Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving thanks...anyway

I've told my sister that I absolutely will not stand in a circle, hold hands and say what I'm thankful for prior to carving the turkey tomorrow. It's a tradition. Of course it is. Everybody in America does it. We have to mark the holiday in some way. After all, those Pilgrims did a brave and dangerous thing. We should be glad. And I am glad. It's just that personally, I haven't had a lot to be thankful for this year.

But lest I sound maudlin, I decided to come up with some things for which I am truly grateful despite the tragedy that struck my family in 2008. So take these in the spirit with which they were summoned. And see what you might be able to add.

I'm thankful that I no longer work for a woman I can't repsect.

I'm extremely grateful that I wasn't running a trucking company when fuel hit five dollars a gallon.

I'm very thankful that Cloris Leachman was voted off Dancing with the Stars early on. I couldn't have tuned in to watch Warren if she was still there.

I'm grateful to Mr. Disney for deciding to build in Florida. That goes with the corollary thankful to my dad for deciding to move us to Florida.

I'm thankful that the Bucs finally started doing well so that people are buying my tickets on Stub Hub.

I'm glad I finished reading DUMA KEY before it got dark last night.

I'm thankful for my son's girlfriend who is a great cook and wants to do the dinner tomorrow.

I'm grateful that my mother didn't have to see the Georgia-Florida game this year.

And because writing is not unlike producing music in many, many ways, I'll leave you with one of my favorite Paul Simon lyrics from the song Lincoln Duncan:

"I was playing my guitar, lying underneath the stars, just thanking the Lord for my fingers, for my fingers."

Have a happy thanskgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008


My writer friend Mark! and I have been discussing - here and in other places - the obligation writers have to get the details right. If you're writing about Boston, and you've never been there, get somebody from Boston to read your work. Otherwise, you might not know that at five o'clock on a winter afternoon it's already dark.

Yes, that happened to me. I have lived in Florida since I was four. I knew it got colder up there. I didn't know it got dark earlier. Good thing I had a Boston native read it for me before it became a permanent mistake.

As promised, here are some of my favorite mistakes (other than the Sheryl Crow song):

This was a category romance in the late 80s. The hero took the heroine to Disney World in Florida. They rode Space Mountain. They sat side by side. Observe Exhibit A:

Side by side? No can do.

Granted, there was no Google in the 80s. It wasn't nearly as easy to find that kind of picture then as it is now, but hard would it have been to find somebody who'd been to WDW and ASK them? Not very.

Same book, same author: They're in a hotel on Miami Beach. They look out the window. The hero says (and I'm not quoting exactly) "Oh, look! A hurricane's coming!"

Boys and girls, believe me when I tell you, you don't look out the window and see it coming. It doesn't provide a whirling vortex of flotsam and jetsam like the Tasmanian Devil skipping across the surface of the ocean. Very sophisticated meteorological instruments detect the presence of a hurricane long before you can "see" anything. And what you see, really, is a lot of rain and bending palm trees.

Here's another one. Florida author. Should have known better. Hero lives in a secluded cabin in the Everglades (I forget why). Heroine goes there for some reason. They watch a movie on cable.

Now I've never worked for Time Warner or Bright House or any of those cable providing conglomerates. But I will bet you my last dollar that none of them have to date laid cable down Alligator Alley and into the swamp. At least not yet.

They could have watched a movie on DVD. They could have watched a movie on Satellite. On cable? I don't think so.

This one is my personal favorite:
The book is by a well known author and comes from a Big New York publishing house. There are characters in the book from New Orleans. Someone asks the woman how she survived Katrina. (Boy, those hurricanes!) She says, "No problem. We rode it out in the bayou in the basement of a church."

I'll leave you to ponder why that is so wrong. If you can't get it, I'll fill you in tomorrow.

Now I'm off to work on the book that I'm setting in the small town in Georgia where I was born. THAT one, I know.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teen Beat Revisited

You know I love Disney Channel, so I've enjoyed watching Cody Linley on Dancing with the Stars this year. "Dude, I slayed you once. Don't make me slay you twice." Today's his birthday. I saw it in my morning newspaper. He's 19 today.

