Sunday, November 23, 2008

Counting Blessings

I have a house. While it might not be an ideal house, it’s still mine and I’m not in foreclosure thanks to someone reassuring me that “interest rates won’t go up that much.” There are a lot of people who are in the midst of losing their house or without a place to live, and I wish I were Warren Buffett rich to help as many as I could. Particularly the kids. No kid should go homeless or hungry. It just isn’t right.

I have a job. A lot of writers work two jobs. Making a living at writing is not easy, so a great many of us work day jobs (or nights) with our writing occurring whenever we can. Me, I can’t quit work because of debt, but at least I have a job that helps me keep my head above water. After a day at work, I come home and write from 8pm-12am most weekdays and my weekends are 12-16 hour writing blitzes. I hope to quit the day job in the near future, but the stars have to align properly for that (as in no debt). BUT, at least I do have a job. There are a lot of people who don’t these days, and my heart goes out to them. Without a job, you can’t keep a roof over your head, keep your kids clothed and fed or simply live.

I have a great family. While my kids and husband often find ways to annoy me (and yes, I annoy them too), I do have a wonderful family. For all their faults, my girls have big hearts and they just want to protect those who can’t fend for themselves. The DH, aka as Tim “Toolman” Taylor, is a good man. He puts up with a lot where I’m concerned, as do all Betas with their Alpha mates. Although there have been a couple of times of late where he’s displayed some Alpha tendencies. I wonder what fireworks will bring if this trend continues. Still he’s a great guy, and anyone who can put up with me for 22.5 years of marriage and 25 years total is either pretty tolerant or just head over heels in love. I prefer to hold to my illusions that he’s still in love with me. LOL

I have three wonderful blog mates.
This is a competitive business we’re in and yet our support for each other on the blog and behind the scenes speaks to the heart of what I love about romance writers. We are, for the most part, genuinely happy to see someone else succeed in this tough business. Not only that, but this blog has been a growth process for me, an experience in learning the art of refining my apology technique. But then as I understand it from Natalie, my blunders tend to drive our numbers up. (No Natalie, I’m not suggesting you think I should blunder more often! LOL) Cathy, Natalie and Mac are three of the bestest people in the world, and being included in this blog is like having a second home.

I have decent health.
No I’m not in as good of shape as I was when I first got married. In fact, even trying to get that healthy again is pretty much impossible. Age just doesn’t let you do what you used too. But, I’ve adjusted to my bionic status, although I would sure like a newer chassis so I could just look MAV-A-LOS. Besides with a newer chassis, I’d know what NOT to do to ensure the chassis lasted a lot longer.

I have a three-book deal with Berkley. I really didn’t expect to have a deal by the end of the year. I thought if I was going to land a deal it would come in 2009 as publishers started filling more of the 2010 slots. As it turns out, my first mass market is set for March 2010. I think my calculations were a bit off. I also expect better things to come in 2009 as I move my career up the next rung on the ladder.

So when I sit down to that nice Thanksgiving dinner I’ve got planned, I’ll give thanks for my good fortune and offer up a blessing for those who are not as fortunate as I am. It might be a Christmas line, but Tiny Tim’s words are valid at any time of the year. God Bless Us, Every One.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's the Rules, Writer

There are advantages to going last in the blog rotation. That way if you haven’t had time to write a post, you’ve got a little extra time to post. So thus begins my current blog. I’ve nothing to write about…no wait, I remember a topic that popped into my head when Cathy posted about loops and people advising newbies.So here's my advice FWIW...

Memorize The Rules

First off, it’s important to clarify what are “rules” and what are guidelines. Everything is a guideline.

Rule 1 – ALWAYS know your grammar rules. You cannot succeed in your craft without the book being legible. Know the difference between effect and affect (don’t ask me, I have to look it up every time. *grin*) But even this is smoke and mirrors because I've had editors remove semi-colons and commas to keep readers from tripping over breaks. Remember guideline!

Rule 2 – Know who’s POV your in and then only switch that POV every chapter. Then forget this rule. It’s a guideline. If you do something well (head hop) then all is forgiven.

Rule 3 – Make sure your Chapter heading starts exactly 2.5 inches from the top of a page. Ummm, remember when I said there are rules and there are guidelines. This is a guideline, and submitting a book with a heading placement at 2.25 or 3 inches is not a deal breaker. Worry about the content. While this rule is still a guideline, it's pretty reasonable to expect that your manuscript should be delivered to an agent/editor in a general format of 1-in margins and a reasonable heading starting a few lines from the top of the paper. Want some help with this one? Check out the article I wrote for newbies (Here). I've never been rejected by an editor because of formatting, although I did have a judge measure from the top of the page to where my heading started. I was off by a quarter of an inch according to her comments. Give me a break! No--BREAK the damn rule!

Rule 4 – One inch margins are standard pretty much across the board. HOWEVER, if you’re entering a contest and you need to get that last two paragraphs of a chapter on page 55, use the margin of .85 or .9, it's really hard to tell that your margins are off that one inch mark if you use .85 or .9. And if a judge does measure the margins, and docks you, know this. They would have gone out of their way to find something else nitpicky anyway. So you’d be screwed no matter what.

Rule 5 – Contests are crapshoot. You can enter one and win first place with your manuscript in front of an editor. OTOT, you can enter a different contest and not even final. I’ve entered about 10-15 contests. I finaled in three. The books I finaled with did not sell to New York. Something entirely else did. Contests should never be used as a reasonable expectation of a critique. The feedback you get can run the gamut. Unless you get the same kind of feedback from three or more judges, toss the commentary aside because it’s rarely useful. Don’t forget this rule, just know that the aforementioned statements are guidelines.

Rule 6 – Never, never, under any circumstances, use any other font BUT Courier 12pt. Forget this rule, it’s a guideline. In fact, “most” publishers now prefer Times New Roman 12pt. Right, forget that rule too, instead, try reading the publisher guidelines. That’s the authoritative word, not another writer.

Rule 7 – The number of pages per chapter should be 20 pages and no more. Forget this rule, it’s a guideline. While you don’t want to let a chapter drag on for 40 pages, if you go over 20 it’s not a deal breaker. Nor is it a deal breaker to have short chapters of 3, 2 or 1 pages. A chapter is as long as it needs to be. Write it that way and forget the rules.

Rule 8 – Never, NEVER, write a prologue. Readers hate them and they’re just a way to put in back story. Forget this rule. It’s a guideline. It is possible to provide a prologue that reveals something crucial to the plot that can’t be shown in Chapter 1. But it’s a guideline.

Rule 9 – Always show versus tell. Narrative is bad, very, very bad. Umm, forget this rule. It’s a guideline. Sometimes you can’t do anything else BUT tell. Again, it’s a guideline. It’s far better to show something than tell, but there will be times when telling is pretty much the best way to go.

Rule 10 – NEVER, EVER follow Rules 1- 9. They’re guidelines, not rules. The sooner a writer recognizes that something isn’t a rule, but a guideline, the better off they are.

Forget The Damn Rules

Oh, wait, there is ONE great rule to follow.

Write the good book (thank you Claire Delacroix/Deb Cook for those four words of wisdom).

Now go forth and break rules

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Writers, Articulation and Intellect

I’ve always admired people who are so articulate in their ability to skewer a point or write blog posts that are scintillating in analytical detail. I tend to ramble and just throw something out there. Even in my stories I tend to ramble. I’m getting better at reining that habit in though.

