Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wow, That Was Fast...

Internet was fixed by the end of the night yesterday. It had serious issues up until about eight o'clock last night, but when I went to check it one last time before bed it worked just fine. This morning, no problems.

So, I'm back!

Now I have no excuses not to work!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Experiencing Technical Difficulties..

Our internet connection has decided to be... difficult. We have Verizon FiOS, and we love it. When it works, that is.

I started experiencing problems about a week ago, but thought it was our router. I would restart it, and everything would be fine for a while. But now our On Demand isn't working right, either.

One thing I'll say for Verizon. When we had problems with Comcast, we got told over and over that the problem was on our end, not theirs. Well, when Dusty spoke with Verizon, they said something along the lines of they had a problem. They were aware of it and attempting to fix it, and thanked us for the call.

Wow. Quite a difference from the not-so-customer-service we used to get with Comcast. Kudos for listening to us, Verizon!

Anyway, I'm not sure how long I'll be in e-mail purgatory. If you're trying to reach me, odds are I can't reach you back just yet. Once the problem appears fixed I'll let you know.

P.S.: This stinks on one level, however. How am I supposed to finish my Frostfell quests without a steady Internet connection?!?

Monday, December 24, 2007


Tonight, I go to my grandmother's house to enjoy The Feast of the Seven Fish. (Well, more like six and a half; we've introduced vegetarian pizza for the little ones who won't eat otherwise.) Tomorrow we'll be opening our presents from Santa and having ravioli's, my oldest son's favorite meal. We'll fry our brains on video games, put puzzles together until our fingers twitch, and try to wring as many giggles as possible from two seriously hyped up little boys.

My wish for all of you this season? Lots of giggles, happy sighs and a whole lot of love.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Is A Romance?

A friend of mine and I have been discussing the nature of the romance story. Just like any other genre, there are certain things that a romance reader expects when they pick up a romance.

For instance, my friend writes science fiction. Admittedly, there is a touch of romance there, but he's writing what I would call a "serial" romance; the romance takes place over the course of three or four books, but does eventually have an HEA after much fighting (mostly of bad guys) and the occasional misunderstanding. In no way would I term his novel(s) romances; they are science fiction with a subgenre of romance. The heat level in the love scenes is very low, mostly because that isn't the focus of his story, and there is a high probability that the HEA will not be what anyone expects.

In order for a novel to qualify as a romance (with a subgenre, like science fiction, or without one), there needs to be an untouchable HEA. These two (or three), after trials and tribulations, are mated for life; what the writer has put together, let not the writer pull asunder. Even if it's twenty-five years later, or three hundred years later; messing with the reader's characters can turn a romance reader off faster than a naked Lyle Lovett.

The readers of romances don't mind the occasional serial romance, as long as they know in the end they'll get their HEA. But if they know that all of that emotional investment they put into this couple turns into something else, whether the romance ends with a bang or a fizzle, they're gonna be ticked.

According to Wikipedia (God, I love Wikipedia), "A romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."[1] Through the late 20th and early 21st centuries, these novels are commercially published in two main varieties: category romances, which are shorter books with a one-month shelf-life, and single-title romances, which are generally longer with a longer shelf-life. Separate from their type, a romance novel can exist within one of many subgenres, including contemporary, historical, and paranormal."

A few things need to happen for a romance to be a romance, in my opinion:

1) They need to be attracted to each other. Yeah, I know, but you'd be surprised at the number of books I've read where they start out with no attraction, and gradually build it. If it's done correctly, it can be fun, but for the most part if the chemistry isn't there from the start then it won't work for me. It pulls me out of the story, makes me question the book's "reality" too much to have them grow into each other. The only time it's worked for me is if the heroine (or hero!) has loved for a while, but the significant other was in another relationship and didn't realize how said heroine (or hero) felt. Lori Foster's Too Much Temptation is a good example; Noah has no clue how he feels about Grace until after he breaks up with his fiancee.

2) There need to be a few bumps on the Yellow Brick Road. Getting together, saying "I love you" and cutting to the cute end scene doesn't really work. There need to be a few bumps in the road, a few lumps in the mashed potatoes, a small lump of coal in the candy in your stocking. In other words, don't make it so easy that the reader is bored. Now, I have a hard time writing a story where the heroine is full of angst, and I admit that. I tend to throw in outside forces to keep my heroes and heroines apart. That works just fine for me. I just have to be careful and make sure there's an outside influence keeping them apart, or threatening them in some way. But if you want good internal forces keeping people apart, then I recommend Linda Winfree. Her What Mattered Most is a prime example of what internal forces can keep a couple from finding a happily ever after until the very end of the novel. Lauren Dane's TriMates is a good example of outside forces working against a couple (or in this case, a triple).

