Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pass the $10 Popcorn, Baby!

Tomorrow, the fifty-dollar movie trips begin!

Seriously, I can't wait. I was such a movie Scrooge for so long, what with a bunch of little girls running around who didn't really care about sitting and watching the movie anyway....

But no more. My babies are teens and tweens and love to go, and I've decide the joy I get out of the big screen makes it worth the moola (this month, anyway). It's part of my Christmas fun.

The Golden Compass is the second in our movie bonanza. Enchanted was our first....can I tell you how much I loved that movie??? Just sweet and fun and romantic as well. Two buttered thumbs up!

Then darling Alvin and the Chipmunks is coming..... and National Treasure II. Finally, a heroine as awesome as the hero, and a magnificent sidekick as well.

Finally, the Water Horse will open Christmas Day. We've done Christmas afternoon movies before. My most romantic Christmas ever was alone with my husband in a snow covered Nebraska town, in a deserted theater ..... yes, I love the quiet times in the holidays.

So? Fess Up! Which one is your favorite? Or am I the only one who's spending her holiday in a dark theater? :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Making a List . . .

Checking it twice. . . goodness, I love that song. It's traditional and filled with simple childhood joys. It's everything I want my holidays to be, and everything holidays now so often are not.

My LIST right now does not consist of gifts, although I have one of those, too. The LIST that I most enjoyed putting together this weekend consists of all the activities I want to do; the type of things that sneak up on me and get swallowed up by all the little daily necessities. I want to really enjoy this month, and that takes some compulsive list-making on my part. :)

So far I have:
1) Watch the "Charlie Brown Christmas" (I always seem to miss it!)
2) Put Nat King Cole and Dean Martin Christmas music in the truck, along with Alvin and the Chipmunks! Makes all my daytime driving fly by.
3) Watch the "White House 2007" decorating special on HGTV
4) Gather supplies for gingerbread houses and gumdrop trees.
5) Make time in the next five weeks for movie nights! We don't go very often, but there are a bunch of good ones (The Golden Compass, The Water Horse, National Treasure II) coming. Oh, and Enchanted? Fabulous!
6) Take the children shopping for the angel tree at Wal-Mart, where they pick out new toys for children and teens.
7) Only pull out the decorating essentials (there are, after all, three new and quite manic kittens in the house.)
8) Take my parents to dinner at a beautiful restaurant, full of antiques, which will be decorated with at least half a dozen Christmas trees (even a Barbie tree!) Next Sunday, check!
9) Finish buying the gift cards everyone asks for and add a little something baked, so I feel like they've actually given them something . . .

Tonight starts it all! It's our annual town Christmas parade. One daughter playing in the band, one daughter marching and carrying a banner, and the youngest drinking hot chocolate with us and enjoying the dazzling lights. Our small downtown decorates their store windows beautifully, so it will be so much fun!

What's on your list? What should I add to mine, in order to make this holiday fabulous, instead of frantic?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In Times of Plenty

Next week we'll gather with loved ones. Whether it's your special one and only or every extended relative able to drive, fly, or dog sled in, Thanksgiving is all about . . .um, giving thanks.

And if we are honest with ourselves, listing our blessings should take longer than cooking that twelve pound turkey. If we have a car to worry about filling with gas, a house to worry about heating, and health insurance premiums to worry about paying, we are blessed.

If you need a break from the hustle and bustle next week, something that improves your mind and helps others less fortunate, go to Free

I hope you all have a relaxing, fun, delicious holiday!


Of course, you are ALL winners to me, but the new Christmas release goes to . . .

Maggie R !!!!!!!!!!

Send your snail mail to, please.
Many thanks to all of you who drop by to say hello! :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Classics? We dont' need no stinkin' classics.......

It's Romeo and Juliet vs. West Side Story. Talbots vs. Betsey Johnson. Or even The Night Before Christmas vs. Holidays are Hell. (Kim Harrison's new release, and a title that makes me grin every time I see it.)

I adore pumpkin pie. I've tried the quick frozen variety (gag) but prefer my own, crust bought, homemade extra-spices filling. A real whipped cream on top. Or plain apple--lots of cinnamon and sugar, hold the caramel, or slices of cheese, etc.

