Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Dishin' It Out": PRESS RELEASE - PLEASE SHARE - #pressrelease

"Dishin' It Out": PRESS RELEASE - PLEASE SHARE - #pressrelease: Canadian Publisher Signs “Neglected” Great Authors of Yesteryear; Rescuing their Discriminating Fiction from Sea of Self-Published Works....

Decisions - Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor

I'm a day older than I was eysterday. Only those who know me know what that means, But I won't tell you. I'll just ramble on about making decisions.

When I went to the doctor yesterday and he asked me how I felt, I said, "Weird." Then I explained that there was an annoying spot on my right thumb that wasn't numb but particularly sensitive. We went through the tens hand strength. Mine was good. What's I'd done was irritate a little nerve. Was there something to do about it. Yes. I could have my hand splinted from 6 to 8 weeks or I could learn to live with it. Decision time had arrived. I would learn to live with my sensitive thumb. 

Decisions for the characters you put into books should have decisions with a but... If the answer is a simple yes or no, there's nothing hard about. One needs to put them into a dilemma. If you decide on option A what could happen. Option B could bring a different but.

I'm working on the last book of an alternate ancient Egypt. After doing a lot of research and having the three books planned out, I was hit with a decision time. During the period I was writing about, There Were No Camels In Egypt.  But camels belong in Egypt. This meant making a decision. There were horses and donkeys but there were no camels. So I changed the venue to an alternate world. Then I had to decide what other things I should leave out. No Sphinx, no pyramids. I did hang onto the Valley of the Kings and most of the other research needed for the story to give it the flavor of Egypt. In fact I've had comments about don't you mean this or that and I reply alternate world. 

All during the three books, the characters are faced with decisions that have a but so they have to stop and think for one of these characters, learning not to jump rashly into action makes him learn to consider the But.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meet Mike Powell

I first met Elsa Logan at a nursing home. Not the usual place to meet the woman of your dreams, but it is what it is. What was I doing in a nursing home? Obviously, I didn't belong there. I was there for therapy. Since I didn't have family, no one was home to help me, so there I was. Not that I was a model patient. Quite the contrary. I was a son of a gun. Probably the most unco-operative they've ever met. I refused
everything - food, medicine, showers, you name it, I wouldn't do it. I even refused to get out of bed. The nurses called me the 'geriatric rebel'. Not that I cared. What difference did it make. I wasn't in a hurry to go home. Living alone isn't fun.
Until I met Elsa that is.
I spent my days in bed sleeping and the nights running around the halls, playing tricks on the nurses, so of course I was tired during the day. One night as I was sneaking out of my room, I caught sight of someone slipping into an empty room. Of course I followed and ran smack dab into a petite, silver-haired beauty, Elsa. Needless to say my life took on new meaning.
The next morning, I actually got up for breakfast. Shocked the heck out of the nurses. No one realized I could get out of bed, let alone walk.
Thus began a beautiful friendship. Elsa and I discovered we had a lot in common. Of course, we had a couple obstacles to overcome, like her friend, George Kendall. A force to be reckoned with. Not that it took him long, but..... To learn more you're going to have to read the book, Geriatric Rebels available from Amazon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just who is Michelle Lee ...

As I mentioned in my first post about myself, (found HERE) I am a big geek and am working on my master's degree in biology.  I have also alluded in past posts about my start in the whole writing world with the erotica genre.  So to anyone who knows this about me, it should come as no surprise that when I am required to give presentations in class, and I am given a fairly free reign, my comfort zone is within a realm that is embarrassing to many others.  Which works for me, since I am a lot calmer during presentations if I am shocking the audience.  See, what many people don't know is ... lean closer ... I'm shy.  I know!  Right?  Me?  Shy?

Truly I am.  So I get really nervous when I have to present - but if I can make the audience also uncomfortable, then I actually feel less nervous.  Which leads to some, well, interesting presentations.

Case in point ... during one class, we were asked to do a presentation on the topic of Species Extinction.  Now most of my classmates picked species we will be sad to see go, which for someone who cares as much as we all do, was a fairly morose and sad class period.

To lighten things up, and because I am shy as heck and hate presenting, I picked something a little bit different.  I picked a species we would be thrilled to see go extinct.

Now, I will warn you in advance, there is a LOT of delicately put language as I attempt to take a very off-color presentation and make it general audience friendly.

