Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday Fun

Would you like to play a game?

I'm feeling the need--the need for speed---wait no...the need for MOVIE QUOTES. Let's see how many of these you know.
  1. I never wash my pants. I like to keep the night on them.
  2. I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school... I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy...
  3. Excuse me, missus, I've lost a shoe... like this one. It's like this one's fellow... it's sort of the exact opposite in fact of that - not an evil version but just, you know, a shoe like this... but for the other foot.
  4. If you can't be in athlete, be an athetic supporter.
  5. Well, I should probably tell you that I'm taking the bus because I had my driver's license revoked.
  6. This is a really volcanic ensemble you're wearing, it's really marvelous!
  7. After all, the wool from the black sheep is just as warm.
  8. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!
  9. It's like playing a tennis ball against a brick wall, which can be fun. It can be fun, but it's not a game.
  10. I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?

Because I'm lame...

I couldn't think of a topic for today, so I decided to steal my friend Sela Carsen's topic.

If you received a $20 Borders gift card (like she did), how would you spend it?

The rule is that you must not spend more than $20, including the tax.

So go forth and find some books, then report back here!


Speaking of books, reticent lass, Julie Wright and Phyllis Towzey really need to contact us so we can mail them their copies of THE GIFT OF FEAR. Email me at amandabrice (at) myway (dot) com with your mailing address.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm a book addict

Yes, I admit it. I'm a book addict. A fiend. It's my crack, only legal and slightly less expensive.
See, I go to a bookstore and buy a bunch of books I'm dying to read. I read a good chunk of them. And then I'm ready for the next hit. And then the next...and then the next...see how easy it is to fall in with the wrong crowd?

Booksellers are more like pushers, actually--they often tempt me with coupons: "Psssst--Rhonda, come here. Take this coupon and get 20% off your purchase." Like I can say no to that!

Anyway, here are some Simon Pulse books coming out this year I'm absolutely frothy-dog excited to see released:

The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading (May 19, 2009)

Swoon (May 19, 2009)

Giving Up the V (June 9, 2009)

Crash Into Me (July 7, 2009)

The Hollow (Fall 2009)

Stupid Cupid (Dec 22, 2009 -- Oh come on, I had to put this on here, LOL)

So, who else out there is a book addict? What novels are you looking forward to releasing this year? I'm always eager to add to my to-buy list. LOL

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Meet IBM's supercomputer, Blue Gene. It's going to do something most of us won't even get a chance to.

Compete on Jeopardy.

Because, you know, the regular brainiacs who compete on that show aren't intimidating enough. (I actually know someone who's been on Jeopardy and he's not really intimidating in person, but knowing he's been on Jeopardy is.)

What's next? Blue Gene does high school? Can you imagine the grade curve? Is this really necessary?

At least the computer won't be hooked to the internet. You know, because that would be unfair. *insert rolled eyes here*

Would you play against this machine?

Monday, April 27, 2009


I don't do book reviews, just ask my other 'Nistas. When we talked about doing reviews on this site, I said, "Thanks but no thanks. I'm a reader and a writer, but not a reviewer."

But sometimes a book is so good, that it deserves to be shouted about from the rooftops. And for me, that book is THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE by David Cristofano.

Before I go any further, I feel I need to let you know, Cristofano and I are represented by the same literary agency, but other than that, we have no ties whatsoever. Of course, now I'm a major fangirl, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

This book was sent to me as a thank you gift. I was immediately drawn to the cover and the concept. So I took it with me to Orlando with the thought that I would read it over the week.

I almost finished it that day. And I was so moved and so haunted by the story that I seriously wanted to flip back to page one and start all over. Instead I gave the book to Maria so she could experience the book that melted my cold, black heart.

Melody Grace McCartney has had eight aliases over 20 years. She's lived eight false lives because at the age of six, she unfortunately witnessed a gruesome murder by mafioso Tony Bovaro. Whisked to safey under the Federal Witness Protection Program, Melody has never felt safe nor protected. Especially once her parents were assassinated twelve years into the program by the very family who they were supposedly being protected from.

Melody just longs to be Melody again, but knowing that can never happen, she decides a new identity is still better than the one she is currently living with, so she fakes danger, calls her Marshal for protection, and is again whisked off to safety.

Except this time, she's intercepted by the son of Tony Bovaro. He promises he will never hurt her, never allow harm to come to her as long as she is with him, and when he uses her real name--she can't help but believe him.

Jonathon Bovaro is the anti-hero in this poignant and riveting tale. He is violent and angry, but he is also honest, compassionate, and he has a plan to offer Melody freedom and protection within the family so that she no longer has to run. He never lies to her and she knows she can trust him--something she's never felt in 20 years on the run.

This story is a must read. It is compelling and heart-wrenching. I had no idea how Cristofano would end the story, but I was crying buckets by the time it was over. One day, I hope to write a story that will affect someone the way this story has effected me.

Buy it today. You won't be sorry.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cut Footloose

I was never at a prom. I was one of the nerdy people who got very academic at a young age. My life was consumed with finishing school, finishing more school, and finishing more school. When other people were picking out prom dresses, I was buried to the eyebrows in some obscure text at the Boston Public Library.

Yes, I do believe that's why I'm weird. I did have some friends who went, of course.

I believe that's why they are weird. I also believe the theme was "Footloose." Um. Yeah, don't look at me.

Anyway, I did come to genuinely enjoy watching the pomp, circumstance, and madness of prom when I was a teacher. Sometimes I set kids up on dates when they bemoaned their lack. One of my match-ups eventually married. Take that, sceptics!

I actually think the way my town is doing it these days-- in the gym, on the cheap, and with a lock-down-- is the way to go. Their theme this year is "Midnight Sky."

If you know what the heck that means, I'd love to be in on it.

So as we head into prom season, here's hoping everyone is safe, careful, and responsible... but also free to cut FOOTLOOSE.

