Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Town Monday: My Union Roots

This is a special Labor Day post. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which used to be a blue collar, union city. Both of my parents were union members as were many of their friends.

After finishing high school, my mom went to work at the Armstrong Cork Factory, located not far from where she lived in the Strip. She knew how to type so she started in the offices, but soon switched to the factory. The pay was better and you didn't have to dress up. When the US entered World War II, Armstrong Cork became part of the war effort and my mom made jeep parts, kind of like Rosie the Riveter, only without the rivets. The feds came in to fingerprint everyone but couldn't get a complete set of prints from my mom because the machine she operated had rubbed the pads of two of her fingers smooth. I don't remember exactly which union she belonged to, but I think it was part of the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) which merged with the AFL in 1955.

My dad, a truck driver, was pretty much a lifelong member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. One of his jobs was to deliver meat to grocery stores and meat markets. This was in the days when every market had it's own butcher, so that meant my dad and his co-workers had to take a meat hook and carry big chunks of meat from the truck to the freezer, including hind quarters of beef. At about 5'7, my dad wasn't a big guy, but he was strong for his size. Driving in Pittsburgh was no picnic either, between the bad weather, narrow streets (at the time many still paved with bricks) and the surrounding hills. He used to cuss the "goat paths" that passed for streets in the area. Being a Teamster in those days was hard work. Still is, I'm sure, but maybe not quite as much.

When times got tough, the Teamsters ran a list at the union hall. Any member needing a job, signed onto a list every day. When temporary workers were needed, the guys at the top of the list got the job. If you missed a day, your name dropped to the bottom of the list. This was a problem the winter of 1963 when we had a bad snowstorm and temperatures of 18 degrees below zero. My dad was determined to report in at the union hall, but the car wouldn't start. He waited an hour for a streetcar to show up so he could make his way downtown. By the time he got home that night, his ear was frostbitten. That was an important day in my life, because it was what pushed my dad into deciding to move the family to California. Three days after school ended, we were on the road headed west.

We ended up in Azusa and my dad found a job as a warehouseman at the GEMCO store in San Gabriel. He stayed with GEMCO until he retired and was promoted to receiving clerk. Once a month he drove into LA to attend the monthly union meeting. When he retired, the only pension he received was from the union. Over the years, no matter how much scandal plagued the Teamsters, he always defended the union and Jimmy Hoffa because they took care of their members.

Unions aren't as pervasive an influence in American life these days, and I think that's bad. During the 20th century, the union movement helped build a vibrant and prosperous middle class and I think that's a good thing for democracy. What do you think?


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click out his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ilona's Wolf video trailer

I finally finished and uploaded the video trailer for my latest release, Ilona's Wolf. (Yes, I know the idea for a trailer is to build up demand before the books is released, but I just couldn't manage it this time.)

I managed to get this one into exactly 60 seconds, so I'm making progress here. My first trailers were 3-4 minutes long, which is way too long. I've noticed it's harder to find royalty-free music I like that's short, but I can usually find something I love by Kevin McLeod at

Here's the new trailer. Hope you like it.

For more information and an excerpt, go to

Linda / Lyndi

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Town Monday Meme: Anaheim

Travis Erwin suggested this My Town Monday meme, so I'm giving it a whirl today.

HOMETOWN: Anaheim, California

POPULATION -- 345,556 as of 2007. Anaheim is the 10th largest city in California and the 54th largest in the United States.

YOU SHOULD THINK OF MY TOWN WHEN ... you think of Disneyland. We're the only town in Orange County with our very own (fake) mountain. The park dominates the town in more ways than one.

ONE MUST SEE IF YOU VISIT -- Disney's California Adventure. There are other Magic Kingdom's around the world, but only one California Adventure.

ONE PLACE YOU SHOULD AVOID -- any filling station near the Disneyland Resort. Drive a few miles away into a residential area and you'll find cheaper gasoline.

FAMOUS RESIDENT -- Mickey Mouse who now lives in Toon Town. In the slightly-less-famous-but-real category, actor Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli on Heroes) was born in Anahim.