So, I started off talking about how this is what we typically think of when we talk about habitat destruction and fragmentation.

This is another view of habitat destruction and the results.

Then I told them that today I wasn't going to be talking about that - about the bad habitat loss, and the evils of man caused species extinction.  Not because it isn't a serious concern, because it is.  There are so many species I could have picked, and just thinking about it is enough to make me cry.  So to get through presenting, which I hate, especially without crying, I needed to do something different.

Rather, I was going to be talking about ...

Well, to put it delicately - a habitat loss caused by hygienic attention to intimate body parts.  Although for them I had a nice, um, image.

(Pausing a moment for the laughter to die down)

After everyone got back into their seats, because some people fell out of them, we had to wait for one poor guy to have the picture I used explained to him. Since it was of a house cat with its hair removed.  Nuff said. 


Then I really started into my presentation.

The Background: Habitat Destruction

The Brazilian wax Brought to the U.S. by 7 Brazilian sisters: 
Jonice, Jocely, Janea, Joyce, Juracy, Jussara and Judeseia Padilha

Growing up in the Brazilian coastal city of Vitoria, the sisters, like other women there, routinely waxed hair from intimate areas to accommodate the ever shrinking bikinis worn on the beach.

The JSisters Salon is about a block from New York’s famous Fifth Avenue shopping strip.  The Salon opened in 1986.  In 1994 they introduced the Brazilian waxing technique.

After this, I showed a diagram of what a brazilian wax involves.  Um, I will spare you that very vivid imagery.

Regulars return approximately every four weeks, and pay $75 for a Brazilian Bikini Wax. 

Treatments range from complete hair removal to custom designs.

(Next I showed diagrams of different styles of grooming that were possible)

 Men are also getting Brazilian waxes. Some go for complete hair removal, and some also for designs.

(Had to throw in the eye candy there.)

(again I showed the possible grooming options)

Then I got into the details of it all, just why waxing is "bad".

Short and Simple: Habitat loss

WARNING: Science content ahead!

Lice of the intimate body region (Phthirus pubis) infest about 2-10% of the human population

A female louse needs to mate only once to remain fertile throughout her lifetime, and can lay eggs every day.  Think about that - it's terrifying!

Plus they are ugly little creatures.

Of course, I had to bring the science into it, and discuss lice eradication treatments.

Lice of the intimate region were usually treated with topical insecticides, Rid, Nix, and Malathione lotion.

Best treated with prescription wash containing permethrin.

From there, I moved on to the stats ...

Just How Wide-spread Is The Habitat Loss?

Greater than 80% of U.S. college students remove all or some of their, um, intimate hair.

A majority of men and woman in Australia remove all of part of their intimate hair.

In the U.K., 99% of women remove some hair, generally on their legs, pelvic area, and underarms.

The trend of the Brazilian wax (and other hair removal processes) is an alternative to pesticides in stemming one of the planet’s most contagious STDs.

Clipping, waxing, and shaving the pelvic region destroy the optimal habitat of this particular species of lice.

Intimate area "grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations.  Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species” says Ian Burgess, medical entomologist with Insect Research and Development Ltd.

Although the WHO doesn't have records on this species of louse, because it doesn't transmit disease, some records are kept by health care workers dealing with STDs.

2003 Study: In Australia at least 1/3 of people experience an infestation at some pt, in their life.  Since 2008 – Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn't seen a woman with lice of the pelvic region, and male cases have fallen 80%.

Ten years ago in the U.K. doctors started noticing a dwindling rate in cases of these lice, even as prevalence rates of other STDs increased.  

CDC has no stats for U.S. on this species of lice, because it isn't a disease causing agent.

Although this species of louse isn't a current threat, there is potential for new outbreak emergence, especially with its increasing resistance to pesticides.  Its cousin, Pediculus humanus humanus (body louse) is a vector of disease.  

"In the case of pubic lice, habitat destruction is a good thing” says Richard Russell, director of medical entomology at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital. 

Then I went to my sources slide:

Pubic Lice (Pthirus pubis): History, Biology and Treatment vs. Knowledge and Beliefs of US College Students.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Vol. 2, pgs 592–600. 

Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species,

And, I ended on a comic slide, something I learned from one of my professors that I now always do.


So, aren't you glad you're not going to school with me?  My classmates both love - and hate - when I have to present.

