Wednesday, May 30, 2007

****Dopes of the Week*****

Via AOL News:

There are certain things one should probably refrain from saying at an airport, and director Mike Figgis unfortunately learned the hard way.

According to The Guardian, Figgis, who directed "Leaving Las Vegas," was reportedly held for over five hours at Los Angeles International airport after he told immigration officers "I'm here to shoot a pilot."

In television, the first episode of a potential television show is called a pilot. However, the agents, apprently not in-the-know with industry terms, took it to mean Figgis had plans to gun down an airline pilot.

Figgis was then held in an interrogation cell for five hours, and was released after officers figured out he had no assassination plans.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Please Release Me!

A Lick and A Promise is coming to Ellora's Cave August 10th. Mark your calendars!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Heroes Among Us

Since it's Memorial Day weekend I've decided to once again post an essay about my father that I wrote about ten years ago. I wrote it for a website devoted to the 446th Bomb Group, of which my father was a member, and it details a couple of the missions that earned him several Distinguished Flying Crosses.


Editor's note: The author is the daughter of 1st Lt Frank Baker, the pilot of "Rubber Check". Lt Baker was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 3 Oak Leaf Clusters for his service with the 446th, including one for the mission detailed here. Click here to see the extract.

Shortly after my father folded his wings in November 1996, I began a quest to find out as much information about his war record as I could. I had before me several military extracts detailing the courage that won him three oak leaf clusters and a Distinguished Flying Cross. So I knew there were wonderful stories out there. If only I could find them.

Like many who served in WWII, my father didn’t like to talk about it much. While I was growing up, he watched war movies, read war books, and commented on the technical errors he found in them. But he never discussed his own experience. One day, I asked him.

He expressed surprise that I wanted to know, could not recall anyone ever asking him before. And he proceeded to tell me about a landing outlined in one of the extracts. He was very matter-of-fact about this mission to Germany, April 22nd, 1944**:

Shortly after leaving the target area, the Rubber Check (named for its propensity to come back) is attacked by enemy aircraft. Rudder control cables are frayed; radio compass is shot out; mixture control cables severed, and a propeller is frozen at minimum power.

Maintaining control on the return trip, my father is unable to land because of enemy activity around the airfield. Proceeding to a second field, my father avoids collision with a plane that cartwheels in front of him and crashes as he prepares to land. Pulling out all stops and using every trick he can think of, he regains altitude and lands on a third field. No one is hurt.

“Were you scared?” I asked.

“No time to be scared,” he answered. “I had no intention of losing that plane.”

The only time he faltered in the various tales he told me that day was when he mentioned the presumed death of his co-pilot, Foster Hinton. As a member of the 707th squadron, my dad never lost a crewmember on one of his missions, and he was distressed by the loss of Hinton, even though he wasn’t responsible for it.

Lieutenant Hinton got sick and missed a raid with my father. As a result, he had to make it up on the Black Widow – an ill-fated voyage. My father remarked on the tragedy with a pilot’s bravado, “Hinton shouldn’t have gotten the flu.” But I had already detected the sorrow in his voice.

As it turned out, Foster Hinton was not killed when the Black Widow went down. But my father didn’t live to know that. Following his death, I called Hinton’s widow and she told me he had been captured and imprisoned. I wish my father knew that, but I guess he does now.

After speaking with Mrs. Hinton, I called Franklin Calhoun, a gunner on the Rubber Check. It was a sunny afternoon, about 2:00. Mr. Calhoun lived in Florida, and I heard the TV in the background when he picked up the phone.

“Is this the Franklin Calhoun who was a member of the 707th squadron in WWII?” I asked.

His voice trembled in reply. “Yes,” he said. “I am”.

I told him I was Frank Baker’s daughter. Did he remember my father?

“Oh,” came his shocked reply. “Oh I can’t believe it. I never pick up the phone at this hour because it’s usually a sales person. Of course I remember your Daddy.”

We talked for a few minutes about the nature of war. He said that he didn’t know my dad very well because my dad was an officer and Franklin was not. There was little fraternization between the groups – a fact that I did not realize. Mr. Calhoun told me that the bomb crews were not buddy-buddy like in the movies. They were just a group of men out to do a job. But he had always admired my dad.

“Do you have any stories you can tell me?” I asked. “My dad told me a few, but I want more.”

“Well,” Mr. Calhoun drawled. “Did your Daddy ever tell you about the time we busted up the plane?”

“No!” I shouted. Mr. Calhoun laughed and told me the following story:

On a day in 1944, with roughly half it’s missions completed, the Rubber Check heads home. The daylight is fading, and so is her fuel level. As the crew prepares her for landing, a terrible discovery is made. The ball turret won’t retract, trapping the artillery gunner in a bubble beneath the airplane and dooming him to hit the runway before the wheels.

