Thursday, July 31, 2008
I ran into a friend at the registration desk my first day here. This is her first conference and she thought she was all set. Right up until she was in line next to Nora. Then she got the whole giddy fan girl thing going on. I can totally relate since my first conference sighting of Nora included a tacky squeal of “OMG.” I quickly learned not to be quite so enthusiastic in my admiration. Or at least not as loud.
This inspired me to come up with my Top Three Fan Girl Tips
· Don’t gush. Polite admiration is always good, but sloppy gushing can get scary.
· Stalking is frowned upon.
· Autographs rock. Favors not so much.
I’m lucky to write for a line and house that is filled with authors I love. So far my favorite fan girl moments have been riding in the elevator with Blaze authors, the lit signing with my awesome CP, Beth Andrews signing her debut book, the Romance Bandits Party and rubbing Terri Garey’s double RITA pins. Its only Wednesday night, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
How about you? Do you have fan girl moments you want to share? Who would you LOVE to meet?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Pippa Bradford’s Book of Curious Observations
July 21, Osprey Island, Maine. Latest subjects arrived at 9:17 a.m. on Jonesport ferry.
1. Bald man in trench coat, carrying briefcase, went straight to Whitecap Inn. Does not look like vacationer? (Check guest book for name.)
2. Couple met by Mrs. Sheffield of Peregrine House. Husband short and fat with gray hair and sunglasses, wife (or girlfreind?) tall with blond hair and high voice. Nice dressed, loads of luggage. Departed in silver Mercedes convertible, Mrs. S driving. Graves loaded luggage in pickup truck. House guests? High probabillity.
3. Pretty woman in purple shorts. Backpack. Got bike at Dockside Cycle. Overheard: one-day rental. Tourist--no more observation necessary.
4. Tall man with short dark hair. One bag. Jeans and baseball cap (Bruins). Sunglasses, suspicious limp. Walked to Pine Cone Cottage on Shore Road, took house keys from mailbox. Name on box is Potter. Resident? Future observation required.
Pippa Bradford of the curious observations is the ten-year-old heroine of my book NOBODY'S HERO, a July SuperRomance leaving the shelves any day now (sheesh, did that month go fast!). She's a little bit mischievous, sort of shy, and very nosy. Her ambition is to be a detective like the heroine of her favorite books, Trixie Belden.
When I was writing NOBODY'S HERO, I read a bunch of Trixie Belden books for research. What a trip back in time! The Trixie books were among my favorites as a kid. I never did get into Nancy Drew that much--Trixie seemed more real. I also loved the Borrower books, especially Borrowers Afloat, the Anne of Green Gables series, and All-of-a-Kind Family.
But my absolute favorites? Horse books. The book I loved so much that I just about died when I loaned it to someone and never got it back was Fly-By-Night by K.M. Peyton. After twenty years, I finally got another copy of that book, thanks to the internet. In fact, I have at least four copies of it right now, just to be safe. Never come between a girl and her favorite book!
What's your favorite book from childhood? Do you still have a copy of it? Post the answer to the comments section and you'll be entered in a giveaway for NOBODY'S HERO. I'm giving away two copies, one here and one at Deadline Hellions. Feel free to enter at both blogs and remember to check back tomorrow for the winners.
Happy summer reading!
>>>>>> WE HAVE A WINNER! <<<<<<<
Aideen, by random draw, you are the winner of an autographed copy of NOBODY'S HERO. Congratulations! Please send your address to me at CarrieAlexander2@aol . com and I will put the book in the mail.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
If you think of your whole life as 'source material' you've just about got the idea. Nothing is sacred -- for better or worse.
I mean, sure, you can deliberately go out and research a topic for a book. Why do you think I went to bull-riding school?
But equally, I find myself digging back into all sorts of boxes in the attic of my mind for just the right detail, experience, moment, emotion that will allow me to tell the story. They are there -- the fleeting memories, the glimpses of details, feelings, thoughts -- and I'm continually astonished, and delighted, how often I get to tap into them.
I dug into my days on sand and in surf at Manhattan Beach for quite a few early books and, amazingly (to me at least), I'm right back there again on the one I'm working on now.
I have found inspiration, not to mention detail, in a couple of Bahamian jaunts that occurred 15-20 years ago, in a trip to Vienna when my children were small, the horseback riding I did when I was eight and the chicken pox I got when I was seven.
If any character of mine ever picks the landlord's peach tree bare, you will have caught me mining the summer when I was four.
And it isn't just the details that find their way into books. It's the emotions.
Some of them are, frankly, emotions I would rather forget. They weren't always the happiest times of my life. But I remember pain, I remember loss. I remember fear.
Even if my characters are nothing like me and, admittedly, most of them aren't, they still hurt, they regret, they are afraid. And I can give them those feelings because I've experienced them. The same, of course, goes for the happier emotions. And, truth to tell, I much prefer writing them.
A former editor of mine refers to some of this process as "writing out of one's emotional landscape."
She says that the strongest books come from those parts of a writer's emotional landscape that are of deepest significance. They are the ones that writers return to again and again, to explore in different ways, to look at from different perspectives.
From the standpoint of having written now 61 books, I completely agree with her. While I am going to Cannes in October to get some 'on site' research of detail and such -- to get hangers to put my story on, as it were -- the emotional landscape is one I am familiar with.
