Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Light and Fluffy

My taste runs toward light and fluffy. White cake with white icing (Gad, I'm boring); anything with whipped cream (heck, cream with whipped cream); action movies, not art films; comedies over tragedies (anything over gangster/ police/ Martin Scorsese). Maybe I should remove the adjective "light." I can see the value in a lot of "heavy" things, but if I have to "see" the value, it's not for me.

Don't judge. Aw heck, go ahead and judge me. You'd be wrong. I have to face reality every day, so I make no apologies for my taste. It's only too bad that so do feel they have to make judgments. Heck, just by writing this blog, I'm making a judgement of sorts.

Recently I took a new job teaching two different classes. I had to start nine weeks into the school year and finish teaching books chosen by another teacher. One book I truly like, but it really was too elementary for the grade I was teaching. So while I enjoyed revisiting the book, it was frustrating at times. The other book was written by one of my favorite authors, but it's a book I truly don't enjoy. It's the one that is taught in almost every school because it's heavy and considered his classic. I prefer his other more enjoyable tomes and stories with the same messages but with brighter tones. At least I've finished teaching that particular book and have moved on to something I've chosen.

Aw, well. We all have different tastes. Within my own family, I have a husband who prefers non-fiction, a daughter who loves the deep, angsty stuff, one who reads like me but more fantasy, and a non-reader. And I won't even mention my mother. At least they all read my books because they love me. That's good enough for me.

Books I'm reading now:
Behemoth By Scott Westerfeld, illus. by Keith Thompson
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, illus. by Keith Thompson

Monday, November 19, 2012

In Praise of Boxes

I like boxes. All kinds of boxes. Think about it. Receiving a box in the mail is almost always a treat. A package expected or better unexpected contains something you bought, or something someone bought for you. Fun, in my opinion.

Little blue boxes (Tiffany, not that I've ever received one of those) have to be a treat. In fact most little boxes are nice. They might contain anything from a ring to Nerds to Milk Duds (or Junior Mints!) to stationery to paper clips. All fun.

And since I'm not much of a cook, boxes mean dinner for me. Tonight, for example, I made Red Beans and Rice from a box. Before you turn up your nose at it, remember, I'm not from New Orleans, I'm first generation American, and without the box I wouldn't enjoy any red beans and rice at all. Doughnuts come in a box if you buy enough of them (Krispy Kremes, mmmmmmm), and cake boxes, those pretty soft pink ones tied with string (Do they still have those?) are truly beautiful.

My favorite tea room here in town gives you a cute little box to pack your dainty bites into and then they pack it into a lovely gift bag, one of which has be serving as my lunch bag for the past two weeks. Tomorrow will be its last day, I'm afraid. Its integrity has been compromised, but the little box I still have waiting for me to tuck something into it.
Presents come in boxes. Who doesn't love a present? And shoes come in boxes. I love shoe boxes. I loathe throwing them out because they seem like they could be so useful for. . .something.

Boxes fool me into thinking I might actually become organized one of these years. I will clean out that closet and put things into boxes that I can't get rid of but no longer need on the shelf. (Hahaha. That's a fine joke. Me. Cleaning a closet and organizing).

Best box of all? When a box of books comes from the publisher showing off your latest work. Sigh. I wish I received those more often.


Books I'm reading now:
The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

Sunday, November 11, 2012


We had our first dusting of snow last night. I'm not a big fan of cold. I've been known to take two-hour baths just to soak up the heat. Of course I'm too cheap and environmentally frugal to turn up the thermostat either. If you can't tell from the previous sentences, I'm not a big fan of winter. I don't ski, skate, or participate in biathlons, I don't like bundling up, and I don't often indulge in coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

And yet I find the pictures of snow-covered homes nestled in white woods strangely compelling and comforting. I think I'm attracted to the myth of winter rather than the actuality. I love the thought of a cozy fire (we haven't lit one in at least two years), hands wrapped around a warm mug (see statement above), wearing a big, warm fuzzy sweater (body image issues get in the way), watching snow fall from behind a window. Yeah, reality tends to muck up the myth. Slipping on the road while driving, the dogs wiping their muddy paw prints on my carpeting (snow doesn't stay on the ground long here, so the backyard turns to mud), no cookies baking in the oven (I don't like to bake; heck I don't like to cook, but that's a whole other rant), the wind cutting through the layers and there's always that one inch of exposed skin on your face no matter what you do. My nose runs, my eyes sting, my feet and fingers don't warm up until May.