Frantic efforts are made to retract the turret, without success. Because of the approaching night and empty fuel tanks, a life or death decision must be rendered.

Through the headphones comes a confident declaration from the pilot. “Don’t worry Fielder, I’ll take care of you. We are going to bring this baby in.”(I suspect a more colorful term was used for “baby” but I have no proof).

As promised, my father landed that plane – and broke it in half. In the back, Sergeant Calhoun “hung on for dear life.” He said that when they carried him out, everyone was alive. Everyone stayed alive, and miraculously unhurt. Even the ball turret gunner, Roy Fielder.

Since then I have learned that Roy Fielder kept in touch with my brother in Texas all these years. He met with my dad on at least one occasion, and exchanged Christmas cards with my sister-in-law. When I called her for Mr. Fielder’s address –I wanted this story in his own words but sadly never got it – my sister-in-law said, “Oh, he thinks your dad hung the moon!”

And you know what? I do too.

Footnote: My father left behind many mementos from the Good War. Among them was a clock from the control panel of a Liberator. He swiped it from another plane and I often wonder if it was from the plane that broke in half. He never said.

My brother traced the tail number of the “new” Rubber Check to a B-24 bone yard. In the words of a fellow aviator, “It’s probably a beer can now.”

The crew of "Rubber Check". Standing L to R: Sgt John Thomas, Sgt Albert Cochran, Sgt George Blank, Sgt Franklin Calhoun, Sgt John Roberts, Sgt Roy Lee Fielder. Knealing L to R: 2Lt Adrian Perrault, 2Lt Frank Baker, 2Lt Arthur Bailey, 2Lt Foster Hinton.

**The mission to the Hamm marshalling yards on 22nd April 1944, was postponed until late in the day and caused the 2nd Division groups to return at dusk with navigation lights on. A surprise follow-up by Ju. 88s and Me. 410s of KG 51, which hit the Waveney Valley groups during their let-down for landing, caused chaos in the area. 13 Liberators of the division crashed or crash landed as a result of these intruder's actions and our own anti- aircraft guns which were shooting wildly in the panic. Although Flixton airfield was attacked, no known losses were sustained - the worst hit being Seething where 3 B-24s piled into each other on the runway and two were shot down just before reaching their base.

And yet another hero...

At the same time my father was bombing Germany in a notoriously difficult aircraft, without fighter escort to protect him from enemy fire, my former father-in-law was learning to arm the P-51 Mustang--a new, scrappy fighter with long-range capability that would single-handedly save countless lives and change the course of WWII.

My father-in-law was also stationed in England with the Mighty Eighth. During his tour he witnessed horrifying B-24 crashes. Heavily laden with bombs, the planes often floundered and exploded on takeoff. But he also witnessed the mass ascension of the Normandy Invasion fleet and said he'd never seen anything so magnificent.

A few years ago we took him to the WWII weekend in Reading. A beautifully restored P-51 Mustang was in attendance and he hadn't seen one in over 50 years. Although we'd been warned against touching the precious aircraft, we wanted a picture of him near it.

As we approached the Mustang, I told the owners who he was and what he had done during the war. They dropped everything they were doing, shook his hand and with a reverence that makes me weepy just thinking about, honored him by asking if he'd like to stand on the wing.

They helped him onto the wing, and we took this picture. Later, my mother-in-law told us she'd never seen him so happy in his life. If his ear-to-ear grin the whole day was any indication, she was right.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sunrise, Sunset

My beautiful niece has graduated high school! Congratulations Melissa! Your sparkly, exciting future awaits.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ann's Top Ten Romance Heroes of all Time--Number Four

They seek him here
They seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in Heaven
Or is he in hell.
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.

Among our first swashbuckling, morality driven superheros, Sir Percy Blakeney set the bar for almost every romance hero alive today. Clever disguises, an anonymous identity, a willingness to risk his life and the ability to make women swoon with his derring do, the Pimpernel had it all. Even--unbeknownst to her--the love of his wife *gg*.

Marguerite Blakeney is contemptuous of her witless fop of a husband. She yearns for an exciting, passionate man of honor like the Pimpernel--who rescues English nobility from the guillotine during the French Revolution. But through a series of unintentional mistakes, she's blackmailed into helping uncover the Pimpernel's true identity in exchange for her brother's life.

In one of the most exciting scenes, she discovers a missive that says where the Pimpernel will be at a certain hour. Certain she'll discover his true identity, she arrives at the appointed location only to find her lazy, good for nothing Sir Percy snoring on the setee. He's been so convincing as a society fop, she doesn't make the connection.

