Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's New is Old

When I was ironing my starched, big, flowered pocket handkerchief this morning for my first day working at the Otherworld Diner, I wondered what I was going to chat with the customers about.

Nice weather we’re having?
Well, yeah, if you like spring so early the blossoms are already blowing off the trees.
What happened to winter?
Lord and the TV weatherman only know. It’s so dry, I’ve had to water the lawn. And the iris? I think this is the year they’re gonna fergeddaboutit.
Gone skiing yet?
Hah, are you kiddin? Unless you live in the wilds of Serbia, there’s not enough snow on the mountains to slide down on the old refrigerator box.
Ahhhh...How about them Oscars?
OK, everybody has a comment to make about a black-and-white silent movie walkin’ away with the Best Picture award.
Me, I’m pleased. My pals, the Kandesky vampires, were pretty happy, too. A bunch of their celebs who worked in silents hadn’t had parts for years. Now that silents are back, the Kandeskys can bring back all their old family members—and by old, we’re talkin’ three, four hundred years—and get ‘em back in the limelight where they belong.
As the Baron always said, people have long memories, and once one of the family’s vampires has been a celeb for a century or so, people start rememberin’ what they look like.
But now, wow. We can bring back a bunch of folks who were stars and celebs before talkies and they can star in the new silents!
As they say, wait long enough and everything old is new again!


I have this fascination with castles. Always have had it, really. Recently they've been cropping up in my writing. What I find interesting about them is that most of the real ones still in existence look nothing like the Disney version or the fairy tale princess ones in story books. They're stone fortresses, built to make it almost impossible for invaders to reach and penetrate.

There's a distinction between castle and palace, and that may be where some of the confusion lies. A castle is a fortified residence for a lord or noble, whereas a palace is not fortified. Of course, given that kings usually resided in palaces, they most certainly would have been guarded.

The construction of a castle changed over the centuries as well. The early earth and timber castles gave way to stone. Windows were nothing more than slits, and one has to wonder about the air quality inside those walls. Most of them contained turrets we've come to associate with a castle, usually at the corners but sometimes in other places as well. The outside appearance changed as the threat of invaders lessened, so that castles built in later centuries took on more of the pleasing aesthetics we associate with the ones in fairy tales.

Common features include the castle being surrounded by a moat or perched high on a mountain, a keep, a gatehouse, and a curtain wall. The picture I've posted is the Neuschwanstein, a 19th century neo-romantic castle built by Ludwig II of Bavaria. It's rumored to be the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle, and is open to the public for tours. I hope to visit it one day. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Surprise This Week

My grandson, Blake, was born a month early this past week, and I've been so happy and excited and doing the grandma thing, I haven't even thought about writing.

I hope each of you is doing well with your writing, and I would like to hear your ideas on what you'd like us to talk about here at the diner. We try to make it fun and informative, but your input would be greatly appreciated.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thirteen Questions: An Editor's Answers

Ever wonder what an editor thinks? Wish you could get that
esteemed person to respond to you? We did.

We were fortunate enough to have Loose ID Senior Editor Ann
Curtis answer our questions. Thanks, Ann.

1. Mary asks--What is
the first thing you look for in a manuscript?

When I look at the introduction letter, the synopsis, and
the partial, the first thing I check is to make sure the author has sent our
publishing house a submission we can publish. By that I mean it needs to
conform to the guide lines set forth on our publisher’s submission page. Loose
Id publishes erotic romance with a twist. That means not only does the writing
need to be hot and on par with what readers of erotic romance expect from their
reading experience; it also must incorporate that extra something, like
bondage, BDSM, paranormal, LGBT, steampunk, Interracial, etc. Just a straight
m/f mildly hot story won’t cut it; it must be over-the-top steamy, with maybe a
little kink or light bondage or something else thrown in. Readers of erotic
romance expect a certain type of book; they’re looking for a certain reading
pleasure and expectation when they read an erotic romance.

2. Mary would also like
to know--what do editors like to see?

A good book! Seriously. I look for books that I myself
wouldn’t hesitate to grab off the shelf of my nearest bookstore (literally or
figuratively, in the case of e-books) because the story and the writing have
captured my imagination and made me want to read it. I know that if the book
has grabbed my attention to the degree that I myself would want to own it, then
there’s an excellent chance that other readers will also love the story.

3. Mia or Brenda
wonders--In terms of submissions, what would you like to see more of?

I love paranormal/psychic and also very hot bondage/BDSM
stories. I am also looking for an author who has made up a very unique and
special world that sucks me in and makes me want to know everything there is to
know about that world.

4. Jeannie
asks--Where do you see publishing going in the next five years - will digital
overrun print?

You know, as much as I love e-editing, I myself still love
to hold a real book in my hands. Maybe it’s because I sit in front of the
computer for eight hours/day, reading and editing. By the time I want to read
for pleasure, my eyes would seriously prefer to read off paper than a computer
screen. I’m still thinking of purchasing an e-book reader, but as much as I embrace
the new way of electronically editing and publishing books, I’m still very much
an old-fashion reader of paper books.

I recently read that efforts are under way to try to get
college textbooks on to e-publishing formats. With the high price of academic
books, I applaud that effort. I think for certain types of books, e-format is
the way to go; it will certainly bring down the high prices college students
pay for their textbooks (one hopes). But that will only occur if college
students can also afford the electronic device(s) needed to read those books.

Other studies I’ve read state that spending so much time on
the computer or reading off a screen isn’t good for our eyes. Something about
the lights and the flickering screens and the 3-D look of type that our eyes
don’t like. I know my eyesight has gone downhill with the amount of time I
spend in front of a screen. And I’m not playing computer games!

