Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh, By the Way…

Sooo … have I mentioned I’ve got a book out?

Risk, my second novel, is hitting bookshelves everywhere right this very second, and I’m thrilled to pieces.

When I’m not biting my nails off with the nervous jitters, that is.

Here’s how I describe Risk, in case you’re interested:

When tragedy reunites bad boy Justus Robinson and control freak Angela Dennis, the smoldering passion between them finally erupts—with devastating results. Suddenly both their hearts are at risk…

Here’s what the reviewer for Romantic Times BOOKreviews said about Risk:

Sometimes tragedies bring out the best and worst in those affected by them. That’s what happens in Christopher’s brilliant and tasteful novel about love, tragedy, heartbreak and forgiveness. The author delves deep into her characters, and this touching story will have readers looking into themselves and reexamining the way they react to those around them. (4 ½ Stars)

Have I piqued your interest at all? Yes? No?

What if I tell you a little more about Justus? He’s tall, dark, handsome, devilish, and moody. Since he’s a bad boy, he’s not above a little manipulation here and there, and he has a tendency to do outrageous things. How outrageous, you ask? Well, for one thing, he follows Angela into the ladies’ restroom in a fancy restaurant and talks to her when she’s upset.

I just love reading—and writing about—unpredictable heroes. Don’t you?

I’m in a giving mood today, and I’d like to get LOTS of comments from you lurkers out there, so here’s what I’m going to do. At the end of the day, I’m going to give away a copy of Risk. To be eligible to win, all you have to do is answer the following question:

What’s your favorite “most outrageous thing” a hero in a romance novel has done?

Grocery store rants

Rant #1--I picked my 22-year-old up from the subway and swung by the grocery store on the way home. Matt grabbed a few things we needed while I went to the prescription counter. When I caught up with him, my jaw dropped. There was a milk jug in his cart with a pink cap. "You got the wrong kind of milk," I said. "No," he said, "this is the skim milk."

I was horrified. My family was horrified. (I live with five men--pink is not a color much seen in my house.) Who thought putting a pink cap on skim milk was a good idea? Or am I the only person in the world who has definite feeling about pink? Blue is fine--the old skim milk had a blue cap. Blue doesn't scream "boy" to me, but pink? Pink definitely leans to the girlish in my mind, though my youngest son--the fashion maverick of our family--does have a pink dress shirt. I'm sure pink can be very manly...umm, can it?

Rant #2--The pink milk cap appeared in my grocery store because--I think--the grocery changed milk suppliers. Sometimes I think manufacturers change packaging just to mess with my mind. I shop on autopilot. I buy the red box of garbage bags. One day the red box is gone and now there's a green box. Argh! Is this what I like? I don't know.

Rant #3--Do we really need all those different kinds of breakfast cereals, most of which are loaded with sugar? Could we feed the world or cure cancer if we took all the energy and expense devoted to cereal production and redirected it? (Of course with my luck, it would be the one cereal I like that would be discontinued.)

Rant #4--You now need an advanced degree to use coupons. You have to read the fine print--hard for my old eyes. You need two--or more! (Do they think we all live in houses with ample storage space?)--of an item or you need the fancy version or you need to buy it with something else to get the 50 cents off. Can't we just drop prices and can the coupons?

Rant #5--Life is just too complicated. I buy the "happy bear" brand of toilet paper...but now I think there are about 4 different kinds of "happy bear" and 4 different roll sizes. I kid you not. I'm looking at the package right now--there's a chart. A chart to buy tp!! Good grief.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Love Those Gothics

Did you watch it? Last night? No, not the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Who cares about that? Jane Eyre. Did you watch Jane Eyre?

I sure did.

Loved it. Loved Ruth Wilson as plain but luminous Jane. Loved Toby Stephens as Rochester, mostly because he made Rochester a little less forbidding and gave him that biting wit that can be so much fun to watch. Loved Thornfield Hall, which was as creepy as it needed to be.

Don’t you love gothics? They have all the elements to make a truly great romance:

· A moody, secret-keeping hero, who may, or may not, also be the villain;

· A vulnerable but strong heroine who is alone in the world and forced, therefore, to rely upon the hero;

· The heroine is often trapped, with nowhere else to go; and, of course;

· The creepy house.

What could be better?

So here’s my question for you—what’s your favorite gothic? Jane Eyre? Rebecca? Anything by Victoria Holt? One of my personal favorites is Holt’s The Devil on Horseback. Anyone remember that great story?

"Fan" Moments...