Later, when she confronts him at home and then flounces away from him, up the grand staircase, Percy watches her go. Then he bends and with excrutiating passion, kisses each step her foot touched.

Nevermind his clever tricks and swashbuckling ;) Anyone can do that! It's his desire for his wife that makes Percival Blakeney AKA The Scarlet Pimpernel one of my top ten romance heroes of all time.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Fab Five

Vince the Script Demon gave me the idea to do character memes. So here's one for Probabilist Anthros/Mark Arianos in A Lick and A Promise. And yeah, it's shameless pimping. So what?

Five Thoughts:

1) Sleepy lust nipped the edges of his body and he grimaced. There would be nothing fun to wake up to. After half a decade alone in his ship, he could use a nice piece of ass in the morning.

2) The dense scent of marine life, the soupy air and the muted, opaque colors of the dawn combined into a lulling magma that oozed up from the depths of the earth, down from the heavens and met in the life-sucking quagmire surrounding him.

3) Teenaged humans in various states of dress or undress milled behind the counter. One girl had purple hair. A boy with a multitude of piercings poured milk into the steamer. Another being appeared to be both boy and girl, Anthros couldn’t tell, and s/he had a vine of tribal tattoos creeping from eyebrow to breastbone.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, he’d seen a similar assortment of creatures in a cantina.

4) He understood the feed me part. At least his dick did. The rest, however, was gibberish. Feeling unsure, he decided not to answer. Instead he watched her out of the corner of his eye and shoved his hands into his pockets. Pinching the blood out of his cock proved harder than he’d expected.

5) Her frustration had kicked his libido up a notch and made his orgasms that much more forceful. Plus, the excitement of controlling her, confusing her, keeping her on edge and unsure, had proven intoxicating.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Torn Between Two Lovers

It's happened to all of us at some point. You're reading a romance novel, becoming engrossed, beginning to sympathize with the heroine and fall in love with the hero, who maybe isn't quite your type, but he's got something there...


From stage right enters...

The Other Man.

The secondary hero who leaps off the page and into your suddenly pounding heart--from the moment you read his name.

The next thing you know, you're watching for the slightest reference or mention of him. Scanning ahead for more, finding yourself racing through the story so you can move on to the next book in the series because surely THIS MAN demands his own tale.

This is happening to me right now as I read Devil in Winter, the third installment of Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower Quartet. As thrilling as the hero, St. Vincent, is, witness the entrance of Cam Rohan, a Gypsy friend of the heroine's:

Even when Cam's manner and movements were restrained, there seemed to be an invisible flourish, a suggestion of physical charisma...Cam was well-dressed in dark clothes and polished shoes, but as usual his hair wanted cutting, the thick black locks curling over the crisp white edge of his collar...Cam regarded her with the remarkable golden-hazel eyes that often lulled people into forgetting about the nimble mind behind them. At times his gaze was so penetrating that he seemed to be looking right through if he were watching something behind you.

I have a love/hate relationship with these events. On the one hand, I want to be swept away by the real hero, fall in love with him alongside the heroine and be heartbroken when the story ends. On the other hand, now I've got something to look forward to. Because of course I Googled Cam Rohan and found he's getting his own story in Mine Til Midnight.

Phew. Can't wait.

But now I've got to re-bond with St. Vincent so I can give Devil in Winter the attention it deserves. It's a really good book. Yet, though this re-bonding is possible, things between me and St. Vincent will never be quite the same. Cam Rohan has irrevocably turned my head.

I feel so cheap.

Has this happened to you lately? Which book? Are you often torn between two lovers?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I got red wine spilled all over my $200.00 outfit. What did everyone else get?

~Ann, doing laundry.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blog Tag. Again.

Anne tagged me to reveal eight things about myself. What is it with you people? Oy.

1) I'm very, very silly with my children. So much so it's embarrassing. We invent characters, play them and build a life story for them. All of it firmly entrenched in black comedy.

2) I abuse the ice machine by using massive quantities in my drinks all day. Iced coffee in the morning, water and juice in the afternoon. For a whole year I had to go without an in-fridge ice maker and it almost killed me. I refilled 3-4 trays 3-4 times a day. Naturally, I felt martyred about that.

3) Every morning I make breakfast and lunch for the children because I want them to remember me for something besides the glazed computer stare and the deeply disturbed characters I play for them.

4) I hate shopping of any kind, but especially grocery shopping. It destroys my will to live.

5) I have extremely vivid dreams when I nap, but not when I sleep at night.

