Monday, March 30, 2009

The Traveling Pants of Inspiration

Does this award make my butt look big?

Vesper has bestowed upon the Vortex the Sisterhood Award, not because I steal her makeup and wear her unmentionables outside my clothing at the first sign of a date coming to pick her up, but because something about navel-gazing philosophy, time travel and countless chest hair references gives her pause. Oh ye of windswept poetry, I am honored you feel a kinship. Thank you!

And to go along with the coveted derriere award, she invited me to play a round of Who-Were-My-Writing-Inspirations? This was an activity I did five years ago when I took a writing class on voice. Instead of following trends and being at the mercy of a publishing market no one can predict with any certainty, we were told the true writer within could be found in the cross-hairs of things we love. Here are the 25 authors who have had the most impact on my writing:

1. Kathleen Woodiwiss
2. Peter Abrams
3. Stephen King
4. Herbert Leiberman
5. LaVyrle Spencer
6. Dwight Swain
7. Victoria Holt
8. Dean Koontz
9. Jude Devereaux
10. Madeline L'Engle
11. Edgar Allan Poe
12. Lois Duncan
13. Robert Heinlein
14. Richard Matheson
15. Daphne du Maurier
16. Nathaniel Hawthorne
17. Agatha Christie
18. Anne Stuart
19. Susan Carroll
20. H.G. Wells
21. Michael Crichton
22. Julie Garwood
23. Kay Hooper
24. Natalie Goldberg
25. Jules Verne

Kind of a gothic, Twilight Zone meets luuuve, right? Who could have guessed that?

Because the Vortex shows no sexism and brotherhoods linked by flowery, bedazzled denim can be rewarding, too, I invite everyone-readers and writers-to leave two seemingly-opposite-sides-of-the-spectrum authors who have inspired you in the comments so that we may snag you in our literary cross-hairs.

Friday, March 27, 2009

No Cooter Jokes. I Promise.

I was going to post this today...

because I'm feeling snarky and the 1-2 combo of Lost(Holy Volkswagon on fire, Batman!) and Life on Mars trapped in the 70's is really doing a number on my nostalgia gene. Then I received this super-sweet celebratory card from Pam complete with The General Lee and I had to post it:

from Pam's blog Wednesday:
Then, when the nominations were announced and I frantically checked my category, I didn’t see my name there, but I did see somebody familiar—my separated-at-birth friend L.A. Mitchell. Somehow seeing that she had been nominated eased my pain of not. And she’d also better watch out in D.C. because I’m bringing a freaking bullhorn to the ceremony and when she wins, the only thing the crowd is going to hear is me yelling and my bullhorn playing “Dixie”, just like the horn on the General Lee.

The General Lee is now the perfect symbol of our writing journey. It's road-weary and the doors don't always open, but it takes flight on rare and special turns and it'll get us there. Thank you, my friend!

Vesper has bestowed a sisterhood blog award on me and a meme of twenty five authors who've influenced my writing (thank you!!). Though I feel very Daisy Duke to her Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the blogosphere, I shall give it a go on Monday. Until then...

Favorite Dukes of Hazzard memory...go

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Golden Hearts and Vortex Winners

My novel Until Midnight has just been nominated for Romance Writers of America's 2009 Golden Heart Award! Could have been the "Waiting-For-The-Call" t-shirt I'm wearing today. Good mojo there.

Here's the blurb:

Ryan Beck is an agent assassin for The Assembly, a rogue government organization he's grown to despise. His allegiance to their top-secret agenda marked his descent from patriot to criminal and cost him his wife and his honor. He wants out, but must complete one last misison to stay alive: obtain a serum from a ruthless scientist and use it as a bargaining chip for freedom.

Medical researcher Emma Parrish believes the time serum her brilliant but misunderstood father never completed is the holy grail of medicine. The same men who hunted her father want the formula, along with an unforgettable stranger who seems to know the future as completely as the part of herself she shields from the world.

A sniper's bullet reaches Beck's target first and shatters his mission into a reverse maze of deceit and time-altering events. His only chance for escape is to find the moment the deadly chain of events began, somewhere at the cross hairs of loyalty and desire.