Okay, you know the feeling...you're standing there--somewhere--just mnding your own business, and then, out of the corner of your eye, you spot someone. OMG... is it?! Nah, it can't be...Wait, maybe it is!! Your heart starts racing, and you finally realize that it IS a celebrity, there in the flesh, standing mere feet away. Next follows that "should I/shouldn't I?" moment, that, if you are a New Yorker like me, usually ends with, "Nah, I shouldn't. Be cool." I mean, in New York City, you see a LOT of celebrities, and the usual New York reaction is, "Yeah, whatever." But what if it's not just any celebrity, but one of your favorites? I admit, I've broken the code of NYC coolness a few times, though I'm always left feeling slightly foolish. Anyway, I'll share my favorite 'fan' moments if you share yours!

Fan Moment #1--I was in grad school at the time, putting the final touches on a HUGE research paper that I needed to turn in by the end of the day. I was also fighting a bad migraine, and had just taken some strong meds, and so was feeling a little woozy. My husband called and said we'd been invited to a restaurant opening that night--a client of his was a 'special events' person running the opening, and the restaurant was our favorite chef's (Daniel Boulud) newest place. Very swanky! Well, like I said, I was feeling crummy, exhausted from the research paper, and headachy to boot. I said nah, I didn't feel like it. But a couple hours later, once the paper was done and the meds had kicked in, I figured, what the heck, I had to go turn in the paper anyway, and once I was out, we might as well go. It was nice--a red carpet opening, and we saw Paul Garfunkel going in ahead of us. Not bad! A little later, we're standing in a buffet line, and my husband says, "Hey, there's your boyfriend!". Okay, rewind a couple of weeks. I was on a Bill Paxton kick--don't ask me why. He's a perfectly good actor but not a *great* actor, but something about him really does it for me. So I'd rented a ton of his movies--Aliens, Weird Science, this small indie he'd directed and starred in called Traveller, and forced dear hubby to go see the awful Mighty Joe Young in the theater. And who was walking by, there at the restaurant opening?! Yep. Bill Paxton. With his dad (who I recognized from his bit part in Traveller!). The New York "coolness" kicked in, and I resolved to say nothing. But when he walked by us, my HUSBAND said something like, "Oh, Mr. Paxton, I'd really like you to meet my wife. She's a HUGE fan of yours." My face went scarlet; I wished the floor had opened up and swallowed me whole. He kissed my hand. I introduced msyelf. My husband volunteered the information about me making him watch all those movies. We talked about his movies; he was really surprised we had seen Traveller (like I said, a very small indie movie!). We joked about the ape movie. I don't remember what else. Eventually he moved on (maybe 15 min. later). Apparently he didn't really know anyone there, because several times that night, he was back at our side, just chatting like a long-lost friend, having dessert with us, etc. After he'd gotten his coat to leave, he came over to tell us good-bye. I don't remember much, except he kissed my cheek, shook my husband's hand. A hundred points for the hubby--because it turns out Bill Paxton is an incredibly nice man, and I never would have known that if my husband hadn't embarrassed me like he did.

Fan Moment #2--Like so many Regency-set romance authors, I worship Pride & Prejudice. I've watched the BBC movie version with Colin Firth a zillion times. Literally. I simply *adore* Colin Firth, and there's not a movie he's made--even obscure, made for British TV stuff--that I haven't seen. So I was excited to go to an advance screening of Girl With a Pearl earring, where he was doing a Q&A along with Scarlett Johannsen after the movie. Got there early to get third row seats (I wouldn't dare be so obvious as to get front-row seats!). After the Q&A ended, I went to the ladies' room while my friends waited near the escalator, and when I came out, there was Colin himself, chatting with a couple people. They walked away just as I walked by, and....okay, I couldn't help myself. I don't even remember what I said, but somehow I ended up standing there chatting with him, mostly about kids (my daughters and his sons). I told him that even my daughters loved Mr. Darcy. I think he said something like, "Well, shall I autograph something for them?" DUH. So I rummaged around in my purse, but couldn't come up with anything for him to sign save the email confirmation for the screening. So, I folded up that rumpled sheet of paper and had him sign it to my daughters (at least I had a pen!)--the best part is the two little x's he added.
When I walked off and found my friends, they pointed out that I had a blotchy red rash covering my neck and decolletage. Talk about embarrassing--I always get what I call my 'nerve rash' when I'm really upset/excited. Colin had given me a nerve rash! Think he noticed?! The autograph is now framed and hangs in my older daugther's room.