Will digital overrun print? I don’t know. I guess much of it
has to do with raw materials. Will trees and water run out, so that we no
longer can make paper and print books? Will we always have reliable electricity
to recharge our electronic gadgets? Will the raw materials used to make the
components always be available and affordable? So many unknowns. A digital
e-reader relies on so many new technologies and components to make it run,
whereas a paperback book needs nothing but a pair of eyes to read it.

I think there are too many unknowns in the future to make
that prediction.

5. Alice Audrey has
these questions--Do you edit self-pub books? If so, which have you done? What
does your editing encompass?

I have been a Sr. Editor for six years for an e-publisher of
erotic romance. As such, editing encompasses content editing, mechanical
editing, line editing, and to a certain extent, also some formatting,
copyediting, and proofreading. That is, I edit the book to within an inch of
its life and to the best of my abilities. After I’m done, that book goes
through another copy editor and also a proofreader before it is released.

Through my editing business, AC Proofing Services, I work as
a freelance editor. For the past three years I have proofread for a well-known
small publisher for their romance and re-release romance line (reselling old
backlist novels). I also have a variety
of different clients, some who are professors and have me work with them on
their dissertations, journal papers, and academic books, while others want me
to do a manuscript critique on their mainstream suspense or a thorough editing
job on their fantasy book.

I have edited self-published books, yes. I am currently
working with someone who has a fantasy trilogy based upon the creation of the
world using the various world myths. With his book, I am basically covering all
the components of editing (content, mechanical, copy edit) and have advised him
that an overall proofread should also be considered after the intense edits and
revisions he’ll undertake. Most of the fiction work I do is in the various
genres of romance, but I am open to and have worked in other areas of fiction

My editing encompasses: Content
editing, to check on story plot so there are no plot holes, and if the
story is a romance, that there is a complete romantic arc; goals, motivations,
and conflicts; Point of View (POV) and making sure the right people are talking
and that deep POV has been used to draw the reader into the story; making sure
scenes and sequels are balanced, tell what they need to tell, and that
transitions flow evenly from one part to another; and that the story stays
focused on the people (hero, heroine, maybe villain and/or another main third
person) the story is about. Mechanical
editing, to make sure that grammar, punctuation, and sentence
structure/syntax is correct; that words are spelled correctly, whether they are
words from the dictionary or made-up words used in the world building; and that
spacing and formatting issues are looked at. Line editing, to make sure that words or phrases aren’t repeated,
that different words are used (ex: that the word betrayed isn’t used 150 times
in the manuscript; that other ways to say the same word/same thing are utilized
instead); that unnecessary or unneeded words are deleted; that simultaneous
actions are caught; that independently acting body parts are flagged and
changed. Proofreading means reading
a manuscript and keeping in mind all of these various issues, making sure that
nothing was missed in any of these steps, to include also checking for House
Style formatting issues, Style formatting, and making sure those also make it
to the final copy. I also do Manuscript

When I started as a freelance editor six years ago, I worked
both electronically and by hand using copy edit and proofing marks. Now, for
the most part, all editing has gone digital, and I work in both Microsoft Word
and Adobe Acrobat when I edit.

asks--When you receive a manuscript, what's a cardinal sin? In other words, a
deal-breaker? What should we authors do better to impress an editor?

Hmm. I would say the biggest thing that makes me upset with
a book is when an author has a wonderful idea or concept but hasn’t worked
enough on her writing to be able to bring that idea or concept to fruition.
Having a sloppy manuscript with very obvious grammar, punctuation, spelling,
and sentence syntax problems is another no-no. If your English skills leave
something to be desired, then have someone who is knowledgeable in English look
over your story before you send it in. As an editor, I don’t have the time to
help you work on your book until it’s ready to be published. It needs to be in
that state when it hits my desk.

7.Country Dew
wonders--Do you require a completely finished manuscript from a new writer, or
do you prefer to accept a query and then work with the writer to create a
finished work of fiction?

We only accept completely finished manuscripts from new
writers. If you prove yourself with the first few manuscripts, and sales back
you up, then if the author is interested, she may query/do a book on proposal.
If we accept her proposal, then she has a certain time frame in which to write
the book and turn it in.

I do not work with any authors on the writing process
itself. A form of that would be ghostwriting, which I have never done.

8.The Gal Herself
poses these questions--How important is an agent? Is it true that editors
prefer to receive manuscripts through an agent, rather than directly from the

In the world of traditional publishers, yes, it is true that
the NYC houses prefer an agented author. That way, the slush pile has already
been “gone through,” and you are considered knowledgeable not only about the
writing process itself, but you have shown that you are capable of writing a
novel-size book that is in sellable condition. A plus for NYC publishers, who
are there to sell your product, not help you “get it there.”

I have not seen that having an agent is really needed in
e-publishing. In the six years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only had one author
who had an agent, and that was because she was already published with a NYC

9.Regina Castillo asks--I would like to know
what agents see that makes them want to see your full manuscript. What can we
do to make them want more?

I can’t answer this from an agent’s perspective, as I’m not
an agent. I can answer it from an editor’s perspective, however.

