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Dead Shot


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Blind Curve

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction

Years ago, one of my writing teachers said that truth is stranger than fiction...because it can afford to be. She was talking, of course, about continuity and believability in plot. Just because something is "true" doesn't mean it works in a fictional world. Sometimes writers have to twist the truth to make it work within the world we create.

Which brings me to Blind Curve, my fourth, and, some say, my best book. It's the story of a detective who has a stroke that blinds him, leaving him imprisoned in a dark world while a ruthless killer he can't see is trying to assassinate him. Being the oversensitive, insecure person I am, I still remember the reviews who snarkly called this premise outlandish.
Well, maybe I didn't do enough twisting. Or maybe no amount of twisting would have made some folks believe. But today, in the science section of the New York Times I saw an article that really would have rocked my fictional world.

Seems there's a doctor who was blinded by a stroke similar to Danny's in Blind Curve. The amazing thing reported in the article is not that a stroke can, indeed, blind someone by taking out the centers in the brain that process visual imagery, but that even "blinded" this kind of sightless person can still "see."

The thing is, a stroke effects the brain--just as I said in my book--so technically, there's nothing wrong with the eyes. If there were other parts of the brain that could interpret what the healthy eyes see, blindness could be overcome.

Now, it seems, a Dutch study shows that these other parts exist. They are more primitive--perhaps older evolutionarily speaking--kind of like animal brains, which don't have the sophisticated visual lobes we have, but still manage to provide more than enough sight for survival. In the human brain, these areas are subcortical and we use them unconsciously, just as we use so much of our brain.

To prove it, researchers sent the blind doctor down a hallway strewn with obstacles. They didn't tell the man that there were obstacles in front of him, they just told him to walk forward. To their astonishment, the doctor zig-zagged his way down the corridor, missing every single obstacle. What's more, the doctor didn't even know it. In fact, he thought he was walking straight.

Is that cool or is that cool?

So with practice, maybe a neurologically blind person--like Danny in Blind Curve--could learn to "see" on some level.
If I'd known about this research before I wrote the book, I might have included it and Danny's story could have had a whole different ending. Which would really have set the critics off!!

Suffice it to say, I have a sequel in mind.

To read more, check out the article in the Times, and don't miss the video that goes with it.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Welcome to Dreamland

Last night I dreamed Michelle Obama and I were BFF. Every day we drove to lunch in a van with other people. The restaurant was kind of cafeteria-like, and we all sat at long tables. I worried that there was no Secret Service present, then wondered if the van driver (a woman) might be an agent. I decided she was. One day while we were in the van on our way to lunch, Michelle turns to me and says, "You are so good-looking!"

Ha ha ha ha ha.
What I weirdo I am...
Do people say weirdo anymore?

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Lad Don't Sleep

Still wandering around the sewers and tunnels that lead to the land of the Muse. Mind full of everything but. Time of year? Time of life? Will she ever write again?

Gold star to whoever knows what I'm listening to as I write this...

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back to the Salt Mines

There's nothing sweeter than a father and his baby, alone of a morning and out on the town. Yes, I'm back at Panera's after a valiant, if unsuccessful, attempt to take the entire month of December off. And there's that cuter than cute tall, gangly, ball cap-wearing guy, feeding his one-year old a juice box and crackers for breakfast. I stare and smile and try vainly to pretend I'm not supposed to be figuring out what the @#$u* to do about my next book.

Ever see the Ricky Gervais TV series, Extras? He wrote a scene that could be lifted from life, (whose I won't say) and I've spent the last half hour searching the 'net (and avoiding writing) to share it with you. Alas, no luck. But, I will say it's with his riotous and useless agent, Darren, and it's about Andy's (Gervais) idea for a movie or TV show. Suffice it to say that by the time Darren finishes "tweaking" it, the original idea has morphed so far from the original, it's not only unrecognizable it's hilariously ludicrous.

Ah, me, the creative life.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Update

Had a great time hanging with my buds at the Jackson TN public library on Saturday. I'm third from the right, believe it or not...

Didn't have much of a turnout for the signing, but I sold a few books and got to meet some fun readers. A special shout out to Cindy who came in from Dyersberg to meet us. Several books ago, Cindy reveiwed Tell Me No Lies and I linked to the review, so she was excited about that. Wish I'd thought to get a picture, but alas, I did not. I feel lucky enough to have a) remembered to bring my camera; and b) remembered to take it out and get a picture of myself.

