Finding Out You’re Not The Only Strange One . . . Priceless

I bear a strong physical resemblance to my mom’s family, but we’re so different that, many times, I would have wondered whether I was adopted if not for that. For as long as I can remember, I never felt as if I totally belonged with the people with whom I was placed. My mother, my sisters, my aunts and uncles and cousins . . . we have a lot in common, but we also share a huge lot of differences. They’re very religious; my BF Dale tagged me perfectly when she said I’m spiritual, not religious. They’ve been content to stay rooted in the same area; since I was a kid, I dreamed about living elsewhere. They’re well-behaved, conservative and rarely question authority; my curiosity has gotten me in trouble more than once, I waffle between the far right and the far left with a few turns square in the middle, and I figure authority is there to be questioned.

When it comes to family, I’ve always been a little bit on the outside looking in. A lot of writers I’ve discussed this with feel the same with regard to their own families, which leads me to assume that this sort of distance is part of what makes me write when no one else in my family does. Writers are observers; we’re questioners; we’re experience seekers. And non-writers . . . well, aren’t, at least not in the same way.

My family think it’s cool that I write books (though most of them don’t read them – all that naughty sex), but it’s kind of a mysterious process to them. They don’t spend hours thinking “What if . . .?” They don’t have people in their heads demanding attention. They don’t understand the technical aspects of writing. (And, unlike most readers, they’re not interested in any of that. The best way to make one of my relatives’ eyes glaze over is to start talking business – my business. We talk about theirs often.)

Heck, I’ve been getting paid for this for more than twenty years, but most of the people in my life don’t even think of it as a real job. If I had a dime for every time someone’s asked me, “Are you still writing?” I could probably stop.

I’m different from my family. I knew that for years. But I thought I was pretty much a one-of-a-kind. The eccentric one. The weird one. Then, after selling my second book, something incredible happened: I met other writers. Other people who thought “what” and “if” were two of the most magical words in any language. People who not only heard voices in their heads but responded to them. People who understood instinctively who and what I was. It was so cool!

Don’t get me wrong – I love my family. I started to add “and my non-writing friends.” Truthfully, though, my best buds, my twisted sisters, are all authors. There’s just something about another writer – that immediate connection, that shared weirdness – that makes me feel like I belong. I’m not on the outside looking in any longer. I’m right smack in the middle of the best bunch of talented, eccentric, demented, daydreaming, living-in-another-world people around.

Which is exactly where I always wanted to be.

Dreaming Fiction

The night before last I  dreamed–or is it dreamt– that I had written the perfect novel. Actually, the dream was about the parts and the process of my novel coming together — the outline, the plot, characterization, the  dialog. And there was a good balance between showing and telling. Even the title was perfect. 

Though I was aware that I was dreaming, I was so excited that at last I was finally out of the rut I’d written myself into. I kept telling myself that I needed to remember all this so I could write it down when I woke up. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember any of the details except my heroine’s face.  But I  did remember the feeling of excitement that my novel had finally come together and the sense of accomplishment  that it was finally finished. 

 I started thinking about the role that dreams have played in my writing. There was a time in my life when I had strange dreams.  I tried to turn  several of these into short stories of the speculative fiction type. Note that I used the word “tried”.  My attempts to do this were not successful. The dreams were much more interesting–to me–than the short stories. 

Has  anyone been able to dream fiction successfully?

Claude Mary

Romance and Senior Discounts

I recently noticed on a fast food receipt that I was given the senior discount. Once upon a time, that would have tickled me since I’ve never been rabid about age. Lately, the counter people have been asking me if I wanted the discount (which I always do), but this time, the girl just gave it to me. For some reason, this bothered me and it took me awhile to figure out why.

Before, it was like a game. I knew I was only 30 or so in a 60-year old body, so getting the senior discount was like a game. You know, fooling the powers that be. But this unasked for discount confirmed that I’m getting on in years. How does this relate to romance, you ask?

In high school, I was a big fan of romance, mostly of the “my prince will come” variety. As a young woman, I was more into science fiction where my “prince”, so to speak, were Vulcans, elves, alien princes, etc. When I got married. I put aside romance because I’d gotten my own hero and, to be honest, as a wife and mother, I didn’t have a lot of reading time. But once I was divorced, romance books came back into my life because I was once again looking for the Happily Ever After.