After careful analysis, I think I need to live in a climate controlled bubble. I am such a whiner.

Books I'm reading now:
The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Quirks of Fate

My life is in upheaval now. Okay, I'm being melodramatic. I do have a new job however. A variety of things came together--I'll call it the perfect storm to continue in the melodramatic vein--which required a larger cash flow into my life. So I returned to teaching. On the one hand, I truly enjoy teaching. On the other, it's sucking away all my time and energy. As you can tell by my lack of posting last week. But I'm hoping I'll fall into a routine soon, that things will level out quickly and I'l be back regularly.
In the meantime, here's a picture of a fish.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Balloon Fiesta

Guessing game today. Today was the last day of Balloon Fiesta, an annual event here in Albuquerque. I've been just about yearly since we moved here and take far too many pictures when I go. Don't worry, I won't subject you to them all here (Go to my Facebook page if you want to see the 77 I posted out of the 137 I took), but here are two shots. Can you guess what they are?
What can this be?
Here's the other (This one's easier):
And here are your answers:
The Lion King
I don't think that's the real name for the balloon (they all have names, but I don't know them). Half the fun is making up names for the balloons you see. Of course, it's really hard to be original when you wake up at God-awful thirty to get to Balloon Fiesta Park (worth it, but I love my morning sleep).
And here's number two:
Spidey Pig
The Balloon is always awesome--when the weather cooperates. I don't think I'll ever tire of it, and as long as I'm in Albuquerque, I'll attend.
And one more random shot, because it's the coolest balloon (da-da-da, da-de-da, da-de-da --you'll understand the tune when you see the picture):
Books I'm reading now:
Only Yours by Susan Mallery

Friday, October 5, 2012

Math is Your Friend

Lately I've been reading contemporaries, and I've found errors. Not grammatical, although there have been some of those as well, but math errors. Many of us authors are older, shall we say middled-aged, and what I've noticed is our age peeking through. What I mean is we haven't been careful with our math.

Math, you say? That's why I'm a writer: so I don't have to do math. Not so fast, grasshopper. Math is everywhere, and it's important to the logic of the story.

Here's an example. A character appears in a contemporary and likes or enjoys something that they are too young to like. Recently I read a 2011 novel where the 30 year-old heroine blasted Bon Jovi. Now she can like Bon Jovi but some consideration or explanation was necessary to explain her predilection for that particular band. It's 2011. Subtract thirty years, you get 1981, the year she was born. Most likely her favorite band would be someone she listened to when she was, say, 15-18. Late teens. That's the band she would rock out to. Someone like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, or whatever . While Bon Jovi was  performing in the 1990's (and still is), the choice of it still feels a decade off.

Second example: a story from 2012. A seventy-five year old women is described as being cool and calm, someone who wouldn't even swoon over Valentino. Valentino was a heartthrob in the 1920s. A seventy-five year old would have been born in 1937, after Valentino was dead. Let's say eighteen again for the age of swooning. That puts us at 1955. GIrls swooned over Brando and James Dean in the 50's. Or Rock Hudson if you liked the clean-cut type. Or even Elvis. But not Valentino.
 have a third example from a historical manuscript I read. The author made allusions to actors who would have been children (9 or 10) at the setting of the novel. Not good.

So do the math. Really. Even in writing.

Books I'm reading now:
Finding Her Son by Robin Perini

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Errors in Books

I'm writing this as a self-professed Grammar Nazi.


I defy you to find a book without an error in it. I defy you, no matter how much you understand English (and yes, although I am all for learning and speaking and using other languages, this is about English), to write 400 pages and make no mistakes. I defy you to read, re-read, edit, revise, have others look at it, re-read again, and still not find errors in your manuscript. For example, in my last book, WISHFUL THINKING, I was at the galley-proof stage (the point where they send you your book the way it will appear on the page, usually a pdf file), and I still found 147 errors. I know. I counted. But there are degrees of errors, and I put it to you that most are forgivable.

A missing comma here or there shouldn't cause you to write an angry letter. In fact, I know some  publishing houses that omit commas on purpose. It's the house "Style."  Just yesterday I read that one house forbids their authors from using semi-colons. Their reasoning? That genre fiction is supposed to pull the reader in; semi-colons stop the reader and interrupt the flow (See how I did that there?). I have to admit that rule made me cringe. You can't ban semi-colons. That's like the time I was kicked out of textbook training when I was teaching because I wouldn't agree to disagree about what a verb is. But we are trying to make the writing accessible. Grammar and punctuation rules can fly out the window then.

