Dog roses

XY: Don’t you have enough pictures of the dog? How many more do you need?
Me: Um… Seven more?

The last one is Monster Girl posing with my Golden Rose from the Rose City Romance Writers Golden Rose writing contest. Which just so happens to be having an early-bird discount on the 2013 contest. AND I just so happen to be guest posting with Melia Alexander about the contest.

Um, I mighta sent her an eighth picture of Monster Girl and the rose. But I swear, that’s ALL the pictures of the dog! (For now…)

It’s in the blood

I’ve been out of town for awhile. My grandmother’s health was failing and I rushed home to Chicago in the hopes of seeing her one last time.

I missed her by twelve hours. Sigh.

She was 95. My perception was she had no undue regrets and nothing major — a few art projects aside — left undone. Her death was as kind, I think, as most of us could hope for, all things (and morphine) considered. She had a “strong voice” right to the end and lived a life that for me served as both inspiration and warning, which I think is a sign of a good and interesting life indeed.

I stayed in Chicago to help rehome/donate/toss the treasures and trash she left behind. I scored two huge cookie sheets, a really nice tack hammer, a lush red velvet dressing gown (missing the red tassels on one sleeve), and about fifteen pounds of silver hoop earrings and mismatched beads.

Mom Mom BDay Lunch

I know where I got my love of dessert.

Based solely on the above list, as you might imagine, my grandmother and I are/were very much alike.

More alike than even I knew.

While going through her papers, my dad found a sealed manila envelope. Inside were yellowed, typed pages wrapped in a crisper white sheet. The newer paper was dated August 2007 and said, “I feel the need to explain this…”

The typed pages were a story my grandmother had written in the 1930s before she was married and had submitted to Cosmopolitan magazine. The story was a romance.

And not just any romance. It was a romance with a raven-haired beauty. And a highwayman. And swooning!

My grandmother was always proud of me, but she never really read any of my published stories. She didn’t “get” them and often told me she wished I would write something she would like.  And yet now I discover SHE wrote romance!

WWII love story

My grandfather wasn’t a highwayman but I think he was even more dashing in his WWII uniform. ETA I just realized: My grandfather was a civil engineer, so he WAS a highwayman! How awesome is that?

The funny?/strange?/sad? part is the date on the explanation. In 2007, I won the Rose City Romance Writers’ Golden Rose contest with the story that would become my first published novel. I was immersed in my writing world at the same time she was adding her secret explanation to those yellowed, typed pages. 

But she never told me about her story. I wonder why? I can imagine (she contributed some of her genetics to my imagination, after all) but I wish I could talk to her about that story. Especially because the last pages are missing! The highwayman (who has been shot) is expiring in the raven-haired beauty’s arms…

Maybe as he was bleeding out, that life blood was seeping across the years to embolden my heroes who will, trust me, live long and love AND enjoy a blatant sex scene or two even though I’ve been told by certain grandmothers that everyone knows how THAT is done so details aren’t necessary. Phshaw.

I know my grandmother’s blood is in me, and if she couldn’t share that story, well, maybe I’m doing it for her.

Love you, MomMom.


Portland is a wordy town, making it a great place for a wordy girl like me. After all, we’re home to Powell’s Books, a spectacular independent bookstore that swallows up an entire city block with multiple stories of stories. And every year, Portland celebrates Wordstock, a week of wordiness.

In the past, I’ve been wary of Wordstock for this reason from their website: “We’ve found that the most dynamic festival readings and presentations come from books of a literary nature.” Literary nature. Uh huh. I think the not-so-sub subtext here is “Genre writers only reluctantly invited.”

But thanks to the success of 50 Shades of Gray, for the first time this year, Wordstock had a “Red Chair District” where they put the 18+ stories.

Naturally, us bodice-ripping romance writers were on it like sex-starved nymphomaniacs on…oh, I don’t know, something phallic.

Authors Louisa Kelly, Jessa Slade & Maggie Jaimeson

Rose City Romance Writers (from left):    Louisa Kelly, Jessa Slade & Maggie Jaimeson aka sex-starved nymphomaniacs

We had fun. Romance writers always do 😉 We handed out bookmarks and suggestions to writers suddenly interested in the romance and erotica genres. We ate chocolate. (As romance writers always do.) We had the chance to present our beloved genre to people who might not have otherwise considered it — including a representative from the local daily newspaper and a local documentary filmmaker.

Which isn’t to say that Wordstock completely lacked a sense of humor. Across from our Rose City Romance Writers booth was an book-themed art installation.


Maybe litrachure readers can be converted. A few loyal romance readers also wandered through, and I love love love connecting with them. One of the best quotes of the day, as a reader browsed and was asked if she read romance, she said, “Of course!” Well, yes. Of course 🙂

Romance novels might never be accepted by the litrachure crowds, but I’m fine with sitting in a roped-off wink-and-a-nudge district. I know my reader, and she’ll make her own choices about what is “dynamic” enough to be on her bookshelf.

My favorite writing contest

Rose City Romance Writers: Golden Rose Writing Contest

The deadline for the 2009 Golden Rose contest has been extended until August 8.  If you’ve been thinking about entering a writing contest, this is a good one.  And I say that not just because it’s my chapter or because I found my editor through this contest, but because we give good feedback and have great final round judges:

  • Long Contemporary Series, Wanda Ottewell, Senior Editor, Harlequin
  • Short Contemporary Series, Melissa Jeglinski, Agent from The Knight Agency
  • Single Title Contemporary, Megan McKeever, Assistant Editor, Pocket Books
  • Historical   Esi Sogah, Assistant Editor, Avon for the Historical category
  • Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, Andrea Hurst Literary, Management
  • Paranormal/Futuristic, Alissa Davis, Dorchester
  • Romantic Suspense, Leis Pederson, Assistant Editor, Berkley Publishing Group
  • Young Adult, Andrea Somberg, Agent, Harvey Klinger, Inc.

More info including sample score sheets at