Cutbacks, Closings, and Oscar

I admit it. I'm as fond of Going Out of Business/Store Closing sales as the next person. I picked up some wonderful things for the house at Linens & Things (some as high as 60% off original price). But this is getting ridiculous. Everywhere I look, a store is closing. A heck of a lot of folks are being thrown out of work. Wisconsin is reeling from the closing of a GM plant in Janesville, and big layoffs at Harley-Davidson, and the uncertain future of the Chrysler plant here in Kenosha, which I believed is closed "temporarily."

The cutbacks extend to every area and in every field. I learned this week that I'm going to be losing my editor to cutbacks and cost-saving measures. We've only worked together a few years, but it's been a pleasant collaboration from the start. I don't have to worry about a new editor; I've already worked with the person I've been assigned to.
Times like this call for hope. And some fun. Which brings me to my next point.

On this Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to drop by the blog for the first day of Oscar Trivia. I'll be posting questions every two days, and you will have 48 hours to get in your answers before they are published. You can win an ARC of A New Kind of Bliss and some other stuff. With my editor gone it might be a little difficult to get my hands on ARCs, but I'll get a set out if I have to photocopy each page of the galleys.
So make it a point to participate. It'll be fun, and better yet, it's free!

Three Months to Go!

My latest, A New Kind of Bliss , will be in stores on April 28th. I finally got around to updating my website, so click here to visit my Books page and learn more about this novel. There's an excerpt you can read there as well.
See you at the bookstore!

Ella Curry's Black History Literary Affair has begun

The 2nd Annual Black History Literary Affair"Give the Gift of Knowledge" runs from January 25-March 7, 2009. It includes radio shows, blogs, giveaways, countless networking opportunities . . . all free.

I tried to post the announcement I received, but unfortunately there's a trouble tag in there somewhere and I don't have the time to figure out where it is. You can read and post to the blog here: and hopefully that will get you started.

Three Weeks Into the Year

I have grudgingly accepted that it's winter. There are no more pretty lights celebrating the holiday to soften the blow, and the snow no longer looks picturesque, it's just a nuisance. And it's coooooooold! We're going back down below zero this weekend.

That aside, I'm pleased to report that I'm sticking to my resolutions for self-improvement. I'm doing very good with my goal to get in shape. I've been getting on my treadmill every day for 20 minutes or more, walking at least a mile. I'm eating cereal with skim milk for breakfast, a heavy lunch, and a light dinner. I haven't weighed myself yet, but I feel lighter. Now I've got to start getting on the floor and doing crunches for my tummy, since it won't get toned by itself.

I'm also better organized, writing everything down in my day-timer and keeping a written record of all writing-related mileage.

The writing is on track. My WIP is moving along, plus I finished the one of the proposals I was working on. As for the other one, I abandoned it when I finally figured out that the reason I kept putting it off was that I'd lost enthusiasm - not for the project itself, which I feel is a good one and which I've already decided to incorporate into another proposal - but for the targeted publisher, whose invitation to me had met with rejections for the other two proposals I'd sent them. We don't mix. Period. And that's fine.

Finally, I'm continuing to use natural products for housecleaning, to clean the oven, toilets, laundry, even in the dishwasher. When I pack my husband's clothes for his business trips, I starch his shirts with homemade spray starch. And I spray my car windows with a mixture of vinegar and water to prevent icing. The spray bottle is my new best supply item.

I figure if I can keep up with everything (and it really isn't that much) for another three weeks, it should become habitual.

In other news, the 2008 Academy Award nominations are out, and two talented actresses' reputations have been raised a notch (so have their fees). Go, Viola Davis! Go, Taraji P. Henson! Be sure to join me starting February 1st for 3 weeks of Academy Awards Trivia. The winner will get an ARC of A New Kind of Bliss, my May release; and a second prize winner will get a small gift certificate to either Barnes & Noble or Borders.

Speaking of bookstores, I was sad to hear that one of the bookstores closest to me, the Waldenbooks at Regency Mall in Racine, Wisconsin, is closing this weekend. Fortunately, there is a Barnes & Noble a block away. The small mall bookstore is becoming a rarity.

My small steps for improvement are nothing compared to my favorite part of this young year . . . hearing those two glorious words, "President Obama."

I hope your 2009 is going well. Did you make goals, and are you keeping up with them?

Close Encounters of the Illicit Kind

I completed a romantic comedy novel the other day that I thought was a very satisfying reading experience. I'd read other books by this author, standalone books and even 2-1/4 books in a series before I got bored with the character doing the same stupid stuff over and over. Anyway, I felt this was her best book to date. I went to Amazon to read the reader reviews. Since it was a bestselling author (in the highest sense of the word, not bestselling author the way everybody and their mama is a bestselling author), there were over 200 reviews on Amazon. While this wasn't surprising, I was taken off guard by all the 1, 2, and 3-star reviews. About a third of the readers graded it a 3 or below.

Some readers complained that they'd seen the plotline in a movie. Since I hadn't seen the movie in question, I can't comment on that, other to say that similarities are found all the time in books and movies alike. Others didn't like the ending, which in my opinion they grossly misinterpreted. But the great majority were unhappy with the romantic element of the book, which they didn't like because it was extramarital (although the husband was clearly a control freak and a jerk). And there was no actual adultery involved, just a definite pull in that direction.

