Thursday, December 6, 2012

50 Reasons I love Aaron Sorkin

Okay, make that ten reasons. I don't really have all day, much as I'd like to be a lady of leisure now and again.

Most of us are familiar with the name Aaron Sorkin. There are a few folks living under rocks somewhere who don't watch tv or go to the movies. (I guess I'm limiting this post to those folks who receive broadcast/cinema offerings from the USA. Just wanted to clarify that.) So to introduce Mr. Sorkin to the geologically-housed minority, here's a man who loves words. Happily, he's chosen a career that permits him to go play with his passion - he writes the most amazing programs, and also produces them on a regular basis.

I first fell under his spell along with millions of others when I got to visit The West Wing. For seven seasons I remained entranced, living week to week in President Bartlet's Oval Office, bemoaning Sam's departure to Orange County, adoring Toby's twins and crying at the loss of the truly awesome John Spencer (Leo, the Chief of Staff). The style, language and catchphrases have become part of my family's "dialect", those little expressions that drop into our conversations now and again and mean so much to us. Unless anyone else is a big fan, they mean nothing. Like "What's next?" "Liberal conservatism" and "Mother Theresa with first strike capabilities". Not to mention "Their names are Eric and Troy", "I'm going to be known as soft on turkeys" and other wonderful comments. If you are a follower, you'll know the episodes.

Originally broadcast on NBC television
So reason 1 = The West Wing.

Reason 2 = Lord John Marbury, one of the most picturesque of the picturesque characters. And a Brit to boot. (Memorable line "Abigail. My God. Those breasts...")

Reason 3 = CJ Gregg (played by the extraordinary Alison Janney) whose Press Secretary character was, by turns, eloquent, feminine, brilliant, savage and gentle.

Reason 4 = Everyone else in that cast. Crisp, clean, dialogue sharp enough to cut that Big Block of Cheese day to the bone. Brilliance.

Reason 5 = Moving away from the West Wing, but staying in the White House - The American President. 
I loved this movie and never realized it was an Aaron Sorkin piece. I should have, of course. And watching it again, post-West Wing, the similarities were clear. Once again the President (Michael Douglas) was brilliantly written and the entire cast of characters from the House to the Senate portrayed with acute accuracy. Kudos to Michael J Fox in this one, btw. Priceless.  Best line? "I'm Andrew Shepard and I AM the President." I defy anyone not to want to stand up and cheer at that one!!!

Reason 6 = Charlie Wilson's War. This was an intriguing movie that I really need to watch again. The first time around I was totally involved with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts' performances which - as always - were flawless. Ditto Philip Michael Hoffman. I almost missed the political thrust until the last two minutes. If you see this film, do NOT kill the DVD before the end. It is chilling.  Best moment? Okay, this is a girl thing, but it's Julia Roberts putting on mascara and separating her lashes with a pin!!! I remember my Mom doing that.

Reasons 7 and 8 = The Social Network and A Few Good Men. I'll admit that I haven't seen The Social Network yet. It's on my list. And it's been some years since I watched Nicholson complain that Tom Cruise couldn't handle the truth. So that's on the re-watch list too.  They're here as reasons, however, since - as a writer - I appreciate anyone who can continue to write brilliant material, whether movies, screenplays, theater or tv. These two films demonstrate that Sorkin can do just that.

The Newsroom - an original HBO series
Reason 9 = However, it's in the arena of politics where the (Sorry.) Today, while nursing a bit of a stomach bug, I tucked up on the couch and treated myself to a four episode marathon of THE NEWSROOM.  Oh. My. God.  He's back!!!  It's Sorkin at his sharpest, his funniest, and his most incisive. This time he takes on the media with every bit of his passion, spearing politics along the way and laughing at the collateral damage.  If you can see this series, watch it. If you know someone who can record it, go visit them and camp out on their couch. Bring popcorn. The cast is extraordinary and the plot as pointed today as it was during the events it portrays.

Reason 10 = Mr. Sorkin did what few tv shows have ever done. He made me cry. The episode entitled "Amen" - the last five minutes or so. Well, I teared up before I realized it. And that, folks, is being involved with a television show. And why these are the first ten reasons I'm a Sorkin fan. There are more, but it's getting late and I'm tired, so I'll save them for another time.

You know, I'd almost given up hope that programs like this were still around. They're certainly not on broadcast tv. I wish they were. Game of Thrones holds an awe-inspiring majesty all it's own and has me eagerly awaiting the DVD releases. Castle is a charmer and his lighthearted humor will always appeal. But Sorkin - ahh, he holds a special place in my heart. May you continue to write, continue to produce and continue to capture viewers like me. I'm a better writer thanks to your tutorials and your dialogue. I even forgot about the flu-bug!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow... i.e. it SUCKS!!!

Okay, maybe I should phrase that a little less dramatically - it's almost Moving Day.

Yes, after nearly 25 years here, nestled into a Boston suburb, this New Englander is finally uprooting herself and heading south. It's an inevitable move for most of us - the kids have gone on to mostly bigger and better things, like their own apartments and a cat. Hubby's job has taken him out of state and there are more than a few dual-home couples these days. You gotta go where the work is.

So here it is. We're combining houses, packing up this one and (eventually, if we get things like drywall, permits and FIOS) moving into a brand new home. So why is it that I'm possessed with the urge to choke the living daylights out of the next person who says to me "Oh, you must be SO excited!"

Let me say this clearly and concisely. "NO. I am NOT excited. I'm frickin' TIRED and FED UP of boxes, lists, more lists and the idea of moving is CRUSHING me." Got that? I used capitals in case you missed any of the salient points. Here's a visual aid, to prevent any confusion.


This is to illustrate that moving is, simply, a chore. A pretty large one, granted, but it involves putting things from your places (a room or a cupboard or something) into boxes. That, in essence, sums it up.

Of course, not everything gets boxed, since it's a good time to be selective. And the boxes sure aren't this tidy. LOL Not to mention that things like beds and bookshelves don't fit.


However, when you're in the middle of the chaos, when you find you've packed your last roll of packing TAPE (yes, I did that yesterday, sigh), then it truly does feel like you're teetering on the edge of extinction. Your life passes before your eyes with every box of your kid's Kindergarten projects you sadly throw out. You look at that 15 year old bridesmaid's dress (the one you KNEW you were going to wear again) and realize that there still are some universal untruths.

