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Coffee Time Romance Review of Storm Watch

The Unfinished Business Series

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Of Back Rooms, Back Alleys, Clowns, Roulette, Magic Mirrors and Viagra

The passage of Health Care Deform, as I call it, isn't really writing related, but since my memoir Someday I'm Going To Write a Book just gained another chapter, I decided to post a teaser on my writing blog.

Here's just one of the recent up to the minute reports on the political roulette wheel:

By 57-42, Democrats rejected an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., barring federal purchases of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. Coburn said it would save millions, while Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., called it "a crass political stunt."

Hold that thought.

I don't think I'm the only one baffled, bamboozled, and disgusted with the carnival known as health care reform. Back room deals, under the table nudges, and whispered expletives have exposed the true reflection of our President and Vice-President, Senators, and Representatives. Magic mirrors fill the Fun House of Representatives and they’ve relied on dizzying spins to gain political advantage.

Read More:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Frances Pauli on Electronic Publishing-And Her New Release

Science fiction romance. It's not just space opera. Author Frances Pauli stopped by to visit me today with news of her new release Roarke, just published by Divine Destinies.

They have to be lying when they tell her she was dead. With no memory of her past, and no idea who she actually is, Nora has few options. Alone, and at the mercy of the Mercenary Defense Conglomerate, she searches for clues into her past, and the truth about her supposed demise.

If she is a prisoner, robbed of memory and held against her will, then she must trust no one. If she has, in fact, returned from the dead, then who could possibly help her? Armed with only her wits and her inexplicably sharpened senses, she is forced to play along, to search for the holes in their story, and to piece together the flashes of memory that serve only to taunt her.

But the visions seem to confirm the impossible. The man who is supposed to be her fiancé seems bent on confusing her, and the one person she is desperate to be near may very well be responsible for her death. If the silent Roarke is her enemy, why do her visions draw her closer to him? And why, when nothing else seems remotely familiar, does Nora find herself remembering, or wanting to remember only him?

Roarke is an e-book. Frances, do you have any thoughts about electronic publishing? I've had both electronic and print publications. While it's nice to hold a book in your hand, I think the electronic versions enable readers to get their hands on stories quickly and easily.

I am an author of electronic books. I also happen to be a reader of, and big believer in e-books. I’ve sold my stories to two different royalty-paying electronic houses, (three imprints) one of which solely deals with electronic formats, and the other which produces both print and electronic books. None of this was easy. Neither was it without risk, though I’m happy to say that the houses my books are contracted with are fantastic, professional and legitimate, and I am thrilled and proud to be involved with both of them.

If you’ve decided to try for electronic publication, or if you’re just considering it as a possibility, you may soon discover that the world of electronic publishing can be complicated, confusing and sometimes misleading. Aside from the wealth of solid, upstanding publishing houses, sharks and scams abound. Unfortunately their prey of choice is the aspiring author.

Anyone looking into electronic print would do well to learn as much as possible about the industry. Learning from other authors and industry professionals isn’t difficult, but it takes time. E-book author groups and guilds, author and publisher blogs and web pages and online articles can not only save you time, but they can save you from making a costly mistake.

While I’m not anywhere near being an expert in the field, I can start you out with a few pointers and some warnings about what to watch out for along the way.

#1 Don’t deal with anyone you haven’t Googled. A simple search of a company’s name saved me from signing with a very shady organization early on. If you get any kind of interest or offer from anyone, just punch them into a search engine of your choice. In my case, the first forty or so entries contained words like: scam, hoax, lawsuit…you get the idea.

#2 The money flows to the author, NOT from the author. If a company, publisher, or agent is asking you to pay for anything, be wary. Most likely this is not a legitimat e-publishing situation. The only time I think industry standard approves of the author paying for anything is in the case of self-publishing. As we’ll see, in that arena, the author pretty much pays for everything.

#3 Learn the difference between POD and Vanity Publishing. The first is a legitimate printing model. The second is usually a way to steal your money. (see number two)

#4 Self published is not a dirty word, but it won’t likely make you rich and famous either. For some books--small run, niche markets, specialty interests—self publishing may be a good idea. However, deciding to self-publish should be an educated and well-understood choice. Self-published doesn’t mean inferior, but it does mean a long, hard and expensive road for the author. While self-publishing an e-book can be done for a lot less money upfront, thanks to a host of online services, there is still an uphill battle to follow. All the marketing, sales, and promotion will be the author’s responsibility. Unfortunately, there is an abiding stigma against self-published books, and the author who chooses this route should be aware of this at the start and willing to face down and deal with a lot of prejudice.

#5 Use the resources available. The Internet is a universe of helpful information. Find Preditors and Editors, Writer’s Beware, and other scam warning sites and monitor them. Find author’s you like and follow their blogs. Do the same thing with publishers. The advice they give may just get your foot in the right door. Look for books with covers you like, with designs and exposure that you’d like to have and then check out who publishes them. Join a lot of groups, forums and boards and listen. Ask questions. Make friends. Perhaps most importantly of all…

#6 Relax and take your time. Don’t rush this process. The author in a hurry is more likely to sign with the first fly-by-night Vanity Publisher that finds them. Don’t think you have to be published any time soon. Enjoy your journey, have fun and take things slow. While you’re waiting—and there will be waiting—write your next book.

In either the electronic or print publishing industry, there is always waiting. Practice patience and persistence (I’m awful at both) and have as much fun as you can along the way. I wish you the best of luck!