When I first start reading the three-chapter submission
partial you send me, I want to be wowed. I want to see that you have mastered
the English language, that you know your grammar, verb tenses, how to use
punctuation correctly, in what order adverbs and adjectives go, and that you
can vary the sentence variety/structure with long and short sentences. That if
you’re writing romantic suspense, you know how to convey emotion and tension
with the words you choose and the sentence structures you use. If you’re
writing an involved, erotic, hot love scene that the words you choose, the
emotions you convey, the feelings and expressions you evoke from the
character(s), are the same ones I will feel as the reader reading that passage.
I want to see that you’ve done your work and know about Goals, Motivations, and
Conflicts, that you’ve studied various writing how-to books and have applied
what you’ve learned about writing a novel to your book. It’s nice to see that you’ve
utilized the dictionary and you know how to spell, and if you have taken the
time to incorporate the rules from The Chicago Manual of Style to your story,
you get extra special kudos from me. ;)

And then, I want those first few pages to tell me a really
terrific story that I’ve just got to know more of so that I ask you for the

10.Shelley Munro’s
first question is - what genres would you like to see more of?

I really love paranormal/psychic, suspense, and really well-written
bondage/BDSM/role-playing stories where the psyches of the characters involved
in the play are explored. I also like world building and time travel/futuristic
novels with maybe some science fiction thrown in.

11. Oh, and her
second - which are the most popular genres at Loose-Id?

Right now, LGBT m/m stories are very hot and popular. While
that is not my preferred genre, I do have some established authors who write
m/m stories and write beautiful, beautiful stories. BDSM and Interracial are
also hot.

The thing I want to mention, though, (and many of you have
heard this if you’ve been pursuing writing for a while) is that if you’re a new
author, you’re going to want to carve out your own space for your own writing.
If you do what other writers/authors have done, you’ll most likely get some
share of the pie (all those readers buying the same types of books), but you’ll
have more success if you carve out your own niche.

Investigate what sells well, and then figure out how to add
your own twist to it. Carve out your own unique area of the reading kingdom,
where you’ll have readers clamoring for your specific style of world building,
your unique voice.

12.Barbara Britton
wonders--If the writing is A plus, but there's one grammar error, does it make
you pass on the manuscript?

No! In fact, there can be little grammar/punctuation errors
throughout; that still won’t make me pass on it. An assessment only comes about
if it’s definitely something we don’t publish or the work is obviously that of
a beginner, where it would take too much editorial time/commitment to getting
it ready for publication. That’s what critique groups and honing your writing
craft are for; so the editor doesn’t have to work with you on writing the book.
It should already be written—and in a publishable state—when it gets to the
editor’s desk.

13. She also
asks--What does it mean when editors/agents say it's not right for their list?
What formulates a list?

Most publishing houses have a list on their submissions page
of what they are looking for/not looking for. The “list” will be different for
every house—and sometimes, even editors have particulars they like/don’t like
to read (although in that case, if it’s something the house would publish but
that editor isn’t comfortable with the reading material, it goes into Second
Look, so another editor can have a chance to with the author if she likes her

When an editor/agent says something isn’t right for their
list, they either mean it doesn’t fit into what their house publishes, it
doesn’t fit into an editor’s particular cache of stories she works with (maybe
she only does erotic, steampunk, and fantasy), or its not on an agent’s list of
publishing houses and what they’re currently looking to procure.

14.Carolyn Rosewood’s
question is--What percentage of manuscripts that you acquire would you say come
from new authors?

That is hard to say. I only have a few authors who have
stayed with me over the years and have continuously produced novels year after
year. Sometimes an author will work on three books with me, then she’ll
disappear. It is happening more and more lately that I will acquire an author,
work with her on a number of books, and then I never receive another submission
from her. I suspect, like most authors, she has probably taken her writing in a
different direction and is currently no longer writing erotic romance. Some
authors quit writing after two or three books. Sometimes I only work with them
on one book. The author might find that that one book she wrote worked particularly
well as an erotic romance, but her true writing style lies in a different
direction. Not every writer puts out a book with me every year.

Last year I acquired two new authors; so far this year, I’ve
added one.

I’m always looking for new authors, but even more, I’m
looking for prolific authors who have a lot of books to write so we are both
continually turning out great books for readers to enjoy.

We hope Ann’s answers have encouraged you. If you’d like to
ask her something else, you may contact her at ac_proofing (at) sbcglobal.net and if you'd like to comment, you can do so here. We'd love to hear from you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Indie Author Spotlight: Island Heat

by Jill Myles

Book Blurb:

On a business trip to Bermuda, realtor Diana Holcomb's small plane goes down over the ocean, a victim of the infamous Bermuda Triangle.

Diana wakes up to find herself on a deserted island...that really isn't all that deserted. First, a gigantic dinosaur tries to eat her. Then she's captured by cavemen, and just when things are looking their worst, she's rescued by none other than a gorgeous man with the body of an Adonis and the jungle skills of Tarzan.

Salvador's been stranded on the island for a very, very long time without a woman. A very, very long time. And now that he has Diana, he intends to claim her for his own...

Indie Publishing and the Published Author:

Back in April of 2010, I started a series of posts at the diner called the ‘IT’ Factor. I would review a debut author’s first book and try to figure out what made it stand out enough to catch an editor’s eye. The first book I ever reviewed at the diner was Jill Myles’s GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI. I absolutely loved it and put all of Myles’s books on my TBR list from then on. Of course, whenever we discover a new favorite author, they never seem to write fast enough. But sometimes it’s not their fault. Sometimes their publishers don’t have enough slots to publish their books quickly (if they are prolific authors). Other times, the publishers want the authors to stick with what works for them (the publishers, not the authors) and don’t want to see anything that steps out of marketing’s comfort zone. This is where indie publishing has been a boon for the published author. Those books the publishers didn’t want, they can now publish themselves.

