The Official Website of Author L.A. Mitchell

Category: Vortex 10

Valentine Prophesy: Love At Cabela’s

14th February


The Google Brotherhood of All-Up-In-My-Blog is now popping up a Google-Related toolbar at the bottom. Fascinating. Google picks up keywords from the website and suggests other sites or videos with related content. Wouldn’t it be great if it helped with author marketability? Oh, wait…that would be too helpful. For now, I’m getting six pictures of Bill Murray in varying poses of disheveled career-dom and links to bob-mitchell videos that highlight the fulfillment of the end-of-world prophesy. Not quite the demographic I’m writing for, but this is all a work-in-progress, is it not?

Speaking of blogs, I just broke one of the (supposed) cardinal rules of blogging: No more than three lines of text before a paragraph break. Man, are you guys in trouble. This rule would have cramped Faulkner. It cramps me. I have faith in Vortexers that their attention span is longer than my attention span while watching the Grammy’s.

Gotta cut this short today so I can do my part to get on the Valentine-gerbil wheel. You may think that since I sailed from Romancelandia, I am no longer a romantic. Not true. I am just into the quiet, the meaningful, the non-materialistic, the unpredictable, the messy, wonderful everyday parts of love. Here are links backs to two of my favorite valentine Vortex Lists and more, if you’re so inclined:

Everything I Need to Know About A Woman’s Heart, I Learned from a Romance Novel

But I Live in Gnaw Bone, Indiana! How Romance is Possible Anywhere. Even Cabela’s.

Next up: My new favorite movie is probably one you’ve never heard of. Looooove it.

Six (and Ten) Ways of Happy

6th August


Any time art meets time travel, I get six ways of happy. Russian photographer Sergey Larenkov matches World War II-era landmark photographs to their modern day image and fuses them together to create a seamlessly beautiful and haunting commentary on time. Friday treat: check it out. I dare you to tell me you don’t love them as much as I do.

Of late, I haven’t posted much. Remember virus #1? Well, virus #2 hit a different computer (I know!) and knocked the internet love right out of me. Replacing it is my love for my work-in-progress, which is a good thing. Except for the Thursday patron at the coffee shop who seems to think an open laptop means distract me with stupid questions, I like it. Poor guy, right? He doesn’t have to name drop Harcourt Brace exec names to win my adoration. Merely expounding on how science fiction hasn’t gotten the science right and backing it up with detailed descriptions of his staggering nerd-reverent library does it for me. Chat on, Captain Bother. I wasn’t in the middle of a love scene or anything.

Also, the whole crickets chirping thing around The Vortex has not impacted devotion. In fact, the love continues to grow with more followers this week than in the blog’s history. So thank you and welcome. When the ambient temperature in my world doesn’t hover at a grouchy 106 and I’m not under such a wicked self-imposed deadline, I’ll be back to thrice weekly posts. Until then, one of my favorite Vortex 10 lists: My Inner Bond Girl.

Ten Action Figures Cleared For Take-off

15th May


It is safe to say that around here, May is like December. Every day brings something to celebrate, something to wrap up, something to unwrap (hint, hint). What May has failed to bring thus far is time to breathe. So the Vortex took a percolating hiatus. Never far from the brain, just a thousand light years away from the keyboard. What would a comeback be without a Vortex 10 List? Not any fun, I must say.

Yesterday, I ran across a link tease under the title Hot Toy Alert! We’re not talking Easy Bake Oven here. And, no, it wasn’t from Camp Edward or Jacob-they would never be allowed on my Barbie’s DC-10 with full in-flight meal service. Too vampy. It was the action-figure tie-in of Prince of Brokeback…I mean Persia. This particular action figure is like a frosted eclair oasis in the Sahara, not just because it is filled with shirtless Gyllenhaal goodness, but because there is that whole time travel thing. And I wondered: what other action figures would I allow on my Barbie’s DC-10?

