My first blurb, and guest blogging!

I’m blogging today for ‘Wordy Wednesday’ at Kerry Freeman’s blog, and talking about sticking your butt in the chair. Check it out here:

And, I’ve had my first ever blurb! It’s for the very excellent parody, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, by Fanny Merkin (aka. Andrew Shaffer). I reviewed it upon its release, here.

Movie: Rust & Bone (De rouille et d’os)

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this film, having only read the barest of blurbs before I saw it as a part of the Calgary International Film Festival. It caught my notice because it was French language, and it stars Marion Cotillard, who has become one of my favourite French actresses in the last few years. (See in her ‘La Môme’ as Piaf, and in ‘Public Enemies’ as Billie Frechette, among other films, if you are not yet acquainted with Ms. Cotillard.)

This film did not disappoint. Well, maybe a tad. Everything was great except for the character of Ali. Now, I’m going to get into spoilery detail, so click below to continue at your own risk. Aside from my criticism of Ali’s character, I highly recommend going to see this film. It is fantastic. (Check out the trailer on Youtube.)

The basic premise is that Ali (Alain) moves with his son to the south, and meets Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who has suffered a tragic accident and lost her lower legs. Stephanie’s journey and the progression of her journey is incredibly compelling, and Marion Cotillard plays it subtly; her emotions are portrayed in her body movement and in her face. It’s hard to explain, but she is so fully Stephanie, and I was completely entranced. But Ali… I just don’t know….

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The Three Rs. (Reading, ‘Riting, and Researching)

The editor in me cringes at that title, but I’m amused enough at the riff on ‘reading, writing, and arithmetic’ to let it stay. And it’s what I’ve been up to lately, if you’re wondering where I’ve been.


  • Lots of beta reading for friends (including Scarlett Parrish’s upcoming book ‘Bring Me to Life’, which is excellent!)
  • Scarlett Parrish’s ‘Burn’
  • Tiffany Reisz’s ‘The Angel’
  • Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton’s ‘Second Hand’
  • The Paris Lawyer, by Sylvie Granotier
  • Collected Poems, by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography, by Deirdre Bair


  • Finishing a novella (‘The Artist’s Muse’)
  • Finishing the first draft of ‘The Orpheus’
  • Starting a new novella


  • Lots of articles on Paris during the Nazi occupation in WWII.
  • Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky
  • And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris, by Alan Riding

So that’s what I’ve been up to, mostly. It’s been a productive few weeks, though I feel a bit like a magpie as I flit between books, reading a chapter here in one, a chapter there in another… trying to balance out research reading with fun reading. With a few exceptions, I’ve stuck to novellas for my fun reading, if only because I can finish those in one or two sittings, and they don’t linger on for days as I try to fit them in between everything else. I think that’s partly why I love ereaders and ebooks so much: those shorter works of fiction wouldn’t ever have been published before, or only within a collection of stories. I love short fiction as much as nice big novels, and ebooks let me indulge.

Upcoming: more on Scarlett Parrish’s release; a review of ‘The Angel’; and little snippets from my work-in-progress.

A few lines on a Sunday….

A few lines from my work in progress, THE ORPHEUS:

“Do you always rough people up when you can’t get your way?”
“Ask the lovely Miss Prescott to explain it to you.”
“I will ask her,” she replied. “But I don’t see why you couldn’t just tell me.”
He strode the few steps till he was next to her again. His finger raised her chin and she stared up at him, into his dark blue eyes.
“It’s power,” he said bluntly. “It’s how men like me survive. Now get your coat and I’ll take you to see your mother.”

Guest Post: Marquita Valentine

I’d like to introduce the very lovely Marquita Valentine. She writes fantastic stories, small-town romance with a touch of the supernatural. I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Thanks for having me here today, Alyssa!

In my latest release, Third Time’s a Charm, the heroine, Rose Holland, is kinda witchy. I know what you’re thinking-Kinda? Yeah, kinda…In that her witchiness is almost entirely observed by the hero, Sasha Romanov. However, until almost the end of the book, Sasha explains it all away. Poor insulation, predicted bad weather, faulty wiring, or even being lightheaded from chopping wood. Bless his heart.

For example:
“Don’t play dumb with me, Rosebud.” The front door slammed shut, even though no one was around to close it. The fine hairs on Sasha’s arms rose under his sweater.
“Want to try that again?” Rose’s hands fisted at her sides.
The wind gusted and the chimes hanging from the ceiling danced.  Bad insulation—that was the problem. There was always an explanation when it came to the supposedly supernatural events that surrounded the Hollands.
I’m sure bad insulation is the only reason the front door slammed. And it had nothing to do with the fact that Sasha had just ticked off Rose.