Still, when I read posts at different blogs, I’m in awe of the minds that write these posts. I mean these people must have brains like Einstein, because I read them and think OMG, I am sooo not posting a comment because what I have to say will pale in comparison to their intellect. Of course, I generally wind up ignoring my own advice and I post much to my regret. *sigh*

Duh Moments

I consider myself pretty intelligent, sometimes, I read blogs and comments and I’m thinking, WTF?? Did these people go to Harvard, Brown, Smith, Yale…etc. I feel somewhat ashamed of my lack of knowledge, and yes sometimes even insight, about the topic of romance. It makes me wonder if I’m a superficial author. A writer who doesn’t delve deep enough into the intellect of my characters for my readers. In some respects, it makes me wonder whether I’m supposed to be writing Jane Austen for the masses or Stephen King for the masses.

Jane Austen wrote romance that also was a commentary on the society she was a part of. All of her books delve into different aspects of the social structures of the time and she’s become well loved for her work and the analysis of her work is expansive.

Stephen King on the other hand, doesn’t generally write about the society we live in, rather he writes books that are meant to “scare” you, while entertaining you in the same breath.

I was trying to be analytical when thinking about these two writers, who you CAN NOT compare in terms of apples to apples, but here’s what suddenly popped into my head. Jane Austen is like a lovely art museum. Her books are beautiful portraits that you can drink in pleasurably and just sit and relax with for the simple joy of it. Stephen King is an amusement park ride (think roller coasters). His books are strictly for setting you on edge of your seat when he pulls you up one hill and then he plunges you down that same hill at lightning speed to the point you’re so scared you have no spit left.

Drinking From The Well

I drink from both wells (art museums and amusement parks) equally and can still be satisfied. And it makes me wonder if most readers aren’t like that—able to drink from the socially conscious type of books and the “fun, just for the hell of it” books. I know that a lot of blogs out in the blogosphere purport one opinion or the other, but there's a large percentage of the population that doesn't read those blogs and probably have a different opinion as to what constitutes good romance writing or bad romance writing.

For me, I’m convinced I’m a Stephen King kind of writer. I just want to write what I love to read, and I want to entertain my readers with a good story. I write for the masses and I don't worry about putting hidden messages or social issues in my books. I don’t want to over think my work, although I sometimes feel intense pressure to do so when I read some of the blogs out in the blogosphere. But what I really desire is to have a reader, say "Damn, that was a good book. For a couple of hours I was wrapped up in somebody else's troubles enough to get away from my own."

So where do you think you fit in?
Do you see yourself more as a Jane Eyre or more as a Stephen King writer/reader? Perhaps you’re neither and think you’re like someone else…Thoreau, Emerson, Poe, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele…tell me who you see yourself as when it comes to writing or reading.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's It All About Monica

Over at the, my friend Natalie challenged us to fess up to some different writer questions. Here they are.

What's the last thing you wrote?

The Sheikh’s Courtesan

Was it any good?

My first reader says so, the jury (my agent) will have the final verdict and the judge (editors) will have final sentencing.

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

If we’re talking novels, that would be Sweet Shrew, which I wrote for HQ (rejected) and is a contemporary take off on The Taming of the Shrew

Favorite genre of writing?

Historical and paranormal.

I’ve tried contemporary, but I don’t think I have the voice for it, although I do have a couple of old stories that might work well for HQ’s line. It’s just finding the time to rewrite. Grrrr

Most fun character you ever wrote?

Simon Carton from A Bluestocking Christmas. He’s an arrogant, son-of-a-bitch in the first part of the story, but as the story progresses and Ivy brings him to his knees, he’s totally redeemed and I love him. He’s just so bold, charismatic and he has a wicked tongue.

Most annoying character you ever wrote?

My characters tend to be love ‘em or hate ‘em. I don’t know of any characters of mine that I found annoying. Now I’m sure that there are readers who would probably find some of mine objectionable, but I can’t name the characters.

How often do you get writer's block?

I don’t have writer’s block per se, more like “God, I’m so tired of this crap, I don’t want to write.”

How do you fix it?

I watch movies, tv, read, play video games. It’s amazing the number of ideas I get playing a video game with Baby

Do you type or write by hand?

I pretty much type, but when I’m editing I print off the book and I write new paras or rewrite paras on the back of the paper or on a notepad. I also carry a pad of paper in my purse (small spiral) and sometimes I use my PDA…I’ve even used the back of a medical form at the doc’s office. LOL

Do you save everything you write?

Yep, I’ll gut something, but I cut and paste it and then I put it in a file. I’m a digital pack rat. I often will go back into those files and review lines, because some lines that I have to cut are wonderful writing, but I can’t find a way to meld them into the current story, so maybe I can utilize the in a later story. I like to recycle. LOL

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

Yes, In fact, there are two books I want to rewrite as time permits because I love the story so much but the writing stinks.

What's your favorite thing that you've written?

Damn, I hate questions like this, because I love ALL my works for different reasons. If I had to choose one that means something special it would have to be Love’s Portrait because it’s about overcoming something terrible and learning to live again rather than shutting oneself from life. It’s truly a personal story for me.

What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Call me crazy (because personally I can’t take the heat and I’m terrified of snakes), but there’s something incredibly romantic about the desert. In particular the Sahara and Egypt. If you look at the dunes in the Sahara, there’s some exquisite scenery that tells me God loves the raw, primal vitality of the land, despite its lack of water. Maybe it’s the challenge it requires to live in the desert that I like, because I love challenges.

How many projects are you working on right now?

Well, I just finished a book and I’m working on the synop…but I’m also planning out the next paranormal novella, and two historicals are burning up the stove in the back of my head, plus the possibility of a sale with my Master of Sin book subsequent series. Lots popping, which makes life hectic.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?

Yes, I’ve been published in the Beta Sigma Phi magazine, and I’ve had a photo used by a Biker’s magazine. I also wrote a number of articles for Virginia Business Magazine on technology.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Well, I’ve finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart, the Eppie’s, and the Passionate Plume and the Red River Contests. I don’t consider 2nd or 3rd places or finals anything of substance. If my work isn’t first place, it’s not an award as far as I’m concerned. Truthfully, the only reason I do contests is to hope I final so I can gain a little exposure for a few bucks. It's amazing what a final in the Eppie's or GH or etc. can garner you in the online community. It does have it's advantages in terms of publicity, but rarely translates to sales.

Ever written something in script or play format?

No, although I did explore the idea. My nephew is studying at the UNC’s film school, and we’ve talked about me writing something and him directing it. THAT would be sooooo cool for me!

What are your five favorite words?

that’s a tough question, because I love words period, anything that I don’t get to use a lot of would be a favorite -- vitriolic, fragrant, epiphany, pithy, equanimity

What character that you've written most resembles yourself?

Lady Aurora Lyndham from Dangerous. I wanna be her when I get old. Tough, feisty and definitely the mistress of her domain. She’s the epitome of tough love

Where do you get ideas for your other characters?

It’s more of a what does the hero/heroine need in order to get to point B from point A

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Some of my best stories have evolved plot wise and dialogue wise in my dreams. I specifically lay in bed and think about what I want to happen before I drift off to sleep, and then while I’m under the Muse does her work. I’ll wake up and while I won’t necessarily remember dialogue word for word, I do remember the gist of it, and when I write it, the words come back.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliffhangers?

I think it depends on what type of book I’m reading. I want an ending that’s satisfying, but it doesn’t always have to be a happy ending. Although I do favor them more.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Nah, I’m good at both, and generally Word just ticks me off because it doesn’t want to cut me slack when I know I need to use a comma vs. a semi-colon. Yeah, BILL, the semi-colon might be correct, but it stops readers cold.

Quote something you've written.