On the same page, I see that People magazine has chosen their Sexiest Man Alive. It's Hugh Jackman. I saw him on a talk show recently, and I'd have to say if not THE sexiest man alive, he's at least in the running for it. I can't say for sure. There are probably quite a few sexy men alive who I've never met.

But what else I find noteworthy is that listed as runner up for Mr. Jackman's crown is Zac Efron. (Oh, I'm going to seriously get Tween hits on my blog today!) And while I would be the first to agree that Zac is absolutely adorable, Sexiest Man Alive seems a little...I don't know...Mrs. Robinson-esque? Okay, I just looked him up and he's almost exactly one month past twenty-one, so it's not quite as icky, but still...

So I was thinking about the men (or boys) that we considered cuddle-licious when I was a Tween - and that's LONG before the word was coined - and here's who I remember most:

Yes, of course there was ELVIS. But I let my sister have him. Ricky was by far the cuter. And the way he closed his eyes when he sang...oh, my little Tween heart could barely stand it. I learned the word "swoon" at an early age.

And let's not forget the boys on Mickey Mouse Club, including my favorite from the Spin and Marty series, Tim Considine. Wasn't it neat when he later showed up on My Three Sons? Speaking of those other sons, how about Don Grady? Yeah, there was a swoon inducer, all right.

I could go on and on: Fabian, Ed "Kookie" Burns, Frankie Avalon, Tommy Kirk, Kurt Russell, and Mickey Dolenz - when he was Circus Boy, not a Monkee.

Those little Tween girls got nothing on us. We were pinning up pictures of cute boys when we had to buy magazines at the drug store to get them. We didn't have the Internet and 300 cable channels to bring us images of our crushes all day long. Still, we understand. The feeling is the same.

Happy Birthday, Cody.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Location, Location, Location

When I teach the writing class at USF, I talk about location or setting. It's a very important choice. Not every story works in any place. Gone With the Wind could not be set in New Jersey, for example. In many cases the setting is a character too.

In my class I use the example of Sex and the City. An awesome collection of interesting women and the love they feel for each other, if not their men. But the title is not Sex IN the City; it's Sex AND the City. The City, of course, being New York. And the City is as important as Carrie and Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda. The City is another woman, another friend, another love in their stories.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me, or any of you Faithful Readers, that I adore Stephen King. I've been reading him since around the time Sissy Spacek became acquainted with an unusual high school girl named CARRIE. A great deal of King's stories - though certainly not all of them - are set in Maine. That's where he grew up and lives now. No brainer. But there's something about New England that lends itself to the spookiness of his work. Or maybe I feel that way because of his work. I don't know.

The point is, I'm now reading DUMA KEY, his most recent novel. And guess what, Faithful Readers - this one is set in MY backyard. It's a little bit odd to read this novel and come across a character wearing a Tampa Devil Rays shirt. Of course, now it would just be Rays since they got the Devil out last year. But still.

I'm about 200 pages into an 800-page novel. So far, I'm delighted. I can't find fault with any detail. And I'm sure I won't. Mr. King is well known for spending at least Spring Training season in a home in roughly the location of his fictional island.

It still feels a little bit odd. His characters are usually more apt to mention a nor'easter than a hurricane. But even at this early stage of reading, I can feel the atmosphere oozing into the story. This location is every bit as important to this particular story as Castle Rock was to ... well, everything set in Castle Rock.

Choose wisely. The story must wear its surroundings as comfortably as an old favorite coat. And always, always do the research. Get it right. There will always be a reader who knows your town, your geograpy, your weather. Don't let them down.

Have a great day, wherever you are.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Evening with E. L. Doctorow

Last night I attended a lecture by E. L. Doctorow at the University of South Florida. Since I had not read his work in quite some time, I picked up WORLD’S FAIR and enjoyed it very much just prior to the evening. So it was with some delight that I looked forward to this lecture.

It’s always interesting to hear a writer speak. They are not usually the sort of person who easily stands before an audience. If they were, they’d be actors instead of writers. So you never know what you’re going to get. Some of them are quite outgoing and interesting. Some should just stay in their rooms and write.

