Attitude Adjustment

For the past several months I have been taking a class called “What One Person Can Do” so I can be re-certified. It’s free, worth three credits and taught by two guidance counselors. As far as I can tell, it’s a mish-mash of Deepak Chopra, new-age claptrap and plain, old-fashioned Power of Positive Thinking.

I do believe each of us has the power to change lives for the better. I love the saying, “Touch the future, teach a child.” I practice random acts of kindness randomly and I pay it forward when I have the cash. What goes around comes around, etc. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But we’ve had some crazy assignments so far. Here are some examples:

Look at yourself (with no makeup) in the mirror for one minute a day and write down what you see and think. Very visible pores. Pimples at my age! My face is friendly when I smile, a little sad in repose, my brown eyes not as big as they used to be. I see my father, too. The fat seems to be keeping the wrinkles at bay, but possibly that’s because I’m not wearing my glasses. I can live with this face, but I’m coloring my hair again.

Pick a chore you don’t like and do it with e.e.l.i.m. That’s energy, enthusiasm, like it matters. My chore choice? Getting the dishes back on the shelves. I don’t mind washing them, but I never seem to get them out of the dishdrainer. I told my husband that was what I was going to do for class, and he said, “I never knew you hated to do that. I’ll put them away from now on.” Bonus!

Love your toad. Select a habit that your significant other has that drives you crazy. Then make it okay for a week. There are several, but we must discuss them in class, so I did something G-rated. We’re talking crumbs in the kitchen. Crumbs everywhere on the counter and under my bare feet. My husband doesn’t seem to notice them. He’s not wearing his glasses either when he fixes that midnight snack. I’m just going to clean up and shut up. He has put the dishes away, after all.

Monitor your energy level during the day. I found I’m not much good until I have my tea, toast and drugs. Then I fool around on the computer in my jammies, reluctant to leave home. I’m up all through work, though— busy, multi-tasking, kidding around with kids. Then it’s supper and pajama time again. Fortunately my husband is just as tired as I am and doesn’t expect me to be a blonde-again bombshell. We’re giving our best to the public but not to each other. That’s something to think about.

How does this all relate to writing? I think it all comes down to accepting yourself for who you are, big pores and all, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, letting go and doing the best you can. You really only have control over yourself. Success is a journey, not a destination. So I’m going to enjoy life in the slow lane and keep on truckin’.

What time of the day are you most productive? What do you do to motivate yourself?

What does your toad do that drives you crazy?

Have you ever taken a class you thought you were going to hate but it surprised you?

As Mag Ran

I’ve been a fan of Paul Levine’s Solomon and Lord series, which are hilarious almost-romances featuring two Florida law partners, their fractured families and their wacky practice. Steve Solomon’s nephew can magically convert anything he hears to amazingly apt anagrams. I was always floored when I read them, wondering how Levine can come up with such clever stuff.

Now I know where he might go. A fabulous time-killer is the anagram generator site at

Virtually a million things came up when I entered Maggie Robinson. How am I described?

Enigma so boring (a dull woman of mystery, that’s me)

A bore in gin smog (although I much prefer champagne smog. Still dull)

A bosom reigning (yup, 38 DD)

Brain gismo gone (definitely)

My friends, the gamine gin boors, are hanging out at the Goosing Mine Bar with the big Marine goons. The Boogieman grins at a bi gnome’s groin over in the corner. Sin Mirage Bongo is boomeranging on the jukebox. You get the idea. Go have some fun of your own and report back here on the best inane broom gigs. It won’t be a somber going in, I promise you.

Highly recommended: Solomon vs. Lord, The Deep Blue Alibi, and Kill All the Lawyers. Levine’s latest, Trial and Error, will be released on June 1.
“sparkling dialogue that echoes the Hepburn-Tracy screwball comedies”—Chicago Sun-Times

Anagrams for “romance novel”—titles you will never, ever read, much like the entries in the Too True To Life contest:

Man Love Crone (younger man, experienced woman find love)

A Conmen Lover (TSTL heroine and Botany Bay escapee find love)

Clean No Mover (parlormaid and lord get trapped in broom closet, find love)

Remove No Clan (The MacFriskies battle for survival, find love)

Acorn Lovemen (Robin Hood and his Merry Men find love)

No Lamer Coven (Apprentice witch heals Waterloo vet, finds love)

Acme Love Morn (actually, Acme love it anytime of day or night)

I’ll stop now. Ton pillows. Swill on top. Lip—lost, won. Slit—plow on. Nip lots, low.

It’s hard. Trash id. Ash dirt. Star hid. Rat dish.

The end. Then Ed—he dent, he tend.

Really. Rye, all?

Anagrams for Maggie Robinson Means Romance which can be forced to tell a bizarre love story : Moonbeams smearing ignorance. Mom’s engineering cabana room. Manana coming; seeing sombrero. Micromanage mooning bareness. Macabre signora mooning semen…. I’m picturing a nighttime tryst with a naked but not-quite-bright cabana boy in Cabo right about now. He’s got a great butt, too.

And last, but not least, the Too True To Life randomly-selected-winner-picked-from-a-pile-of-tiny-folded-papers-in-a-big-red-Solo-cup-with-my-eyes-closed is My Joist.

That would be, Misty Jo, of course. E-mail me at with your mailing address and your prizes will be on the way.

Thank you all so much for making my weekend so entertaining! I wish I had a prize for every one of you. Please come back to visit again. I want to learn more…TMI is never enough.

Too True To Life Contest!

Years ago my husband and I argued over snoring. I was willing to admit that I did make a snort or two during the night, but he claimed he was as silent as a lamb. We had a voice-activated tape recorder that I looped over the brass headboard , and at about 2:15A.M. I was whispering, “The snoring in the background is my husband John. Nyah nyah nyah nyah na na. Told you so.”