“He stirred in his slumber, and a long, muscular leg thrust its way out from under the sheet to reveal the limb from foot to hip. The line of his thigh was beautiful. No artist could have created a shape so perfectly male. And there was nothing more dangerous than Morgan St. Claire and the unbelievable maleness of him.” Julia Westgard, Love’s Portrait

The Forgotten Princess is now at Fictionwise!

Winner of the FTHRW Wallflower contest, awarded 5 Coffee Cups at Coffee Time Romance, and winner of the Coffee Time Reviewer Recommended Award, don't miss out on your chance to own this tale of honor, devotion and desire.
For all that King Eric knew that he couldn’t take a barren bride to wife, neither could he ignore the King’s widow. Drawn to her loneliness by his own, he couldn’t resist just one kiss—but the kiss they shared that awakened the forgotten princess and set her free, imprisoned his heart.
Visit my website to read an excerpt!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Little Rebellion Now and Then Is a Good Thing


I have two issues I want to touch on today, and they BOTH could be volatile. First, let’s talk about authors throwing themselves out into the political fray. Now if you read this blog fairly regularly, you know I like to pick a …errr…DEBATE an issue. That sometimes gets me into hot water (the subject matter that is). I definitely keep politics off my website and off my reader boards, and I try really hard to keep them off this blog and my other blogs as well. I do this because I feel like I have to respect my readers and their opinions. Besides they visit my website, reader boards and blogs to learn about my work, not my political leanings.

But of late, and particularly with this presidential election, I’ve noted a lot of authors posting their political beliefs on their blogs, on Twitter, etc. Both sides of the fence POVs, but it seems there are more who lean to the left than to the right. I post on Twitter and I do speak my mind (yeah when don’t I speak my mind), but Twitter moves so fast that unless you monitor it via phone or hourly, your comments will get lost (as mine do! LOL). And other than inundating my DH with political rants, it’s pretty much the only place on the web that I express myself freely under my pen name. My real name, I’ll have you know I’m the best damn letter to the editor writer out there! *grin*

Satirical Observations

However on Twitter, when I express myself, I do more satirical postings on political issues, where I just shake my head and say things like…

“What the hell was Biden thinking; making that crack about it’s patriotic to pay taxes.” I can’t think of one rich person who wants to pay taxes. But then I don’t know any rich people. So, it’s easy for me to forgive the guy. He’s one of us…errr…me--we both have hoof and mouth disease.

Then there are McCain’s thumbs up signs…he reminds me of Nixon (our greatest foreign policy Prez since maybe Jefferson, thanks to his appointment of Kissinger). Nixon’s signature gesture was the peace sign with both hands in the air and his head mashed down into his shoulders. McCain’s got a similar stance when he raises both thumbs upward and bent back; all the while he’s hunched down at the neck. Come to think of it, does he even have a neck??

Clearly, Obama’s been hanging with Joe Biden too much. I mean WHY would you be so stupid as to use the “lipstick” reference when you know, you JUST KNOW, your opponent is going to add makeup up to that statement and they’ll make you look like a clown. And the “cling to their guns and religion” comment???? Are you fricking insane!! You cannot cling to religion, it’s not a tangible object. Besides, there are some things you just don’t say, people. If you do, then you deserve to catch hell. God save us from people like me who speak before we think. This country needs more diplomats (like Natalie – That’s it, that’s the ticket, Natalie for President!).

I can’t really make too fun of Palin because so far, she’s not done a lot of stupid things, YET, but then she’s not been on the national stage long enough. Give her time. She’ll be like everyone else, she’ll but a huge hoof in her mouth and the circling vultures will go in for the carrion, and it won’t be moose either. One word of advice though, DO NOT watch any “Tina Fey as Palin” skits in the library. It’s very difficult not to shout out with laughter in one of those Shush settings. *sigh* And that Palin/Clinton skit was absolutely hysterical on BOTH sides of the aisle.

All of these things remind me of a Mark Twain quote. “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Funny how little has changed over a century. So my first question. Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing for authors to put their political leanings out for readers to see them?

My answer to the question is no. Don’t share your leanings, and if you’re so compelled to speak out (as I seemed have been), poke fun at both sides and you might just get away with it. *grin*

Second Verse Same Rebel Verse

This is Banned Books Week, and as usual, I’m being a rebel. I might be German / Italian heritage, but DAMN, sometimes I think I was sprung from the loins of Patrick Henry himself. Both of us opinionated, fiery, but he got all the oratory skills. But Thomas Jefferson loaned me his pen to act as a sword, so I’m all set to charge out and be a rebel.

Take a look at the current books that are the top 10 most challenged books in 2007. The number one book is And Tango Makes Three. This is a children’s book based on a true story. Apparently there were two male penguins at the New York Central Park Zoo who hung out together and zookeepers gave the two birds an egg and damn if they didn’t raise a cool little penguin named Tango. So two authors hooked up to write a children’s story about the two male penguins and how they worked together to raise Tango a female penguin.

Someone complained about the message and demanded that it be removed from the shelf, one of them HERE in Virginia. The home of Jefferson himself. The man is rolling in his grave! I understand a conservative parent not wanting their child to read a book that might present an “alternative” family message. That’s definitely their right. I understand their need to control what their children are exposed to, read, see and do based on their personal values. I respect that.

But their beliefs aren’t mine, and their rights end where mine begin when it comes to freedom of choice. One person ranting that they don’t want “filth,” anti-JudeoChristian, or other objectionable books in the libraries/schools because libraries/schools are supported by their tax dollars is ridiculous.

I don’t care for organized religion; does this mean that because my tax dollars bought several copies of the Holy Bible those books should be taken out of the library?
Of course not, a library is a source for ALL people to access books because not everyone has money to buy books. And for Pete’s sake a little accountability is in order here. If you don’t want your kids doing something, then take charge and outline those limitations to your kids. Leave mine alone. Don’t expect me or anyone else (including the government) to adhere to your values. It’s your business, your responsibility. Just because you don’t want your kids reading something doesn’t give you the right to tell me what MY children can read.

I am very Jeffersonian in my thoughts and beliefs. The minute you put your foot on my doorstep with the notion that you’re going to tell me what I can or can’t do, you name it, you're pushing my hot button. And while I don’t own a gun (too easy just to pull the trigger), I have swords. My Xena broad sword is good for a quick in and out action. (“an elegant weapon for a more civilized age” – thank you Obi Wan) and I’m not afraid to use them.

So go out and rant a little about Banned Books Week. Stir up support for your local library, and lets see what kind of hell raising we can do!

Your Jeffersonian Rebel - Monica

New reviews for Dragon's Heart and Enchanted Beauty!

Margo Arthur at The Romance Studio gave Dragon's Heart a five heart rating, and had this to say about it,
The bond that was forged between them was complemented by the loving way Ms. Mathews wrote the tender moments into the plots. Dramas that besiege these two give them both the strength to face and overcome the strong odds that they where up against, causing them to excel in great power to defeat the enemy. An excellent adventure story filled with magical elements that make this book one to enjoy.
Link to full review, and it's also up for Five heart sweetheart of the week,
I'd appreciate your vote!!!

I also received a great review from Kasey's View for Enchanted Beauty,
What a charming and sweet story.
Enchanted Beauty by Marly Mathews puts a new spin on the old tale of Beauty and The Beast. With a little bit of magic and along with some truly fascinating characters and a mesmerizing plot she weaves a spell-binding story that keeps you guessing right up until the end...

This is one of those stories that I found almost impossible to put down, which can sometimes make for a very late night...