Fan Moment #3--This is an interesting fan moment, because I wasn't particularly a fan of the celebrity at the time, but now I am. Anyway, this one involves yet another advance movie screening, for Alexander (which I found diverting enough, mostly because it was so beautifully filmed, but yeah, it's a pretty bad movie). All I knew about Colin Farrell at the time was that he had a 'bad boy' reputation. Supposedly a womanizer and partier. I hadn't seen him in anything, except bits and pieces of Phone Booth, which my husband always seemed to be watching on cable, and I was always yelling at him to turn down the volume before the kids heard the *colorful* language that Colin's character uses throughout. So I was taken by surprise when he spoke a bit before the movie...and had an IRISH accent! I hadn't even realized he wasn't American. Anyway, so after he and Oliver Stone spoke but before the movie began, I ran out to the restroom (hmmmm, there's a theme here). Hurrying back to the theater, I bumped into someone, who reached for my shoulder and said, "Oh, sorry, love." Okay, call me weak, but I'm fairly certain that NO woman can resist Colin with his Irish accent, calling them "love." Seriously. A short chat ensued, most of which is a blur. I do remember he kept smoothing his (long!) hair back out of his eyes, and my gaze was drawn to the weird bracelets and rings he was wearing (very sexy!). At one point he shoved his hands into his pockets and said something like "I really hope you like the movie" and he, too, kissed my hand before leaving me standing there speechless. What really surprised me was how totally humble and polite he was--and how different he seemed from the 'bad boy' image I had in my head. He actually came across as quite boyish--like a little boy hoping to be 'liked.' Needless to say, I spent the next week watching EVERY movie he had been in, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that he isn't just a good actor--he's a *great* actor. Phone Booth, A Home at the End of the World, Tigerland, even The Recruit--some terrific movies with some terrific acting. I'm sold!

Okay...your turn! I love to hear about celebrity 'moments'! Oh, and the picture at the top, that's me and Paul Leyden from As The World Turns! But I'll save that for another post!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cue the Eerie Music

I’m doing some research for Dead Last, the second in my series about a medium who does crime scene clean up. Doing paranormal research is always fun, interesting and, yes, more than just a little weird. For me, it can be difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy when reading the accounts of various, shall we say “unique” people. Sometimes I laugh out loud. Other times I get a case of the heebie jeebies.

I’ve been focusing my research on Washington State hauntings since my novels take place in Seattle. Today alone I’ve read about:

The McAlmond House: A mansion built around 1861 that is haunted by a poltergeist that has a problem with teen-age girls.

A Cemetery in Maltby: Supposedly the cemetery was built long ago by Satanists. There are 13 steps, called the steps to hell that appear to lead to nowhere. Legend has it that if you walk the steps you'll die.

The Bush House: Supposedly haunted by a young woman named Alice who hanged herself there when she thought her lover was killed in a mining accident. It is told that her lover hadn’t been killed but came home to discover her dead. She's been walking the halls ever since.

There are thousands of people who attempt to add credibility to these types of happenings by adding their own claims. Some of these people appear relatively normal. So my question to you is this, are you a believer? Have you experienced any supernatural happenings in your own life or do you scoff and move on?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

Yesterday was a big news day, and I’m not talking about the State of the Union Address. Think BIGGER. That’s right—the Oscar nominees were announced. And my new favorite movie, the screamingly funny indy, Little Miss Sunshine, received best picture and best supporting actress nods.


LMS, in case you didn’t know, is the tale of an adorable seven year old beauty pageant-loving girl, Olive, who unexpectedly gets the chance to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Her family members, a collection of losers so quirky that calling them dysfunctional seems like a compliment, unite in their desire to see Olive compete, load up the family’s ancient yellow VW bus, and hit the road for the 800 mile trip to California from Arizona. Drama and hilarity ensue, including the pressing and hysterical issue of whether the old bus will even make the trip.

HOW dysfunctional is this family, you ask? Well, there’s Greg Kinnear, who plays the passive-aggressive motivational speaker dad; Steve Carrell, who plays the formerly suicidal gay Proust scholar uncle; Paul Dano, Olive’s voluntarily mute teenage older brother who writes notes to communicate; Alan Arkin as Olive’s heroin-addicted choreographer/grandfather; Toni Collette as Olive’s frazzled mother; and the VW bus itself, a vehicle with heart that becomes a character as vital as any of the others.

Needless to say, all the characters endure a huge amount of conflict, disappointment, and growth during the course of the movie. I dare anyone to watch Little Miss Sunshine and not fall in love with Olive, whose inner beauty practically makes her glow. I luuuuuved this movie, and I hope little Abigail Breslin, who played Olive so wonderfully, wins big.

So what about you? Did any of your favorite movies of the year make the Oscar cut?

Does age matter?

Okay, I'll fess up...I think, looking at our current list of bloggers, that I'm the oldest by, ahem, a few years. I got my first minivan more than 20 years ago when I daresay little Caroline was still in pigtails, pedalling her pink bike with the straw basket in front and the pink streamers flying from the handlebars around the block.

So, being a little longer in the tooth gives me a slightly different perspective on many things...including heroes, for example.