It is very difficult to pack up nearly a quarter of a century of "stuff". (George Carlin does a fabulous riff on stuff. See it. Must be on YouTube somewhere.) Everything you touch has a memory, good or bad. Everything you touch is YOUR stuff. It was bought by or given to YOU. (Or your family, of course.) Whatever the source, it's a part of your life and has been for anywhere from the last five minutes to twenty-five years. And yes, you're about to either a) recycle it; b) donate it; or c) put it out for the trash. And none of those options seem like a good idea when you're holding a small plastic trophy your kid won for loudest sneeze on a field trip.

Yeah, it's a ripping of some kind of dwelling-linked umbilical cord. It's a parting of the ways with a spot on the map that has hosted most of your life. And make no mistake about it, it's painful. It frickin' HURTS, people. So please don't ask me how excited I am. Just pass me a tissue and let me weep a little.

Of course, this will pass. I'm an emotional sod right about now, but I am also aware that the things making me sniffly aren't being thrown away. The memories will always be there, in my mind. It's the reminders that are going, not the feelings themselves, or the image of my son's face when he slid to the podium like a ballplayer to receive his award. (He was four. Do not remind him of this.)

And yes, there are good things ahead. A real office, decorated in the style I am developing which is Jane-Austen-married-to-Steve-Jobs. Regency/Victorian + Apple. I am working on a name but for now it's Elegant Techno-Fruit. Seems to work? And as I begin my last full week here amidst the remains of the autumn foliage, I am nearing the point where I can look back on my years in this house with warmth and a bittersweet joy. I can't have those years back, but as I said, they'll always be in my heart. And there are new memories to create and relish. Maybe a puppy. Or two. Who knows?

So here's the illustration that pretty much sums things up as I contemplate the Tetris-world I'm inhabiting for the next ten days...

At least not as of this writing...

Good luck, safe travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving to everyone. I'll be off line a bit as the Great Transition occurs, but you ain't seen the last of me. Yet... LOL


Got books on the way. Dunno when, but stay tuned. Seriously. I can write anywhere. Even in a BOX!!! LMAO

Aw Hell. Carlin is too good to pass up. You GOTTA watch this and be prepared to howl!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


After over 9,000 comments our Romance Hop has some grand prize winners!! Congrats! 

 Grand Prize Winners: 

Kindle Fire Winner: 
Laurie Goudge 
(from It's the Journey that Counts's Blog) 

 $130 Amazon Gift Card: 
(from Carrie Ann Ryan's Blog) 

 Swag Pack: 
 (from Dana Delamar's Blog) 

 The grand prize winners have already been notified and have their prizes or the prizes are on their way!

From THIS BLOG (Sahara Kelly)

An email is on its way to you now!


Keep those romantic ideals close to your hearts and your favorite romance novels close to your hands. 

Best wishes to all,

Friday, August 31, 2012

Just a little romance...

Can there ever be such a thing? When the subject of this BlogHop was announced, I pondered for some time over the content. (Actually I was waiting for my coffee to perk, but pondering seemed like a good thing to do right then.)

The way I see it, thoughts of romance vary as we make our irregular and unique paths through our lives. From the moment when we first sigh as the Prince kisses Snow White, to the moment we shiver while we watch Westley kissing Buttercup (one of the six greatest kisses of all time), through the purely elemental response of our bodies to George Clooney kissing anything at all, even Brad Pitt (and that's another subject for another time LOL) - our appreciation for and attitude toward romance changes.

When dating, we look for that bolt of lightning to strike. Whether it's inside a pair of blue eyes, or held in the palm of a warm hand to be discharged at that first contact, we want it. We know it'll knock us off our platform wedges and make our eyelashes curl. It's going to happen - because everyone says it does. (Please note: Everyone is an unspecified part of speech. Everyone eats avocados down to the pit; flosses three times a day and never has irregularity issues. Dunno who everyone is, but someday I'd like to say hello. Then kick 'em.)

Once we've gotten serious about someone, we know the romance changes. From the excitement of waiting for him to arrive to pick us up, it becomes a more breathless kind of waiting - the kind that happens when he gets stuck trying to figure out the clasp of our bras. Unless you're dating an engineer, then you have to wait while he re-designs a more efficient system. Sigh.

And then there's the romance of walking up the aisle (or forest path, or beach stroll or...fill in your preference here...) to launch a new life in the arms of your beloved. That's not only romance, it's a gamble of biblical proportions. But where love is involved, all bets are off.

And so life progresses. Romance, in its roses-and-rainbows incarnation, slowly gives way to a surprise bottle of wine, or an evening stolen together to share a smooth scotch by the fire. Romance is replaced by the soul-deep joy of family, the challenges of making one's way through the hazardous shoals littering the road to happiness.

But does it ever die out? Hell no. It's always there. Not every day, not all the time. Sometimes it's clearly front and center. Other times it sneaks up, taps you on the shoulder, smiles at you for a second or two and then it's gone. It hides in the eyes of your lover or warms the arms of your husband. It gleams in a sunset, flashes in the twinkle of the first star and glows all over a full moon.

It never gives up. And neither should you. Whether between the pages of a book or in your own special manifestation, keep believing in romance. Because I reckon the world is a better place with a whole lot of it.

I hope you agree!