Thanks to Arlen Griffins, one of the librarians, for organizing the event. A few years ago Arlen went to an RWA conference and has been hooked on romance ever since. Arlen's heritage is French Canadian. Isn't that cool? We got to talking about Canada, which I always enjoy.

Not much else this weekend. Had plans to see Australia, but laziness overwhelmed them. Also want to see Slumdog Millionaire, but it hasn't come to town yet.

That's it for now.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Word of the Week

It's been a while since we've had a Word of the Week. By now it's turning into Word of the Month. Guess I was

Playing Hooky

Yup. That's the word--words--of the week, folks. 'Cause that's what I've been doing. And 'tis the season for doing it.
We all know what it means. Did you ever think about where the phrase comes from? I mean, what IS hooky? Is it a game? How do you "play" it?

First off, the phrase is associated with skipping school. Which means it only came into use in the 19th century, around 1848, after education laws made public school attendance compulsory. Tom Sawyer "plays hookey," so we know the expression goes back that far.
Hard to imagine a time when you didn't have to go to school, but evidently we had hundreds of years of it. And, of course, once you're forced to do a thing, finding ways to escape it suddenly appear.

So...is hooky a compression of the phrase "to hook it," which, according to one source, is a 14th century term that means to make off or escape?
Or, is it a version of the word "hook" an old slang term that means to steal--kids stealing time from school.
Or maybe it's related to fishing, and the "hook"(school) is the thing you get off of, the way a fish can.
Several sources think the most likely derivation is the Dutch "hoek," which means "corner," and the game "hoekje spelen"--hide and seek--played by boys in 17th century New Amsterdam around street corners. So "playing hooky" could have become connected with school because kids who skipped school must be off playing games like hide-and-seek.
I found a couple more theories, but I'll leave them for another time. The important thing is the play itself. I'm writing this. What do you do when you play hooky?

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Monday, December 1, 2008

The Gift of Love

Yeah, yeah, I know. But this is not going to be a bunch of claptrap about peace, goodwill, and group hugs. Last Thursday I was sitting around trying to digest the huge lump in my gut from the turkey and dressing, the pies and everything else you can imagine, and the subject of love came up. As a romance writer, my ears instantly perked up.

Seems years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a book called the Languages of Love. (Full disclosure: Dr. Chapman is a Baptist minister, but this theory is not theological and cuts across religious lines, though you can find more God-related branches of the idea on several web sites.) The idea is that there are different ways to express love--what he calls "languages." He divided these "languages" into five categories: Words of Praise/Affirmation; Acts of Service; Quality Time; Gifts; and Touch. The theory is that each of us "understands" some of these languages better than others. Trouble happens in a relationship when partners speak different languages.

So what language do you speak? Do you feel loved when your partner tells you how great you look? Or do you feel more loved when s/he buys you a great-looking diamond? Or maybe you feel loved when your shopping-hating partner goes shopping with you? Or when h/she cleans the house so you can go shopping (or to the football game...). Or maybe all you need to feel loved is a hug.

One of the times I felt most loved was the year my husband and my (at the time) eighth-grade daughter made dinner for me on my birthday. Neither of them cooked, so they went to a favorite restaurant and brought home a three-course meal. They sat me down, didn't tell me what was going on, and then served me dinner. I loved that they didn't take me out, that they tried to reproduce a home-cooked meal--what I did for them every night. We had ice cream cake with candles, and if they bought me gifts, I don't remaember. But I'll never forget that dinner.

As a writer, I find it interesting to think about what language of love my characters "speak." Angelina, in DEAD RINGER, appreciates gifts. Rachel, in LIKE A KNIFE, loves acts of service. In fact, the whole motivation of the love story in that book is an act of service. Especially on the part of the hero, Nick. In DEAD SHOT, my heroine, Gillian, needs words of affirmation, while Ray, I think, is looking for quality time. In my upcoming book, ONE DEADLY SIN, the heroine, Edie, is big on the comfort and safety of touch.
You can find out what languages of love you respond to best by taking the quiz. Even better, get your partner to take it. That way you can find out not only what makes you feel loved but what you can do to make him/her feel the same.

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