Thursday, December 10, 2009

NEW REVIEW & December Hello!

Wow, it's been a long time since my last blog. I make no excuses, either. Mostly doing some writing but also the usual at this time of year, getting ready for Christmas. Also, let's be honest here--playing Farmville on Facebook! Did ya'll know you can get presents sent to you? Collect all 60 and open them on Christmas Eve, get 60 surprises for your farm??? Or are you all grown up and don't do that stuff? ;D

Okay, well, enough of that! Onto book stuff.

My latest book, FASCINATION, received 4 & 1/2 books from Long & Short Reviews! The reviewer writes: "If you are in the mood for a charming, gentle, feel-good-factor read, then this is the book for you."

You can read the review in its entirety here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coffee Time Romance Review


Considering I've been feeling under the weather with the flu the past couple of days, this came as a real pick-me-up today!
"This is a beautifully written story of true love." Find the full review by Hollie by clicking on the Coffee Time Romance pic below!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Look!

Though I'm still learning and tinkering with this, both this blog and Consuelo Vazquez have gotten a new look! Hopefully more fun and interesting to look at, too.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Night Writers

It's that time again. The little clock on my computer says 9:43 PM.

Of course, I can always come up with plenty of excuses not to go to my office. Not the first writer to do that, that's for sure. I can kill time, play on Farmville or FarmTown on Facebook. (One of my friends on there sent me an elephant as a gift--ha! I LOVE elephants!! Just got another one, too! Can't have a farm without elephants, right?) After all these years, coming up with reasons to avoid my office are easy.

Work, as in my day job, is over for the day. Dinner's done, the dishes are drying or doing something. I don't know; I let my dishwasher handle those details. Exercise tonight was a relaxing but brisk walk in the woods. We watched Hell's Kitchen, which we taped from yesterday so we could watch Chef Ramsey screaming at those poor, young wannabe chefs setting fires in his kitchen. I've updated pics on my blog but now it's time to go upstairs.

But...wait. I could do my nails. They've taken a beating this week with all the paper shuffling at work. Or I could surf on YouTube for old beloved songs that I haven't heard in a long time.

Except now it's 9:54. And I need to put in some time with my story. What I've found over the years is that you need to touch base with your WIP every day or pretty much close to it. Not doing that could actually cause it to slip away. You can always pick it up, but it's better to write a little bit each day, spend time with your story's "people."

And this being my first Consuelo Vazquez novel in years makes me want to make sure I show up.

9:56's dark and mysterious and quiet, the time fictional characters start coming out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Burning Calories WHILE You Write!

Though we could have stayed one more day soaking up the sun in Myrtle Beach, me & Bill decided to come back earlier. That was a great idea since you KNOW I had tons of laundry to do yesterday!

With all that out of the way, I'm able to enjoy this last day off from work. We 40-somethings get up early anyway, force of habit, so I was out of bed not much later than I would've gotten up from work. Breakfast was heavenly! Enjoyed it out on the porch while doing some scribbling on my WIP.

But you know how it it when you're back at home; you're also back to your routine. For me, exercise is part of my routine. It's not just something I do to keep fit; I've done it for so long that it's just a part of my life now.

Instead of going to the gym, which I can do any day, I decided to head out for a walk on the greenway. Just me, my Ipod, the trail in the woods and the book I'm working on right now.

Because walking is so much more than just exercise. It's a writing tool--at least for me, it is. Writing isn't something that should be always be done within the confines of your workspace, whether it's your private office at home or on a bench in the park on your lunch hour, or wherever you do your writing. There's that part of writing that's done without pen or PC, that part of the creative process that occurs before we get anywhere near a notebook or keyboard.

Now since I'm working on a book that will be written under my Consuelo Vazquez pen name, I listened to a bit of Celia Cruz and Tito Puento during that hour. When your feet, clad in sneakers, are hitting the trail, and you're closing out all the clutter that life throws at you, and you're connecting with nature (especially in the morning, it seems), the muse will meet you there.

Parts of the story began to unravel. Especially for someone like me, who doesn't write quite as much as I used to, it's nice to know my imagination still works! LOL! Stories are amazing things. But they have to amaze US first, the authors. If they don't, they'll never touch our readers, and that's a fact. This story, that is as yet in its baby stages, scenes of it became very clear to me as the sunlight peeked in through the trees and washed onto the footbridge ahead of me on my 3 mile-long walk. Like a movie that plays across the screen of your mind, for those of us who rely on the "unheard" rather than a complicated outline that's going to change several times before the story ends, anyway.