If you enjoy stories about beautiful damsels in distress,wizards, magic and ever-after then you're sure to love Enchanted Beauty...

Thank you so much Margo and Kasey!

Have a great Thursday everyone! It's a wet, cool definitely Autumn like day here!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Trailer for Enchanted Beauty by Marly Mathews

Below is the trailer I created for my fantasy romance novel, Enchanted Beauty! If you have a few minutes, please watch it, and feel free to leave a comment here for me!
The trailer came together like a dream, though I had to hunt for a while to get the perfect pictures. :)


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SRR Reviews Enchanted Beauty!!!

Lily at Simply Romance Reviews has reviewed Enchanted Beauty and gave it an outstanding read rating!!! Thank you so much, Lily, I'm so pleased that you loved Enchanted Beauty. I loved writing it as I didn't want to leave the magical kingdom of Thaliana, and it warms my heart to hear that readers and reviewers are having a hard time letting go as well!!!
Here's a bit of what Lily had to say,
This book is a great read. Ms. Mathews has written a story with a historic feel and smoothly flowing fast-paced yet modern dialog. All her characters are well defined with depth of personality, even the magic mirror! They are intelligent, fierce and brave. Ms. Mathews' writing is not overly descriptive about less important things like furniture and scenery but instead gives us a great story with multi-dimensional characters. The book has great twists that kept me wanting to read more and I found myself staying up late into the night to finish. This is a fabulous adult fairytale with plenty of action, romance and of course, the happy ending. Watching Annabelle and Malachi fall in love in Enchanted Beauty is a wonderful journey and makes me look forward to reading more of Ms. Mathews books.

Here's the link to the full review!


Monday, September 22, 2008

FIVE Heart Review for Enchanted Beauty at TRS!!!

And the great reviews for Enchanted Beauty keep rolling in. I'm so happy that this story has struck a chord with readers and reviewers! It was a great deal of fun to write as I've always loved the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, and twisting it to put my own stamp on it in Enchanted Beauty was a great writing experience!!!

Here's what Margo at The Romance Studio had to say about Enchanted Beauty,
I have always love reading as a child the story of Beauty and the Beast. In Enchanted Beauty, Ms. Mathews introduces us to Annabelle, a brave, and compassionate woman, who struggled with the knowledge that she could die if no cure was found for the spell that had injured her, causing blindness and a the hastening of her last days on earth. Filled with betrayal and unending action, you will find Enchanted Beauty to be one of Ms. Mathews' truly loving stories to remember.

You can read the full FIVE Heart review by following this link,

Thank you so much, Margo!!!

Have a great Monday, everyone!!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

First Review for Dragon's Heart!!

Hey Everyone!
Last week I received the first review for my fantasy paranormal romance, Dragon's Heart!
Here's a little bit of what Cherokee at Coffee Time Romance had to say about Dragon's Heart! Thank you so much, Cherokee!!

Dragon's Heart is a delightful tale. The banter between Grania and Dylan is sharp, to the point, and carries some cute perks with it. Often times it moved at a great pace, like a tennis match. I fell headlong in love with the sparks of the players, and the developments between them and the secondary characters. The intense battles are life-like, creating an entertaining read, hard to let go in this surreal drama. Marly Mathews is a dynamic author who sketches fantasy and romance brilliantly with a read I found utterly pleasurable.

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

You can read the full review by following this link,

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Forgotten Princess by S.D. Grady

The Forgotten Princess by S.D. Grady

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The SF Saga Is Complete!

Return of the Queens

Ok, so I’m still mourning the fact that we had no money for me to indulge in adding yet another Star Wars item to add to my modest collection (my prized autographed, Ray Parker in full Sith Lord regalia has an honored spot in our family room and damn that saber would have looked good over top). Anyway, our first and last Sunday in San Francisco dawned cloudy and we were immediately depressed because our sailboat cruise was at sunset. Unfortunately, clouds present a problem when it comes to seeing the sun actually set.

We tried not to think about it as we got ready to attend the drag show. I suddenly decided on a whim that I just wanted to wear shorts. So I called the Starlight club and asked about dress code. I wasn’t happy when I was told no shorts, but JEANS were allowed! Guess I should have asked THAT question before I left Virginia because I didn’t bring jeans. Arrrrgggh. So I dressed up.

Sunday’s a Drag

I’d like to make a HUGE commercial plug for Harry Denton's Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake . This guy knows exactly how to put on a meal and a show. There was so much food to select from, salads, made-to-order omelets, fruits, muffins, roasted pork, potatoes and OMG, the French Toast. I’m a decent cook. In fact, I’ve had people tell me I’m an exceptional cook (although I think it depends on the taste buds). But I do admit to having specialties that few places or people can top. One of those is my French toast. The family lives for th

e occasional Sunday when I fix mine, so I was blown away by Harry’s French Toast. It was exquisite on the taste buds. A one-inch thick slice of heaven is what they were. I won’t tell you how many I ate, but suffice it to say, even when I was full, I had to have more. My mouth is watering as I type. And on top of that, if the maple syrup they had wasn’t the real deal, then I want the brand name they used, because it oozed sugary sweet all over these divine angel wings being passed off as fluffy French toast.

With our bellies full, we sat back to enjoy the show. I already had a good idea of what to expect from a drag show, but I knew the DH didn’t have a clue. Truth is, he really didn’t want to go to the show, but because I wanted too, he agreed. He’s a good husband, and he also knows he generally has a good time when he agrees to do things he didn’t want to do in the first place. For the DH, the show was an eye-opener. He has truly come to accept and appreciate all alternative lifestyles and he was enthralled with Cassandra in the show. She’s wearing the strips of blue in the picture with him and the other queen.

Funny, bawdy, yet clean and tasteful, these performers made sure everyone had a grand time. When the DH was presented with the $100 bill, he exclaimed surprise and I reminded him that it was $45 a person and we’d had ice tea. He grinned, shook his head and scratched his name on the ticket with a big, “Ah, hell, it was WORTH it!”

Painted Ladies

After our drag queen show, we had a few hours to kill until our sunset sail. So I announce I want to go see the Painted Ladies. Naturally the DH is all keen to do go too given he’d just had a wonderful time at the drag show. However he wasn’t exactly keen anymore when I inform him that the Painted Ladies are Victorian Houses at Haight and Steiner. He’s now got the hang dog look on his face. Too late, you already said yes, sweetie. After a quick clothes change, we hop onto the bus and head toward the Haight Ashbury section of town. I don’t know what it is with us and buses, but we always managed to meet the most interesting of people. On this trip we met a gal who told us where to get off, but the DH and I disagreed over what she said. I looked at him and said pull the cord to make the drive stop.

“No, it’s not this stop.”

“Yes it is.”

“Pull the cord. We need to get off here.”

So I pull the cord, but the bus rolls right past Steiner Street. The next street it stops and we get off. As I study the map, I tell the DH we have to go up a couple of blocks and then turn left (BACK the way we came).

“Why do we have to do that?”

“Because you didn’t listen to me when I told you we needed to get off at Steiner!” *sigh* Men, I’m convinced its true that they really don’t have a sense of direction or the willingness to stop for directions.

We set out down the street toward the Painted Ladies on what’s a relatively flat plane.

When we turn the corner to we’re facing more steep hills. What is it with this city! LOL

Check out the hill above! After Lombard Street this sucker was peanuts!

Painted Ladies is a term given to houses built in the Victorian and Edwardian eras that are painted in bright colors. In the late 1800s, San Francisco was populated with houses like this, including Nob Hill where the most affluent people lived. In the quake of 1906 the Nob Hill mansions were destroyed, but a number of beautiful houses like these still remain. The houses in this picture face Alamo Park and are sometimes referred to as Postcard Row because they’ve become a tourist destination as a result of the number of times they’ve been photographed.