I have been at a swim meet six of the last 21 days--and I'm going to another one this afternoon. This means I've been spending a lot of time looking at male teenaged butts--I'm usually a lane timer, so there's no avoiding the view. If I were a high school girl again, I'm sure I'd be swooning--these are pretty cute guys. But I'm a mom. To me, these are kids.

I was out with a bunch of romance writers at dinner once. Some of them found our waiter very attractive. He was the same age as one of my sons--I wanted to protect the poor baby from these women.

I do vaguely remember, though, when I was a young teen, reading Georgette Heyer and realizing many of her heroes were in their early thirties. That seemed so old! I couldn't think about it or the hero just wouldn't be attractive.

So how do I get around this age thing when I write my heroes? Well, I don't really think about age a lot for the main hero. I love the guys as people, not hunks, and try to get inside their heads. (Yes, I'm sure it's a very romanticized view of what goes on in a male mind, but I do write romance!) And then I try to have some secondary, older guys around, so there's a lot of variety.

What do you all think? Do you pay any attention to a hero's age? Do you just picture him the age you prefer? If you're young, do you like older heroes? If you're older, do you want heroes closer to your age...or are the young ones more attractive? Or does age really not matter at all?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Farewell, sweet youth...

This is my new car.

Notice it is not actually a car, but a minivan.

As minivans go, it's pretty nice. All kinds of buttons and controls, a thumping stereo with about 15 speakers, multi-zone climate control, and more cupholders than a soccer team could use. They've done a lot of work to make you think you're driving a semi-luxury car instead of what it actually is: a bus.

I admit my feelings about minivans are pathological and not rational. I grew up in a large family and we always had minivans, because regular station wagons just weren't big enough. When I reached that all-important age, 16, and got my driver's license, I had to drive the minivan--if I got lucky enough that my mom didn't need it. Is there any car un-cool-er than a minivan? My dad tried to tell me now I could give my friends rides (he preferred my driving to theirs, for some reason), but that was cold comfort. As if I wanted all my friends to see me driving a minivan. Kill me now and get it over with.

So I swore I would never, ever, purposefully and willingly get a minivan. We have kids, but only two. Two kids fit just fine in an ordinary car, even with carseats and all the junk that seems to accrue to kids like white pet hair to a black skirt. Then we got a dog, a big dog, and that made the car a little more crowded, especially when we went on longer drives. (Don't ask why the dog had to go with us instead of staying at a kennel like normal dogs do) Suddenly my nice ordinary car was too small. We need something bigger, my husband said. Something that has space for the kids, maybe a couple of friends, their stuff, and the dog. Something that will hold everything we take on vacation without requiring a day's worth of careful, crafty packing to make everything fit. Something we can haul 4'x8' pieces of wood in.

So we have a minivan. He was the one so excited about it, yet I'm the one who has to drive it. His new car, by the way, is a car. A car with heated leather seats and XM radio. A car that does not practically fly a little flag overhead: Middle-Aged Mom At The Wheel! Our kids love it; one of them actually said, "Boy, I can't wait to go for a long car trip in this!" If a minivan can keep them from trying to kill each other every time we leave home, I suppose it will be worth it. And whatever my husband plans to build that requires all these 4'x8' pieces of wood, will probably also assuage my suffering somewhat.

But it still makes me feel old.

So am I the only one? What youthful vows did you make, determined never ever to be that un-cool, and then break a decade or two (or more) later?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Kristina's Top Ten...Beauty Products!

Since my earlier post was more of a PSA, I thought I'd pop in once more with a bit of entirely useless information. First, a confession....I am a GIRLY GIRL. Yes, I admit it...fairly high maintenance, meaning I don't usually leave my house without make-up applied and hair freshly washed. You can blame my Mom--maybe it's a southern thing, but she used to say things (actually, she still does...) like, "You're going out with no lipstick on?". Makeup, perfume, bath products, hair products....ask any of my friends about going into Sephora with me (hard to drag me out). Okay, so, without further adieu, Kristina's Top Ten Beauty Products, or, The Ones She Can't Live Without (in no particular order):

(oh, and you can click on the product name for more information--I've included links!)

1. Benefit Dandelion Powder. It's a blush. It's an all-over glow. Whatever the heck it is, I don't feel fully 'dressed' unless I've brushed some of this gloriously pink powder all over my face.

2. Tarte cheek stain--Flush. I'll never use regular blush again. Ever. This stuff goes on smooth, stays on all day, is nice and sheer, and the best part?! It *smells* delicious. Like rasperries. Love it!

3. Michael Kors HAWAII eau de parfum. This is my newest obsession. It doesn't even officially come out till Feb. 2007, but I scored some samples in the Michael Kors store a couple weeks ago--YUM. I am no longer happy unless I smell like HAWAII.