Cheers, Sahara Kelly

~~~~~~~~~ WORKING STIFFS (with S.L. Carpenter)
Book 1 - Hired Help (on sale for your eReader everywhere)
Book 2 - Open House (Sahara Kelly; on sale for your eReader everywhere)
Book 3 - Full Service (S.L. Carpenter; coming this fall)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Are you ready for some BlogHop excitement?

Almost time for the Occupy Blogspot movement to strike again - and this time I'm part of the fun! What is your favorite thing about Romance? Well, we authors are ready to share our romantic tips and favorite romance reads! Starting on Friday and ending on August 31st, over 100 Authors and Bloggers will share their favorite things about romance, reading romance, and dating. And while we do that, we are EACH doing a giveaway. Yep. There will be over 100 giveaways on each blog hosted by that Author or Blogger. But that's not all.... We have THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 100 times! Now what are those prizes? 1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet 2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card 3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack! Yep. ALL of that! Whoot! Be sure to come back here on Friday and over the weekend to enjoy some stories and facts about our favorite Romance events and reads and enter to win! You can check the image to your left (the other left) to find out more, or come back tomorrow and - as they say in London - "READ ALL ABAHT IT..." LOL See you then, Sahara

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today's Headline: Is it ME or the MEDIA?

Of late I have found myself ranting. Yes, seriously. I am shocked...shocked, I say. There have been more than a few events which have made me grit my teeth hard (I even cracked a crown), pace my floors, and repress the urge to scream bloody murder.

The cause of all this angst and anguish? The media.

Life is rich with challenges. Some are good challenges, some bad. We can't control what happens to us any more than we can control the actions of one homicidal psychopath. We try, we fail, we cry, we hug and we cope. Humans have been doing versions of this since one homo sapiens picked up a rock and beaned another one with it. However today it seems that there are media photographers, reporters, experts, analysis boffins and pretty much everyone - including the next-door-but-one neighbor - ready and willing to weigh in, or at least shove a lens up the nose of the beaner. How big was the rock? Was it obtained legally? Did anyone notice that rock being moved? Why was homo sapiens 2 beaned? Was there provocation? Motivation? Psychological issues? Oedipal complexes? What did you see? How did you feel? (Those questions go to homo sapiens #3 who was accidentally in the area evading a hungry T-rex.)

See where I'm going with this? Somewhere over the past years, the media has stopped reporting the news and started making it. And THIS is what has me so seriously pissed off.

Case in point - and one that will linger in my mind - was an interview by a TODAY show correspondent in Colorado. This was no more than 12 hours after the horrible atrocity in the Aurora cinema and if you were watching events unfold, you may have seen it. On the other side of the microphone was a young girl, probably no more than 21 or 22, whose boyfriend had died saving her. Even I could see she was in shock. How can she process something like this when it makes no sense to those of us years older than she? How can she be expected to answer questions like "how does that make you feel?" when she's probably still half-deaf from the sound of gunfire and the terrible sensation of the man lying above her taking a mortal hit from an assault rifle or whatever. I can't begin to imagine it. How could she? And WHY did they even THINK about interviewing her? Was it really necessary? Did she add a thing to the coverage of the tragedy? No. (I'm also ignoring the fact that the poor girl couldn't say two words without one of them being "like". "It was like you know, so scary." I forgive her. I could see the stress in her body. Whatever words she could find were a miracle, IMHO.)

This is one of the most recent examples of media idiocy. I won't mention the Olympic games coverage, which has always irritated the hell out of me. Apparently nobody told American tv that there were more than a few events in which USA participants weren't going to medal. And so they weren't covered at all. At least this year there are a few more channels offering opportunities to watch something other than gymnastics or swimming. Or beach volleyball. You know, the bikini event.  (Sighs and rolls eyes.)

Yeah, I'm angry, and not just because I can't fit into one of those beach bikinis and sometimes look like I've swallowed the volleyball. I'm angry that the sources I depend on to keep me abreast of what is happening in my world are no longer reliable. There are no Walter Cronkites on the tube anymore. Nobody whose words I can honestly take at face value and believe without question. (Note: I watch Brian Williams in the evenings. Out of everyone, I find him to be the most credible. But I also like his sense of humor, so I'm not sure my comments count for anything.)

No, today's news comes via hot new technologies flashing things at me online, perfectly-toothed anchorpersons with not a hair out of place unable to pronounce the word N-U-C-L-E-A-R, and - on a slow news day - incredibly thrilling remote coverage of yak races in Tibet. (The American Yak made the finals but lost to the Kazakhstan competitor by a cowbell in the final lap.)

Sadly, we have no alternatives for our information. We are held hostage by television, radio, and the internet. Used to be there were a few newspapers around that were relatively unbiased. They've gone digital. Are they still reliable sources? Umm...does the name Rupert Murdoch ring a bell? So I will still have to place some credence in the headlines on the nightly news. Revolutions in the Middle East continue. Economic figures struggle here at home, and there's a drought that scares the willies out of me. Dear Lord, please send rain to the Midwest.

But I'll be damned if I'm going to buy into the "Colorado tragedy" theme graphics; any sensationalization of national voter poll figures, or the up close interview with the poor woman who got bilked out of her life savings. (HIDE THIS PARAGRAPH FROM THE KIDDIES)  It's all bullshit, ladies and gentlemen. And these days we need one hell of a big shovel to move it aside and get to the REAL news beneath!

Just sayin'...

Sahara Kelly
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Working Stiffs #1 - HIRED HELP - Amazon bestseller - Get it for your Kindle now!
Working Stiffs #2 - OPEN HOUSE - the next in the series - JUST RELEASED!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Time for a Gentle Spanking!

No, this isn't anything to do with "that" book. This is something that's been bugging me for a while now and it's bad enough that I feel the urge to blog about it.

MANNERS!!! Courtesy, politeness, good manners, decorum, whatever you'd like to call it, it's GONE. The ability to communicate pleasantly with another human being. Or even your dog. Why every greeting needs to involve the words "muthaf***er" - or seems to - I have no clue, since I've never slept with a mother. It's inaccurate, crude and if you've forgotten my name there are other ways to deal with it.