I know I make errors when I write.  Sometimes because I think too fast for my fingers to type ( I never had typing in school. Somehow I skipped that required class). I skip words, or put in part of a word (like par for part) that is a word and my brain, knowing what to expect, fills in the blank. Have you seen those Internet memes that tout your amazing abilities to decipher words written with jumbled inner spelling or numbers replacing letters or backwards? It's supposedly a sign of your intelligence. No, it isn't. It's your brain trying to make sense of what it sees and working the way it should.

Sometimes I spell things wrong. I have never been a speller. Spelling is not grammar. I could go on about the seven different pronunciations of "ough", the silent "b", or why "ghoti" spells "fish", but I've done that before. How the "t" in often was said, then silent, and now it's back. Or not. Both are standard. What kind of language allows you to do that anyway? English, that's what. I've always considered spelling a torture. When I write a novel I do look up every word I may have possible spelled wrong, but I may overlook some because I'm utterly convinced I have it right. And that's not even worrying about "pore" vs "pour",  or "hear, hear" vs. "here, here" (By the way, those are the ones that throw me right out of a story--the homonyms used in place of the correct word).

Sometimes things are left out by the printer. In my second novel, my galleys contained a chapter that wasn't even from my book. Another time a chapter was repeated. I taught DANDELION WINE to my eighth graders. The books we used were missing a couple of paragraphs at the end of one of the chapters. That wasn't done by the author.

The errors I cannot forgive are content errors. When a character is a certain age, but that doesn't work out mathematically (Don't ask me why I catch math errors; I just do). When the character is a widow in one chapter and divorced a few chapters down. When the story is set in a certain year and then people or events are mentioned that couldn't have taken place in that year (unless it's alternate reality; then that's fine). I've seen these mistakes in books I've read.

And some of the mistakes are the readers'. I once used the word "posh" in a novel set in 1845. I knew the word wasn't in existence then (yeah, I look that sort of thing up), but it was close enough to the time period that I fudged it. Someone had to use it first, right? Well, a reader called me on it and gave me the "origin" of the word. It was that cute Internet story about  the English traveling to India on a ship, Port Out, Starboard Home, so they'd know which side of the ship to have their cabins to avoid the sun. Only problem is that story's not true. I had a friend correct me on "if you think X, then you have another think coming." She wanted me to write "thing". Nope, sorry, that's wrong. (See what I did here with the commas--for effect) And just recently another friend pointed out I'd written "just deserts" wrong. Nope again. It is "just deserts", not "just desserts". And would you say, for example: "she is hungrier than me"? That would be incorrect.

And you see how I'm putting the quotes inside the punctuation? That's the British way, and frankly makes a helluva lot more sense than the American way, so I'm starting the trend. (In certain instances, like these.)

I just read an article about the physicist Paul Dirac. He had some quirks, but when he read WAR AND PEACE his only comment about he novel was that Tolstoy had made the sun rise twice in one day. (Mental Floss, Jan-Feb 2010).  So you see, authors, editors, copy editors, translators (I read the German version of Harry Potter and they translated cat's whiskers as a mustache), they're all human. You may get a thrill at finding an error, but get over it. That's kind of petty. (I know, because I have to admit I get a thrill and feel superior when I find errors. I'm not proud of myself.).

Read the book and enjoy it. That's why we write. I won't even go into how ungrammatical speech is here.
--Gabi, who really doesn't proofread blog articles.

Books I'm reading now:
Vampire in Atlantis by Alyssa Day

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The State Fair

Spent yesterday evening at the State Fair. For those of you who know me, I can see the shock on your face. I hate the State Fair. I dislike crowds and heat and dirt (Yeah, I'm a whiner--you did know that about me, right?). So hubs surprised us with tickets to the rodeo followed by Marty Stuart. Rodeo? Me? I'm first generation American, grew up in LA (the city, not the state), and even though I went to school in Colorado and my roommate my senior year grew up on a horse ranch in Wyoming that I once visited, "cowboy" isn't part of either my heritage or knowledge base. I have to admit I watched with interest. I haven't become a fan, but it was interesting. I found myself feeling sorry for the calves that got roped and rooting for the bulls and horses that knocked the riders off. (I know, I know, sacrilege, but it's how I felt. As I always told my students, emotions have no logic. I cheered for the successful cowboys too.)