Now home, I'm putting off trying out our new pool until I get back from Office Max. I'm going to follow the advice of another writer I once read, who suggested treating yourself to some "back-to-school" treats. Since, yes, I DO write by hand first (usually) and then type it into a document on MS Word (sometimes you need to "touch" the story), I'll be picking up a couple of neat, new notebooks, pens and pencils and other fun junk, and then I'll be ready to write.

So if the weather's nice out there, writers, put off the gym today. Load up your MP3 players with whatever music that's apropros for your current WIP. Lace up your sneakers. Find the nearest park, woods, wherever there are trees and birds and the scent of fresh air.

The muse will be there waiting for you.

And hey--your heart will thank you, too! ;D

Monday, September 14, 2009

FASCINATION'S First Review!!

How cool is this: coming back from a wonderful vacation in Myrtle Beach and finding a review for your new book?! You can read the whole review at The Romance Studio -- which, I'm ecstatic to report, also gave the book FOUR AND A HALF STARS!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The other Connie (Consuelo Vazquez)

Okay, it's only in the baby stages, but you can now visit my other blog, Consuelo Vazquez, which is going to be especially for my other pen name. My current WIP, once done, will hopefully soon find a home, and it will be the first Consuelo Vazquez project I've done in a LONG time.

But not just for promo; I'll be having some neat stuff, hopefully, on that blog. So surf on by & help yourself to the cafe con leche, chicas!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Well, it was a long time in coming because FASCINATION is one of those books that hit a few bumps in the road on the way to publication, but it's out NOW!!! As of today, you can find my book up on Awe-Struck Publishing. Be sure to get your copy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coffee for One?

At last, I got one of THESE little guys! Coffee, as we all know, is one of those writing "tools"--right up there with laptops, the Internet (for researching &, yeah, goofing off) and Alphasmarts, etc. As long as it's enjoyed in moderation, can't live without it, right?

Well, while visiting my cousin Pep and his wife, Marlene, she introduced me to their new of those amazing Kreiger thingies. You must've seen them in Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kohl's, Walmart's, they sell them everywhere. All you do is load a small container of coffee into them, press a button, and voila! Coffee for one! Marlene's explanation to me as why she put up her 12-cup coffeemaker? "We were wasting so much coffee, I figured I'd keep the other one for times when we have a lot of guests over, but we'd keep this one as the every day coffeemaker." Turns out my sister-in-law, Jackie, has had an "every day" smaller coffee maker, too, for just that very reason. Wasting coffee is a SIN, people!

Nobody was wasting more coffee than I was, especially since my machine *usually* makes great coffee, but the paper filter shifts around inside the filter cup and you get grounds all in the coffee. Yuck. I found a smaller version, a 5-cup Mr. Coffee. Not only does it make good coffee and the filter stays in place (it's small, so it doesn't have much room to shimmy around), but it doesn't take up much space on my counter, either.

Ahhhh, it's the little things that get you excited at this age! ;D

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Refreshed & Revvvvvvvvved!

That's "revved" with a "v". When I first wrote it, it looked like "rewed." Bill would have something to say about that one. LOL!

We actually returned from our too-short vacation up North last week. I'm just now getting around to blogging about it, and I only came out of the woodwork because I surfed onto my publisher's site for the 10,000th time and was pleasantly surprised to find my new cover!

But back to Jersey: Considering we got there on Friday night and headed back on Monday morning, we managed to squeeze in lots of fun & affection that weekend. We spent time with our eldest son, Joey, and his honey, Iris, including a day at the Jersey shore that also included my two best friends, Linda and Lisa, and Linda's daughter, Hailey. Sunday we had breakfast and caught up with my cousins Pep, Marlene & Viki, who's expecting a little girl very soon. After that, we headed off to spend some time in Greenwich Village, which I LOVE (see the Macdougal Street sign on this page!) and then it was back to Jersey for dinner at PF Chang's with our friends, Bill's uncle and aunt Tony & Doreen. You can SORTA see that one on here, too. My only regret was not seeing my other cousins, Soli, Mark & Ashley, and of course, the irrepressible Tia Soledad. Next visit!!!