Pretty soon, not only was I reading romance, but I was writing it. It turned out to be the only sex I got! No matter, how old I became, my heart and mind stayed young and I believed that I would get another chance at my own HEA. By accepting that I’m now old enough to get senior discounts, does that mean I have to give up my dream of finding a hero of my own? Absolutely not! But I’m going to take a senior discount on him. He may not be the strong, young, handsome prince of my early dreams. Now I’ll be hoping for someone to share my golden years…someone who can make me laugh. Someone who thinks using a remote control is all the exercise needed. And someone who knows that for a woman, chocolate is a food group. Romance as a senior? Bring it on!

Give Me A Sign

My last post noted that I was in a hum-bug mood, I’m better thank you, only because I’m certifiably twisted. Not that I really need a sign to proclaim this. It is very evident with just one look at me. Okay, not all of it is visible.


As you may remember from my first blog, everything around our house has decided to break, this past week makes three times on the garage door!or needs to be replaced: our bed and the living room furniture. Hey, it survived 5 kids & 4 dogs for over 10 years.


Thursday was the delivery day & I knew I had a HUGE task in front of me, cleaning under the bed. There were dust monsters with fangs, worthy of any that Mrs. Weasley ever faced in HP 5! With the old bed out of the way, I notice how dirty the wall was. The idea struck me to PAINT it. This would have been all right had I also come up the brilliant, or so I thought at the time, notion to dye my hair. (already permed & colored)


Two hours later, I had one medium blue wall & black hair. Both came out the wrong. The wall was supposed to be robin’s egg & my hair a nice shade of dark blond. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror & Boomer-dog #4, growled at me.  Think Bellatrix Lestrange. Ack!!! Wrong holiday. Worse, I still had gray roots!


A good friend told me that if you can laugh later at a situation, then you can laugh now. I did while snatching a box of platinum blond from the pantry. Black & blond don’t make brown, but a nice shade of maroon. Nice way to be remembered at the Christmas party that afternoon where I met a group of women who are influential in our community.  Oh well. There are worse things, right?


Don came home, gave me my hello kiss, then walked into the bedroom & back out to where I’m sitting on the floor drinking a tumbler of red wine. “No furniture, huh?”  He looked at me with that perplexed man stare.

“Did you paint the bedroom? Uh, good job?”

“And dear, what else do you notice?”

“Uh, your hair?”


“You want me to find a ukulele?” (For those youngsters, this is in reference to a wacky & weird singer, Tiny Tim. “Tiptoe through the Tulips” Google or You-tube him.) “How ‘bout another glass of wine?”


I gotta give the man credit for what he didn’t say What were YOU thinking? OR I can’t believe you did this!


Life around me is never dull for long!

Fess up. Have you had any ‘What were you thinking?’ moments?

I need another good laugh.      


Happy Holidays!!

The Twisted Sister  Meg


Dis, Dat, and Dudder

With a nod to Dr. John for the subject line.

Man, I was supposed to have this sucker posted this morning, but I got mixed up on the dates. Honestly, it’s on my calendar to do this tomorrow, so who moved Thursday to Wednesday? What good is a calendar when it lets you down??

First off, Romance Writers Ink — the best freakin’ writers’ group in the whole freakin’ world — is now accepting entries for their published contest, More Than Magic. Winners get a cool certificate (designed by Jackie K) , a way cool pin (designed by Susan) and a shot at $300-plus cash money. You can’t beat that. Go here to get the entry form, rules and other info.

Second, my fellow Sluts and I are hosting a giveaway right here. Details are on the sidebar at the right. Real simple, real easy, and real cool books and stuff to the winner. Enter.

I’ve been thinking about updating my site — here I am — with a note that says, “No update expected for a while.” Rach is busy working on her alter ego’s work (or is that the other way around? It’s hard to remember whether I’m the real one or she is. The checks come in her name, but I get the blame when she says anything naughty.) One of these days it’ll be my turn to write something hot and gritty again, but until then I’ll have to amuse my muse by blogging. Hmm, need to find out the password to my blog. Rachel Speaks has been awfully quiet lately because I keep forgetting.

I’m also spending a lot of time listening to the TransSiberian Orchestra. (See the bio at my page.) Truly the best Christmas music ever — and they’re coming to Tulsa!! Woot woot!! Seen ’em in concert twice, loved ’em bunches. It’s the only Christmasy thing I’ve done this year. I’m ready for the holidays to be gone. Just grind some mistletoe under my boot and call me Scrooge.