And Now, On to the Book…

As a kid, I was a huge fan of “Land of the Lost”. The TV show, not the Will Farrell movie remake. Take that cheesy TV series, set it in the Bermuda Triangle and throw in a healthy dose of THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and you’ll get ISLAND HEAT. You definitely need to check your reality meter at the door. This is one silly, fun, out of this world book.

I was so there with Diana as she struggled to come to terms with the insanity on the island. A T-Rex sniffing after her as a mid-day snack, then a miniature Neanderthal wanting her to be his cave bunny – too funny. Then the heat factor turns up when she’s rescued by a hot Spanish Conquistador ala Tarzan in a loin cloth. Yum! He’s been stranded on the island way toooo long without a woman and displays a bit of caveman behavior himself when he claims Diana for his own.

Even a Pro Can Make Mistakes:

No book is ever perfect. Typos still manage to slip through in professionally edited NY published books and indie published books often get a bad rap for sloppy editing. While Myles’s book wasn’t riddled with them, there were a few missing or transposed words that had me stumbling a time or two. It just goes to show that even the pros are not infallible.

Plot Hole - *spoiler ahead alert* Seems that nothing is supposed to age on the island. So where does the unending supply of prey for the meat eating T-Rex come from? Apparently, saber tooth cats and prehistoric birds can reproduce young that mature into adults, but humans and cavemen are frozen in time, never aging. Why does the anti-aging of the island only affect the people and not the animals? This was never explained and left me scratching my head.

What makes this book standout:

This book is like other Jill Myles’s books – sexy, steamy and loaded with humor. But I think I know why her publisher didn’t buy it. It’s so far outside the box, it’s in another time zone. But that’s what indie publishing is for. Allowing authors the freedom to have a little fun with their writing and thumb their noses at the marketing departments who rule NY editors with an iron fist. If you want to read something really different that will make you laugh out loud, give this one a try.

And if you want to read another great Jill Myles indie book, read WICKED GAMES, her sexy take on “Survivor” reality TV. It’s not a paranormal, but it’s got that trademark Myles’s brand of humor that I love.

Learn more about Jill Myles at http://jillmyles.com/

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Or, Ten Reasons Why You Need A Beta Reader

1) Because the hero's name changes from Heck to Onion in chapter 8. Oopsie!

2) Because you typed chapter 4 while your 8 month old niece was "helping" you and now it's not particularly readable. Oopsie!

3) Because if your heroine went to high school in the 80's like you did, she would not be in her early 30's in the story set in 2012. Or a virgin. Oopsie!

4) Because nobody but you (who went to high school in the 80's) will get the "Shazbat!" reference. Oopsie!

5) Because if the story is set in Seattle, since you thought that might be groovy, your plot shouldn't feature endless, sunny, warm days. Unless there's been a paradise apocalypse. Oopsie!

6) "It was a dark and stormy knight. Suddenly a shit rang out." Oopsie!

7) Because Jedi are copyrighted. Oopsie!

8) Because your highly scientific explanation of vampirism that you waited to include in chapter 2, instead of infodumping it in chapter 1, is still a boring infodump. Oopsie!

9) Because fairies and faeries are the same thing, and the erratic spelling doesn't add to the story or enhance the worldbuilding. Oopsie!

10) Because the hero does not have 3 hands...does he? Oopsie!

So, what are YOUR most convincing reasons to have a beta reader?


Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Too Much Of A Good Thing!

Too Much of a Good Thing
Belch! We’ve all done it! We’ve all overindulged on that extra piece of chocolate, that second sliver of cake, that additional scoop of ice cream, or my personal favorite, one too many cups of coffee! Our stomachs start to rumble and the gases start to flow and before we know it the horrible pain of indigestion sets in!

In light of our Valentine’s Day Chocolate hangovers, I thought it might be fun to look at a few famous over indulgers throughout history, and hopefully find inspiration to not end up like they did!

1135, Henry I, King of England – King Henry reportedly died of food poisoning after eating too many lampreys, a type of toothed eel. These eels are known for attaching themselves to other fish to suck their blood (similar to leaches). It is reported that this “tasty” dish was a delicacy and one of the King’s favorites. He often ate more than his fill. I’m not sure how much pain the King might have been in when he died from his slippery endeavor, but I bet it really sucked! ;)

1410, Martin Aragon, King of Aragon, Valencia, Sardinia and Corsica – Died as a result of laughing uncontrollably while suffering from indigestion. Have you ever had a case of hiccups that sent everyone into a fit of laughter? Or how about a burping episode that led to bouts of hilarious competition? Come on! You know you have! Martin did and now he knows exactly what it means to be “he who laughs last” but was it best?

1601, Tycho Brahe – This Danish Nobleman was known for his astronomical and planetary observations. A firsthand account tells of his death upon refusing to leave an important banquet in Prague in order to relieve himself, “because it would have been a breach of etiquette.” I too have done the pee pee dance, but I must admit that although I have had a few close calls, I have never let it go until I was seeing stars!

1695, Henry Purcell – One of Britain’s great composers, Henry Purcell supposedly died of pneumonia, but there were two rumored stories that stated otherwise. One said that Henry died after getting sick as a result of staying out too late while carousing with friends; another says he died of chocolate poisoning after consuming some of the impure drink at one of London’s new Chocolate Houses. Either way, it sounds like Henry had “one too many”.

1771, Adof Frederick, King of Sweden – This Swedish King is still studied by school children as teachers site the example, “too much of a good thing”. He died after consuming a meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, kippers and champagne. If that wasn’t enough, Adof topped off dinner with fourteen servings of his favorite dessert, Selma (a cream filled pastry often served with hot milk). Seriously Adof? Fourteen desserts? I imagine our “Man vs. Food” friend would say that Adof got creamed!