3) Love is about more than sex. You need proof of this? Look at what's been happening to Anita Blake. I love a hot and heavy sex scene, but I love it more when the two (or three!) people involved are romantically entwined. Again, Lauren Dane's TriMates is a prime example of this. Three people forming a bond together and making it work can be truly hot. Tracy, Nick and Gabe's bond is very strong, and very loving.

Sex without the beginnings of love is not my cup of tea. Now, I've seen "sharing" romances where the hero gets off on sharing his woman. But even there, the love is paramount to the story. The hero loves the heroine, and they will, together or with company, ride off into the sunset for their happily ever after.It can work for me... or it can turn me off completely (as in the case of Anita), depending on how it's done.

4) Parted lovers should reunite. Okay, if there was cheating involved, a) it should be handled early on, preferrably as a past act, and b) you can't make it easy to return to the lost love. If the government has wisked your lover away to be in the witness protection program towards the end of the book, either the trial needs a speedy end or the feds need to snag you up and take you to your lover just so he/she will stop whining and driving them insane.

One of the most poignant "parted lovers" stories I've ever read was where an angel of death needed a lesson in opening her heart back up again. She's turned human and sent to deal with a man who she thinks is going to die in a crash. She saves his life, only to find out later he's dying anyway. She holds him in her arms as he passes away. Because she's an angel of death, she's able to prove to the powers that be that she's reopened her heart, and is reunited with her lover. Very few things make me cry, but this story was so well written that this one did. I'd give you the name of the story and the author but damn it, I can't find it. I'll post it as soon as I do.

You'll thank me for it.

5) If you kill off the hero/heroine, expect to reap the "rewards", even if it's six books later. Romance readers are extremely loyal to "their" couples. Killing off their couples makes them mad. Don't do it, man! Just don't do it! It won't be pretty. Trust me. There isn't enough chocolate in the world to make it better. Romance lovers are fanatic about this kind of thing. If you're going to have the doomed love, then have it be the secondary story. Tell it from the point of view of a different couple, who in turn are grateful that their romance didn't turn out that way. (And, if you must write it, make sure that the "doom" can be reversed, or at least show them happily reunited in the afterlife. Or reincarnated into a different life where things work out for them, as long as things ultimately work out for them.)

I'm sure there are things that I'm forgetting here. It's nine a.m. and I'm only working off of one cup of caffeine, so my brain is only working at half speed. But for me, these are the basic elements of the romance story. Let me know if you can think of anything else, and I'll add it to the list if I agree, or at least chat about it if I don't.

Now for my second cup of tea...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Okay, Mom, I Get It Now...

I remember before I had kids I would ask my mom what she wanted for Christmas.

"Peace and quiet," she'd always say.

Of course, we'd laugh and say, "No, really. What do you want for Christmas?"

And she'd sigh, and say, "Peace and quiet."

So of course she got bottles of cheap perfume, costume jewelry, some hand-painted ceramics... you know, the kinds of things only a Mom could love getting from her kids. (Heck, Dusty has a painted dinosaur our older boy made him when he was four sitting on his desk, and the first little plaster animal our little one ever slapped paint on.)

What she did not get was peace and quiet. We're Italian, and while loving, we're hardly a peaceful or quiet bunch.

Nowadays, when Dusty asks me what I want for Christmas, I reply:

"Peace and quiet."

And, of course, the kids laugh, and say, "No, Mom, really... what do you want for Christmas?"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Terry Pratchett

I love just about everything DiscWorld. One of the first books my husband and I bonded over was The Color of Magic, and we've been following the adventures of Rincewind, Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax et al of Ankh Morpork and the surrounding kingdoms ever since. So when my husband told me this morning that Terry Pratchett had been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, I was absolutely shocked. The man has always been a comic genius as far as I'm concerned, and if you've never read a book by him then you've missed out on quite an adventure.

Here's the post Mr. Pratchett put up on his artist's website, :

11th December 2007


Folks,I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of earlyonset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, Iexpect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this shouldbe interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, aswill everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell.I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

Now I know that this is going to be all over the web; in fact, I've found it in quite a number of spots. But I'm such a huge fan that I couldn't go without sending him my best wishes, even if he doesn't know me from Adam.

Good luck, Mr. Pratchett. I look forward to your next book.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sniffle, Cough, Achoo!