RENOWNED ATHLETE -- pitcher Nolan Ryan of the Anaheim Angels, among other team players. Ryan threw four of seven no-hitters while he was with the Angels in the 1970's.

I couldn't think of anything in the "WITHOUT MY TOWN, THE WORLD WOULD NOT HAVE" category, so I'm substituting:

BIGGEST DISASTER... The Palm Lane Fire of 1982.

The fire started when high winds from a Santa Ana condition downed electrical lines. The flames spread, spread by the dry winds, and destroyed an entire block of apartment houses plus some other homes. Most of them had wood shake roofs which were banned afterwards because of their flammability. The fire started early in the day, just a few blocks from the home I now share with my husband. At the time, he lived there with his brother. Neither of them went to work that day. They stayed home, hosing the roof with water and watching the smoke. The fire got to within a block or two of our house before it was put out. We now have a class A roof instead of the wood shake.

I LIVE IN MY TOWN BECAUSE ... my husband already lived here when we married.

I MIGHT LEAVE ON DAY BECAUSE ... the neighborhood is changing and not for the better.


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click out his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Virgo!

Virgo is the sign of the virgin, but in these modern times, don't take that too literally. The sign is generally symbolized by a young woman in a toga, sometimes with a sheaf of wheat in her arms. Virgo is sometimes associated with Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Persephone was kidnapped by Hades where she spent part of the year as Queen of the Underworld.

Ruled by Mercury, Virgo is thoughtful, practical, analytical and often serious, but with Mercurial charm and wit. Bob Newhart is probably the quintessential Virgo comedian with his sly, dry wit and understated persona. On the negative side, the sign can be "fussy, prissy and dogmatic", as Linda Goodman puts it. But lest anyone think Virgos can't be sexy, consider this list of actors and actresses born under the sign: Lauren Bacall, Anne Bancroft, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Greta Garbo, Richard Gere, Mark Harmon, Sophia Loren, Cliff Robertson, Charlie Sheen and Raquel Welch!

Virgo is an Earth sign, hence the practicality, but since it's also a mutable sign, Virgos are more adaptable than their fellow earth signs, Taurus and Capricorn. As the sixth sign, Virgo rules over sixth house matters, specifically health and medicine. Virgo colors are green and brown, fitting for an earth sign. Virgo's gemstone (or starstone) is variously given as the sapphire or sardonyx.

Other famous Virgos include Agatha Christie, Elvis Costello, Queen Elizabeth I (the Virgin Queen), Gloria Estefan, Goethe, O. Henry, Buddy Holly, Ivan the Terrible, Michael Jackson, King Louis XIV, President Lyndon Johnson, the Marquis de Lafayette, D. H. Lawrence, H. L. Mencken, Margaret Sanger, Peter Sellers, President William Howard Taft, and Mother Teresa.

Is there a Virgo in your life?


Links to articles on Virgo:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What Olympic Sport Are You?

I saw this on another blog and thought it was cute, but figured I'd better post it now before the Olympics end.

Apparently, I am Badminton, not a bad choice as it was one of the few sports I didn't hate back in high school. The description is surprisingly accurate, though I'm not sure about the "focused" part. I'm far too easily distracted.

You Are Badminton

You are quite talented but not very appreciated.

You are detail oriented, very focused, and agile.

You are happy to forsake glory for success in something you truly love.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two Line Tuesday: Writing Description

I discovered a book called The Physician's Tale last week, downloaded a sample for my Kindle and liked it so I bought a copy and I've been reading it at every opportunity. (I don't have as much reading time as I used to.)

The Physician's Tale defies easy categorization. It's part medical thriller, part historical novel and part science fiction dystopia. There are two physicians, both fighting separate plagues: one in the 14th century and the other in an unspecified time in the 21st c. Janie, the modern doctor, is aware of Alejandro, the 14th c. man, because of finding his diary.

Benson immediately hooked me with her first two sentences:

"It was the first spring after the long, hard winter that marked the second coming of the called DR SAM. The sun was April bright, but the wind seemed stuck in March; it roared down the mountainside with the ferocity of a lion, blowing ripples on the surface of the river's fast-moving waters."

