Squawk Radio

Saturday, April 30, 2005


Originally uploaded by Christina Dodd.

10. Reading SOME ENCHANTED EVENING teaches you how to catch a prince or, if you're an underachiever, an earl.
9. The "Desperate Housewives" episode is a rerun.
8. SOME ENCHANTED EVENING can easily be read while vacuuming.
7. Hardcover of SOME ENCHANTED EVENING always checked out of the library.
6. No commercials
5. Trying to confirm your suspicion that Christina Dodd and Lisa Kleypas are really the same person because the cover of SOME ENCHANTED EVENING is the same as SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT except for that lady dressed in the red gown on the terrace.
4. No calories.
3. Reading SOME ENCHANTED EVENING the only way to stop humming the song from the musical now stuck in your head.
2. Beat the rush before Oprah recommends SOME ENCHANTED EVENING.


1. Your husband will never know what hit him.

Christina Dodd, 12:36 AM | link | 51 comments |

Friday, April 29, 2005

ELOISA on How to Be an Aspiring Cover Model at Romantic Times

You may not know this, but the Romantic Times convention is overrun with cover models. Think women in bunches, talking about books, when a lone wolf wanders through the room. He pauses, bold in his masculinity, eyes inscrutable behind his black glasses, throws back his rippling hair and flexes his muscle as he lifts his cell phone to his ear... Connie and I edge closer to this miracle of nature, determined to hear the thrilling words he whispers to one of his many lovers. "Questa e una matina difficile," he says.

OH YAH? "I'm having a difficult morning." And he thinks we can't understand his whine. Guess what, my husband is Italian! Cry me a river, Mr. Cover Model.

We couldn't let him feel down...so Connie poked me in the back so hard that I thought she'd glimpsed David Cassidy. I took his picture. Men are so disappointing up close. "Be stronger!" I said to him (for goodness' sake, he could at least flex a muscle for this picture). He looked blank so I tried in Italian. "Forte!" Yes...he was running on one cylinder and that cylinder was made by Fiat.
Eloisa James, 10:39 AM | link | 20 comments |

Squawk Trivia

It occurred to me that there are things about each of us that visitors might not have known and would find interesting! Like the fact that most people assume I am tall--I seem to photograph tall in my pictures--but I am vertically challenged. Five foot one and three quarters. I have short little muppet legs. Which I guess is why I write so many short heroines. Fortunately I am married to a tall man, so I have someone to reach for stuff on the upper cabinet shelves.

Also, I am a Disney fanatic although not proud of it, I love coconut anything, and I've had a passionate crush on Harrison Ford for 20 years. And I wear overalls and big striped tee shirts when I write.

Anyone else care to share?
Lisa Kleypas, 10:01 AM | link | 20 comments |

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Greetings from RT

Wow. There must be 1000 people here! So far the highlight of the trip is when Eloisa ditched me at the restaurant at lunch to go accept an award for BEST NOVELLA. Yes. I'm bitter. Yes, I sat there for FORTY-FIVE minutes staring at her cold fries and melted cheese sandwich after she ran out assuring me she'd be back in two minutes. yes, she will be buying me drinks for the rest of the convention!

Tonight my daughter and I are dressing up for the ball. Happily I have a digital camera with tons of space on the memory card. back later with more reports... Your intrepid reporter, THE SQUAWKER
Connie Brockway, 7:52 PM | link | 9 comments |

Upcoming posts on the Romantic Times Convention from our reporters in the field!

Connie and Eloisa are in St. Louis with 200 authors and 800 fans and cover models (!) and will be sending reports and, we hope, photos. Stay tuned!
Christina Dodd, 4:16 PM | link | 14 comments |

Why Lisa Is So Slow

Hello, hello!

I'm going to start this new blogging phase of my life with a quiz titled "Why Lisa has taken so freaking long to do this":

A. Lisa has been under the weather
B. Lisa is a lazy chronic procrastinator who is currently late for two deadlines
C. Lisa's invitation to the blog got lost in the spam folder and she couldn't figure how to get it out
D. Lisa has two young children who don't respect her "me" time
E. All of the above!

It's E!

