Thursday, May 18, 2006

IMPORTANT: Keeping the Internet Neutral

Hey everyone,

I make it a point to keep this blog basically non-political, because the main purpose of this blog is to discuss writing, books, life in general. And let's face it: politics is a hot button for most of us, and me discussing my views probably won't change anyone else's views. But here's an issue that could affect *all* of us, regardless of our political persuasions. There is some legislation being considered in Congress which could drastically change the Internet. Some of the big telecommunications companies (AT&T, Verizon) are lobbying Congress to end "Network Neutrality", which basically ensures that every online site has the right to be on the Internet, and to download properly. If these big companies get their way, they will have control over the Internet and will be able to determine whose sites will download quickly and properly. Online companies like Google, Amazon, B&N, etc., would have to pay "protection money" to these companies, and the highest bidders would have the best downloading venues. This can't be good and it could affect everything on the Internet, including blogs. You can get more information by going to the following link:

I hope you'll take a little time to learn more about this movement to bleed money from Internet sites, and if you believe it's a bad thing, to sign the petition and to let your congressmen/women and representatives know how you feel about it. Regardless of your political views, I urge all of you to educate yourselves about congressional issues and to speak out for what you want. Our congressional representatives *do* listen to their constituents. Let your voices be heard.

Thanks for letting me be political this one time.

Oh, and happy reading.

~ Catherine

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

American Idol Blues

Okay, I've been watching American Idol every week. And to be honest, I haven't been able to get as fired up about these contestants as I have in the past. None have them have been consistently good like some of the previous Idols (Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, and Carrie Underwood were steady throughout). That said, I think Katharine has been getting the bad end of the deal. Is it just me, or have the judges been really hard on her, even when she's done a great performance? I thought all three of her performances last night (May 16) were great (as did my husband and a friend who's an avid "Idoler"). And yet the only one any of the three judges liked was "Over the Rainbow" (which I agree was absolutely spectacular). I've seen this pattern of criticizing Kat in earlier shows this season as well. Conversely, I've seen the judges praise other performances that just didn't do it for me. Of course, judging is always subjective and in this case, is probably colored by the personal relationships the judges share with the contestants. But still.

I think the final two contestants should have been Chris and Kat. But I'm afraid we're going to end up with Elliot and Taylor facing off. Don't get me wrong--they're great singers and appear to be nice guys. But in my opinion, Kat has the most talent and the best voice. And if she gets voted off tonight, some of the blame will go to the judges, for probably influencing the vote with their comments.

We'll see if my prediction comes true. I hope I'm wrong.

And when you're not watching American Idol, happy reading!

~ Catherine

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Midnight Secrets . . . and Dragon Curses

If you like Victorian and gothic flavor, castles, romantic suspense, and riveting characters, then be sure to put MIDNIGHT SECRETS, by Jennifer St. Giles on your "must-read" list! Intriguing details below.

Happy reading!

~ Catherine

MIDNIGHT SECRETS by Jennifer St. Giles
(Berkeley, May 2, 2006)

"When two are born together, one will die by the other's hand..."

This is the Dragon's Curse that has plagued the Killdarens for generations and continues on in this tale set on the Cornish Coast of 1879 England.

Sean and Alex thought they'd escaped the Dragon's curse until in a rage of suspicion and accusation the twins come close to killing each other the night the woman they both loved was murdered. Eight years later, the only thing they agree on is to remain unwed and childless, to never pass on the Dragon's Curse. Then another woman disappears. This time from Sean Killdaren's castle and his reclusive world is shattered when Cassie Andrews, a journalist, goes undercover as a downstairs maid. He can no more ignore her than he can ignore the murderer hiding behind the secrets of Killdaren Castle's stone walls.


Following the birth of her third child, Jennifer St. Giles quit her job as a nurse and became a home educator to her three children and pursued her life long dream of writing in her "spare time". Jenni lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband of twenty-three years, her three children, two cats, one dog, and a two-handfuls of neighborhood kids who make the household the wildest most wonderful Grand Central Station in existence.


