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Here it is.  The last couple of hours of 2011.

I just couldn’t let the year end without thanking my readers—both readers of my blog and my novel, Phantom:  Edge of the Flame.  I am beyond grateful and appreciative.

This has been an extraordinary year and I have been on an amazing journey.  If you would’ve told me last New Year’s Eve that I’d have a blog ‘out there’ where people who know me in real life could take a peek into my twisted writer’s mind, I would have thought you had been sniffing glue from the supply closet.  What kind of a nutjob puts her thoughts where anyone can read them?  But, honestly, I love having a blog.  It forces me to have a tiny bit of accountability and makes me write something other than fiction.  Occasionally readers send me Private Messages on Facebook asking if I’m ever going to post another blog.  I love thatSomeone out there actually likes what I write?  That is an astounding realization for any writer.  Again, thank you for your support.

Having a novel published is an unbelievable rush.  I get reports that show from which country people have purchased the book.  Along with the good ‘ol USA, there are people in France, Italy and the UK who have actually read words that I wrote.  They’ve pondered my ideas and bonded with characters that I created—ideas and characters that I pounded out on my keyboard while sitting at my second-hand desk in rural Pennsylvania eating candy corn and blocking out the sounds of the Penn State football game with my headphones blaring a schizophrenic mixture of rock, movie soundtracks, show tunes and classical music.  My words have traveled over oceans to places I have never seen.  Cool!  I’m afraid I will wake up and it’ll be a dream.  But, all this isn’t the sleeping-under-a-blanket-of-stars type of dream.  It’s for real.  This is the beginning of a lifelong dream coming to fruition.  It still boggles my mind.  So, again, thank you!

I’m hoping to get my next novel ready for publication by March.  I’m also working on another one that is close to being done with editing and I hope to have it published by the early fall of 2012.  It will be a busy year, but I cannot wait!

I also plan to get back to my normal blogging routine in 2012, but for now I have a very short blog that I wanted to share with you just for fun.

When my mother and I were shopping this week, we found a “writing tool” (of sorts) which I found hysterical.  My writer friends may actually think this is funnier than non-writers, but I don’t know how anyone can not laugh at these over-written, sappy sentences.  The “tool” is called The Romance Writer’s Kit.  Inside the box were all kinds of suggestive phrases on magnets.  The object being you can pull them out and arrange them into some sexy corset-busting sentences.  Oh! Of course, I had to have it!

I brought my prize in the house today and opened the box as if it were a box of marshmallow Peeps—you know, with vigor, my eyes slightly glazed and my mouth watering.  (Yes, by the way, I know there are now Valentine Peeps out there!  Yum…but I digress…)

I opened the box and spilled the magnets on the counter.

I’m sort of used to an empty nest, so when the hatchlings come home for the holidays, I forget that I need to be a little more discreet with this kind of thing in front of my seventeen and twenty-year-old sons.

“Mom, what’s for dinner?” the oldest one whined as he turned the corner into the kitchen.  His brother followed close behind him.  It had been three hours since lunch and they were in desperate need of sustenance.  My firstborn opened the refrigerator, but then glanced at the pile of white tiles on the counter.

“What the heck, mom?  What is that?” he asked.  Quick as a flash the younger one stood next to his brother and ogled the phrases.  Their eyes grew wide and each one stuck their hands into the pile and pulled out a phrase that made me blush.

“Give me those!” I tried to wrench the things from their man-sized fists.  They laughed at my attempt.  Who was I fooling?  Like I could out-maneuver or strong-arm either one of them.

“Mom!  What are you doing with these? Ugh!”  Son Number One scowled at me.

“Oh, come on, you guys.  They are just phrases, uh, that you, I mean me, um, that writers, well some writers…”  Their eyes continued to read the mound of risqué phraseology heaped on my counter in front of the innocent-looking Christmas cookies.

“Just give them to me.”  I held out my palm.  “Or I won’t make dinner.”  They dumped the ones they held into my hand, but then proceeded to root through the pile pulling out a few that involved “loins” and “caverns of lust.”

The youngest one turned red and then tossed the tile on the counter like it was burning his skin.  “Ewww.  Mom!  What are you doing with these things?  Moms should not have this stuff!”  He couldn’t meet my eyes.

My oldest, however, pulled out four more phrases and engaged in putting together the very first sentence, which he proudly displayed on the refrigerator.  It read:

Her glistening body…stroked…his…gleaming sword.