Case in point. Checkout at my local outlet store. Customer is waiting for the clerk to check another store for a dress (which she shouldn't have been wearing anyway) in another size. She's fidgety, frowning and can't wait for the call to complete without making a general comment about the slowness of these things. It's SATURDAY, you raving nutter. The store is crowded, the clerk is taking time to help you out with a favor, just chill. So of course the answer is finally, sorry, ma'am, not available. Instead of a shrug and a thank you, the woman flounces out with a disgusted mumble. The clerk, probably sick and tired of the entire human race and ready to hitch hike to Alpha Centauri Prime, sighs and takes my small purchase. Her day will go on.

But wouldn't it have been a tad better if that bitch had at least thanked her? It doesn't take that much time, folks. Two words. Or one if you run them together. Thank you. Same for please. I raised my kid to use those words; to not be afraid of them or think they made his penis look shorter. It would seem that nobody is teaching that today, since there's a generation out there who thinks "Yo" is a multipurpose expression that will cover everything from quantum physics to the throes of childbirth.

While face-to-face communications are slowly sinking into the turgid mud of slipshod vulgarity, I'm finding emails/technical correspondence even WORSE!!!! Yes. Gasp. LOL I don't include texts here. That is a new and developing language that some day may override our current tongues. Books will contain four chapters, each plot line will be allocated 145 characters and libraries will slowly spiral down into a black hole which emerges several thousand years ago. To the amazement of the Sumerians or whomever. I dunno.

What I do know is that emails don't use my name, speak to me as if I was a thing, not a person, and more often than not include a signature line that deserves its own ISBN number. This does, of course, indicate how important that person is compared to me.


Have we forgotten how to say "Dear /Name/" or even "Hi, /Name/"? Have we forgotten that the people on the other end of the SEND button are PEOPLE? That they are deserving of courtesy even if there's a complaint in the body of the email? Asking for help, resolution, assistance or money... it can all be done without resorting to a "GIMME" email. There are phrases out there that might take a bit more time to type. Things like "I would appreciate your help with this." Or "I'd like to confirm that you have all the information you need for this project? If not, please let me know."

Oh GOD.. I used the "P" word. PLEASE!!! That sin will get me kicked out of the "couldntgiveashit" club for sure. And yet...isn't it better to be asked something unpleasant in a pleasant way? It doesn't change things, but the "color" of the matter shifts from dark to light. Our lives contain enough darkness as it is. Why not make it a point to go for more light?

I guess it all boils down to that old-fashioned word "manners". I was raised to have 'em, and use 'em. I tried to pass that along to my son and I'm proud as hell when someone asks after him and tells me what a great lad he is. They do. Really. I'm not making this up. So why aren't more kids exploring the concept of manners? When did it go out of style? It's not prissy Victorianism to ask for something with a smile and a please. Nor is it weakly pathetic to thank someone who has just done something nice. Or to say "Bless you" when someone sneezes.

Come on people. We all live here. We interact now and again. We sneeze on each other. (Yeah, I know, but it happens.) Try a little kindness now and again, throw in a thank you to that next email and see if you get it back. Smile!

Remember - the Mayans may be right. You want your last words to be "Muthaf***er"? I don't.

Something to think about,
Sahara Kelly

Check out HIRED HELP - released this week at all the usual venues. Another crazy novella from S.L. Carpenter and Sahara Kelly.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thirty-Two Shades of GREEN!!!

It's time somebody said what every erotic romance writer has been thinking for the last few weeks. What the BLEEP is going on?  How come an erotic BDSM romance has become the talk of the literary town? Why is every television personality clutching a copy like it was a canteen of water and they're stuck in the middle of the Gobi desert at high noon? Why is every interviewer on every evening program suddenly talking about BDSM like it was some new and shocking sexual deviance?

And most of all - yes, really, I'm going to say it - WHY THE BLEEP WASN'T IT ME?????  DAMMIT. I'M EVEN BRITISH, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit I have not read "the book". I did skim the sample and found it is in first person-present tense. That's a tough POV to write and not one of my faves to read, but nevertheless I'm sure it's a good book. This is in no way a denigration of the author or her accomplishments. I'm the first to congratulate anyone who writes a book, let alone publishes it herself and hits the top of the lists. Well done, E.L. James. Hat's off to you, dear.  No, this rant is an indictment of the media who have worked themselves into a slathering state of drool over the idea (apparently unique) of a novel full of erotically hot BDSM sex.

Uh...seriously?  This is where I begin to turn all those shades of green. And not just for myself. Honestly. We are a community here. So let's look around, shall we?

Ten years or so back <make woo-woo time machine noises here>  - Jaid Black wrote The Possession. That book could've jump-started puberty for an entire generation because it was so damn hot. But was it lauded on tv? Nope.  Another fabulous writer, Kate Douglas, found herself with some erotically charged lions and turned readers on to Star Quest. From there she traveled to wolves and her Wolf Tales series is a continual best seller. Bravo, Kate. But where are the paparazzi? Where are the incessantly hounding interviewers, article-writers, biographers and people who would like her to endorse their latest product? Are they out there lurking around Kate's house? Ditto some of the other wonderful erotic romance authors who paved the road leading to those shades of grey.  Authors like Diane Whiteside (the scarf scene in The Switch. Moan.) , Angela Knight, Lora Leigh and Cheyenne McCray.  And let's not forget one of the all-time BDSM queens, Joey Hill. Where is her adulation? Am I missing a memo? Did I take a Rip-van-Winkle style nap?

And I have to say this, since we're all thinking it...where am I in this pantheon of erotic passions? I'm proud to have a buttload of erotic romances out there. Yes, several are BDSM books and have garnered a share of praise from readers and reviewers. But the last time I looked out my window I completely failed to see a truck with a tv dish on it and there wasn't anyone from Access Hollywood at my door. Sigh. You want some BDSM-lite? Try Pure Sin, written with my partner S.L. Carpenter. Neither of us got a call from the Today Show recently. Or even when it was released. WHY THE BLEEP NOT? It's hotly erotic and features a trip to a dungeon. And a woman who wants to experiment with submission. uh...
<insert pouty sniffling noises here>

I apologize if this sounds like sour grapes. Well, actually I don't, because it is. Very sour grapes. I, like so many of my fellow erotic romance authors, have worked frickin' hard at my craft. I've put out the best books I know how for many years and with many publishers. I'm now doing it on my own for a variety of reasons. But however they're produced and released, they're still out there. Yet apparently lacking in that certain magic, that je-ne-sais-quoi that makes a best-seller. I'm not hauling in the dosh by the barrel, or buying myself that Lincoln MKX that does everything but make coffee in the mornings. I'm not even anywhere on any lists, that I can tell, unless Bottom-of-the-Birdcage counts. WHY THE BLEEP NOT???

