Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Hated Muse

Nora Roberts once commented that you couldn't wait for your muse to show up, you had to hunt the bitch down and beat her into submission (I tried to find the exact quote because it's funny, but Google failed me). I'm off work for ten days and had all the intentions in the world of writing, but unfortunately, someone forgot to tell my muse that and she's been off in a bar somewhere, no doubt drunk and picking up ugly men. Several times I've hunted her down but I've decided that not only does she need to be beaten into submission as Queen Nora says, but she needs a good dose of Ritalin for what seems like her short attention span these days. I've been able to round up The Bitch for maybe a chapter but then she's off again, doing something else while I stare at a blank page wondering where do my characters go next. I hate this part of writing. Nothing seems to help any more and I'm beginning to doubt myself and my desire to be a writer. Yes, I have a lot going on my life, but others can write through the stress of daily life, why can't I?

So here I am, once again chasing my muse around the room, trying to get her to focus but she's more slippery than a greased hairless chihuahua and about as much help as my seventeen year old daughter (who IS the center of the universe in her opinion) and it's getting difficult. So here I sit, listening to Harry Connick Jr to get inspired (and irritate the Center of The Universe just for fun), and instead of writing, I play Roller Coaster Tycoon. If Nora were here, she'd be appalled....and more than likely beat me into submission, which is probably what I need. I'd gladly give up my seventeen year old to channel Nora about now (then again, when she's in one of her moods, I'd give my seventeen year old up for pretty much anything)

Once again, the muse has escaped her restraints. Now, if only she'd come home with someone who looked like Roarke.....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow.....

According to my daughter's estimates this afternoon, we received 11 inches of snow last week here in Seattle. The news is saying it'll be the first white Christmas in 18 years.

Yes, Cathy, I can hear you laughing all the way from Alaska.....

I'd probably enjoy it more if I didn't have to venture out in it to go to work. Now granted, I grew up in Wisconsin where 11 inches in a week of snow is a minor inconvenience, however there, it not only is a heck of a lot flatter in terrain but the city knew how to deal with snow. Here, there's hills everywhere (may of which would be classified as "mountains" in WI) and to compound that annoying problem, IF the city does anything, they put down a useless mix of sand and deicer which does squat. They plow a few main roads but the secondary and side streets go unattended making driving near to impossible. They you got the morons driving with chains on the bare pavement....always fun to watch the light show from the sparks they are throwing off or worse, the idiots who are driving like there's NOT really 11 inches of snow.

But what's really disturbing is watching how snow brings out the natural selection process, taking out the human beings whose IQ level is in the range of possibly a cardboard box (can you say Jackass?). Like the teenagers, or twenty-something males who think that tying a sled to the back of a moving car doing 20 mph down the street of their subdivision is an awesome idea and then are actually surprised when the car pulling them stops suddenly and they go smacking into the back of it or that they swing wide and end up going cranium first into car parked at the curb of the street. Or the brain surgeons who sled down the secondary streets thinking they are above the laws of physics and really are going to stop before they get to that perpendicular main road with all traffic.

So, here's to more snow in the forecast and more incidences of sheer stupidity...after all without them, they'd have nothing to report on the news.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Swimming Fever

I'm not real big into the summer Olympics, but I have to admit I got caught up in the whole Michael Phelps thing but probably not for the reason you think. Yes, it's amazing that he's accomplished what no one else has by winning eight medals, but the reason I found myself wrapped up in it is because when I look at Michael Phelps, I see my son -- both are tall, thin, have big hands and big feet, and have an arm span like a condor. The more I hear about Michael Phelps, the more I see the parallel with my son -- both are ADHD, were bullied and struggled in school. My son also swims, not competitively...but he is part fish.

I pointed this out to my son this week, showing him that despite his hardships and struggles with ADHD and school, this guy accomplished something. Something big! He didn't let anything hold him back from his dream. He worked at swimming and worked hard. He set his sights on something and didn't let anyone tell him he couldn't do it. I told my son he has this same power inside him and when he starts to doubt to think about Michael Phelps.