I also did a talk on 50 Shades of Animal Sex: Kinky, Painful and Deadly Sexual Practices in the Animal Kingdom and another talk on The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria and the Origin of the Vibrator.

If you're interested in seeing one of these as a future post, let me know.

As for anyone interested in my covers ... check out Stardust Creation  Come on, geek - so of course I had to go geeky with my website name. :)

He's Sexy and you know it!

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

This post is primarily for romance authors, readers, and those that love them.

We all know there are trends in romances.  Tropes many people call them.


     One-night stand baby.

          In love with the boss.




A vampire who has a baby with her werewolf boss, who is also a cowboy, and then he develops amnesia right after telling her he loves her too, so she has to make him fall in love with her again, while together they fight off the bad werewolf female who wants the hero for herself.

Ok, so that last one I might have been making up - but you watch, now that it is out there in the blog-o-sphere, someone somewhere will write it.  So long as I get creative credit, I'm okay with it.

Anyways, we all know there are trends.  Just like in the storylines, there are also trends with cover art, specifically cover models.

For example, anyone remember this guy?

If you read romances in the '80 and early '90 you should.  That's right - that's FABIO.

Fabio was on more than 400 romance novel covers.  And that was a big deal at the time.

Now, let's fast forward to today.  And we have JIMMY THOMAS.  He is an even hotter commodity than Fabio was in his day.  At one point a year or so ago, Mr. Thomas mentioned he had been on something like a 1000 book covers, and since then he has become even more prolific.  Current stats put him at 6000 covers.

Think about that - 6000 covers!  Holy moly!

But then again, looking at him, I can certainly see why he is so prolific.

(Images (c) Jimmy Thomas) - I just LOVE that second picture.

Part of Mr. Thomas' appeal is his tall, dark good looks, as well as his versatility ... but also his support for the romance community.  He started up a romance stock image site.  He started a cover art convention (which welcomes big named authors as well as those just starting out) and occurred for this year just a couple days ago.  He started a newtworking site just for the romance community - readers, publishers, cover artists, authors, etc.  From everything I have heard about him, he is open, personable, and generally a nice guy.  I have hopes to eventually make it out to his cover art convention myself, and maybe get a first hand account.

So what covers from BWL can we find the prolific Jimmy Thomas on?

Alas poor images, I cannot find you!

By Michelle Lee
BWL Art Director

So how many of you, when trying to visualize the ways you want a cover to look, quickly get frustrated trying to find images?

(Waiting a moment as people start jumping up and down, madly waving their arms, screaming ME!  That's ME she's talking about).

I should have mentioned, make sure not to scare your pets with your answer.

(Waiting longer while poor Fluffy and Fido are coaxed out from behind the fridge and Tweets snagged off of the curtain rod in the shower; don't worry - Slither will come out of the sewer somewhere in the neighborhood - so just wait for screams to clue you in to his location.).

As you can imagine, many authors find themselves in the same ... exact ... boat when it comes to finding images.

So here are some tricks to image searches (from my own personal frustrated experiences).

* First off ... do some sample searches and see what comes up.  Go to images sites like and use their search function and search for random things, so that you can familiarize yourself with the site.  Like any skill, practice is going to work to your advantage.

* Don't get discouraged; sometimes cover artists have problems finding images.

* All too often, when it comes to something like finding the perfect image authors have to come to terms with the fact that they don't exist.  Going to wait a moment, and let that sink in.  The perfect images do not and will not ever exist.  We work with what is available, and within the bounds of what models are willing to pose for certain genres of images.  So sometimes, close-enough is what we work with.

* Now, if you're not finding images, not because of looking for the perfect one, but rather because nothing is showing up as a result of your search, just try new terms, and things that are close.  For example, I have found Regency era styled images by search for Medieval and Renaissance.  The terms Baroque, Vintage, etc also have worked when trying to find historical images.  So expand a little with the search terms.

* Generally one and two word searches work best.  This is by far the best advise I can possibly give.  ONE or TWO word searches.  For example: "Sexy Couple" is going to yield much better results that "Couple Sexy Embrace Bed Red Silk Lingerie Lace England Castle Curtains Blond Man Redhead Woman".  Yes, there will be more images to look through, but you are more likely to find what you need.  Many photographers put really good search terms to their images, but that can't think of everything.  So simple is going to yield better results.

* Also, keep in mind if Sexy Couple didn't work, maybe Attractive Couple, Nude Couple, Lingerie Couple, Embracing Couple, Couple Kiss, Couple Love, etc might yield better results so try alternative search terms.