I loved Cancun, but there's something about getting together with friends and family that you haven't seen in a while. The Internet is a great invention: Thanks to Facebook and Myspace and, of course, email, you can keep in touch with your loved ones. But there's something that can't be matched when you're sitting on a beach or around a table, passing around a dish of guava to spread on a cream cheesed bagel or being the loudest table at a Chinese restaurant because you're all laughing and chatting, that can't really be matched.

That visit also really energized me. I'm ready to get back to work. I've ditched projects over this year, not happy with the way they were coming out. As I get older, I get more finicky with my writing. I have a feeling I'll be moving in other directions, but that's what writing should be--growth. You should grow as a writer, even if that means moving in other areas. As a writer I've always welcomed the chance to be adventurous, even if it's scary at first.

And since I don't write as much as I did in my 30s--life just takes up more of your time, it seems, in your late 40s and 50s--I want to make sure I'm working on something that I & my readers will enjoy, with some touch of surprise as well!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Well, the date for the release has been pushed back, but here's the cover for my newest book, FASCINATION! Isn't that gorgeous? As soon as the release date is, um, released, I'll be sure to post it. FASCINATION is a sweet contemporary romance coming out from Awe-Struck Publishing, my second book for them. It's been kinda hectic, with us spending time up North with Joey, Iris, friends & family, but I'll be back later this week to give a little background on this book. Look for it on Awe-Struck's page!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Hola! Bill & I are back from our (too short) vacation in Cancun. Some pictures are up on my MySpace page, plus new pics of Aubrey. (Because you can NEVER have too many pictures of your granddaughter!)

As you can probably tell from the pictures, we had a great time in Mexico. Here's one tip, though: NEVER go for your regular treadmill workout in heat that can fry an egg. I lost one whole day due to heat exhaustion and spent hours and hours in our hotel room. As you can imagine, yep, that WAS kinda scary. Other than that, though, it was a memorable, terrific time.

More scribbling soon on my new project, but in the meantime, FASCINATION should be coming out very soon from Awe-Struck Publishing. Check back for news, plus another excerpt.

And sorry I haven't blogged lately. Besides our vacation, I've been biking, hiking, entertaining friends and family, but I've got some thoughts coming up next month, hopefully in between our trip up North to see our older son Joey and his lovable girlfriend, Iris.

Catch ya later!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Besides the big cookout we had with the family...and playing with my granddaughter...and sunbathing in the backyard with my daughter-in-law Yesica...and going to church...and working on the edited version of Fascination, here's what I did on my long 4th of July weekend: I went shopping for one of THESE babies with my husband!
We walked out of our local Harley Davidson store without actually buying one, much to my dismay. But like Arnold said in Terminator, I'll be back! :D Well, we're just researching it right now. Bill isn't as excited about it as I am. He says if he can hold me off for a couple months, summer will be over and I'll (hopefully) forget all about it.
That's a switch for us. HE'S the more daredevil-y one between us, the one who always rode every roller coaster in Jersey's Six Flags Great Adventure with our boys while I, the scaredy-cat, was the one who chilled out on a bench nearby and waited for them.
Maybe it's getting closer to the big 5-0? Maybe it's middle-aged bravado? Who knows? I do know that ever since we moved here to North Carolina I've been slowly falling in love with those machines that are thunder on wheels.
This is coming from a woman who's been on a motorcycle ONCE in her whole life. That was when I was 18 and on vacation with my best friend Linda in Hawaii. We happened to meet a couple of young guys from Vegas on the plane who later met us for dinner. My date was a sweet guy named Henry, who, with his friend, escorted us there on their rented motorcycles. That's a lot more memorable than being driven in a stretch limo--riding on the back of a blue Honda 650 that's flying down a main in Oahu, with the wind whipping up your hair and Waikiki Beach on your right.
That same thrill came to me when my husband and I hopped onto one of the softail models in the showroom. Even though it wasn't moving, we weren't going anywhere, but his hands were on the handlebars and my arms were around his waist. I wasn't thinking about things grownups typically think of, i.e. DANGER. Listen, that bike wasn't scary, it was sexy. And it was romantic being on it, how it whispered adventure and fun, with room just enough for two.
The heroine in Fascination, Candy Norwood, rides a motorcycle. She eventually brings out the biker in the hero, Alex Reinhard. I'd forgotten that aspect of the book (yes, we writers forget stuff sometimes!) because Fascination was written shortly before The Cop and the Mermaid, and that's going back a couple of years. So maybe I've had this itch for a lot longer than I realize.
So we WILL be back to that shop. Because maybe getting to this age makes your desire for adventure, as well as your acceptance of who you really are, stronger than your fears. And life really does go by in a heartbeat, doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Yet ANOTHER article, this one from romance author and literary agent Deirdre Knight. This one deals specifically with a call to Romance Writers of America to recognize ebook authors. Good read--drop by for a look, if you haven't already!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Excerpt from FASCINATION

Here's an excerpt from Fascination, my newest release from Awe-Struck Publishing, a sweet contemporary romance that will be out this July! Enjoy!