I truly admire this young man's mother for supporting him throughout the years. From experience, I know at times it's not easy raising an ADHD child. If you don't believe me, think about how you'd feel planning a birthday party for your child only to have no one show up because it turns out he has no friends at school.

Many consider ADHD something imagined. It's not. It's a real neurological condition that varies in severity. There are some kids who manage fine with structure or diet. My son is not one of them. He needs medication to function daily because without it, his mind moves at the speed of light and he loses focus, acts before he thinks and becomes disruptive. He also gets very frustrated with himself for not being "normal" like other kids (he also has Dyslexia which doesn't help). Medicating him was not something we took lightly but when we saw what he was capable of on the medicine, we knew it was a choice we had to make. Is it over-diagnosed? Probably, but that doesn't mean it doesn't really exist.

ADHD has its advantage...strong creativity, high energy, risk taking...my pediatrician always told me that it produced traits that made good CEO material. And it's true...several CEO's are ADHD. My son's favorite phrases are, "Hey, I have a good idea," or "what if..." And he always ask questions. So much so, there's times his father and I want to put duct tape over his mouth just for a few moments of silence! His pediatrician also told me not to worry about my son's build...he always said he had the build of a swimmer or runner. Now I have doctors trying to convince me that he has a condition called Marfans because his arm span is longer than his height (I hear Phelps, who is 6'4" has a 6'7" arm span).

I do everything I can to advocate for my son whenever I can. But that doesn't mean I cut him slack either. I expect him to do his best and not use his ADHD as a reason not to do something. I don't accept "I can't do it." So thanks, Michael Phelps for helping me prove my point. My son probably won't be standing on a platform at the Olympics, but I know he won't let his ADHD get in the way and find successful in his life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Usually it's Sharron who is a stickler with Customer Service, but today, it's my turn to rant.

Pinnacle Security - DO NOT USE THEM

We changed from ADT to Pinnacle in June of 2007 after my frugal sensibility saw a lower monthly cost than what I was paying and blinded me to what amounted to nothing more than a fast, hard sales pitch of the company and their services. I can't say we've been happy with the system, but I guess we haven't been unhappy with it either, it's just...there. I'd like to say I'm confident that if some Hannibal Lechter type got the munchies in the middle of the night and decided to break in, some omnipotent voice would come over the security system announcing "Are you alright? Help is on the way" like in the corny commercial, but some part of me is afraid I'd become dinner before the police would actually show up (unless they happen to already be at the neighbors...which is entirely possible since they are there almost daily...but I digress).

My uncertainty was reinforced today when I called Pinnacle to get a replacement sensor that fell off the door and disappeared only to find out that THEY SOLD MY ACCOUNT TO ANOTHER COMPANY!!!! In January of 2008!!!! Without notifying me! I have no idea who this new company is but they now have all my personal information...name, SS#, credit card account, passwords....WTF?

I've written a particularly stern letter of complaint to Pinnacle telling them I want out of my three year contract without penalty because I consider this a severe breach of my privacy. They could've at the very least notified they were going to sell my account -- and subsequent personal information-- to someone else. I'm sure they will argue, stating it's in the contract in tiny, unreadable, complicated legal-eeeze that they have the right to sell an account at anytime and without any prior notice WHICH IS COMPLETE, UNETHICAL BULLSHIT! I intend to copy the BBB on it (and if I have to, the Attorney General). I'll keep you up to date on what I hear. I'm not hopeful....but I'm still extremely pissed off!

Friday, July 25, 2008

That looks like a.....

...penis. Yes, I have a penis on my arm. In blue surgical ink.