It was me who turned beet red.

The boys snorted and laughed like devious little demons in the eighth grade.

“Go on.  Get out of here, you two.”  I pulled the sentence down and tossed it into the heap.

They each grabbed something out of the refrigerator and left me to my pile of dirty magnet phrases feeling as if I needed to go directly to Confession.

“I don’t write stuff like this, I swear!” I yelled at them as they retreated down the hallway.

However, I must admit, I was tickled with the idea that you can pull out any four or five phrases and VOILA!  You have one embarrassing romance sentence!  Nevermind that these are poorly written sentences.  If I put something like what was in this box on the internet for my critique circle to look at, they would rip me to shreds for adverb abuse, euphemism exploitation and purple-prose worthy of Amanda McKittrick Ros.  Who is she, you ask?  Poor Amanda!  She was a best-selling author who was the subject of mockery by a group called The Inklings in the 1930’s and ‘40s.  The group wasn’t just any old critique group either.  The Inklings was an Oxford-based group that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien among other well-respected writers.  They would sit around at a pub and read this woman’s work aloud to see who could read it with a straight face the longest or who could read an entire page without cracking up over its unreasonable badness.

If I may be so bold to give an example of similar circumstance in our own time…well…let’s take the Twilight series.  Please don’t come after me with pitchforks and torches or tell me how you LOVED Twilight and I should be hung from my toes because I found it full of elementary writing mistakes and thought the prose was beyond terrible.  Whereas most writers I know cannot stomach even the first chapter with its glaring “mistakes”, the public seems to love it.  Meyers and McKittrick Ros prove that writers and readers have different eyes.  I will say this about Stephenie Meyers though.  She got a bunch of preteen and teen girls reading and not just reading, but devouring her books.  That makes me happy.  Kudos to her.  I will also say I love her idea of vampires out in world, attending school, becoming doctors etc.  However, that’s where I end my admiration for the work.  Yeah, I know.  She’s sitting on her fat wallet or rolling naked in mounds of millions and millions of dollars laughing at my unsolicited opinion, I’m sure.

Anyway, back to my little writing “kit”….

I looked behind me to make sure the hatchlings had not unglued their backsides from the couch in the TV room.  Coast was clear—they wouldn’t be back until the next commercial.  I rubbed my hands together delighting in my new toy.

I pulled out random phrases without looking at them and then arranged them so they made sense—well sort of.  Here’s what I came up with:

She…ripped his pants…until…she screamed…you beast.

I giggled and then tried it again:

He touched…it…with his lips.  His loincloth…aching with…sweet love…helpless to resist…the…pulsating… pirate ship…of…her tongue.

Okay, at that point, I realized that I needed to organize the phrases accordingly so they made more sense.  But, heck, that was as cool as anything I’ve read in a “corset busting” romance with Fabio on the cover.  Yeah, I admit it.  I’ve read those things before.  It’s been years, but as a teenager, I found those Harlequin romances incredibly passionate.  What did I know?  I thought my purple leggings looked great under my ginormous Pepto Bismol pink sweater with shoulder pads fit for a linebacker.  Yes, my tastes for clothing and for “literature” have changed.  (Thank God!)

Giving into my obsessive-compulsive nature, I separated all the words and phrases into parts of sentences (i.e., noun, verb, adjective, linking verbs, prepositions etc.) and put them in their own little compartments of an empty plastic craft box.  I hoped it would make the construction of the wildly inappropriate sentences that much easier.  Here is the result:

She whispered…to him…with…her…heaving bosom…wanting…his body…while…she…softly touched…her…secret cavern…chamber.

OMG!  That made me blush.  Yep, folks that came from randomly picking from my secret stash (not secret cavern) of naughty phraseology.  I smiled with my accomplishment.  It was good in its badness.

I was about to pull it down from the refrigerator before the two eating machines I call sons came back to forge in the cupboards looking for snacks that they obviously expected to have magically appeared after the last trip to the kitchen.

I did not take the magnets down fast enough because my husband walked in and stood behind me.  He read the sentence and turned to me with wide eyes.  “Wow!  Did you write that?”  His eyes sparkled, he grinned from ear to ear.  Before I could answer he said, “Is that something you’re working on?  Can I read it?  That’s really, really good!”

Oh boy.