Tuesday, June 30, 2015

But what's in a name?

Being new to this whole parenting gig means I spend a lot of time unsure what I'm supposed to be contributing to the education of these two young people who now call me their stepmom (prompting me to look around wondering, "who the hell are they talking about?")

But one thing I feel confident sharing with them is my love of '80s music. After a road trip in which I introduced sugar-poppy favorites like Cyndi Lauper, Samatha Fox, and Suzy Q, I got the following text from the 9-year-old:

If that wasn't enough to warm the cockles of my heart, I don't know what cockles are. (Actually, I don't. What the hell are cockles?)

For those unfamiliar with Samatha Fox's delicious nugget of '80s cheese, it contains the classic line, "Samantha Fox is such a wild dame – huh, but what's in a name?"

Which leads me to the point of this blog post (and to the inevitable surprise that I actually have a point). Today is release day for Protector for Hire, my new romantic comedy from Entangled Publishing. Since this is my blog and I can say pretty much whatever I want here, I'll confess right now that this is my favorite of the four books in the Front and Center series (though if you haven't read any of the others, don't worry – I wrote each one to stand alone).

Reviews are already going up on Goodreads and Amazon, and I'm thrilled to see readers seem to share my fondness for this story. But one thing we don't necessarily share is a connection to the hero's name – Schwartz. At least half the reviews misspell it, and several more have remarked on how unromantic it is.

I can't disagree. But is that always a bad thing?

Technically, it's short for Schwarzkopf Alexander Patton. Those who've followed along in the series know all the kids in the Patton family were named for military generals, and while Sheridan, MacArthur, and Grant got the more normal sounding names, it makes sense the black sheep of the family would have the one that's a bit outside the box.

I'll freely admit "Schwartz" doesn't roll off the tongue (no pun intended) the way "Romeo" or "Ashton"or "Blake" might. But it does fit the character, a reclusive, curmudgeonly mountain man who's spent the last ten years hiding out in a remote cabin in the wilderness. There's a hint of "Beauty and the Beast" to this story, so having a hero with a slightly beastly name made sense.

How do you feel about the name Schwartz? Do you prefer your romance novel heroes to have more traditional names? Are we all now remembering the scene from When Harry Met Sally when Billy Crystal questions whether Meg Ryan could truly have great sex with a guy named "Sheldon?" Please share in the comments!

And please take a moment to click over and buy Protector for Hire! It's only $2.99 from Entangled Publishing. Also, I'll be over at Bitten By Books today from noon PST until late in the evening having a rager of a book release party, complete with prize giveaways and lots of book chat, so join us for that.

And last but not least, remember, kids: Naughty girls need love, too!

Monday, June 8, 2015

On hermit crab ghosts and why I shouldn't be left alone for the weekend

On Saturday morning, my 13-year-old stepson's hermit crab, Hercules, went to the great crabitat in the sky.

It was a mournful occasion marked with much wailing and moaning and donning of solemn black attire. But once I got out of bed, removed the crotchless teddy, and took a cold shower, there was the matter of burial to attend to.

Since the kids are with us only part-time and my husband was out of town, the funereal duties fell to me. My day's to-do list included planting our vegetable garden, so I decided to honor the deceased by allowing him to fertilize a tomato plant.

I dug a hole suitable for both crypt and fledgling tomato and gently shook the lifeless crustacean body from its shell into the grave. The odor suggested Hercules's demise may have been several days before the discovery of the corpse, but I opted not to amend the certificate of death.

I sang a few hymns, drank a bottle of wine in reverent communion, and planted my budding Oregon Spring tomato atop the sacred burial site. Then I set the empty shell beside the plant to serve as a tombstone until a more suitable one could be hand-carved from a nine-foot slab of Italian marble.

Once I finished up the garden, I went inside and spent the evening hosting a wake with the surviving hermit crab, five cats, the dog, and a black ghost knifefish the kids dubbed Jack Black. In the morning, I went outside to check the garden and discovered to my absolute amazement that Hercules's shell had moved ten feet to the opposite side of the garden.

Mystified, I picked up the shell and double-checked to be certain I hadn't mistakenly left a living creature inside. 

I kid. That's what a sane person would do. Or maybe the aforementioned sane person might assume a neighborhood cat or raccoon had moved the shell.

I, on the other hand, concluded the ghost of Hercules had decided he preferred to spend his eternal dirt nap beneath a daisy instead of a tomato. I took photos and sent them to my husband with an explanation about the ghost, likely prompting him to question the wisdom of his decision to marry me last fall.

After that, I went about my day like normal, which is to say I spent eight solid hours siting braless and unshowered in front of my laptop writing elaborate blowjob scenes for my next romantic comedy. Around 4:00, I went outside to check the garden again in case six bushels of tomatoes had magically sprouted from the consecrated remains. 

That's when I discovered the shell had moved again.

So I'm considering giving up romantic comedy in favor of writing crustacean ghost stories. If anyone needs me, I'll be at my laptop with a bottle of wine by my side and one eye on the door that leads to the garden.