Now, you might ask how one goes about getting a temporary tattoo of a penis on her arm. Well, it's rather simple-- just get a bug bite, make sure it gets infected and turns to cellulitis. I guess it's by pure chance that the outline the dr at the urgent care clinic did resembles something so phallic on my arm, but of course the key is to have co-workers who notice it, have no qualms about pointing out what it looks like and jump at the opportunity to add a few more realistic touches to the drawing (which fortunately came off with a good scrubbing of alcohol...rubbing, not drinking)

It almost reminds me of the ending to that one Austin Powers movie where everyone watches the space ship fly off.... "That looks like a big..." "Johnson!".

Sunday, July 13, 2008

You call that a prom dress?????

If this was your daughter, would you let her go to the prom in this dress?
Well, someone did and the girl ended up being handcuffed and sat down in the back of a police car. Not so much for what she was wearing but for having a flat out hissy fit tantrum because she was told by school officials that her dress was indecent and in order to attend the prom she needed to go home and change.

Now, first off, I can see exactly how this unfolded. I've worked at a school district long enough to know the attitude some kids have (and usually get from one or both of their parents). She was told "no" and immediately went with the "you can't tell me what to do" crap. Sorry, sweetheart, you broke the clearly stated dress code rules. Uh, yeah, they have every right to tell you "no". It's not like they told you NOT to come back to the prom. They just told you to go home and change. It was reasonable and logical and you had absolutely no right to throw a temper tantrum like some spoiled two year old. She deserved what she got for not following the rules and being belligerent to school officials. Unfortunately, dealing with flack for taking action in cases like this is a problem with schools today. Parents are too upset that someone is actually holding kids accountable for their misbehavior...hmm, maybe if the parents had done a little more of that in the earlier years, the school wouldn't have to be doing it now. How's that for a concept.

Secondly, where were the parents? The mother? I think I saw one comment that said that the mother didn't know anything because the girl left from her grandmother's house. Okay, that's even worse. The grandmother let her go out like this???? I can just hear it... "But grandma, everyone dresses like this for the prom". Uh, doesn't look like your friend there does, so why was grandma okay with this? I also heard reports mom is offering up several excuses...she'd seen a sketch of the dress that was supposed to be made but the girl changed with sketch without mom's knowledge. Excuse me, she had the dress MADE for prom? Hope you didn't pay very much because that wasn't a whole lot of material they used. And sorry, excuse doesn't fly. Why wasn't the mom with the girl when the sketch was presented. Worse yet, what dressmaker would make changes without consulting the parent first???? Mom said she agreed with the school's decision and didn't approve of the the dress either....nice backpedal there mom.

Face it, the girl screwed up and then was held accountable. This shouldn't be news. That it is news shows how we've become a society of excuses. Sad, sad, sad. Okay, I'm down off my soapbox now. Back to writing in my fictional world...

(Now, so that no one jumps all over my ass, this is all ALLEGEDLY REPORTED. Don't jump all over me because I'll openly admit I don't know all the facts...I doubt anyone does except the people involved and that's probably subjective as well. Oh and the picture is labeled "courtesy" on a Houston paper website. Now, get off my back about it.)

Friday, July 4, 2008

But I wanna turn on the Harley!!!

My mother was deathly afraid of motorcycles having known someone that was hit while riding one and subsequently paralyzed. She always told me she'd kill me before I'd get a chance to kill myself if I ever dated a guy that rode one. Although I knew my mother well enough to know that she would actually carry out that threat to a certain extent, it may have stopped me from getting my butt on a bike but not fantasizing about riding one some day. Born and raised in Milwaukee, home of Harley Davidson, that's always been a part of that dream.

I've talked about it for years, my husband not really reacting to it that I can remember. But after seeing the movie The Bucket List (along with some encouragement from his boss who rides a BMW bike) he decided he wanted to learn to ride a bike and asked me to take the safety course with him. He passed (the rat) I didn't (hey, I'd just came back from Mexico, okay?) As luck had it, our neighbor was selling his bike and we now are proud owners of a 2000 Harley Sportster. The plan was to share it. He buys everything from the boots to the gear so that it will work for both of us.

Not that I can ride it yet.

