Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Goodbye ... kind of

So the Muse Newsers have given the blogging thing a big try. Okay, perhaps a LITTLE try (g). We've loved chatting with y'all and hope you've enjoyed our varied posts. However, all good things come to an end ... or wind down just a tad.

You won't be seeing many new posts on Muse News but we hope you'll pop in periodically to check out our announcements and new releases. And if you miss us in the meantime, scroll down and you'll see our blogroll list on the right. Many of us have individual blogs where you can drop in for a visit.

For now ... goodbye, adieu, ciao, farewell ...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Alpha or Beta

No, I’m not talking romance heroes. I’m talking mothers.

This morning on Today, I learned that there are two types of mothers: alpha and beta. Apparently, alpha moms are perfectionists and beta moms are, well, slackers.

So, which am I? Having given this some serious thought, I’ve decided I am an alpha mom with serious beta tendencies.

Or … maybe a beta mom with alpha tendencies.

I guess that makes me … a hybrid mom. Yeah, that’s it.

I can’t get rid of the alpha tendencies. It’s the lingering Type A/lawyer in me. I want the house to be clean, the homework to be done, and the kids to be outstanding and happy in all their endeavors.

On the other hand, I now think a layer of dust in a house is, well, charming, and if the kids hit each other now and then (or a dozen times a day) is that really a sign that they’re future felons? I don’t think so.

So, yeah, I’m a hybrid mom. And I think I’m comfortable with that. What about you? What kind of mom are you?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer begins...

Summer arrives today, appropriately enough the day after school ended here. It was just lovely not having to set the alarm last night, getting to watch my husband get up to go to work while I stayed in bed. Usually it's the other way around--I get up to rouse the kids and feed the animals and pack lunches and track down the missing homework and hunt the missing snowboots, while he stays snug in bed until the kids are gone, and believe you me, when it's 20 degrees outside, this REALLY gets me!

But now the kids are home. They've already had a fight. My son asked to play computer games before he even ate breakfast. My daughter, heretofore a major slug-a-bed in the morning, jumped on me at 8 AM, wide awake and ready to rumble. The dog is wired up because someone more exciting than I is home to play with her. And my husband was smiling as he left for work...

Every summer I make lots of plans. Mostly things I'm going to fix up around my house, but also fun excursions with the kids, cool things to do, write in the hammock, maybe even plot a romantic getaway with the hardworking husband while the kids entertain Grandma. Every September, I look back and realize we did the same thing over and over: go to the lake. The house is always a disaster, I rarely get more than a single sentence written all summer, and needless to say there is no romantic getaway, not even out to the patio for peaceful togetherness. Sigh.

So what does everyone else hope/plan to do this summer? And advice for the organizationally-challenged among us?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cats, Dogs and Big Hearts

A few years ago trucker, Wayne, and his wife, Cathy, rescued a cat. That kitty, named Bo, has become a trucker cat. He's travelled a lot. And travelled. And travelled. They figure the cat has trucked over a million miles. That's a lot of miles. And the cat loves it. As a matter of fact, he hates to even leave the cab of the truck. He's only been out of the truck cab twice over as many years. He actually gets frustrated if his owners stay off the road for too long and he'll show his disproval by parking his hairy butt on the steering wheel and honking the horn.

I like cats a lot but, truthfully, I'm more of a dog person so here's a dog story.

A woman named Debbie rescued a dog from a dumpster two years ago. One day she begins choking on a piece of apple. She tries unsuccessfully to perform the heimlich manoeuvre on herself. She was about to pass out when along comes her rescued dog, Toby. He knocked her to the ground and then jumped on her chest. The doggie heimlich dislodged the apple and saved Debbie's life. Toby ate the piece of apple afterward (eeeewww) but, hey, nobody's perfect.

What do these stories have in common? Both animals were rescued by their owners. I have a soft place in my heart for people who rescue animals. Do you have a rescued dog or cat that comes with his own tail, um, I mean tale? :)

Coldwater Creek vs. L.L. Bean

Back when my kids were in nursery school many, many moons ago, one of the other moms was quite taken aback to learn I was not into camping. Why would she think I'd want to forgo air conditioning and sleep on the hard ground? Because my wardrobe came from L. L. Bean.

