Toni’s Writing Process Revealed…

At today’s post at Deadline Dames! Stop by, and leave a comment.

Oh eye-eye-eye’m dreaming…

I live alone, I’m single, and I don’t have kids.  You’d think I would be one of those people who are depressed by Christmas, but that’s just not the case.

I drive around looking for neighborhoods with good light displays.  I listen to stations that play Christmas music exclusively.  I decorate.  I  make egg nog.  And I try to watch as many versions of A Christmas Carol as I can find (I don’t have a preference; each has elements I like).  My current favorite Christmas song is Eartha Kitt’s version of Santa Baby, but that may change tomorrow.

Did I mention I can recite the entire text of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by heart?

I know I post the following video every year, but I am helpless to resist it.  I’ve watched it dozens of times, but still find new things.  Like how, right after Santa repeats the phrase “the snow,” it starts to snow.  And how the white reindeer first puts one hand, er, I mean hoof over his heart, then another.  Which is a pretty good trick, since he’s not standing upright.

Enjoy!

Guest Blogger: Julie Lomoe

Guest Blogger Julie Lomoe

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Julie Lomoe, mystery author and poet.

Julie Lomoe brings a wealth of mental health and home health care experience to her mystery novels. Her work as an art therapist at a psychiatric hospital inspired her to turn to fiction as a creative outlet. She later founded and ran ElderSource, Inc., a Licensed Home Care Services Agency in upstate New York. A vocal advocate for the rights of mentally ill and elderly consumers, Julie is a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and of the Mental Health Players, an improvisatory theatre troup.

Julie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, then received an MFA from Columbia University. A pioneering resident of SoHo, she exhibited her paintings and prints at the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the 1969 Woodstock Festival of Music and Art, and in many Manhattan galleries. She received an MA in Art Therapy from New York University before moving to upstate New York to pursue a career in mental health.

Julie enjoys reading her poetry at open mics in New York’s Capital Region, and has been featured poet at many venues including the legendary Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. She lives in Rensselaer County with her husband Robb Smith and her two cats, Beep and Lunesta.

Welcome, Julie!

Why do we love those sexy villains?

Detective John McBain was on the verge of shooting Mitch Laurence in the head today, but Brody Lovett burst in, shouting “John! Stop! You don’t want to do this!”

Just another afternoon on One Life to Live, the ABC soap opera that’s been a guilty pleasure of mine for several years. Actually, it wasn’t a typical afternoon, because John came close to crossing over to the dark side, where he belongs. All these years on OLTL, he’s been a basically good guy, moody and troubled but always under control. Today, though, they showed him in close-up profile, and it took me back to the days he was a vampire on the defunct soap opera Port Charles.

Detective McBain is played by the actor Michael Easton, and strangely enough, the killer Gabriel in my novel Eldercide looks a great deal like him. He’s the broody Heathcliffe type, with longish black hair and piercing blue eyes. SPOILER ALERT: if you plan to read Eldercide, and I hope you do, I may be giving away Gabriel’s identity. Eldercide is a novel of suspense written from multiple points of view, and although we meet Gabriel at the very beginning, it’s not until the climax that we learn his true identity. In the words of the teaser on the back cover:

When quality of life declines with age and illness, who decides if you’re better off dead? Nursing supervisor Claire Lindstrom suspects a killer is making the final judgment call for the clients of Compassionate Care.

A woman with Alzheimer’s disease dies unexpectedly in the night. Another is found dead beside a stream. Claire sees the beginnings of a sinister pattern, but Paula Rhodes, her temperamental boss, doesn’t want her raising questions. The survival of the home health care agency in upstate New York depends on its reputation for quality care, and a rash of mysterious deaths could kill the business.

Claire antagonizes the county coroner and becomes the prime suspect in the eyes of the police. All the while, from his vantage point near her cottage on Kooperskill Lake, a killer called Gabriel is watching, channeling his obsession with Claire into passionate paintings. Under another name, he’s a man she already knows – but which one? And is he part of a far larger scheme of eldercide?

Several men in Claire’s life are highly suspect. There’s Stephen McClellan, the sexy young driver and jack-of-all-trades for Compassionate Care who has a powerful effect on Claire:

Her breath was coming faster, and it wasn’t just anger fueling her upset. Since Stephen McClellan had charmed his way into a job six months ago, he’d made himself indispensable, meeting the aides at the Amtrak station in Rensselaer, ferrying them to the clients’ homes, running errands, doing minor carpentry and odd jobs for the clients and their families. The elderly ladies loved him, and why not? He had movie-star looks: tall, well muscled, wavy blond hair, chiseled features, like a young Matthew McConaughey. And a movie star was exactly what he intended to be, he’d told her on more than one occasion. Preferably before he hit thirty.