Mr. Doctorow fell somewhere in between those two extremes. He had a very well thought out topic with fabulous examples to illustrate his points, but he read it to us. I so much prefer a presentation by a person who just speaks. But he’s the National Book Award winner, not I. So I’ll excuse him whatever he needs to remain in his comfort zone.

His lecture was about the historical novel. He said that he believed all novels were historical novels in that they all happen in the past. That’s worth pondering. He also made the point that novels are more factual than non-fiction in that a historian is relating history with his or her perceptions influencing it. A novelist is telling the absolute truth of what is in his or her imagination. Another excellent point to consider.

Wrtiers are on their own, he told us. Specialists in nothing. Unlike doctors, lawyers, or any other professional discipline, writers don’t have to take an exam, don’t have to secure a license to practice their craft. We work “lacking any credential except that which we have given ourselves.”

But the license to continue is given to us by the public. A book is not completed until it’s read.

I absolutely love the act of reading, and am equally enamored with writing. It’s a monumental treat to be in the presence of someone who excels at both. However, I would have walked away from this lecture far more satisfied had Mr. Doctorow not felt it necessary to disparage the historical romance novel.

Less than two minutes into his lecture, he adamantly excluded historical romances from his conversation, referring to them as books in which the writers “flaunt their research and costume their characters correctly.” Those, he said, he is not considering.

Why, I wonder, did a man of his esteem find it necessary to belittle a genre that brings so much reading enjoyment to so many? How did it enhance his lecture? What credibility did he hope to gain by making that distinction?

I remain puzzled. But it doesn’t stop me from continuing to experience the delight of writing about people endeavoring to achieve the most precious treasure a person can hope to gain – the essence of love.

If E. L. Doctorow thinks all novels are historical, I would argue that they are all romances. Show me a novel in which love is not a factor.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed the show. Books are on sale in the lobby.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Have a Cow, Man!

Yes, it's true. This Sunday, I'm going to break with tradition and watch The Simpsons. There's no particular reason why I've not been a big fan prior to now. Maybe it was just my idealistic vision of expecting children to behave and respect their parents.

Ha! No, that's not it. I'm a Child of the Sixties, a Flower Child, a Hippie. We invented bucking authority. And ended a war in the process, I might add....but I digress.

This Sunday I'll be watching The Simpsons because two of my idols are the week's guest stars. That's Merl Reagle and Will Shortz.

I've "known" Will Shortz since way, way, way back when I had a subscription to GAMES magazine and regularly devoured his crossword puzzles there. That was long before I knew the value of the Sunday NY Times crosswords or even Will's weekly stint with word games on NPR.

Merl Reagle, I actually have met.

I noticed him in a local breakfast place right after seeing the movie Word Play. I knew from that film that he lived in Tampa. When I saw him in the restaurant, I recognized him immediately. But more than that, I participated in one of his local Game Shows in which he posed word games and puzzles to an eager audience. I came in second and won a lovely gift basket of snacks for the effort.

So with gleeful anticipation, I'll sit myself down in front of The Simpsons this week. And let the Word Play begin!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Better Late Than Never?

Ah, that's a beautiful cover. I was truly thrilled with my two Irish magic covers when those stories were out in 2006 and 2007. BRIANNA'S MAGIC, the one pictured here, was released for St. Patrick's Day. Not the most recent one, the one before. 2007. A year and three-quarters ago. 20 months. A woman who conceived on the day of this release could be right now planning her child's first birthday party, squeezing it in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So imagine my surprise recently when the book was reviewed by The Romance Studio. To be sure, I am NOT complaining. I'm just continually in awe of the way the online publishing world operates. And I'm definitely not complaining about the review.

Here's a quote from Dee Dailey for the Romance Studio, who gave BRIANNA'S MAGIC five hearts.

"Delia Carnell has woven a superb tale of the real Irish, their heritage, the magic of the land and the sense of family through the ages."

Wow, that's really nice. I'm quite touched by it. You can read the whole review here.

The sad news is that this book is no longer available from the publisher. They took their line in a different direction recently and returned my rights to all three of the books they published. I'm working out a way to make it availble through my website, so if you're interested, post a comment here or email me through Or I'm both of those.