Obviously having me for a friend means you must be very, very patient and tolerant.
But now that I'm on board with the blog, I want my chicken! Something that reflects my personal style. Maybe a chicken with a boa and an ankle bracelet . . .?
Lisa Kleypas, 1:00 PM | link | 15 comments |

Elizabeth Bevarly Comes Between Brad and Angelina. "She's my ideal!" Crows Pitt.

What can I say? He just won't stop following me around. Alas, I don't even care for blondes.

Sorry. Eloisa's en route to the RT convention, and I wanted her to have something to read when she checks in later. (Not to mention I was just getting tired of seeing Christina's cover at the top there.)
Elizabeth Bevarly, 11:32 AM | link | 7 comments |

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Christina Dodd tunes up her fellow Squawkers!

Originally uploaded by Christina Dodd.

Look! I figured out how to post the cover of CLOSE TO YOU on the blog!

I wouldn't have gone to all that bother except

Christina Dodd, 6:57 PM | link | 12 comments |

Someone take that photo shop away from Connie!

Christina Dodd
Christina Dodd, 6:37 PM | link | 13 comments |

Christiina Dodd goes back on topic! But not about Bigfoot ...

I'm finishing a book right now and what happens is, I pour out so many words on the page I'm no longer able to vocalize. Enough writers have this that it has a name -- Writer's Ephasia. (Hope I spelled that right!)

For instance, when I'm cooking dinner and my kids are helping, I'll say, "Get the thingie out of the thingie." And the sad part? They get the right thingie out of thingie. They get the grater or the collander (hope I spelled that right, too) or the syrup. Whatever. THEY KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

Poor kids.

BTW, the spelling fails, too.
Christina Dodd, 1:37 PM | link | 10 comments |

Christina Dodd goes off topic!!

I debated about posting this because it's so silly. Then I thought -- hey, it's my blog, too! Who's going to stop me? Muhahahahaha!

Monday A.M.

My Dearest: Please sleep late. Everything under control. Lunches packed. Kids off to school. Menu for dinner planned. Your lunch is on a tray in refrigerator: finger-sandwiches and fruit cup. Thermos of hot tea by
bedside. See you around 6:00. Hope you're feeling better.

Tuesday A.M.

Honey: Sorry about the egg rack in the refrigerator. I tried to catch it. Hope you got back to sleep. Did the kids tell you about the Coke I put in their Thermos bottles? Apparently not a good idea. The school might call you on this. Dinner may be a little late. I'm doing your door-to-door canvas for liver research. Your lunch is inrefrigerator. Hope you like leftover chili.

Wednesday A.M.

Dear Doris: Why in the name of all that is sane would you put soap powder in the flour canister! If you have time, could you please come up with a likely place to find Chris's missing shoes? We've checked the clothes
hamper, garage, back seat of the car and wood box. Did you know the school has a ruling on bedroom slippers?
There's some cold pizza for you on a napkin in the frig. Am trying to find out what smells in the kitchen. Will be late tonight. Driving eight Girl Scouts to tour meat packing house.

Thursday A.M

Doris: Don't panic over water in hallway. It crested last night at 9 P.M. Will finish laundry tonight. Please pencil in answers to following:

1. How do you turn on the garbage disposal? I thought it was automatic..
Guess not.
2. Why would that rotten kid leave his shoes in his boots?
3. How do you remove a Confederate flag inked on the palm of a small boy's hand?
4. What do you do with leftovers when they begin to snap at you when you open the door?
I don't know what you're having for lunch! Surprise me!

Friday A.M.

Hey: Don't drink from pitcher by the sink! Am trying to restore pink dress shirt to original white. Take heart. Tonight, the ironing will be folded, the house cleaned and the dinner on time. I called your sister.
Christina Dodd, 1:04 PM | link | 3 comments |

Elizabeth on Secondary Resources (and Marrying Bigfoot)

I'm trying, Eloisa, but yours wasn't the most compelling blog title, either.