Top Ten Action Figures Cleared for Take-Off:

1: Jake Gyllenhaal’s Prince of Persia hits a home run in the accuracy department. Complete with ripped muscles and larger-than-Ken hands, we can forgive the glazed, vacant look in his eyes. Too much Reese. We get it. Our Barbies can kick Elle’s pink Margaret-Thatcher-suited butt anytime.

2: Tom Selleck’s Thomas Magnum: Maybe the cabin pressure has left Tom bloated, but we forgive the extra poundage because he still looks bad ass sporting a mustache and a gun. His shirt leads me to believe our destination is somewhere with ocean views and an annoying butler. Sandra, honey, I’ll book you a seat right next to this one.

3: Richard Dean Anderson’s MacGyver: Need I say more? So what if this Brazilian rendering is the only one ever produced and they failed to capture the strictly American beauty that was the mullet? So what if he looks like a blond matador in Mom jeans? He gets a boarding pass simply for being my numero uno obsession at fifteen. In-flight Skipper would agree.

4: Josh Holloway’s Sawyer: Though we’re unaccustomed to seeing James smile, I take comfort in knowing he has room on his raft should Barbie Air plummet into the Pacific. I might have preferred him sitting in his makeshift shelter sporting nerd glasses and reading prophetic tomes, but who can deny the wet, clingy appearance of his decidedly un-Mom jeans? Hard to tell from this angle, but a side view shows his plethora of hair blowing in thirty knot winds. Someone turn the fan down over seat 4F!

5: Jon Bon Jovi: I must confess that this passenger really isn’t for me; but frankly, the Lemme doll wasn’t Barbie’s type. Who knew there was an entire culture of hard rock fans who collect figurines? Do they display them in lighted curio cabinets next to their bongs? I’d venture more than one woman in the world has this baby next to her Precious Moments dust trap. Marilyn?

6: Elvis: Comeback ’68: Out of all the Elvis action figures, this is the one Barbie wants swiveling up the center aisle. Yeah, the Jailhouse Rock one is filled with possibility, but let’s face it. The spazzy guy on the plane always ruins the trip for the rest. Stripped of the cheesy what-do-I-do-with-my-hands production ditties from his 60’s movies, this all-leather clad King is better than lemon-scented hot towels in first class.

7: Dimebag Darrell: You might think this choice, when paired with the last, might cause Barbie Air to split down the center ala Oceanic 815, but this is how my Barbie rolls. Sweet and Campy one moment, all Pantera the next. Dimebag is in charge of the in-flight music and balances out the matador jacket nicely, don’t you think? Barbie’s mom is so going to freak.

8: David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder: The truth is out there: this action figure is more handsome than the original, which earns him a boarding pass. We always knew Barbie was shallow, didn’t we? Packing heat, a flashlight and no Scully to take up precious hottie space aboard Barbie Air, his study-the-heavens-for-aliens posture speaks of his tireless dedication to his cause, something that makes Barbie a little vaclempt.

9: Eric Estrada’s Ponch: Keeping the skies safe is our air marshall with the brilliant white teeth and Latin love vibe. No longer straddling his department-issued cycle, this one proves that even with disproportionate-sized buttons and a sumo-wrestler gun holster, Poncherello can still bring it for Barbie because he’s in uniform.

10. Wentworth Miller’s Michael Scofield(left): So what if he just broke out of prison? This guy could kick Ken’s golf-sweater-wearing ass and show him the meaning of anatomical correctness. At a whopping $550 a pop, this guy had better deposit gold bars in the lavatory to pay for his hotness boarding pass.

What was your favorite action figure or Barbie from childhood?

A Hair Metal Vortex 10

22nd March


I think you’ll forgive me when you find out I was remiss in posting last Friday due to a particularly impressive day. The flavor of such a slaptastic experience? That, my dear Vortex reader, you’ll have to wait for until the end of today’s housekeeping.