Writing and Christmas

Being a writer is difficult.  It’s a solitary job, fighting with characters, story tools, and snarky Internal Editors.  But most of us manage.  Add to this marriage, children, friends and family, and (God forbid, but some of us don’t earn enough to pay the mortgage!) the dreaded Day Job!  Now, you’re attempting to write as well as you can with all your distractions.  Even when most holidays come around, it’s a matter of a couple of days planning and preparing, maybe putting together a picnic to interrupt your flow.  But Christmas is waaaay different.  Let me show you how it can go.

The first day of Christmas:  John cradled Mary’s head in his hands, his thumbs caressing her soft skin.  “My love—”

 “Mom, I have to have 24 cupcakes for the class Christmas party tomorrow.   And I promised you’d bring them.”  It’s 9:30 PM and you have no cake mix, eggs, oil, or frosting.  Arrggh!

The second day of Christmas:  John tunneles his fingers through Sara’s dark hair and gazed deep into her blue eyes.  “I must taste you…just once—”

“Honey, for cryin’ out loud!  The office Christmas party is tonight and we’re already late.  Why are you still on the computer?”

The third day of Christmas:  Sam kissed Sara, laughing as her golden hair tickled his face.  She grinned at him, mischief shining in her green eyes.  “You devil, she—”

 “Dang!  Today’s the last day to mail the Christmas cards and packages if they’re to get there on time.”

The fourth day of Christmas:  Demon Asma gazed down on the human Gail.  “You will not laugh at my kisses.  No woman can resist—

 “Mommy, I think your Christmas cookies are burning.  Is it okay if Kitty climbs the Christmas tree?”

The fifth day of Christmas :   Uh, whats-her-face fisted her hands on her hips.  Look, buster.  I don’t know what they do on your planet…

If you think I’m going to untangling eight strings of lights, you’ve got another think coming!

The sixth day of Christmas:  Where the heck was I?  Who wrote this garbage? 

And this is the same book!

‘Nuff said?

Now you know why publishing companies tend to do little business during the month of December.  It’s because their authors are all tied up in wrapping paper and ribbons!

Holiday Ho-Hum

I’m pretty much in a bah-humbug mood. For those that know me, I’m not revealing any secrets. Starting when days grow shorter & the temperature drops, I start slipping into a funk. No more racing, no more college football— this year I really missed driving to far distant places in Oklahoma every Friday night to watch my son play high school ball —no more NASCAR!


Holidays are just never fun for me no matter how bright the lights are! I want to give a shout out to my new neighbors across the street—love all your hard work to turn our little portion of Paradise (the name of our community in the 1890s) into a winter wonderland. But this season, I’m a bit worse knowing that my father isn’t here.


However…there are nuggets of joy waiting to be discovered. Like awaking this morning to find that Rocky, #3 dog, made a midnight run into the kitchen. He had eaten an entire pecan pie that had been a gift. Barely a crumb left. True, Don or I should have put it away but neither of us would have thought the little stinker capable of making his way across a chair to a bar stool to the counter! I know better now. While my mouth is missing my most favorite of all pies, my hips are thankful. Since Don can’t eat nuts anymore, I’d have consumed the entire pie! Probably with full fat vanilla bean ice cream. And chocolate caramel topping.


And while typing my blog entry, I had the TV on our local news. One of the upcoming stories was about where to find decorations for under a buck! Oh yeah, that’s a great deal. Then I started laughing as the words took on another meaning.   


Who is going to be brave enough to hang decorations under a deer?  


BTW: Rocky is fine. And I do think he had help from Chloe the Dobe, the sneakiest of all our 4 dogs who doesn’t need any help reaching the counter.


Your creative space

As I’m sitting here in my office, wracking my brain trying to think of something to write, I’m looking at all the stuff that surrounds me.
Things that inspire me and things I love.

Like I have this really cool sword that hangs on my wall. It’s just decorative, but my hubby got that for me one year from a gun show. He knew how much I would just love it. Then there’s this Sherrilyn Kenyon poster that I got at the Dallas RWA conference that she signed. I had it framed and it hangs above my large window. I have 2 maps of Scotland tacked to my walls and 2 more posters– one of a vampire girl whose eyes just pull me right in, and the other of a futuristic woman whose expression is just wonderful. A calender with great inspiring quotes. My cork board with pictures of my hero and heroine tacked up so I can see them all the time. A dry erase board that keeps me on track. A large bookshelf loaded with research books and my entire collection of Sherrilyn Kenyon/Kinley MacGregor books and a smaller bookshelf with more research books.
But my two favorite things are my pen holder in the shape of a gargoyle and he’s licking the pen. And a green fuzzy doll my hubby won out of a machine. 102_0013








This is my space and I’m at peace when I’m here. Eccentric? Probably, but  most writers are.
So I’m curious, what things do you have in your creative space that inspire you?