4. Eyelash Curler. Okay, this is *so* elementary that I hate to even mention it, but c'mon, why bother with mascara if you don't first curl those lashes?!

5. Sky High Curves Mascara--washable, very black. Speaking of mascara, I've been on a life-long mission to find the perfect mascara. This is it. And please, ladies, don't buy waterproof mascara. Ruins those lashes. I boo-hoo at movies, and this stuff doesn't run at all. Stays on till I take it off.

6. Olay Daily Facials cleansing cloths. How did I survive before this product came along?! I've no idea.

7. Kiehl's Lip Balm SPF 15--I like the tinted ones (hue #30G is my personal fave). The best lip balm ever! Great for times that I don't want to wear lipstick, but still want a little sheer color and gloss. And it's GREAT for chapped lips. Bonus: it smells really good.

8. Urban Decay Flavored Body Powder--Marshmallow. Okay, folks, get your minds out of the gutter! Yes, I know they call it 'flavored' body powder, so I suppose it is meant to be licked off one's person , BUT....it's all sparkly and glittery and great for brushing across your collar bones and decolletage when you're all dolled up. Bonus: it smells delicious--like roasted marshmallows! Who could resist?!

9. Aquaphor. Discovered when I had babies with diaper rash. Still have a tub or two around at all times. The best stuff EVER for chapped skin, chapped lips, dry hands, etc. How *anyone* can survive without this stuff is beyond me.

10. Jergen's Natural Glow Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Self-tan without fear! At last. A must for me in the summertime. Use it every day, and you'll gradually darken your complexion bit by bit. No fake-orange looking skin, just a natural, healthy glow. I love this stuff!

Now tell me, is there any beauty product that you simply cannot live without?! Because I'm *always* on the look-out for the next best thing!

Celebrate Romance!

Just thought I'd tell everyone out in blogland about an upcoming romance conference that's a lot of fun--Celebrate Romance. It's a small, intimate conference run entirely by volunteers (who LOVE romance!) that's first and foremost a reader's conference--a chance to mingle with authors and readers alike. I went a couple years ago, when CR was held in Baltimore, and had a really great time. This year, it's in Kansas City, and I'm trying to arrange my travel schedule so that I can go (I'm 99% sure I AM going!).

Here's the details:

When: March 2nd-4th

Cost: $150

Where: Kansas City, MO
Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza

The list of attending authors so far looks impressive, too:

Lorraine Heath
Cherry Adair
Anne Stuart
Kay Stockham
Cathy Maxwell
Shirley Karr
Carla Cassidy
Patricia Rice
Cait London

What makes CR special, you might ask?! Well, here's what the organizers (all lovely ladies!) have to say:

"Unlike other conferences, CR’s only agenda is to support you and promote romance. No suits, no meetings, no pressure, and no segregation. With the exception of a booksigning on Sunday morning, authors are just like all the other attendees – fans. This allows you to hear what romance readers really think first-hand while sharing your own thoughts on the genre. It’s a wonderful place to gain new readers and make friends."

I totally agree--and hope you'll consider attending, especially if you live in the Kansas City area!

For more information, visit Celebrate Romance.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Way to an Author's Heart

Because I'm new at this (sheesh...am I the newest of the contributors at Muse/News? I think so!), I thought I'd share the things people have done or said to me that made me feel all wiggly/excited/thrilled in relation to my book. (Which is out in stores now!!)

1. Tell the author you couldn't put her book down.
2. Tell the author you read it in one sitting.
3. Tell the author you stayed up wayyy past your bedtime to read it.
4. Tell the author you can't wait until her next book comes out.
5. Quote a line from the book back to the author.
6. Tell the author you were late getting back to work from your lunch hour because you were reading her book.

Things that haven't happened to me, but that would really, really make my day (and might even score the person an Advance Review Copy of the next book....):

1. Give the author chocolate.
2. Send the author flowers.
3. If you also are an author, offer a great quote about the author's book.
4. Offer the author a night with Johnny Depp.
(Or Clive Owen.)
(Or Gerard Butler.)

Jus' sayin'.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oh the Horror

Yesterday when I dropped my children at school in the morning I encountered a cluster of little girls circled conspiratorially. Curious, I approached them and noticed that one was reading the newspaper to the others. I became nervous because, let’s face it, most of what’s in today’s paper is not suitable for eight year olds.

“Hey, what’s new in the news?” I bravely asked.
“We’re just reading our horror-scopes,” announced a wide-eyed brunette.

Further discussion ensued because I wanted to know if they actually believed what was written about those darn horror, I mean, horoscopes. The vote was about 50/50. They asked my opinion but, truthfully, I didn’t have one. Yes, I’ve successfully made it into my forties without giving much thought to the zodiac.