St. Giles brings the classic Gothic to a new sensual level. . .combining dark atmosphere and the twisted plot of great mystery. Four Stars - RT BOOKClub

...a terrific Victorian romantic suspense that grips the reader and the paranormal elements blend in completely... Harriet Klausner

Midnight Secrets incorporates classic Gothic themes with its brooding atmosphere... filled with tragedies and secrets. Susan Wilson


Saturday, May 13, 2006

What's your theme?

Have you ever thought about your individual life theme (or themes, since there can be more than one)? I know this sounds funny, but I believe we all have themes in our lives. It might be personal passions (politics, writing, career choices, etc.), or it might be emotional patterns (nuturing, suffering, always down, enjoying life to the max, etc.) But we have themes. What about the person for whom nothing ever goes right? Or someone who's always in the middle of a major life drama? Or someone who's very religious? Someone who always picks the wrong partners? Musical? Political? Into arts and crafts or decorating? We're usually not aware of these "themes" that run through our lives, but they're relected in how we live, and in turn, we are a reflection of them.

Most authors also have themes in their writing, and it's usually a spillover from their personal lives. Again, we may not be aware of our themes. I'm generally not until either I re-read my work, or someone points it out. After I wrote Shielder, my first published book, one of my critique partners, Linda Castillo, said to me, "Cathy, you wrote about the Halocaust!" I was surprised, because I hadn't consciously tried to do that. But when I looked back at the story (a race of people being sysematically destroyed by another race), added that to my Jewish heritage, I had to conclude that was indeed what I had done.

Another one of my themes is spirituality and the meaning of life. I've been interested in metaphysical topics since I was eleven, and read all sorts of books on Edgar Cayce, our purpose on Earth, astrology, Tarot, etc. Sure enough, that overflows into my books, especially my latest projects--the Sentinel series (based on Atlantis and reincarnation) and my novella, Street Corners and Halos (about a Jewish girl who "dies" in the Halocaust, and is turned into a vampire by an SS soldier). Hmmm. Very interesting.

I believe that understanding the themes running through our lives can help us to lead richer lives, by further tapping into them (if they're positive themes); or conversely, help us to make our lives better, by understanding the negative themes, and working to turn them around, or "re-write" those themes.

Good or bad, uplifting or degrading, consciously or subconsciously, these themes run through our lives, shaping us, making us who we are.

So, what's your theme?

Happy reading,

~ Catherine

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Once Upon Stilettos

How's that for a great title? Even better, ONCE UPON STILETTOS is a sequel to Shanna Swendson's wonderful, fun, chick-fairy-lit book, ENCHANTED, INC. She's created a world where magic, fairies, wizards, elves, and even gargoyles, live among us unsuspecting mortals. They're shielded by magic spells which make them appear normal, so we don't see them. However, a few rare humans (who have absolutely no magic inside them), aren't affected by magic and can see the real creatures walking so calmly around New York City (and the world, in fact). Kate Chandler is one such person. I fell in love with her and the wizard Owen and all the other colorful characters in ENCHANGED, INC., so I'm delighted that ONCE UPON STILETTOS is now available.

Details are below. I hope you'll check it out.

Happy reading,

~ Catherine

ONCE UPON STILETTOS by Shanna Swendson
(Ballantine Books, April 25, 2006)

When we left Katie Chandler at the end of Enchanted, Inc., she had helped her new employers, Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc. defeat Phelan Idris, a rogue wizard intent on stealing spells. By her side, and leading the battle, was hunky wizard Owen. Katie and Owen are still fighting their attraction to each other in Shanna Swendson’s hilarious and charming sequel Once Upon Stilettos, but first they have to track down a corporate spy before the company dissolves into paranoia. Then at the worst possible time, Katie's immunity to magic goes on the blink. At least she's having better luck in her social life, with men falling at her feet everywhere she goes. Has she really become that irresistible, or is it the new red shoes she felt compelled to buy? Polish your fairy wings, put on your magic shoes, click your heels three times, and join Shanna Swendson for a romantic romp amidst fairies, goblins, wizards and gargoyles.