I'm actually still a big fan of L.L. Bean. The clothes are predictable both in style and fit, and most of the pants come in medium tall and tall lengths. (The turtlenecks used to come in tall, too, but they seem to have discontinued that--another example of discriminating against people who have a few more vertical inches than the norm, sigh.) Plus I can shop on line or over the phone which is a very good thing as the women's sections in department stores cause my blood pressure to rise. They are large, sometimes not even on the same floor, and seem to be organized by label/designer/company, which is fine, I guess, if you know your Dockers from your Alfred Dunners. (I did have a kind of Dockers pants that I liked, but I think they discontinued that style.)

I have recently found a store I can manage, however--Coldwater Creek. Their pants aren't quite long enough, but I love their flowing, long skirts--they are fun to wear. I was there yesterday and found a number of interesting things. Regrettably I had an appointment, so I couldn't try stuff on. Maybe I'll make it back later this week.

So, what's your favorite women's clothing line or shop? I'm especially interested if you're a bit taller than average, but feel free to share even if you are well, um, short.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

This was a cool movie.

Let me preface this by saying I know nothing about comic book heroes, and I don’t know my Marvel from my DC. I do, however, like fun action movies with exciting special effects and a love story, and FF2 had all that.

Basic premise: bad things start to happen around the world, interfering with the ongoing attempts of superheroes Sue Storm and Reed Richards to get married. Turns out the Silver Surfer, the best high-tech character since the really awful (but in a good way!) liquid metal cop villain in Terminator 2, is behind the disasters, but there’s a worse bad guy out there, and he’s a-coming …

The special effects are amazing, the characters are funny and well written, and the Silver Surfer, with his super-abilities, soulful conflict, and voice of Laurence Fishburne is, well--dare I say it?--great hero material for the next movie.

And you KNOW there’ll be a next movie.

What about you? Seen any good movies lately? Looking forward to any upcoming movies?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hey, Kristina, while you're in Spain...

I forgot to ask Kristina if she could pick up a copy of the Spanish version of The Naked Marquis while she's gallivanting across Spain. I think it's being released this month. I'm not sure. I get hits on my website from a Spanish site, but I don't read Spanish. If you do, here's the link:

Maybe you can tell me what it says.

I think it is a very cool cover, don't you? Except it doesn't have the capital "K" in MacKenzie, sigh. And I don't think there were any masks in the story, but hey, that was the second book and I'm writing the fifth now, so maybe I've forgotten.

I'd LOVE to get my hands on a copy. I think my publisher will send me one eventually, but it could be a long time coming. So, Kristi...if you're near a bookstore....

Here's the U.S. cover--quite a different look, isn't it? But I love this cover, too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Rain in Spain stays mostly in the Plain

Let's hope this is true! Tomorrow, my little family of four heads off to the south of Spain for a ten-day holiday (including brief jaunts to Gibraltar and Morocco!). I should be excited, right?! Instead, my stomach is in knots as I worry about *everything* that could go wrong. Let's see...first a 7 hour flight with two little kids (and did I mention that I've *hated* to fly since 9/11?!)--luckily, the flight is at night, but by the time we arrive in Madrid to change planes for Malaga, it'll be about 4 a.m., our time. Which means changing planes with two (hopefully) zonked out kids. Then, once we arrive in Malaga heavily laden with luggage, we have to get to the rental car counter, which is always fun. Then a one-and-a-half to two hour drive--in a foreign country, driving a stick shift as that seems to be all they have over there, and we have to actually FIND our rental house.

Of course, my biggest worry is the fact that my youngest daughter is deathly allergic to tree nuts. Of course, I'm bringing epi-pens and Benadryl, we've learned the Spanish word for every nut imaginable, and we've got a card written by a native Spanish speaker (from Spain rather than Latin America, as there are some differences) explaining her allergies, in case we have language issues. Still, I'm just terrified, especially as the region we're visiting is an almond hotbed. I actually refused to consider some rental villas because there were almond trees on the property! And I also worry about our cell phones working over there, despite the fact that I've checked and double checked, and YES, we have international roaming; yes, we have international data packages so we can get our email on our cell phones. Still, what if it *doesn't* work and I'm stuck with no cell for ten days, in a foreign country? What if my agent's trying to get ahold of me?!

