Category Archives: Friends

Book Giveaway

Chris over at book-a-rama is holding a book giveaway contest.

Linda Wisdom author of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover will be making a guest appearance here at book-a-rama on April 11, I’m going to give away my gently used (by me) copy of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover to ONE lucky reader.

So, go on over and enter, by April 4th. Sure, it means my chances to win are slimmer. I’m sure you can deal with that guilt.

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Filed under Books, Contests, Friends

The (non)interview: Marianne Arkins

Today, Marianne Arkins and I are chatting about her debut novel One Love for Liv, which is available from Samhain Publishing.

I wouldn’t call this an interview. More of a chat, where I ask Marianne the tough questions about writing and publishing, involving DNA, non-headless models, and the best way to waste time.


Charity: First things first, now that we have the cover front and center. Is it me, or does model portraying Geoff (lower right-hand corner) look like the result of combining the DNA of David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier) and Ian Ziering (Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills 90210)? Your thoughts?

Marianne: LOL… okay, that’s really funny and a little scary to think of Niles and Steve mixed together.  But, honestly, you may just be right.  ((shivers))

Charity: In a related question, while I’m thrilled you have models with heads on them for your cover art, was it difficult/weird to adjust your mental image of Geoff and Mike?

Marianne: Ack, YES!! The absolute biggest problem I had was the people chosen for the cover.  The artist, Dawn (who has the patience of Job) and I went back and forth on it.  Oddly, I wasn’t as married to the image I had of Liv as I was of Mike.  I was content with the woman she’d selected for that, even though she really wasn’t the same as I’d chosen on my collage. 

Eventually, we decided to go for an illustrated “comic” cover because of that, and she came up with one that was spot on (I wish I could share it with you … it was AMAZING).  Unfortunately, it was vetoed by the powers-that-be who explained that those types of covers really didn’t sell well.

I sent Dawn a cover to another book that I loved, and she used that as an idea of what to do with Liv.  I still don’t think Mike is right, but he certainly is handsome.  And I’ve gotten several unsolicited compliments on the cover, so she must have known better than I did!


Marianne’s collage for One Love for Liv

Charity: Although now that we’ve tossed up your collage, I’m thinking the cover artist was spot on where Geoff was concerned. Wait a minute! Is that Ian Ziering in your collage? And speaking of collages, excellent visual aid for writing or simply a lovely way to procrastinate? Do you have any other (unusual or otherwise) prep work that you do for writing?

Marianne: I do think that the artist did a great job with Geoff’s image.  With the exception of the receding hairline, he’s really spot-on.  I love having a collage… I’d originally seen the idea on Jenny Crusie’s blog, but didn’t have time, patient, inclination or magazines I’d need to do a real one.  Then this terrifically talented person I know (*cough*Charity*cough*) showed me how I could work one up in Power Point, and I’ve never looked back.

[Chairty: It’s true. I have mad PowerPoint skillz.]

I really do think creating one helps to boils the story down to some basics.  With Liv’s I tried to focus on the characters and their differences:  hence the spa, and the beer and pizza.  Of course, beer and pizza is an important part of the book.  I know my editor fell in love with Mike over that scene in the book.

Charity: I think I’ve heard you mention that you like quiet when you write, but are there any songs you associate with Liv? Would you ever be tempted to make a novel playlist?

Marianne: I love music, but not while I write, because I tend to really focus on the words and the stories in the songs.  So, yes, I write in utter silence.  Even slight noises like the stove clicking (as it is now) can be terribly distracting.  It’s one of the reasons I do the majority of my new writing in the morning before anyone (including potentially noisy neighbors) is awake.

I do mention some artists in “One Love For Liv”:  U2 (a nod to a certain person I know) and Led Zepplin.  Liv needed a musical education in the novel, because she’d primarily been exposed to classical music in her life.  But a playlist?  I can’t imagine what I’d use, to be honest.  I don’t really associate specific songs with this story.  Classical music and classic rock would have to be the mix.  Yep, a little odd.  But so is the story.

Charity: I know you’ve mentioned being surprised that One Love for Liv was the first novel you sold, since you had several others completed. Thing is, I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I knew you had something with Liv from the very first scenes I read (and I know you’ve revised since then). Did you ever have a whisper go through your mind that maybe this one was the one?

Marianne: Maybe.  I do know that I kept returning to it, even when I’d pretty much decided that no one would want to publish it because it was a little off center.  Of course, I can’t seem to write anything that falls neatly into any one category.  “One Love For Liv” is categorized as romantic comedy by Samhain Publishing, but I’m not sure I’d call it that.  Certainly, it has some pretty odd situations, but it’s not as “comedic” as, say, Jennifer Crusie or Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I tend to think of it as a romance that doesn’t take itself seriously more than flat out comedy.