* If I find a search term set that yields great results, and I know I might need to use it again, I will save the terms in a word doc.  I put what I am trying to find, and what terms I ended up using.

* * *

Now, I know that many authors feel they are not a good judge of images, and what would make a cover.  And that is fine.  That is the role of the cover artist.  But cover artists are not fluent in all fields.  So some genres are more difficult for an artist to find images for without author suggestions.  To that end - consider finding images that fit your characters, and suggest them.  Keep in mind however, the cover artist might not use them.  Because some images lend themselves to covers better than others, the cover artist and publisher is always going to reserve the right to opt for a different image.  But by suggesting possible images, you are more likely to get something closer to what you want than not.

For example, I am a biologist by training.  Specifically an ecologist.  So, someone saying to me 'I want a nice snowy owl on the fore-cover, and a timber wolf in the background, with a couple in between'.  As a result, I am able to fit those requirements without much effort, because I am familiar with both, and if not - I have easy access to field guides that will make me familiar with them.

But saying to me, 'This is set in Edwardian England, and I want the hero to have period clothing, and the background needs to be a period house, and so on', um I am going to space out at Edwardian, and my eyes will be completely glazed over by hero ...  So for that cover, I am so going to need every suggestion I can get.

So keep in mind that cover artists are not fluent in all fields, and thus not fluent in all genres terms and specifics.  We do the best we can, with what resources we have available - so make sure YOU are one of those resources.

* * *

Oh and one last, tiny little suggestion.  As you are searching, if you come across an image that screams at you - but for a book you aren't working on filling out the information for - SAVE THE URL, image number and site, whatever!!!! 

Either create a word document that you put all of them into, with the Genre/WIP Title etc with them, or bookmark them, something.  

So many times, authors lament that they had found the perfect image, but forgot to save it since they were looking for a different book's suggestions.  So don't let that be you.  Find some way to keep track of the images that stand out to you - because you never know when you will need to find it again.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What makes a writer?

What makes a writer? There must be a thousand answers to that but in my case it’s because other people fascinate me, and on my recent journey to Russia that fascination got the better of me despite the glory of my surroundings.
The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is almost beyond description. The 3 million people who visit each year cannot begin to view even a fraction of the millions of artifacts on display or stored in its ten buildings, seven of which are monuments of 18th and 19th-century Russian culture, so when I was taken to the banks of the River Neva to admire one of the most iconic views of the city, I should have been concentrating.  Instead something else caught my eye.
Sitting close together on the edge of the cobbled walkway were a young couple. Next to them were discarded takeaway coffee cups. She was holding a camera. Why was I more interested in two strangers than in the magnificent view opening up before me? Why did I stop looking in the direction of the tour guide’s pointing finger, and what made my ears deaf to the history all around me?
The answer is simple. I am a writer. So while my companions listened to the guide’s potted history of the city and how, once upon a time, it had been a great trading port, I was more fascinated by the couple in front of me who appeared to be completely oblivious to the rest of the world.
Why were they here? It was eight thirty in the morning, which explained the coffee but nothing else, so while everyone else in my tour group learned about the construction of The Great Hermitage (1771-87), the Russian Revolution (1917), and how more than a million items were evacuated from the museum to the Urals during World War II, I began to create a story about the here and now.
Were they illicit lovers who were stealing a few moments together on their way to their respective jobs, or were they new lovers who couldn’t bear the thought of having to spend a whole day apart? On the other hand, maybe the camera was the clue and they were just tourists like us who had set out to enjoy the view and been sidetracked.
I was intrigued by their body language too. The woman was slightly hunched against the early morning chill, one hand in her pocket, so had it all started when he’d put his arm around her to keep her warm? Was that her clever ploy? Was this their first kiss? Or maybe they were they saying goodbye, knowing they wouldn’t see one another again for a long time, if ever. No! They looked too happy for that. One thing was for sure, they were in love…hopelessly and ecstatically... and for a Romantic fiction  writer like me it was a joy to see.
I’ll never know their story of course, and nor should I. I will use that short glimpse into their lives though. One day, in one of my books, there will be a young couple sitting beside a river and they will be so locked into their own world that they will be completely oblivious to the people passing by. She might even be wearing a green coat…but the story will be mine. Whether The Great Hermitage will also feature remains to be seen!
Visit my website at where I often use things I have learned on my travels and where readers are promised a ticket to romance when they read one of my books.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Writng, Directing, and Producing a Stage Play by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Last winter I took my writing in a totally new direction. I attended a two day, play writing course. By the end of it I had adapted a short story of mine, which had won first prize in a flash fiction writing contest in Ascent Aspirations Magazine, into a half hour stage play. Last spring, I entered my play in the Port Alberni Fringe. This summer I produced and directed my play on stage in front of a audience. During those months, I discovered this whole process is not easy.