And then there's my worries about home--dog is going to the kennel, for ten days. He's NEVER been there longer than a week. I worry about him. I worry about my cat, who's staying home where several people will be helping to take care of her. Still, ten days! She's getting old--nearly fourteen--and she likes human companionship. Poor kitty. I worry about the house, the alarm system....actually, I'm not sure there's *anything* I'm not worried about!

Is it even possible to enjoy my vacaation in this state of mind?! I hope so, because after two house floods and a *terrible* year in general, I desperately need a vacation, as does my hubby. I'm looking forward to this view from my terrace...

Am I alone in my pre-vacation worries, or do you stress like mad before you go away, too? Does it actually affect the vacation itself? Any tips for long-distance traveling with small kiddos in tow?!

Monday, June 11, 2007


This weekend I watched one of my all-time favorite movies, TLOTM.

I cannot possibly tell you how much I love this movie.

I love the non-stop action and constant danger.

I love the breathtaking scenery.

I love the haunting, beautiful soundtrack.

Most of all, I love the love story between Daniel Day-Lewis’ Nathaniel and Madeleine Stowe’s Cora, and I submit to you that three of the sexiest non-sex scenes ever shot in moviedom are in this movie:

1. The Stare.

Cora: “What are you looking at, sir?”

Nathaniel: “I’m looking at you, miss.”

I just get shivers every time I see this scene, and I think it’s because of the unspoken subtext:

Nathaniel: You know you’re mine now, right?

Cora: Absolutely.

2. The kiss.

No words in this scene. Just music and scorching heat as Nathaniel looks for, then finds, Cora—and kisses her. This scene, I think, is all about Cora’s sexual awakening, and I love it.

3. Stay alive.

I just love the passion and desperation in this scene when Nathaniel is forced to leave Cora in the hands of their enemies. He’s taking a calculated risk with the life of the woman he loves, and he swears he’ll come back for her, no matter how long it takes, if she’ll only stay alive. Cora’s only thought is for Nathaniel to save himself.

Shivers, I tell you. This movie gives me shivers.

What about you? Does anyone out there love this movie as much as I do?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Summer Insanity

So, the dear husband reminds me this morning that this is the last free Saturday we have for about six or seven weeks. Why, you ask? Because it's summer here and that means the summer swim season has begun. Time to break out the sunscreen and check the beach towel supply. (Since this kid swims year round, it's time for him to switch from clear to tinted goggles, I guess.)

This is our 18th summer season--if I did the math right and if you don't count the 10 years I spent as a swimmer in the same league. When we started, we had little kids--the oldest was 8. Now the baby is 17 and heading off to college. He's actually eligible to swim until he's 18, so it's possible he'll come back next year. I hope he does, if for no other reason than I like to know when it's really my last time through something.

What about you all? Does your life slow down in the summertime or does it just switch gears into some other craziness? Do you have something you do every summer or are you a totally free spirit?

Oh, and this weekend isn't really free--time trials, the "practice meet," is tomorrow.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Tony Soprano’s time is up.

As you no doubt know by now, the last episode of this epic series featuring angst-ridden wise guy Tony Soprano airs this Sunday night. It remains to be seen whether Tony will be alive or dead at the end of the last show.

I vote for dead.

Though I haven’t watched the entire series (we don’t have HBO, alas!) I have seen episodes here and there, and the ones I manage to catch always feature Tony personally whacking someone. Tony is a murderer, ergo, IMHO, he should be murdered. That would be poetic justice, the ultimate comeuppance, and a satisfying ending to the series. I mean really, does anyone want to see THE SOPRANOS: A CHRISTMAS REUNION ten years from now?

Yeah, I know Tony has his softer side. I know he loves his kids, his wife, and his various mistresses. Still. I think he should reap what he’s sown.