I haven't been by in a while, because both my boys have been sick with whatever plague happens to be assaulting the Delaware Valley at this time. Three boxes of tissues, a ton of Robitussin Pediatric Cough, Cold and Flu and a lot of "Mbombby!"'s later, and the oldest is back in school. The little one is once again causing mischief. He's no longer sitting in Mommy's lap, whining about his poor little throat.

Of course, now that he feels better, he's decided to torture me with repeated renditions of the SpongeBob Christmas episode while denuding the tree... but hey, you can't have everything, right? Better naughty than miserable.

Of course, the oldest was hoping for a few more days out of school:

"You know, Mommy (fake cough) my throat still doesn't feel quite right."

My hands hit my hips as I looked at him skeptically. "Uh-huh. Five minutes ago you were screaming like a banshee while chasing your brother because he'd stolen the remote."

Big, blank brown eyes stared up at me. "Yeah, but it still hurt." (sniffle)

"If you can chase your brother and threaten him with bodily harm you can go to school."

"Aw, man," he muttered as he schlepped off to the sofa and another round of Spongebob.

Needless to say, he went back to school yesterday. Now I just have to protect the tree (and my sanity) from the three year old.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Today was a day I truly enjoyed updating my blog. Can I have him for Christmas? I've been a very good girl this year...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Not Playing Hoookey! (Really!)

Gotta love this time of year. Head colds just reach out and slap you upside the head.

Both my babies are sick. Dusty's sick. I think I just heard the cat sneeze.

In fact, I'm the only one in the house who isn't sick.

Yay me.

So I decided to do my Christmas cards today, since work just ain't happenin'. (It's hard to write a love scene when a three year old is holding up a booger-laden finger and saying, "Thissue Mbombmby, thissue!")

I went looking through some old e-mails trying to find an address for a cousin who moved recently, and found an old quote Dusty had sent me:

"Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver."

I had to laugh. I gotta a) use this somewhere in a story and b) find out who said it!

And find that darn address... sigh.


P.P.S.: The oldest is sulking because I told him he can't go out and play in it with a head cold. So he's forcing me to sit through Bobobo Bo Bobobo. It's... horrendous. I'd rather watch Booh-bah, which is basically Teletubbies on LSD. *shudder*

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Playin' Hookey

There's a lot of stuff going on in my personal life right now that has me stressed out pretty badly. I'd planned on working this week, like normal, but I find that what I really need to do is take a deep breath, step back...

And blow things up.

I'm playing Tabula Rasa today. It's going to throw my self-imposed schedule all to hell and gone, but chain guns are fun! Wheeee!

And hopefully it'll de-stress me enough to head off the migraine I felt coming on this morning.

Blowing up aliens is therapy. Nine out of ten doctors (who play video games) will agree.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Am Thankful For...

... my grandmother, who's always been there for me even when she disagreed with my choices.

... my boys, both of whom brighten my life in their own, unique ways.

... my mom, who blusters and orders us around but has a heart of gold.

... my dad, for his great booming laugh and the way he has of making things seem like they're really not that bad.

... my friends, who've stuck by me no matter what crazy stuff I come up with.

... my brother and sister, for keeping me from growing up pompous and arrogant, and STOP LAUGHING! Goofs. It's not that funny. Sheesh.

... my m-i-l, step-m-i-l and f-i-l. Yup, I'm one of the lucky ones; they're great people, and I'm not ashamed to toot their horns.

... my niece and nephews, who are growing up to be the most incredible people. I'm grateful to know you guys, and looking forward to the "I knew them when". I am so gonna brag, let me tell you!

... the chance to finally prove I can make my writing my living. Thanks, Angie and Samhain!

... the wonderful man I married, who right now is cursing the Thrax and wishing he had a chain gun. He encourages me, helps me over humps, supports me when I need it and helps me fly. He's my best friend and the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you, sweetheart.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

On To The Next!

I plan on writing a novella for the Psychic Anthology open call.

At first, I had a great idea, but as I worked on Cat the idea became less and less... great.

I wound up making a major overhaul that sent Dusty's eyebrows waaaaay up, but since I made that overhaul the story has started to write itself.

So he may be... concerned... about the direction I went, but the characters love it.

In the immortal words (okay, not immortal, but really popular) words of Tim Gunn: "Make it work!"

And in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny: "And I will, too!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Turned It In, Cross Your Fingers!

I finished Cat of a Different Color and sent it in to the editor; big thanks to the people who agreed to beta read for me for getting it back to me quicker than I expected! You got me a week ahead of schedule. I planned on writing my brains out so I can take some time off around Christmas to play with my family, and you guys just made that possible.