“Alex, before you go, there’s something I . . . something I want to say.”

“What’s that?”

At the door, Alex had pulled on his coat. He stood, watching as Candy zippered it for him. Then, slowly, almost seductively, she trailed the palms of her hands up both sides of that zipper. Clutching handfuls of his coat’s collar, she looked up at him, a coy smiling playing on her lips.
The look she gave him, alone, made his breath catch at the back of his throat.

“I’m so glad it was you, Alex.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. A sultry whisper.


“I mean, of all the people who could have been there that night, of all the people who could have pulled us from the plane, or what was left of it . . . ” She grinned, bringing her face within an inch—maybe less—of his. “I’m glad that it was you. I’m glad it was you there. No one else.”

“Me, too, Candy. Me, too.”

Alex knew the kiss was coming, but he’d expected another of those harmless, sweet-as-sugar pecks on the cheek. He didn’t expect her mouth to capture his, then basically set it and his whole being on fire.

That was a woman on the other end of that kiss. A woman who was perhaps the most womanly who’d ever kissed him.

It wasn’t just one kiss, either. That kiss evolved into another kiss. Alex accepted both with the hunger of a man who’d just tasted what a real, fiery kiss was supposed to taste like.

“Good night, my hero,” she teased.

He didn’t correct her. He was too wrapped up in yearning for a third kiss, though it wouldn’t be happening.

“ ’Night, Candy. Can’t wait till next week.”

“Same here, honey. Same here.”

What did he have to lose? He’d already committed himself. Next week, he’d be volunteering to make a fool of himself in front of her. So what harm was there in reaching forward . . . and stealing that third kiss?

And she let it be stolen. Wholeheartedly.

Maybe the fumes from her brother’s plan had messed with both their heads.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More on the Changing Face of Publishing

News about the upcoming BookExpo America in New York, which directly relates to an early entry of mine in this blog where I wrote about the changing face of publishing. It's an interesting piece with a lot to say about not only the staying power of the ebook market, but how it's actually done better than other mediums. Check it out!

Monday, May 25, 2009



That’s all the time Alex Reinhard has to rescue a pilot and his passenger before their crashed plane explodes. He’s no hero—yet that’s what everyone’s calling him. That’s especially what he seems to be in the eyes of Candy Norwood, the woman whose life he saved. The mild-mannered bachelor, who happens to be more Clark Kent than Superman, can’t deny the sparks flaring up between him and the pretty investment executive. Make that former exec, since Candy left her glamorous Wall Street life behind to find what she considers true success: a peaceful life right there in Alex’s hometown.

And she’s making room in that life for him. What Candy has for her hero, the hunky but shy owner of the local diner, is more than attraction, it’s fascination. That troubles Alex, because isn’t this lady way out of his league? Is she just grateful to him for having pulled her from the wreckage? In any case, the man’s in trouble, because that fascination is mutual. And the more time he spends in her arms, the more he kisses her, the more powerful her spell over him.
One thing’s for certain: There’s a short distance between fascination and a deep love that can last forever. And that’s a distance about to be crossed by two people brought together by fate.

FASCINATION is my newest book, a sweet contemporary romance due out July 2009 from Awe-Struck Publishing! Check back for more news & an excerpt, which I'll be posting here next month!

Website vs. Blog

Before I begin, I want to take the time to send out a shout of thanks to the wonderful heroes and heroines, the men and women in the United States Armed Forces, and to revere those who gave the supreme sacrifice in their service on this Memorial Day. The American soldier will always be, first and foremost, the ORIGINAL American Idol!

And now on to the subject of this looooooooooong overdue entry...

I'm losing my Geocities website. :( Yeah, yeah, I know--mostly everybody else who writes professionally has their own cool site with their name in the URL and their own little dot-com. Me, I had a Geocities. What can I say? It was free *and* it was fun and creative, being my own webmistress.