However, my mom is talking about making a pumpkin pie with peanuts this year. We've got quite the crowd coming for Thanksgiving, and I'm sure everyone will love it. My husband, who adores peanuts, will be first in line. But I know if I'm not getting plain pumpkin pie there, then I'll have to make one at home. . . ;)

To the everlasting disdain of my fashionable daughters, I like my jeans dark, plain, and with a lovely blend of spandex. I like my sweaters thick, bulky, in muted heathers. My Eastland loafers. My white Keds.

But along side the classic twin sets and dark jeans, I have a new swing coat in purple velvet, with tarnished silver scroll buttons. It's gorgeous. I have no idea when or where I'll wear it. I just love to see it every morning, decorating my closet. And one day I'll put it on and march forth in style, leaving a trail of open mouths behind me.

So, are you a Classics gal? Or does your life have all the latest and greatest? Do you find yourself enjoying a mix of styles? And is there one special occasion (holidays, birthday cakes, evening dresses) where only one choice will do?

A randomly chosen commenter will receive a new Christmas release :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I work in several different schools; the opportunities for irritation are endless. So, however, are the chances for joy. This is the truth of every job, I imagine. This is the truth of every day.

Another blog asked what we valued in books, or new authors, or something along those lines. It took me a moment, and then I realized what my hodge-podge collection held in common- humor. Well, truth of emotion and clarity of thought, but humor is the reason they get read over and over.

It's amazing how personal a sense of humor is. I adore Lula and Stephanie Plum, Calvin and Hobbes, the Blue Collar tour. Other humor leaves me cold.

Hospital folk usually share a very specific, very dry, very dark sense of humor. How else would they manage? I have laughed many times during the funeral of someone I've cared for, someone who's lived a long and good life. We laughed with the sheriff's deputy after we hit the deer. (It was my husband's birthday the next day; he had a perfect reason to go buy a new car.)

Will a day come when the race will detect the funniness of these juvenilities and laugh at them--and by laughing at them destroy them? For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon--laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution--these can lift at a colossal humbug,--push it a little-- crowd it a little--weaken it a little, century by century: but only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand.
- "The Chronicle of Young Satan," Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts--Mark Twain

So what makes you grin, chuckle, or laugh until you cry? Is it important? Do you seek out and make time for laughter, or do you let the everyday absurdities of life put a smile on your face?

Monday, October 1, 2007

October's Bright Blue Weather

by Helen Hunt Jackson

O sun and skies and clouds of June
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fringes tight,
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks
In idle, golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunt
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers hour by hour
October's bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.



Helen Hunt Jackson (1831-1885) was an American poet and novelist. She was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, where her father was a professor in Amherst College, but she spent much of her life in California. She married a banker in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she lived for a few years. Her poems are very beautiful, and "September" and "October's Bright Blue Weather" are especially good pictures of these autumn months.

Did I mention I ADORE October? We are busy with hay rack rides and cook-outs at the in-laws river, Thursday night football games, constant homework, and the general antics of puppies, kittens, and rats, and children. My anniversary is tomorrow, nineteen years (I love you, Fred :)). My birthday is the 18th. Sometimes busy is good!

Is there an especially busy time in your life, or does October , the beginning of our holiday flurry, signal an increase in activity for everyone? Do you enjoy the ritual of it all, or simply look forward to the blissful quiet of January?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Three Unexpected Hours

The elementary school called yesterday, to tell me the youngest was sick. After three or four phone calls to re-arrange meetings, I picked her up and home we went. When we walked through the doors, it was around 11:45 am.

She quickly settled in with a ginger ale and new Barbie movie, leaving me to contemplate the many choices that lay before me. I had to stay home, of course, so running errands was out. Pay bills? Organize the fall/winter clothes we've pulled from storage? Actually thaw something and plan dinner? Delve into more revisions on the WIP?

I slept.

I crawled into bed between the sleeping eight year old and the ecstatic squirming puppy, moving two sleeping kittens off the pillows, and crashed for a hour or so. It was decadent, delicious--everyone else was at work, solving problems, keeping the paperwork Gods happy, but I was asleep in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. Scandalous!


I almost ruined it by waking up and feeling guilty, but I decided to keep (another) running list of things I could do if faced with an unexpected day off in the near future, instead. So next time, I'll be the model of efficiency.