My first thought was, "my, this woman can write"!

It turns out this is the last book of a series, but it stands well alone. The plot is too complicated to explain here, but I'm finding it all quite engrossing. The first book in the serious is, apparently, The Plague Tales: A Novel. I've reserved a copy from the public library since it's not available electronically.

Now for two lines I've written, this time from my Regency romance, Lady Elinor's Escape.

"Lady Elinor Ashworth stared out the window of her bedchamber at acres of farmland sprouting new growth. Spring green brightened the vista, taunting her with the promise of freedom."

Writing good description is tough and something I continually work on. Does good description come easily to you or is it something you struggle with, too?

Linda / Lyndi

Monday, August 18, 2008

No My Town Monday Today

I wasn't able to get my act together this weekend, so no My Town Monday post from me today. I'll try to get a post up tomorrow, but I have to work on my writing this afternoon.

As always, check Travis Erwin's blog to read his interesting post and find other My Town Monday blogs.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday: Magic

I'm trying to get back to a regular schedule of writing and blogging, so here's a quick two-sentence Tuesday post.

I'm currently reading A Distant Magic by Mary Jo Putney, one of my favorite writers. She started out with Regency and historical romances, and is now writing fantasy historical novels. Here are the two opening sentences in her latest book:

"The two foreign gentlemen strolling through Valletta's market square looked like they had pockets worth picking. Nikolai quietly shadowed them through the crowds, knowing they would never notice a boy his size in the noisy throng."

Nikolai's encounter with the foreign gents is the first step in a remarkable journey that plunges him into slavery and forges his lifelong quest to free as many slaves as possible. A Distant Magic is a departure from Putney's usual with a more serious theme and the added element of time travel. I like her books a lot.

Now for the first two lines from my most recent release, Ilona's Wolf. I don't often use omniscient viewpoint (at least not purposely), but in this case I couldn't resist the fairy tale opening.

"Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Velosia, magic was more precious than gold. The few who possessed it were highly prized, for not everyone could learn to wield the magic, only those who were sorcerers born."

The Two Sentence Tuesday post idea comes to us from

Linda / Lyndi

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Out-of-Town Monday: Fisherman's Wharf

Recently I spent the better part of a week in San Francisco and one of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Fisherman's Wharf. My roommate, Catherine Snodgrass, and I took the F Market streetcar from Market Street and discovered Fronnie Lewis, another romance writer from Southern California, on the tram and asked her to join us. It was late afternoon and lots of people were getting off work and boarding the streetcar, which made it very crowded. The locals were friendly and helped us watch out for our stop at Pier 39.

After a quick visit to the Bare Escentuals store for a makeup fix, we decided to pass up Bubba Gump's in favor of the Pier Market Restaurant. (Nothing against Bubba Gump's, but there's one in Anaheim now plus I'd checked out the menus ahead of time and knew they don't offer the Clam Chowder Sourdough Bread Bowl I knew Cathy wanted. Fortunately, the Pier Market did serve the bread bowl and she enjoyed it. My salmon with herb butter was delicious, not to mention being a huge chunk of fish! I couldn't resist washing it down witha glass of Anchor Steam beer, a delicious local brew Fronnie worked her way through a huge helping of crab so everyone was happy with the meal. We had a seat by the window with a great view of San Francisco Bay, some of the resident sea lions and of Forbes Island (pictured at top right), which Frommer's guidebook describes as "a wonderfully ridiculous floating restaurant disguised as an island (complete with lighthouse and real 40-ft. palm trees)". Only in California.

Fisherman's Wharf used to be the commercial fishing district for San Francisco, but is now mainly a tourist mecca. It stretches over a number of wharfs covered with shops and restaurants. Some of the restaurants have been around for decades. There's also a chapel dedicated to the memory of the "lost fishermen" of Northern California at nearby Pier 45.