I needed a male and a female lead actor and I asked two people who had been in plays in our local theatre. They both agreed and I sent them copies of the play. We met for a first run through with each of us discussing how we saw the characters. Their interpretations of their characters attitude and actions were sometimes different from mine but other than a few places where I thought a certain delivery was needed, I let them play the part as they wanted. Through our many rehearsals with the props, which my husband, Mike was in charge of, the characters evolved and took shape as we discovered better ways for them to move, react, and relate.

I also needed actors for a party scene and I approached friends and co-workers. Even though I told them that they would only be on stage a few minutes, that all they had to do was listen to the main male character beak off about what a great writer he was, and that they had no lines, most of them declined saying there was no way they would ever get up on stage in front of an audience. Some agreed so I gave them the times of our next two rehearsals; most never showed up. I kept asking people: my cats' vet, the owner of a new store in town, the man who donated some of the props with no success. We ended up with two who came regularly and one who showed up once. It looked like Mike and I would be making our acting debut. I was beginning to worry. Maybe I would have to drag up some of the audience members.

On the evening of the first presentation, two of the three who had attended the rehearsals, two actors from another play, and I made up the party attendees. For the Saturday matinee, one of the three, two actors from another play, two members of my dragon boat team, a theatre volunteer, and myself were the partiers.

One thing I did learn was that for the Fringe, where plays are being presented one after the other, having a lot of props is not a good idea. Because I was showing a story instead of telling it, we had over forty props, some large ones being a fridge, stove, desk, computer, sewing machine, two chairs and table, and smaller ones being duster, broom, envelope, pen, paper, material, boxes, wine bottle and glasses, and many more. The play after mine had only two chairs, two tables  a desk, a laundry basket and some beer bottles. Another play I watched had tea cups and teddy bears.

The first evening there were four plays, mine being the first. That was perfect because it gave us time to set up the scene. However, at the end we had get our props off the stage so that the next play could get their props on for their showing. Our actors became stage hands and everything disappeared backstage quickly. The same thing happened on Saturday afternoon.

One thing I did learn was that while I had written the words, I was at the mercy of the actors to show up for rehearsals, learn the lines and deliver those lines on stage. My female lead was off book (I got to know some of the terms) quickly but my male lead had trouble remembering his lines and missed some rehearsals.

Putting on a stage play is not like making a movie, you can't go back and redo a scene. When asked, the way I put it is 'opening night did not go as rehearsed'. To be honest, it wasn't even close. The male actor kept forgetting his lines or changing them which threw off the female actor, as well as, the lighting guy and Mike, who had to operate a smoke machine.

The Saturday afternoon presentation was much better. He still missed many of his lines but the audience laughed where they were supposed to and understood, and laughed and clapped at, the twisted ending. I was elated and hearing that laughter made the whole process worthwhile. I would like to write another play for next year, however, I will keep the props to a minimum and have the actors tell the story rather than show the story.

While there were problems and mishaps on getting my play to the stage the most memorable one is about the wine bottle. We needed a wine bottle for our opening scene so I rinsed one out and filled it with water. We used it for our first on stage rehearsal and then put it with the rest of the props. For our dress rehearsal the next evening, it was not where I had left it. I looked everywhere and then had to substitute a beer bottle. We joked that hopefully the person who took it wasn't using it as a hostess gift at a fancy dinner. I found another bottle for opening night. At the end of the evening, I discovered the first bottle by a door, empty. If that person drank it he must have thought it was the weakest, worst tasting wine ever made.
Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

The Books of The Travelling Detective Series, now available in a boxed set
Illegally Dead
The Only Shadow In The House
Whistler's Murder

Stillwaters Run Deep, Book One: Raven's Lament

Stillwater's Run Deep  Book One Raven's Lament Frank Talaber, The Writer: Mad muse inside keeps my pencil writing...