1888, Elizabeth Stride – Elizabeth was believed to be the fifth victim of Jack the Ripper. When authorities found her mutilated body, it was reported that she clutched a small bunch of grapes in her lifeless hand. Grapes were extravagantly expensive during this time and many believed that Jack the Ripper used the fruit to lure Stride to her death. I guess we could say that Elizabeth and Jack had a very pressing engagement!

And just in case you are saying, “Okay, all of these people died from rich food, excessive drinking, or wantonness”, here’s a health nut that was a little “cracked”!

1974, Basil Brown – A popular health advocate died after drinking ten gallons of carrot juice in ten days. This is ten thousand times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A! Basil might have wanted to move to the head of the class and make the grade, but in the long run – Basil got juiced!

Thanks for stopping by the Diner for your daily dose of Witt. Seconds anyone?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heard It In A Love Song

Yes, lucky me it's my day to post on Valentine's Day! Since Tuesdays are normally Tuneful Tuesdays on my website, I wanted to post about love songs here today.

If you Google songs about love, you'll come up with several lists of the 100 greatest love songs of all time, country and pop. Certainly the country artists would seem to have a handle on songs about love, with all the heartbreak and angst present in most songs. Although recently that trend has shifted to songs about fast cars and red Solo cups.

But the pop/rock stars have always sung about love as well. And let's not forget the crooners of the 40's or the early rock stars of the 50's. No lack of love in those lyrics.

There's no denying it's a subject with which we, as a people, are fascinated. Song lyrics only scratch the surface. We depict and celebrate love in every form of art and media, not only song.

Here are some of my favorite love songs, in alphabetical order:

Always and Forever ~ Heatwave
Always On My Mind ~ Willie Nelson
Amazed ~ Lonestar
At Last ~ Etta James
Behind Closed Doors ~ Charlie Rich
Betcha By Golly, Wow ~ Stylistics
Crazy For You ~ Madonna
Evergreen ~ Barbra Streisand
Forever and Ever, Amen ~ Randy Travis
Happy Together ~ The Turtles
Head Over Heels ~ Tears for Fears
Higher and Higher ~ Jackie Wilson
How Deep Is Your Love ~ The Bee Gees
How Do I Live ~ Trisha Yearwood
I Honestly Love You ~ Olivia Newton-John
I Will Always Love You ~ Dolly Parton
I Will Always Love You ~ Whitney Houston
If ~ Bread
I'll Be There ~ Jackson 5
I'll Make Love to You ~ Boyz II Men
Just the Way You Are ~ Billy Joel
Last Dance ~ Donna Summer
Let's Get It On ~ Marvin Gaye
Let's Stay Together ~ Al Green
Love Will Keep Us Together ~ Captain & Tennille
Maggie May ~ Rod Stewart
Me and Bobby McGee ~ Janis Joplin
Midnight Train To Georgia ~ Gladys Knight
Oh Girl ~ The Chi-Lites
On the Street Where You Live ~ from My Fair Lady
Save the Best for Last ~ Vanessa Williams
Silly Love Songs ~ Wings
Someone To Watch Over Me ~ Ella Fitzgerald
Somewhere ~ from West Side Story
Superstar ~ Roberta Flack
The Closer I Get To You ~ Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ~ Roberta Flack
This Guy's In Love With You ~ Herb Alpert
This Kiss ~ Faith Hill
Time In a Bottle ~ Jim Croce
To Love Somebody ~ The Bee Gees
To Sir With Love ~ Lulu
Unchained Melody ~ Righteous Brothers
When a Man Loves a Woman ~ Percy Sledge
Will You Love Me Tomorrow ~ Carole King
Wouldn't It Be Nice ~ Beach Boys
You Are So Beautiful ~ Joe Cocker
You Are the Sunshine Of My Life ~ Stevie Wonder
You Make Loving Fun ~ Fleetwood Mac
You Don't Have to Be a Star ~ Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr
Your Song ~ Elton John

Did I list your favorite? Talk to me about love songs...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Livia Quinn, Kitchen Supervisor

We all know the if the food ain't right, the customers aren't coming back. It's a team effort and with someone tending to the pies and breads, this kitchen boss spends her time making sure the portion control is maintained, you know, the balance between character and story, mystical and real, sexy and sweet. But watch out - if there's a storm (and there’s always a storm in Livia’s worlds) she will be corralling everyone into the bathrooms and walkins cause nothing' creates tension like a Louisiana hurricane. Bring a crowd and sit down for Livia's specialty - Hot Boiled Crawfish and afterwards cool off with a Snow Ball Supreme.

Livia has plenty of inspiration for her series set in Destiny, Louisiana. She lives by the bayou with her DH, Cocodrie Dundee, pet alligator and Alaskan sled dog-wannabe Pomeranian, Dusty, where she writes about a storm witch/rural carrier and the community of Destiny, La.

Read about her books or visit her blog at http://www.liviaquinn.com
Follow her on FB http://on.fb.me/wClOUb  or twitter @liviaquinn

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Celebration of Love and Lovers:Thirteen Men Who Loved Courtesans

In celebration of love and lovers, we bring you a post by award-winning author, Deborah Hale.