And on the Vortex Scavenger Hunt, we have a winner! Whoot for Todd and for his love of a frozen Ted Williams. Be sure to pop back here and let us know what you get with your Amazon spending spree.

That's all for now. A happy hump day, indeed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Snowy Vortex 10

It wasn't all bunny slopes and hot toddies, but it certainly fits the great vacation category. While Vortex readers were slacking off on the scavenger hunt (ahem), I learned a few gems to pass along lest you be entertaining the thought of a Colorado ski vacation next year:

1. Murphy's Law of Altitude Sickness
That stealth, vile little jaunt into illness when your brain freeze-dries and your body squeezes into an 11,000 feet compression chamber will always happen at the worst possible time. Like on the feet of a rich guy that just funded your stay.

2. Powdered Bull
When the only fresh snow you encounter on your nine hundred mile mecca accumulates on the back of a tourist bull in Texas, it's God's way of telling you a sled in your backyard would have been sufficient.

3. Banjo Man
Nothing beats a serenade outside a ski rental shop. Though the granola-artist plucking his banjo fancies himself a modern-day Merle Haggard/Jack White, his sultry strains mean only one thing: he's circled the drain of viable employment and is now shooting for the Guinness record for most consecutive sour notes. Mr. Urban you are not, sir.

4. Ski beasts....I mean boots. Ski boots.
Spicoli did not try them on both feet. His assurance that they were "wicked" was so on-target, he must have known they'd turn on the very feet filling them, leaving bruises, blisters and toenail collateral in their wake. Wicked indeed.

5. FBIs Most Wanted...Solved.
Southeast Colorado. Look there. Texans burning up the highways to hit the slopes never go this way. It's a vast conspiracy of isolation known to just about everyone taking a left turn in Dalhart, Texas. Everyone but me. Sleek X-files bullet trains carrying alien serum would have been preferable to the three hundred miles of landscape resembling a pubescent boy's first beard.

6. The helmet should have been the first clue
Or perhaps the glossy surface of the 150 foot drop. Cushioning the death-defying reality of tubing down an ice-packed hill, nay...mountain, by nicknaming their lift the "magic carpet" was brilliant. For in Aladdin's world, the vast coinage to take part in the privilege is soon forgotten at a thirty mile per hour backward slide.

7. Lift Lines are directly proportional to the amount of liquid refreshment consumed at the previous meal.

8. Blowing jet-strength hand dryer air into your ski pants is not a legitimate reason for clogging the 30-women-thick-restroom line. My bladder should not have to pay the price for your ski-lift dismount gaffes.

9. With time, everything looks smaller.
Except the 72 ounce steak. Since I was ten, the building, the shooting gallery, the motel's rustler wall mural-everything seems to have shrunk but man's desire for 15 minutes of fame. Visitors to Amarillo's Big Texan Steakhouse who eat the mammoth steak, salad, rolls, baked potato, fried shrimp and drink in one hour get their entire $200 meal for free, served with a heaping dish of car-accident-like voyeurism from tourists all over the southern US. Competitive gluttony, now available on webcast.

10. "Texans are stupid"
It finally happened. Third time cemented it. In a supermarket checkout line, I aligned myself fully with the Lone Star State. The Coloradan I'd once been heard the ignorant, stereotypical backwash about Texas from a grocery checker-a ribald rant that somehow translated Texas heat to the mental capacity of its citizens and I no longer wanted to be a Colorado native. You see, Ms. King Soopers-checkout woman, God gave Colorado stunning scenery so visitors wouldn't notice the self-righteousness so prevalent in your state. Maybe that was once me, but I doubt it. My birth record reads Houston.

I hope everyone had a fantastic week. I did. It's great to be blogging again. If you're bored and so inclined, I found this clip for a visual aid to my ski vacation. Exiting the lift gracefully is probably the hardest part about learning to ski. Thankfully, I didn't have to use the jet-strength hand dryer once.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt Extended

While I work on a Vortex 10 for tomorrow that captures the essence of my vacation and tackle laundry piled as high as the Rockies, I'm extending the scavenger hunt's deadline through Friday, March 27. If no one correctly solves the hunt, I'll work a little time travel of my own and delete the posts as if they never happened. Remember, the search box at the top left corner of the blog is your friend. Type in each day's clue and you'll almost always have your answer. Have fun and good luck!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Ten

Last Day!