Now, if you guys are that good when I'm ready to go to Disney World next year... hmmm, let me see, I need TWO weeks off then...

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Okay, for some reason blogger is messin' with my paragraphs. I've edited the post below five times and it STILL messes up the paragraphs.

Sorry, folks! I'll try and fix it again tomorrow.

I Just Can't Do It

Write angsty stories, that is.

I've tried and tried to do the "Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love but both deny it, neither one trusts the other, angst ensues, someone grovels, love prevails, happily-ever-after" but I'm just not built to write it. I either wind up scrapping the project in disgust or giggling in my Cheerios over the melodrama that proceeds to spew from my fingertips. One of the rejection letters I have states that "there is not enough tension between the hero and the heroine".

Meaning they start out liking each other, still like each other in the middle and love each other by the end. Now, this was a few years ago, and I knew even then that they were right. There wasn't enough tension between the hero and the heroine. At least, not for the publishing house I sent it to.

Was I mad when I got the rejection? Nope. I considered it a learning experience. A poor business decision on my part, if you will. I still plan on revamping that novel, fixing it up, making it more the me I am now and resubmitting it to someone else.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love a good angst-ridden story every now and again. Diana Palmer is the ultimate cheesy, angst-ridden cowboy story. I know exactly what I'm going to get when I open a Palmer, and nine point nine times out of ten I'm not disappointed. Pick up a Harlequin? Angst city, but it's like a guilty pleasure: something I like to read, but know I can't write.

Now, give me a kidnapping, or an enemy the hero and heroine must band together to fight, or just a situation where they wind up working together for one reason or another and I'm your girl. Outside threats? Easy! Arguments between said boy and girl that actually gets resolved without resorting to half a book's worth of soul searching and groveling? No problem!

Sobbing into your cappucino because your boyfriend thinks you're a) cheating on him b) you're a liar c) you tried to steal his baby away from him d) an idiot or e) all of the above?


My brain freezes. My fingers turn to mush. My three year old asks me, "Why you bangin' your head on da desk, Mommy?"

I just can't do it.

And you can't make me. Nyah.

Luckily, I don't have to, either. I enjoy what I write, and I'd like to think that comes out in the stories I make up.

I finsihed Cat of a Different Color this week and sent it to my beta readers (and already got a reply back! Damn, Stephanie, you're quick, lol!), and I'm planning on sending it in to the editor by the end of next week. Another Halle Puma, mated. Next I plan on working on Rossetti's Stone for the psychic anthology; hopefully I'll have it done quickly, since they're already starting to invade my sleep. More hopefully, the editor will like it and accept it for the anthology!

Yeah. My only angst is that my characters won't shut up.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Yup, It's Monday

I open Cat, thrilled that yesterday I managed to hit my end of the week word count of 20k (although techincally I consider Friday my end-of-week, considering everything that had gone down I decided to count the work I did Sunday). I stare at the very odd formatting and think, "What the hell?" All of the text was on the left hand side; the page was waaaaay too huge, but Reveal Formatting showed that it was exactly as I had set it.
Which means that somehow Cat got corrupted. So I did what Dusty suggested and opened my back-up program, all ready to download the file and get to work.

It's not there. NOTHING is there. The daily, three a.m. backups apparently don't exist.

I tried my best to fix the formatting, but Word was stubborn today. I finally copied the entire text over to Notepad, opened The Wallflower and copied the text from Notepad over it. It accepted The Wallflower's formatting, so now I'm mostly back on track.

Unfortunately, because I copied it over into Notepad I lost all of my headers, page breaks and italics. I have to read the entire doc and fix the italics; I've already done the headers and page breaks.

On top of all that my headache is back and my baby boy is sick. When I asked him where it hurt he opened his mouth and pointed, so, gee, I'm betting on a sore throat. He and Monkey, his favorite stuffed animal, are currently drinking juice and watching Monsters Inc. while Mommy yells at MS Word.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Rough Couple of Weeks

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Dusty got stuck pulling in serious overtime (it wasn't major overtime since he didn't break sixty hours), Halloween rolled around (and the kids are still trying to come down off the sugar high), and I had an... interesting point of view given to me that lead to the breaking of a long-time friendship. (Okay, the friendship was already broken, I just didn't know it.)