Probably. :)

If the Time Gods handed you three unencumbered hours (no work, no husband, no sick kiddos), do you know what you would do? Has it been so long since you had three unclaimed (and conscious!) hours you would spend them in shock? Or do you make it a point to plan time just for yourself?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Comfort Food

Lasagna, mashed potatoes, homemade mac and cheese. . . I can feel my blood pressure drop already.

Honestly, you can have your bio-feedback, yoga, and group therapy sessions. I'll cure what ales me in the kitchen. Not that I'm a great cook, by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that certain emotions and seasons call for specific types of foods, and I won't be happy until I've eaten every last delicious bite.

During the summer, it's pasta salad--replete with broccoli, olives, cheese cubes, and loads of spices. But it's finally autumn and so even though the weather's still warm, I bring home gorgeous apples and bags of caramels, ready to be unwrapped and melted. Or unwrapped and popped into my mouth with a bit of apple, if time's an issue. And soups--vegetable, ham and bean, hash, chili . . . I could live off soup seven days a week, if the kids wouldn't lecture the food pyramid recommendations at me.

When I was pregnant with daughter number three, everything was difficult, my stomach included. At my most miserable, only S'more pop tarts, lightly toasted until warm and crispy, and real Coke would do. With daughter number two, it was Baskin Robbins daiquiri ice ice cream. With daughter one, it was apples and barbecue potato chips.

Now, when work is especially nightmarish and I see no easy solutions in sight, my fingers start to twitch towards a Midnight Milky Way.

What culinary delight invades your dreams in good times and bad? Do your cravings ebb and flow with the seasons, or are you loyal to your favorite foods?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Service with a smile

When I was in second grade my parents moved from a large town back to my dad's hometown. They bought a full service Phillips 66 station. Remember full service, where attendants in uniforms pumped your gas, washed your windows, checked your oil and the air in your tires? You got out of the car and visited, came inside to pay for your gas because swiping the credit card wasn't an option, and bought a Coke for a quarter from the vending machine.

Our service station was immaculate. My parents made sure of that. We spent a huge amount of time there, as any small business owner does, and so my mom also made sure it was comfortable. In the waiting area there was a sofa and chairs, a refrigerator and a TV. We watched Andy Griffith and Gilligan's Island--no one had cable. At one of the big desks my brother and I could sit and do our homework after school.

Our middle school was catty-corner from the station. Kids were constantly crossing the drive in order to go to the diner next door, to buy hot honey-buns topped with vanilla ice cream (yummy beyond belief). We were on the main road through town, so in the summer folks would line up their lawn chairs on the drive to watch the parade, and my parents would grill burgers and dogs and fill tables with potluck dishes. Strangers would wander by and ask how much a meal was, and my dad would always smile and say, "Just grab a plate."

Our cash register was push button. We learned from an early age how to clean the bathrooms, squeegee a window properly, count change back instead of dropping it into the customer's hand. We learned to smile, to look people in the eye, to thank them for their business.

Between that and the farm chores, it was the best childhood ever.

The musky smell of oil and tires recalls such happy times for me, much like the sweet smell of molasses in feed or fresh haybales. What brings back childhood memories for you?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

We should be on a mini-vacation right now.

Everyone has watched MASH at one time or another, yes? Remember when the officer's latrine blew up and Henry stood there with the toilet seat around his neck, a dazed expression on his face, and said, "Boom" ? We have had a "boom" kind of day.

We hit a really nice sized doe broad-side as she was crossing the road with a few of her friends at around 6:30 this morning, and she didn't have a chance. We didn't either.

We are totally fine. My husband, the hero driver who kept the car safely on the road, has some burns on his arms from the air bag. My shoulder hurts a bit from the seat belt, I think, and everyone's throat is sore from the air bag dust smell--that is nasty. But it could have been so, so, so much worse--something I'll be saying to myself for a very long time, I imagine.

Now the occasional collision of deer and car is a way of life here; we live in rural Kansas, and even in our town of 20,000 +/- you will see a deer wandering through the Taco Bell parking lot. But this is a first for me. I've never had a ticket, never bumped a fender (ok, I brushed the side of a cattle trailer once but I was fourteen at the time and in the middle of a field) and never been witness to an accident, either.

The most fitting irony, and one that was most certainly not lost on the magnificent county sheriff's deputy who came to our aid? Today's the opening day of black powder deer season here.