What’s your color?

A few days ago I read something written by a romance reviewer about the prevalence of tall, dark and gorgeous heroes in romance novels; she lamented that she couldn’t find many blonds and no redheads, and that the average, plain or homely hero is equally rare. (Self-plug here: Somebody’s Baby; Daniel is about as far from handsome as he could get without falling into Uglyland.)

I admit, my first thought on reading this was, “She should be reading my books.” I’ve never counted how many blond heroes I’ve written, but I’d guess a fourth, maybe a third, of them are. And I’ve written plenty of heroes – and heroines – who see the other as pretty much average, at least until they start getting involved. Then they think their significant other is gorgeous (as they should).

I do write a lot of dark heroes, but, hey, I’m married to a guy who’s half-Italian. Dark hair and dark eyes do it for me. Redheads don’t (though I’m one myself). Would I have a problem with a book whose hero was red-haired? Not if he was a good character.

Truth is, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the hair or eye colors or physical attributes of heroes or heroines in the books I read, unless the author beats us over the head with the info. I once read a book where there was at least one reference to the hero’s startling, blinding, clear, unusual, sharp, penetrating, hypnotic blue eyes per page – no kidding. I got a highlighter and began marking them, at least until about page 75 when I gave up on both the highlighting and the book. There was another book I read all the way through, though I giggled every time a reference was made to the hero’s . . . uh, appendage. I’ve seen all kinds of descriptions, but a stallion??? Only if you want to make me hoot.

Like a lot of readers, I want to develop my own image of the characters. What’s hot to you might leave me totally cold. Like long hair . . . I don’t know if it’s all the years I spent living around military bases, but long hair on guys just makes me itch to grab a pair of scissors. A Fu Manchu mustache (I just read a book whose hero had one) makes the idea of kissing about as appealing as sucking dirt. A soul patch sends me somewhere between revulsion and repulsion. I don’t like bald, unless it’s on Sean Connery, but a shaved head or a high-and-tight . . . oh, baby!

And the other truth is, I don’t decide what color hair/eyes or body type my heroes and heroines have. To non-writers, it sounds a bit loopy, but my characters come with those things when they pop into my head as free-floating full-torso apparitions. (Ten points if you recognize what movie that last part comes from.)  I may not know their names or jobs or anything else about them, but I know how they look. And the funny thing is – I can change their names or their jobs or anything else about them, but I can’t change how they look. It would be like changing my husband from dark to blond. It would feel wrong.

In the end, a good story with characters I care about . . . that’s all I want.


Initial Influences

 It’s dark when I leave the shelter and as I drive home I look forward to getting under the electric blanket and reading when I get home. Then I remember I’ve read all the fiction in my stack and haven’t found any more to replace it. 

 As a writer it’s important for me to read fiction. It helps me keep my creative juices flowing. In fact it was by reading fiction that I decided I wanted to write. When I was in the seventh grade I read Colette’s Claudine novels and I began to wish I could write. Then in high school I read two Kurt Vonnegut novels–I’ve forgotten the titles– and I decided that if he could get by with short sentences and sentences that started with ‘and’ or ‘but’ that I could certainly be a writer. It wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties and  read Amos Tutuola’s (might have the last name spelled wrong) “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” that I was inspired to actually start writing. I liked his style of and the way he used words. These three writers were strong early influences. It’s not that I imitated their styles of writing but they gave me permission to write and to discover my own voice.  

I’ve reread all three of these authors now that I’m older. I still like Colette but not all of her work.  I don’t like Kurt Vonnegut anymore and while I still sort of like Amos Tutuola, it’s not like when I first discovered him. My tastes have changed. 

I do wish I could find other novels, writers that would inspire me like these three did. Right now I feel like I’ve written myself into a box. I’m editing my novel right now and some parts are more “boxy” than others. Some parts need major surgery. I tell myself that successful writers get to work and do what’s necessary and don’t whine about having to rewrite. Or if they do whine, they rewrite as they whine.

Claude Mary