (My guess is they really don't like to hear about the cost, but CCB is young and sort of stupid, as you'll see). So he goes on to say:

"I don't get it. If you go to see your dentist an he's like 'why aren't you eating right and exercising' and 'you need to take vitamins,' you don't get angry and complain - heck you pay him to tell you that then leave."

Hmmmm - DENTIST? When's the last time your dentist talked to you about diet and exercise?

And why exactly is CCB so intense over carpet? It's not war or famine, and I'm pretty sure that unless you have an extreme case, it can't kill you. Not to mention that it's a heck of a lot easier to replace than your teeth.

So then the server says something about being conservative and CCB says he doesn't know the word - which may have been literal - but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. So apparently for him, cleaning carpet is the ultimate in thrills and entertainment. Can you imagine what would happen if he got to INSTALL it?????

And I hear this sort of conversation all the time - people so obviously wrapped up in one small aspect of their lives (and usually a fairly unimportant one in the big scheme of things), and I have to wonder if they have it so much easier than the rest of us that are walking around in a three-dimensional world of layers and technicolor.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Terrific Tuesday

Why is today so terrific - well, I got my stitches out yesterday!!!!! You know what that means - it means that for the first time in ten days, my armpit has actually seen soap and deodorant! And since Texas decided to pull a usual and heat up to 85 degrees yesterday in the middle of November, I am especially glad for my return to hygeine.

In other news, I am on a roll with my writing and actually got out ten pages this morning before work! Whoohoo! I think I've finally hit my stride.

In even other news, I lost 4 pounds last week on my first official "I'm no longer a traveling trainer" diet. Whoohoo times 2!

So in keeping with my new way of eating, I am looking for good recipes for easy stuff to cook. And casserole/crock pot dishes are especially appreciated. I am one of those people who can eat carbs/sugar, but not fat, so whatever the recipe, it should be low in fat or at least be able to be made that way (and still edible). So anyone got a good one-dish meal they can recommend?????

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Monday in Dallas

Well, it's Monday morning and I'm still in Dallas - whoohoo! My laundry is still caught up and I managed to clear about 100 emails from my account this weekend. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Today's my post over at Killer Fiction so check it out. I'm giving away a signed copy of UNLUCKY for those who play along in my game of the day.

Have a great one!!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday and a GCC Tour

It's Friday, glorious Friday! I am always happy when Friday rolls around but this week, I'm not just dying for it. Why, you ask. Well, it's because of my new, wonderful, fantastic job! I have to report that my first official week on the new job was heaven. I know I'm a creative type (I write fiction for goodness sake), but I am also a huge geek. And I love logic which means software is my friend. So now I sit around all day, playing around in software and writing about it. The only thing that could be better is if I sat around all day writing my fiction. And if it ever pays enough, I'll consider it.

For the weekend, I have the Dish network people coming - again - to "fix" my satellite. Of course, they haven't fixed it the last 5 times they were here, but hey, what's another waste of my Saturday to them? And I was SUPPOSED to have new internet installed but they screwed up too and now I have to wait another week. I'm not impressed with the service so far. (sigh)

Today, I'm leaving you with a GCC tour of Jackie Kessler and her release THE ROAD TO HELL, the second book in her HELL ON EARTH series about (get this one for unique) a succubus named Jezebel who runs away from Hell, hides on earth as an exotic dancer and learns the hard way about true love. For those of you who love a good paranormal (which in my opinion lends toward urban fantasy), you should definitely give Jackie a try.

And before I tempt you with the book, I'm going to tempt you with the fabulous contest she's running on her website. Check it out - you could win an iPod Nano or a Shuffle!!!!!!!! And now, more about THE ROAD TO HELL and Jackie Kessler.........

The second book, THE ROAD TO HELL, is about how Jezebel—now the human Jesse Harris—has to return to Hell to save the lives of those she loves…and somehow make sure it’s not a one-way trip. (If she’d known love was this tough, she never would have turned her back on lust.)

Jackie answered a few interview questions for me and I thought you'd enjoy her answers:

How did you research stripping? Books and google? or did you have to experience stripping to be able to write about it?

Contrary to popular belief, I did not work my way through college by stripping at a local gentlemen's club. I read tons of books, written by and about exotic> dancers. I watched STRIPTEASE (and fast forwarded to the dance scenes). I watched HBO's G-STRING DIVAS. And I visited a strip club and took notes. My Loving Husband, who completely supports my research, accompanied me. (But he politely refused my offer of me buying him a lap dance.)

So, you've weathered the release of your debut novel with grace and aplomb---How is the publication of a second novel different?

More stress! :) Actually, I did a lot more promotion for the second book -- I launched an entire campaign to encourage people to Hit the ROAD. (Plug! Plug! Check out my website for details...and you could win an iPod Nano!) Have I mentioned that I'm learning the subtle art of bribery?

Your book is shelved in romance, but it has elements of urban fantasy. can you explain how having a sort of hybrid of genres helped or hurt you as you tried to market your book?