What do you think? Should Tony live or die? And do you even care?

The Winner...and My New Release

The winner of the Judy Blume essay collection is:

(how cool is that?)

Congrats, Zeek...and you know how to get ahold of me to get your book sent off.

Also, I wanted to (ahem) mention that I also have a new release out this week...the second in my Buffy tVS meets Regency England vampire hunter series, Rises the Night.

(Here's a link for a $1-off coupon at Borders!)

In this installment of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, Victoria Gardella Grantworth travels from a countryside house party in England to Venice, and finally Rome, in order to stop a powerful vampire from his evil plan! Mwhahahaa! And on the way, Victoria meets John Polidori, Lord Byron (and ticks off his mistress), as well as a secret society of vampire protectors.

Plus, she's got more than one handsome man vying for her attention! Lots of fun.

Congrats again to Zeek, and have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl, I Learned From Judy Blume

Is that not the best (truest) title for a book of essays...ever?

I've been excited about this book ever since I first heard about it--and it's got a fabulous run-down of authors included, such as Meg Cabot, Julie Kenner, Beth Kendrick, and my good friend (and author of The Secret Society Girl series) Diana Peterfreund.

I can't wait to read their takes on Ms. Blume and her books. I'm so excited about this book, that I'm going to give away a copy to someone who answers my question in the comments.

As for me, I remember passing around Forever during the lunch period at the Catholic grade school I went to (shhhh!). I still can't meet anyone named Ralph without giggling.

I also was particularly fond of Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great.

What about you? What were your favorite Blume books? Answer the question for a chance to win!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Release day jitters!

Today is the release day for my latest historical romance, TO LOVE A SCOUNDREL. Release day is always a weird day for me, a day filled with a strange combination of nerves, excitement, jitters, hope. As I sit at my computer, trying to concentrate on whatever new manuscript I'm working on, I'm also resisting the urge to run out the door, jump in my car, and head down to my local Barnes & Noble so that I can 'visit' my books there on the 'new release' shelves! Because there's something special about seeing your latest book on booksellers' shelves for the first time, its cover all shiny and crisp, just waiting for readers to pick it up, to write or email you and tell you how much they enjoyed it!

I always liken it to sending your 'baby' off to preschool or kindergarten for the first time. You dress them in their best and send them off, excited for them yet hoping that the other kids (and teachers!) will 'get' them, understand them, like them. You want them to be judged 'smart', to excel as a student. Yet all of this tempered with the notion that you will love them just the same, no matter what. Mostly you're just proud.

Well, it's pretty much the same with a new book, crazy as that sounds! You're so filled with hope on release day--hope that readers will buy it, that they will enjoy it, that they will deem it a 'smart' book and that maybe it will even garner great reviews and accolades.

But even if it doesn't, that's okay, too. You understand that, just as some people like vanilla but others prefer chocolate, people have varying tastes. Every kid can't be the most popular, nor can every book.

Still, I hope you'll look for TO LOVE A SCOUNDREL this week. She's a 'nice kid'--really, she is!

And finally, to celebrate release day, I'm giving away a SCOUNDREL t-shirt to one lucky commenter--the winner can choose any summer t-shirt from my Cafe Press store!

HE’S NOTORIOUS FOR HIS WICKED WAYS…Frederick Stoneham thoroughly enjoys the life he leads as one of London’s most disreputable rogues. When his father arranges for him to wed Lady Eleanor Ashton, he believes his decadent lifestyle can carry on uninterrupted. After all, he remembers Eleanor to be plain and timid--not the kind of wife who will demand attention or insist he leave his mistress. But Frederick has a change of heart when he sees the striking beauty Eleanor has become…

Eleanor is stunned to discover she is to wed Frederick Stoneham--the man she has secretly pined after for years, despite his reputation. When Frederick’s former mistress tells her a horrible lie, Eleanor feels betrayed. But Frederick’s persistence--and a passion that refuses to be ignored--are slowly melting Eleanor’s resolve. Now Frederick must prove to Eleanor that his days as a rake are in the past and that she is the only woman he will ever love…