The answer, of course, is that nobody knows. And all kidding aside, anyone who enters the world of writing with the intention of penning another Shades of Grey is in for a huge disappointment. Of all the authors out there writing erotic romance, there are maybe a dozen with such successes under their belts. And that puts the odds at somewhere between going to bed with George Clooney and getting hit by lightning. Twice.  In other words, slim to none.

My philosophy about my books has always been that writing is a crapshoot. There is NO way to predict, analyze or otherwise manipulate this industry to produce a best-seller. And I reckon the last six weeks has proved my belief to be right on the nose. Again, I congratulate E.L. James. She's hit the jackpot and I'm happy she's brought attention to the genre in which I have happily played for over a decade. More power to her and to the others that will follow her.

However, in my quietly private moments, I still permit myself that silent scream of envy. And turn those thirty-two shades of green. LMAO

Begging forgiveness for my weak spirit,
Sahara Kelly


Monday, April 2, 2012

A Different Take on... Amanda McIntyre

One of the best things about writing is the people you meet - the friends you make whose path you would otherwise never have crossed. For me, Amanda McIntyre fits that bill. Besides the fact she's a terrific writer with an imagination that a corkscrew would envy sometimes when it comes to "twisted", she is also a wonderful friend. Funny, giving and visionary in so many ways, Amanda has shared a lot of writing and creative adventures with me and each has produced unique memories! (Thanks, QE1. Don't ever make me drive a Bradley Assault Vehicle over mountains again. LMAO) It's my pleasure to be able to offer her a chance to talk about something close to her heart that isn't to do with writing. So here, in her own words, is Amanda - eloquently entertaining us in her own unique style!

LASTING IMPRESSIONS - from Amanda McIntyre

We live in a world filled with symbols. In marketing, we dub this as ‘branding.’ Few wouldn’t recognize the twin golden arches as being McDonalds, or the red bull’s-eye as the Target logo, or how about that kindly bearded southern colonel on the side of a bucket of chicken? But branding goes beyond marketing. Oh yes it does. From clothing choices (think Lincoln’s stovetop hat, or Madonna’s famous coned corset,) to hairstyles (think Katy Perry’s hair color choice of the week, or Marie Antoinette’s bevy of beehive wigs) to the type of car we drive. All create an image of how we’d like others to perceive us.

And we take it with us right to the grave—

I admit. I am a Taphophiliac. Technically speaking, that is someone who has a fascination with funerals, gravestone art and epitaphs. For me, however, it’s all about the art and symbolism and there isn’t a cemetery I drive by that I am not craning my neck to catch a glimpse of some ethereal stone sculpture rising high above the rest in homage to the mortal remains buried below.

Now before you cringe at this odd fascination, take into consideration that cemeteries have been around for a very long time. In earlier times, it was thought - especially among the Puritan sect - that only a privileged few would make it past the pearly gates of heaven. The rest pretty much just died. But times changed (thankfully) and as Puritanical belief waned, the burial locations inside the churches (nearest the alter for a better shot at heavens doors) gave way to the land outside the church. They called this “God’s Acres” (Stories in Stone, Douglas Keister, Gibbs Smith Pub. 2004) And that’s when the symbolism and great stone art in cemeteries began to take flight.

Today headstones reveal symbols more personalized to the life of the deceased — whether in context of who they were, or an engraved symbol of something dearest to them in this life — the symbolism is there as its always been, but to a lesser degree. In Victorian days, for example, it was not strange to invest scores of money into hiring a famous sculptor to create a suitable memorial for your eminent departure. To that end, (no pun intended) the cemeteries of this world house some of the very best in historical architecture, many a proverbial outdoor museum with exquisite statuaries and ornate family vaults. Far too many to name, the stories behind these magnificent works of art is as intriguing as the result.

One of the more famous of these stories is the Blocher Mausoleum, located in Buffalo New York in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. Its nineteenth century design has been referred to as something called ‘follies’ in Victorian architecture. According to Penguins Dictionary of Design, ‘follies is defined as “a costly, but useless structure built to satisfy the whim of some eccentric and show his folly.”(Referenced in Stories in Stone) Whether useful or a whim, the structure is a testament to just how important making a ‘lasting impression’ was and probably still is, to this day. You can see pictures and learn more about this amazing Blocher memorial here.

I have always had a fascination with history and those who know me know my love for researching odd historical tidbits. Perhaps that too, plays a part in my taphophilic tendencies. While some people have their ‘bucket’ lists of exotic cities and countries they long to one day visit before they…well, you get the idea. Mine include some of the world’s cemeteries. And thanks to the scores of tourists who share my particular interest, as well as the scores of ‘ghost hunters’ scouring at night some of the most famous cemeteries, the thirsty taphophile can be satisfied for hours taking the film tours on YouTube.

However, nothing can beat the real deal — last fall, I had the giddy good fortune to take a tour of New Orleans. The city alone is a mecca of historical wonder, but top on my ‘bucket’ list was a visit to one of its ancient cemeteries. Of its three famous historical Catholic cemeteries, St Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest. Founded in 1789, it is the eternal home of some of ‘N'awlins most famous residents including the voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. Unfortunately, due to the decline in safety and rise in crime in the area, the guide chose instead to take us to St Louis No.3, near Bayou St John and Esplanade Avenue. Though flooded after Katrina, the tombs, some of the most elaborate of the three, were fortunately unscathed. I will never forget the experience.

On a three-hour tour (which I highly recommend) I could barely contain myself as we pulled alongside the curb and merged into the sultry 100-degree plus afternoon. Great billows of murky grey clouds consumed much of the blue sky, leaving only patches open to the heavens above. Off the cost, a tropical storm was brewing as the city braced itself for a deluge. Our stay wasn’t nearly as long as I would have liked, but I was able to snap a few pictures encapsulating the moment. If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating cemeteries of New Orleans, I recommend this link.

Among the top fascinating cemeteries on my bucket list:

High Gate Cemetery London, England
Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland
Cimitero Monumentale, Milan, Italy
Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
Cimetiere Montparnasse, Paris, France
Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo New York
Charter Street Cemetery, Salem, Mass.
In addition, I’d like to return to New Orleans and visit more of her historical cemeteries!

So there you have it, the perhaps morbid and gothic extension of my love of researching history! Certainly, I must not be alone in my strange fascination. What cemeteries have you visited, or would like to? What should I add to my bucket list of ‘must see’ cemeteries? Inquiring minds want to know!!

- - - - -

Thanks for sharing, Amanda! I'm fascinated with this unusual interest of yours and I'm sure some readers will be as well. For those interested in finding out more about you, I'm posting a link to your website and here's the gorgeous cover from the book I know you'll have with you in Chicago next week - another genre you love! Westerns and Time Travel. (Yep. It's pure McIntyre! As unique as the lady herself. LOL)

Wild and Unruly (Decadent Publishing) - available from Decadent and also HERE.

Please visit Amanda's website -

If you're in Chicago at the RT Booklovers Convention, don't miss saying hello to Amanda. She'll be the one gracefully juggling an impossible schedule and keeping that lovely smile in place in spite of the chaos around her.

(I will be there as well, but not nearly as graceful as my gal pal. On me, the chaos shows. Looking to say hi? Check the bar. LOLLOL)

Hope everyone has a great couple of weeks - next time, a wrap up of RT Chicago!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Have you signed up for my newsletter? It's got the good stuff FIRST!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are we there yet?

This morning I read an interesting article on whose headline caught my eye: "FAA predicts space tourism will be $1 billion industry by 2022".

Well all righty then. Let me grab my carryon. The one with the anti-grav clamps that is designed to float in the overhead compartment. Truthfully I'm not sure exactly WHERE this tourism industry is going to be located. Visions of Risa, that Pleasure Planet from all those Star Trek episodes, flashed through my mind, along with images of Jonathan Frakes in a toga. Uh... maybe I don't have any comp time coming to me after all.

Then, after reading further, I realized the tourism bit applies to those humans with deep pockets (and probably shallow minds) who are ready to drop mega-bucks on a ticket to the stars. Not on spaceship Access Hollywood, but on something with Richard Branson's smiling face on it and the Virgin logo.
Okay, he's got a certain amount of pseudo-Viking appeal, I'll admit. And I wouldn't mind a week on his tropical island. But a holiday in a spaceship? Sheesh. Haven't these people flown anywhere recently? The idea of making a FLIGHT a vacation leaves me staring at nothing with a brain that refuses to reboot.

I'll admit to not being a fan of flying. My spirits don't soar as we pass 5000 feet, and my gut takes about ten or fifteen seconds to catch up with the rest of me when we reach that indefinable stratospheric layer known as "cruising altitude". More like unclench my teeth and peel my nails off the armest altitude. Not the restful bliss I tend to associate with vacations. Looking out the window - well, unless you're a meteorologist with a degree in cloud formation, there's mostly not a lot to see. I prefer the inside of my eyelids and the embryonic cuddle of the sweater I brought with me just for this moment. I don't suck my thumb, but it's close. Nope, not a huge fan of air travel, that's for sure.

So I read this article with a degree of skepticism. Yes, I can understand the need for cargo flights to the ISS. I'm all for space exploration and hated to see our manned space flight program fold. But then again, as was pointed out to me recently, a Ford F150 has more and better technology than John Glenn's space capsule. Somewhere along the road to sub orbital delight, we dropped the microchip. I joke about my son's WOW gaming system being powerful enough to launch an invasion of Mars. I'm only half kidding. He's actually targeting Io, of course, since that's where the alien invasion will emanate. (Yeah, it's an ongoing thing between us. Joke's on him when they arrive. I have my tinfoil helmet ready. His cat chewed his up.)

Attacking amoebae aside, there are - according to this piece - a whole lotta folks eager to launch. And yes, our friendly unshaven billionaire (Call me SIR Richard) already has seats pre-booked on "Virgin Galactic" flights. To the tune of $60 million in deposits. Yes, you read that correctly. SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

I looked up at the sky last night as I put my trash in the bin and nailed it shut in an effort to thwart Rocky Raccoon and his buddies. The stars were still there. The moon rose. I didn't see a fleet of tourist cruisers circling anything, nor were there trails from galactic pleasure barges. But I have to wonder if the pristine beauty of an early spring night will soon feature such additions. Delicate glittery tail lights marking the paths of happy holidaymakers touching the beyond. Perhaps they'll need something to read on the trip - which of course, I'll be happy to provide. I'm sure there's a genre that covers "leaving Earth-orbit" romance. Re-entry could be quite erotic!!!

But will I be one of those intrepid tourists? Will I actually surrender to my human curiosity and book myself on a flight to tour the Asteroid belt?

Under one condition. I REFUSE TO LAYOVER IN ATLANTA!!!!

We're now on final approach to our destination. Please make sure your tray table is locked and your seat in its upright position. All electronic devices should now be turned off and remain off until we reach our gate. Flight attendants...prepare the cabin for insanity....

Sahara the unwilling passenger

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Surrendering to the Chocolate Demon

A Cautionary Tale of Lust and Desire. And a really big Hammer.

Like many of you reading this, I'm doing the "It's the New Year, so I have to diet" thing. And so far so good. I love berries, which appear to be ripe, sweet and plentiful at the moment, and when topped with a squirt of canned whipped cream (a ridiculously low number of calories) covers the dessert issue nicely. All well and good. [I'm also nursing and rehabbing a flexor plate foot injury so don't bother sending me exercise information right now. I'll just sob a bit and delete it. But I appreciate the thought.]

In spite of the fresh foods, veggies, fruit, salads and healthy crap crowding my fridge, there is always room for a little indulgence. Special K vanilla snack bars, Skinny Cow white chocolate mint truffle popsicles, hard-as-concrete sourdough pretzels with globs of crunchy salt - any dieter understands the need for such treats. Celery, while green and crunchy, lacks a lot in the satisfying and decadent delight department.

Thus it was that the other night I found myself pacing my kitchen and struggling with the worst demon of all...the chocolate demon! I doubt introductions are necessary, since apparently most women with a pulse have met him at one time or another. He's the sneaky little urge that begins as a tickle somewhere deep in the hypothalamus/cerebral cortex/insert-brain-part-here. He grows, slowly but inexorably, until the desire to devour him is so freakin' overwhelming you'll run over your own grandmother without a qualm if she's standing in front of a bar of chocolate. I spent that evening with him, avoiding him, ignoring him - all in a futile effort to dodge the inevitable. I failed. I HAD TO HAVE CHOCOLATE OR DIE.