It was a surprise to me that my novel was bought and marketed as a paranormal romance; I'd written it as an urban fantasy. So I had to learn a lot about the romance genre and market -- and I was thrilled to discover just how passionate and loyal romance readers are. They are also more inclined, generally speaking, to read urban fantasy novels than fantasy readers are to read romance novels. So the battle for me is convincing devoted urban fantasy readers to take a chance on a book with the word "romance" on the spine. );

Reviewers Love It:

"Kessler's sizzling sequel to paranormal debut Hell's Belles puts ex-succubus Jezebel--the now-mortal Jesse Harris, a dancer at a strip club--stage center again. For a month after waking up in a hospital, the former 4,000-year-old, fifth-level succubus who used to seduce humans to claim their souls has been living a happy mortal life in New York with a devoted boyfriend, New York vice cop Paul Hamilton. So when Alecto, a Fury from hell, arrives and demands she return to hell to help Alecto's sister, Megaera (Jesse's former best friend who betrayed her), Jesse balks. Much of the rest of the book is spent convincing her to change her mind, with each sexy escapade topping the last, until (among other things) the demons go after Paul, and Jesse has to "pull an Orpheus." Kessler's raunchy blend of heaven, hell and eros makes for a wild thrill ride, and hot, tough-talking Jesse has gumption and sass." — Publishers Weekly

"Kessler's sassy heroine is back with the scorching-hot book two of the Hell on Earth series. A sharp-tongued succubus writes in first person, telling a deliciously wicked story that mixes romance and humor with dark urban fantasy. The combination of supernatural elements with the mundane realities of life in the big city keeps things real. This is one helluva read--put Kessler on your must-buy list." — Romantic Times (4.5 stars)

So What About the Author - Here's What Jackie Reveals:

Some kids want to grow up to be doctors, or movie stars, or political assassins. Me, I wanted to draw comic books. Not Archies, either—superhero comic books. Maybe it was all the heavily muscled guys in spandex…

Around the time I was 15, I realized that as much as I enjoyed drawing (note that I’m saying nothing about the quality of those pics), it was a lot of fun putting words in the characters’ mouths. I didn’t know the term “fanfic” back then, but I started writing stories about the X-Men, Alpha Flight, and the Teen Titans. Didn’t do anything with those stories, other than horrify my mother. She asked why I couldn’t write nice stories, you know, about bunnies. Nope—me, I wanted to write about power. About magic. About hot guys in spandex. And about beating those guys bloody and senseless. (In retrospect, maybe I really did want to horrify my mother. Hey, not my fault. When I was a kid, I busted her doodling on the cover of New Teen Titans Number 6. Argh!)

So maybe it’s ironic that the book I wound up writing had nothing to do with overly muscled men and everything to do with scantily clad women. (Well, temporarily scantily clad.) Oh, right, and demons.

I live in Upstate New York with my Loving Husband, two Precious Little Tax Deductions, two cats, and 8,000 comic books. For more about me, please visit my website. And remember: love your inner demon.

Buy Jackie's book at Amazon or B&N and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hump Day

Just a quick post to let you all know I'm still out here. I'm just busy with the new job - which I love!!!!!! And I'm doing Nano, so busy, busy writing.

For those of you who've never heard of Nano, check out the website. Might be something you want to consider.

Have a great Hump Day!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Job - New Armpit

Today's my official post over at Killer Fiction, so check it out.

Two things in my personal news today that I'd like to cheer about:

1. I officially start my new job as a technical writer. So now I'm a writer at both of my jobs. And neither require me to board an airplane on even a semi-regular basis.

2. I had armpit surgery on Friday (if you don't know where I'm going with this one - believe me, you don't want to). So now I have a 1.5 inch incision that I can't get wet until the stitches are removed. I'm not even going to launch into what I think about an armpit that can't be bathed properly and can't have deodarant, but I guess I'll survive.

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday Movie Review

Sorry, I sorta bailed on yall yesterday - well, not sorta - I guess I just did. There was a really valid reason though. I was on a roll with my writing and lost track of time, so by the time I got to work, I had to rush off to class and just didn't have time to blog. Hey, you can cut me a break if I was on a writing roll, right? Those things are sacred!

So I promised a movie review this week and here it is. The movie was 30 Days of Night.

Is this not a creepy picture????? The premise of this movie is really good - vampires from Romania (who are centuries old) have discovered a tiny town in Alaska where the sun is completely gone for 30 days. So essentially, they can conduct a full-time buffet.

Some things were silly (it's horror), and they left off some of the more recognized aspects of fighting vampires (crosses, holy water, etc), so maybe we were supposed to just "get" that the town wasn't religious - I don't know. But the vampires were creepy and they made these creepy sounds. While certainly not the best plotted or written script, the movie just worked and I loved it.

My final recommendation: If you like horror, this one is worth the price of admission!
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