After dinner, we wandered through Chocolate Heaven, a sinfully irresistible candy shop. Much of the merchandise is from the local Ghirardelli chocolate factory. Fronnie and I found the truffles area and had to sample several of them. The hazelnut truffle was especially delicious, but I love anything with hazelnut flavor. Too bad we didn't have time to hit Ghirardelli Square. On the other hand, given my addiction to chocolate, it's probably just as well.

Here's a slideshow of my Fisherman's Wharf photos, courtesy of Picasa:


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

RWA Conference Report

Last week I attended the RWA National Conference for the first time since 2002. I'm still tired and a little brain dead after catching cold during the week, but I'll try to make some coherent comments.

This year's location was superb: San Francisco, California. I hadn't been to the city in a long time and I'd forgotten how much fun it is. (More about that on Monday.) The conference took place at the San Francisco Marriott, and as always, RWA filled up their room quota and had to book spillover space at another Marriott nearby. My roommate, Catherine Snodgrass, and I were lucky to get a room on the seventh floor. We didn't have much of a view, but the lower floors had their own set of elevators, so we didn't have to waste a lot of time waiting for an elevator. On Wednesday I attended the Historical Romance Writers' Conference and I'll do a separate post about that another time, as it was a good day.

The national conference started on Thursday with an opening session featuring an Australian musician and motivational speaker. I enjoyed her piano playing. I thought she was quite good (I took lessons for years) and I recognized most of the tunes. The last one was a parody of "I Write The Songs" only it was "I Write the Books" and practically the whole audience was singing. This was my least favorite part, and my roomie said later that it smacked of a "revival meeting". Neither of us are RWA true believers any more. We've been stung by RWA's policies one too many times for that.

That afternoon I went to the PAN Retreat to hear Gail Blanke, a self-help writer and life coach. She was very good and I bought her book Between Trapezes. She talked about defining moments and "Six Steps for Thriving On Change" which you can find at her website.

On Friday afternoon, I went to Julia Hunter's Behind the Badge workshop. She's a federal law enforcement officer who writes romantic suspense. I found it interesting and she has a great website with a page of links to all sorts of federal agencies.

Late in the afternoon I participated in the panel on "The Romance of Alternative Lifestyles". We had no idea what to expect, but we had about 40 people show up, only one walked out on us, and most seemed receptive to what we had to say. Walking around with a Speaker ribbon gets attention and lots of people asked me what I was talking about. Some were taken aback when I told them about writing male/male erotic romance, but no one was rude. In general, the atmosphere at this RWA conference was so much more open and accepting than what Cathy and I experienced back in 2002 when there was so much animosity about e-publishing. I'm glad I went back.

This is getting a little long, so I will continue on another day.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ilona's Wolf released

Ilona's Wolf, part of the Howling At The Moon... Again AmberPax, was released by Amber Heat over the weekend while I was at the RWA Conference in San Francisco. This is my first werewolf story and the first with a Medieval-style fantasy setting. World building can be a challenge, but it can also be a lot of fun. In this story, I created a kingdom called Velosia in which magic is openly practiced, the old Roman gods and goddesses are still worshipped and werewolves fight to conceal their existence.

My muse didn't lead me in the expected route where the werewolves cycles are tied to the phases of the moon and he's a victim of his biology. In Velosia, werewolves are born with the ability to shapeshift at will. Except for my hero Rolf who starts the story trapped in wolf form. The beginning is a twist on the old fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, only in this version, Red is saved from the woodsman by the wolf.

While picking herbs in the woods, Princess Ilona is rescued from a woodsman by a wolf. When the creature licks her wounds, it is suddenly transformed into a man. A very handsome, very naked man who makes passionate love to her in a glade.

Cursed by an evil wizard, Rolf was trapped in wolf form until he tasted the blood of a royal. Now he must escort the princess on a hazardous journey back to the castle to stop an ill-fated wedding.

Passion flares between them, but both know there is no future for Ilona and her werewolf. Or is there? In a world where magic and passion combine, anything may be possible.

Click here to read an excerpt from Ilona's Wolf.

In the next couple of days I'll get my San Francisco pictures uploaded. It's taking longer to catch up than I expected after the trip to San Francisco.

Linda / Lyndi