USA Today Best of 2012

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Got the "I want"s

Last Saturday, hubby and I went window shopping... There are a couple things I've been wanting, and now after getting up close and personal with them, I've kinda got it bad.

First, Dansko shoes... man. I'm not even set on any particular style (although I do love these), but once I
tried them on and felt how comfy they are, I was hooked. A bunch of my teacher pals wear them, and I can see how they'd be comfy all day long!

And second--this one's got a little bigger pricetag...

I've always wanted a Jeep. And now the kids are bigger, it's obviously not the best plan to go for a 2 door vehicle. We checked out the 4 door options, though, and they're awesome--plenty of room inside for kids and their junk. Nice options, too--and at a lot lower price than other SUVs with the same options. Let us not forget the COOL factor. Jeeps rock!

So here I am. Feeling all consumer-y. Now where's that winning Lottery ticket?

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Agenda... busted!

So I'm composing this post on Monday, in hopes I'll follow through and NOT have to delete it...

My plan for this spring break is to finish our taxes (2 businesses, oh my!--and hubby's is full-time now, so we're talking Paper Vortex of Hell).

My hope is to get them done (or very close to done) by Wednesday(today), so I'll have more time to write.

My goal is to leave this post up and shout from the rooftops on Wednesday that I AM DONE with that hellacious task for another year!!!! wooohooo!

Autumn Piper
Got Advil?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tube Tuesday

This SNL commercial made me laugh out loud-- a lot.

Remember the Roomba?

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Those funny Colorado-isms

...and I've got 1 more: You're from Colorado if you wake up to a white world during spring break, and aren't the least bit surprised.

Here are the originals, from an email a friend (and former Coloradan).
You're from Colorado if:

You'll eat ice cream in the winter.

It snows a foot and you don't expect school to be cancelled.

You'll wear flip flops every day of the year, regardless of temperature.

You have no accent at all, but can hear other people's. And then you make fun of them.

"Humid" is over 10%.

Your sense of direction is: Toward the mountains and Away from the mountains.

You say "the interstate" and everybody knows it’s one or the other (of two).

You think that May is a totally normal month for a blizzard.

You buy your flowers to set out on Mother's day, but try and hold off planting them until just before Father's day.

You grew up planning your Halloween costumes around your coat.

You know what the Continental Divide is.

You don't think Coors beer is that big of a deal.

You went to Casa Bonita as a kid, AND as an adult.

You've gone off-road in a vehicle that was never intended for such activities.

You always know the elevation of where you are.

You wake up to a beautiful, 70 degree day and you wonder if it's going to snow tomorrow.

You don't care that some company renamed it, the Broncos still play at Mile High Stadium!!

Everybody wears jeans to church.

You actually know that **South Park** is a real place not just a show on TV.

You know what a 'trust fund hippy' is, and you know its natural habitat is Boulder.

You know you're talking to a fellow Coloradoan when they call it "Elitches," not ""Six Flags." (No longer Six Flags anyway – YEAH!)

A bear on your front porch doesn't bother you.

Your two favorite football teams are the Broncos and whoever is beating the crap out of the Raiders.

When people back East tell you they have mountains in their state too, you just laugh.

You go anywhere else on the planet and the air feels "sticky" and you notice the sky is no longer blue.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Things That Work

Next product up for the Piper Patter Seal of Affection:

Jergens Natural Glow--it's a moisturizer, with a bit of shimmer and a little self-tanner. About this time of the year, my skin is almost fluorescent, and it bugs me. No way am I donning capris if my legs look like white neon sticks. So this has been my solution for several years now. It's hard to mess this one up, because the amount of self-tanning product is very minimal. Takes a few days to give your skin a noticeable tint. And once you do have a base "tan", the shimmer is a very nice touch.

Only place I've ever messed up on this one is when I completely forgot to wash my hands after applying. Got a little OompahLoompah-ish at the bases of my fingers. And the good thing is, it's got enough good moisturizer-stuff, so it doesn't aggravate my eczema, like many other self-tanners. Which is great, because no matter how natural a tan looks, it loses some appeal when punctuated by scaly red blotches.

Another plus, Jergens puts out coupons all the time, so I can always get a buck or two off.

Happy shopping.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Going official--with the State Department

Hubby and I are going to apply for our passports today. We've never had them (he may have when he was small, for a trip to Spain), but now we're planning a trip for our 100th anniversary this summer (did I say 100th? I meant 20th. And yeah, that's a longass time, and no, we're not as old as that sounds--we were just crazy-young when we got married.)