Now, I had some cheating going on in my last year's release, Once Upon A Project. Lucky for me, no one said they didn't like the story because of that aspect (and I happen to feel that both of the two lead characters who indulged had good reasons,) so these reviews were of particular interest to me.

So, here's the question: How do you, as a reader, feel about characters who cheat? Does it depend on the genre, serious women's fiction vs. romantic comedy? Is there ever a good reason for it? Or do you feel so strongly against it that you automatically will downgrade a storyline that features married folks (or maybe unmarried folks as well) stepping out on each other?

By the way, if you'd like to know the name of the book and the author, you can e-mail me privately and I'll tell you. No way am I going to publicly identify an author who had an earlier book that I thrown against the wall, no matter how much I liked the book that I just finished!

Hail to the Chief

No words necessary (but "Yowsah!" comes to mind . . . .)

Remembering Dr. King

Our country and the world have changed so much since that day 80 years ago when he was born, and also in the 41 years since his death.

Next Monday, the 19th, we will observe the official holiday marking his birth. And the very next day, President-Elect Obama will become President Obama.

Remarkable, isn't it?

Deep Freeze

Let’s see . . . When I left work last night the temperature reading in the car was 6 below zero. The interstate is full of chain crashes because it’s too cold for the salt to work properly. Schools are closing tomorrow when the wind chills dip in the 30 to 40 below zero range. Whiteout conditions were reported in parts of Wisconsin with this morning’s snow.

And through it all, nobody is mentioning those 2 little words . . .


Everybody Isn't 25

When I saw Glenn Close's stunning ensemble at the Golden Globe Banquet last night, I was certain she'd make all the best-dressed lists. I was, therefore, very annoyed when a TV journalist criticized her appearance as being "too covered up." A newspaper from which I got this photo compared her to Cloris Leachman, and not in a good way.

Well, both of these women happen to be over 60 (okay, so Cloris Leachman is over 80). Does it occur to anyone that it's probably a good idea for women of this age not to show a lot of skin? Glenn was clearly dressed for a formal evening, and at least her hair was combed (which is more than I can say for Drew Barrymore, who wore a lovely dress but whose hair looked like she'd just gotten out of bed and forgot her comb). If Glenn had shown up in a body-baring ensemble displaying dimpled cleavage and upper arms, these same people would be the first ones to accuse her of trying to look 30 when she's twice that age. Even the always elegant Helen Mirren was criticized last year for a dress that, despite the "required" low-cut neckline that showed a rather weathered cleavage, attempted to conceal her arms with some kind of fishnet threading.

Does anybody remember the scene in the movie Life when an elderly Eddie Murphy chided another elderly (and obviously dementia-suffering) inmate who had a habit of letting his bathrobe fall open to cover up "because nobody wants to look at that mess"?

Well, we don't. All those fashion critics need to realize that what works at 40 won't always work over 60.

Does ANYBODY out there in the service industry do their job right???

Right now I am dealing with three - that's right, three - issues stemming from bumbling, inept employees.

First, there's the movers who damaged a piece of our furniture, but the insurance company saying that they won't pay because it's not on the manifest the movers filled out. (Fortunately, it was on the inventory list I provided the movers with, based upon which they provided me with an estimate.)

Then, there's the gas station (or possibly my bank) who charged me twice for the same $17.48 worth of gas.

Finally, there's the mess with one of our car titles, which is a case of what didn't that woman get right. She has the wrong mileage, the wrong VIN, she spelled my name wrong (even more of a mistake when you consider it was my husband's car). If anyone out there ever moves to Illinois and has to register their auto title, I strongly suggest making as many trips as you have titles. I brought all three Florida titles in at the same time. They need to post a damn warning in these places.

Straightening all this mess out is going to take a few days, at a minimum. See you next week.

It's Epiphany, also known as the 12th and last day of Christmas, so don't forget to take down those Christmas lights!

Enter the Dragon

I spent New Year's with a dragon.

No, my husband didn't transform, and no, I don't mean dragon in the sense of pink elephants. Last weekend I read on Roslyn Carrington's blog that she adores the Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software. I thought of the troubles I've been having with my left thumb (not really a typing finger but painful all the same) and wondered if typing might become more difficult for me in the future.

The reviews on Amazon were definitely mixed, with many 1- or 2-star reviews from customers who weren't able to use the product for one reason or another. But those who loved it said it worked for them within minutes. Their endorsements and Roslyn's were all I needed, so I headed on over to E-Bay. I got the Preferred version of version 10 (for a cool $65) and it was waiting for me when I got home from work last night. I suddenly was very glad that we'd decided against driving 20 miles into Illinois to attend a party (in 10-degree weather, no less). I had a new toy!

I got so caught up in playing with this that I damn near missed the arrival of 2009. It was 11:59PM when I looked up, and I ran into the bedroom, not slowing down even when my husband's snores told me he'd done his usual on those stay-at-home New Year's Eves, fallen asleep. I just wanted to be there when the year came in, whether he knew it or not.

I stayed up another hour dictating text and have already worked with it for a few hours this morning. All I can say is, what a marvelous invention!

Thanks, Roslyn!