6) For years I fenced, tap danced and bowled with a league every week. Now I do nothing. I hate doing nothing. I'd like to learn pool and archery next.

7) If I could live in perpetual autumn, I'd do it in a blink and wouldn't look back.

8) I have a tragus piercing. It's that little wedge on the cheek side of your ear just above the lobe. The tiny silver ring appeals to my inner biker chick and I love it.

I tag: Rae, Sunny, Lex, Jane, Daisy Dexter Dobbs, Beth Ciotta and Mary Stella!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday Thirteen--A Lick and A Promise

Thirteen snippets from A Lick and A Promise.

1)“So you’re telling me there’s this guy who comes and fucks you silly in your dreams,” Karen snorted. “That takes While You Were Sleeping to a whole new sick height.”

2) “Okay. Tell me more about Casper the Fucking Ghost. Gimme the juicy bits.”

3) More than anything, he needed that child. The bastard of two nations, his interspecies experiment, the most superior life form ever engineered…And his people’s last hope.

4) Between juggling her crazy aunties—who ran a halfway house peopled with recovering alcoholics, white-collar criminals and lobotomized freaks who’d taken one too many shots of electric Kool-Aid--and Arnie Simpson’s relatives, who scanned the heavens in search of UFOs, it seemed every path she took somehow circled back to alien life forms.

5) Even through the alcohol-induced relaxation of his muscles, she felt the strength of his fingers and another distinct, masculine force that made every feminine cell in her body sit up and beg.

6) Coming from him, her name sounded like sex.

7) For the first time in her life, she understood why someone might be driven to drink. And this freakshow had barely begun.

8) Unfortunately, his mission objectives took precedence over her sanity, and his self-respect.

9) No matter how he tried, a splatter of her shadow remained on his psyche like an indelible stain.

10) Like many Earth men before, his dick might be the death of him.

11) She stared at her image in the mirror as it grew misty and soft with condensation and her brain followed, getting spongy and porous, sending tentative feelers out into the drifting void.

12) Muscled arms had a smattering of dark hair, and though one of them perched casually on his knee and the other one rested mildly on the table, Dove knew they could snap her neck in a heartbeat if she didn’t watch herself.

13) Every inch of him felt the same as Dream Lover—satiny flesh, silky hair, muscled shoulders. His scent, his breathing patterns, the beat of his heart. The weight of his touch.

1. Gabrielle

2. Heather

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Show and Tell, Learning from Cinema

For the past several months I've been hanging out on screenwriting blogs and slowly absorbing a new skillset. Mystery Man, The Unknown Screenwriter, MaryAn Batchellor, Laura Deerfield and Billy Mernit, among many others, have archives of film writing knowledge and analysis that're incredibly informative and free for the pickin'. I'd advise novelists to study them to learn how to write more visually.

After watching Nosferatu, a 1922 silent film and, I believe, the first cinematic telling of Dracula, I realized the whole story was shown through the use of body language, music and a few written snippets. It intrigued me. Could I write a book with no dialogue? Could I employ body language and expression to tell a complete story? Probably not in novel format. But, I could use these aspects more than I already do. Body language, props, scene settings and tone (music) help show thought and emotion, engage all the reader's senses, and make a story spring to memorable, artistic life.

In particular, there was an overly-long scene of the death and devastation occurring in Bremen once Nosferatu had arrived. I grew bored and wondered why the scene wasn't trimmed. In retrospect, however, I realized that without one word, it depicted Nina's experiences, circumstances, and what brought her to the wrenching decision to sacrifice her life for her townspeople. This decision would've seemed rushed, melodramatic and too-stupid-to-live if that scene had been abbreviated.

As Nosferatu and, I'm sure, many silent films prove, words are but a tiny part of a huge arsenal of communication tools at our disposal. As writers, we should be digging in that tool box regularly.

Hey, wadda ya know. I learned something. Now I just need to apply it.

Thanks guys!

Chelsea Handler

Thanks to child number one, I am now a huge honkin' fan of this woman. Enjoy!

Friday, May 04, 2007

More RT Pics

Above is the glamorous and very French Canadian EC author Nathalie Gray. She's my new sidekick! A little chihuahua who makes a wisecrack after every wisecrack I make. If she was a man, I'd marry her. Hell, I'd marry her anyway! On the right is the absolutely gorgeous Lori Armstrong/Lorelei James. The first native South Dakotan I've ever met, a kick-ass Medallion/Samhain author and a sex-on-a-stick bombshell. Guess they grow 'em hot out there in the Baaaadlands!