Friday, April 24, 2009

How to save a life

I don't think it will come as a shock to anyone that the world can be a scary place.

There is an energy out there right now that drains us, makes us complacent, makes us jaded. Problems seem to big to fix so we stop caring. The economy, the environment, our's tiring. It's hard to keep my temper even sometimes--I can't cure cancer. I don't know the answer to world peace. I'm scared to spend my dollars but know if I don't put them back into the economy I'm making it worse.

But you know what?
I can smile at my neighbor. I can say a kind word. I can save the life of a child.

Saturday is World Malaria Day. Malaria is a disease that we have been able to eliminate in many parts of the world. It is preventable and treatable. And it is the leading killer of children in Africa.

I'll say again. It is preventable and treatable. It is still killing children.

Let's get back to preventable part. Because that is the heart of my post. Something I can do when everything else seems so out of my control.

An insecticide treated mosquito nets reduce the transmission of Malaria by 90%. It costs $10 to purchase and deliver a net.

I started a team on Twitter to show that social networking and the internet can be social motivators for big change. And DOING something when you feel there isn't anything you can do is so beneficial to YOU. I felt so good after buying a net, I selfishly went back and bought four more. Because it made me feel good.

There are other charities that provide nets. I chose the United Nations backed site for safety purposes--but even if you don't join this team, I hope you find a way to contribute on World Malaria Day. Even if you just blog the message below today or tomorrow for me and pass on the word.

My team Team Twitter Nets is participating in Nothing But Nets, a campaign to help fight malaria. Millions of people die each year from malaria - but there's a simple, life-saving solution, and all it takes is $10 to buy a bed net, distribute it to a family, and explain its use.

Join me by Sending Nets and Saving Lives:

From our Team Page, click on the 'Join My Team' button to register and help us fundraise. If you can't join us, you can also sponsor our team by making a donation online.

Thank you!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prithee partyeth as if 'twas 1564

In sooth, 'tis the day to pattern thy parlance to evoke the Bard!

To celebrate the 445th birthday of the greatest playwright of the English language, Mayor Richard Dailey of Chicago has declared today "Talk Like Shakespeare Day." Although Shakespeare's actual birth date is unknown, many scholars believe 'twas April 23, 1564.

In honor of this grand occasion, I encourage all of you to throw as many instances of "prithee," "fie!", and "thou" into your conversation as possible. It's easy to add "eth" to the end of all your verbs, and simply drop the "it" and use the letter "T" instead.

The "" website has a fun quiz on words coined by Shakespeare, as well as some great tips to help you truly talk like the Bard.

But probably the funnest (hey, if he could make up words, then I can certainly use non-words as well) part of today is the ability to unleash all those gloriously vivid Shakespearean insults.

Why call your rival mean girl/ex-boyfriend/boss (insert proper baddie here) an idiot when a "vain fen-sucked fustilarian" is so much more fun.

Besides, if you walk around saying "Thou dissembling elf-skinned flirt-gill!" you can feel all superior, knowing that you've insulted your victim and he/she didn't even understand it.

Find your favorite insults with the Shakespearean Insults Generator:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

National Poetry Month

I know today is Earth Day (so please take care of Earth and reduce/reuse/recycle!), but I wanted to talk about April being National Poetry Month, instead.

Before I was a writer, back in high school, I was a poet. Not a published poet, not a brilliant poet, but a poet nonetheless. In 10th grade, I got a journal for Christmas and filled it over the next couple of years with my writing.

See, I didn't really keep a diary in school--I wrote poetry (I bet there are others out there who did the same...?). Same diff, really: I wrote about guys I fell hard for who didn't feel the same way about me. I wrote about my friend who died when my ex accidentally shot him in the head. I wrote about impending graduation from high school.

Then, in college, I wrote more and filled another journal--and though the subject matter grew more mature and dark at times, I found writing poetry to be a consistent, continual safe place to express my feelings. And much cheaper than therapy.

Some of my poetry is bad. REALLY really bad. Maybe for one of my posts in the future, I'll post a few poems from "the early years," just to show you how awful it was. You'll die laughing. It took me a while to learn that lines didn't have to rhyme. haha

Since I've been writing novels the last few years, I've found my poetry writing has dropped off to almost nothing. I'm thinking I should change that--it's still a useful exercise to flex those creative writing muscles. And like I said, it's a good place to vent. hah

So, in honor of National Poetry Month, I'd like to share with you a few poems I wrote (of course, please keep in mind that all poetry below is copyright Rhonda Stapleton--not that anyone is going to plagiarize me, but I just wanted to clearly state that. thanks).

Here are two funny haikus I wrote the manpanion last month:

Conference Calls

Sitting on the phone—
Wish that it was you, and not
“Irregardless” guy.

Road Rage

When I drive angry,
I just think of you punching
All of them for me

Hah. Ah, good times. So, what about you? Are you an amateur poet? Or a professional, for that matter? If not, are there any poems you adore? Share your writing, or your fav poems here!! And thanks for reading my work. I appreciate it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I'm getting a spray tan today! I love having color, but I'm old enough and smart enough to know that tanning beds and/or actual sun time isn't good for me. (Some sun is good for the vitamin D, but we're talking 15 mins a day to benefit, not hours by the pool.)

I wish spray tanning had been around when I was in high school. I used to hit the tanning beds and man, I regret that now.

Anyway, in a few hours I will be golden brown and slightly sticky. lol There's sugar in the spray tan mix. I'll be like a giant glazed donut.

Do you spray tan? If not, would you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

hello FLORIDA!

Sorry I'm just now getting here. I've been traveling all day.

I'm in Orlando for the Romantic Times Book Lovers Conference. First of all, it's not sunshiney. What the hell. I mean, I come here and the sun goes away? Seriously, that sucks.

Good news is, it's supposed to be sunny the rest of the week.

The bad news is, I'm a selfish twit and I want the sun now.