Anyway. Back to the topic. So I've filled out the paperwork and printed it (using the nifty fill-in PDF--"like!").

And here's the exciting part. Under "Occupation"... I put WRITER. Because here's the thing. Passports are good for like half a hundred years (or 10, something like that). In 10 years, I might still be editing(that's getting more and more lucrative--I've now got 18 pubbed books on my roster, and by the end of the year it'll be 30!), and I might still be substituting (God help me!), but I'm certain if I'm still on this earth, I'll still be writing.

And there ya are.

So do you think the IRS would be okay with me writing off a trip to Jamaica, if I come back home and pen a novel set there? :)

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whatcha readin' Wednesday

I liked Click so much, when I returned it, I borrowed Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior. Also by the same authors, this (bestselling--and yes, I did need to add that because you bet your butt if any of my books ever becomes a bestseller, I will take that adjective onto its name every time!) book takes a look at why we do irrational things, often things that change our lives (or history) forever. Since most characters in romance novels do something irrationale, I thought it would be useful research.

And so far, this book is much faster-paced, and not quite as dry as Click.

So I'll let ya know. And I can only hope my review for it will be better written--looked back at that blog post for Click and shuddered. Man was that a blunt, boring review! Some days are like that, right?

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tube Tuesday Plus

Over the weekend, hubby and I watched Letters to Juliet.

Thumbs way up, for great scenery, wonderful onscreen chemistry, and smashing good English humor, plus... I've found my Heath replacement! (Heath Ledger, that is)

Yummy Christopher Egan also gets thumbs up. Like Heath, he took a bit, but eventually I found him quite attractive.

Also, I love this short scene from the movie. Every writer needs a cheering section like Charlie.

I'm certain we'll be buying this DVD, because my daughter is going to love this movie. It'll be one we pull out and watch all the time, like Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, Wedding Singer...

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kind review!

Check out this nice review for A Fireman for Christmas.

Very kind words, and I especially like that the reviewer was happy with the short story "getting its due"--she didn't feel like the story was either rushed or stilted. That's hard to achieve in a short work (at least for me).

Have a happy and productive Monday.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

This is a great article

Got the link for this in my Writers Digest email. This excerpt is all about plotting, but I'm planning to buy the whole book on revision and self editing.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: Click

Just a mini-review. I finished Click, the Magic of Instant Connections (and yes, I had to renew it, dammit).

I'd give it 4 stars--On the Piper Patter rating scale, it's a Borrow It. Glad it came from the library, but then I don't buy many nonfiction books anyway.

This book is a great explanation for why sometimes people just "click". Many reasons, from being a part of something, to similarities, to basic proximity. Probably the most interesting part of the book for me was the discussion about "high self-monitors"--people who are skilled at regulating their moods, actions, voice levels according to differing social situations. They seem to go really far in life--and knowing the difference between them and "low self-monitors" can be very helpful when writing different character types.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dog driving Buick

Today when I pulled up and parked at the supermarket, this dog caught my eye. And made me laugh out loud. Don't ask me why--maybe because it reminds me of that painting, Dogs Playing Poker.

And he had such a serious, concentrated look on his face. It just caught me off guard, I don't know. He seemed so matter-of-fact, like he was just sitting there waiting for his person to come back so he could drive her home...and he maintained that stalwart position even when I got out and took his picture. Smarmy, I know. But I did sit there and giggle, and even remembered to snap a picture. So there ya have it--I'm a dork that way.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tube Tuesday

The premise for this new movie, Limitless, is awesome.

And... Bradley Cooper?

I'm there.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Moron

And this one made me say, "Really? And he called the cops?"

A 3-year-old threatened a plumber with a plastic baseball bat on Capen Boulevard.

Piper Denna

Romance is sexy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Interview with a Vamp--er, Author

Even though somebody always snickers when I mention "happy ending"... Yeah, I'll be thinking twice before I use that term again. But anyway.

One of "my" authors, Lindsay Below, interviewed me about Irishmen (we just released our Irish Collection--as seen on Lyrical's home page in all their lovely togetherness, and now available as a bundle from Diesel ebooks) and many things editing.

Wow, that's a lot of links in one place!

Happy Friday.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

That felt nice (Or, Why kids are still one of life's simple pleasures)

Last Thursday I got to sub at my cousin's preschool while she went out of town. 8 kiddos, age 4 and 5 (one is just about to turn 4). Not a huge group, but trust me when I say that 3 hours with 8 preschoolers is plenty. LOL They knew the routine, I knew the routine, and things went pretty well.