Now this was after I was comfortably in my jammies. I wasn't about to go out in the car and forage for relief. I knew, somewhere deep in the recesses of my cacao-obsessed mind, that I had a stash someplace. And sure enough, after ripping through four cabinets, a storage pantry, even checking under the sink just in case -- I found treasure at last. An opened bag of CHOCOLATE CHIPS! I held them close, cuddled them, stroked the shiny bag, and drooled.

And then I stilled. The bag in my arms wasn't malleable like something filled with those little dabs of paradise. It was, to put it bluntly, hard as a frickin' rock. With fingers that trembled I opened the bag to find - horror of horrors - it had been sitting in my cabinet over the under-counter halogen lights. The chocolate chips had morphed into one giant CHOCOLATE CHUNK.

So here I was, shaking with the craving, needing my fix, and instead of a tidy little bowl with delectable chiplets, I had a chunk the size of Houston. And I gotta say there is nothing quite as hard as a reanimated chunk of Hershey's best. I beat on that thing with a rolling pin (barely a dent); a hammer - nearly took my eye out; and finally a mallet. Not a rubber one, since that just bounced and could have been lethal if I hadn't used a certain amount of caution. Eventually I dislodged sufficient amounts of the brown stuff to satisfy Mr. Demon. And the crisis was over, sated by the smoothly delightful taste of chocolate shards licked up from the kitchen counter, the backsplash and the little pile under the toaster. (Why things gravitate to beneath a toaster I don't know, but they always do.)

Moral of the story, girls? Don't even try to fight the Chocolate Demon and keep a bag of chocolate chips somewhere cool for emergencies like this. The good news...I had to work so hard to GET the damn stuff I think it balanced out the calories I ingested. The bad news? There's still a couple of bits stuck on the ceiling fan. Today I haul out the ladder and get rid of 'em because...I could never explain it to a guy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Different Take On... S.L. Carpenter

I'm so happy to welcome my first guest - S.L. Carpenter, author of the best-selling story OWNED (Samhain), Art Director for Samhain Publishing, my BFF and all-around great guy.

Scott, we know about your wonderfully crafted - and occasionally wonderfully twisted - books. And we’ve all seen your superb cover art on so many best-selling novels including your own. During many of your interviews you’ve mentioned that music plays a role in your writing, setting the mood and helping you into the right frame of mind to write a certain scene.

So I’d like to talk about music with you today - and start by asking if you remember some of the first music you ever bought for yourself when you were a kid? And why?

Ahhhh, music. First record I ever bought for myself was Queen – Night At The Opera. I grew up in the California Bay Area and listened to mostly rock music on the radio. If I say what bands I’ll date myself, but mostly the classics like Journey, Bad Company, Foreigner and so on, but Queen was always so different and really caught my ear.

I know you have a mammoth music library - how do you think music has changed since those first songs you bought years ago? And has it changed for good or bad?

Loaded question. For me music has changed a lot in bad ways. Part of why I like Rock is the music is more real. Bands playing instruments and singing live. A lot of the music now is all done on computers and the voices are tweaked through computer Autotunes so the voices aren’t even really the singers. Of course I listen to R&B a lot to put me in the mood to write, and that has a lot of the grooves done on computers - but the singing is real.

You’re a family man, so I wonder if you ever think your kids are missing out on “something” because of the way we listen to, and buy, music today. Has the advent of i-Music, i-Pods and i-Tunes, all so easily accessible, cost them the pleasure of browsing in a music store, for example? (Are there even any music stores left? LOL)

Music is music. Where you get it doesn’t matter. I know I loved walking the aisles of the local music stores just browsing. Now I browse online. It’s the same thing just not having to go somewhere to look. What is good is on places like iTunes you can hear snippets of the songs.

Tell us your thoughts on live concerts. Any sense of whether they’re as popular now as they always were? Are there some musicians who do them better or some who shouldn’t do them at all? Are they too expensive these days? Should that money be put into special effects or should it just be an evening of music?

My daughter went and saw Lil Wayne at a concert and spent over a hundred dollars to go and park. The cost alone is nuts. She said it was great and nowadays the DVD will be out in a few months and people can watch it in their living rooms. Concerts used to be an event where you’d go see a band or a bunch of groups sing live for a couple hours. Live music is great. The whole aesthetic feel of the crowd chanting and singing along can’t be felt any other way.
I’ve seen a lot of concerts. Queen 3 times as a kid, Journey, many other rock bands and even some stand up comics. Billy Joel put on a great show as did The WHO, but if I had to pick a favorite it was Queen. I really want to see TOOL and 30 Seconds To Mars. Nowadays, the one’s I have seen on TV or DVD they have such a big show and so much going on it takes away from what’s important. The music. 
But I haven’t seen a really great concert since Evanescence.

I'm going to finish up with a classic question that was first asked seventy years ago on British radio, believe it or not. (And no, I didn’t ask it. LOL) If you were cast away alone on a desert island, which three albums would you choose to take with you, and why?
Jeeez, only three? This isn’t fair. You know how much music I listen to...
Weird Al Yankovic – The Ultimate Collection. I love this wacky stuff and can listen to it all the time and it makes me laugh. Being stranded alone I’d need to laugh. Couldn’t really do much else.

          Queen – Night At The Opera. Still has a special place in my heart. I never get tired of it.

          Sade – Love Deluxe.   Usually it’s Toni Braxton but musically, this is a better cd.

Thanks so much, Scott. I love listening to you talk about music and I'm glad I got the chance to introduce my friends to a different take on a favorite writer. If you're interested in learning more about Scott (and want to check out his books, which you definitely should) then here's some links you will want to make a note of.

Here's his magnificent cover for OWNED, a best-seller for several weeks over at Samhain Publishing. Buy it HERE. And don't forget to drop by and visit his website at - from there you can connect to his blog, and also his Facebook and Twitter pages. Subscribing to his newsletter is a great idea, since he occasionally hosts contests and most often has something outrageous to say.