As you can see from the photo, the sun had come out, and it was turning out to be gorgeous weather. Nippy but wonderfully sunny. With my need for architecture not yet sated, we headed back to the bus stop where we should have gotten off to begin with, and along the way I insisted on the DH taking shot after shot of architecture. I’ve no idea what to do with these pictures! I think we took something like 300+ shots in four days.

The DH was getting antsy about getting to the cruise ship on time. Not that we had to rush, it was only 2:30pm and the ship didn’t leave until 6:30pm, but he was not eager to keep stopping at every house I wanted him to photograph as we walked back to the bus stop. We killed some time at Fisherman’s Wharf until it was time for our sailboat ride.

Sailing the Seven Seas (ok, the Bay)

We weren’t sure what to expect on our cruise, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to adequate describe the impact this experience had on me, or on us as a couple. The first part of the cruise started out on choppy waters. We’d not been out on the water but maybe 15 minutes when I heard a cell phone go off. It was near where the DH had left his stuff, but there was a couple sitting beside his jacket and I didn’t think anything of it. The ringing stopped, and then it started again. Over the wind, I told the DH that I thought his phone was ringing.

“No, it’s not mine.”

“Yes, I think it is,” I said with an arched eyebrow. He checks it and rolls his eyes.

“It’s Oldest.” (Oldest stayed at home by herself for the first time ever!) DH answers the phone.

“What, Oldest?” Long pause.

“That’s why you called me? You want to know how to cook hot dogs?” The couple sitting next to DH’s jacket are laughing. “All right you put a couple of cups of water in the bottom of the steamer, put the hot dogs in the top part and cover it. Cook them about 7-10 minutes. Okay?”

He shakes his head as he hangs up and he glances down at the phone. “She’s been calling for the last fifteen minutes because there must be six or seven calls on here, I just didn’t hear the phone going off.”

I laugh. “She’s missing us, but doesn’t want to admit it.”

The cell phone goes off again. DH scowls as he answers it. “NOW what?” His eyes widen. “O‑M-G, Oldest. Yes the hotdogs can be frozen when you put them in the steamer. I’m trying to enjoy a romantic sailboat cruise with your mother. Now do you have any other questions?”

When he hangs up, I’m laughing uproariously right along with the couple near the DH who’ve been privy to the one-sided conversation. Kids, clearly they need us, but they don’t like admitting it.

With daughter number 1 taken care of, I move toward the front of the catamaran. I expected to get a little wet on the boat. After all the catamaran has open webbing between its hulls, what I didn’t expect was to have a HUGE wave surge up through the webbing and drench me in salt water. Oh wait, it wasn’t just salt water. It was ICE COLD salt water. But I decide that’s okay, how many people can say they’ve sailed on the San Francisco Bay and gotten drenched from it? Besides, it wasn’t too cold, I could handle it. Ummm, note the sweatshirt I'm wearing in the picture here! LOL

Feeling the need for food, I go below and grab what little of the cheese and appetizers are left. There were only about 35 people on board, but damn they must have been hungry! When I go back up on deck, I move to the front of the catamaran and simply put my face into the wind and revel in the beauty of a boat slicing through water with the precision of a knife. Left behind in the boat’s path was white foam cresting on top of water that couldn’t make up its mind what color it wanted to be. One minute it was green then it became midnight blue only to become green again with a tinge of blue.

Above my head, the sails billowed outward like freshly cleaned sheets on a clothes line, while the company’s logo of a black cat stood out sharply against the bleached sails. When it came time to head toward the Golden Gate Bridge, the DH and I just stood quietly together enjoying the view. I remember leaning over to kiss his cheek and saying I love you. He smiled and said I love you too. Then we were silent again. Sometimes, there are moments in your life which can not be put into words. For a writer to say something like that seems a bit incongruous. But it’s true.

That One Moment

I could wax poetic about those few minutes of bonding and closeness that I shared with my husband, but the truth is, a moment like that must be experienced. It must be felt. Or perhaps what I’m really saying is that the moment was too intimate to share with anyone but him. Intimate in the way that two people can simply hold hands and see deep into the heart of the other person.

The simple knowing that only someone who loves you can have any hope of understanding who you truly are. I remember my mother once describing a walk she and my Dad took on a beach when they stopped to watch the sunset. She told me my Dad just reached for her hand and held it in silence. That simple description speaks eloquently to what I experienced with the DH. It was acceptance, understanding and love all wrapped up in a beautiful gift of heartfelt intimacy that said, I don’t want to be any other place but here with you. It’s a moment I’ll cherish until my days end.

With our wonderful bonding moment still close to my heart, the captain of the boat took us directly under the bridge. Again, this is another difficult experience to truly describe. So I thought I’d do it with pictures. Even they can’t do justice to the majesty and beauty of this man-made wonder that spans a rocky shoreline and is buffeted by fog and sunshine depending on nature’s whim.

When our sail ended, we were ready to go again. NO, wait! That’s not true. Remember how I said I was soaked with water and that it wasn’t cold? Well, the weather decided to change on us, and the wind got stronger and COLDER. It takes a lot for me to complain about the cold. I rarely wear a coat in the wintertime. So when I’m standing on the dock shivering and my teeth are chattering, the DH realizes that he’s not going to convince me to eat dinner down on the wharf. Instead we return to the hotel.

Monday we awoke to our last day in San Francisco and our scheduled trip to Alcatraz. The barometric pressure had shifted and my knee and hip were agonizing reminders that I was no longer 25 anymore. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the tour of the prison.

I can only say that my trip to San Francisco was wonderful on so many different levels. It was a business success and it created memories that will last a lifetime. The only things we didn’t do that I wish we had were…

  • ride a cable
  • take a dinner/dance cruise on the Bay
  • walk the whole length of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • visited the Parthenon from the Pan American Exhibition

But hey, who’s to say that we can’t go back. After all, when I talked with the cheese guy from LeBeau the other night as to what cheeses he sold us in his small grocery store. He said we should come back, and maybe we will.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cable Cars Climb Halfway to the Stars

Here it is, Part 2 in the San Francisco experience! While I was trying to get my act together Friday, the DH got to live one of his special dreams. Thanks to the finagling of a very dear friend (thank you, Cathie), the DH played the Spanish Bay course at Pebble Beach. He was over the moon about it, and I confess I just didn’t get what all the excitement was about when comes to hitting a dimpled ball from one place to another. But then he didn’t get me and the OMG Kate Duffy loves my writing mentality, so we were square. He wasn’t going to get back until late, so I went to dinner with Mel Schroeder and the delightful Ember Case.

Make Mine Medium Well Please

We visited John’s Grill, which was the restaurant setting used by Dashiell Hammett in his famous book The Maltese Falcon. Upstairs, in a glass case, they’ve even got the Maltese Falcon prop. Way COOL! During dinner, the three of us had a wonderful time talking business. We sat next to the restaurant’s entryway which had window where we could see people waiting for their table. We noted one small group commenting and pointing to our steaks, so I had Ember knock on the glass to get their attention. When they looked in my direction, I pointed my steak and gave them a grin with a big thumbs up. They laughed and nodded. Determined to ensure that they were good and hungry when they got to their table, I teased them with another big grin. I then popped a delicate bite of steak into my mouth and proceeded to wax poetic about the taste with my expression. I managed to give everyone a good laugh except for the two guys next to our table. Of all the places to find two uptight gay men, I would NEVER have thought it possible in San Francisco, but I swear to you, these two guys made conservative Republicans look like happy Democrats. Their expressions were pinched tighter than a raisin. Even when I attempted a polite and sincere smile of hello, the look I got from one gentleman could have pinned a fly to the wall in one swift stroke. Oy!