I'm opposite you. When I'm in Deep Write, I'm too distracted to read anything else, because my mind is so focused on my own story that it can't get into anyone else's. That's when I start looking at magazines, which provide 90% of my research materials. I subscribe to tons, many of them men's interest to get the male POV on stuff (Esquire is a particular fave). The stack in my office right now is--and I just now measured--waist high. (Obviously I'm not having trouble with the writing at the moment, except for not wanting to do it because we're finally having a beautiful day, and I'd rather be outside walking in the woods before it gets too buggy.) So I'll start flipping through the mags, reading articles that look interesting or which might provide story ideas or some kind of character trait. I'll clip pictures of rooms or outfits that look like ones I want to use, or pull pages with artwork or advertisements that might inspire a good cover. Ultimately, during times like those, I think I'm absorbing stuff that will go into the NEXT book, not the one I'm working on at the moment, because I already absorbed the stuff for my work-in-progress when I was flipping through magazines during the LAST book while I was distracted.

And when I'm not in deep write, but still writing a book, I find that I read less romance and more my other favorite genre--mystery. Or memoirs. I've developed quite a taste for those. Or if I do read romance when I'm writing, it'll be historical or paranormal or a traditional Regency. I don't read the type of books I write until after I'm done with a book. Then I'll take a coupla three weeks and devour all kinds of contemp.

Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:38 AM | link | 2 comments |

ELOISA: question about using other books while writing

My current manuscript is one of those ones that's like pulling huge rocks out of a field...I work and work and at the end of the day I have two puny pages. So I find myself surrounded by a wall of books, because when I absolutely can't figure out what to do next, I open up Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone (my current favorite) and look at how he constructed a sentence. I looked at Lord of Scoundrels yesterday to see how Loretta Chase did male interior monologue (which she does better than anyone else). A scholarship book called English Professional Theater 1530-1660, because my characters are putting on a play. Also the index is brilliant for coming up with names.

How about the rest of you? Am I the only one who desperately thrashes around in other people's prose when I'm stuck for my own sentences? I don't plagiarize--I just look for inspiration.... if that makes sense!

Eloisa James, 7:52 AM | link | 5 comments |

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Elizabeth Bevarly Grows Second Head

Unfortunately, it doesn't want to work, either. And it eats even more than my regular head does.

Just making my nightly blog title rounds, Eloisa of the #7 on the Waldenbooks list. La la la.

Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:18 PM | link | 9 comments |

I know how to prove who says what in the way of congratulations!

Eloisa James's anthology TALK OF THE TON is #7 on the Waldens Romance List!

Christina sits back and waits for many forms of congratulations to flow
Christina Dodd, 7:40 PM | link | 6 comments |


MY SURRENDER is hitting the bookstores!


We made a sort of half-ass vow to one another not to turn this blog into an egregious self-promotion tool. Guess what? I lied! Better yet, since I’m the administrator, I can get away with it! Yeah me!

So here’s a wonderful bit of a review from a wonderful and wonderfully perceptive reviewer at THE LIBRARY JOURNAL :

"This brings RITA Award-winning author Brockway's Rose Hunters trilogy to a truly fabulous conclusion. By brilliantly blending an exquisitely sensual romance between two deliciously stubborn individuals into a plot rife with danger, deception and desire, and then wrapping the whole thing up in wickedly witty and elegant writing Brockway deftly demonstrates her gift for creating richly imagined completely irresistible love stories."

Now, generally when someone gets nice news amongst this lot it is an excuse for much celebrating and congratulations. Of course, sometimes that congratulation takes an odd form, but we know what each other means to say. Still, in the interest of keeping this interactive here’s a poll.

One of SQUAWKERS announces good news (a nice review, a showing on a best seller list, an award, etc.). Match the squawker to her most likely squawk:

a) Eloisa
b) Connie
c) Christina
d) Elizabeth
e) Lisa
f) Teresa

1) “That’s wonderful and no one deserves it more than you!”
2) “%#$&$ and the horse you rode in on!”
3) “Yawn.”
4) “That’s so sweet. Can we talk about me again now?”
5) “Who are you and why are you cluttering my email box with this spam?”
6) “But *I* wanted that to happen to *me*!”
Connie Brockway, 2:26 PM | link | 18 comments |

Confessions of a historical … er, a contemporary … ah, I mean, a romance writer by Christina Dodd.

