Saturday, April 30, 2011


Current Listen:  We Are One courtesy of  12 Stones
Chocolate is the base of my food pyramid. It is manna from Heaven, in any form. It is also the creative dark nectar provided by the Writing Gods. You will never see an author without chocolate within reach. Nothing can be so evil and deliciously good at the same time. Hungry yet? Grab your favorite chocolate fix and settle into the chair next to, a floral wingback that travelled home on top of my minivan years ago when my husband indulged in a hissy fit and bought his first Harley. I've since furnished my house via motorcycle purchases. The rumble of those "bad boy" pipes pulling into my driveway, signals the furniture delivery truck.

Now for my news, which I had to wait to share until now, even though a little "tweet" informed me early. Designer Genes and Riley's Pond both won in a writing contest, taking 5th and 6th place! Yeah or Yawp! (whichever). I am a double winner and doubly blessed. My talents I consider "gifts" from a higher place, and my creative angels have been working double time to help me reach some pretty lofty goals.

But alas, the ladder is tall, in fact, I still can't see the top, only the never ending succession of rungs left to climb. At times, I stop to breathe, meditate, and on more than one occasion, contemplate giving up and returning to the bottom, which is much closer than the top. Then what? Walk away after all this hard work?

Several ladders run parallel to mine, some colleagues racing up the steep steps faster, while others remain below my position. Every now and then a delighted squeal of victory sounds from the great unknown above and those of us still trudging on, stop and yell a "yawp" or tip a glass in celebration of their accomplishment. But each ladder is within reaching distance of the other, so if one slips or tilts, we can catch it and re-align it until it's steady again. That's why I could never shove mine aside. I might risk knocking someone off theirs, or in my retreat back to the bottom, drag someone wavering on a rung, down with me. And, if someone on either side of me rocks, I won't be there to catch, support, or push upright, and they might fall.

Am I right my fellow authors? Do we reach our goals alone? Did we climb the ladder of success solo, or did we lean on someone from time to time when we needed a break, a shoulder to cry on, a boost to the next rung, or a good old fashioned reality slap to push on?

As with all "blessings," gratitude is the necessary pay-it-forward to remain on the receiving end. If not, we can't explode and share our good fortune, material or emotional, with someone reaching out in need -- another writer grasping for a lifeline. We implode, instead, centering on ourselves and becoming off balanced. Our creative juices slow to a trickle and our work lacks the luster it once carried.

Spring is a time of renewal. Flowers and trees wake up from a comatose winter and flourish, turning their colorful heads and branches heavenward, thanking whatever concept of greatness is responsible for their rejuvenation. We serve as their caretakers, watering and feeding, watching them grow.

So it is with writers. Our caretakers, and they are many, from our home cheerleaders, to critique groups, editing partners (which are actually our oxygen tanks), to our writing clubs and organizations, and finally our agents. Each supplies us with the "nutrients" we need to flourish and grow from seedling to mighty oak. Remember to thank, encourage, and share your knowledge as you climb each rung and help someone else find the courage to take another steep step.

To those who have served as the wind beneath my wings, I thank you, professionally and personally. I wouldn't have the courage to put myself out there in query letters, blogs, and tweets, nor have the strength to accept a rejection as a "passing grade" for a test I was brave enough to face. And, I certainly wouldn't be winning contests! Here's to you holding my ladder, pulling my lifeline, and slapping me all too frequently.

Does my chair make me (look) "phat?" You bet it does! Sitting in it, surrounded by chocolate, notebooks, stacks of books for research or pleasure, and a sparkly mask reminding me I am whoever I chose to be when I write, I look superb, wonderful, terrific...awesome!

(Okay, maybe a little "chunky" too, a side affect to your food pyramid being based on chocolate, but who the hell cares? "Phat" and proud of it.)

Here's me passing you the bowl of M&M's. Enjoy!
Joelene....fighting Harley for the last chocolate doughnut.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Current listen:  Midnight Romeo by Push Play...a perfect soundtrack to this blog.

Tonight, we're settling on the back porch. The weather is warming up and the sky is a spectacular black velvet canvas, covered in a sea of sparkling diamonds. Throw a shall around you shoulders and get comfortable. We're going to talk about "boys."

Who says boys can't have a romance story? Only girls are allowed to think flowery thoughts and lust after hunky jocks with tight butts, or the bad boy whose plaid boxers show six inches above his low riding jeans? Does "Dear Diary, I think I'm in love..." only belong to the female gender? Why can't a romantic tale be told through the eyes of a boy? And I'm not talking "boy on boy." I'm talking normal heterosexual "Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl," with the same fairytale ending.