It's a story I find worth exploring again and again: duty and responsibility to oneself and one's family and, at the same time two people finding they are more themselves in relation to another, that they ultimately bring out the best in each other.
What makes this my emotional landscape? I'm not entirely sure. Experiences I've had, no doubt, play their part. Hopes and dreams for the future, maybe. And, of course, a strong desire to make it all come right in the end. It's an emotional landscape based on hope, not justice (which is more of a mystery writer's landscape) or one based on "you're damned if you do and damned if you don't" (which to me often seems a more literary writer's landscape).
If you're a writer, do you find yourself exploring a particular emotional landscape from a variety of angles? Or do you go someplace new emotionally every time?
If you're a reader, do your favorite authors tend to explore the same emotional landscape you like to explore? Or do you go wherever they take you? What attracts you to favorite authors -- and who are they?
Monday, July 28, 2008
One episode of Hell's Kitchen, and I knew the man had to be a chef. (Have you seen this show? You must watch it!)
Okay, so research, always a favorite pursuit of mine, may have gotten a little out of hand for Hungry for More. I had to start eating out more, talking to restaurant people, understanding what makes them click. Luckily, I live in Philadelphia, where the restaurant scene is exploding with cocky, brash executive chefs taking huge risks to make their marks.
These men are ultra-competitive and at the same time very passionate. I was going to all the area’s acclaimed restaurants, talking to everyone I could, thinking, would my hero James cook here? Would James cook this?
All that eating out was hard work, but someone had to do it. And I think it makes Hungry for More a more authentic experience. I used parts of the décor of the beautiful XIX restaurant at the Hyatt Hotel on Walnut Street; borrowed the to-die-for menu of the Brasserie Perrier; and based the hero, James, on the chef from….
It's very sexy.
I think James puts it best:
"Cooking, like making love, is best done right or not at all."
So what will the hero in my next book do for a living?
He definitely won’t be a chef. I’ve already gained almost ten pounds! Maybe a personal trainer?
What's your favorite romance novel hero career?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I have been keeping casual track of the ebook phenomena, the economy, the environment, and publishing and reading trends, and one morning as I lay in bed trying to fall back asleep--thwarted by the fact my body could not adjust, thinking it was on either Central Time or Eastern Time but not Pacific Time--I had to come to grips with the fact that books as we know them will go away. Mind you, I’m not trying to go apocalyptic on you, but troubles in the industry and world have been bouncing in my head for a while, leading me to these thoughts. I don’t want books to go away completely. Certainly, we will always have libraries full of the paper books we know and love now. Our home collections will likely be with us, passed down through the generations. But we really can't sustain the book business as it is now.
If we publish about 175,000 books per year in this country (and I don't think that includes self published books) and have print runs of 20,000 for each, that's 35,000,000 million books. Even though I was thinking about this great number while in bed, I didn’t and don’t want to think about what that costs the planet. Trees, energy, pollution. Even if every part of the process went completely green (which I doubt is possible), we still would have some by product of toxins. Have you seen my romance covers? While I love the cover of Being with Him , I shudder when contemplating what that type of printing must cost in terms of materials. They are thick and glossy and full of color that can't originate from the shells of some beetle that is farmed on a beetle farm for ink.
And let's say that 20,000 copies of my book are sent out. Only 10,000 sell. The publisher has to figure out what to do with the remaining 10,000. They don't make their money and pulp half and remainder the rest. The bookstores end up shipping back half of the 10,000 that "sold," and then we have gas waste and more pulp. All that paper, all that dye, floating around in some river somewhere headed out to sea to join up with the plastic floating island of smudge in the Pacific.
This is just the environmental part of the argument. Of course, there's more.
The idea of revamping the advance/per copy sales amount given to an author is at least a partial solution for this. Book stores commit to what they can handle and authors are paid less upfront but earn more per book. The book store will be holding onto their 5 copies of our book till kingdom come, but it's a done deal. They can remainder on their own or give a copy to the poor guy who comes in and has forgotten his wallet. It doesn't matter. We are paid for those five copies; the publisher doesn't have to deal with the return. Less gas waste, less environmental pollution. Not bad.
But still, there are the 175,000 books out there and maybe the 5,000 copies per book.
Ebooks eliminate some of this, though I have no clue about the waste involved in making computers and Kindles and Sony readers. But once they are made, people keep those things for longer than a 6.99 mass market paperback. The books come into the readers and computers easily without paper waste. Without gas. The sales are final. No returns.
So that gets rid of a number of the issues.
I just bought my mother a Kindle reader, and what she says is that she likes to sit down on her couch and read it. Just like a book. I know I have said that I would miss holding a book, but I think I would miss forests more. I would miss a lot of the things that our current practices of living are producing for us. Things like clean air and glaciers. We want our publishing business to go on the way it is, but it is not sustainable. It's tremendously flawed in so many ways.
Of course, I want the stories to thrive and live, and they will because we can’t stop ourselves. We've been telling stories to each other since before we could really articulate them. We painted tales on walls. Then we told them around fires. Then we figured out how to chip into blocks of stone. We've moved on, adapting the stories to what is around. Printing was viable when it was smaller. Then we cleared out the forests. Now we are clogging everything with the leftovers of what we want. It's hard to breathe out there, folks, and things are going to have to change, even if it means you will need a little reader to read the next big book coming down the pike.