But now my website will be going away when Geocities goes away. What do I do now? Get another website? Do I need a website? From my searching around on Google, I'm finding there's a whole debate on the website versus blog thingy. And from visiting this site (which I'm happy to be listed on), it looks like authors are making their blogs lively, warm places to visit, maybe even more so than a slick website.
Not to mention MySpace. That, I DO update pretty regularly. Gotta love a site where you can add a song, pictures galore, and connect with readers, other writers, friends, coworkers, relatives, pretty much everybody on the planet! Ditto for Facebook, though I find MySpace easier to use and more versatile. And Twitter. (Haven't figured that one out yet. Maybe some Tweeters can fill me in???)
So for now, I think I'll hold off on my website. But I'm going to be better about updating this blog.
But many thanks to you, Geocities. You were fun to create & update with. And I really did learn a lot from you.
Next up: News on my upcoming book, FASCINATION, which will be out in July!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Come and meet author MaryAnn Miller! She very graciously agreed to be interviewed for this blog, and I was delighted to have found such a talented, promising, and creative an author.

A diverse writer of columns, feature stories, short fiction, novels, screenplays and stage plays, Ms. Miller has won numerous awards including being a semi-finalist at the Sundance Institute for her screenplay, A Question Of Honor. Her work has appeared in regional and national publications, and the Rosen Publishing Group in New York has published her non-fiction books for teens, including the award-winning Coping with Weapons and Violence In School and On Your Streets. A romantic suspense, One Small Victory, was released in June 08 from Five Star Publishing, and Play It Again, Sam was a July 08 e-book release from Uncial Press.

In Play It Again, Sam, John’s announcement that he wants a divorce catches Samantha Rutgers off-guard. She never suspected there was anything wrong. Sure, the sex was scarce, but they weren’t newlyweds anymore. And if communication was suffering, it was only because John was working so much. She never dreamed it would come to this. That’s the main reason their daughter, Melissa, blames Sam for the split. If she’d paid more attention, she would have realized Daddy was unhappy. The estrangement with Melissa devastates Sam almost as much as the divorce. It seems her only allies are her son, Eric, and her long-time friend, Margaret, who encourages Sam to come to Dallas after the divorce is final. With Margaret’s prodding, Sam starts to rebuild her shattered life. She returns to college to finish the art degree she put on hold so many years ago. She takes a job as a receptionist at a small ad agency that offers the possibility of moving into a creative role when she finishes college. And she meets Frank Reynolds, the head of Marketing and Public Relations for J.C. Penny. Definitely not enjoying the forced celibacy of the past six months, Sam has an immediate physical reaction to this charming man with silver hair, but needs battle with an older value system that had taken her to her wedding night as a virgin. Plus, she is working hard to establish herself as an independent woman, and Frank likes to run things, including her. Relationship issues take second-seat when Sam discovers that Rhonda, one of the artists at work, has taken a project Sam did for school and used it for the Penny’s campaign. Sam had trashed it in a fit of anger after a fight with Frank, but the problem is in proving it. When she is finally able to expose Rhonda, Sam realizes that she has become a strong woman, capable of success in her own right. If Frank can accept that, there might be a future for them together. A wonderful romantic at heart, Frank is generous with roses and surprises, like a candlelit dinner in the middle of the ice-rink at the posh Galleria Mall. He also waits patiently for the moment when Sam is ready to step into a new physical relationship. And even though he says he will try his best to honor her independence, Sam can’t quite make the leap of trust.

That’s when he plans the neatest surprise of all....

Describe your workspace for us, that little corner of the world where you meet with your characters!
I have an office with windows that look out on the back part of my property. Sometimes I have to stop working to watch my horse do a "run around." Every now and then he gets frisky and tears through the back pen. The goats are smart and go into the small barn until Banjo is done flexing his muscles.
Here on my desk I have a computer, printer, etc, that are surrounded by stacks of papers and books. Sometimes it is also covered with one extremely large cat, John, who decides he wants to nap here.
My office also has two bookcases. One is filled with books, some fiction and some reference, and I have books literally falling out of bins underneath a small table. A huge roll-top desk holds supplies for scrapbooking, as well as some writing-related supplies. On top of the rolltop is a beautiful carousel music box that my husband gave me a long time ago, and the top of one of my bookcases is filled with Seraphim Classic Angels. Each one has something to do with an interest of mine -- horses, painting, music, writing, reading. My husband gave me those, too. He must love me. :-)
Two walls are decorated with awards, pretty cards, posters of Hollywood stars and NYC postcards. One wall is decorated with pictures of horses.