First, a dusting-off of last week’s news. The winners for the Chase the Dream Contest were announced Friday. Though you’ll notice there is no sign of my manuscript in the winner’s circle, I am not one to rest on the cricket chirps. In fact, being a finalist has carried me beyond my expectations. I couldn’t be more pleased with the industry and reader feedback along with the wonderful opportunities I’ve been given behind the scenes. Be sure to head over and congratulate the winners. And for those of you who voted for The Chosen One, may your Monday be a velvet-lined bag filled with trinkets of happiness. Thank you so much!

The Speculative Literature Foundation is offering a $750 grant to writers fifty and older who are just beginning to work at a professional level. Application deadline is March 31st.

Enough of you expressed an interest, via blog and email, to participate in a blog carnival. It may end up being the Large Hadron Collider of my blogging history, but it sounds like fun and there might even be dancing geniuses. I’ve selected March 31st because it is Gabe Kaplan’s birthday and statistically the highest traffic day of the week for blogging. It was Gabe’s idea to have prizes, so bloggers who participate will be placed in a drawing to receive a prize (I promise, it won’t be a red telephone booth pencil sharpener or a Fabio CD) and everyone who comments at the Vortex that day will be placed in a drawing for another prize. It is my fervent hope that the event will drive new friends through all participants’ blogs and Gabe will get some much-needed press. Here’s what you need to do to participate:

1. Email me at or comment on this post to let me know you wish to participate.
2. Prepare a March 31 post for your blog that aligns with the blog carnival’s theme.
3. Visit all the blog carnival’s sites and encourage your readers to do the same.

Simple, right? Some of you have already guessed the theme: TIME. What else is there at the Vortex? Remember, your post can be any format, any medium, any take, any ramble or a mad cluster of links, as long as it has something to do with TIME.

Now, on to something even more fun than TIME…

Friday night found me front row, center at a Dokken/Skid Row concert, sans ear plugs. I know what you’re thinking: your cilias are dead forever now because of that? Yes, and it was beautiful save one thing. Was I the only one who didn’t know Sebastian Bach wouldn’t be there? Is there any crime greater than a teen infatuation left to languish into thirty-hood unnurtured? I came away wiser, though, and wish to pass that wisdom on:

A Hair-Metal Vortex 10

1. Beer spit from the mouth of an 80’s lead singer that lands in your eye is infinitely more awesome than beer spit from the mouth of the skinny guy showing his butt crack beside you.

2. Aged groupies, let me tell you Victoria’s real secret. Your right breast you tattooed that autograph into has stretched into a name worthy of the largest collective Puerto Rican family known to man. Cover it. Please.

3. Murphy’s Law of Front Row, Center: Every band member will clench your hand but the one you most desire contact with.

4. Never underestimate a woman who has stood for five hours straight, forsaking liquid refreshment and bladder relief, to hold her territory. I may look the demeanor of Laura Ingalls, but I am acquainted with Iron Maiden’s beast.

5. The drunkest guy in general admission will be the one still holding tight to the lighter-during-power-ballads routine. The sea of cell phone holders wearing Aqua net, beware.

6. Guitar players, no matter how advanced in age, still make those faces when trying to impress you with their riffs.

7. Don Dokken, while confessing to having the ass of a shar pei, still looked wicked hot in a pair of jeans. Thank you, Don, for not resurrecting those animal-print leotards.

8. Yelling “Watch out for that….amp” doesn’t rise above the 150 db din of Slave to the Grind to prevent the non-Sebastian from spilling over backwards.

9. Asking the crowd to echo “Yee-haw” in Texas is akin to asking us if we all have longhorns on the front of our cars and ride horses to work. J.R. has left the building and so should you.

10. And finally? No one, but no one, can replace Sebastian Bach.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Chime in about the blog carnival and tell us about the last concert you went to…

Ten Indicators You’ve Traveled Through Time at Camp

12th March


1. You prefer transportation via the spitting llama named Tina than the front of an open trailer pulled by a Chevy Silverado bumper-high in manure.

2. Your newly-minted orienteering skills make the Tang you drank at breakfast seem like it’s been riding shotgun in your bladder for twenty years. 293 degrees. 121 steps. And, no, that over-large critter hole is not an outdoor latrine.