About Frances Pauli:

Though she always held aspirations to be a writer, Frances originally chose to pursue a career in visual arts. Her stories, however, had other plans for her. By the time she entered her thirties, they were no longer content existing solely in her head. Compelled to free them, she set aside her easel and began to write in earnest

She currently resides smack in the center of Washington State with her husband and two children. When not writing she dabbles in insane things like puppetry, belly dance and playing the ukulele. She collects rocks, and is a firm believer in good wine, fine chocolate and dangerous men.

Her short fiction has appeared in Alternative Coordinates magazine.

More about Frances and her writing can be found at

She offers a free online serial at

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Respect for the Lion

We’ve had a real winter here in the Northeast—temperatures appropriate for the time of year and a reasonable amount of snow. Now don’t go all “see, there is no such thing as global warming” on me. We used to get A LOT more snow. I remember the winter of 1993-94 (I had an infant and a toddler and it snowed every Wednesday and the daycare center was closed and it was a real pain since I had to find child care so I could go to work).

And that same year, a huge Noreaster ushered in the winter season on December 10 with one of the worst coastal flooding events in my memory. My childhood home in the Northeast Bronx took a direct hit. The flooding was legendary and the property damage monumental. My parents moved two years later, not willing to take that risk again. If I'm not mistaken, that was also the year we had a major snowfall at Easter, sometime in early April.

Over the weekend, the tristate area was hit with a storm that reached hurricane status, but not one weather forecaster I heard predicted more than heavy rains and gusts. Four inches of wind driven rain and winds as high as 75 mph left trees and tangled umbrellas scattered in the streets like skeletons. Seven people died. Houses are underwater. Thousands have no power. And no one was prepared.

It was much worse that the two most recent super-hyped snowstorms. Even if they had gotten the forecast correct, I am so inured to predictions of disaster and doom I still would have gone to my ballet class. (The studio canceled classes for the almost two feet of snow a couple weeks back but was running full schedule Saturday).

The subways were flooded, rain poured down in buckets onto the platforms and tracks making things uncomfortable, slippery, dangerous, and vulnerable to loss of power. I have never seen such miserable, soaking wet passengers wrapped in garbage bags and slickers, dripping all over the floors, seats and each other. Good thing I could change clothes and leave them hanging to dry out while in class, but I was just as wet by the time I got home. At one point my umbrella wrapped around my head as I struggled against a gust that pushed me backwards. RIP to that one.

The drive home over the Throggs Neck Bridge was simultaneously frightening and gorgeous. Winds pushed cars out of their lanes, rain blew sideways like fine snowflakes, a dense fog swirled around the towers and decorative lacing. Whitecaps frothed near the tops of seawalls along the shore, battering the homes and the ramparts at Fort Schuyler and the Maritime College. I wonder if it was even high tide.
No doubt, if it was a weekday school would have been in session, even though the risk to kids from falling trees and power lines was much greater than during the eight inch snowstorm a month ago for which they canceled flights and schools a day in advance. That storm never reached its full potential, and the next day was even more dangerous due to icing, falling trees and slippery roads but schools were open.

Schools weren’t closed until the last minute on the day of our two foot snowfall on February 25-26, even though the winds were howling all night and drifts piled up against everyone’s doorways. King Bloomberg felt the kids needed to be in school and could take vacations when they got older. (Read: the kids need to be in school because the City of New York only gets money from the State for days when school is in session, even if no one, including the teachers, show up).

Only reason convinced him otherwise. Any sane person just had to look out the window and know not to send kids on school buses. I peeked out at the 5 a.m. alarm and decided no matter what, it was a snow day for us. And I should have stayed home yesterday, for both my own comfort and safety. I'm still chilled and achy after being drenched and marinated twice in ice cold water.

Family obligations compelled us to drive to Ithaca as the monster storm wound down on February 26, so we braved it. The roads were clear and the worst was over by afternoon, but it snowed all weekend in upstate New York. Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills got five feet.

As you can see from his picture, the summit lodge is covered. Outdoor picnic tables are invisible on the back deck overlooking Cathedral Brook Glades. But was the skiing awesome when we got there on March 7? Hell yeah, the most glorious snow I've skied in a long time complete with 40 degree temperatures and outdoor barbecues.

Unfortunately I can only describe the picture around town right now as streets filled with huge puddles, killer potholes, scattered tree limbs and soggy garbage, all dressed by a light drizzle.

I love the outdoors, but I have both reverence and respect for Mother Nature. We would all do well to set our priorities and respect the power and danger of weather, while at the same time not exploiting or becoming enslaved by it. And the media should stop making storms into news items with roving reporters and hyperbole, and give people the information they need to stay out of harm's way.

Movie Review-Alice In Wonderland

I saw Alice in Wonderland last night and was blown away. If it wasn’t for my daughter pleading to go, I would have begged off. Tim Burton isn’t my favorite director-his stuff is too creepy and weird for me.

The screenplay was flawless-even to me who has only minimal knowledge of how screenplays are written. By engineering Alice as young adult, drawn back to Wonderland to complete a predestined quest, and linking that metaphorically to her life as a young woman in eighteenth century England, Burton put in a lovely twist which took this out of the fairytale realm and made a heroine worthy of Joan of Arc status.

I am continually amazed by the range of Burton’s wife, Helena Bonham Carter. Though I prefer to immortalize her as Lucy Honeychurch in the sumptuous Merchant-Ivory production of E M Forester’s Room With A View (one of my all-time favorite movies), Ms. Carter does bad sooooo good. The Red Queen was both dastardly and amusing in her absurdity, nothing like her role as the elegantly evil Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter flicks-but she deserves credit for allowing them to make her up to look like such a caricature as well as for her skill. All the acting was great, and the special effects classic Burton creepy (my daughter’s words, not mine) but stunning.