What inspired you to write Play it Again, Sam?
Play it Again Sam was inspired by what happened to a friend of mine. In fact, the opening is pretty close to how it actually happened when my friend's husband said he was leaving. My friend was kind enough to share the difficulties through her whole ordeal of divorce and rebuilding her life, and she told me I could use her for a character in a story. She often kids me that she wishes I could write her a happy ending like Sam had in the book.
How do you find precious time to meet your characters in their world?
I have to make time to work on fiction. I am busy with my regular paying job as Managing Editor of and I do a lot of promoting for my books, so that doesn't leave a lot of time for new creations. But this year I made a vow that I would work a little bit every day on a new book. So far, I've managed to get it done most days.

Tell us about your hero—who he is, what makes him irresistible?
One of the qualities about Frank that draws Sam, in addition to the physical attraction, is Frank's sense of humor. It's a little bit dry, yet endearing, and she has a similar sense of humor. They both enjoy making each other smile or laugh, and having fun together is an important part of a relationship. Also, Frank is spectacular at creating romantic moments. Not many men would plan a candlelight dinner in the middle of an ice rink, and the suprise he plans at the end of the book is priceless.

What have you enjoyed most about writing?
The actual creative process is at times such an incredible high, it defies description. All writers will nod reading this, because we have all experienced it. That moment when our muse is working overtime and the words are just flying on the screen. If only every day could be like that. :-)
The other thing I enjoy a great deal is interacting with readers. It is a thrill to get a note or an e-mail from someone who just read my book and loved it. Wanting to create something that people would enjoy was the main reason I wanted to be a writer, and it is wonderful to find out people are being touched in some way by my words.

What was the most valuable advice you ever received in your journey as an author?
Liz Carpenter, former Press Secretary for Lady Bird Johnson, once told me never to say "no" to an opportunity. I got my first PR job by heeding her advice. I didn't know a thing about how to create annual reports and other in-house publications, but I accepted a job and then went to experts to learn how the work was done.
Another piece of valuable advice was from a writing instructor who told the class that the best way to learn to write was to read, read, read, then write, write, write. I can see how my writing has improved after years of following his advice.

Where can we get Play It Again, Sam?
The book is available online as an e-book. The best place to order it is through the publisher
Where can readers hear more about you and your works?
I have a Web site -- as well as a blog I am a freelance editor and contribute regularly to the Blood Red Pencil blog That blog has lots of good editing advice for writers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Year, New Attitude, New Diet

Now that I'm a grandma, I believe I've earned the right to eat dessert on the weekends. I've earned the right not to live on a diet for the rest of my life. That's the executive decision I've arrived at in these, the earliest days of 2009.

About 3 years ago I went down to 117 lbs. My weight fluctuated between 117 and 122 for about a year. I don't want to give the impression that it was effortless, either. At the time I was working in New York, so in addition to traipsing off regularly to the gym, I also walked from the Path Station on Christopher Street to my job on MacDougal in Greenwich Village & back every weekday. Back then, I was also doing Weight Watchers. It wasn't effortless, but neither was it torture.

These past two years, though? Fuhgettabouit. If you want to know what frustrating is, try gaining and losing the same few pounds over and over again. It's a miracle I haven't tossed our scale out of our second-floor bathroom's window. And I'm sorry, but I am so done with counting points. I just can't diet anymore.

Well...almost. A friend recently introduced me to the No S Diet, which is not like a conventional diet at all, more like a common sense approach to eating. It's easy, inexpensive, and requires no writing, so I can save all my pens and notebooks for my stories. Even better, it doesn't require any counting, measuring, or allowing the scale to dictate your success or happiness. There's more info on the No S website, explained much better by its creator and author of The No S Diet book, Reinhard Engels, but basically you eat whatever you want for 3 meals a day (but common sense tells you to watch your portions and eat healthfully). No Snacks, no Sweets, and no Seconds--except on days that start with S.

So far, I LOVE it. This is basically the way I ate when I was younger, before I started having problems with my weight. I've been on it for 3 weeks and my clothes are looser--yay! Interestingly, I initially dropped a few pounds but have since maintained 131. And you know what? That's okay.