What are your thoughts on this? I'm curious to know how you feel, as we are the ones who are or want to be in "print," as we are the ones who buy the books.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
BEFORE YOU ARE PUBBED:
Get a website. You want to make a name for yourself? Not computer savvy? Then hire someone to make one for you. Get all the basics out of the way on your website: Home; Bio; Books; Links; Contact. Be sure to put something on your site that will draw a crowd. A special links page, contest page, articles.The more you get done now, the less you will have to do when you get published, and trust me, you will be glad you did.
Book a Design: http://www.bookadesign.com/
Glass Slipper Web Design: http://www.glassslipperwebdesign.com/
Romance Designs: www.romancedesigns.com/
The Romance Studio: www.theromancestudio.com/webservices.php
Kismet: http://kismetdesignco.com/ (a new designer trying to get started, but has lots of potential)
Start a Blog (Bloggers see 10-15% higher sales than authors who don't use them services)http://www.blogger.com/
Things you can do to get your name on the web or promote yourself after you sell:
Set up a myspace: http://www.myspace.com/
Set up a bebo: http://www.bebo.com/
Set up a facebook: http://www.facebook.com/
Set up a shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/
Put information up on RomanceWiki
Books Content Update Form: http://www.amazon.com/gp/content-form/?ie=UTF8&product=books
You must first set up a regular account with amazon and then you can join AmazonConnect where you can input information like a bio and even set up a feed to your blog.
This isn't a tenth of the things I've done to prepare for being published. If you are interested in learning more, I have a 'writer's page' on my website that offers lots more.
Thanks for having me on today and I hope you all get a chance to check out my website to get a peek of my debut book, HER ONE DESIRE, from Zebra books.
England 1483--Astride a stolen horse, encircled by the shackled arms of Broderick Maxwell, a Scottish spy escaping certain death in the Tower of London, Lizbeth Ives rides to the north, hidden by the merciful darkness. By stealth and by cunning, the daughter of the Lord High Executioner has undone her father's cruel work, compelled to save the innocent man with her. There is no turning back—they are bound as one in his iron chains. Consumed by mortal fear, driven by passion, they disappear into the night…
A single raven follows them. Is it an omen? Or only the first of those who would capture them? They must ride on. If captured, they will face death together. But if they reach Scotland, he will claim her for his own…forever.
BOOK TRAILER; REVIEWS; CONTEST
Friday, July 25, 2008
Sometimes there is a Grand Canyon-esque gulf between how one spouse approaches something and how the other one does. Over the years there have been certain marital undertakings that I learned the hard way should have been handled by one, not both of us. There was the Great Wallpapering Debacle early in our marriage, an experience that about destroyed our union in the first year of operation. But we managed to traverse that trying experience, if barely. Despite my husband’s cynically dubbing me “Mrs. Goodenough” because I didn’t exactly care about the accuracy of my plumb line. After all, the house wasn’t plumb; how could my strip of wallpaper be? As far as I was concerned, it was good enough!
Then there was the whole child-rearing venture. Talk about a situation highly-charged with potential for ongoing disagreement. Sheesh!
We recently hit upon yet another source of conjugal conflict: selecting a vanity license plate. This task was already fraught with warning signs. After all, the old mini-van I drove for years carried a vanity plate that he couldn’t stand (IMSOOL8). While I have a propensity to screech into my destination about 10 minutes late, my husband veers toward the punctuality of an Army sergeant. That my car ratified my glaring timing inadequacies didn’t thrill him, as if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For laughs I suggested he get a coordinating plate on his car so that when parked side-by-side in the garage, mine would read IMSOOL8 and his would read IM NOT. He didn’t find it so amusing. But he tolerated my tell-all plate because it was on the car I was stuck driving.
As a mom, I long ago resigned myself to being mistress of the mundane mini-van. It’s the most practical vehicle for hauling kids, particularly kids who love to trash the interior of cars. I hadn’t anticipated an escape from mini-van-dom for another decade. But out of the blue recently, we happened into a really cool used convertible just as our decrepit spare van keeled over, it’s second transmission beyond resuscitation.
So finally. Finally! After 20 years, I get to drive a less-than-lame car. One that’s free of the stench of wet dogs and the detritus from kid abuse. This car’s got pizzazz. Up until now, the closest thing to pizzazz associated with my vehicles were pizzas: slices of them dropped on the filthy fur-coated carpet or left to petrify in the back seat, forgotten by absent-minded kids who dined and dashed there. For this stylish car we needed a plate to fit its personality. But because we share the car, we had to agree on a plate. To me it was a no-brainer---it had to be something that would herald the onset of mini-van liberation. IMFREEE came to mind, but seemed a little much. VANLESS? Eh, not so bad, but lacked oomph.
I love reading license plates---it keeps me from complete highway boredom. I could read clever license plates all day long (though thank goodness I’ve never had to do that, as it would mean I was incarcerated in the big lock-up and I was the official license plate inspector).
License plate design provides a chance to exercise your creativity. Alas my husband tends to take the ho-hum snoozer approach with plates (i.e. just put on the one that comes with the car), which I suppose is okay, as long as all parties are in agreement on it.