Hence, I got a Migraine Week, stress being my bestest buddy in the whole wide world. It brings me such lovely gifts, like pounding temples, ice picks to the eyeballs whenever I see sunlight, and nausea that would fell an elephant.
That, unfortunately, puts me behind on Cat of a Different Color by about a week. I'm going to try and make some of that up today, since I'm feeling a great deal better. With any luck the rough draft will be finished by the end of next week and my personal edits will begin the week after.

So far this story is flowing fairly well; we'll have to see how it goes! Wish me luck!
Oh, and wish that Dusty doesn't have another Week from Hell, too, ok?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Living With ADHD

My son has ADHD.

There's a certain isolation in having a child who's been diagnosed with ADHD. There are those who blame the parent for not being "firm enough", and there are those who understand completely what you're going through (they are usually the ones with kids who have ADHD, or who have a relative with a child with ADHD). The relief of knowing that it is an actual, physical disorder is indescribable. Yes! I have something tangible I can fight!

But not everyone sees it that way, and that can be both frustrating and painful.

ADHD is a disorder that involves how the brain processes chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters:

"Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, motor activity, motivation and reward, regulation of milk production, sleep, mood, attention, and learning."

"In the central nervous system, serotonin is believed to play an important role in the regulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, vomiting, sexuality, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin may be associated with several disorders, namely increase in aggressive and angry behaviors, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and intense religious experiences. If neurons of the brainstem that make serotonin—serotonergic neurons—are abnormal, there is a risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)."

Thank you, Wikipedia.

Now isn't that scary?

I just read the most incredible article on kids with mental disorders; it almost made me cry, because it hit exactly on the isolation a child and parent feels when they're dealing with a mental disorder (like ADHD or bipolar disorder). It talks about the hard decision a parent must make on whether or not to medicate, and all of the consequences, both good and bad, of either decision.

When people like your pharmacist tell you that "all you need to do is be firmer with him", it makes you feel terrible, like you're a lousy parent. Why can't I help my child? Why can't I make him stop hurting himself? What am I doing wrong? (By the way, that pharmacist no longer makes personal comments like that to me, not after I told him that at least now my kid wasn't a danger to himself anymore.)

But I know I made the right decision. He's happy, well-adjusted, making good grades and friends and is no longer trying to hurt himself. So it was kind of comforting to see that my child isn't alone; that other parents have struggled with this decision, and with the knowledge that there are those who judge them for making either the decision to medicate or the decision to not medicate.

Does having a child with ADHD make me a better writer, a better person, a better parent? I have no idea. I know I'm less likely to sweat the small stuff now. Dishes not done? Carpet not vacuumed? I'll deal with it when I get to it. Kid needs help with his homework, or wants to talk to me about a problem with a friend or why someone thinks he's "crazy"? I'm all over it.

These days, I count any day when my son doesn't punch himself in the face a good day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

All Better Now... I Hope...

I feel a great deal better today, so I plan on working. Thank God. All day yesterday and all morning today I've been haunted by the voice of Dorie from Finding Nemo: "Just keep working, just keep working, working, working..."

It's getting annoying. Really.

So I'm going to shut her up and get back to work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's All HER Fault!

You know who you are, you cold-giver, you.

Sigh. So much for getting work done this week. My sister-in-law graciously passed along her head cold once she was done with it. Fever, sinus problems, body aches... ack. I planned on having Cat of a Different Color halfway done by the end of the week, and it looks like it ain't happening.

Maybe I'll work this weekend, if I feel up to it. I want to take part in the Psychic Anthology open call, at Samhain Publishing. I have a story plotted out and a few thousand words written in it, but if I don't get Cat done soon it just won't work out.

I told you. It's all her fault. (Sniffle.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Old Friends

I attended the wedding this weekend of someone I've known since I was five years old, and ran into someone I've known since I was twelve. Talk about a blast from the past! Most of the time when I go to a wedding I sit there and wait until I can go home again (I don't dance, I don't really drink, and Dusty keeps muttering about stopping at Taco Bell on the way home), but this time I got to sit and catch up with one of my friends, and make plans to catch up with the other.

Here is us in 1983:

And now us in 2007:

And yes, in both pictures I am the dork in glasses.

Where did the time go? (And when did she go blonde?!?) You don't realize how much you miss old friends until you see them again and think, "Damn, I missed so much!" (like, when did she go blonde?) E-mails and chats just don't feel the same as meeting face to face and seeing expressions you remember, hearing a voice that's matured from thirteen to thirty-something; that connection is missing, that special spark that made you all friends to begin with.

Here's hoping we don't go another twenty-some years between seeing one another again; maybe I can talk them into going with me to the next Romance convention or something? Hmmm....