On No S, you drop weight gradually rather than quickly, and that's fine. It's not like I'm on The Biggest Loser or something, where I have to lose 12 pounds in a week right on national TV or anything. I'm also pretty sure I won't be photographed next to some size 0 actress anytime soon, so what's the hurry? It's about health, about taking good care of yourself so you'll be around for a while to enjoy your loved ones, and about having a healthy self-image.

Oh--and if a girl can't have cheesecake once in a while, what's this world coming to?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Writers vs. Actors

Hi diddle dee dee
An actor's life for me
A high silk hat and a silver cane
A watch of gold and a diamond chain
Hi diddle dee dee
You sleep till after two
You promenade a big cigar
You tour the world in a private car
You dine on chicken and caviar
An actor's life for me!

Nahhh, not for me, though, thanks. Once upon a time, when I was a kid, I thought I wanted to become an actress. To my immature, adolescent heart, it seemed the easiest way to meet David Cassidy. Back in school I tried out for every play, with the "highlight" of my career having been when I was cast in the role of "a gypsy" in a play called Dracula, Baby. I went so far when I was 18 as to get head shots and go to a few auditions. Ultimately, though, an actor's life really wasn't for me.

For me, acting was a flirtation; my true love was writing. I've always found it interesting that writers and actors have a lot in common, but they're also worlds apart in many ways.

For one thing, both the writer and the actor are insecure creatures. This may be a generalization, but from my experience that seems to go with the territory when you're a creative person. Writers and actors endure years of very painful rejection and criticism, the likes of which most people in their right minds would think it crazy to put up with. And they would be right, since you have to be a little crazy to be in either profession. Most actors will never become box office gold; most writers will never be on The New York Times Bestseller List. But many actors will work when they can as long as there is an audience to entertain, and most writers will write until they pry our keyboards out of our cold, dead hands, as long as there is an audience for whom to tell a story.

Over the course of the 10+ years since I've been writing professionally, I'm taken by how many writers want to be writers living the Actor's Life. We're not talking about the actress who plays "a gypsy," either. They don't want to be co-stars or walk-ons or minor players. Some writers go into this with the idea that they're going to become the Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies of writers. gold, the Oprah Book List (or whatever it's called), the book that sold millions of copies that now bears the words Soon to be a major motion picture on its cover. And if those things don't happen, they decide their failures and throw in the towel. (Incidentally, many of those "overnight successes" that I've seen are like Roman candles--shooting high but burning out pretty quickly. Those who pay their dues are the ones who seem to really endure in this craft.)

But I was guilty of that, too, earlier in my career. Hey, there's nothing wrong with dreaming. Writers should aim for the stars. More than that--all of that passion should be poured over, overflowing right over the brim of, their work. The problem is when writers gauge success by their sales rank on Amazon or the fact that nobody's offering to buy film rights to their beloved baby. They learn that the Angelina Jolie of their given genre, they're not. It's uncanny, but how you feel about your work and the loss of belief in your work does eventually affect the quality of your work.

Seasoned writers know this, but for those starting out, here's the dirty little secret about writing: The best parts of being a writer are not glamorous. We're. Not. Actors. We don't wear Armani on the red carpet while adoring fans cheer us. We're usually eating Campbell's soup out of a coffee mug and wearing some ratty old T-shirt when we come to that scene in our book where we deliver the happy ending for the reader. Unlike the actor, it doesn't matter if our faces are lined with age and maybe we're not as slender as we once were in our youth. Even if the actor can still get roles, the leading man/lady roles go to the young and synthetically gorgeous.

The muse couldn't care less about those outwardly things. She'll keep coming to us for as long as the doors of our imaginations are open, and the readers don't care as long as we tell that story like we're going to die tomorrow and we won't be around to tell it then, so let's tell it with some fire and depth and soul. Neither the muse nor the readers have to travel to Hollywood to meet us, either. They meet us through a more mysterious medium, within the pages of a story, where our characters will do all the talking for us. The best parts of being a writer are found without fanfare, when you know, as one writer recently told me, "you nailed it" after a story just flowed to its conclusion. You may be nibbling on M&Ms when you come across a book reviewer or a reader's blog, where it's mentioned that your book brought someone enjoyment.

Personally, I've always preferred the taste of M&Ms to caviar. No matter what shape success comes in, it's the writer's life for me. Besides, how many people really look good in a high silk hat?