Snoring is real life. Scratching unmentionable areas is too real life. I don’t expect to find such normal occurrences in romance novels, because they’re pretty much lust killers. I always laugh at the first-thing-in-the-morning love scenes, where no one visits the chamber pot beforehand. My priorities are a little different when I wake up.

What facet of real life do you NEVER expect to read about in a romance novel? Make me laugh. Please post as many jarring scenarios as you like here (the more the merrier—and increase your odds) by 6 P.M. EST Sunday, March 25. Don’t worry if someone else has your idea. Great minds do think alike. I will use the very scientific method of picking a folded scrap of paper from a hat, and the winning entrant will get a brand-spankin’-new copy of Jayne Ann Krentz’s All Night Long (no snoring whatsoever), other romance novel goodies and surprises. The Too True to Life winner will be posted on the usual Monday blog on March 26.

Jock and Jill

By popular request: a 20th century photo of young Coach Robinson and his wife. Note the unfortunate plaid pants. He hasn’t lost his wedding ring yet pitching to kids at batting practice.

My husband once said when he met me I didn’t know the difference between a canoe paddle and a ping-pong paddle. What he meant was that I pretty much suck at sports. I didn’t find out I needed glasses until my ego was already deflated by being picked last for every dodgeball, softball or kickball team. Even when I could see, I was still pretty convinced I couldn’t catch or hit anything. I was right.

I got new roller skates and a bicycle for my seventh birthday. Were my parents trying to kill me? I completely destroyed the Sullivan twins’ hedge five houses down trying to control all those wheels and to this day still bear the physical and mental scars.

Four years of high school gym and stupid blue bloomers. My first high school date took me bowling. After I broke all my pearl-polished fingernails and hit nothing but gutter, I decided this guy and I would never suit.

Two years of phys ed in college, with the requirement that every student pass a swimming test to graduate! I took the test when I had undiagnosed mono and almost drowned…but I passed and I graduated.

What was my husband doing while I was bandaged and flunking stickball, hopscotch and hula hoop 101? Going to Y and Boy Scout camps and winning every medal. Captaining the basketball and football teams, playing baseball and rugby in high school. Playing college football. Attending a variety of sporting events (We went to a greyhound race on our honeymoon). He once drove to Muhammad Ali’s estate in Cherry Hill, New Jersey after a bout and got in since he had Maine plates on his car. Little did the security people knew he’d only driven from Rutgers.

After we married, he coached several sports and played tennis, racquetball and golf. I bought sneakers because they were cute, not functional, and got pregnant with our son because it rained too hard to have football practice one September afternoon.

He’ll watch any sport on TV. I’d rather poke an eye out, so keep the cue stick away from me. Which you should do in any case, because I might poke your eye out.

I am content to let my family represent me on the playing field. Fortunately my husband’s sports genes and not mine were passed on to our kids. They wrestled, played football, soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, track and field, ran cross-country, and cheered. Go Team Robinson.

Historical romance heroes are universally fit and athletic, whether they’re boxing at Gentleman Jackson’s or fencing at Angelo’s. A lady may enjoy archery and riding. I did ride a mule down into the Grand Canyon, but I did not smell like a proper heroine afterward. And you can only imagine how dangerous I’d be with a bow and arrow.

Who’s your favorite “sport” in fiction and movies? I like SEP’s Heath Champion and Keira Knightly in Bend It Like Beckham. What do you like to play? If I say Scrabble, does that count?

Love is playing every game as if it’s your last. ~Michael Jordan

Come back Friday, March 23 when I post the first MRMR contest—Too True To Life. No heavy thinking or athletic skill required! You’ll have the weekend to enter. The randomly-selected winner will be announced on Monday, March 26.

The Viennese Waltz

Last Thursday would have been my parents’ wedding anniversary. They only made it to their 32nd, still a remarkable stretch considering their inauspicious beginnings. I’m going to be sentimental, but it’s only natural—I’m half-Viennese.

My mother Margarete was both a war widow and a war bride. She grew up in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of a watchmaker and a plump little hausfrau. Her older brother died in a climbing accident, knocked off the mountain as he was changing his shoes by the sliding carcass of a frozen mountain goat (Really. Who could make such a story up?). She worked for a couturier (and once, just like Scarlett O’Hara, made dresses from my Great Aunt Helen’s drapes). Margarete married a tall, blond, handsome guy named Tony, who was immediately conscripted and died on the Russian front. He was not a Nazi but did wear the uniform.

My father David was short, dark and chubby, a decorated cook in the Rainbow Division of the U.S. Army. Yes, he single-handedly won a Bronze star for accepting the surrender of a small group of young German soldiers as he was reconnoitering a town for the best place to set up his kitchen and any stray bottles of wine. He had been somewhat unsettled as a young man, the only child of two “society” people. They sent him to boarding school when he was nine so they could get divorced. A disappointment to them and a prep school drop-out, he followed the horse racing circuit up and down the east coast before he was drafted.

Towards the end of World War II, my parents met in the Vienna Woods, long a trysting place for lovers. My dad was with a buddy, my mom with a girlfriend. My dad spoke no German but fractured French and so did my mother’s friend, so he got stuck talking to her when he really wanted to hit on my mother. Eventually, he learned fractured German, my mother learned fractured English, and they carved their initials on a tree where they first met. The war ended, they married, moved back to America, and had me. A happily ever after.

My parents did not share a culture, language or religion. In fact they had very little in common. But they did have romance. And that was enough for a while.

How did you/your parents fall in love? How did you get your characters to meet? We had friends who tried to fix us up for years. When my husband finally met me, he thought I cursed too much, and I thought he was too handsome. But we got married nine months later anyway.