I've had the joy of knowing Scott for going on ten years now, and during that time we've shared the pleasure of writing eight books together at last count, with more on the way. I'm so proud to call him my BFF, my writing Partner and - occasionally - a few unprintable things. He's funny, observant and is annoyingly right more often than not. (That's when he gets called unprintable things. LOL) I'm very grateful he agreed to be my very first Blog Guest and share something other than writing with us all. Thanks Partner! Rock on.

(I hope to continue this feature with some other friends a couple of times a month, so stay tuned. You'd be surprised at what some of your authors get up to when they're NOT writing!!!!)


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why is a paperback novel like a hat?

There's got to be a funny punchline here...and someone will post it for me, I hope. However, that goofy question really does have a point. Which, naturally, I'm going to get to - after meandering around it a bit.

Last month I took a train trip along the Northeast Corridor, and since it is now winter (yes, that's what the calendar says), I donned what I felt was a whimsical tribute to the days of Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and elegant 1930s train travel. My grey fur bolero jacket was fake, but the hat was real. A crushable cloche with a small brim, complete with flower, in burgundy velvet. I felt terribly glam. (See picture of hat here. Victorian Trading Co. No, I don't get a kickback. Just a bunch of really cool catalogs that appeal to the Hopeless Romantic in me.)

And I got more compliments that day than I could have imagined. It was fun. And I'm still wearing the hat now and again because I adore it and apparently others do as well. I manage to ignore the one or two "WTF?" looks and the less-than-flattering husbandly comments. He's put up with me for over 25 years. He's entitled to the occasional joke at my expense. (Honey, you've got one left, btw. Use that up and you're soooo out of the big bed. LOL)

So the year ended, I returned home and - being a sensible writer - read some of our industry stats as they looked back over 2011. Print sales, according to PW, continued to decline. And largest amongst these drops was the mass market paperback. I don't think they mentioned the actual percentage of loss, but it was higher than other areas. Am I surprised? Not at all. With the advent of bigger, better and more technologically miraculous eReaders, it's inevitable.

And then it hit me. I flashed forward a couple of decades and saw a woman sitting somewhere fancy, a luxurious hotel foyer, perhaps, reading a PAPERBACK ROMANCE. And I watched (in my mind) as people passed and stared curiously at her book, some perhaps stopping and asking her about it and saying how nice it was to see someone actually reading one. The paperback novel had become the "HAT" of the 2030's. (These little flashy vision things happen to writers on occasion. Most often they lead to a story idea or the liquor cabinet. This one led to the blog you're currently reading.)

Yes, I think we're nearing the point when all of us in the literary world must accept the way our world is changing. Many of us already carry a lot of our beloved stories on devices in our handbags, and I see this as the genesis of a time when paperback novels will become treasures from our past. Will they assume the cachet of a rare hand-printed Daniel Defoe first edition? Of course not. But they might well become as unexpected a sight as my hat was on that train. Everyone knows what a hat is. Lots of people have them. But actually SEEING someone wearing one that looked more fun than function...that's where the surprise lay. And that, my friends, made me wonder if a paperback novel is more like a hat than you might ever think...

So if you're a hat-wearer or a paperback reader, I hope you'll see the correlation. And leave me a comment letting me know whether you agree or not. Or maybe just tell me if you like the hat...

Sahara Kelly

One Knight Only - available now
Knights of Pleasure - available now
Rough Knight? - coming soon

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And where will YOU be in 2012????

Enquiring minds want to know!!!

Yes, I'm one of them, and this question is really for readers (although anyone can answer. It's all good!!) I'm conducting a totally unscientific survey which won't impact anything at all, and lest you're concerned - or from Iowa - let me reassure you that politics is NOT involved. I would love to know where you readers will be hanging out this upcoming year.

There's more than a few conventions out there, and they seem to be proliferating like dust bunnies under my bed. So, since I had the most blissful time in 2011 connecting with readers at smaller events, I figured I'd get a head start on my travel schedule and find out where you folks plan on heading to get your romance novel/literary fix!

There are state-sponsored book festivals, most notably the Tucson Festival of Books, and I plan on going to that one if the gods are with me. It's in March. April is, of course, pretty much reserved for RT, but leave that one out, because it's nowhere near as good a chance to actually connect with readers.

There's Brenda Novak/Christine Feehan's thing out West (February?) and then we get into RomCon (Denver..June?) Lori Foster's gettogether (also June, I think, Ohio), the new RomFest (Gatlinburg, June) and AAD (August, New Orleans.) Probably a couple more in between those and Lora Leigh's Reader Appreciation Weekend (October, maybe).

Those are just the ones I'm pulling out of my memory. I'm definitely on for RT Chicago. Tucson is tentative right now, and I'd love to do RomFest, because they have Dr. Bill Bass, founder of the Body Farm, as guest lecturer. Wow. (Drools and grabs notebook). I'm also definitely on for RAW in October.

The chance to sit down and yak with readers, one on one, no time constraints or panels or formalities - well, it's turned out to be one of the great pleasures of my writing world. I hadn't realized what I was missing until I went to Philly and AAD, where I was enchanted by readers and bloggers and all the folks I'd never had chance to hang with on such a relaxed level. Then came RAW and the joy overflowed. We shared drinks, meals, dances and snowstorms. We laughed, played UNO and watched the World Series. Again, I got to spend time with other writers as well as new reader friends. (Hi Book Obsessed Chicks!!! [waves]) It was just fabulous from start to finish and reinforced my desire to make sure that from now on I get to do more of it.

Hence my question. Where will YOU be this year? Any favorite conferences? I'd love to hear your plans. Not sure if the budget will let me do too many of these events and I can say now I won't be doing AAD, sadly, because New Orleans in August, even with air conditioning, is still close to the fifth level of hell for those of us who aren't fond of heat. But if you let me know where you're thinking about going, it'll help me weed the list down to the essentials. I'd love to meet you/see you again. It's what I'm happiest doing. I suck at blogs and get a D- in Social Networking, my best efforts notwithstanding. So help me out here, ladies and gents. Where ya gonna be?

And just for giggles, I figured I'd end with this delightful - and spot-on - cartoon! For my colleagues in the biz! LMAO

Wishing you all a great 2012 no matter where your travels take you!!

Sahara Kelly

( subscribed to my newsletter yet? You can click through and do that via the link on your upper left. I will be doing some CONTESTS this year. ALL of 'em will be available to those who subscribe!!! C'mon. Give it a shot. You'll like the way it looks. I promise. :) )