Call it a life experience. My husband is a firm believer in life experiences. As am I, but he's more apt to act on acquiring them.

Then came the show. And here's why humans are so interesting. Remember I said that I really don't know "cowboy". Well, I love country music. I also love Broadway show tunes, but that's an entirely different blog. I started listening to country music when I realized it was singable. I sing. I used to have a good voice, but now I only sing for myself or in funny voices to make my kids laugh. I've appeared in several musicals, choirs, choruses, groups, but now I just like to sing to the radio in the car. (I don't like people to hear me--yes, I'm shy--see "why humans are so interesting" above). And country music has harmonies, and lyrics and tunes one can actually sing to. Yes, some of it is bad, but I defy you not to say the same thing about any artistic endeavor.

So, Marty Stuart. Part country, part rockabilly, part bluegrass, all awesome. What fun. And the tickets hubs acquired for us allowed us to get up right next to the stage (on horrible steel benches placed right on the dirt of the rodeo ring). See? Here's a photo from my seat.
Great harmonies, mad skills on the guitar and mandolin, bopping music--it was good. But it was a Wednesday night and the youngest had school today and 6 AM comes early (see "you know I'm a whiner" above). Wish it had been Friday night.
So my adventure at the State Fair didn't change my opinion of the State Fair, but it did make me realize I should get out more.
Books I'm Reading Now:
My Lady Mage by Alexis Morgan
The Sword-Edged Blond by Alex Bledsoe

Monday, September 10, 2012

English as a Second Language

As most of you know, my parents came from Hungary and neither spoke any English when they arrived (yeah, noun-pronoun agreement. This is a casual essay; grow up). My father was an engineer who took a job as a janitor until he had rudimentary English. To the end of his life, his phone conversations in English consisted of saying "ja, ja," (which by the way isn't Hungarian) with the occasional "no" thrown in. My mother's oral English was always much better. I grew up with Chicago pronounced CHi-cago, we lived in the "vest"  and shopped at Wauns (Vons grocery, which makes no sense because Hungarian does have a v sound so why they switched the w and v sounds I'll never know.) The past tense with "did" was always used  incorrectly, as in, "I did went." And my favorite: the day my father walked into a Burger King and ordered a whooper, not a whopper. The poor woman behind the counter tried so hard to keep a straight face.

I laugh at the mistakes they made, not because I'm laughing at them. It's out of love. Really. English has to be the hardest language to master. With seven different pronunciations of "-ough", no common-sense spelling (really--Polish vs polish, wind, and a language where "ghoti" can be pronounced "fish"), where use of the subjunctive is considered too complex for regular language, where we have fake rules (never end a sentence in a preposition, conjunctions should never start sentences, never split an infinitive--these are all not real rules of English), where people will argue over "think" vs "thing", as in "you've got another think coming" (it's "think"--do the research), or that the phrase is "just deserts" not "just desserts" because the word comes from an archaic word desert (think "deserve"), and most native speakers have no idea what they're saying when they use the old adage "it's the exception that proves the rule" (that one necessitates the looking up of the definition of prove-what do you think a "proving ground" is?). 

So when my mother says nothing bad happened to her, "knock on the door", instead of on wood, or thinks the famous fruit in Atlanta is the Georgia plum, I laugh, and admire the heck out of her. Because she's willing to take a risk and communicate in a language that has many native speakers baffled.

Here's to the risk takers.

Books I'm reading now:
The Sword-edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is it bad...

Am I being closed-minded if I just don't want to watch/read certain shows, films, or books just because?

Take for instance the TV show Breaking Bad. There's no reason not to believe its hype. It's funny (at least I've been told the first couple of seasons are), well-written, has rounded characters, interesting story lines; it's critically acclaimed and its actors have received acting awards. It's even filmed in Albuquerque, my town, and the production company has brought money into the community. All good things. But I don't want to watch it. Stories about drugs are not my kind of thing. Stories about men who descend into darkness--not my kind of thing. So I haven't seen it, and despite having it on Netflix, I won't be watching it any time soon. I'm sure it deserves its accolades, but I don't want to watch it.

There are books that do the same. Every time I pick up a book I should read (Kite Runner, Life of Pi) I've been disappointed. It's not that I don't see the merit of the books, but when I read I want to be swept away. I don't want to search for its merits. I could see teaching these books, but not sitting down to read them for fun. My taste. I won't apologize for it.