* * *

There you have it! I want to thank Marianne for being gracious and answering my weird questions. If you want to know more about Marianne’s writing process, what her writing space looks like, and the other real writing questions, visit her blog tour page for all the real interviews.


Filed under Books, Friends, Reading & Writing, Writing

123 meme and One Love for Liv

I’ve been tagged (a really long time ago, well, a week, in any case)! Chris over at Book-a-Rama tagged me with the 1-2-3 meme (and a nice award as well):

1). Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
2). Open the book to page 123
3). Find the fifth sentence
4). Post the next three sentences
5). Tag five people

The closest book? The one in my inbox, which is One Love for Liv by Marianne Arkins. Here’s what’s five sentences in on page 123:

She set out two salmon steaks on sheets of foil, then seasoned them carefully according to the directions. She only hoped she got the right amount. Some of it called for a “pinch” or “to taste”.

Ha! Clearly a woman after my own heart. Yeah, what’s up with a pinch and taste? Sure, we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t figure out measurements for such things. Because let me tell you, salting to taste certainly means something different to you than it does to Andrew. Trust me on that one. 

I haven’t read the rest of the scene yet to find out how the salmon steaks turn out. Maybe Marianne will stop by and let us know.

I’m going to tag Anno, Jen, Judy, Marianne (yeah, I know you’re boycotting memes), and Mary. Totally voluntary, too. No meme-angst here.


Filed under Books, Friends, Memes

Providence and the writing game

Jen’s The Writing Game has it’s own home now. The latest round of stories were posted today. I want to call attention to one, because based on the screen name, you might not know who wrote it.

Head on over and read Providence by Darcy. Incredible, incredible. You won’t regret it.


Filed under Friends, Writing

In which I play catch up

Marianne announced big news this week. Her novel, Isn’t She Liv Leigh, has been accepted for publication with Samhain Publishing. Go on over and give her a belated congratulations if you haven’t already.My article Confessions Of A Contest Junkie: How To Survive-And Thrive-In The Literary Contest Circuit is making a return appearance over at the Long and the Short of It review site. It was originally published in T-Zero a couple of years ago. I’d forgotten they let me get away with such sub-headers as:

  • Is it cold in here, or is it just me?
  • Thank you, sir. May I have another?
  • Here comes the judge
  • Does Size Matter?

As you can probably tell, it’s an in-depth and serious look at the subject.

Yesterday was the Marvelous Miss B’s birthday. We bought a metric ton of Starbursts (on the approved food list) for her to bring in as a treat. I got an email from her teacher last night. She gave each child in her new kindergarten class exactly one (1) Starburst. Not one package of Starbursts, but one, solitary Starburst square.

I was wondering why there were so many left over. Next time, I’m going to have to send her to school with some specific instructions.

Andrew was chowing down on them last night while he did his homework. After a bit, he pushed them away with, “Man, I gotta stop eating those. When the hormones kick in, I’m going to have zits.”

He’s nothing if not astute.


Filed under Friends, Kids, Writing

You must remember this …

I haven’t done a quiz in a while. This one comes courtesy of Marianne, who happens to be Pretty Woman. I’m thinking about daring her to wear the Julia Roberts/Pretty Woman outfit to her first book signing (and when I say “Julia Roberts/Pretty Woman outfit” I mean the one with the thigh-high boots). Hey, I’ll go as Ingrid. Any day.


Your Love Life is Like Casablanca

“Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.”
For you, love is never finished. If you’ve loved someone once, you’ll always love them.

You’re an old fashioned romantic… even if your relationships don’t end up as romantic as you’d like.

Your love style: Traditional and understated

Your Hollywood Ending Will Be: Complicated and ambiguous

What Movie Is Your Love Life Like?


Filed under Friends, Quizzes

When friends think of you

I was going to do Booking through Thursday today, but I’m in a somber mood. I’m sure most of you have heard of the bridge collapse already. In fact, I know you have. I received so many emails asking how we were doing. I was startled and touched. I know I’m sometimes geographically challenged, so I don’t expect everyone I know “cyberly” to remember where I live.


I do drive across the Mississippi everyday, but I take a different highway. And yeah, I drove across that bridge this morning and it was a little weird. We can’t determine if Andrew’s bus for yesterday’s fieldtrip went over the 35W bridge. Uh, no one was talking at the Y this morning, but it’s another sobering thought.


I’d like to give blood, but I’m deferred (there’s no way to screen for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and I spent the late 80s and early 90s on a military base in Europe). In fact, I just heard back from an RN at the Red Cross. I used their “customer service” email. I didn’t want to tie up anything locally. She confirmed what I already knew.

But I’m making a donation today to the disaster relief fund. If you’d like to help out, you can find more information here: Twin Cities Red Cross.


Filed under Friends