Still, I did let the boys linger with the shaving cream at the table, making the letter "R" and various other pictures, longer than was strictly necessary. And they ate snack for what felt like eternity, but hey... when you've got 4 little boys occupied in a seated position and not yelling, it's a good idea to go with it as long as possible. ("Please, can I have more snack?" "Oh, heck yeah!")

And honestly, when story time came (clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere), the last 25 minutes of class, I was more than ready to sit down and have them quiet for a few minutes. So there they all sat (criss-cross, apple sauce!) on their little sticker-dots on the carpet, and I perched on one of the World's Smallest Chairs to read the stories (because old ladies like me have their whole lower body go to sleep when we sit criss-cross apple sauce). We'd barely made it through one story when a couple of kids started yelling at me to close my eyes. Which I cheerfully pretended not to hear. (Remember the creedo from Kindergarten Cop? Never turn your back on kindergarten? Same principle.) And then they were all yelling for me to close my eyes. And knowing these chanting situations have a tendency to mutate toward Children of the Corn, I took my chances and complied.

Next thing I knew, 8 little bodies slammed into mine and all these little warm arms were hugging me, little lips kissing my neck. Very cute. And totally rejuvenating. :)

Some days, subbing is like that.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's good to be back.

It's been quite a while since I wrote much of anything (other than blog posts and snarky replies to interview questions). Last week I spent a good deal of "thought-time" bemoaning my lack of time for writing.

And then this week I decided if I wanted something to happen, I'd have to take action. So I resolved to write, whether I wanted to or not.

Something magical happened, though. Somewhere in the process of procuring a notebook and writing down all the important stuff about plot and characters, I slipped into The Zone. Hadn't been there in... probably a few years. In The Zone, my brain is working on the story constantly. When I lay down in bed, when I wake up in bed. Heck, half the time I dream about the story. When I'm eating, cooking, driving. It's kinda hard to focus on a conversation from The Zone. My poor family....But I love it.

Gotta go write now.

Have a great day.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

God made pronouns for a reason.

For every editor, there's at least one editing pet peeve.

I've come across a few editors who like to change pronouns to character names. I've also come across plenty of manuscripts where character names are used in excess--both in dialogue and out. First, the dialogue issue. If you're having a conversation with someone, how many times during the back-and-forth will you really call them by name? (unless one of the conversers is a child, and the other converser is a mom--and then you can count on hundreds of "Mom"s in the dialogue) Maybe once. Maybe. So that's an easy fix--they pretty much all need to go, and the dialogue will retain its meaning.

But what about over the course of a scene? How many times is it okay to use "he" or "she", "his" or "her"? Some of those editors are not going to like my answer for this--but hey. I'm entitled to my opinion, and I'm going to flaunt it.

Unless you're using the same pronoun several times per sentence, you're okay. It's far better to repeat "she" than it is to repeat "Esmerelda". And I'd sure as heck rather read "he, him, his" than "Robert, Robert, Robert's". Pronouns become invisible or silent words, in the same way the word "said" becomes silent. They're placeholders, to keep the reader on track with which character we're referring to, or which character is speaking. But unless you have more than one character of the same sex per scene, using those names is unnecessary (and possibly annoying).

So when in doubt, use the pronouns. There's a reason every language has them.

Piper Denna -- EIC at Lyrical Press, Inc.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Moron

The Learning Center on Hanson Street reports a man across the way stands at his windows for hours watching the center, making the parents nervous. Police ID the suspect as a cardboard cut-out of Arnold Shwarzenegger.

Piper Denna

Romance is sexy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

In my next life...

Sometimes I pop off random "what if" type musings/fantasies. Giving voice to them earns me rolled eyes from my daughter "In my next life, I'm going to be Jen Aniston when I grow up. And Cher when I get old." (Think I got The Look for that one because according to my daughter I'm already So Old and So Weird) Or how about "In my next life, I'll be fat when I'm young instead of when I'm old--it's gotta be easier to lose weight when you're young." (they don't have to make sense--the silliness provides me my own much-needed levity, thank you very much)

And all these "in my next life"s got me thinking they'd be great to use for a character in a book, one who spouts them all the time, or maybe to use as subtitles.

Yeah, because I write all the damn time, right? I should have that puppy written in a month.

Which is whiny, but dang. Too many things are getting between me and the Word program.

