Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm Still Gadding About...

...being interviewed by the wonderful Tasha at her blog, And Another Book Read. Click here for the interview, and here for her review of Ten Cents a Dance. Thanks Tasha, for the fun questions!

Next week I'll give my social butterfly wings a rest, and settle back home a while...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Guest Blog over at the RAVENous Reader!

The RAVENous Reader invited me to guest blog for her, and I was delighted to oblige. Trot on over for my thoughts on inspiration, and the story of how Ten Cents a Dance got its start. You can also check out RAVENous Reader's review (suffice to say, she has impeccable taste. Thanks, RAVENous!)

Monday, June 09, 2008


That's what they're calling the outcome of last Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

If you follow the blog, you know I've watched the Triple Crown races ever since I was a little kid. Now that I work every Saturday, "watch" takes on a slightly different meaning. Getting a break during work almost never happens, so most times I catch the race later that night on the Internet.

But this past Saturday, I actually had the day off. (Long story). At 3:30 PM I was settled on the couch, surrounded by snoozing animals, watching Big Brown lead the parade to the post. His most serious rival, Casino Drive, had been scratched from the race that morning, and none of the other horses were thought to be a threat. After a 30-year drought, it seemed almost inevitable that in just a few minutes, the Crown would fall onto Big Brown's big, handsome head. Finally!

Sure enough, shortly after the start, his jockey got him positioned in the number 3 spot on the outside, perfectly poised to make his move when the right moment came. As the horses came around the final turn, you could see the jockey asking for the tremendous, track-eating burst of speed that was Big Brown's hallmark in the previous two races.

Nothing happened.

The frontrunner, a long shot named Da'Tara, began opening up his lead. Three lengths...four...five... and Da'Tara swept under the finish line, having led wire-to-wire over the entire 1-1/2 miles, a rare feat in a race this long.

After Eight Belles lost her life in this year's Kentucky Derby, and Barbaro his after a devastating injury in the 2006 Preakness, my first thought (and I'm sure, everyone's first thought) was that Big Brown had been hurt. Thankfully, he wasn't. In post-race interviews, his jockey said that he had "no horse" under him; when he asked Big Brown to move, the horse simply didn't have it in him. At that point, the jockey--wisely, in my opinion--eased him up. Big Brown finished last.

Was Da'Tara that superior a horse? Nope. The only other time the two had raced together, three months ago in the Florida Derby, Big Brown had beaten Da'Tara by 23 lengths. So what happened Saturday? Big Brown showed no sign of lameness or soreness after the race, so the patched quarter crack in his left front foot doesn't seem to be to blame. Was it the heat? Getting dirt kicked in his face for the first time in his career? Could he just plain not handle 3 grueling races in 5 weeks? We'll probably never know; even the people closest to him may never know.

And that, my friends, is why they call it horse racing.

In all the hoopla before the Belmont, and all the head-scratching afterward, though, an important issue came to light--the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses. They're legal in most states, and Big Brown's trainer routinely uses them.*

Should racehorses be given steroids? I say no. It ought to be illegal, and I'm glad that more states are now considering banning their use. I have a few more suggestions for the racing industry, but if the steroids get thrown out, that's a start.

So the Triple Crown drought continues. And while Big Brown's people are surely sorely disappointed, one of his owners, Michael Iavarone, had this to say: “I love this horse. I’ve grown tremendously attached to this horse emotionally. I wanted him to know he could run dead last or first and we would still love him.”


*Although he withdrew Big Brown's usual dose a couple of weeks before the Belmont, in order to prove that his horse could win without the drug. Did that contribute to Big Brown's defeat? The equine veterinarians I've listened to say probably not. Still, it's another thing we'll never know.

Drumroll, Please...

The winner of the piccallili blog comment contest, as chosen at random by the magic random number generator: Melissa Marsh! Congratulations, Melissa!

(BTW: If you’re interested in writing, I highly recommend Melissa’s blog, Grosvenor Square, for her wonderful insights on historical fiction and the writing life.)

Thanks again to everyone who left a comment, and to everyone who stops by the blog. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m still having fun with this thing. And it still tickles me to death that people like to read it.

Upcoming posts (in no particular order—these are the scribbles on the Post-it note stuck on my desk): writing mentors; fabulous books I’ve recently read; an update on Ten Cents a Dance; and I'm mulling over an idea for a series on personal adventures in book promotion.

Not to mention whatever else pops into my head. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An Anniversary. A Contest. And It's Only Been Two Years!*

I just realized that on April 26th, 2008, the second anniversary of this blog slipped quietly past. I clearly remember, at the beginning, giving myself six months. If I was managing to post on a regular basis, I figured I’d keep going. If not, I’d bag it. Quite honestly, I doubted I’d make it past two posts, let alone two years.

Why did I start? Simple. Because my agent and editor said all authors need to blog. Period. I was a brand-new baby author; if my editor said I had to eat Froot Loops for breakfast every day, I’d have run out to buy a dozen boxes and a gallon of milk. And too, I thought it’d be fun to try (blogging, not Froot Loops. I hate Froot Loops).

But even though all the pros were sure I needed a blog, I was still hazy on what the thing was actually FOR. Endlessly pushing my own books? Ewww. Just the thought made me queasy. Rambling on about my day? Oh, please. Not even my dogs are interested in my day. (“She sat and make the clicky noises with her fingers…I fell asleep…woke up… still making clicky noises.”) Yep, that’s fascinating.

My own favorite blogs are snarkily funny (the great Miss Snark herself, RIP; Smart Bitches Trashy Books; barista bratwhere are ye, brat? So long since we heard from ye…) But snark isn’t a voice I can pull off. No way, no how, don’t even try.

So…when in doubt, make it simple. I blog about things that interest me. Now, I know well the depths of my own geekiness; I’ve had too many actual-world people stare blankly while I blather on about something I find absolutely fascinating to doubt I might get the same reaction online. (After reading one of my first posts, my sweetie shook his head and said, “Wow, that’s really strange.” And no, I’m not going to link to which post it was). Snarkiness might be the homecoming queen, the quarterback’s girlfriend, the head cheerleader. Geeks work on the yearbook committee and come up with the obscurely funny photo captions that nobody else gets. But what would the world be without us?

Anyway, somewhere along the line I figured out the purpose of this blog. Nothing profound; it’s an open door, that’s all. For folks who are curious about my books, or who just stumbled across my site: come on in, poke around, get to know me a little. And for you who stop by regularly, my deep thanks. I’m still delighted and honored whenever I get a comment—wow, someone read what I wrote!

I have my Post-it note of possible topics stuck on my desk, and Blogger awaits. Sometimes, it even lets me post pictures. And so we begin year three…

...the same way we began two years ago: with a contest. Leave a comment on this post and I'll use the magic random number generator to pick the winner of a signed copy of Ten Cents a Dance. Deadline by my next post. Which I don't know when that will be. Could be tomorrow (OK, that's unlikely), probably within the next week. Hey, what's a contest without a little suspense?

*A shout-out to the post that started this whole shenanigan.