So for starters, I had a terrific plate idea that would have betrayed my political leanings. My husband nixed it for fear of the car being keyed by ape-ish oafs who object to freedom of speech. Fair enough. This just meant I had to come up with something better.
I next pitched PROFLG8 to him. He laughed at me, insisting no one even knows what it means. Okay, a survey of everyone we knew proved him right (in case you were wondering, it means extravagant). But still, it was at least different. Next came LIDLESS. Perfect for a convertible. Nixed. NFA28D. Nope. I don’t know about him, but I sure am infatuated with that car. MAKNTYM, HD OVRHL, FRIVOLS, OHAPYDY, DNT BH8N, B-DRAGLD, NO ENNUI, 42ITOUS, JUSNTYM, ATI-2DNL, FYNALEE, SUBLIME, HLF ASLP (I wake early). All rejected. TOPLESS. Vetoed for obvious reasons.
My naming prospects were diminishing. I was frustrated. So instead I started coming up with clever plates for other people. ADJUDIC8. Perfect for a judge. LEGISL8. Many a do-nothing politico on Capitol Hill could use that. How about the multi-use IV LEAG? Could work for a nurse or Princeton grad. VNDIC8D. Ideal for that special someone just released from prison after serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. I made a very long list, including one that I now can’t even interpret (NTNELYN). Oh, yeah--that was supposed to be Nittany Lion (mascot of my much-loved alma mater, Penn State). Never mind. And then there's the ever-so-clever anesthesiologist plate: I IN2B8U. I mean come on, that's a good one, you'll have to agree. My old babysitter's mom was an oral hygienist and she had this one on her car: TTH PCKR.
That I devote even the least bit of time to such endeavors perhaps says less about my creative aptitude and more about my latent obsessive tendencies. What can I say? I’m a wordsmith at heart. Creative license-plating is my New York Times crossword puzzle. Maybe it’s my inner mathematician (the one I thought died doing long division in fourth grade) screaming out at me, trying to make clever words through seven-digit letter/number combinations. If so, she’d probably be of more use if she’d correctly balance my checkbook occasionally.
I’m not going to tell you the plate we chose. Suffice it to say each time I look at it I stifle a yawn. I’ve also realized that if my plate were a car, it would be a mini-van. Worse still: now that it’s on the car, we realize that the letter combination can also be misread to be something entirely inappropriate. So if you do see me driving by, spare me the catcalls. Trust me, I really did try to provide my fellow motorists something more amusing to interpret while driving. Perhaps I achieved this inadvertently. Who knows? Not to worry. My license plate ideas are definitely INCHO8. Look it up.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
So this got me thinking-- I love unusual names as much as the next person, but how much is too much? As an English professor, I stand in the front of my classroom every year and struggle to pronounce my students' names without embarassing them or myself. I'm also married to an Egyptian who wanted to name our first child Aswid-- needless to say, we compromised on Adam, which wasn't as unusal as I might have liked but will definitely save my child a huge amount of trauma in his junior high locker room.
So to make up for my children's rather normal names-- if you teach long enough, you learn that torturing your child with a name like Sex Fruit is just asking for self-esteem issues later in life-- and the fact that my husband and I have not once seen eye to eye and therefore had to compromise, I let my imagination run wild when I name my characters. Not New Zealand wild, but still, a little crazier than Adam. I have Desiree and Irisi, Genevieve and Dakota, Rio and Rafael-- just to name a few. And the thing I love most about naming my characters is crafting a personality that really fits the name I've chosen-- something parents can only guess at when they name their children.
So, what are your favorite names? Have you used them-- on your characters or your children-- or are they just there, floating in the back of your mind never to see the light of day?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I’m early when I have an appointment.
I’m early when turning in books (this is one of those confessions that makes other writers hate me)!
And I’m someone who packs for a trip early.
I’m leaving on Tuesday for San Francisco. It’s the big RWA Conference. I’m doing two workshops there (Confessions of Series Killers: Weathering Line Closings and Other Career Changes w/Tanya Michaels and My Writing May Be Art…but My Kids Need Braces w/ Nancy Warren...if you’re there, I hope you’ll stop in). There’s a big signing on Wednesday night (if you’re in the San Francisco area, I hope you’ll come out...I'll be signing August's Same Time Next Summer and Everything But a Bride) and lots of parties and chances to meet with friends.
Ah....and the friends. My kids refer to my writing/reading friends as my invisible friends. They question my sanity when I talk about them as if I’d just had lunch with them that day. And most, I only see at RWA Conferences! But a friend is a friend, no matter how far away they live.
But I was talking about being early. Here’s my suitcase today. Every time I think of something I need, I toss it in. Then I mull it over. Sometimes I pull it back out. Sometimes I add more. But I’ve heard of some of my friends–some of whom are going to the conference–who don’t pack until the last minute. They wait until sometimes just hours before their flights, throw some clothes in the suitcase and go.
I get hives just thinking about it!
So, how about you (my invisible friends) are you an early bird, or someone who waits until the last minute??
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
So did you hear? Christian Bale will be playing John Connor in the fourth Terminator movie. It's still in production. Not out till next summer. I so can't wait. To me, the original Terminator was one of the top romantic movies of all time. Right up there with True Romance written by Quentin Tarantino and starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, two young lovers on the run with a suitcase full of drug money.