Anyway, I'm here. Gonna have a great time promoing BITE ME! and showing off my cleavage helping out my friend Maria Geraci promote her debut book BUNCO BABES TELL ALL.

So this is short and sweet. I'm sorry this blog is unsubstantial. I promise I'll do better soon.


ATTN: Judi--we picked your name. You won a copy of Michelle Rowen's STAKES AND STILETTOS. Please email with your contact info. Please put the word "contest" in the subject. Congrats!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shall We Dance?

I've always envied people who can dance. I'm not a complete klutz. When I was younger we used to do line-dancing (not the country western kind... it didn't exist around here then) on the beach. Sunset would come, we'd play oldies, and do stuff like the hully gully (ask your grandparents) or the stroll in tide-pools. Barefoot, ankle deep in water, we had a blast with a boombox blaring out old stuff from the fifties. Later it was The Electric Slide and The Montego. Yep. I'm old.

But when I said dance... I don't mean the generic shaking of booty that pretty much everybody can do, if not particularly well. I mean D A N C E.

I can dance-- held in the arms of a man, swirling to music on a hardwood floor-- with a total of two people on earth. Ahmed is one, and the second is one of our oldest friends. He's an amazing dancer and I've known him so long he's like my brother. So I trust him. And dancing, for real, is all about trust.

I don't like being pushed around, and that includes on the dance floor. Ahmed can take me in his arms, hold my gaze, and steer me. I trust him. I know he won't drop me, stomp on me, or steer me wrong.

I guess that's why I love to read a historical romance with two lovers dancing in one another's arms. Or why I love ballroom dancing on PBS. It's about two people trusting one another without any hesitation. Hesitation kills the dance.

I admire anyone who does it beautifully. Like these two. ENJOY:

ADDED: Need a reason to dance? Our own Gwen Hayes won first place in Paranormal Category of the Marlene Contest!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gwen's Extra Special Guest Star

Gwen has treats! Look who I dragged in here...I mean, look who is visiting us today!

In the past four years, Michelle Rowen has sold twelve novels in paranormal romance, futuristic romantic suspense, and young adult fantasy to Grand Central Publishing, Berkley Books, Harlequin, Dorchester Publishing and Walker Books for Young Readers. She has been on the Waldenbooks romance bestsellers list, is the winner of the 2007 Holt Medallion for Best First Book, and her alter ego Michelle Maddox is nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award. In 2009 she has four releases including the final two books in her Immortality Bites vampire series.

Michelle lives in Southern Ontario, is the 2009 Vice President of the Toronto Romance Writers, and is currently hard at work on her next fantastical novel. Please feel free to contact her at She loves hearing from readers!

Thanks for visiting the Fictionistas. We love guest authors and are super excited you are here.

Thanks Gwen! Great to be here! :)

So you have a book releasing this month, tell our readers about it.....(and is it part of a series etc)

Yup, Stakes & Stilettos, the fourth book in my Immortality Bites vampire series was released at the beginning of April from Grand Central Publishing. It picks up my fledgling vampire, Sarah Dearly's story after 2007's Fanged & Fabulous. (I took a little hiatus with last year's Lady & the Vamp, which was the spin-off story of a supporting character).

Basically, the series is about a "girl next door" who was turned into a vampire by a (really) bad blind date and how she's dealing with life now that she's one of the fanged and...uh, fabulous. Heh. Unfortunately for Sarah, nothing is ever easy for her. Even though she feels the same as she did when human -- as in, not evil -- vampire hunters want to slay her and she seems to attract trouble like crazy. In Stakes & Stilettos she heads to her home town to attend her high school reunion in an attempt to feel normal, as well as to introduce her 600-year-old master vampire boyfriend to her overprotective parents (who don't know she's a vamp yet) and she ends up getting cursed by a vengeful ex-classmate-now-witch. She then starts exhibiting all the (very inconvenient) "vampire myths," including a desire to bite necks and be totally evil. Add to this the appearance of a legendary vampire vigilante and you've got a recipe for disaster. And, hopefully, enjoyable entertainment. ;-)

One of our favorite themes at Fictionistas is "follow your dreams". What is your average day like--do you write everyday? Work on simultaneous books? Do you have to do a lot of research? (you don't have to "answer" formally. The q's are just a jumping off point. Basically, we just try to encourage our young readers to choose what will make them happy in life, and we like to highlight people doing what they love and supporting themselves by doing so--so answer this q however you want)

I'm definitely following my dreams. Since I was a kid I wanted to write books and I'm lucky enough to be doing that full-time at the moment and hope I can continue indefinitely. I mean, how cool is it to be paid to make stuff up all day long? (the answer is: very cool).

I'm not much of a multi-tasker, unfortunately, so I try to work non-stop on each new project until I'm done, and then move on to the next. The busier I get, though, the less convenient this becomes, so I'm finding my projects starting to overlap a bit, therefore I'll work on one on weekdays and another on weekends. I don't write every day. I tend to binge write, which is kind of like an ongoing, sporadic Nanowrimo. LOL. I'll go at the first draft of a new book -- writing 10-20 pages a day -- until it's finished, then let it sit for a few days to a week and jump right into the second draft. I do work from a fairly tight outline and do lots of brainstorming first so I do have lots of direction. I set my personal deadlines at least a month before my official deadline so I have lots of time to polish things up. Sometimes a first draft will be really clean, but it usually needs some work so I want to make sure I don't run out of time and hand something in to my editor that I'm not happy with.

As far as research, I don't do toooo much. However, sometimes I need to look a few things up, mostly online, like stuff from history or specific details about cities. I just got a book on mythology out of the library yesterday that I plan to read -- not for any particular research, but stuff like that is great for triggering new ideas.

What is the most surprising thing one of your characters has done?