Friday, October 5, 2007

Youz Going To The Liberry After You Eat Your Hoagie?

Okay, I'm from the Delaware Valley, and I am guilty of each and every one of these "language violations". I admit it. Which is why I had to laugh when I read this gentleman's take on them, and why I decided to share. (Isn't random surfing of the web wonderful?)

If you aren't from the Tri-State area, it may not seem as funny, but maybe you'll think about how you express things where you're from that makes the rest of us look at you and say, "Huh?" Like around here, it's soda, but my friend from Ohio took forever to unlearn pop. =)

Now excuse me while I take my banned book back to the liberry...

Language Pet Peeves
by Art Wolk
Delaware Valleyisms

Here are just a few of the expressions used in the Delaware Valley that are my personal pet peeves:

“Let’s go down the shore”:

Say this to people who live more than one hundred miles from Philadelphia and you’ll get blank stares. “Where,” they might wonder, “are we going exactly? To the foamy water at the edge of the ocean? And when we get there, do we dig below the sand until we’re “down” the shore?

“I want a hoagie.”

Non-Delaware Valleyans are likely to ask: “Are you talking about a small hoe for a small garden? Or perhaps you’re asking for anyone with the same given name as Hoagy Carmichael [composer of hits like ‘Georgia on My Mind’].” The last thing they’ll think about is a sandwich.


Everyone in the Delaware Valley (including all of New Jersey) knows what these eateries are. But use this term on non-Delaware Valleyans and they’ll assume you mean people in the act of eating (dining). My wife and I once ventured to Virginia Beach and asked where we could get “diner food.” Everyone, without exaggeration, everyone had no idea what we meant.

“youz” or “yehz”:

The first of these two is pronounced exactly like the plural of female sheep (i.e., ewes), but has nothing to do with them. In the Delaware Valley, these words are used instead of the word “you.” The reason is obvious: the speaker thinks that “you” is only used when referring to one person. So, obviously, a pluralization is needed, hence the “z” or “ehz.” A typical use would be, “What do youz (or yehz) want?” Go to almost any diner in Southern New Jersey, and at least one waiter or waitress will use it.

“hon” or “sweetie”:

Speaking of waitresses, it’s obvious to me that I must have had a romance with most of them, because they call me “hon” or “sweetie” the first time I enter their domain. I have to admit that I didn’t call my wife, “hon,” until we were dating for three months. Even so, the first time I used the word, I braced myself for a possible rebuff, then was tremendously gratified that she allowed me to use it. But Delaware Valley waitresses, especially those in diners, use this word the first time they clap eyes on you and have no fear of rejection. Perhaps in my next incarnation, I’ll be lovelorn and will eat in diners every day, if only to hear the intimate name they’ll use on me because I’m their special “sweetie.”


As a librarian, this pronunciation is particularly grating. After all, when I earned a masters degree in library science, I wasn’t taught anything about berries, let alone “truth” berries or “lie” berries.


This refers to the liquid put in car tanks that makes the vehicle run. If someone from the Delaware Valley pronounces this word like people living in the rest of the United States (i.e., “gahs”), Delaware Valley listeners will think he or she is trying to sound affected or high class.

“Alls I know”:

Does the speaker mean that he or she is a carpenter and is familiar with every type of “awl”? Well, no, it doesn't. In this case, a Delaware Valleyan means, “What I know about that subject...,” as in, “Alls I know is that Ben Franklin started the first liberry here in Philly.”


If one looks at changes in English words or phrases over the centuries, the most noticeable alteration is that the expressions or words become shorter and/or simpler. For example, two hundred years ago the place where things were manufactured was a manufactory. Of course, the latter term was changed to “factory,” the word in use today.

And, then there's “jeet.” This Delaware Valleyism is three words in one, specifically, “Did you eat?” The conversion is a masterstroke of simplicity: we've gone from nine letters and two spaces to just four letters. This would make “jeet” an obvious word for inclusion in new dictionaries, if it weren't for the fact that Delaware Valleyans would be the only people who'd use it.

There's one other reason: after first seeing “jeet,” the people who put together the Oxford English Dictionary would need smelling salts to regain consciousness.