But then I start thinking there must be a way to work writing time into my nonschedule (because, at heart, I am a glass-is-so-charming-I-should-get-one-like-it, er.... glass-half-full kind of girl). Hey, I can be optimist and still be whiny now and then. So let's see. If I quit fixing my hair and wearing makeup, I could have roughly another 30 minutes per day. Plenty of women "my age" just wear their hair straight and have severed their ties with Maybelline. And if I abandon styling the hair, I might as well ditch the dye too--that's a good 30 minutes every 3 weeks. If I went to showering only every 3rd day, on those 2 days in between, I'd have almost another 30 minutes, accounting for the shower, toweling, and moisturizing... plus then I'd save all that time weighing myself (which I do every time I shower while my feet are damp so I can do the bodyfat thing too and get even more annoyed about being old and fat). I could ditch blogging, which averages 15 minutes per weekday. Cut back sleep to 3 or 4 hours per night and I'd gain another 2-3 hours. Quit making the bed and--no, never mind. Not making the bed would make me feel all (insert Pat laugh from old SNL skits). Yergh. Can't skip that. Maybe instead of walking just to exercise, I could walk to work--shave off the time I'd normally spend driving. And since I won't be loofa-ing my feet in the shower anymore, those calluses will build and eventually I won't need shoes, which will save all that time searching for the right socks with the right shoes, then lacing up.

I think I'm onto something.

So in a few weeks if you see an old shoeless gray chick hobbling toward a school, with a laptop bag and a lunch box, and fume-waves like PigPen's all around, it's probably me. Write a note on my Facebook wall and I'll get back to you ASAP.


Happy Friday, peeps.

Autumn Piper
Got time?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't tell Ma Nature

... some things are growing in my back yard, even though it's only March (in Western Colorado, no less!). Bulb-type things, that I want to grow:

I went snooping outside this week. These are in an actual flower bed. Wish I could remember what was t
here last fall when we m
oved in. But I guess it'll be a surprise. Anyway, later on they'll be accompanied by the many dahlias I've started inside in containers.

And these live a rather "sheltered" life against a retaining wall, so it's no surprise they're peeking out. Iris? Seem too thin to be tulips.

These little darlings popped up under one of the fruit trees. I'm pretty sure they're iris. I love the people who lived here before and planted bulbs!!

So that's it for me. Spring is getting closer. Much earlier than it did the last 2 years, and yet... not soon enough. :)

Autumn Piper
Got green?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm a-linkin'

I don't mean Lincoln...

Today I'm linking to a post by my lovely publisher, The Future of Publishing Really is Now.

She touched on some interesting points, one of them being the way ebooks and digital publishers were shunned and treated like a lesser species back in "the day"--aka 3 or 4 years ago. I still have a former critique partner or two who felt like choosing a smaller epub was a sell-out on my part.

Anyway, it's a great post.

Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Subjunctive what? Sorting out a grammar head-exploder

Much as I love editing, I really don't care for old-school grammar technicalities. I know what sounds right, and can diagram a sentence with the best of 'em, but honestly--I've "bookmarked" a page I can refer to when I need to look up "lay or lie". I just have too many other things bouncing around in my brain to remember that one, and a host of others.

So when recently faced with: "If he was a gambling man, he'd...." which had been corrected to, "If he were a gambling man, he'd..." Ugh. That "were" felt like too-short jeans. Just wrong. And awkward. And yet, the person arguing for the correction cited "subjunctive phrasing", and when I looked it up, she was right.

But how could it be right, and sound so wrong? How could you rearrange that sentence and still have it make sense? "He were a gambling man if" doesn't work. Not at all. I wanted the entire sentence rephrased to avoid the issue altogether (I've also rephrased to avoid lay/lie--go ahead and LOL at me, I'm okay with it.).

So when it came up again, I went searching on my own. And found something wonderful. It's a big old article on this problem, with one key bit of information, which clears up our particular situation. Here's the key bit:

In the present subjunctive, were is used for all people: "If I were a rich man . . . " "If she were only ten years younger . . . " "If they were only a bit more experienced . . . " (If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady. Yeah, yeah.) The past subjunctive uses had in all cases: (and I'm going to rewrite their examples for my benefit, here--"If I'd been a rich man..."
"If she'd been only ten years younger..." "If they'd been a bit more experienced..." God. Doesn't that feel better???
)"If my brother hadn't been bugging me, I could have finished my homework." "If I hadn't eaten that sandwich, I wouldn't be in the hospital now."

Again, the key bit: The past subjunctive uses "had" in all cases. And since nearly all commercial fiction is written in past tense (except for some psycho crazies like that Autumn Piper who simply must write one of their books in present tense), we'd use the "had" scenario.

"If he'd been a gambling man, he'd..."

Ahh, that feels so much better.

Piper Denna -- EIC at Lyrical Press, Inc