And don't think I'm not as harsh on my beloved genre fiction books. I'd say more than half of them I read the first two, maybe three chapters, then just skim the rest to know what happens (unless I'm judging it for a contest; then I read every page). The book that carries me through page by page is a rarity. And one that is becoming more and more rare. So many things can pull me out of the story: a wrong fact, grammar errors (I mean the ones that aren't deliberate), and most of all lack of logic. I just finished judging a contest and the biggest errors I found in these unpublished manuscripts was lack of logic. People I know wouldn't behave a certain way without a good reason, and needed a behavior to further the story is not reason enough.

We all have our limits, buttons, narrow view. I'm trying to broaden mine when it comes to important things. But do I have to when it comes to entertainment? Am I being closed-minded?

Books I'm reading now (and although I don't usually write whether I'm enjoying them or not, I thought I should after today's post):
My Lady Mage by Alexis Morgan (And I'm truly enjoying it--reading every page.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Falcon and the Wolf

I've been quiet lately, missed a few weeks' posts. I don't have an excuse (being busy is not an excuse), but I have been working. In case you missed me, there's good news. I have a new book up on Kindle and Nook: THE FALCON AND THE WOLF. And you are not seeing things. I've published this under the name Gabi Anderson.
The Falcon and the Wolf

(Other formats coming soon)

This was my Golden Heart® finalist novel from way back when. I mean way back. Way back when paranormal romances were NOT selling and editors didn't know what to do with them. (Don't believe me? Karen Marie Moning writes the same thing in recounting her path to writing in her release Into the Dreaming) I wrote it for my daughter (who was three at the time, and, no, I didn't expect her to read it then).

Falcon is a fantasy romance that has always been dear to my heart. Here's a description:

A prophecy casts its shadow over two kingdoms—and over two people whose destinies are entwined even before their births.

Captured in a border skirmish, highborn Lady Stefanie Falkon arrives to the castle of Grayson, Lord Wolfe, her new master. Gray, a warrior out of duty to his king, believes in order and planning, and designing new innovations to help his people.

With her headstrong ways, Stefanie soon turns Gray’s organized world to chaos, disrupting his work his duty his goals. Despite her initial loathing of her master, Grayson, Lord Wolfe, she comes to recognize he isn’t the monster she’s made him out to be. In turn Gray learns to depend on the unusual and intelligent woman he reluctantly acquired.

But when a threat to both their lands arises, they must work together to save their world and find their own happy ending.

Please pick it up and spread the word. I'd love to have a success with this one. And then if you want more in that tone, try Temptation's Warrior, also available on Kindle, nook and other formats.

I hope you love Stefanie and Gray's story.

Books I'm reading now:
Impossible to Resist by Janice Maynard

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Olympics

My parents were jocks. No seriously. They were. My dad played volleyball, (European) handball, and ran track in Hungary, and my mother was so good in European handball, that when they arrived in refugee camp in Vienna, a woman's team recruited her and actually paid her to play. When they arrived in the US, they didn't have much money, so they looked around for a sport they could play that didn't cost a lot of money. They chose tennis. Hey, back then, tennis was cheap--all you needed was a racquet, some balls, and a nearby park with courts.

They introduced my sister and me to sports at a young age. I started tennis lessons when I was six, and from that age on we tried just about any sport you could try--tennis, gymnastics, judo, ice skating (holy moly, that was bad), running, bicycling. It wasn't until seventh grade that I found the sport that truly spoke to me--volleyball, which I still play today--but throughout was tennis. The 'rents became outstanding players.

To their dismay, neither my sister or I became jocks. I was a total nerd, and she was popular (no hate mail that says popular kids can't be jocks or that jocks are the popular kids--you know what I mean.) Yes, I still play volleyball, but it's not the priority in my life as sports were in my parents life. My mother has taken up golf in her, shall we call them her upper years, and underwent knee replacement surgery so she could continue to play.

So when the Olympics came on, my father and mother watched every minute they could. In 1972, we traveled to Europe (to visit family) but we made a special trip to the Munich Olympic park just so we could walk through it. And among their friends, they count two different medal winners--a gymnast who won two golds and a silver, and a canoer who won two silvers. So, yes, I have seen actual Olympic medals.

That first Olympics after my father's death was actually pretty special because watching them was like having him back. So to this day, I watch as much as possible because, well, I miss my dad, and in watching, I can be close to him again.