My husband has taken to it like a fish to water. Meanwhile, being a beginner, thinking about riding an 833 cc scares the CRAP out of me. But, I'm going to do this because I wanna be a biker chick. Practice will help. But the question is, will I actually GET to practice? It just makes me wonder if and when I'll ever get to ride it. Maybe I'll just have to beat him with the helmet to get him off the damn thing so I can ride it once in awhile. Naaaa, it would destroy the integrity of the helmet.

Hey, I know...my birthday's coming up, he can just buy me one of my own!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ahhh, Mexico. What a wonderful vacation. Yes, I managed to get away from my family and the job from hell for a few days for a a week in Cancun with Sharron...just a girls week away. FABULOUS! The resort was great (and extremely huge), included all the booze we could drink (and we did our share), weather was a bit iffy, but hey, we were still on vacation. Some of the highlights:

Interesting places: Tulum, Xel Ha, Playa del Carmen
Interesting people:
  • Some, no most women, should avoid cornrows at all costs....don't care if your on vacation or not, 'kay? And really, high heels with bikinis? What's the point?
  • Peter, the 26 year old 5th grade teacher who just seemed to wander around the resort because his friends were constantly ditching him. So drunk, he would actually weave when he walked and had no idea where his hotel room was (and it didn't matter what time of day this was, he was always weaving and bobbing). One of those 'Iloveyouman' drunks, everyone knew him and knew his life story because he was happy to sit and tell you until someone he knew finally retrieved him leading him back to his room.
  • The cab driver who taught us to swear in Mayan....and wow, was it a doozey! Too bad I can't remember how to say it.
Fun things we did:
  • Sharron's trip to the infirmary when she managed to fall and knock her noggin....wet marble is NOT your friend.
  • At at Senior Frog's, watching the other drunk patrons drink pina coladas out of tall plastic glasses that looked suspiciously like a very large penis with palm fronds (would that make it a penis colada instead) and do shots of Sex On The Beach which involved the waitress going through a series of things to each person while blowing a very annoying whistle which ended with her pinching their ta tas.

Yes, watching people on vacation is a blast. Making fun of them is even better. It's what Sharron and I do -- we love to rake people over the coals. Writing? Sure we did writing, but watching Peter the Wandering drunk weave his way around the resort was far more fun.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

As if it's not bad enough I get treated like crap at work, I now go on vacation and have to be treated like crap on an airline. I can do without the in flight meals...they were yucky anyway, and I've managed to work around the rules of what can and can't be brought on board, however this whole bag thing really has me irked. Recently, the airlines (and in this particular vacation I'll be flying good ol' Continental Airlines) announced that you could only check one bag free and after that, you have to pay $25 per bag extra.... unless you are one of the "elite"...one of the "president's club"...one of those people who basically spend all their life on a plane and have more airline miles than God.

Gee, guys, nothing like making us little peon vacationers who don't fly very much feel like we're the ones to crap on.

So, just because I don't have millions of miles to use for upgrades or free trips (like that ever works anyway...anytime I've ever tried to use them I get screwed) you are now going to hit ME and ME ONLY (and by that I mean any poor sap stuck in economy) up for extra cash because I want to check two bags. And it's not like I have any choice otherwise...you pretty much have me by the short and curlies. You know what it seems like to me???


Wouldn't it make more sense to charge those frequent fliers and get twice as much money than by only charging us once-in-a-blue-moon traveler? Wow...what a concept!!! Doesn't take someone with a MBA to figure that one out. So, maybe you should consider that, huh? Because you know what I'm considering right now? Sending everything I can't pack into one bag via Fed Ex or UPS...I'd rather give them the money then you morons.

Monday, April 21, 2008


We were having a discussion the other day at work about the show Seinfeld and it struck me that we have a very Seinfeldian (is that a word?) situation at work. Don't think it was one they touched on in the gazillion years the show ran, but since I don't remember each of show in their run, I could be wrong. Warning: the rest of this post will dissolve quickly into bathroom humor...literally.