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here. The first person to email me ( the dates of the original posts for all ten clues wins a $20 Amazon gift card.

The final clue:


I'll announce the winner tomorrow. Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Nine

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Be sure to catch up on your clues. The hunt ends tomorrow and the early bird catches...well, you know.

Today's clue:

Marsha Brady meets Ted Williams

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Eight

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Are we having fun yet?

Today's clue:

bullet train

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Seven

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. As tempting as it is to RickRoll you on a link, I shall refrain.

Today's clue:


Monday, March 16, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Six

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Feeling rested? Back to hunting, people. It's 7 am and time for another clue:

A photo of two people sitting on a white '59 Thunderbird

Friday, March 13, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Five

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. The hunt is half-over, Vortex readers. Enjoy your weekend!

Today's clue:

fog machine

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Four

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. That's a lot of romance. Or aliens. Or whatever you're into.

Today's clue:

black spray painted football pads

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Three

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Happy hunting!

Today's clue:

a power bar

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day Two

Catch up on the scavenger hunt rules and clues here. A $20 Amazon gift card is up for grabs, people!

Today's clue:

happy little trees

Monday, March 9, 2009

Vortex Scavenger Hunt : Day One

Since I'll be watching out for Texas county-mounties, shooshing down the Colorado slopes and carting a Mount Vesuvius to-be-read pile for the next two weeks, I didn't want to leave the natives restless. Thus, the first ever Vortex Scavenger Hunt.

Each weekday for the next two weeks, I'll post a word clue. Find the archived post that contains the clue and mark down that post's original date. The first person to email me ( on Friday, March 20 with the correct post dates for all the clues wins a $20 Amazon gift certificate. Easy, eh? Get out that Post-It note and keep it beside your monitor. Free books, people! Doesn't get any better than that.

Have fun! (and pssst!..Don't forget the blog search box at the top left corner)

Today's clue:

A salt-of-the-earth hero named Clay

Friday, March 6, 2009

Patrick, Skiing and Kmart

After arm-wrestling with Twitter for over an hour yesterday, I'm nearing my social-networking saturation point. I'm craving face-to-face, voices, human sensory input, so you can imagine my excitement to finally speak with my Margie Lawson editing buddy on the phone today (Hi Jen!).

This is my mood today:
But, alas, I must push ahead to get my submissions out soon. Next week, I head to Colorado for a good, healthy elixir to combat homesickness: skiing. I haven't been home in almost four years, and I fear I may have picked up one too many "ya'll"s to be able to blend in seamlessly. I also won't have a ski buddy, so stay tuned for Stories from the Skilift. Maybe I'll meet a character for my next book.

I'm off to do all things writerly, but I leave you with this Friday laugh. Maybe it's my twisted humor or the fact that my brother used to do this kind of thing to me in public when we were growing up. Since it's super small, click to expand:Have a great weekend, everyone!

Next week: The Vortex Scavenger Hunt

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Giving Board

Once there was a plotting board...and she loved a little writer. Every day the writer would come to the board and the board would say, "Come writer, fill me with sticky notes, scribble with EXPO markers in my margins, lay out your turning points and be happy." And the writer did.

But the writer stayed away for a long time. And when she returned the board nearly slid from the wall with joy. And the board said, "Come writer, fill me with rainbow Post-its, scribble in my margins, plot and be happy."

"I do not use Post-its anymore," said the writer. "They kill trees and slide off the board and stick to my feet like toilet paper in a bus terminal restroom. I want digital Post-its that have search features and customized colors and editing features so that I do not have to rewrite when I forget something. Can you give me digital Post-its?"

"I have no digital Post-its," said the board. "Come, writer, take my hulking mass from your closet and sell it in the Spring yard sale. Then you can ditch your 30 day trial version and be happy."

So the writer did. And she was happy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thousand Word Love Story

WAY too much editing last week. My wrist is shrieking in protest, so for today I'll leave it at the 1000 word love story captured in this photograph:

I love the faces of his friends, trying to live vicariously through this kiss.

Have a great Monday, everyone!