Thirteen Men Who Loved Courtesans

During the flamboyant Georgian era,
enjoying the favors of a celebrated courtesan was the ultimate status
symbol. These thirteen men were infamous
for their liaisons…

1. Peniston Lamb, Viscount Melbourne
– Before his marriage, Melbourne lived with courtesan Harriet Powell who took to calling herself Harriet Lamb. Later, Melbourne pursued the most celebrated actress of the day, Sophia Baddeley, lavishing her with jewels and leaving her presents of as much as £500 after a visit. The spendthrift Sophia still managed to rack up thousands of pounds in debts.

(the man sitting on the horse is Lord

2. Lord George Cavendish – Brother of the Duke of
Devonshire, Lord George was an intermittent patron of courtesan Elizabeth
Armistead before his marriage. In one
comical incident, he called upon his mistress late one evening only to discover
the Prince of Wales hiding in her closet, stark naked!
3. Lord Robert Spencer – Brother of the Duke of
Marlborough, Lord Robert was a charming wastrel known as Comical Spencer. He lost his fortune at the gambling tables,
yet managed to secure the favors of such celebrated courtesans as Polly Jones,
Perdita Robinson and Mrs. Armistead in the strength of his charm alone.

4. Frederick St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke
– His marriage to
Lady Diana Spencer ended in divorce for her infidelity, a blatant double
standard considering Bolingbroke (known as Bully) consorted with some of the
most notorious courtesans of the era including Nelly O’Brien, Polly Jones and
Elizabeth Armistead.

5. George, 6th Earl of Coventry – The earl’s first wife was actress Maria Gunning who carried on a famous rivalry with his mistress, Kitty Fisher. One day, when the two women met in the park, Lady Coventry asked Kitty who had made her dress. Fisher answered that the countess should ask Lord Coventry, for he had given it to her as a gift.
6. John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich – The inventor of the sandwich may have been inspired by courtesan Kitty Fisher eating a thousand guinea banknote between two slices of bread. In 1779 Sandwich’s long-time mistress Martha Ray was murdered at Covent Garden by a young clergyman who was infatuated with her.

7. Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby– A famous horseracing enthusiast, for whom the Derby Stakes was named. After Lord Derby’s wife left him for The Duke
of Dorset (see below), the earl embarked on a highly publicized affair with Dorset’s former mistress, Mrs. Armistead. He later married actress Elizabeth Farren.

8.George, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley – Cholmondeley was notorious for his affairs with
actresses and courtesans, including Mrs. Armistead, Perdita Robinson and Grace
Elliott. Sophia Baddeley was one of the few to refuse him. His impressive “manly
dimensions” were satirized in a poem, The Torpedo. They may have been the reason the Duchess of Bedford, thirty years his senior, besieged him with marriage proposals
9. Duke of Wellington – The Iron Duke paid £500 to be introduced to the notorious Regency
courtesan, Harriette Wilson. She was not
impressed with his skill as a lover, claiming the great general had no merit
“for home services or ladies’ uses.”
Later she tried to blackmail the Duke to omit any mention of him in her
autobiography. Wellington’s famous response was, “Publish
and be damned!

10. Augustus Henry FitzRoy 3rd Duke of Grafton --The Duke served as British Prime Minister from 1768-1770. Besotted with courtesan Nancy Parsons, Grafton flaunted their four-year affair much to the disgust of King George III and the Duchess of Grafton, who left him for another man.

11. John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset-A handsome aristocrat who popularized cricket and served as Ambassador to France, Dorset took courtesan Nancy Parsons on his Grand Tour of Europe. Upon his return to England he took up with the celebrated Mrs. Armistead but left her to pursue Lady Derby. His most famous mistress was Venetian ballerina Giovanna Baccelli, whom he painted by Gainsborough.

12. Charles James Fox – Whig politician and twice British Foreign Secretary, Fox lost an enormous fortune at the gaming tables. He had several mistresses of obscure origins, two of whom bore him children. He was reputed to have had a brief liaison with Perdita Robison before taking celebrated courtesan Elizabeth Armistead as his long-time mistress and later his wife.

13. The Prince Regent-The Prince's first mistress was actress Perdita Robison, to whom he promised a handsome settlement but later reneged. He then took up with Mrs. Armistead and Grace Elliott, who bore a daughter which might have been his. He went on to have affairs with a number of musicians and married aristocrats as well as a long relationship with Catholic widow Maria Fitzherbert.

I enjoyed discovering the scandalous side of these famous men while researching Confessions of a Courtesan, my historical novel based on the life times of Elizabeth Armistead. Here is an excerpt in which Mrs. Armistead confronts several of these gentlemen at their club:

Upon reaching the second floor, I pushed open a set of double doors that stood ajar. I strode into a large, brightly lit room furnished with a great number of tables. Around each table, playing cards lay upon the floor in deep drifts.
The place was crowded with gentlemen dressed in the oddest assortment of garments I had ever seen. Some had on coarse woollen frieze coats, while others wore their own coats turned inside out. Several had on leather sleeve guards such as footmen wore for cleaning silver. Many sported high-crowned straw hats trimmed with flowers and ribbons.
A few of the gentlemen turned to glance at me when I entered, but most kept on playing. The buzz of voices, the clink of coins and the rattle of dice filled the air, together with wine fumes and clouds of pipe smoke. I peered around anxiously for the porter. Finally, I spotted him at a nearby table speaking to a masked man.
“Mrs. Armistead?” Bully pulled off his mask as I approached. “What the deuce are you doing here? And what great calamity is this fellow blathering about?”
“Only that your friends’ rowdy prank last night cost me my place at Mrs. Goadby’s!” Enraged that some of them ignored me to continue playing cards, I grabbed the deck out of the dealer’s hand.
That got me their attention. More masks came off to reveal what I’d suspected. Lord Bolingbroke was happily amusing himself with the very men who’d burst in on us the night before.
“Is that all?” Bully puffed out his broad lower lip. “Then I shall take you into keeping. I was getting tired of my latest mistress, anyway.”
His offer surprised and touched me. But going into Bully’s keeping would be a temporary solution at best. I knew about his money troubles and had no faith at all in his far-fetched enclosure scheme. Moreover, he might cut me loose at a moment’s notice, like his current mistress, of whom I’d known nothing.
My best hope was to pursue my original plan. “I thank you for your generous offer, my lord. But your friends are more to blame for my situation than you are. I think it only fair they should contribute to my rescue.”
They stared at me as if I was mad, in an amusing way.
“What would you have us do, ma’am?” cried one. “Set you up as our banker at quinze? I would not mind losing so much if it was to a beautiful woman.”
His quip eased my sense of desperation. “It is a tempting offer, sir. But I have another position in mind. One I believe you can assist me to obtain, if you are equal to the challenge.”
“Challenge?” Another man flicked a golden rouleau, worth twenty pounds, in the air and caught it again. “Good Lord, Bully, your lady friend has taken our measure to the groat!”
“Hasn’t she just?” agreed the swarthy man with thick brows, whom I now recognized as the celebrated politician, Charles Fox. “The only thing we have a harder time resisting than a challenge is temptation. What are you angling for, my dear, a place in the Treasury?”
“Hardly, sir.” Their amusement at my intrusion boosted my confidence. “I seek a place I am well qualified to fill.”
“What a novel idea.” Mr. Fox chuckled. “Giving places to people qualified to fill them, rather than those who can bring the most influence to bear. You must be a Wilkesite, madam.”
Did these men take anything seriously except indulging their own reckless pleasure? I reminded myself how well that qualified them for my purposes.
“My aim, gentlemen, is to become the most sought-after courtesan in the kingdom. With a little assistance, I believe I can do it.” I spread their cards like a fan and fluttered them in front of my face. “May I count on your support?”
“Courtesan, eh? Like the exquisite Mrs. Baddeley?”
“Better,” I declared, made bold by a potent brew of hope, “for I am prettier.”
“Damned if you aren’t.” A smile of radiant sweetness lightened Mr. Fox’s swarthy features. “This challenge sounds like fine sport. Are we in, gentlemen? It seems the least we can do for the poor lady after the trouble we caused her. Would that all our scrapes could be so easily remedied.”
“She must have French lessons,” said one of his friends.
“And her portrait painted by Reynolds,” suggested another. “Don’t you agree, Charles?”
Mr. Fox nodded. “What about the stage? Have you ever acted my dear?”
They were going to do it! I wanted to toss my handful of cards in the air and dance around the room, but I managed to restrain myself. “I’m certain I could learn.”
“It is settled, then,” said Mr. Fox. “Bully will set her up in lodgings. Richard will find her a French master. Bob will arrange her display in gallery and I shall manage her acting debut. She will soon be all the fashion!”
His friends murmured in agreement.
“In that case,” Bully plucked the cards from my hand, “can we get back to our game before my luck sours?”
The gentlemen turned their backs on me like children who had suddenly lost interest in some passing novelty. I followed the club porter out of the gaming room, not certain whether to be elated or terrified by what I’d just done.

If you’d like to find out more about Confessions of a Courtesan or Elizabeth Charles check out: http://www.deborahhale.com/echarlespage.htm

Diner Staff & Schedule

To keep pace with our unusual hours for our unusual customers, the Otherworld Diner posts on a 4-week rotation beginning on the first Sunday of each month. The order of bloggers (subject to fits and starts and baking disasters) is:

Sunday: Jeanne
Monday: Lori
Tuesday: Livia
Wednesday: Eilis
Thursday: Brenda
Friday: Gretchen

Sunday: Jeanne
Monday: Cadence
Wednesday: Shirley
Thursday: Jody
Friday: Cheryl

Sunday: Jeanne
Monday: Lori
Tuesday: Debora
Wednesday: PR
Thursday: Brenda

Sunday: Jeanne
Monday: Talia
Wednesday: Michele

Former staffers are always welcome, as are you! If you'd like to guest blog at the Otherworld Diner, we're happy to try out recipes, waitstaff and cooks. Drop Jeannie, the hostess, an email, since she writes up the schedule (mdntvoices [at] yahoo.com). Some of our staffers are part-timers themselves and may pop in from time to time to fold napkins, refill the ketchup bottles or try out a new recipe on our customers.

Have a good time while you're here, and be sure to sample the pie!

The Diner Staff

Note: You can see a collection of all blog entries by specific staff members if you click their names in the right sidebar or in the tags under their bio. You can also click the "staff" tag to see everyone's bio at once.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The diner scene

Wow, this Otherworld Diner business ... it's COOL. It's like the cantina scene in That Famous Movie, except the diner is cleaner and the food is fabulous (the apple pie is to die for). A little less violent. So far. The people watching (so to speak) has a lot in common, though.

There's a diner I go to in my neck of the woods. It's known for its down-home charm and decor (among other things, the place has the best collection of classic and collectible lunch boxes I've ever seen) as well as its food. And the people watching is fun. The waitresses have come and gone through the years -- when I first started to go there, they were mostly students from the nearby community college -- but these days, they're mostly folks who've moved into the neighborhood, liked what they saw, and decided to settle in. Now, I see them at the diner, but I also see them at the supermarket, at the second-run movie theater, at the coffee stand. I like my little diner because it's got a small-town feel in the middle of a city. The customers are a mixed bag too; old folks, young folks, very young folks (shrieking and jumping up and down on the Batmobile ride, part of the decor). And sometimes very odd folks. Yes, it's Seattle's version of the Otherworld Diner.