I'll use the example from my first published book, Bitten & Smitten. My main character, Sarah Dearly, was supposed to be an introverted bookworm who'd never experienced any adventure or excitement in her life -- which is why her transformation to a vampire was going to be such a shock to her. Well, as soon as I started writing chapter one, Sarah told me very clearly that she was not introverted, not a bookworm, and she liked having fun and loved fashion, so I could go ahead and throw those character sketch notes out the window.

Then I gave her two potential love interests. A super-cute vampire hunter who would later become a vampire and couldn't stay away from her, and a moody, stubborn, suicidal master vampire who didn't want anything to do with her. In my outline, she was supposed to end up with Bachelor #1 but what did she do? Yup. She chose Bachelor #2, even though I'd planned to kill him off. And yes, she is a fictional character. Well aware. Only...I don't think she knows that. ;-)

What are you working on now?

Today I'm starting the next draft of the second book in my young adult "Demon Princess" series. The first book, Reign or Shine, is out in October from Walker Books for Young Readers. The second book, Reign Check, will be on the shelves next Spring. I'm really excited about this series -- my first specifically for a teen audience. Basically it's about Nikki Donovan, a sixteen year old girl who learns that the father she's never met before is a demon king from another dimension called the Shadowlands. And she's not only half-demon, but heir to his throne. Also she has lots of hard-to-control powers developing and a major crush on the super-cute guy her father sends to the human world to help her out. The books are a lot of fun and I'm having a lot of fun writing them. I hope readers will enjoy them too!

You are on a deserted island with an mp3 player with only three songs. What do you hope those songs are?

I love, love, love music and have a ton of songs on my iPod Touch. But here are three that came to mind:

Paralyzer by Finger Eleven -- it's just such a great song I can listen to it over and over and over.
Crying by kd lang and Roy Orbison -- It's just so raw and emotional and always gets me right here *points at heart*
Holding out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler (or the Frou Frou version's even better, imho) -- this song is on almost every pseudo-soundtrack I do for my novels -- the songs I listen to for inspiration while I'm writing a particular book -- and I just love the imagery and the tune itself. Very catchy. :)

What were your favorite movies when you were in high school? Has your list changed much since?

Hmmm... in high school I probably would have said my favorite movies were Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, and The Lost Boys (uh, it was the eighties, okay?). I still love these movies, but my faves seem to mostly include romances like While You Were Sleeping, French Kiss, and Pride and Prejudice. Oh, and I love Twilight right now so much. SO MUCH. Can't wait until New Moon is out in November. *freaks out* Ahem, sorry. I went a little off track there. ;-)

If you could go back and time and have a heart-to-heart with TeenMichelle, what would you tell her?

I'd tell her to have more fun and not sweat the small stuff. I worried a lot, both then and now about everything -- friends, guys, looks, the future. It's part of my nature. But worrying about these things really doesn't do anything except take up time and energy. Oh, and I'd also tell TeenMichelle not to yo-yo diet because that'll come back and get her in the future when her metabolism is shot and she can only lose a pound a week even if she's being super perfect on her mega-expensive diet (Jenny Craig, fyi) and exercising like a maniac. Uh, yeah. That's what I'd tell her. :-)

One lucky commenter will win a free copy of Stakes and Stilettos--we'll draw Sunday night, so make sure to visit Monday morning.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger Bailey

Amanda's Chow Lab, Bailey, was super jealous of Maxwell the Pug's guest appearance a few weeks back.

So he begged his mommy to let him blog today and give some advice to the new First Dog, Bo.


Hey there, Bo. I'm Bailey. Welcome to DC! I think you'll like it here, even if the city is crowded with tourists right now. Hey, more people to bark at, right?

My mommy tells me you're a "Second Chance Dog". That means your new family is totally cool, because they saved you from possibly having to go to an animal shelter when your first family returned you to the breeder.

I'm a Second Chance Dog, too. My first family rescued me from an animal shelter when I was just a little puppy. I lived with them for about 5 1/2 years. But unfortunately, my first mommy had to sell her house. The apartment she was moving to wouldn't let her bring me along. I know it was really difficult for her to have to give me up, and that she loved me very much, but fortunately she found Amanda and Mr. Brice to adopt me.

I love my new home and new family, and I'm sure you'll love living with the Obamas, too. I hear your new daddy is pretty powerful. And they have a really cool house. Lots of places to hide and take naps. And you can run really fast on that huge lawn! I'm jealous!

Lots of new places to mark your territory. It's gonna be so much fun! I would suggest you pee on the tomato garden, but I think your mommy will be mad at you, so I guess you might want to pick a different place.

Anyway, ever since I first saw you on the news the other day, I've been trying to think of what advice I should give you, as your older and wiser friend. I suggest barking loudly and often.

Oh wait. Mommy is looking at me with a sad face. That wasn't good advice?

Hmmm. Let me think.

I got it! Shed everywhere. Vaccuming up the "dog bunnies" gives your mommy and daddy something to do, so they can feel useful.

No? Geez, Mommy, you're making this really hard.

Um, Kong toys are pretty fun. Your parents or sisters can stick some yummy doggie treats inside and then you have to figure out how to get them out. I'm also a big fan of my cow toy that moos when I squeeze his tummy. So fun!

What? Hold on a second, Bo. Mommy's trying to tell me something.

OK, Mommy. I'll ask.

Bo, my mommy wants to know if we can have a play date at your house. She said she'd be very happy to take me there, and then stay for lunch or something while we play outside. See if you can set it up with the social secretary or something.

OK, that's all for now. Talk to you later!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Email to authors, and author myths

I was talking with Amanda this morning about possible blog topics, and she suggested a fantastic one: email correspondence with authors. So I decided to blog on this, plus dispel a few author myths while I was at it.

I can't say I've had a lot of author email correspondence yet--my books don't start rolling out until December. The most interaction I've had so far are people asking me for ARCs (advanced reader copies, which are a bound version of the book that's not the final version). I mean, TONS of people asking for them. It's obviously flattering in a way--someone wants to read my book and review it! How cool is that? But in another way, it's like hey, I'd like people to actually BUY it when it comes out. LOL. I do take all those requests so I can forward them to my publisher, who can vet through them and decide where to send review copies.