I can't write a caption that tops the one Nathalie put on her website, so I'll just c&p hers:The witty and hysterical Ann and me discussing the finer points of quantum physics. Her argument was that the underlying mathematical framework of many fields of physics and chemistry, including condensed matter physics, solid-state physics, atomic physics, molecular physics, computational chemistry...
Well, we need to throw those bodies around. What did you expect? Please note Nathalie's elegant European posture compared to my schleppy American pose. No wonder French women are so sexy. We could learn alot from them.

Me and Mr. Romance 2007, Jason Santiago! He's one of EC's cavemen and is much sweeter and more socially retiring than one would think *gg*. Also, much hotter. We shared a dance at the cowboy/vampire ball!

No photo diary would be complete without this luscious pic of Nathalie and the cavemen. She is tres Cabaret, non?

Since I never bring a camera anywhere, I'm ripping these off from other sites. I'll post 'em as I find 'em.

There Be Pirates...

Click to enlarge...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen search engine phrases people have found me through.

1. Nicole Kidman nose wrinkled (some freckles, maybe. But no wrinkles)

2. hiney hiders (because we, care.)

3. cave men eat (unfortunately, not at this last RT)

4. ms. wesley my friend's hot mom (yeah, baby)

5. watching your older sister getting a hiney shot (now that'd be fun)

6. smashing watermelon mri (okaaay)

7. anne wesley guy (not the last time I checked)

8. three mile island watch fob (sorry, I just have the souvenier lamp. And I ain't selling it)

9. excerpts from romancing vietnam (is that like, Romancing the Stoned?)

10. wesley decides whether to get out of bed (not if there's anything interesting in there with me)

11. the princess bride subtext of manipulation of people (any screenwriters want to chime in here?)

12. dharma and greg episode about soy (WTF?)

13. she got on his back for a piggy back ride (at least I'm famous for something)

1. Gabrielle

2. Heather

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Of Fat Cats, Mt. McKinley and Triplets

So Denali, The High One, otherwise known as my dumbass dog, decided it was in the family's best interest for her to tangle with one fat cat.

She's a Belgian Malinois mutt and has, historically, been the fiercest, smartest dog I've ever owned. She learns everything in threes. Three whacks on the butt and she never peed in the house again. Three treats to spring through a hoop (BM's spring. They don't jump). Three introductions and you're a friend for life, yada yada. Unfortunately, she's only tangled with a cat twice. Yesterday being the second time.

I'd gone outside to watch a male and female cardinal in a mating ritual. Denali had followed. She was standing on the deck, policing our airspace, when in my periphery I saw a tabby waddle across the lawn.

Remember that scene in Jaws, when Quint's fishing rod clicks? Yeah. That was me.

By the time I'd turned to snatch Denali's collar and wrestle her into the house, she'd launched off the deck like Quint's line.

There's a split-rail fence around my property. It's enclosed with that plastic coated wire. The poor cat ran for it, bounced off like a pinball, tried to haul it's ass up and over... the High One was upon it.

Now, Denali has captured and killed a good sized bunny, torn the tail feathers out of a retreating mockingbird, and quietly and sociopathically attempted murder on my sister's cat. A fainthearted enemy she is not. But luckily for our pudgy neighbor, she's getting old.

The cat turned on her, hissed and swatted, bounced like a pinball, hissed and swatted. I bellowed. Denali missed a beat, then must've gotten a paw or a branch shoved down her throat.

By the time I got her into the house she was shaking and choking, hacking and foaming, and covered in mud.

Later, she threw up.

It was so sad. To see how the mighty has fallen. On top of that, a thunderstorm blew through and reduced her to a jellied wreck.

I hope she's still capable of learning in threes. Otherwise I might have to rename her Mt. St. Helen.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Southwest Delivered My Luggage But Kept My Brain

I'm back and I'm tired. I also have incoming edits and a promotional feature about myself (with interview!) to work on for TRS Blue. Look for the announcement on that in June!

RT is totally awesome, but totally exhausting. My brain is numb. Not even sure it's still there. And I look forward to this every year... why?

Because I get to meet and hang with such gorgeous people as: Kathy Love, Erin McCarthy, Lyn Cash, Alexis Fleming, Mary Stella, HelenKay Dimon, Beth Ciotta, Amy and Myra and all the other authors and readers I've come to know and love from RTs past. Am I name dropping? Tough. It's one of the benefits of paying the conference fee. You ought to try it sometime. The creative energy looping around the joint might be enough to save the free world. At one point I could hear the laughter literally bouncing off the lobby walls. A good time had by all.

Right now my voice sounds like Demi Moore's and child number one is home with strep. Gee. Ya think I'll get lucky and get it too? Can't wait. Oh the joys of coming home weak and tired. Still, it's good to be here.

See youse all later.