This was the challenge I took on in writing Riley's Pond, now completed and in the final throes of editing. I wanted a romance told from the boy's perspective. Of course this meant shedding several conservative layers and tossing out the "gasp reflex" when a bad word unexpectedly flew out of my character's mouth. Here's ten things I learned:

1.  Boys don't believe in consequences. They believe most rules are made to be broken. Life is not black and white, but a gazillion shades of gray.
2.  Boys believe its socially acceptable to name certain body parts. They're "one with the penis."
3.  Boys have different scales they rate girls against.
         a.  The "jiggle scale," (both boobs and butts)
         b.  The "hair scale," (long, but not necessarily blond)
         c.   The "swing scale," which is interesting because this is based on their model as she walks away - is it a backyard swing that sways gently, or a porch swing, long and lazy, or a power swing, wide, fast, and capable of throwing you off balance if you bounce off one of the hips.
4.  Boys rate "kisses" on a scale of one to five (five showing promise of more to come). Are her lips full? The kiss soft or firm. Does she kiss with her lips parted, or sealed tight like a brick wall. If teased with your tongue, will she let you have a free pass or do you have to work hard for a game of tongue tagging. Does she let your tongue in her mouth, or is she a control freak and has to put hers inside your mouth? 
5.  Then there's the body language issues. Does she lean into your curves when you kiss her, or remain stiff like a statue. If you nudge your knee between her legs will you get slapped? If not, forget the rest of the scale and head for the first place you can get horizontal.
6.  Things boys hate:  Obsessive giggling, constant gum popping, squealing and jumping like an idiot, joined at the hip with your BFF, and clingy. Girls should be able to stand on their own two feet.
7.  Boys also don't think its necessary to express their "feelings" or "thoughts" constantly. He likes you, or he wouldn't be going out with you. If he says he loves you, he means it. Don't ask every ten seconds. If you say it and he doesn't give you that same reply, don't go all psycho. Deal. Especially if you are stupid enough to ask in the middle of an intense game, action flick, or in front of any other male within hearing distance, and God forbid, in front of your BFF.
8.  Boys are not always thinking about sex. Granted, ninety percent of the time they're with you, they're wondering how far you'll let them get on this date, but the other ten percent is split equally between food and whether he's got enough money in his wallet to afford you. He also spends a nanosecond wondering if he tucked a condom in his wallet or if there's one in the glovebox.
9.  When boys fall in love, it's fast and hard. Their thoughts are consumed with you. They drop their friends, only wear underwear and socks once, and brush their teeth. Sometimes they shower. They keep their bedrooms clean, praying their parents will be out late and you'll be ready, willing and able. Their cars are stocked with a fistful of air fresheners, and there's a blanket in the trunk, just in case.
10. Boys cry. Hard. Their hearts don't break. They shatter.

In writing Designer Genes, I wiggle into Jordan's and Jesse's head and steal their thoughts for a couple of short chapters, to give my readers a "behind the scenes" glimpse to what's happening that my heroine isn't aware of. I liked the strong voices of my male characters and the passionate feelings they kept hidden from everyone. The facade boys put forth is interesting. They follow the stereotype cast through generations of being tough, unfeeling, crass, and selfish. Underneath, they're vulnerable, caring, and giving. And they love their moms.

In Riley's Pond, my male protagonist, Riley Martin, finds being the middle son, stuck between a wayward older brother and a younger brother he affectionately refers to as "the baby archangel," to be challenging. He feels responsible for keeping his parents happy to compensate for his older brother's bad choices, and frustrated at not being able to sow his own wild oats because of his impressionable little brother. The family dynamics in the story are dramatic, comical, and heartwarming. After penning "The End" I felt at home in the Martin house, having my own chair at their kitchen table.

The tagline reads:  Superman meets The Creature from the Black Lagoon - a love story.

The proposed back cover/query letter blurb:  When Riley finds a beautiful creature swimming in his secret pond, he isn't thinking about the drama he walked out on back at the house. He isn't contemplating that this creature in his black lagoon, encased in a revealing wet t-shirt, might be a catalyst in a dangerous chain of events changing his life forever. No. He's just thinking he wants to jump her bones.

Well? Do you think it works? Think back to seventeen. Where would you have rated on "the scale?" Share your thoughts, memories, or suggestions.  Just don't tell me it can't be done.