We're Walking, We're Walking

Saturday saw the DH and I checking out of the Marriott and moving a few blocks away to the Hilton. Long story short, the Marriott didn’t have any cheap rooms Sun night (low ball figure of $400+), and I got us two nights at the Hilton for the same price it would have cost us to stay at the Marriott one more night. Once we cleared all of that, I was going to go to a couple of workshops, but I’d apparently packed my briefcase with my workshop paperwork, so I didn’t know what was going on, so I decided I’d be nuts not to take advantage of my time with the DH in one of the most romantic cities in the world. So off to the Hilton I walked in my heels.

Now I don’t mind walking when someone gives me good directions, but I called the DH twice from my cell phone and kept hearing that I was almost there. If he’d been in front of me, I would have grabbed him by the throat and yelled at him to stop saying I was almost there because my feet were reassuring me with each step that I was anywhere BUT almost there. I’m beginning to believe that adage, never ask a man for directions.

Sea Lions, Tourist Traps and Boats

Once we’d settled into the hotel, we decided to head to Fishersman’s Wharf and Pier 39. To get there we enjoyed another interesting excursion via public transportation. We’d been on the bus for a short time when this beautiful, and I do mean beautiful, girl gets on the bus and sits across from us. We’re trying to figure out where to get off and she offers assistance. The DH is instantly smitten, and moi, I just smile with glee.
When we get off at our stop, the DH says,

“That girl was gorgeous.”

“Yes, he certainly was.”

“What do you mean, he?” the DH squeaks.

“Honey, I’m sorry, but that was a guy.”


“Sorry, she was he.”

“NO! She was gorgeous.”

“He was gorgeous, honey, but it was a wig, and the Adam’s apple was a dead giveaway, although you weren’t looking there were you.” My expression had to have been one of smug amusement, because that’s what I was feeling. Serves him right for looking at another gal’s boobs in front of me.

“NO! That’s not possible, I wouldn’t…” His voice dies off, and I just pat him on the shoulder.

“It’s okay, sweetie. Even Tim “the Toolman” Taylor would have been attracted to her.”

“I still say you’re wrong. She was a she.”

I just smiled and allowed him to keep his manhood intact. However, as you can see by my recounting of the tale here, I’m still enjoying myself.

The DH has already visited Fisherman’s Wharf earlier in the week, so he’s acting like a professional tour guide until I glare at him and say, ok, I was here 10 years ago, it hasn’t changed THAT much (even my fav chocolate candy store hadn’t moved). Naturally, I had to have my white chocolate and I saw an ad for one of those 3-D rides. I convince the DH to go ride. Now this ride is one of those where you sit in a cushiony chair and while the cool movie is running the chair tosses you around. I’m not sure where I missed the “fasten your seatbelts,” warning because the next thing I know I’m being tossed around in my seat and the only thing holding me in the damn chair is my fierce semi-terrorized grip on two insubstantial hand grips. Needless to say, I LOVE the experience and the next two rides we did, I made sure NOT to wear my seatbelt. I love, love, love living dangerously! (Hence the reason I wrote a book called Dangerous - Am I sneaky with Promo or WHAT! LOL)

How High Can She Go?

Although I’d been to the world-famous Crooked Street the last time I was in San Fran, I still wanted to go again. So I suggested we walk up the hill from the Wharf (I did have the common sense to be wearing tennis shoes, thank you very much). Granted, my definition of hill and the one San Franciscans use is COMPLETELY different. So when we get to the first incline heading up Lombard, the DH takes one look at the hill, looks at me and says,

“There no way in hell you’re going to make it.” His tone is that of a long suffering husband, which does nothing but incite my stubborn molecules to encircle and annihilate my common sense brain cells.

“WATCH me!” I sneer as I charge up the hill. If I’d not been walking on the treadmill for the past seven months, I would have been dead a quarter of the way up that damn hill. Instead, I managed to avoid doing my imitation of the stereotypical heaving bosoms romance author until about three-quarters of the way up the slope. By the time I got to the top of the hill I was exhausted, however, take a look at the picture. We walked from the water (that's at the very top of the picture) all the way up to the foot of the world-famous crooked street. Please note that the photo was not enhanced in any way shape or form. That last hill really is about an 80-85 degree angle of incline. Awww RIGHT! Who’s bad, I’m bad, who’s bad, I’m bad. Granted that little song and dance was played out solely in my imagination. It’s good to be a writer, because I had no strength for performing in any way, shape or form at that point.

Now what do you do when you’ve just climbed a mountain? Do you keep climbing? Ummm, not! The steep incline was bad enough, and I hate stairs. I knew the hotel was somewhere to the left of the Crooked Street so that’s the direction I led the DH in.

Note to self, catch a cab when you’ve just completed an historic climb. Do not try to be a heroine by climbing more hills.

The Thrill of Victory / The Agony of Defeat

What I thought would be just one more hill and then ALL downhill to the hotel became a lesson in stubbornness and endurance. All of which I have in abundance. We must have walked another five or six steep hills in what I loosely determined was the direction of the hotel, although I clearly didn’t have a clue as to where we were. But then that living (Promo Alert) Dangerously gene was rampaging quite nicely through my blood. Along the way, we came across this wonderful building that had of all things, GARGOYLES on it. Being a lover of creatures who are made to ward off evil spirits, I insisted the DH take some photos. We continue on our way not realizing that we’re about to experience one of those memorable moments in life that can never be bought or arranged. These type of spontaneous and rare moments are once-in-a-lifetime events that can never be recreated. They are so special they can only be recorded fully on one’s heart.

It’s called exhaustion. ROFL Okay, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, we get to the top of one more hill (I’ve now lost count), and the rinky dinky map the hotel gave us makes it look like the hotel is two blocks away, but I know better because all I see are more mountains to climb. *sigh* I look at the DH and growl, Okay, I’m not taking another step until I figure out where the hell we are. The DH just breathes heavily, and not with any hint of romance I might add. Guess I’ve worn him out. Ahh…the life of an erotic romance author. NOT!

Where The Hell Are We?

About this time, I hear a car roaring up the 75-degree incline we’ve just climbed. I look at the DH and say,

“I think it’s time we ask for directions.”

“No, we’re fine.”

“Sorry, Tim (Toolman) Taylor, we’re asking for directions.”

This dark green CJ-7 jeep rolls up to the stop sign we’re standing close too and THANKGOD it didn’t have the usual plastic covered window stuff. I politely scream over the engine.

“Excuse me, do you know how far it is to Market Street (we could find the hotel from there).”

Now as a romance author, I tend to look at men from a hero-potential POV. I mean I study features, body structure (think DaVinci's David), etc. I’m telling you, the two guys in this jeep were young Adonis’. I’m seeing rugged features, deliciously hard biceps, strong shoulders, need I go on? Both young men are eager to help and Adonis #1 tells us the hotel is about ten blocks further on. My face must have looked like I’d been socked in the jaw. Immediately, they both insist that we accept a ride to where the walk to the hotel is ALL downhill.