But I digress. About the first Terminator. About how romantic it was. Who can forget Kyle Reese, the warrior from the future telling Sarah Connor, "I came across time for you, Sarah."? I certainly can't. I so loved that movie! For several years it was my choice to have running in the background while I decorated my Christmas Tree. Just something so festive about The Terminator. Don't you think?
You don't have to answer that. We all have different ideas of what's festive--not to mention, what's romantic. A dear friend of mine, on watching True Romance because of my glowing recommendation, told me she loved me--but she was never taking my advice on a movie again.
It's the same with books. What I think is romantic in a book I've read...way too many people say, "not so much." Take Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box. Read it. Loved it. Found it just totally romantic. Yeah, okay, it's gritty and bloody and really fine horror, too. But there's a love story at the core of it. A great love story, I thought... And that was even before I learned that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. I always used to wish that Stephen King wasn't so uncomfortable with romance. I love his books, but felt they'd be much improved if he could weave in a good love story. His son does.
And I really think I've babbled enough for this particular Tuesday. Now I'm off to get those words on the page!
I'll leave you with a question:What's your favorite romance? Book, movie, whatever...
Monday, July 21, 2008
The story of Caretti’s Forced Bride, which just came out this week in the U.S., consumed me for six months after my second baby was born.
Caretti’s Forced Bride is a secret baby story. So secret, in fact, that there’s no mention of it anywhere on the cover. It’s a twist you won’t discover until chapter two. But it’s so important, I thought you should know.
The idea of a mother giving up her own happiness to give her child a good future first occurred to me when, as a newborn, my baby was in intensive care with a respiratory illness. For a few days, I was a very scared mother and would have done anything, absolutely anything, to make him safe and healthy and happy.
He’s fine now—running around on chubby legs and laughing his joyful baby laugh and loudly screeching and kicking out his newly acquired skill, the Toddler Tantrum. But for those long hours at his bedside and the weeks after we brought him back home, I couldn’t stop thinking…
What would I do to protect him?
What would I sacrifice to give him a good life?
The answer is, I’d have been willing to do anything. Sacrifice my own happiness for his? You bet.
Princess Isabelle is no different. When she was barely eighteen, Isabelle—the most beautiful, adored princess in the world—fell in love with a poor Italian-American mechanic with a rough background. Her family forced the young couple apart, and then Isabelle discovered she was pregnant with his child. To hide the scandal, her beloved elder brother and his wife passed off the baby as their own. But ten years later, the adoptive parents are dead, and the little boy has been kidnapped. There’s only one man powerful and ruthless enough to help Isabelle...
Paolo Caretti, now a self-made billionaire, remembers Isabelle as the princess he loved in his naïve youth, the girl who mockingly scorned his offer of marriage. He despises her but never stopped wanting her. He agrees to help Isabelle find her nephew, but only if she is his one-night mistress. She agrees to his terms, but she's terrified. She’s never gotten over loving Paolo. And if he finds out the truth about their little boy--who's now king of Isabelle's country--their young son might lose everything.
I loved this story, written in bits of time stolen between midnight feedings, in that hazy half-awake, half-dreaming state that I'm sure all mothers can remember. Their story is ten years of hatred and passion set on fire, and my fingers burned as I wrote it.
One last thing. Thinking back on those first few weeks of my son’s life, I just have to say thank you to three writers, two of whom I've never even met. They wrote a Superromance anthology called Once Upon a Christmas in December 2006.
Sitting by my baby’s bedside those long hours in the hospital, listening to his ragged breathing and the constant beeps of the hospital equipment, with only the dull gray light of January seeping through the windows, this book was my escape. For a few hours, their stories helped me forget to be afraid. They made me feel like everything was going to be all right.
And it was.
Being a princess is never what it’s really cracked up to be, is it? Maybe if you’re seduced by the right prince... To learn more about Caretti’s Forced Bride, read the reviews, or get a quick, easy version of the fettuccine alfredo recipe Princess Isabelle learns to make in Rome, please visit www.jennielucas.com.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
That's right. The best things about summer, and as I'm enjoying my new home SO very much, I'm going to bring you my top ten things I love about THIS summer.
1) My pool. Yes, it costs a fortune to maintain, and it's a pain in the ass sometimes. But I love it. The kids love it. I love watching my kids in it, as they grow more and more confident. It is a master procrastination tool. It relaxes me so much I nearly fell asleep in my floaty chair and roasted my...
2) Eating outside. I barbeque outside and I eat outside. Not only that, but it's only a step inside the door and I'm at the kitchen. No toting plates and food around and about...the patio table is about 6 steps from our actual dining table.
3) Which brings me to the deck. The deck is the structure that keeps on giving, all day long. I can drink coffee, plug in the laptop, eat lunch, watch the kids swim, read a book...it is the QUEEN of multi-function.
4) The clothesline. After spending all of my married life without one, I now have one and I love it. I love the smell of fresh clothes, and even better, fresh bedding.
5) Walking without parkas. Sounds silly, but it's so nice to just put on a pair of sneakers and sunglasses and be ready to go...and this year, to be in a lovely neighbourhood where walking is enjoyable.
6) The smell of grass and flowers. Every day when I open the windows I can smell freshly cut grass, or flowers. Not cultivated flowers...just whatever is growing in the woods or in the bushes; raspberry blossoms, clover, black eyed susans...it all mixes together into this subtle perfume that just says summer.