As always, thanks for stopping by. Come back over the weekend. I hope to have a surprise to share. Harley Brooks

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Current Listen:  If I Knew Then courtesy of Lady Antebellum

Just the title brings a flood of memories washing in, doesn't it? Ah, to go back to high school with the knowledge I have now.....things would be different....bitches would pay....and I'd probably be in a lot of trouble! I was so naive. When did the world become round?

Recently indulged in an online workshop about "putting yourself out there." The agent who taught the class (one my "fairygodmother" should give me) talked about author's blogsites. She warned us that agents look at your blogsite when considering your work. The sad thing, she said, is that authors spend a lot of time writing about their craft and not themselves. The comment was made that agents and publishers already know the mechanics of writing, but they know nothing about you. Yes, we all have our tabs (mine's above) that reveal just enough to let you know about us personally without giving out enough that a stalker will find us, but that's not what an agent is seeking.

What makes you tick? What do you love to do when you're not writing? How do you stir your muse from slumbering? Who are you? Like many, I've listed my favorite musical muses (always playing in my ears), movies, and books, but not why they are my favorites.

So today, I'm opening the screen door and inviting you inside off the porch. I'll warn you that you are not entering a sterile environment. After avoiding my lab with the soggy tennis ball waiting to play, you may have to push my favorite naptime blanket aside, readjust the several pillows on my sofa, and ignore the fact that you can probably write your name in the dust on the coffee table (and come back next week and still be able to read it). Let me confess that I hate housework. I do it because the Board of Health requires it, and on the weekends I slave the day away doing so, no one is allowed to walk on my floors, eat or drink, or use the bathroom facilities. "Life" will be lived elsewhere for at least twenty-four hours.

Below, I've posted a picture of one of the things I do love. Riding motorcycles. Harley Davidson is my brand of choice for the street, and my bright yellow four-wheeler affectionately named "Odie," takes me on my favorite mountain trails. They are also my "muse instigators." When I'm riding, I'm dreaming, thinking, and constantly plotting. My husband wanted to get helmets with walkie-talkies so we could "talk." Oh hell no!

My daydreams. Maybe I'm picturing him a couple years younger than me...twenty-something...buff, possibly naked from the waist up with a gnarly tattoo of the letters of my name (really long tattoo) artistically woven in rose covered vines (I'll add a small snake on the end to keep it "manly"), with waves of coffee colored hair edging his shoulders and tickling my wrinkle-free face when I lean into him. If he talks...well, you get my drift. The fantasy tears apart with topics of bills, politics, and what a dumb ass the guy in front of him is who cut him off. I even hesitated actually letting you get a glimpse of my "full body armor" thus, shattering the image I've carefully crafted of being a size "0" and outrageously beautiful. So I'm not a size "0."

Besides my writing, which is my true passion next to my hubby, reading clamours for attention, next. It fills the gaps when I can't write, still keeping my creative juices whetting my brain.

I read a post earlier about whether the new digital readers could possibly replace the old fashioned book? Books can be stapled, taped, and rubber banded when they fall apart, but drop an eReader, and it's over. All your "99 cent specials" are lost unless you paid double to the extra warranty. However, I own a Kindle and it is one of my prized possessions. Fits in my purse (as does most furniture by the size I lug around) so I can pull it out and read while waiting from doctor appointments to traffic jams. I can also read it when I'm the passenger on the back of my husband's Harley. But while taking a hot bath? I'd rather have the paperback I can pile bricks on top of to reshape when I accidentally (which "accidental" is listed as a strong personality trait) drop it into the bubbles.

So replace? No. Each has their place, and even though the eReaders are the "new kids on the block" and getting all the attention, eventually, they'll settle into their niche and become another good friend.

Aside from the "aforementioned" (I love using my developed legalese language once in a while), I like to cook, but that conflicts with my hatred of housework...cook means I really have to be in the mood. Camping is another favorite past time, although I found out after years of camping in tents with babies in diapers, that you can "camp" with a hot water heater, a flush toilet, and tempurpedic mattress. That's how this "princess" camps. Say what you want, I don't care. When I get up in the morning to my coffee brewing on the counter and you're freezing your assets in your fabric cocoon and have to get a fire going to put yours on to brew (20 minutes after I'm finishing my second cup), you'll be knocking on my "tent" for hot cup.

So that's me wrapped in chocolate (preferably dark). Come back again. Summer will be here soon, and we can spend some time in my courtyard sharing a cold drink, where a fountain trickles and my magnolia tree shades you from the 117 degree heat. Okay, so we'll go back inside where it's air conditioned, but the thought's lovely, isn't it? (And, so is being able to wear a size "0"!)