"Yes, officer, we have our deer tag right here." And we did. But after a summer in New England, I can honestly say, thank God it wasn't for a moose.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

On the Other Hand. . .

Giving each side due consideration.
Thinking it over.
Oh, just make up your damn mind, already!

Do you possess a deliberate nature? Do you second guess either your actions, or the actions of others? Do you spend long hours, days, weeks, years trying to make the right decision? Hell, do you spend all that time trying to make any decision?

Any Rush lovers out there? Remember the lyrics "and if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" ? Maybe so, but those are the choices that tend to keep us up at night. We know that a choice born of procrastination is very much a choice that's being made for us by someone else's actions.

I'm a Libra, but long before I knew what the symbol was for my sign (the lovely scales, for those of you that don't know), I knew decision making wasn't my forte. I'm better at it now, of course. Age has helped. I don't care so much what others think, and I am a great deal more aware of the passage of time. Putting off decisions, big or small, wastes precious time.

But when faced with decisions, I still long to gather as much information as humanly possible, because I still want to be right.

Are you an gut-instinct, instant decision maker? Or do you collect endless data before taking the big leap, be it concerning what movie you will see this weekend or which new job you choose? In the end, do you think one set of decision-makers are more effective than another?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kissing August Goodbye....

August begins the year in this household. Our school year still runs mid-August to late May, although many school districts across the country now follow a variety of schedules. Honestly, I have no idea how people function without summer, and I have no intention of finding out. Year-round school would be the catalyst into home schooling for me, most likely. I'm not too big on change.

That change issue is most certainly why I dislike August more than any other month. We've just settled into a summer schedule that gets shot to hades. We get to deal with a new batch of teachers, even though I know most of them. I get to wonder if my schedule will change yet again at work. I am a speech-language pathologist in the public schools, and have between six and eight buildings on my caseload, so I'm constantly in motion. It is a plus, in my opinion, but still, I'm constantly tweaking a schedule that in no universe will make every teacher or administrator happy.

Tomorrow is September first. Not any noticeable change in weather, yet I love the sound of the word, because after September comes October. I adore October, and I know I'm not alone. The weather is a delight. My birthday is in October, as is my anniversary. It's a very, very good month.

August was a month of changes in my family as well. Hubby is back at home after a three months of business travels. We bought a new puppy, something any sane family chooses to do two weeks before school starts, and decided to keep three of the five kittens we bottle fed this summer. No one else would tolerate the little monsters, anyway; they jump through the air and latch onto your back, pants leg, or sleeves if you ignore them.

The worst of my "back to school and work" mania is over for now. Children are settled in, study schedules are lined out, football games are in full swing, and the puppy knows three whines lands him in bed with my husband (the big softie). I have made a little time for writing, family and work have consumed the rest, and now I'm ready to catch up on everyone else's blogs and news.

Autumn, here we come.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Something to Crow About

This Sunday my rooster is waking up a four state area . . .

We have a Ticket to Write finalist in Passion Slaves--- Erin McClune.


Two MOLLY finalists:
Marianne Harden (Scarlett to you fanlitters) and
Pamela Bolton-Holifield (aka doglady).

It couldn't happen to three nicer or more talented ladies!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Where You Hang Your Hat

It's a scorcher. Now in my beloved Kansas, we don't have a great deal of variety in August. This month promises grasses yellowed with heat and little water, inconsistent winds, and kids either wet from the pool or on their way there. Sometimes we have enough humidity to melt your socks (it's at 75% right now). The sun is blinding, the rain is short lived (we've flooded badly this year, so that's a mixed blessing.) Folks get up early in order to tend their gardens and run their errands, because by one o'clock no one wants to be out.

August is also the promise of a new year to most of the people I know. I work in the schools, and my kids attend school, so August is the beginning of the year for us. It's also a time when haying is well under way or wrapping up, and although the floods were rough on our wheat, the corn looks absolutely stunning.

My vision of summer was defined by a lifetime of Kansas, until last year, when we spent all of Jume and July in Vermont. For the first time, I understood the concept of a "summer sweater." I put on a sweatshirt to greet each morning. I wore long pants on the fourth of July! We adored every second of our time in that new and gorgeous landscape.

However, I was pretty darn grumpy by my third week back East, and I couldn't understand why, until a very nice co-worker of my husband's who was originally from Iowa said, "It's claustrophobic here, isn't it?"