7) The sound of the birds. I wake every morning to the birds singing. A few hide away in the woods and have the most beautiful songs. I turn up my nose at the crows and blackbirds, but the warblers and finches make it all worth it.
8) Slushie drinks. You didn't think I'd forget this, did you? The dh even bought something called a "Marg-a-rama" for making not only margaritas but pina coladas and even appletinis and slushie lemonade. Sit out on number 3, enjoying numbers 6 and 7 and it's just about a perfect evening.
9) Pedicures. Ok, so I'm dismally behind on this one, usually I make more time for pretty feet in the summer. But i love painting my toenails and wearing sandals.
And number 10......
Reading. On the deck, in the camper, sitting in a lawn chair....some of my fondest memories are of reading in the sunporch of my childhood home. It felt warm and lazy and indulgent. I went through book after book, sometimes one every day. I can't keep up that pace now, though I wish I could. But i have slightly more responsibilities now than I did then. Still, I love the feeling of settling in with a book in the shade.
What are some of your favourite things about summer? Tell me in the comments and I'll draw for a signed cover flat of my latest book, FALLING FOR MR. DARK AND DANGEROUS, and I'll add in some extra goodies!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
And sadly, for us, that's about all we do in terms of vacations every year.
I don't know why, but my husband and I just aren't vacationers. We never have been. I think the biggest trip we took was a drive down to Disneyland when our son was 7. We did the hotel thing, spent several days there, wined and dined throughout Southern California. In the end, we spent a ton of money, and my son said that given the choice, he preferred Uncle Mike's cabin in Idaho. Apparently, Disneyland didn't have anything on Uncle Mike's ATVs, jet skis, fishing boat and Bee-Bee guns.
I don't mind that. On one side, I feel it's important that my son get to know my side of the family. We are a big crew, and without much family down here in CA, it is neat for him to see that he does have lots of relatives. But it's usually this time of year, when people are posting vacation photos on far-away white sand beaches or sightseeing in exciting cities, that I think I'm missing out on something by not traveling more.
Most of it has to do with the fact that my husband and I are home bodies. If I had an extra $5k to drop on a vacation, I'd rather buy a spa for my back yard. That I could enjoy every day of the year. And for those homeowners out there, you know that there's always a spa around the corner, or new carpeting, or a new dining room set, a new car, or.....well, you see how it happens. Months keep going by, our spare cash gets put in other places and we never think about hopping on a plane and getting out of Dodge. In fact, rarely do I think about traveling at all.
Until I stop by a blog and see someone's Puerto Rico vacation and think I'm missing the boat.
So in honor of summer, I'm curious to know what your habits are. Do you plan an annual vacation? Do you make a point to get away X number of times a year? Do you have family out of town that you try to see as much as possible? Or are you home bodies like we are, spending your time and money around the house?
Lori Borrill is working on her 5th Harlequin Blaze. Her next release, "Unleashed", will be on the shelves in November, 2008.
Friday, July 18, 2008
When I got the idea for a Desire mini-series, I knew I wanted the stories to revolve around three Tempest Hotels, locations with such appeal and character, that they would take on a life of their own, much like secondary characters. From the deep russet canyons of Arizona, to southern jazz and historic plantations of New Orleans to the bending palm trees and tropical ocean breezes of Hawaii, each Suite Secret story lures you into a new and exciting world of love and revenge, deception and redemption and of course, secrets!
We couldn't miss Spring Training. Our L.A. teams were playing- Dodgers vs. Angels. Hey, that's research isn't it?
Five-Star Cowboy available now on Amazon .
Thursday, July 17, 2008
In about mid-May, my editor emailed to say she would be sending me her notes on the revisions and edits she would like for my December book, Dancing with the Devil. Now, anyone with kids in elementary school knows that the last month of school is crazy busy with field trips, concerts, yada yada yada. So I set myself a plan of how to get everything done in an organized fashion so that when the revision letter arrived, I'd be ready. And I was.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Like the wonderful Bron Jameson who posted about her forthcoming trip a couple of days ago, I'm agog with excitement to think that in less than two weeks, I'll be swanning around San Francisco. Although believe me, I intend to bring my heart home with me!
By the way, whenever I hear that song (and I have a Tony Bennett CD so I hear it quite often), I can't help thinking about this wonderful British comedy team of the 70s called THE GOODIES. Did they make it to America? They were hugely popular in Australia. Anyway, their version of I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO goes something like, "I left my heart in San Francisco, I left my leg in Monterey, I left my arm in Albuquerque..." You get the idea.
Anyway, I'm asking for help here. I'm currently running a MEMORIES OF SAN FRANCISCO contest on my website. It's a bit of a lucky dip as I don't know what I'm bringing back yet. Certainly some great signed books from the authors I'll meet at RWA Nationals. But I'm also hoping to include some souvenirs from SF. I did a souvenirs contest last year when I went to the UK and it was incredibly popular so I thought I'd do something similar with this year's US trip.
So if someone brought you a present back from San Francisco, what would you like? A snowglobe? A coffee cup? A T-shirt? Sees chocolates? A tea towel? Do you know any cool SF souvenirs I should look out for when I'm putting the prize together? Is there anything particularly San Francisco that I should get?