3. Your demonstration on force and friction carried you across the zip line like an H.G. Wells traveler on crack. And; while holding the MacGyver-taped tarp between your legs demonstrated wind resistance and dignified grace, the real physics lesson came from the directly proportional relationship between the Cheesecake Factory’s Chocolate Mousse slice you ate the previous night and your speed on the zip line. Whee!

4. You encounter a camp counselor dressed as the 1600’s French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle in the forest and you wish three things: (1) that you had not just challenged your Lady Speed Stick to a three mile hike and lost (2) that you did not have aforementioned compass around your neck so you could ask for a very long, very detoured escort back to civilization and (3) that he had not achieved the perfect balance between a French accent and GQ bone structure because it left you stammering like the native tribe women he so eloquently spoke of.

5. Your chicken fried steak at dinner was, without doubt, from 1972.

6. Your camp skit was the same one from fifth grade, minus the mean girl on the end whose hand you dunked in a bucket at midnight for revenge.

7. The silly string you wielded on unsuspecting campers proved string theory: that subatomic particles when united and tense become easily agitated.

8. The wormhole outside your cabin filled with five inches of rainwater was capable of sucking bobby pins, ankles adorned with freshly laundered socks, and your only four quarters for a Coke.

9. The Gramps who spoke about organic gardening left you for a misty moment when he recalled a place you both knew where he met his high school sweetheart, his recently departed wife.

10. You glimpse a future when ten year olds have a better cell phone than you and you realize it’s the present.

I hope everyone had a fantastic week. I’ll be back on Monday with a Time Traveler’s Wife comparison, book versus movie. There’s still time to get in on the blog carnival. Email me if you’re interested: Hmm…I wonder what the theme will be.

Two guesses. The first one doesn’t count.

But I Live in Gnaw Bone, Indiana! How Romance is Possible Anywhere. Even Cabela’s.

10th February


Cabela’s, the sports and outdoor superstore mecca for so many red-blooded American males, is by far the most unromantic place I’ve visited in the past week. A close second? Walmart with the guns and tank tops, but the stuffed javalinas pushed it over the edge for me. Where better to prove my point about romance? Remember when you were fifteen and even the most mundane place became a destination when paired with the right person? So step into your camo hunting suits and grab a package of jalapeno beef jerky-we’re getting romantic at Cabela’s.

Top Ten Romantic Things to do at Cabela’s:

1. Name a fish after your Valentine. Commit its details to memory so you can find it again when you return. This will cancel out the time your beloved wore a new outfit you didn’t notice for two years. While you’re at it, donate to the wildlife fund to ensure its species will have plenty of procreation opportunities in the future, even if you don’t.

2. Test out a rod and hook her. Don’t bust out your best Mike Iaconelli impression. That will only make her want the guy on the water ski promo poster. Extra points for a cheesy line about how she’s the best catch anywhere.

3. Lay on a speedboat deck, hand in hand. Close your eyes and pretend you’re anywhere but near the portable camping loos.

4. Crawl in a display tent and play truth or dare. Better yet, share a secret. Just be sure your inner fifth grade boy scout doesn’t rear his ugly head and initiate a finger dare that will clear the outdoor section.

5. Shoot the scary drunk guy leaning against the saloon door in the shooting gallery while proclaiming, “I love her, Black Bart, I’ll protect her ’til the day I die!”

6. Drop her off at the door before you park in the E lot, halfway to Guatemala. While you’re at it, open her door for her, not by leaning across her thighs and popping the broken door handle but as a true gentleman would: dodging stacked canoes on sale by the door and offering your hand.

7. Consume the foot-long chili cheese dog Lady-and-the-Tramp style.

8. Lead her to the bear skin rug in the home decor section and do your best Fabio impression. Be sure to whisper in your best accent, “I can’t believe it’s not butter,” so she can envision it past your flannel clad-paunch and your chili cheese dog breath.