Now that I'm here at the Otherworld, I'm looking around and liking what I see. It's comfy, it's entertaining...and let me settle into my stool at the counter and see who else comes in!

Eilis Flynn
RIDDLE OF RYU, on sale now
STATIC SHOCK, coming soon

Shirley Bourget, Waitress

Shirley is a gum smacking waitress who likes serving up slices of Romance along with your pie! She is usually amped up on caffeine and often lives in a Fantasy world where everyone falls in love and the guy always gets the girl. Shirley loves gossip and is always on the lookout for juicy tidbits to pass along to her customers. So be careful what you voice in her presence, she might just stab you in the back with your own fork!

When Shirley isn’t writing down “orders”, she is often stuck cleaning the freezer as her experience with living in Alaska gives her the ability to withstand the cold. She passes the time in the sub-zero cooler by making up stories about her latest bits of prattle. If you like to keep abreast as to what’s going on and who is eyeing who, just ask Shirley! She’ll be only too glad to tell you.

Website: http://www.ShirleyBourgetFreelanceWriter.com
Author Pages: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shirley-Bourget/153900874721684
Twitter: @ShirleyBourget
Online Articles: http://www.helium.com/users/647680

Monday, February 6, 2012

Indie Publishing: Judging a Book by Its Cover

We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.” The truth is, most readers do just that. Your cover is the first thing a potential reader sees. If it doesn’t catch their eye, they’ll be moving on to the next book in 0.3 seconds. Your cover should make them stop, take a second look, and draw them in so they read the blurb and can’t resist buying your book. If your cover looks amateurish and sloppy, then they are going to assume what’s inside is just as amateurish and sloppy. Your novel may be the next Gone With the Wind but if your cover looks like a 6 year old slapped it together with magazine cutouts and a glue stick, they’ll never see beyond the bad artwork to find out. You want your cover to look like it can hold its own next to the NY big girls’ books. It should be classy, eye-catching and professional. Unfortunately, a lot of self-published book covers look homemade and scream "Look at me. I'm a self-published author." And these are the same authors who wonder why their books don’t sell. So here’s what you can do about it…

Stock Images

Invest in good stock photographs. This is the backbone of a good cover. There is a plethora of stock image photo sites out there. These are places where professional photographers upload their images for sale. Most have a standard license agreement that will allow you to use the image on your website, book covers and any marketing materials for a reasonable price ($2 - $20 an image). Here are some of my go-to sites:



Seldom is a single stock photograph going to be perfect for what you need. Once you’ve purchased your stock images, likely you will have to manipulate them in some way. Maybe the photo of the girl is a blonde and your heroine is a redhead. Or the couple is perfect, but since it’s a romantic suspense, you need to add in a dark and stormy sky in the background. Well, you’ll need a good graphic software program to do this.

I personally use Photoshop. It’s a wonderfully powerful piece of software. But it’s not cheap and there’s a steep learning curve. I’ve been doing graphic design for 25 years and I still learn something new about the program every time I use it.

Many people who can’t afford Photoshop use GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/). It’s freeware. I’ve never used it myself, but I hear from others that it has a stiff learning curve of its own, so be prepared.

My advice is, if you don’t know how to use basic graphic software and have no artist/design ability, hire a good cover designer.

Cover Designers

With the surge of self-publishing has come a new side business -- cover designers. There are some very good ones out there who do beautiful work. I’ve heard of prices ranging from $50 into the hundreds. Here’s just a few recommended cover designers to get you started:

While Deviant Art isn’t a cover design site, there are many talented artists who post their work here which you can purchase. There are many stunning, cover-worthy images available. Contact the artist if you're interested in using one.

To Sum It Up

I can’t stress this enough -- If you aren’t an artist and can’t design a good cover, please don’t try to save money and do it yourself. Hire a professional cover designer to do it for you. Browse their sites, look at their portfolios, ask other authors who have striking covers who their cover artist was. Remember, your cover is a selling tool and a wise investment. Plus, anything you spend on it (stock images, cover artist) is tax deductable. Don't skimp. The cover is the first thing a reader sees and unless you’re Nora Roberts (who could have a black and white cover with just her name scrawled on it and sell millions) readers will judge your book by its cover.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Six Tips to Get Your Hook Right

The hook to your book is all about grabbing a reader, agent or editor at the very beginning of your story and dragging them in with you, kicking and screaming, if need be, because they have to know what happens next. These six tips will help you write the best hook you can:

1. Start in the action. Because what makes things more exciting than being in the middle of an action scene that makes you want to 'be' the character.

2. Create an unusual situation. Something that is strange or weird that makes the reader wonder how the character will deal with it.

3. Build a compelling character. Show us a character who is so "something" we can resist reading more about them, so we keep turning the pages.

4. Ask a question. What if this character just stepped off the 32nd floor of her office building, or what would happen if she opened the wrong door at the wrong time? We'll want to know the answer.

5. Make trouble. For the characters, trouble is the inciting event that changes their life, makes them do something they'd never thought to do before or creates a compelling reason for them to make something happen.

6. Promise your reader a fun ride. Interest and entice them with any of the above, or all of the above, and then fulfill your promise. It'll make a great read.

Hope these help give you inspiration! I just taught a class on hooks last month, so if you want to share your first lines, let's talk about them.