In the place I work we have two bathrooms: A large, multi-stalled one with good ventilation and a smaller two-stalled one with not so great ventilation. There's an unwritten rule among the males that if you have to uh...'punch a grumpie' as a one put it, you use the bigger bathroom because the ventilation is better. Now, I don't know where men got the idea that women are dainty little things whose...uh...grumpies don't stink, but I'm here to say, this just ain't true. And the whole dainty thing could have argument too once you've been in two-stall room with.....

The Grunter.

Yes, the Grunter. Everyone knows her and avoids her as much as possible because it's just really hard to look a person in the face when you know what she sounds like working so hard on the other side of the stall wall. And boy, she can leave behind a residue to make your eyes water. Now, before you ask about the whole bathroom freshener thing, you have to understand we are in a 'fragrance free' office because there are some in the building allergic to everything known to man--this rule of course excludes our boss who walks around smelling like an Estee Lauder perfume factory to cover the smell of cigarettes she's not supposed to be smoking in her car on the property because it's against policy...but I digress...

The Grunter had been on the schedule of every day after lunch and we all had it timed out where if you didn't get in there before noon, you didn't go in until after one. If you were really desperate, you could go down to the bigger bathroom, but then it looked to everyone like you were doing something you really weren't so most people just waited. Well recently she's changed her schedule in an effort to throw us all off. Now, no one knows when it's safe to breathe the air in that little room. Of course no one wants to actually confront her about it, telling her that this "rule" is in place for everyone's breathing safety, so we all suffer in silence.

Where is that spaz Kramer when I need him?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Life in a Writer's Head....Enter At Your Own Risk

One of the questions I think writers are asked most often is "where do you get your ideas?" Good question! Unfortunately, I have no answer. Everyone is different. Some say they get ideas from their dreams, others say they get it from life experience. But I think, generally, because of the way a writer's mind works, ideas come from anywhere, everywhere and nowhere in particular. They hit you when you least expect it. Some come in the form of characters, some in the form of plot. Others from one scene that plays over and over and over in your head until you're forced to pay attention to it or go crazy.

One of my favorite shows is Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel, a show about the Alaska crabbing industry. Fishermen and their crew "compete" during the season for the highest take on crab--my favorites are Sig and the Northwester crew or Phil and the Cornelia Marie crew (so maybe, the other's aren't bad either, but Sig and Phil still pull rank). The term "deadliest" in the title comes from the working conditions: freeze-your-nuts-off cold, waves that will sweep you off the boat and into the Bering Sea, greenhorns that don't know what the hell their doing, large swinging crab pots that can knock you on your ass (and into the sea), and then if that wasn't fun enough, you do all this on about two hours of sleep...if you're lucky. I can't wait for the new season to start on April 15th.

So, finding this fascinating as I do, (okay, Cathy, I see you rolling your eyes up there in podunk Alaska wondering what the hell the thrill is) I read all the recent news reports on the Seattle based fishing boat that recently went down near Dutch Harbor. Turns out a woman owns the company which is impressive because it's more a male dominated industry. But what really turned interesting was that this woman is a recluse. She hasn't been seen out in public for years and does all her business via fax and phone from home. There were even reports from people coming out of the woodwork in hopes of fame and fortune that she was never seen without a hat on her head and a scarf covering her face--even in her own home.

Now, to me, this is a fascinating story. Too bad my last manuscript was fairly similar, but in the video game industry. But for me, this is how I sometimes get my ideas. I read about the in the paper, I see them on the news. Something intrigues me enough that I start rolling it around in my head asking, "what if..." A character develops, maybe a plot. But it's a seed and it gets the ball rolling. Like I said, everyone is different and, even for me, it doesn't always work the same. But the ideas are out there...lots of places...and lots of times it's just art imitating life. All a writer has to do is stop, look around them, listen to what others are talking about and ask themselves, "what if..."