In addition to writing fiction, Shanna Swendson is a freelance marketing consultant and writer specializing in technology and telecommunications. She is single and lives in Irving, Texas, with her many pet plants, including a vicious attack bougainvillea and a Christmas cactus that has outlasted three homes, three jobs and three boyfriends, yet still faithfully blooms every Christmas and Easter. She’s looking for a man that reliable.


"Once Upon Stilettos is not to be missed if you're in the mood for a fast and funny read where chicklit meets urban fantasy." -- Mary Jo Putney, author of A Kiss of Fate

"A princely wizard, Cinderella red stilettos, and a megalomaniac--what more could a girl ask for? ONCE UPON STILETTOS is a delightful urban fairytale with a dreamy hero and a country-wise Texas heroine who use their magical and non-magical charms to seek justice and unmask the villain. Just a few weeks in the life of a simple single girl..." -- bestselling author Patricia Rice

Once again Swendson gives her readers a hilarious and delightful romp through the world of magic with a dash of romance thrown in to titillate and make us laugh. -- Andrea Sisco, Armchair Interviews


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

American Idol

I'll admit it--I'm "semi-hooked" on American Idol. Personally, I don't like the preliminary part, where they show the really bad performers and Simon slashes them to shreds. I guess I'm just too soft-hearted for that. But after the "chosen ones" go to Hollywood, and it gets narrowed down to 12 guys and 12 girls, then I like to watch. I'm wowed by the talent and poise of most of these Idol contenders (especially since I'm not known for my singing). Then I'm glued to the set when they perform, sometimes shaking my head over the judges'comments. But I don't watch the vote-off show (again, too soft hearted). Instead, I check the news the next day. I will however, watch the crowning of the American Idol winner show (even though I always feel sorry for the loser--I'm such a wimp!).

So who do I think will win this year? Well, I don't always trust the voters to pick the most talented singers. Point in case: I think Mandisa was one of the most talented singers there, and she got voted off pretty early. We sometimes tend to vote for reasons other than pure talent (she's cute, he's hot, she's from Texas, etc.). That said, who do I think should walk tonight (May 3)? Honestly, of those who are left, I feel Taylor is the weakest. He's cute and Mr. Personality and has a nice little rasp to his voice, but he's just not as talented. I do think there's a possibility that Paris will be voted off instead tonight, although I think she's extremely talented.

My pick for the final three Idol contestants: Katherine, Chris, Elliot.

I'll tell you who my favorite is next week.

Until then, happy Idol watching. And happy reading!

~ Catherine

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day!

May has arrived, and with it, my committment to do do better at blogging. I just updated my website and sent out my electronic newsletter, in which I mentioned (probably very foolishly), that I would be blogging three to four times a week, so here goes. BTW, you might want to check my updated site at I've got excerpts from my upcoming book, The Edge of Darkness, and a new contest going.

As I started this blog today, I began wondering about May Day, and realized it has two different meanings. The first is the celebration of May 1, which I think is hardly ever done in the U.S. any more. But I have vague memories of maypoles and long streamers of ribbons being wrapped around a tall pole, and lots of flowers. But I never really knew what the actual celebration was about. So I did a little Google search, and found this link:

Here's some of what it said:

There are four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year and the modern Witches’ calendar, as well. The two greatest of these are Halloween (the beginning of winter) and May Day (the beginning of summer). Being opposite each other on the wheel of the year, they separate the year into halves . . . . May Day ushers in the fifth month of the modern calendar year, the month of May. This month is named in honor of the Goddess Maia, originally a Greek mountain nymph, later identified as the most beautiful of the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. By Zeus, she is also the mother of Hermes, God of magic. Maia’s parents were Atlas and Pleione, a sea nymph.

Interesting, at least I thought so. Then I got to thinking about the fact that we also use the phrase "mayday" as a distress signal (very opposite of a spring celebration), and did a Google search on that as well. Here's what I found:

may·day (mā'dā')n. An international radiotelephone signal word used by aircraft and ships in distress. [From French (venez) m'aider, (come) help me!.]

So now you know all about May Day and mayday. And I actually posted to my blog and thought of something to talk about.

And hopefully, I'll be blogging again soon. Until then, happy reading!

~ Catherine