Naturally, the DH is giving me the silent eye signal (equate to blinking like he’s having apoplexy) to refuse. At this point, I’m beyond exhaustion and I cheerfully accept. Like a true romance hero, Adonis #2 gets out of his seat and tells me to sit in front while he sits in the cramped back with the DH (Remember how I said I went first class and he went coach? Guess it holds true for CJ7 Jeeps too). Firmly ensconced in our open carriage, our driver roars down a hill then up a hill, braking to a great rollercoaster stop at the top of each hill. While we’re driving we chat a little about the fact that they’ve been in the desert to an art festival in Nevada. Did I mention I love the desert? Particularly ones where there are Mirages? (Slick aren't I--LOL) I mention to our yummy hosts that I’m an erotic romance author in town for the RWA conference. They think that’s cool. We’re start discussing books and art in general, when Adonis #2 (sitting next to the DH) reaches up to tap the arm of Adonis #1 and says,

“Sweetie, tell them about….”

I have no idea what Adonis #2 said next because it was all I could do not to laugh out loud. The DH is still adjusting to my adopted nephew being gay, and clearly on this trip he's getting a whole new perspective on alternative lifestyles. I must say I'm proud of him though. He didn't even flinch. How’s that for enlightened growth and tolerance in a short time span. The Adonis twins dropped us off at the top the last hill, and said their goodbyes before they roared off into the sunset. I wish we'd had more time to chat with them. They were erudite, cultured and really sharp when it came to the arts. Worse, I didn’t even think to get their picture! I really wish I had, because not only was this couple so thoughtful in offering us a ride, but it’s because of them that the DH and I experienced one of our most romantic moments ever.

I Couldn't Have Written A Better Romance Scene

I would not have made it to that last hill without our gallant knights and I would have insisted on calling a cab to get back to the hotel. But because of the generosity of strangers, the DH and I stumbled into this delightful neighborhood grocery where after a little bit of discussion, we purchased a roasted chicken, then we chatted with the guy behind the cheese display case who gave us a wonderful breakdown on the specialized cheeses they offered. We ended up with one cheese that was like a Havarti but it started with a T and the DH fell in love with the one that was like a cheddar / bleu cheese mix. We had a great conversation with the cheese specialist and the other young man behind the counter. With our cheeses selected, we added a loaf of sourdough bread and drinks to our cheese and chicken feast and checked out.

The cheese guy had said to let the one cheese warm up some to make it easier to spread on the bread, so we took our time walking back to the hotel (DOWNHILL). The weather was exquisite and it was wonderful, romantic walk through a quiet neighborhood. When we reached the hotel, we enjoyed a picnic in our room while watching a Pay-for-view movie. It was an incredible memory and we have Adonis #1 and #2 to thank for it. So guys if you happened to check out my website and are visiting this blog. THANK YOU and big hugs and smooches for making possible such a wonderful romantic memory for the DH and me! You guys RAWK!

Next week, come back to read the final installment in Monica’s San Francisco Saga! Serial rights are up for auction.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Enchanted Beauty has been released!!!!

PhotobucketAnnabelle Hawthorne-Morton is a beauty with a mysterious past—Lord Malachi Hawthorne is the beast that will touch her heart—she will heal his tortured soul and he will bring the light back into her dark world.
Hey Everyone!

I'm thrilled to announce another new release! Enchanted Beauty has been released at New Concepts Publishing. This novel is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast.
Buy Enchanted Beauty!


Friday, August 15, 2008

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Warning, this blog will not be short. How could it be given my recent trip to San Francisco? There was a lot happening at the RWA conference, but there was lots of other wonderful stuff happen’ too!

The DH and I flew on separate flights, different airlines. I went first class, a fact the DH reiterated ad nauseam throughout the trip. Hey, it took me two weeks to convince him to come with me AFTER I bought the ticket. He’s got no one to blame but himself for not moving faster on buying his ticket. However, I did enjoy pointing out to him that I got real china and REAL stainless steel utensils. I confess that one confused me given the terrorist orange alert status. I mean there’s a lot one can do with a real knife when you’re airborne and that close to the cockpit, unfortunately.

Our ride to downtown on the BART was a mini-adventure where the DH had his first REAL exposure to alternative life styles. We have gay friends, but they don’t do wet, open displays of affection in public. So that startled the DH a little bit. *grin*

The hotel staff, despite the far from complimentary rip-a-new-one blog post about them prior to the conference, were organized, efficient, helpful and just wonderful. I got my usual, exceptional service that I get whenever I stay at the Marriott. I still need to send compliments via email to the general manager about ALL staff. They went out of their way IMHO to make RWA welcome.

O-M-G! It’s Kate Duffy

Key in hand (we got a small suite complete with refrigerator!! YAHOO!) we head for the room when I see Rosemary Potter, bookseller extraordinaire. I immediately charge over to say hi, and I suddenly realize she’s with someone. So I’m backpedaling and apologizing profusely about interrupting. But Rosemary’s companion scoffs

“NO, that’s what RWA is for! I’m Kate Duffy.” She offers her hand and the whole time I’m shaking her hand, all I can think of is…my hands are sweaty.

“Hello, I’m Monica Burns.”

“Monica Burns! I LOVED Mirage. It was wonderful, just wonderful.” Her words catch me completely off guard as I’m thinking, WTF—she read Mirage??? In the next blip of a thought, I’m thinking, OMG, Kate Duffy loved Mirage! When she tells me to sit, I’m like a new puppy eager to please. I do keep glancing over my shoulder at the DH who finally strolls over and in a slightly (just slightly) exasperated tone says, “Just give me the key.”

For the briefest of seconds (and more like a fraction), I’m thinking why the hell didn’t he come later in the week!! But I introduce him; and Kate while shaking his hand says…

“Do you know what a wonderful writer your wife is?”

Obviously not sure what to say, the DH (who automatically assumes I’m chatting with old friends and NOT a major NY editor) replies, “Umm…yeah….right.”

Shooting him at that point would have been too merciful. Perhaps a room at the world-famous Alcatraz? Feeling a bit overwhelmed, not to mention guilty because the DH and I had planned events for the afternoon, I politely excused myself and headed for the elevators. Inside the small car, I do a happy feet dance plus a bit of screaming! OMG, OMG, KD frigging likes my writing! OMG. Acting the part of Tim “Toolman” Taylor, the DH still isn’t getting the monumental event that’s just transpired!! Even after an explanation he’s still clueless. *sigh*

Fred the Millionaire

With two memorable moments completed, we set out to see the Golden Gate Bridge. With money tight, we decide public transportation is the best option and several San Franciscans cheerfully helped us find the right bus. Along the way, we had to make a transfer, and that’s when we met Fred.

Actually we never got his name; we just called him that as opposed to other less than complimentary monikers. Fred seemed like a rather plucky fellow. He certainly can hold his liquor as he smelled strongly of alcohol. Scratch that, he reeked of the brew, and one could have gotten drunk off his breath. So Fred asks if we’re from California. When he learns we’re from Virginia he’s immediately complimentary, stating we’re “good people. People in California are ____(you fill in the blank).”

The DH slides a glance my way, and I desperately dart a glance up the street for the bus that isn’t anywhere on the horizon. Looking back at the DH, I can see he’s thinking he might have to act like Lancelot or some other knight in shining armor. Only problem is, he’s without a sword of the steely kind. My collection at home can’t be carried on the plane. Now, Fred is still ranting about California when he pulls out this wad of cash. I mean I would have loved to have just had a few of the bills Fred displayed with such open pride. We would have been able to paint the town red for several nights!!

Fred waves the money in front of us like someone offering up a bite of chocolate cake right before they eat it and said, “My Dad just died and I get $500 a week for the rest of my life. Damn Californians. They don’t know what it’s like. They’re F*!kers. My girlfriend just died up there on the hill.”