Thanks to Dee Dailey and Romance Studio. I'm thrilled with the review.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Enchanted Journal

I've been a bit under the weather the past few days, but my friends dragged me out into the sunshine Saturday to Downtown Disney for the annual Festival of the Masters art show. I love a good art show. I like to look at the shiny glass objects, the huge paintings with bright splashes of color, the sleek wooden pieces. And the photographs particularly appeal to me. Throw in my favorite mouse, and one would wonder why I've never strolled around this one before.

It was everything I hoped it would be - and one thing I didn't expect. I was particularly engrossed with a pair of beaded earrings that caught the sunilght and glistened when my best friend Jeanette called to me from across the aisle. "You have to come see this."

She knows me. She's seen me run my hands over smooth leather binding, bury my nose in the promising scent of fresh paper, fill pages with beautiful words. Jeanette had found a charming young lady who makes journals. She makes everything from the polished leather to the unique paper inside. I was, of course, enthralled.

I touched each one lovingly, feeling the smoothness beneath my fingertips, imagining the words I would put on each page. But one in particular called to me. From the moment I lifted it into my hands, I knew it belonged to me. I turned the pages carefully, thinking that I had finally found a companion, an instrument of my craft, a dreamkeeper.

I'm not ashamed to say that it made me cry.

Of course, I bought it. I had to. It was mine.

Teresa Haun is the artist. She calls her offerings Mind's Eye Journals. I completely agree. You can read all about it at her website

And if writing is important to you, then you should look at them and discover which one she made for you.

Have a lovely day.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Like Visiting an Old Friend

The good thing about a writer’s characters is that they will wait for you if they have to. What with one thing and another – mainly my mother’s illness – it’s been about a year since I wrote daily. In an attempt to return to that, I spent most of yesterday refreshing myself on the approximately 30,000 words in the Bombshell’s story.

It was like no time had passed at all. Indeed, for Olivia and Sam, no time had passed. There they waited for me, as patient as you please, until I returned to give them more words, more deeds, more emotions to feel. How kind of them, yes?

While I wouldn’t recommend this method to anyone aspiring to write for publication regularly, the distance from the story did afford me a clearer perspective than one gets when one is in the middle of writing it. I was able to read it as a reader would read it. Some of it, anyway. There are always turns and phrases that remain vividly etched in the writer’s mind. Those were not new to me. But I was happy to find surprises as I read. Little things I did not remember that pleased me.

It’s encouraging to read one’s own work and be entertained by it. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the plot of it or the resolution of the conflict that we forget to relax and enjoy our own words.

A writer is his or her own first reader. If we can’t please that reader, how can we expect to please any others?

Happy Weekend to All!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Suppose It's Time to Come Back

I've been reluctant to put many words here recently. 2008 has been a year of challenge and heartache. But the best way to deal with those things is to write about them.

My mother was very sick for a long four months. She passed two days after my birthday. It's been about six weeks, and I profoundly miss her. I'm sure the ache will dull somewhat as time goes by, but it hasn't yet. My sister and I are faced with the daunting task of clearing out Mom's things. So many things. What should we do with all of them? We still don't know yet. This will take a while.

To find ourselves a little bit of healing space, my sister and I sailed on a Disney Cruise last week. It's something I've always wanted to do, and it seemed the perfect opportunity to get away, relax, be together in a happier space. And it was all that.

I highly recommend the journey if you've ever wondered whether crusing was for you. Neither of us had ever done it, but we found the Wonder to be completely comfortable, charming, and all of the things you'd expect from Disney.

So now what?

I lost my job. Can't say that I really miss it, but was nice income and something that I enjoyed doing. Too bad. But there is still eBay, and I have a much larger inventory to market. And there is the thing that has always been my salvation - writing.

Any time in my life that things were sad or lonely for me, writing has been my way back to the sunlight. And it will be now too. Today, for the first time in months, I'm putting down words. And the eventual result will be successful. I know this. It's something I'm good at, and I enjoy doing it. So I suppose, Faithful Readers, if there are any of you left, you'll be seeing more Blog posts now.

I'm off to see where I left the Bombshell. Surely she's not still in that old cabin, is she?

More tomorrow...