Enjoy the games,

Books I'm reading now:
A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Sunruse Point by Robyn Carr

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I love Cheese

No, not the dairy kind (Actually, I do love the diary kind too). I mean the emotional schmaltz that brings sappy tears to the eyes or laughter to the lips or cheers to the throngs. Let's face it: the world would be a better place if it were cheesier. We'd have more happy endings, more villains getting their just deserts, more moments of laughter, more real causes to root for, more fun.

Things on my list of sublime cheesiness: flash mobs ; Disney movies; Hallmark commercials; superheroes; happy endings; puppies; balloons; showy proposals; old people holding hands; romance novels. How can you not like them? Cheesy things make the world livable, renew your faith in mankind, and just give you a warm feeling overall.
Ballons a group of readers surprised me with yesterday. The blue one says "Make a Wish"
So I hereby promise to live my life with all the cheesy goodness I can. I will forget on occasion, I'm sure, but long live the cheese. Life is too short to take it too seriously.
Books I'm reading now:
The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You want to see me in person, right?

In about two weeks I will be in Anaheim at the RWA National Convention. There will be a huge signing (HUGE--400 plus authors) on July 25 at the Anaheim Convention Center from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM. No outside books will be allowed because this is a signing for literacy. All proceeds go to combating illiteracy in America, with a portion going to a local agency. Authors won't be set up in alphabetical order, however. All attendees will be given a map, and each table will have a number.  So be sure to look for me under Gabi Stevens. A little complicated, but we all know romance readers are smart.
In addition, I'm speaking at the conference on Saturday afternoon (July 28) at 12:45 PM on "The Meaning of Life: Theme." I love this topic. ALl about the meaning of the books we love to read. Yes, despite what you may think, all books have themes and I'm going to help my listeners suss out the meanings of theirs. Honestly, we don't set out to write about meaning--we just try to tell a story--but it happens anyway. Remember back in school when you used to question your teachers whether the author meant to put such meaning into their books. Of course they didn't. It happens anyway. And that's what I'm talking about.
I hope I'll see some of you in Anaheim. I may be tired at the signing. If all goes as planned, I'm doing Disney the day before. :)
And a month after RWA I'll be in Albuquerque at Bubonicon, but more on that later.
Books I'm reading now:
The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Friday, July 6, 2012

Becoming a curmudgeon...

Questions I've been pondering lately:
Why are all the voices in my head speaking to me in first person when I like third person books?

How does one change his or her luck? (And don't tell me, "be prepared," because that's already taken care of)

Why does bread have to taste so good? (And on the same note, why are vegetables so yucky?)

Why do we tell children to act their age, then as adults tell ourselves never to grow up?

Why do people want flying cars? Do you really want the idiots on the road to be flying above your head?

Whether or not you "believe" in global warming is irrelevant. Can't we agree that coming up with an alternative to spewing poisons in the air, protecting the earth, and removing the influence of huge corporations from government is a good thing? (I'm not saying "no oil", I'm saying research is good.)

Why am I so freaked out by insects when I'm a gagillion times bigger than they are?

When did I develop my fear of heights that nearly crippled me climbing the towers of Europe last summer? (I have sworn never to climb a tower again--although I can come up with at least a dozen scenarios in my writer's brain which would compel me to break that vow--so I can honestly say that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the last tower I shall ever climb.)

How can I love liverwurst, but hate liver; love almonds (and these great Hungarian almond cookies), but hate Amaretto (same goes for hazelnuts and Frangelico); love pickles, but not relish; cook with olive oil, but hate olives; hate coffee (black), but love coffee ice cream?

When is it officially okay to become a curmudgeon? 

Books I"m reading now:
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
The Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot

Friday, June 29, 2012

Best tweet series ever...


Books I'm reading now:

The Pleasure of Your Kiss by Teresa Medeiros
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

Friday, June 22, 2012

RomCon 2012

So I'm in Denver for the third year in a row at RomCon. It's a relatively new romance fan conference, and I've been lucky to attend these past few years.
This morning I was a participant in the Quick Draw game--10 authors chose words from their novels and then had to draw these words in a picture charades type game. There is a reason I'm an author and not an artist. I picked about thirty words  from WISHFUL THINKING. Some were easy to convey: wand, whale, skunk (surprisingly easy), champagne, pizza; and then there were others: magic, wish, hyacinth (I don't even know what a hyacinth looks like--okay, I just googled it). "Loom" was interesting, but almost every group got it. I haven't laughed that much in long time. And it exhausted me too.