Fred points to the grove of trees on the hill behind the bus shelter and the DH’s expression is so easy to read…oh God, we’re going to have to report a dead body. Fred continues to point toward where his girlfriend died and rants how the Californians left his girlfriend’s body on the hill for days. Now the DH and I are putting our noses to the wind expecting to smell something far worse than we’ve ever been exposed to before. Fred again calls us good people and says he’s a Vietnam vet whose father sailed out of Norfolk on his way to fight in WWII.

I glance up the street and offer up a Hail Mary (I’m not Catholic, but childhood memories help) because I see a bus. At this point, Fred decides he no longer wants to talk to us. Why the hell not? We’re good people. He takes off to collect his stuff and charges across the street to catch another bus (going the opposite way thank God!). He’s sporting what appears to be a brand spanking new mountain hiker backpack. Clearly the inheritance is the real deal, unless of course he’s robbed a bank. He could have overwhelmed bank guards with the liquor fumes alone.

The Bridge Is Gone

With that small adventure out of the way, we reach the GGB (Golden Gate Bridge) where I proceed to drop $65 on a sweatshirt jacket. My belief that I could survive the bridge’s wind factor was obliterated the moment we stepped off the bus. My shorts and short sleeve shirt are no match for the infamous foggy chill that is the San Francisco bay. The bridge is just as I remember it. Cold, damp, but unbelievably majestic. There are few manmade structures that make me speechless, but this bridge is one of them. The fog kept sweeping in and out (this pic is NOT blurred, it's the fog!) so that one minute the first tower of the span was clearly visible and in the next instant it slowly melted into the clouds until there was little of the bridge showing at all. Needless to say, we were thinking, damn, all this way and there’s nothing to take a picture of!

Dinner that night was in Chinatown. The Empress China restaurant had decent food, but I love the food at our Peking restaurant here in Richmond much better. I love it even more because our meals at the Peking don’t even come close to the $100 we paid at Empress China for soup, spring rolls and an entrée. It was an a la carte menu. However, I will say the ambiance was nice and we had a nice view of San Francisco’s skyline. Hey we were in SanFran…we should expected high prices.

On Wednesday, my marketing savvy died. I still can’t believe I failed to put my promo stuff out as soon as the goody room opened. I also forgot to deliver my books for the signing by the proper time. I really don’t know where my head was. No wait I do! The hamster wheel kept running the tape replay of KD saying, “I loved Mirage!”.

Where the Body Meets the Road

Bella LeeAnn (she’s a sweetheart), from Michelle Buonfiglio’s blog, and I went to lunch with Sandra Barkovich and Shaunta (I forget her last name and can’t find my bloody business cards *Grrrr*) to a terrific (and MUCH cheaper) lunch at Tian Sing . It was only a short hop, skip and a jump, but somewhere between the hotel and where we crossed the street I became feet-challenged to the nth degree.

With the grace and precision of an out-of-work acrobat (because he’s so bad), I managed to imitate the “help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up” commercial by stumbling my way over the curb. I almost managed to save myself before I wound up flat on my face. Now I normally recover from things like this well, but I was just stunned. Did I lay there thinking OMG can I move my legs, are they broken, OMG, I look stupid laying here on the sidewalk, OMG is my PDA okay? Nope, I just lay there like a beached whale thinking…Damn, I fell down. I really fell down. I can’t believe I fell. This is my best outfit and the damn book signing it this evening. WTF do I wear now???

I managed to get up after about 15 seconds (an eternity when San Francisco just keeps walking on by you while your friends continued forward until they realize you’re not with them). I did have one man ask if I was okay. When I said yes, he nodded sagely and said, “Everyone says that but then they find out that they’re not okay.” I will not even begin to contemplate the deeper truth of that statement. But it was nice of him to be concerned given everyone else aside from my friends was acting like I was a well-dressed homeless person taking up sidewalk rent space.

RWA Book Signing

Friends! You’ve Got to Have Friends (Bette Midler would have loved the book signing!) I kept thanking God that I didn’t have to change clothes because I fell on a clean section of sidewalk. I mean my outfit was selected because it was supposed to make me look my best. Unfortunately the pictures the DH took at the signing were not flattering. I just don’t do great pictures. Cathy and Natalie both looked fantastic. Hard to believe it’s been almost two years since the GabWagon was started and we all came together in Atlanta to get it rolling. Tell me Cathy doesn’t look FAB in this shot! (Nat you've been spared a photo because I looked horrible in the pic we got together. It's for private viewing only!! LOL)

Good friend Melissa Schroeder also popped in for a hello at the signing (see pic). Truth be told, I really didn’t expect to sell any books (mine are those expensive trade size) but after the fifth sale, I was feeling pretty good! A gentleman bought one of my books and someone asked me afterward if I had many men buying my work. They were surprised when I stated yes and that I had several male members on my Yahoo loop (unintended pun! LOL). HEY! Guys read romance. They just don’t rave about it like us gals.

For dinner the DH and I visited Puccini and Pinetti with Mel Schroeder. Both Mel and I were already exhausted (the damn conference hadn’t even started), but the three of us had a lively meal where I flirted with the wait staff. Food = energy and after dinner, I perked up like a Nintendo character, so we hit the RWA Online party.

The Conference

I missed most of it because when I fell on Market Street, my PDA took a hit. I had been AR about making appointments for workshops to attend, etc. and recording them in the PDA with locations and everything BEFORE I arrived. Now I was adrift in the lovely conference catalog trying to figure out where to go. I vaguely remember the annual general meeting, where I do remember getting up to ask a question about the recent RWA survey. I think I was coherent in my questions, and friends said I did great. Later the DH and I attended the Passionate Ink party where he got totally stoked with the vibrator favors. As Mac pointed out I came away with the 2nd place prize for Mirage in the Historical category of the Passionate Plume contest.

Thursday night, the DH and I met up with Natalie and attended the Knight Agency party. Didn’t get much face time with my agent, but I did meet Sara Reinke and I LOVE her!! She’s sweet, funny and absolutely charming! A really nice person I’d love to get to know better! With my feet killing me, we headed back to the hotel for a few hours shuteye before Friday bloomed on the horizon.

How To Interrupt a RWA Workshop

I wanted to hear what Julie Anne Long and Steve Axelrod had to say in their workshop, so I popped in there. Axelrod had just started talking when I began to cough. First it was just a small one, then it became two, then it became a coughing spasm. I realized it was an asthma attack, so I got up and went outside to do my inhaler. I didn’t move fast enough because the coughing grew worse and I was struggling for air. First time THAT’s happened to me. So I’m trying to inhale another puff from the inhaler but can’t. Someone from Low Country RWA’s chapter passes by and stops to help. They tell staff I’m having an asthma attack (I managed to get that info out between coughs) and staff races off to get help. The next thing I hear, tucked away in the little alcove I’m standing in, is the sound of hard pounding feet muffled against the carpet (I’m thinking cops chasing a bad guy sounds). A short guy blazes past us only to slide to a halt like one of those characters in a cartoon. He back pedals and says,

“How old are you, ma’am.”

“Hey, you don’t ask a gal questions like that!”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but I need to know.” I semi-lied in my response.

“Have you had a heart attack before?”

“Heart attack? I’m having an ASTHMA attack. My pacemaker is working fine, thank you very much.”

Now there are more stomping feet and four more staff personnel show up, including the general manager. Damn, these people know how to make a girl feel safe. I’ve always been a Marriott Rewards card-carrying member, but damn, this is exceptional service! Truthfully, the expressions of relief on their face made me wonder how many people have died of a heart attack in the hotel.

The rest of my tale is really too long for one post, so stay tuned for more next week.