Then comes the hard part....PLOTTING! For that, I'm going to need a mojito or two....or five. Where's the rum??? Why's all the rum gone????

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I was trying to figure out something funny and interesting to write about, but sadly, I got nothin'. I lead, and have led, a pretty damned boring life. I don't get lost in the woods like Cathy, and I don't have online dating adventures like Sharron (thank GOD!!!). I work full time and have children, which pretty much suck up time, energy and brain cells -- which isn't very conducive with having a life.

But even before that, I can't think of one thing interesting to tell you about. I got married at age 22, moved to Atlanta and started working full time. That job was probably the most interesting one I had -- a medical transcriptionist in a hospital pathology lab. We saw some pretty interesting things come through there...one of those tiny little ice cream spoons from someone's stomach and things that make you ask questions like, "what would possess a person to put that in a bodily orifice???" or "Wow, that had to hurt going in...what the hell were they thinking?" The docs that we worked with were an interesting bunch as well...smart as hell with a bizarre sense of humor for the most part. They actually started their own personal freak show of various items removed from various individuals who again, found it necessary to put these said items in places not usually reserved for such things (thank God we never had a gerbil come through). Cost to view the freak show was a quarter a viewing. Although once they added the hot pink dildo so huge, it boggled the mind that someone would actually consider using it for anything other than beating a cheating spouse to death and then the cost of admission went up to fifty cents.

Working with these docs was always a learning experience....whether you wanted it to be or not. One question usually resulted in an hour long answer you couldn't help but walk away from thinking, "Wow, that was interesting," or "Ewww, too much information." Like the time I was pregnant with my daughter and the docs were absolutely sure I wanted to see what my body was doing on the inside and pulled me into the lab to show me an example of a uterus and how stretchable it was.

Oh boy.

I also ended up having my daughter in that hospital. It was a constant parade of co-workers in and out of my room while I was in labor--some of them there legitimately to take blood, others just there to cheer me on. One poor young sap had a wife due to deliver in the next three weeks....I'm sure he had nightmares after seeing me in the throws of labor. Looking back, I should've had a clue as to how life with my daughter would turn out....the entire time I watched the breaking news of Jeffrey Dahmer, and when she was actually born, it was amongst tornado and severe storm warnings.

So, now, wasn't that interesting? Hey, you! Yeah, the one snoring in the front row. I asked you a question, dammit! Never mind. I'll just go back to my boring life.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hey, Listen Up!

Here it is! The latest release from Sharron McClellan my snarkiest friend and critique partner!

Athena Academy’s darkest nemesis is gunning for her, but USMC Combatant Diver Jessica Whittaker is not easily intimidated. Without thinking twice, she volunteers to do anything to help bring down the school’s deadliest enemy.

Her assignment: an expeditionary mission aboard a sunken ship.

Salvaging for clues on an abandoned vessel should have been simple. But a hostile force—and an unbelievably handsome diving buddy—have turned up the heat. If Jess ever wants to set foot on dry land again she’ll have to contend with her enemy—and her lover—or risk revealing her deepest secret.

Check out her other books at www.sharronmcclellan.com

And if you're really daring, check out angryromancegrrl! Congrats to the winner of the angryromancegrrl contest for the snarkiest remark to someone who is dissing romance.

The Comment: Someone turns up their nose, curls their lip and sniffs, "I don't read romance"
Winner Jodi's comment back: "I guess the cereal box takes too long to finish."

All the entries were fabulous and tough, tough tough to judge. I'm telling you, they were brutal! But all were worthy of praise...gotta love a woman who can deal snark. Good job to everyone that entered!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

But, I Don't Wanna Go to School, Mom!

At forty-two, the last thing I wanted was to go back to school, but, thanks to my teenager, I'm being forced to. It's January and that means the end of the semester: projects and cramming for finals. So tonight, for the second night in a row, we are working on a civics project.

Oh joy.