Before that I was privileged to hear Teresa Medeiros speak. I want her eloquence when defending romance. She spoke with such humor and grace and made me absolutely proud to be a romance author. You know, I really am coming to believe that romance is one of the most subversive genres out there(allowing women to be the heroine of their own lives, to give power to love, to explore female sexuality without punishment. Poor Anna Karenina). Heh heh heh.

Stay tuned. I plan to post more, but for now I have to get ready for the Dine-In for Interspecies Peace. And then on to Monte Carlo Night. Gambling and fun. 

And if I can at all remember, I'll get some pictures up too. (I've taken one.)
Books I'm reading now:
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
The Pleasure of Your Kiss by Teresa Medeiros

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weird stuff

Do you have a favorite or lucky number? I don't. One number is pretty much the same to me although I will admit I like odd numbers better than even. And I will admit I have a least favorite number. 6. Don't know why. I don't like the number six. WHen I do a sudoku puzzle I either wait until just before the end to do the sixes (because I don't want my puzzle fun to end on a 6) or I do them first to get them out of the way.
I'm the same with colors. I don't really have a favorite color. There are days when I'm yellow, or green or purple or pink. I even like brown and on occasion beige. But I do have a least favorite color--blue. If I find a clothing style I like it only comes in blue, I won't get it. I do make an exception for blue jeans, but you really won't find blue in my closet. Teal, turquoise, but no blue or navy.

Favorite food? Easy. Sushi. And in a close second, everything else except olives, liver (but I like liverwurst), sweet potatoes, okra, and stinky cheese. (Okay, that's a hyperbole, but I really don't like olives, liver, sweet potatoes, okra, or stinky cheese.) And if you ask me whether I like sweet or salty, I'll pick salty every time. And vanilla over chocolate, milk over dark, and Team Jacob over Team Edward (but that's neither here nor there).

We all have weird stuff in our lives/heads. I'm afraid of moths--less afraid of butterflies, but they have that weird flitty thing going on too. I discovered a real fear of heights last summer while climbing towers in the Strasbourg cathedral and on that trip I decided I will never do heights again, after making the Tower of Pisa my tower climb ever. I felt it a fitting end. I stayed in a hotel in NYC this March on the 50th floor. First thing I did was close the curtains and I never looked out. Funny. It doesn't trouble me while flying.

I love the little quirks that make us individuals. In THE WISH LIST, my heroine, Kristin, likes Chocolate Chipless cookies. That's because those are my favorites. All the dough, none of the chocolate.

So what are some of your quirks? I'd love to know. But don't be surprised if they end up in a book.

Books I'm reading now:
Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
A Night Like This by Julia Quinn

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Countdown to Father's Day

When I think of the books I've written, very seldom do I have a father of a main character appear in the story, which is, some would say, typical of romance, since most romance heroines are orphans, either symbolically  or literally. (Gosh that was along sentence.) In THE WISH LIST, Kristin's parents were older and are both dead by the time the story starts. In AS YOU WISH, Reggie's father is still around, but he was always detached, not unloving, just detached. In WISHFUL THINKING, though, Stormy hits the jackpot. She has two dads and a biological mother who all care for her, but the dads especially. In TEMPTATION'S WARRIOR (under the name Gabi Anderson) Elf is an orphan. It's an interesting aspect of writing my novels--where are the main characters' parents. The heroes don't often have them either. Or have just one. Or are simply not mentioned.

My own father died over twenty years ago, but I feel his influence everyday. And especially since we have a special day in  June (I'm a few days early--sue me) to celebrate dads, I've been thinking about mine. He was a big guy--six feet tall--and when we won on Family Feud (another story), he hugged Richard Dawson so hard that Mr. Dawson made jokes about it the next day. He had a heavy Hungarian accent--if an American called him at home, his conversation mostly consisted of saying, "Ja" (like the German yes), yet he read the paper daily without difficulty. When he first met my future husband, he hugged him. Picture a six foot three American guy being embraced by this bear of a man. The look of shock on the then-boyfriend's face is a memory etched with grins in my mind. And since my dad had only daughters, at the end of that visit, he took my husband aside and said, "Let's go to the garage, and let me give you some tools." And he did. (We still have some of them.)