Also, recently, I got email from a person I've never met asking if they could be on my cover--since they figured I had pull with my publisher, I could hook that up for them. Or, if not, then I could use their full name as a character in my book. I haven't responded to this request--I'm not really sure what to say...and frankly, I'm a little surprised someone I don't know would email me and ask me to do something like that. LOL

So, please allow me to dispel a few author myths:

1--authors don't have an infinite bounty of ARCs on hand to dole out. Some people may get 1-2 ARCs, and that's it. And even if we DID get a lot of ARCs, we probably have already slated where we want them to go. So reviewers, please, please think carefully before asking the author for an ARC--and if you do, please make sure you're established and can/will actually review the book. Authors don't want to waste their copies sending to people whose only goal was to get a free book and who never even does a review of it.

2--authors don't get lots of our own books for free from the publisher. Our contract may stipulate that we get a few free copies after they come out, but for more, we have to pay for them. If we buy in bulk, we can get discounts through certain places, but we still spend OUR money to buy our own books. So please don't ask us for a free copy of our book...we don't make $$ that way! I wouldn't go to my dentist and ask for free fillings, yanno. haha.

3--authors don't have pull with our publishers over covers. What we get is what we get, usually. We may be able to request some tweaks, especially if we can back up the request with solid evidence (e.g., our heroine is blonde, but our cover's heroine has black hair). But generally, it's out of our hands. The publisher uses market research and artists to create the covers. Authors have nothing to do with it. Covers are meant to sell books, period.

4--please don't offer us your ideas for a novel and then ask to split it 50/50. Most authors have more ideas than they can even write in a lifetime...besides, take that brilliant idea and write it yourself. That way, you get ALL the $$! :D

5--naming characters after real people may be an invitation for a lawsuit. haha. I hate to say it that way, but fiction is supposed to be fiction...and if I name a character after you, what if you HATE the person I've given your name to? Are you going to take me to court over it and say I'm slandering your name? I just can't risk that.

6--sometimes, typos and weird stuff make it into the book that are out of our control. We do get pages to review, but mistakes happen during typesetting. I know someone whose book looked perfectly wonderful all throughout the review steps...but when the final copies came out, all italics were gone. This wasn't a problem at any stage during the process--but it goes to show that funkatitis mistakes can happen. So please don't assume the author or editor is necessarily at fault for that.

Okay, now it's your turn. What interesting/unusual correspondence have you guys received, either as an author or just in general?

Are there any myths you'd like to dispel: either about being an author or about whatever your line of work is?

Share with us! :D

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Did someone say chocolate?

In light of the chocolate-gobbling Easter can sometimes bring about, I thought I'd share a few chocolate facts to make you feel better about any consumption that may have gone on.

1). The Mayans and Aztecs believed that the Cocoa Beans originated from Paradise and would bring wisdom and power to anyone consuming them.

2). Emperor Montezuma of Mexico partook a Chocolate drink before entering his harem. This gave rise to the notion of Chocolate having aphrodisiac properties. The Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova was another fellow who subscribed to this notion. There is some truth to the idea though, since Chocolate contains hundreds of chemicals including the feel-good stimulants - Caffeine, Theobromine, and Phenyethylamine.

3). Even though Chocolate is high in fat, it does not appear to raise blood cholesterol.

4). Chocolate is a great economy booster. Annual world consumption of cocoa beans averages approximately 600,000 tons per year. Consumers worldwide spend more than $20 billion a year on Chocolate.

5). Chocolate was such as a prestigious luxury that the French Ruler, Louis XIV, also known as the “Sun King”, established a court position entitled Royal Chocolate Maker to the King.
6). In 1907, the iconic Milk Chocolate Hershey’s Kisses were introduced. They are one of the most successful chocolates and Hershey produces approximately 20-25 million per day in a variety of flavors.

7). Chocolate has long been heralded for its value as an energy source. Think of it this way: a single chocolate chip provides sufficient food energy for an adult to walk 150 feet; hence, it would take about 35 chocolate chips to go a mile, or 875,000 for an around-the-world hike.

8). The smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation.

9). Chocolate increases antioxidant levels in the blood while the flavanoids in chocolate may help keep blood vessels elastic.

10). Placebo-controlled trials suggest chocolate consumption may subtly enhance cognitive performance. As reported by Dr Bryan Raudenbush (2006), scores for verbal and visual memory are raised by eating chocolate. Impulse-control and reaction-time are also improved.

When's the last time you ate chocolate?

Monday, April 13, 2009

senior skip day

Long time ago, way back when (*cough* 1987 *cough*) my senior year in high school was winding down. We were putting together our Senior program, the slide show (didn't have PowerPoint back then) rehearsing for our Senior Play (Cheaper by the Dozen), getting ready for our last Prom, and organizing our very last Senior Parade and skip day.

Do Senior Skip Days still exist?

It was not an official skip day, but all the faculty knew that the majority of the Sr. Class would not be at school on that Friday. The administration couldn't sanction it, and prior to the actual day they would send out loads of memos reminding everyone that skipping was against school policy and punishable by detention or suspension.

We weren't scared. It was a long time tradition and we were going to enjoy every second of the day.

That morning we met at the park, took shoe polish to our windshield and drew Class of 87 on everything we could find. One of our friends brought a giant truck and loads of us piled into the back. And with our music blaring and our horns honking, we paraded through town before school started.

Then we headed toward Lake DeGray where we lounged around on the beach and soaked up the sun.

This is one of my fondest memories of my senior year. I have no idea if they still do this nowadays, but if they don't, I think the kids are totally missing out.

I decided to make this my blog topic because yesterday, a song came on the radio that was very popular during that time and it always makes me think of Senior Skip Day and our last hurrah.