If this word is used on a Delaware Valley news station or web site any time between November 1st and May 1st, hysteria on an unimaginable scale ensues, because virtually everyone assumes they won't be able to get out of their houses to purchase food until July. One day last year, I happened to be in the egg section of a supermarket, but there was not a single egg to be had…unless you wanted the twenty-five eggs on the floor. I immediately knew that a newscaster somewhere in the Delaware Valley had used the three consonants “s,” “n,” and “w,” with an “o” precariously placed in the third position. I was right: 2-4 inches of snow was predicted (hence the egg/food fight). This begs the questions: Didn’t most of these people live through the 31” snowstorm in 1996? And, why doesn't the memory of that storm help them remain calm whenever less than half that amount of snow is predicted? The obvious answer: they’re from the Delaware Valley!

Here’s an addition from Bill Price (South Jersey Writers member):

“If you axe me…”

(I’ll be dead or horribly wounded!)


*Thankfully brought to my attention by librarian Marie Schultz.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Banned Book Week

This week is Banned Book week with the American Library Association, something I wouldn't have even known about if several of the authors over at Samhain Publishing hadn't mentioned it.

To quote the ALA, "Banned Books Week emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them."

I looked at the site; being a mom, I'm always worried about what my kids are reading, watching or doing on the internet. What I expected to see was The Anarchist's Cookbook or The Kama Sutra. What I got was:

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

... and the list of books considered classics goes on and on. Authors such as Judy Blume, Alice Walker, George Orwell and Maya Angelou, to name a few, are challenged in schools and in a lot of cases (if only temporarily) banned from being used in those schools and libraries. Usually for "sexual content", "inappropriate language" or "anti-family".

I am of the firm opinion that if you don't like it, don't read it. If you don't want your kids reading it, inform the teacher what your objections are, and perhaps a compromise can be reached. But don't tell me what my kid can and cannot read based on an assumption you've made about the material covered in the book. I don't know how many times I heard "Don't read Harry Potter, it promotes Satanism!" Actually, if you read Harry Potter, the wizards celebrate Christmas! Yet Harry is in the top ten challenged books on the ALA's list.

So, if you see a crazy redhead in Walmart today singing, "All we are saying is give books a chance!" you'll know who it is.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

And Sometimes It Just Comes Together

You know, normally when I have a cold the only thing I want to do is take medicine and go to bed.

Last night I sent my husband and the kids to our friends' house. I made myself a homemade pizza, settled in...

And couldn't get the voices out of my head.

I wound up sitting and editing nearly 47,000 words last night on the full-length novel I'm working on. I blasted my music, put my hair up and got thoroughly engrossed in what was happening between my hero, heroine and the villian. I added maybe a thousand words, but on the whole I was just enjoying the heck out of myself. I love it when I read something I've written and think to myself, "Okay. This is good."

I love my husband and children. But every now and then, I need an evening where the only thing I concentrate on is me and what I want, even if that means I work for six hours straight.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What Have I Done To Piss Off The Karma Gods?

So my migraine finally abates (sitting in the house for five days straight will usually do that for me). I feel sooooo much better.

Until the 100.1 degree fever kicks in. That stuck around for about two days.

Today, I appear to be fever free, but my sinuses are acting up.

Whatever I did, I'm sorry already! Sheesh!

On a lighter note, I'm just about done editing Beta Testing. It needs "polishing" before I send it off to Editorland to see if it's good enough to be a law... er, book.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I am a migraine sufferer. I know this; I was definitely diagnosed earlier this year, while I suspected that I suffered for almost a year.

So, Saturday night I was playing my MMORPG (EverQuest II) with my friends like I do every Saturday night.

With a migraine.

Oh, I wasn't completely stupid; I felt "okay" most of that day; the migraine had started the day before, and I medicated myself to a fair-thee-well Friday, even going to bed early since sleep is the best thing for me.

Felt well enough on Saturday to do edits on my latest novella and play video games.

Stupid, stupid. Sigh.

Note to self: when your head is throbbing in time to your heartbeat it is time to GET OFF THE COMPUTER, get away from the kiddies (if possible), find a nice, dark hole and crawl into it.

Which I did all day Sunday, since I "reactivated" the migraine by ignoring my warning signs.

So today was spent in a dark office, pretty much staying out of the well-lit areas of the house and turning down the brightness on my computer screen.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How Do YOU Answer This?

My little one is at that stage. You know, where most little ones start asking, "Whywhywhywhy?" until you're ready to pull your hair out of your head and stuff it in your ears in the vain hope it will dampen the sound of their high-pitched little voice.

However, my little one doesn't ask, "Why?". Oh, no. He asks, "What you doing, Mommy?"

Over. And over. And over again. For the same. Damn. Thing.

After the fifteenth time of saying, "Vacuuming", you find yourself replying, "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Trying to take over the world." Or, "I'm not Mommy. I'm Olga the House Wench."