So here I am, struggling to recall what the information I've retained in the years since high school which, I'm sorry to say, is pretty damned little. Being ADD, I wasn't a good student to begin with and then you add teenage angst, hormones along with the fact that I got mono TWICE my senior year and almost ended up not graduating, and you got yourself a cornucopia of delightful educational memories. And now I get this!

Daughter: Describe Capitalism.

Me: Bill Gates

Daughter: Describe Communism.

Me: Itunes...oh, no wait, that would be Amazon.com now since their deal with Sony.

Daughter: Contrast and compare Democratic and Republican parties.

Me: Dumb and dumber.

My daughter wasn't amused.

After we finished the civics project, it was on to advanced algebra. Now in my world, letters and numbers don't mix. It's sort of like putting blue cheese on your Cocoa Puffs... IT JUST DOESN'T WORK! The minute you start substituting numbers with letters, my eyes glaze over and the drool pools in the corner of my mouth before forming a puddle on the floor by my feet. I...just...don't...get....it. Who uses this anyway? Maybe in some occupations, but certainly none my artistic daughter will go into. But it's required for school. Sorry kiddo, Mom's out on this one.

After that came American Lit....Hellooooo have you read some of this stuff? Harry Potter is ripped from the shelves while being touted as demonic witchcraft yet the schools insist our children read things where depression, poverty, murder and at times perversion run free because it's "Classic Literature". I'd rather sit and listen to Barry Manilow all day while plucking my eyelashes out one by one.

Again, daughter isn't amused. So she picks up her things and heads up to her room There at least she can make up better answers than her mom can in peace and quiet.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Plagiarism, Bad Writing, or Really Not Knowing Any Better

So, here we go. I can hear the snarky-assed comments from them already. They spout from those "literary types" who wouldn't take romance novels serious if one won the Pulitzer Prize or if Oprah suddenly had an epiphany that most, if not all, of the books she picked were hideously depressing and started up a studio chant of "Nora, Nora, Nora" while throwing Angryromancegrrl bookmarks out to the crowd. They insist romance novels are mindless fluff written by just as mindless, if not horny, housewives who couldn't possibly know the quality of the written word because they're too busy drooling over bare-chested men. They are going to have a field day over the latest allegations of possible plagiarism by a fairly well known writer.

This author (and I won't name her because you can just get off your lazy ass and Google it yourself) apparently took anywhere from phrases to nearly complete paragraphs from research books and used them in her historical novels. The whole thing started at the http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com website (a great place, BTW) when a novice romance reader pointed out that she noticed several large chunks of text that read differently than the author's voice. So, armed with several of this author's books and Google (hopefully there was tequila involved because, hey, where's the fun if it wasn't) two of The Bitches got together and started digging. You can go to their blog and find the results there, but I will tell you it was interesting to see the results. Needless to say, the pitchforks and torches were plentiful.

Now I'm not going to say what she did was right. It wasn't. We learn from little on that you at the very least paraphrase (and I have to say I did some pretty sad examples of rewording in my high school years) because it's not right to take credit for someone else's work. I'm even willing to bet if this author has kids that at some point, she probably even reminded them of that as most moms do. But, does this boil down to TRUE plagiarism? Who can say? Maybe. Maybe not.

I do think it falls more into the category of bad writing, or simply being unimaginative and I don't think it's limited to Romance as so many people will try to insist. The whole point is to take the research you have and create something with it. Using it verbatim from a research book is failing to put that bit of information into the story and letting the character convey it through their point of view to the reader. You don't just slap it onto the page. The results are exactly what this person saw: large chunks of text that stand out like Bugatti in a room full of Ford Escorts.

So, let's recap, shall we? DON'T take research directly from the a book and try to pass it off on your own. DO cite your sources if you do. And if you screw up, admit it. Rambling excuses only makes you look ignorant and more guilty. Practice in front of the mirror if you need to..."yeah, I fucked up...big time. I was an idiot!"

See? Very easy.

Oh, and and for you literary types.....BITE ME because I'm a romance writer and damned proud of it.