Edited to add:
Because of the amazing outpouring a comments -- both on the blog, but also on Facebook, on writer's loops, and in private emails to Amanda -- Amanda has decided to give away two copies of "The Gift of Fear." PLUS, Rhonda was inspired by Amanda's post to go pick up her own copy. She's started reading and decided it was such an important topic that she's also decided to give away two copies.

So...drumroll please. The FOUR winners are as follows:
reticent lass
Sarah in NY (from private email to Amanda)
Julie Wright
Phyllis Towzey

Julie and Phyllis, please contact rhonda(at)rhondastapleton(dot)com and give her your mailing address so she can send your book. Reticent Lass and Sarah, please contact amandabrice(at)myway(dot)com and give her your mailing address so she can send your book.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I have never in my life missed a deadline and I don't intend to start. So that tapping sound you hear-- Gwen Hayes' foot-- will be stopping soon. I've got a few pages to finish before sending them off to her and I'm a beastly nit-picker about reading things over. Not that this stops her-- thank heavens-- from finding problems. She's good.

But last night I got into a discussion about procrastination. I'm guilty of putting things off. I'm also guilty of blowing valuable time on nonsense. Honestly, I think this has become a national disease. When I was working for newspapers and magazines it blew me away how often an editor would be griping-- justifiably so, btw-- about a colleague who was late with a column, review, or story.

I think I would genuinely rather chew my own arm off than miss an actual deadline. Now... a request for something from a friend or relative? You may have to physically beat me to get it out of me if I'm busy. I'll keep putting you off. I do not deny this. But if I'm either being paid or have entered an agreement? No way. It will be on time. I promised.

It's really the promise part that binds me. I consider giving somebody a promise pretty serious, which is why I avoid doing so. The number of times I have seen my brothers squirm and turn red as my Irish mother said the dreaded words "you promised me" is absurd. It's, like, pretty much daily. Me?

Nope. She even tried to trick me when I was younger by saying "you promised me" all the time. I'd look right at her and say "no, I didn't." My brothers fell for that one because they could never remember whether they'd been bullied into promising or not. I never, ever took that bait. No way. But I'm the smart one.

It's an investment in your karma. Keep your promises; meet your deadlines. So why are you reading this? You probably have promises to keep, too.

Stop tapping your foot, Gwen. It will be in your inbox before the end of the day. I promised.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Be your own best advocate

Playing off Amanda's fantastic post--I'd like to also discuss some other empowering ways to help keep us from being somebody's victim. In addition to learning basic self-defense and ALWAYS TRUSTING YOUR INSTICTS (as Amanda discussed)here are some things I picked up along the information highway today:
  • Be aware of your surroundings! Keep your head up and be looking around.
  • Hold your purse close to your body or under your coat. By not looking like an easy mark for a would-be purse snatcher, you might discourage his attention all together. If you do get mugged, minimize your damage by keeping only small amounts of cash with you and copies of all your id and credit cards at home so you can cancel them easily.
  • Look around you when you approach your parked car to see if anyone is close by. Have your keys in your hand so that you can get into your car very quickly and lock the car immediately. Keep the car doors locked and the windows rolled up nearly all the way, or all the way, when you're driving. Whenever you stop, be sure that you can see the road between your car and the car in front of you; that will give you enough space to maneuver if you have to suddenly pull out to one side or the other. Always check the back seat area and beneath your car before entering.
  • Even if you don't have a weapon on you, you can improvise. I always carry my keys so that they are poking between the fingers of my fisted hand so if I have to throw a punch, I can put out an eye.
  • Whenever possible, don't walk alone. The more the merrier. And if you do have to walk alone--make sure someone knows when to expect you so that if you don't show up when expected, they can contact authorities. I ask my daughter to always call me when she gets to her destination.
  • The best way to avoid trouble is to look like you'd cause more trouble than someone else the criminal could come across. Becoming a victim is NEVER the victim's fault--but it surely helps if you don't look like you'd be particularly easy to subdue. By staying with a group, by holding your purse close, by looking aware of your surroundings, by having your pepper spray out when you walk to your increase your chances of being passed over.

And please be wary of email forwards with advice for thwarting criminals without first checking the authenticity for yourself. I suggest Snopes . For instance, there is a popular forward going around saying that you can dial #77 on your cell phone to verify that the person pulling you over is actually an officer of the law and not someone with a store bought police light. This is false--there is no universal number that will connect you with every state's highway patrol. If you are really unsure, use 911 and 911 only.

So, what are your empowering tips and tools?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Case For Self-Defense

Next weekend is my 10-yr college reunion. I'd like to go, but probably won't, because we can't find a petsitter for Bailey.

Anyway, it occured to me that if it's almost been 10 years since I graduated from college, that it has also been ten years from the scariest night of my life.

Ten years ago this weekend, I was attacked.

My senior year, I lived off campus in a beautiful, brand-new apartment complex. It was about a 15-minute walk from campus. You walked along a well-lit main road until you got to the outskirts of campus. Then you arrived at a cluster of research science labs. Walk past these buildings until you get to a courtyard in front of the Levine Science Research Center, then walk up one flight of steps to Science Drive. Cross Science Drive and walk behind the chapel until you get to the main quad.


I did that walk every day. It was pretty easy. In fact, I never really gave it much thought, which was probably a big mistake.

Anyway, that night the ballroom dance team was hosting a dance-a-thon to raise money for travel to upcoming dance competitions. I was on the organizing commitee and was supposed to be there to help set up, but I'd had a hair and wardrobe emergency that evening, so I was running late.

As I walked through the courtyard of the LSRC towards the steps up to Science Drive, I noticed it was a bit darker than usual, but didn't really think anything about it. After all, I was in a rush. What did I care if it was dark? Of course it was was getting late.

I was almost to the stairs when I heard footsteps. I turned around and saw a young man, maybe about my age. Maybe a little older. I don't know why he attracted my attention, because he could have been any random student, walking around campus. Just like me.