My father didn't cook. As far as I remember he could make scrambled eggs and that's about it. As far as I remember he didn't even grill. When we'd set up our barbeque, he'd load the briquets, start the fire, but my mom grilled (My memory could be wrong here, but I just don't remember him cooking).

He was smart, but not obnoxiously so (that I reserve for myself and my husband-hahaha), but he was the wisest man I ever knew. I had an unusual last name, and when I married, I decided to take my husband's name. I asked my father if he minded that there would be no more Stefels, and he said, "Names don't matter. People do."
So I hope you'll indulge me as I revisit memories of my father. And if not, well, you're not writing this blog are you, but you can certainly complain in the comments. :)

Books I'm reading now:
Soul of the Highlander by Melissa Mayhue
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
From the Corner of his Eye by Dean Koontz

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

True Confessions

Have you ever learned something about someone that shocked you? Well, prepare to be shocked. I'm about to make some true confessions.
1. I'm not a fan of chocolate. It's okay, as long as it's milk and filled with nuts or peanut butter, and not fruit. All those article that tout the health benefits of dark chocolate? Lost on me because I really dislike dark chocolate.
2. I'm not a fan of coffee. Oh don't get me wrong, I enjoy it with tons of cream and sugar so it tastes like hot, melted coffee ice cream (one of my favorite flavors), but black? Yuck. Again, those recent health benefits they've discovered? Yeah, I'm out of luck on those too.
3.I don't like olives, not black, not green, not stuffed, not pickled. I will use olive oil to cook, but don't put them on my pizzas, my Mexican food, or in my salads. And speaking of Mexican food...
4. I like Taco Bell. Okay, I don't really count it as Mexican food because I really like Mexican food, but I do like Taco Bell. I know I shouldn't and purists will laugh at me, but I told you it was confession time.
5. Be prepared for this one. I tried, but I just couldn't get into Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I like other Joss Whedon stuff (Firefly, which I just discovered, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog), but not Buffy. Don't worry. I'm not team Edward either. (Ooo, and this might count as a confession too--I haven't seen Avengers yet. I plan to, but graduations and then foot surgery got  in the way.)
6. I am lazy by nature. Sure, you can argue since I have actually had books published that I am disciplined, but I'd argue I've succeeded in spite of my natural lazy inclinations. I think the reason I can actually hold a job or write a book is that my sense of responsibility is hyperactive. At least that's what my husband says.
Okay, I feel better now. Have anything you'd like to get off your chest?
Books I'm reading now:
From the Corner of his Eye by Dean Koontz

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


My two daughters (twins, you know) both graduate from college (Hey, I had them when I was 12...ish) this weekend. Yes, at the same time--well a day apart, but in different areas of the country. Their father and I are quite used to the divide and conquer strategy required when one has twins. Throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, we split up on open house.  I took one kid to college, he took the other (because they started at the same time, you know); I'm attending the kid-whom-I-didn't-take's graduation in Massachusetts, and he's flying to Atlanta for the other's. And then they will have their own lives. (Yeah, yeah, I'm not going to talk about boomerang kids; one is already gainfully employed, and the other majored in CS and hasn't started her search yet because she was doing schoolwork, but we have no doubts she soon will be a productive member of society.)

Have you ever wondered why it's called commencement? Because it is a new beginning. One stage of life ends because a new one is about to begin. That's what my girls are facing next week--the commencement of their next lives. Because I firmly believe we have life stages. First we're children, then teenagers, then adults. Then job holders, spouses, parents, grandparents, retirees, etc. I was a teacher for seven years (I quit a year ago--a whole other story), now I write full-time in addition to family duties, which I did before, but this time I don't have little ones running around while I attempt to create. And I'm still in development. My trilogy just finished up (The Wish List, As You Wish, Wishful Thinking) and right now I have nothing coming out from a major publisher (but my agent is shopping around a ms as I type this), and I'm getting ready to release my second self-pubbed title (The first was a backlist historical romance, Temptation's Warrior). And I'm still working on that next step. Success has been elusive (my definition of success in any case), but I've had a little, and I'm still plugging away.

That's the great thing about commencement. It's a new beginning, the next stage, and you can have one at any time. You don't have to wait for January 1. You can start tomorrow. Or right now.

Congratulations, baby girls.
--Mom (I mean, Gabi)

Books I'm reading now:
Timeless by Gail Carriger
Just Down the Road by Jodi Thomas