9. Compare her to a gazelle in the African grassland taxidermy display. Avoid eye contact with the elephant if you don’t want those Springbok horns shoved where the sun doesn’t shine.

10. Locate the exact place you met on a GPS and tell her it’s where you lost your heart.

Tell us the most romantic, unromantic place you’ve ever been…

Ten Reasons My Muse is Thankful

25th November


Every so often, writers need to belly up to the bountiful table of blessings because, let’s face it, the starlight moments are few and far between. It’s easy to let the weight of the literary world, with all it’s rules and rejections, take us far from our intended course. With that in mind, and before the tryptophan short circuits creative thought and lapses me into a food coma, I offer up a Vortex 10 filled with writerly blessings.

Top Ten Reasons My Muse is Thankful:

1. We collaborate on love scenes unworthy of The Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Prize.

2. I do not beg for clarity of thought from her at ungodly pre-dawn hours.

3. My DVR stash/Netflix account is a See’s Candy Store of visual hero inspiration. And no calories!

4. My large-capacity water heater is golden for those lengthy plot-pondering sessions in the shower.

5. My glee is not found in typical female traps-handbags, Jimmy Choos, maid service-but in office supplies so she can vomit organizational details in technicolor.

6. When the perky spinning instructor at the gym shouts, “You can see the finish line,” the muse and I SO know it’s not about visualizing a country road through a vineyard. We hear “You can see the signature line!” and “You can see the B&N book signing line!”

7. I don’t go all postal on her when she va-cays for a few days. Even muses need mental health days.

8. I respect that she’s trying to boldly go where no one has gone before.

9. Her people-watching skills have elevated waiting in a public place to an art form. Who needs CNN at the airport when we have Larry the Disenfranchised Horse Jockey carrying a Euro-bag housing a suspicious device?

10. From the time we became acquainted, I’ve never once abandoned her.

For my American friends, I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving weekend. For all others, I hope you, too, find a quiet moment filled with peace and blessings.

This Thanksgiving, cherish the time spent with your family as a reminder of why you moved very far away from your family

A Vortex 10 Weekend

9th November


Top Ten Things Learned on A Writing Adventure Weekend:

1. Patty Love is not a hamburger joint. The mannequins in whips and proximity to Condoms-to-Go should have been my first clue. But Laura Ingalls does not venture often, nay-ever, to that part of Dallas. So I did what any tourist would do. Take a picture!

Sadly, I was laughing too hard for it to show clearly. Thankfully, it was too blurry to capture any tom-foolery in the silver car and said driver did not pursue us for inadvertently snapping his license plate.

2. Physicists come in all kinds of beautiful, kind packages. Angela, so great to meet you!

3. Margie Lawson was, and is forevermore, my rock star of fiction writing.

4. Bestselling fiction author Harlan Coban has characters with eyeballs that could compete in the Olympic Games.

5. Backloaded power words on the first two pages of my WIP: change, Pier, thrills, beach, gravity, shit-canned, truth, spiked. Can I mine more by changing sentence order? Oh, yeah.

6. A sensible black tote is a black hole that swallows red pens needed for Margie’s EDITS system. Dialogue cues be damned!

7. Wine tastes infinitely better when shared with the best critique partners. Evah.

8. Everything in the South is filled with nuts. Including the South, itself.

9. One Big-Gulp, Super-Empowered passage per book. Too much of a Big Gulp is a very bad thing.

10. Sometimes the most dazzling moments are unexpected ones on a two-floor elevator ride.
I hope everyone had an amazing weekend. Wednesday, we’re tackling what the shows stored in your DVR or Tivo say about you. I have a special sumpthin-sumpthin for anyone here who, before Wednesday, comes closest to accurately guessing how many MacGyver reruns are stored in mine. Guess away…

Knowing All About a Vortex 10

28th September


Remember the medicine-head commerical where the red balloon floats high above the decapitated cartoon character body? That’s so me today. But since I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal, what’s better than an alternate-state reality to concoct a Vortex 10? Today’s topic: the 2009 release Knowing starring Nicholas Cage.