But for some reason, my heart started beating faster.

Almost as soon as I'd decided I had something to worry about, I decided to ignore it. He wasn't doing anything wrong. He was just walking. Just like me. It's a college campus. Students walk. So why was I scared of him? There was no reason for me to be scared.

The only possible reason I could think of at that moment to explain why I might be scared was that he was black. And that utterly disgusted me. I was thoroughly appalled at my behavior. How could I be so prejudiced? So horrible?

So I turned around and started up the steps.

About halfway up, the footsteps behind me turned into a run. And before I had a chance to react, he was upon me.

He grabbed me with one arm around my neck, and the other reached up my dress. I screamed and tried to swing my purse at him, but I couldn't, and it went sailing out of my hands.

(I'm pausing here to gain composure. Just talking about this is getting me agitated.)

I struggled out of his hold and spun to face him. He was standing below me on the steps, so I wasn't sure if I would get a good aim at him. So instead of kneeing him in the groin like I should have, I decided to kick out and up, towards his face.

And I connected. Hard.

But because I was on the steps, I lost my footing and fell to my knees. Through the pain, I could sense him standing above me. He growled "You b@#$%!"

And then suddenly, I heard another voice. "Stop! Get away from her!"

The attacker and I both turned and saw a guy standing at the bottom of the steps. He wasn't very big -- he certainly wouldn't have won in a fight with the bully who'd attacked me -- but he was incredibly brave.

The attacker looked at him, then at me, then back at him, while he decided what to do. I guess he weighed his options and decided it wasn't worth it, because there was a witness. So he ran back down the steps, shoving the witness as he raced past.

He then spun around (and here's where this whole thing gets fuzzy...remember, it was incredibly dark around there -- we later learned the perp had busted out all the streetlights) and pulled what appeared to be a gun on us. The reason I say "appeared to be a gun" is because we really don't know. It could have been a gun. Or it could have been his finger held in the shape of a gun.

He then said "Don't move. Don't even think about it." He held that position for what seemed like a couple of minutes, but couldn't have been more than about ten seconds.

Then he was gone.

So why did I just tell this story? Because it's so very important that all women (and men!) know how to protect themselves. Please do yourself a favor. Take a basic self-defense class.

Here are some tips from Defend University, a research and development group dedicated to self-defense:

1. Stay aware of people in your surroundings.
2. Stay with people, go to people.
3. Keep a barrier between you and the bad guy.
4. Attract attention.
5. Control his hips and his hands.
6. Use your strongest weapons against his weakest targets.

After the attack, I refused to live in my apartment for about a week. I stayed on the floor of my friend Lauren's dorm room on campus. In fact, it took several days before I would even leave her room. I was a zombie.

And when I did eventually start going to class, I would jump whenever I could sense someone walking behind me. My Italian class was located in the LSRC, site of the attack itself. I actually refused to go to that class, and eventually the dean of students moved the location to a different building, to accomodate me.

But the dean suggested that I see a counselor. The therapist told me that during the attack, my subconscious was trying to warn me. I got a weird feeling about that guy I saw. I should have listened to my subconscious. Instead, I ignored it, afraid that I was being racist.

But our subconscious doesn't lie. It's almost always right. In his bestselling book, Gavin deBecker calls this the "gift of fear." This book helped me get back on track, so that I could actually attend class and end up graduating a few weeks later. Without this book, I doubt I ever would have left Lauren's dorm room.

So please, learn how to protect yourself.

As a first step, I will give a copy of "The Gift of Fear" to one person who comments on this post between now and 11:59 pm, Sunday, April 12. I'll announce the winner on Mel's post on Monday.

P.S. To my mystery hero that night...I don't think I ever got a chance to properly thank you. You might have saved my life. So if you're reading this -- although I doubt you are -- THANK YOU.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Random Question Day!

I was trying to think about what I wanted to blog on, but several different ideas came to mind. So, I decided to mash them together and have RANDOM QUESTION DAY. Please answer the following 5 questions, for the good of all mankind. Feel free to add as little or as much detail as you like...I'll answer the questions in the comments too:

1--pirates or ninjas?

2--ever stolen anything from a restaurant?

3--maid service: "Yes, I think it's the ultimate luxury", or "No, I don't want people touching my stuff"?

4--what book did you hate reading the most in high school?

5--what's your best feature/attribute?

Okay, folks...answer away!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Love Hate Relationships

What is it about the love/hate relationships in our lives that make us so passionate about things? Is it the push and pull of emotion? The depths of the two opposite emotions? The reward that balances out the work?

Some of my love/hate relationships:

Exercise: I'm not talking about a walk on the beach, I'm talking about purposefully strapping on my trainers and hitting the elliptical until sweat drips down my neck. I hate it. And yet, when it's over, I love that I've done it. And by that point, I've vowed to do it again the following day, even though I know when I wake up the next morning I'll be thinking of 15 different reasons to skip the day's workout altogether.

Food: I love food. Probably in an unnatural way. And yet, I struggle to eat what's good for me, knowing full well that I feel like crap when I eat crap. Why can't pizza, pasta, mac-n-cheese and cake be healthy diet food?

Writing: Does this one shock you? Let me explain. For me, the process of writing isn't enjoyable. Blank pages are hard for me to fill. I push through each one like it's an uphill climb. In the winter. In bare feet. But once I get those first pages done, I thrive on the revising and the layering and the fleshing out of those bare story bones. I'd almost rather revise someone else's stuff. Ultimately, the finished story makes it all worthwhile and makes me willing to go through it once again for another story.

What are your love/hate relationships?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Win an ARC

I'm doing a give away over at for an advanced copy of BITE ME! If you're a member of the community, (and if you're not, I suggest you join immediately!) please go here to enter the contest! Two lucky winners will be randomly chosen! You have until midnight tonight to enter.

Sorry this is a driveby posting. I'm neck deep in revisions right now for LOVE SUCKS! and I don't wanna break the momentum.