However, not to be outdone by a group of third graders, I tore out my horoscope for comparison at the end of the day. When reviewing yesterday's prediction with what actually happened, this is what I found:

A friend or acquaintance might really surprise you today: Hmm. Okay, well, I met a friend for coffee in the morning and she surprised me with some good news about her writing and then surprised me with more good news about someone else so, we’ll give that a check.

You might meet someone new who is unconventional or Bohemian. Now this would’ve been nice but it didn’t happen, so it gets an X.

You will find people interesting, although sometimes you’ve had enuff of interesting. Okay, I’m not even sure what this means because I like interesting people so I’m giving it an X.

On the Moon Alert, the moon is in Capricorn, we have the all-clear today to shop and make important decisions. Alright, I confess that I hate to shop but now I’m wondering if I should’ve done it yesterday rather than putting it off. Is it too late? Will something bad happen if I choose to shop today. Can my kids live without milk if I wait until tomorrow?

So how about you, do you horrorscope?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


In the spirit of breaking the ice, getting to know each other, and all that, I thought it would be fun if we talked about our furry, feathery, and/or scaly friends. Today we’re talking pets.

I’ll start. We have two cats: Hobbes, the gray one (named for the Hobbes from the hilarious but defunct cartoon, Calvin & Hobbes), and Versace. Versace (named, yes, for the designer) is actually my sister’s ex-cat, whom we acquired when her schedule got too demanding to give him all the kitty love he needed.

Hobbes is old. Fifteen to be exact. He’s been with me since my second year of law school. Though he was once over thirteen pounds, he’s lately begun to lose weight and has been diagnosed with diabetes, for which he takes insulin (I am not kidding you.) Likes: catnip, sunny spots, and any paper on which I am currently trying to write. Dislikes: Versace. Sort of.

Versace has beautiful blue eyes, is only about three, and is ENORMOUS, clocking in at a husky (okay, fat) sixteen pounds. The vet has pronounced that he needs to lose three pounds. Versace believes (and I blame my sister for this) that the water in the drinking bowl is for sloshing and splashing across the floor, while drinking water can only be found in … the toilet.

Hobbes and Versace have formed a fragile peace, which lasts as long as Hobbes gets to eat from the bowl first and Versace doesn’t get too rambunctious.

So that’s it for me. What about you? What kind of quirky pets let you live in the house with them?

Musing on book covers

I've been thinking about book covers recently, mostly because I had to lure techy son over to the house to post the cover of my April 2007 book on this blog. (It's the oversized purple Earl over there. I didn't mean to be a blog hog, honest. We just couldn't figure out how to make it smaller.)

Let's put one myth to rest right away. Authors do not design their own covers. (Well, this may be different for self-published and e-published authors, but it holds true for the majority of books you'll encounter in your favorite bookstore.) Authors may get the opportunity to submit some suggestions, and I suppose the higher one moves up the publishing food chain, the more seriously those suggestions are taken to the point where the heavy hitters may even get veto power. But for most of us, the publisher pretty much decides how they want to dress the author's story. So, if you think a cover is too modern for an historical or if you notice the heroine has suddenly become a blonde, don't blame the poor author!! She or he may be feeling a tad disgruntled as well.

Covers are basically marketing tools. They are designed to catch the potential reader's eye and get her (or him) to pick the book off the shelf. If the back cover blurb--again, in my experience, not written by the author--intrigues the reader enough, she may look inside. And then the author's words have the chance to snare her and persuade her to part with her hard earned cash.

Sometimes this all works like a charm. I'm delighted with my covers--which have also served to brand me (another author buzzword) as the Naked author. (Okay, there are pluses and minuses to that one.) But there is also at least one internet site that features book covers that weren't so successful. And more than one author has had a cover disaster.

What do you in blogland think? Seen any great covers? Any real dogs? Do you like clinch (or is it clench?) covers--you know, where the hero and heroine are in a hot embrace? Or do you prefer the torso look--body, but no head? What kind of cover prompts you to pick a book up?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Review: The Painted Veil

Today I coerced, um, convinced my dear husband to go with me to see the movie The Painted Veil, based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel. It stars Edward Norton (a favorite of mine!) and Naomi Watts, along with Liev Schrieber and Toby Jones. I thought it was excellent--my husband liked it, but thought it a bit slow and somewhat boring (boring?! Is he crazy?!).