Until then....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Tonight's tune:  "The One That Got Away" courtesy of Katy Perry
(A favorite)  I will be creating a page of playlists of songs I listen to when working in each book. Music is a huge part of my writing...along with chocolate.
Life is knocking loudly at the front door, so I'm slipping in from the back porch to share a couple of new book releases and shining the spotlight on some author friends. There's a "code" we authors follow. When a colleague's work is published, we rally to launch their books by posting on our blogs, websites, Facebook pages, and "tweeting" their good fortune. In turn, the "creative forces" in our universe send good karma our way by blessing us with what we need for our own projects. Together, we weave a strong tapestry of imaginative thoughts to share and enlighten.
I want to share four new "patches" in the tapestry I've discovered. One is by a mentor/teacher, who has been helping me hone my craft. Another is by a newly acquired cyber friend who happens by my blog and sends me comments. In one of my many email threads, she mentioned the release of her new book. I went to Amazon, my new oxygen tank, and read the blurb. I was in love with the story at that point and downloaded it to my Kindle. I'm in the middle of enjoying her story and want to share, so others can discover her talent.

My third and fourth "patches" are dear to my heart. I don't know what I'd do without this particular "earth angel." Her southern drawl and quick wit are only a fraction of the many charms of Loretta Wheeler (also writing under L. Reveaux). We share a "soul connection." I've never met her, only spoke with her on the phone once when I needed someone to talk me off the roof after my first bad review (I now apply "tough skin" lotion daily to dull the sting). She is part of a small sisterhood formed through a writing class we all took, and afterward, the bonds were too strong to break, so we formed our own writing group, aptly named "the Writing Divas." We're "cyber BFF's" and help each other daily through professional and personal ups and downs. 
 I was flattered when Loretta approached me about looking at her recently released short "The Rising," (which is also posted here) and then again at "Pan Man," her young adult short story to see what needed changing. I'm happy to say this lady writes well enough that I didn't need to change much in either story, only suggested different colors to add to the characters and scenes. Her trust in me in humbling.

When "Pan Man" released this week for ePublication, I was thrilled to find my name listed as her editor! What an honor! It was fun to see my name on Barnes & Noble's website! Technically, my name is officially "in print." With that said....below are the new patches woven into my never ending tapestry:

Pan Man
by Loretta Wheeler

It's Summertime...Beach time...Carnival time
And for Christy
Pan's time…

The carnival arrives at the beach every summer, bringing with it the sounds, the lights, the music, and the mystery only a carnival can impart. But this year, it's brought something more, this year something out of Greek mythology has traveled with it, in search of a long-lost love.

The Rising
by L. Reveaux

They say it's all smoke and mirrors down on Bourbon Street…but what do they know…

Smoke rises…as does heat…and fire…And sometimes all of them are fed by the same unquenchable desires

Take a late night stroll with Rick through the French Quarter, preferably on a night when the moon is rising along with the heat level, and watch as The Lady Ryze steps under a street light...and sets the night ablaze…

Beyond a Highland Whisper
by Maeve Greyson

The last time Latharn MacKay walked among his kinsman was in Scotland of 1410. Sensuous and charismatic, all the women wanted him, but none could capture his heart. Latharn's charm became his curse when a dark sorceress didn’t take rejection well. She snared his soul into a crystal globe until the one woman destined to be his love whispered his release. Now all Latharn has to do is find her and guide her to him without speaking a word.

One of the youngest archaeologists in St. Louis of 2010, Nessa credits one thing for this achievement: the recurring dream of a heart-stopping Highlander since the summer she turned eighteen years old. Little does she know, he's not some fantasy cooked up by her subconscious. He’s a trapped soul determined for Nessa to end his six centuries in hell. Can love prevail over the dark magic of a woman scorned?

She Who Dares, Wins (Blaze series)
Candace Havens:

He's high risk... and very

Well, it certainly wasn't the assignment detective Katie McClure was expecting. Traveling to London to protect an old scientist who'd been receiving death threats? Too easy.
As it turns out, Dr. Macon Douglas is hot. The kind that makes Katie ponder her own kinds of experiments - namely ones that involve Mac being naked. But the death threats are real…along with the wicked chemistry that seems to sizzle and zap whenever they're together. Can Katie keep her professional thoughts in mind and keep Mac safe - or will she risk everything and dare to be bare?
Thanks for sneaking in the backdoor and sharing a moment. Got to answer the annoying pounding coming from the front door, now. Catch ya next week! Harley Brooks...Joelene's secret "muse"