Okay, so you know Stephen’s not the killer – his hair’s the wrong color. But he has all the right stuff – sexy, rakish, full of blarney and deception. Claire keeps fending off his advances, but perhaps in the next book she’ll give in. Then there’s the lawyer, the burned out male nurse with the prison tattoos – and the one man she never suspects.

What is it we love about villains? And what makes a good one? I could ramble on for pages, and probably so could you. But for me, there has to be something mysterious, something of the Jungian shadow side. Internal conflict is good, too. My arch-villain Gabriel has a compassionate side. He’s not a sadist. He kills his victims gently, wants to end their suffering. When he thinks an assignment may involve killing a dog, he’s ready to quit outright.

Micahel Easton as Caleb

As for Detective John McBain, he’ll probably stay a good guy. But I much preferred Michael Easton as the moody vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles. He also played Caleb’s twin brother Michael, a priest, but Caleb was far more alluring. The current crop of vampire superstars don’t even come close – for my taste, they’re much too young.

I hope you’ll visit my blog, Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso, at http://julielomoe.wordpress.com. There you can read the first chapter of Eldercide, where Gabriel spies on Claire as she lounges near the lake, and decides to take up painting again so as to do her justice.

I’ll Make You Famous…

The winner of today’s contest at Deadline Dames will have a character in my book series named after them.3

Man #1, Where Are You?

2When asked whether or not I am able to make my living as a novelist, I sometimes answer “it depends how you define ‘living.’”  The answer is yes, in a world where nothing goes wrong.

But, in the real world, cars break down.  Roofs spring leaks.  Garages become structurally unsound.  Fillings fall out of teeth.  Eyeglasses get stepped on.  Furnaces wear out.

And that’s just not in my budget.

I’m single and, just lately, I’m dipping my toe back into the dating pool.  And, although I swore I’d never include the size of a man’s bank account on my list of priorities, this time around I find myself looking at a man and wondering whether he could be persuaded to arrange for new shock absorbers.

In Jill Conner Brown’s HILARIOUS book, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love, there is a chapter entitled “The Five Men You Must Have in Your Life at All Times.”  There is no mistake that #1 is “A Man Who Can Fix Things.”

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Jill Connor Browne, who NEVER has to fix her own car.

To be fair, my brother is pretty good at fixing things.  Unfortunately, I have to share him with his wife who unreasonably believes that he ought to be available to fix things at their home.  Also, he doesn’t have any money, either, so the big ticket items (see earlier comment re: deteriorating garage) stand neglected.

Yesterday, I bought a new battery, windshield wiper blades, and wheel covers for my car.  Okay, the wheel covers are cosmetic, but at $16.88 at Wal-Mart, I splurged.  Today, I saw that one of my two “good” tires had a bubble.  On closer inspection, I saw that another of my tires had worn down to the degree that the belt was showing.

*Sigh*

So, I’m getting THREE new tires (I’d budgeted for two) and, when they put the car on the lift, the mechanic informed me that my suspension is in bad shape.

Tell me something I don’t know.

Luckily they just repaved the two main roads leading out of where I live.  I figure the potholes and frost heaves are gone, so who needs suspension?

Of course, I should probably do something about the cracked windshield and the leak in the radiator.  I figure the air conditioner can wait until spring and, as long as I remember that the automatic window on the back seat driver’s side only goes down and not up, I should be fine.

We shall not discuss dents.  Or trim.  Or paint.

Then there’s the 98-year-old cottage in which I reside.  It is absolutely charming.  The furnace is starting to make funny noises and belches the scent of un-burned oil from time to time, but it still works.  And the roof only leaks over one little corner of the kitchen, which should be fixable.  The kitchen is so small, I only need to buy one roll of wallpaper to hide the water damage.  The front walk can wait until spring, and I’m hoping to get one more summer out of the dock.

The Sweet Potato Queens book also recommends #3 A Man Who Can Pay For Things.  I’ve never really had one of those.  I’ve definitely dated men who can afford to pay for things, but I’ve usually kept financial woes a secret, only accepting help in a true pinch, and then paying him back immediately.  Now that I’m ready to readjust my thinking on this point, the Men Who Can Pay For Things all seem to be dating women about twenty-five years younger than me.

*Sigh.*

Tomorrow I get an eye exam and already know I’m going to learn I need a new prescription – my acute iritis attack seems to have caused some permanent (very mild) attrition in the left eye.

So, do you think I should reveal all this stuff to potential boyfriends?  You know, in the spirit of full disclosure.

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

I was quoted in this article…

…about NaNoWriMo.

Click HERE to see the article.

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NaNo NaNu

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Posting today — about National Novel Writing Month — at Deadline Dames.