It tells the story of Kitty (Watts), a shallow, self-centered young British woman in the 1920's who marries Walter Bane (Norton), a repressed yet earnest bacteriolgist--whom she barely knows. He's not her type, but, with her younger sister's engagement, she fears being 'left on the shelf' and wishes to escape a manipulative mother. So, marry Walter she does, and off they go to Shangai (where Walter has been living, working in a British government laboratory). In Shanghai, Kitty grows bored with her husband and has an affair with a slick, charming married man (the fabulous Schrieber). When Walter finds out about Kitty's affair, he takes her to a cholera-ridden area in inland China (okay, it's a little more complicated than that, but I don't want to include spoilers), where he has volunteered his services as a doctor and infectious disease specialist.

It is here, in the remote, dangerous village, where the pair finally get know each other, and grow as characters. I won't spoil it further with details, but it is a beautiful, sumptuous film with superb acting and gorgeous cinematography. Definitely a bit of an old-school melodrama, but an engaging one. By the end, you will care deeply about both Kitty and Walter(amazing considering Kitty's character at the beginning).

Bottom line....I highly recommend it! Overall, I'd give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Yes, it's a little slow moving, and clocks in at exactly 2 hrs., but I think it's 2 hrs. well spent. Particularly if, like me, you find Ed Norton super-sexy!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Let it snow?

It's January 13th and damp here in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. My upstate New Yorker husband is grumbling. He wants snow.

Is he crazy?

I'm a native Washingtonian. We freak at even the whisper of a snowflake. The grocery stores immediately clear of bread, milk, and toilet paper. The TV stations go on 24-hour Storm Watch. Activities get cancelled. Everyone wonders if the schools--and even the government--will close.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't actually hate snow. It's rather pleasant to watch falling. It's even nice to look at, spread out over the lawn. The problem is that the people in my house insist on going out into the stuff. The husband drives off to work. The boys, when they were younger, went sledding and came back wet, tracking snow everywhere. Now they have to go to work--or they want to drive somewhere to socialize. No one but me is ever home when the sidewalk needs shoveling.

So, I'm as nervous about global warming as the next person and I know that a good winter's snow helps guard against summer drought...but I'm not at all anxious to see the white stuff show up.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is the Prince Worth It?

USA Today is on royals watch. It reported the other day that Prince William’s girlfriend, the really cute commoner Kate Middleton, has been given her own security detail, a sure sign—they say—that an engagement announcement is imminent. I think William is incredibly good looking, seems like a smart, nice, well-grounded guy, and, after all, he’s richer than God and set to be the future king of England.

A catch, in other words. No doubt Kate is madly in love with him, and would be thrilled to receive a proposal.

But here’s the thing: is marrying into the royal family worth it?

They have rules and courtiers, duties and traditions, and the Queen, as I understand it, has to give permission for just about every major decision anyone in the family makes. Years ago, when I read Fergie’s book (that’s the Duchess of York to you), I was astonished to learn they even had rules about having microwaves in the royal apartments, and guidelines about the raising and lowering of window shades.

Oh, come on.

Worst of all, there’s the paparazzi.

Diana’s story is still fresh in my mind, maybe since I saw the fabulous movie THE QUEEN a few weeks ago. I don’t think Diana slid so well into the royal fabric, but of course she was only nineteen at the time, and Kate is twenty-five. And, after all, maybe the suffering that Diana endured has made the royals more sensitive to newcomers. Let’s hope so, for Kate’s sake.

So here’s my question: if you were madly in love with a prince, would marrying into his family, with all their rules, restrictions and traditions, be worth the loss of life as you know it?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blood'n Guts, Please

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of mysteries and thrillers. I can make my way through a Stephen King grotesque mutilation or one of Patricia Cornwell’s gruesome Scarpetta autopsies without skipping a few pages ahead. I love CSI, Criminal Minds and their ilk and I don’t find myself cringing at the gory bits very often. Recently though, my friends were talking about how they wish they’d tone down some of the slice and dice.


What would CSI be without “soup man”, the decomposed body found inside a suitcase? Okay, well maybe you wouldn’t want to watch that episode while eating pea soup . . .

When I write blood’n guts stuff in my own books I admit my stomach will churn as I type. When I’m in my characters’ heads it can feel too close. Still, I’d hate to think my readers have skimmed over those challenging pages but I’m curious . . . do you close your eyes or skip ahead during the gory parts in books or shows?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I HEART The Office

First off, let me admit to my obsessive nature...when I love a movie, I watch it a dozen times. In a dozen days. Characters fascinate me, and I can't stop thinking about them. This happens to me all the time--I'm a film buff, a member of BAFTA (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts--it's a long story...), and I watch a lot of movies, go to a lot of advance screenings, oftentimes with Q&A sessions with the filmmakers/cast (and I've got stories! Colin Firth stories...Colin Farrell stories!).