OMG--that's it! Those endless hills, as beautiful as they are, block everything around you unless you're sitting on top of them. I'm used to flat. We have trees as well, but they are spread out, and you can see for miles, most of the time. I felt better when we spent time in Maine, and I could sit and look at the ocean.

My heart belongs to the plains of the Midwest. I could sit and soak up the rolling Flint Hills forever. I love the cicadas trilling outside my windows, and the fact that a full basement makes me the most popular neighbor on the block every April and May.

The world is a big place. What corner of it holds your heart, if not your hat?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Normal Sex Life

As I stated in the last blog, these volumes provide a plethora of information, all of which provides excellent fodder for discussion and insight into another period's mindset. However, I picked this small chapter from Volume 7 of 10, Sexual Diseases and Abnormalities of Adult Life.

Chapter Thirteen is titled The Normal Sex Life. After much of what the doctor said, I was looking forward to his definition, and a little surprised by his conclusions. I had really assumed he would say something to the effect of "When the man decided he needs another baby and to satisfy is natural instincts," etc. I was wrong.

The good doctor went back to "primitive forms of life, and this includes early man" and found there was one rule of consistent sexual behavior: "the leadership of the female in the sexual relationship." He goes on to lay this necessity at the feet of animals in heat, and a woman's instincts concerning the right time to reproduce. He felt really strongly about this, as he put the Entire last paragraph in CAPS: (I'll spare you)

"The rule briefly stated is simply this: The husband is always to be receptive to the sexual desires of the wife and always ready to gratify her requests for love. The time, frequency, and variety of the sex life is to depend entirely upon the instinctive feelings of the wife. In other words, she is to take the initiative in all the love life, leaving only the one responsibility to the husband, and that is, satisfying her desires. It is realized that this is a rather revolutionary programme, but it is based on sound biological principles and should produce a happy life."

A happy life, indeed. :)

Have a great weekend, everyone. I'm off to a family reunion, and because my mom has eleven brothers and sisters, it will be a dozy. People are flying in from as far as Japan and Dubai, and are as close as the next town. It will be fun, I think (hope).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pleasure in Her Bodily Charms

That's a quote from page 62, Volume one of The Sexual Education Series in Ten Volumes by Dr. David H. Keller, then the assistant superintendent of Western State Hospital in Bolivar, Tennessee. These petite red-clothed volumes were published in 1928, and I discovered them in a tiny antique store in White River Junction, VT last summer.

Volume one is titled Sex and Family Through the Ages. Chapter one, The Beginning of Life discusses ". . .the one constant effort (has been) to obtain happiness" from the beginning of time. The good doctor's comparisons are fascinating, to say the least.

"For some reason, known only to herself and the God of Nature, the female stickle-back (a fish) is a modern woman in many ways. She is very fond of club life, refuses to stay at home, scorns the advances of her proper mate and whenever she has a chance eats her baby stickle-backs with a great deal of pleasure."

No, wait--it gets better.

"Under such circumstances it's hard to see how the tribe (of fish) exists. It would die out in one generation were it not for the male. (He builds the nest, yada yada). Then, he swims around hunting for the club of the independent females, and finally isolates one from her comrades. He drives this female to the nest, forces her to go in and stay in till she lays an egg or two." This brilliant male, the hope of mankind, then lets her go while he rounds up another ten or so females. He cares for the eggs by himself, poor soul. "He is a fearless fighter and a wonderful mother. It may be that if women continue to assert their independence, it will be necessary for man to imitate the stickle-back's conduct."

Our hero.

Here's the entire quote from page 62, chapter six titled Love and Marriage. "The man has the desire to possess the woman and take his pleasure in her bodily charms. The woman longs to be conquered and under that longing is the great desire, no less great because it is so often unrecognized, to become pregnant and, by giving birth to a child, to become a mother. "

The good doctor goes on to discuss the sacrifices necessary for a successful marriage, by both the male and female. And his thoughts on spiritual love are eloquent; "the relation of one soul to another, the molding of one spirit to another." Of course, he's pretty sure at the end of the day the woman needs to do most of that molding.

These volumes are a treasure. They go on to discuss sex and society, the prostitute, care of the aged, sexual life of men and woman after forty ( I was glad to hear there is one ;) ), sexual diseases and deviations . . . they go on and on. I'll share more words of wisdom on Thursday; try to curb your club-hopping, child-eating tendencies until then.