Ten Ways the Movie Knowing Would Have Been Tolerable on a Nyquil-Induced High:

1. The black duster-clad alien/human hybrids might have broken into a fog-laden rendition of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”, giving them an entertaining value beyond belching a light storm from their mouths.

2. The numerical sequence the protagonist triest to decode might have resembled the optimistic spreadsheet of Harry Potter-like sales from my debut release.

3. Rose Byrne’s hysterical portrayal of a worried mother might have been more drama-hysterical and less ha-ha hysterical.

4. The black pebbles could have led me back from the abyss of schitzophrenic genre. As they stood, they were a mere metaphor for the ka-ka that was the ending.

5. I could have imagined a different, better plot in the protagonist’s house that looked more like a Disney soundstage than a real residence.

6. The sunspot could have lit a fire under me to want to go past 1 hour and 40 minutes on my DVD counter.

7. I could have pretended the symbolic tree at the end was my happy place instead of the heavy-handed religious propaganda that made virtually no sense given the character’s set up.

8. It might have made sense that a mother would leave two hunted children unattended in a car during a pre-apocalyptic bedlam.

9. Nicholas Cage might have morphed into someone who less-resembled the guy who rotated my tires last week.

10. My laughter during the scene where Nicholas Cage runs out to fight the Depeche Mode guys, strikes a bat against a tree and screams, “You want some of this?” might have eclipsed the next, oh say, seven scenes.

Okay, so I was harsh. I really, really wanted to like this movie. It contains a time capsule for the love of Pete! The woo-woo factor (minus the alien thing) is so completely up my alley, but in the end, it didn’t hold together.

What’s the latest I-just-shaved-two-hours-off-my-life film-stinker you watched?

A Pampered Vortex 10

10th September


Sometimes I have trouble shutting off my mind. Such was the case yesterday. Instead of melting away into a viscous puddle under the very capable hands of a masseuse (a four month old birthday gift–the massage, not the masseuse), bizzare thoughts lurked at the periphery of my awareness. How else to diffuse those than a Vortex 10 List? Sounds like more fun than drowning a novel’s worth of toxins with Evian.

10 Random Thoughts on a Massage Table:

1. Please don’t match me to the guy in black scrubs that looks like a cross between the blond guy from Simon and Simon and Lurch. Could someone have pity on this guy and give him a detoxifying treatment? The smacked-out rings under his eyes haunt me and not in a romance novel kind of way, either.

2. Dear God, is someone butchering that exotic bird in the distant meadow?

3. Seriously, was that just a karate chop to my left buttocks?

4. I saw this move on COPS once to apprehend a suspect, only there wasn’t a pan flute soloist in the background and I’m not wearing a t-shirt that says Mess with me and you mess with the entire trailer park.

5. Did she just put the hair clip she used on me back into the same drawer I saw her pull it out of? Sweet Barbicide, where are you?

6. Apparently shading in the feet on the pre-massage questionnaire “troublesome areas” means avoid like leprosy. No wonder she’s overcompensating by working tension from my collarbone. Does anyone have collarbone tension?

7. I painted my toenails Sparkling Nectar for this? What’s the Chinese translation for “A kingdom for my feet! I wore the cruel shoes today!”

8. Is the overly-loud second hand on the clock meant to be a relaxing rhythm to get in touch with my heartbeat or a cosmic reminder I could have written 500 words in the time it’s taken her to turn my scalp into a relaxed greaseball?

9. If she reused the hair clip, what of the sheets?

10. Why does my middle finger lift when she rubs the writerly tension from my forearm?

I’ve had six massages in my life, but they’ve all been gifts. Were it left up to me, I’d have given the money to the guy that stands with a sign under the interstate overpass in hundred-degree heat. Okay, maybe I’d have kept the one from the Brazilian guy on the ship in the Atlantic Ocean, but that’s all. Romance writers have to master the concept of haunting eyes, right?

What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?