Anyway, it's usually feature films that capture my obsessions, not TV. Since I started writing, I pretty much stopped watching TV, except for LOST. But last December, while visiting my parents for Christmas, I happened to catch an episode of The Office (the American version--I love the British version, too, but that's a whole other story). It was the Christmas episode, and I don't think I've EVER laughed so hard at a television show in my life (my mom, on the other hand, kept saying, "I just don't get it. That's not funny."). So, I started watching regularly. And yeah, it's a funny show, in that squirm-in-your-seat-uncomfortable-funny kind of way. Next thing I knew, I was addicted. I now plan my schedule around Thursday nights.

What *really* surprised me (and hooked me) wasn't the humor, but the touching romantic story that was subtly playing out between the everyman paper salesman Jim Halpert and the engaged-to-someone-else receptionist Pam Beesly. It was one of those unrequited love/friend pining after a friend whose affections were engaged elsewhere stories, which I just adore. Jim and Pam are a modern-day Sam and Diane, and personally I think they are the best TV couple *ever* (strong words, I know!).

The season finale last May was a TOTAL shocker--I was entirely speechless. I waited impatiently for months to see what was going to happen. Not since "Who Shot JR?" have I been so eager for a show's season opener. This season, the show has surprised me in so many ways. This past week's episode "Back from Vacation" made me cry. I'm amazed that a show that's first and foremost a hilarious comedy (starring Steve Carrell, after all!) has so much heart.

So, romantics out there, if you don't watch The Office, I highly suggest you do! You can catch up with the first two seasons on iTunes or on DVD, and there's also lots of Jim/Pam stuff on YouTube -- in fact, for those of you who have missed out, I highly recommend you start here. This user has uploaded something like 20 'episodes' of "The Story of Jim and Pam" (which is basically condensed versions of the show, just showing the Jim/Pam interactions). I'm willing to bet you'll find yourself hooked!

And then you can obsess along with me!

Which Princess Is Best?

Yesterday, I took my daughter and her friend to see Happily N’Ever After, the latest movie creation from the group that brought us one of my favorite animated series, Shrek. Happily, alas, is no Shrek. It was so unfunny, in fact, that, after eating my popcorn and candy, I promptly took a nice nap for about twenty minutes or so, confident that I wouldn’t miss anything worthwhile. And guess what? I didn’t.

Part of the problem with Happily was the heroine, who couldn’t see that the prince was a cowardly doofus, and the real hero was the unassuming dishwasher.

How could I get behind a clueless heroine like that? I couldn’t.

So after I woke from my refreshing movie nap, I got to thinking: which animated movie princess is the best? Who can I most relate to?

Answer: Belle from Beauty & the Beast.

I’m sure you’ll agree.

Belle is pretty, smart, funny, brave and strong. Plus she loves books, and she tames the bad-boy beast/prince.

What’s not to love?

Pocahontas, of course, deserves honorable mention. I love her fierce independence, bravery, and athleticism. But poor Pocahontas didn’t have a happy ending with John Smith—this, despite having one of the sexiest love-at-first-sight scenes ever, cartoon or not—and I can’t get too excited about a love story with no happy ending.

Other rejects?

Ariel from The Little Mermaid, who rejected her true self and her entire species for Eric, a man too dumb to differentiate between the real Ariel and the imposter;

Cinderella (I know she's not a princess, but still), Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Snow White, for being too passive in accepting their unhappy situations and therefore too stupid to live; and

Jasmine from Aladdin, who was a little too slutty for my tastes.

So there you have it.

What about you? Surely I’m not the only one who’s spent time contemplating the complexities of princesshood. Who’s your favorite animated princess, and why?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The First Time

Caroline and I are hashing out a workshop proposal. (I’m sure lovely Caroline has been rolling her eyes as I obsess over every word, but for the most part she respects her elders and has been very polite via email. Well, sort of polite....)

Anyway the workshop, if it happens, is on the publishing process, specifically the first book experience. So having that on my mind, I thought I’d tell you all a little secret. Shh. Come closer. I’ll whisper it in your ear...


Did I burst your eardrum? So sorry.

I remember when my first book came out back in February 2005. Usually authors get copies before the book is released, but that didn’t happen in my case. My first encounter with The Naked Duke came in the wild, in my friendly neighborhood Borders. There it was, red and wonderful, sitting on the shelf. Spine out, alas, but what did I care? My first book was in a bookstore!!

After I cut a caper (that’s Regency-speak for did a little happy dance), I hesitantly approached the bookseller and asked if I might sign their stock. I had to take a deep breath and my hand shook, but I tried to pen my name with appropriate writerly flourish.

So a big YEEHAW and congrats to Colleen. Enjoy every minute of your first time!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hello, World!

Yet another multi-author blog is born.

Yet...yet! We promise something different! Fresh! New!

But hang in there with us while we get our act together...we'll be back.