Door-slamming and almost electrocuting the hero, aren’t the only things that Rose may or may not be responsible for. But Rose never admits it. Not once. Which (hee!) I love about her character.

And isn’t there a saying that talks about how it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for? Poor Sasha doesn’t have a chance! <G>

What’s your favorite book with a hero or heroine that may or may not have supernatural powers?

And here’s the blurb for Marquita’s latest:
Not even Holland Springs’ Most Notorious Resident can stop this Love Spell.

Customers come to Rose Holland’s apothecary shop for three things: to hear her uncanny matchmaking advice, to buy the “magical” hair and skin products she sells, and to accuse her of trying to steal their men. For years Rose has been entirely innocent and almost content with that status quo. But that was before sexy, smooth-talking Sasha Romanov came to town and made her want to use her love potions on him… until he broke her heart. Now corrupt town officials want to seize her land and sell it to an industrial giant, and her only hope for help looks like the one man she can’t trust—or stop herself from falling under his spell.

Alexander “Sasha” Romanov seems like every woman’s dream: charming, handsome and fabulously rich. But while the people of Holland Springs think he’s in town to generously invest in their economy (and possibly one of their daughters), Sasha struggles to save his sick mother from his vicious uncle’s plans by doing everything the greedy businessman wants. And Vlad Romanov wants Rose Holland’s land—at any cost.

Despite Sasha’s vow to get the job done and keep his hands (and everything else!) off Rose, the blue-eyed witch enchants him. But his mother’s life remains in the balance. Sasha must find a way to protect his mother, sabotage his uncle’s plans, and win the woman who’s captured his heart without destroying everything she loves.

“A refreshing, whimsical contemporary romance with complex characters and bursts of emotion that tugs on your heartstrings. Kept me up till one AM reading!”~ Carly Phillips, NY Times Bestselling Author

Marquita Valentine writes small town romances that are anything but small. Lisa Kleypas, Carly Phillips and Rachel Gibson are among her favorite contemporary authors. Marquita met her husband aka Hot Builder at Sonic when they were in high school. She suggests this location to all of her single friends in search of a good man — and if that doesn’t work, they can console themselves with cheesy tater tots. She lives in North Carolina in a very, very small town with Hot Builder and their two children.

You can find Marquita all over the internet:

Want to pick up a copy of Third Time’s a Charm? Grab it for Kindle or Nook!


Today I’m interviewed over at Jenny Lyn’s blog, in advance of the release of the charity erotic anthology FELT TIPS. Kids who can’t afford school supplies and adults who can’t afford work clothes will benefit from the sales of the book. There are tons of great stories, and I can’t wait for its release.

Check out the interview here:

Article: Language is Music (from the New Yorker)

I just read a fascinating article posted in the New Yorker, by Mary Hawthorne, entitled LANGUAGE IS MUSIC. Most of the piece is a response (from various translators) regarding an editorial by Lawrence Summers in the NYT, which opined that, ‘English’s emergence as the global language, along with the rapid progress in machine translation and the fragmentation of languages spoken around the world, make it less clear that the substantial investment necessary to speak a foreign tongue is universally worthwhile.

Naturally, there was much disagreement over his points in numbered paragraph 5. Quite honestly, I do think that learning a second (or third) language is something that ought to be done. It needs to be taught properly at the lower grades, when learning of languages has been shown to be easier. There ought to be more opportunities for immersion, as well. Learning another language is learning a different way to think, a different way to view the world. And, as David Bellos states, ‘mastery of a foreign language is a prerequisite for understanding how to use your own.’

Am I biased? Yes, probably. I would have loved to have decent instruction in French when I was younger, but the teachers I had most years barely knew any more than their students, having (I’m guessing) drawn the short straw or had the free period needing filled. (And, alas, my parents chose not to put me in French immersion schooling, though I think I would have done well.) So now I plod along, working haphazardly to learn a bit more French. To be honest, properly learning a foreign language is a lot of work. With everything else that I do, I just don’t have time to devote hours every day to study.

Still, I’ll keep at it, though progress is slow. In the meantime, I’ll continue reading French works in translation, and maybe someday I’ll know enough French to read Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘L’Invitée’. I have a copy, and it’s waiting for that moment.


I finished the first draft of my gangster novel tonight! Of course there’s lots more work to be done (hello transcribing, editing, and the inevitable rewrites.) Here’s the blurb:

THE ORPHEUS is a tumultous tale of gangsters and flappers in 1925 Chicago. Cecilia is a desperate young woman that finds a job as a taxi dancer and meets the love of her life: Nell Prescott, the moll of a top Italian gangster lieutenant named Franky. To evade Franky and in order to be with Nell, she has to pretend to be in love with another, up-and-coming gangster, the Irish-American Patrick Sheridan.