I'm looking forward to seeing your answers. And if you get a chance, please check out the contest. You never know, you may end up winning your suggestions!
And if anyone is in the San Francisco area on Wednesday, 30th July, why not come to the RWA literacy signing at the San Francisco Marriott? I'll be there, along with pretty well every romance writer you ever wanted to meet, and any money you spend goes to great literacy charities!
OK, thinking caps on - what presents would YOU like from San Francisco?
Sunday, July 13, 2008
As Luca spoke her name she trembled. She knew his touch came at a price, but she no longer cared. The same wisdom that made her desperate for him also warned she would be nothing more than his next conquest. Still she could not resist.
When his fingers traced their way around the heart-shaped outline of her face, she looked up. Tears were threatening to fill her eyes, but before she could apologise for it, he kissed her.
In an instant, all her fear and pain slipped away. Desire filled the void he had left in her body. The warmth of longing infused her. It was such a long time since he had held her with genuine passion like this. She relaxed, savouring every second of the experience.
She was in Luca’s arms.
I had great fun writing this book. Most of the action takes place in Italy where it’s usually gloriously hot and sunny. But in one scene of Her Ruthless Italian Boss it rains in continental torrents. At least it helps Beth and Luca get together! They travel to Paris on business, and in that romantic setting work begins to take second place – but Luca isn’t a man to be won over easily. And Beth doesn’t want to be hurt a second time…
If you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of Her Ruthless Italian Boss and a few other little goodies, pop over to my website http://www.christinahollis.com/ and click on ‘Christina’s blog’ to find out more details.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
But you only have to consider the shout lines and the guidelines to see that there are very large and very real differences between the lines
So – the shout lines
International affairs. Seduction and passion guaranteed
Sizzling, stylish, sensual – the ultimate temptation
Modern Romance is the home of intense emotion, international settings and a range of sensuality and moods. Climb on to a roller-coaster ride of fast-paced plots, relationship drama and sizzling attraction. Travel to the world’s most glamorous locations, where you’ll meet unforgettable strong men who make love in a variety of languages. Seduction and passion are guaranteed.
Novels in this series include stories that are intense with international settings, and are driven by alpha male heroes. The relationships portrayed are provocatively passionate, highly-charged conflicts and the plots are dramatic and compelling, and able to deliver on favourite core themes, such as marriages of convenience, mistresses and revenge.
This series has a consistently international focus. Readers particularly love settings such as the Mediterranean, Australia, the Caribbean and South America. Backgrounds must be sophisticated, glamorous, cosmopolitan – the habitat of the international jet-set. Life-styles of the rich and famous are what it’s all about.
Take an international city background that vividly conveys the sophistication and buzz of cosmopolitan life, an independent woman, who knows what she wants from love and her career, and a guy who’s confident, easy-going, and gorgeously sexy – and you have Modern Extra.
These titles promise to deliver to the reader a feel-good experience, focusing on the kind of relationships that women between the ages of 18 and 35 aspire to. Young characters in urban settings – either North American or international – meet, flirt, share experiences, have great, passionate sex, and fall in love, finally making commitment that will bind them together, forever. Though their stories are firmly based around emotional issues, other concerns, - such as job and friendship – are also touched on and resolved in an upbeat way.
The important words here are:
Driven by alpha male heroes
Provocatively passionate, highly charged conflicts
The plots are dramatic and compelling
an independent woman, who knows what she wants from love and her career,
a guy who’s confident, easy-going, and gorgeously sexy –
a feel-good experience,
resolved in an upbeat way.
The important drive in a Presents/Modern romance is in the intensity of the emotions, the intensity of the conflict. There is no ‘feel-good’ experience in a Presents until the very resolution. The conflicts are ‘highly-charged’ and can tear the H&h apart both physically and emotionally.
Modern Heat has a much lighter touch, a much younger feel. It's been described as Presents Younger Sister. There is scope in a Modern Heat or humour and fun – very little scope for that in a Presents /Modern. The Modern Heat tends to be the heroine’s story – so it bridges the gap between Modern and Tender (Presents and Romance)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Which got me thinking of other heroes I have loved in USA shows. Like the delicious character of Michael from La Femme Nikita:
Or Rob Estes back on Silk Stalkings:
Or the hilarious guys from Psych:
What about you? Which USA Network hero do you love?
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
In my last blog, I promised to tell you where I got the idea for Trinity Green’s story in Show and Tell.
A friend told me about a small incident that occurred while he was on a business trip. At the end of a long day, he arrived at his hotel, checked in, and was on the way to his room. As he was passing a closed door, he heard noises. A woman. She was obviously feeling pretty darn good at that particular moment, and very expressive about it, too. In relating this story, he added that it was kinda funny, because he couldn’t hear the man at all. My answer, maybe she was by herself. Duh! He laughed--that hadn’t even occurred to him--and told me I should use the tale in a book sometime. It just happened to be perfect for Show and Tell. And that’s how Trinity met her hero, Scott Sinclair. Naughty, naughty Trinity. Naughty Scotty.