Even Dusty has gotten into the act. "I'm trying to remember what to do if I ever become the Evil Overlord." (Just in case you've forgotten.)

My older son giggled. The little one looked thoughtful.

Be afraid. Be very afraid...

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Contract is IN!

Yay! My contract with Samhain Publishing finally came back. For some reason, despite the fact that I'm working on a sequel to my first soon-to-be-published short story, AND the fact that I got the acceptance e-mail, AND the fact that all sorts of documents were sent to me to fill out, it didn't feel quite real until I held the countersigned contract in my hot little hand.

Everyone do the happy dance!

The Wallflower will be published in e-format in Spring 2008. The print format will be part of an as yet untitled anthology in Winter 2008.

Happy happy!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

And Again, Stupidity Rears Its Ugly Head...

Okay, so anyone who knows me knows I have a bad back. My husband, who usually is fine, hurt HIS back two weeks ago, so I've had to do all the hauling and carrying recently. He's feeling better (thank God!) so I thought, hey, he can do all of the hauling and carrying again, and the house is a MESS! Time to clean! Problem is, I usually break it down into different rooms on different days, to avoid doing anything... painful... to my back. So, today I cleaned five rooms instead of my usual two. Five Bayer Back and Body Ache's later, and my back is still calling me all sorts of non-PG-13 names. Damn, Dusty's gonna kill me...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Meez Fun

I'm danamariebell


This is the 3D me.
Make your own,
and we both get Coinz!

Hey, guys, like my Meez? Yeah, I know, it's kinda silly, but when I put it together I thought, Man, my family always complains I'm in another world when I write, lol!

If you like animated avatars, this one is pretty cool. You can earn coins to buy neat clothes and backgrounds or stick with the free stuff, which is what I did (other than using my five free Meez coins to buy a wedding ring for my girl). I was able to put it on a bb I'm part of, and here; still working on getting it into my website.

Go ahead; you know you want to... lol!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No, it ain't me, I just wish it was

But I thought this was cool, anyway, since most of my friends are into comics, gaming and/or MMORPG's (long live EQII! Oh, and that other one, what's it's name? Whatever of War-something?)

The fact that the people I'm publishing my first story with have an author who is not only going to be featured at Dragon*Con but who has a co-author who's totally comfortable with it just struck me as really neat.

Okay, you force me to admit it: I'm a closet nerd. I'm still a wierdo, but now I'm also a nerd. (Does that make me a nierdo? a werd? Inquiring minds want to know!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Brain Death Imminent...

Have you ever tried to change a hardwired light fixture in the dark?

Okay. Yeah, I know, I know. I swear to you, no drugs or alcohol were involved, just my native stupidity.

My husband was on a business trip, so I decided it was the perfect "not going to interfere in my alone-time with the husband" time to re-do my powder room. New paint, new light, new vanity mirror... you get the picture.

So the base of the light was a different shape from the old, yucky one, which meant it had to be replaced before I could paint rather than after I painted. Head to basement, flip breaker switch, head upstairs...

No lights. 9:30 at night. Big ladder, small room, one flashlight, no helpers.

Hilarity ensued.

I finally went to the garage, got an extension cord, pulled a lamp out of my family room and put the damn flashlight back on my husband's desk. Things went much smoother after that...

Favorite Quotes

"I had the right to remain silent, but I didn't have the ability." Ron White

"So let me get this straight. You want me to kill the little guys, kill the big guys, crowd control those I can't, buff the team, debuff the boss, keep myself alive, AND keep you alive, all while waving a stick and dressed in a towel?" - Anonymous Role Playing Gamer

"I think that statue over there is a statement on modern life. The statement is, "Well, shit." - Varric, Dragon Age II

"Why is it all claws and guns? Can't we piss off a fuzzy planet? Still dangerous, but hey. Bunnies." - Joker, Mass Effect

"Last night, I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and thought to myself, "Where the heck is the ceiling?" - Dilbert

"Aim at the high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you'll hit the bull's-eye of success." - Annie Oakley

"It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly." - Flemeth, aka The Witch of the Wilds, Dragon Age 2

"The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, 'You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.'” - George Carlin

"I hear there's a wild bridge tournament down the street. And you know Bridge. It's a lot like sex. If you don't have a great partner, you'd better have a good hand." Barry Weiss, Storage Wars

"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe." - Marcus Cole, Babylon 5, "A Late Delivery From Avalon"

"I aim to misbehave." - Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." - Albert Einstein

“If you think you can or think you cannot, you are correct.” - Henry Ford