What are your research or old book treasures, either at home or in your public library? Does reading old text help you historical writers embrace the mindset of another time? And hidden among the antiquated ideals, do you ever find a grain of truth?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Inspire: to fill with high or reverent emotion. . .

Inspirational romance.

When I mention the term to those who've never read any romance, they are confused. How can a romance novel (i.e., smut) be connected to something inspirational (i.e., pure)? To those familiar with romance and it's many genres and sub-genres, there is still usually a moment's hesitation. If you haven't read one, you're not sure why you would.

If you haven't read one, you don't know what you're missing.

When I read my first inspirational romance, "Leading Lady", by Lawana Blackwell, I had no idea it was inspirational romance. I knew it was a Victorian story, and I loved the cover. After I read it, I felt happy and satisfied. Job well done. Then a year or so later, I bought an anthology of Victorian romances, "English Carols and Scottish Bagpipes" by Pamela Griffin and Jill Stengl. Again, I adored the stories. This time it didn't take me quite so long to figure out they were inspirational, but they were Christmas stories, and I love holiday stories. No problems, even though the little radars were humming in my head.

I really, REALLY dislike being preached to.

It never happened. Not in that story, or next, or the several that followed. Instead, every time I read a well-written inspirational romance, I learn something more about the art and craft of what we do, the skill of subtlety that can be applied to any story, in any genre.

Writing romance is a tricky, tricky business. The romance must be the story, and for many/most (goodness, this will be a blog for another day) adults, a sexual relationship is a key component to romance. Most bestselling novels have a least a few detailed scenes that leave no doubt as to the couple's physical compatibility, and they do it WELL. And no one part of a romance novel is the easy part to write.

But to watch an author unfold the story before your eyes, to watch her mold the conflicts and characters and acknowledge their physical attraction while making sure the emotional components always take center stage--Wow. It's poetry in motion. At Nationals I picked up "Missionary Daddy" by Steeple Hill. I haven't read it yet, but I am looking forward to it, as I've never read a contemporary inspirational. I'm sure I'll pick up as much from it as I have from the others. And I'm reading Rita winner Tamera Alexander now; both her story and her skill are inspirational indeed.

Is anyone else fond of inspirationals? Do you look to other genres (paranormal, suspense, contemporary) to inspire your own work? What are your favorite finds, to read if not to write?

We'll swing in the opposite direction next Monday and talk about my set of 1928 sexual education texts.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Friends, I Have Lost A Day...

Harry does that. He sucks the outside world into a black hole, one where children sit glasses of water by my side and order in pizza unnoticed. They know interrupting me is futile, and the hospital really is only six blocks away. I cannot finish these books in less than one sitting. I cannot walk away.

Yes, well, perhaps that is extreme, but then so is the end of the Potter series. It is a BIG DEAL, because we choose to make it so. Harry and the rest of the motley crew have a special place in our hearts and on our bookshelves. My mothers keeps a set of pristine, untouched copies, along with her assorted H.P. collectables . Our books have creased spines and smudged pages; our truck CD player brings his world to life.

He's not the only thing we read; far from it, but he is special, as millions of fans around the world know, and deserves a bit of my undivided attention, here at the end.

Thank goodness for series. I want the characters I love to continue their journey through my life. Thank heavens for Amelia Peabody, Mary Russell, Stephanie Plum, Anita Blake.

And thank heavens for well-written fan fiction, in which my favorite characters (Snape!) lead the lives they deserve.

Who do you want to live forever? Which character(s) do you wish had their own set of never-ending stories? And how to you feel about writing a series?


Kelly, Alice, Christina-- send those snail mails to and I'll be sending a book your way :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Joy of Discovery

In heaven, there will be a Books-A-Million (my personal favorite) that never closes, and every book I want is free. Authors are all hanging out in the coffee bar, ready to discuss each and every character to my hearts' content. Sounds a lot like Nationals, yes?

Well, some of my Fed Ex boxes have arrived, and I've made my way through two new (to me) titles so far. Neither is in my usual genre, and I have loved, loved each second of exploring the way they build their world and craft their characters.

"A Reason To Live", written by Maureen McKade, is a historical western set right after the end of the Civil War. Laurel Covey is the amazing heroine, a nurse who keeps a journal of her patients' last requests and then journeys to bring their final words to their families. Creede Forrester is the tormented hero who learns of his son's death from Laurel, and accompanies her to the families she must reach.