You can read about this meeting in the new excerpt for Show and Tell up on my website: http://www.skullybuzz.com/home.html
I’m doing several blogs this week and offering other chances to win. A little later today, I’ll be on Simply Romance Reviews http://simplyromancereviews.blogspot.com/. And tomorrow I’ll be at Romance Reviews Today http://www.romrevtoday.blogspot.com/ and Magical Musings http://magicalmusings.com/. Stop on by and visit. I’ll be talking about how life is like a septic tank. Yes, you read that correctly! So don’t miss out on that bit of philosophy.
Jasmine Haynes, Show and Tell, In Stores now!
Monday, July 07, 2008
As a parent, I have learnt that it is far harder to watch your child go through this process than to go through it yourself. You have to step back and allow things to happen.
Last night, however, after he downloaded various bits of information about how many students each of the Oxbridge colleges had taken recently and the percentages, I said enough.
One lesson that I have learnt through my writing is that while tempting you can not think about percentages.
The chance of succeeding with Harlequin Mills and Boon (indeed any large publisher) is far less than getting into any university or any university course. However, every year people do. Each person is an individual. Each manuscript is judged on its merits. The mere fact that they take people on/buy unpublished authors' manuscripts was enough to make me try and eventually I succeeded. Recently my tenth book -- Impoverished Miss, Convienent Wife was accepted for publicatin March 09.
And as applying is also about putting yourself on the line for rejection, I did point out that no one, unless they choose to, goes around with such and such university reject stamped on their forehead. You cross bridges when you come to them and you live your life accordingly. But until it happens, you do not know the outcome.
I reminded him of my friend's daughter who last year applied to do medicine (in the UK, you can study medicine straight from high school) and did not even get an interview at any university, despite being qualified and choosing universities that were supposedly easier to get into. she held fast to her dream. Spent time doing things, including volunteering at clinic and rewriting her personal statement. She received three offers to study medicine and will be going to Leeds in the autumn.
My son nodded and said he would try to find the university that appealed to him most as looking at the lists showed him that each college did take people in his course and that the quality of the applicants mattered. He promised as well to give it his best shot. And he muttered that he was well aware of the deadlines and their importance.
We will see what happens, but at least he is going to try.
If you do not try, you are doomed to failure.
And when you try, statistics become meaningless.
Hopefully, this will also give someone the courage to finish their manuscript and submit it. Just do not think about the percentages!
I went to a George Michael concert.
Okay, sure, it was something I wanted to do in the early 1980s when George was singing for Wham! (And if you don't know that group, then I'm going to feel really, really old.) But there was never an opportunity for me until last week.
I'm glad I made the effort to go see him. I paid more money than I should have for great seats, suffered through hell with the company that was supposed to mail the tickets, and it took some masterful juggling in my schedule to make it happen. I thought I went through a lot to get to this concert when it turns out that the couple sitting next to me flew in from a different time zone to attend the event!
I enjoyed the concert, probably more now than if I had the chance 20 years ago. I knew every song and had the memories to go with them. I danced and sang my heart out (and I'm slowly getting my voice back.) I would have regretted missing the concert.
If you could go to any concert, even if the band or singer wasn't performing anymore, who would you like to see?
Saturday, July 05, 2008
My last conference trip, to Atlanta in 2006, was on my own. I travelled alone, I roomed alone, and while I enjoyed some aspects of the solitude nothing beats good company. This year I would need both hands and a considerable number of toes to count the friends from Australia and New Zealand who are doing the SF conference trip. Five of us are travelling together with a stopover in Hawaii. We'll be poolside, on the beach, shopping, enjoying drinks with umbrellas, and generally ensuring our brains are well rested and ready for conference overload.
Speaking of readiness: my hairdresser booked me in for the pre-conference cut and colour way back in February. She knows how badly I neglect my hair in between conferences. I have also made appointments for nails and pedicure, waxing and spray tan. Not sure about the last. Will it wash off in the surf?
Speaking of surfing: today I spent too much time cruising the 'net, checking out things to do and places to eat and, most importantly, shopping centres at our destinations. I also checked which planes we'll be on, airline menus and the inflight entertainment. On the outward leg, two movies I haven't seen, Flawless and 21. And then there are the books I've been saving up for on-plane reading treats. They are now downloaded to my PDA and ready to go.
Also checked the all-important baggage allowance. My last overseas trip was to England with a one checked piece 20kg limit. I love that Americans don't pack lightly and so we're allowed TWO pieces up to 32kg each for this trip. With all the conference books and shopping that extra weight will be useful on the trip home. Speaking of which...
Between conference trips I squirrel away my frequent flyer points and credit card points and use them to buy an upgrade to business class for the return trip. It's not just a treat, it's a life-saver. After more than a week of late nights and poor sleeping and constant talking, I'm buying 15 hours of solitude and great service and even some sleep in my skybed. It's the best use of those points that I know.
So, I have three weeks left to plan the wardrobe, to lose another kilo so I can fit into the wardrobe, to trawl through the conference program and mark the must-attend workshops, and to do up my schedule. You know, I think I enjoy the preparation and the anticipation almost as much as I love the conference itself.
Is anyone else counting the sleeps until a summer holiday trip, or perhaps the San Francisco conference? Who else loves the preparation and the anticipation almost as much as the main event?
If you're going to RWA, come say hello at the Literacy Signing on Wed. July 30. I will be signing Tycoon's One-Night Revenge (Silhouette Desire April 08) and handing out Tim Tams.