Hope y'all had a great weekend!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

You Spin Me Write Round

˙snoıɹǝs ɹoɟ

˙uʍop-ǝpısdn plɹoʍ ʎɯ uɹnʇ noʎ

˙sʇsɐısnɥʇuǝ ǝɹnʇɐɹǝʇıl ʇlnpɐ ƃunoʎ puɐ sǝʇɐɯ-ƃolq ʇsnɾ ʇou ǝɹɐ noʎ ˙spuǝıɹɟ puɐ sɹǝuʇɹɐd ƃuıʇıɹʍ ɔıɟıɹɹǝʇ ʇsnɾ ʇou ǝɹɐ noʎ ˙ɐpuɐɯɐ puɐ 'ɐpuoɥɹ 'lǝɯ 'uǝʇsıɹʞ 'uǝʍƃ ʞuɐɥʇ oʇ 'ʞǝǝʍ s,looɟ lıɹdɐ ƃuıɹnp 'ʎʇıunʇɹoddo sıɥʇ ǝʞɐʇ oʇ pǝʇuɐʍ ʇsnɾ ı ˙ʍou 'ɹɐǝʎ ɐ ɹǝʌo ɹoɟ sǝʇɐɯ-ƃolq puɐ spuǝıɹɟ uǝǝq ǝʌɐɥ ǝʍ 'llǝʍ

Friday, April 03, 2009

The one day I don't prank

I look at April Fool's Day the same way I look at Valentine's Day. Completely useless.

Just like I don't want overpriced flowers on the same day as every other woman in America, I find practical jokes on April first to be ho-hum. It in no fun at all to prank someone on a day that they are expecting to be pranked. I prefer to spread the love throughout the year. And while it is lots of fun to call your nephew's stepmom from a school phone and inquire about his non-existant truancy, it is much more fun to do it when she won't stop and say "hey wait a minute".

Trust me.

And Rick Rolling is so much more adorable when you are pretending to direct someone to an awesome news story in July. And if you need ammunition....try this literal version of the Rick Roll. Please put down any drinks before watching as Fictionistas cannot be held responsible for monitor damage. Seriously. I am so not joking. You will laugh.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Random thoughts on April Fool's Day

I mentioned something about April Fool's Day the other day to Mr. Brice and he immediately launched into a history of the origin of the holiday. He told me that the term April Fool's was coined shortly after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar. The term referred to people still adhering to the old Julian Calendar. So if you thought April 1 was the start of the new year, then you were considered an April Fool.

"Wow," I said, obviously impressed. For those of you who don't know him, he's an enginerd, and history was never his strong subject. So I wondered how he knew that, since random Jeopardy-style triviata is usually my domain, not his.

"The Simpsons," he answered.

Ah, yes. The Simpsons. The source of much useless information. And since apparently it was Lisa Simpson who told this story, I guessed it was probably true.

I went online to see if Lisa was telling the truth and checked the Wikipedia entry for "April Fool's Day" and found the following:

Wikipedia says that the origins of the holiday are unclear, but one of the possible theories was the very one Lisa quoted, so I guess there must be something to it. Other possible theories referred to the pre-Christian celebration of May Day as the start of the spring planting season. An April Fool was one who planted prematurely.

A literary reference for April Fool's Day can be seen in one of my least favorite books of all times, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. (Ducks, because I know Rhonda will be shocked.) The "Nun's Priest's Tale" tells the story of two fools, Chanticleer and the fox, taking place on March 32.

Anyway, enough of my ramble. Yesterday was April Fool's Day. I didn't get caught by any pranks, but a big part of me wishes that the series finale of one of my favorite shows, Life on Mars, was all an elaborate prank. Man, was that bad.

There I was, bummed out that the show had been canceled, but happy that they were at least doing a proper series finale, and tying up all loose ends. So I was cruising along, learning the resolution, and particularly happy about how they were seemingly ending the romance plot.

Until the last 5 minutes. OMG! Worst.five.minutes.ever.

Seriously, people, it was bad. Horrifically bad. They took what was one of THE coolest shows on TV and used one of oldest and cheapest tricks in the book.

Not cool.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fool's Day

As everyone on the planet probably has figured out by now, it's April Fool's day. And like most people, I've pulled a couple of pranks in my time. Like the time when I was in middle school and thought it would be really funny to call my mom while she was at work and yell, "The house is on fire!"...and then, hang up. Yeahhh, bad idea--I was grounded forever.

Anyway, I accidentally pulled another phone prank a few days ago.

Last Saturday was Earth Hour. We decided to participate and shut the lights off in our house. It was just me, my daughter, and my manpanion. We used a flashlight and played truth or dare--mostly sticking to truth. haha. But my daughter did accept a dare, eventually.

So, we decided it would be funny to prank my sis, who was on a date. I picked up the home phone, dialed the number, thrust the phone into my daughter's hands, and when it picked up, my daughter said, "This is We wanted to see how you were enjoying your match." Then, after a moment's pause, she hung up.

We laughed hard about it--my sister must have cracked up, especially since she knew it came from us (caller ID makes it hard to prank call people now, LOL)! Except, we didn't get a call back. So we called the # again, and it went directly to voice mail. My daughter left a message, explaining we were playing truth or dare and that I'd dared her to prank call her own aunt. She hung up, and we waited several minutes.

Still, no response. So I grab my cell and send my sis a text, apologizing if I'd made her mad because of pranking her while on her date. She replied back, "hah, what prank?"

A sick feeling hit my stomach. I looked at the number I'd dialed--I'd misdialed the last number of my sis's cell #. We hadn't been pranking my sis at all, but some poor random woman!

I'm a 32-year-old woman who hadn't done a prank call in God knows how long, and I'd messed it up. haha. So, to the mysterious woman we called--I'm sorry. And thanks for not calling the cops. LOL

So, what's the last phone prank you've pulled? Dish it!