What a heartbreaking, compelling, sensual story. I sent off a note to Ms. McKade as soon as I returned home, letting her know her book kept me up one night until I reached the end.

The second book is "Every Which Way But Dead" by Kim Harrison. It's a play on Clint Eastwood, for pity's sake; that's an automatic buy in my house. Anyway, fabulous witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan lives with a vampire and a pixy, both her partners in a harsh alternate-reality Cincinnati teaming with crime and action. The world-building in this book is amazing. I would love to see the spread sheets Ms. Harrison must create in order to keep all these details straight. And the best thing of all--it's wickedly funny.

So yes, she gets a note as well.

I have quite a list of automatic buys, but there is real satisfaction in adding to that collection of names.

So what new treasures have you dug up lately? Have you finally read an author that's been turning out best-sellers for years? Or is a debut author rocking your world?

And yes, someone will win a book! Time to share this wealth. ;)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Friends I've Yet to Meet

There are no strangers in romance.

All you need is a smile and the slightest bit of eye contact. Those awesome name tags that swivel and bob around as the perfect accessory are pretty darn handy as well. Add a bundle of ribbons and multi-colored pins and you're all set.

Hello, world, my name is ------ and my world revolves around romance.

And in a crowd of three thousand, no one thinks you're crazy. Remarkable.

I've been reading for several weeks now that the first time at Nationals is intimidating. Perhaps in the past, but that word wasn't appropriate for Dallas in the least. I'd say fabulously frustrating was more on the mark; so many, many opportunities, and so little time! The workshops were eye-opening, the lunches and speakers impressive, and the book signings enough to make a person break out in a happy dance of joy.

And when I was ready to drop from exhaustion, the most perfect hotel mattress I've ever slept on was waiting, along with long conversations with my girls, who simply wanted me to remember a signed ARC wasn't their idea of an appropriate trip souvenir.

I've never waited for concert tickets or an opening night movie in my life, but I do stand in line until midnight for each Harry Potter book, so waiting two hours to visit with Lisa Kleypas about Mine Til Midnight was a pleasure. Visiting with all of the authors was a pleasure, but so was talking with all the authors-to-be, in elevators and bathrooms and waiting to buy a cup of coffee.

I got to meet one of my writing partners in person, which was the biggest joy of the trip, but all the strangers I visited with as well confirmed my belief in the power of a happy ending.

Endorphins indeed, Lisa! These books, in every genre, do make the world at large a happier place. It just doesn't get any better than that.

So all you first timers--do you believe each trip will be as wonderful as the first? Those who have been before--is the first time the best time, or does it just get better? And those who have yet to go--is Nationals on your list of "have-tos" , or are you planning on enjoying conferences closer to home (something several authors told me is a very smart idea)?

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Warm Welcome. . .

. . .to friends old and new, brought together by the power and the majesty of the written word. A little pompous, but true. Nothing is more influential to millions of people the world over than thin pieces of paper covered with standardized fonts or scrawled pencil lead.

I happen to enjoy my written words wrapped up in a thick historical romance . . . or a historical mystery, or a side-splitting contemporary comedy. I also confess deep admiration for inspirational romances, and have read Stephen King's work as well, although horror is not my cup of tea. On the other hand, I adore the over-the-top drama of a timeless gothic story, and have also developed an appreciation for well written erotic romances.

I will also re-read E.B. White any time I'm given the chance, and adore Junie B. Jones and the Little Critter.

I like books.
I assume the feeling is mutual. Book store owners certainly view me with with great affection.

I also adore research books. I love big glossy pages and musty tombs overlooked at the back of flea markets and used book stores. I love to hoard bits of information in hopes that someday I'll find use for it in a manuscript. Mostly, I love the feel of a book in my hand; I'm especially partial to the new larger paperbacks. Larger print (I'm not 25 anymore) without the weight of a hardback. But I'll take them anyway they are printed, and not worry about their mismatched presentation on my overflowing bookshelves.

They aren't there for decoration. They are there to be opened and creased and folded and thumbed through until a page or two comes fluttering out.

So which volumes have you loved to pieces? Any that necessitate a double buy, just so you'll have an extra on hand? Any too special to loan, even to the best of friends?