Before I was published I wrote both contemporary and historical. My first book was a historical, probably 200,000 words long (my current books are 90,000 words – honey, I was writing GONE WITH THE WIND) set in … um, never mind. Anyway, it featured dramatic unveilings and volcanoes and an earthquake and a smallpox epidemic and a Spanish landowning hero tortured by the inequities of the Colonial system. It took me six years, but I learned to write on that book. I could never sell it mostly because it was set in … um, never mind. But after finishing that tome, I wrote a contemporary series book (like a Silhouette Desire about 55,000 words) which took me six months.

I could never sell that one, either.

Then I wrote my second historical (set in Medieval England, by God!), sent it to an agent who said she could sell it, and started a contemporary because by then I’d been writing for ten years, wracked up enough rejection letters to paper my office, and believed publication would happen about the time it snowed in hell. Apparently Satan was wearing an overcoat because the agent sold CANDLE IN THE WINDOW in two weeks (on Friday February 2, 1990 at 3:30pm, not that I noticed). While I was waiting for the contracts to come through, I finished the contemporary and sold LADY IN BLACK to Kismet, a short-lived but very profitable mail order publishing company. There are still copies of LADY IN BLACK floating around, and while it’s dated (it features a dot-matrix printer) some things are eternal – like the sex in the shower. Very steamy.

My point is that while I concentrated on historicals to build my name in one field, I always read both historicals and contemporaries, I always wrote both, and I always intended to write more contemporaries. When I got the idea for the Lost Texas Hearts Series (JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE and CLOSE TO YOU), I knew I had the perfect vehicle and my contemporary career was off and running.

Both parts of my career, historical and contemporary, are doing very well, thankyouverymuch, and I’m having a great time. I also love paranormals (yum on the heroes!) and have a great idea for a four-book series, but I can only write so fast. But I really really want to write them, so … we’ll see.
Christina Dodd, 10:26 AM | link | 7 comments |

Elizabeth Bevarly Finds Weapons of Mass Destruction

They've been in my basement all this time. I should have thought to tell the Pentagon right off the bat to look there first. God knows what else is down there.

How am I doing, Eloisa?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:15 AM | link | 4 comments |

Monday, April 25, 2005

Elizabeth Bevarly Eats Her Young

Eloisa has informed me that my blog titles aren't jazzy enough. So I'm going to work on that. Stay tuned.

Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:26 PM | link | 4 comments |

Eloisa's Brief Career as a Contemp Writer

I think the kind of pressure that Elizabeth talks about is rampant in publishing. Let's say you have a modest career going as a historical author and suddenly all the readers are buying contemps. There is no question but that your editor and possibly your agent are going to ask you how you feel about switching periods. Part of this comes from a lingering feeling in New York City that romance is a "product," and if you can write "to formula," what the heck does it matter what period you write in?

My experience is rather like Elizabeth's, except I got a little farther. The publishers at my previous house thought I should give contemp a try. So I did. I happen to love baseball and sports heros (Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a hero of mine). So I wrote 100 pages of a great baseball story. My hero was a baseball player and at some point he got hit on the head by a ball and after that he could only speak in verse and so he asked the heroine to marry him by singing "When I'm 64." I KNOW this sounds crazy! OK, it was crazy.

At that point I was switching publishers, and everyone who was bidding on my work read the 100 pages and all said politely, "well, if you really really want to publish it, we will do it." I finally realized that I had written it for the wrong reasons, and that I don't have a contemp voice. All that freedom that Connie talks about in a contemporary setting just made me come up with crazy stories about men who sing their proposals.

On that note...back to writing a story set in 1807. Or thereabouts.
Eloisa James, 3:54 PM | link | 7 comments |

Elizabeth Opines

And I haven't had any wine, so I can only hope I know what I'm talking about.

Putting aside for now that Connie has equated contemporary writing with ba... writing (and she'd damned well better be talking about sheep), I remember a time back in the early to mid-90s when a lot of my fellow category authors suddenly started writing historicals because we were all told by our agents that that was where the big money could be made. I remember Patricia Coughlin wrote some wonderful historicals, as did Dixie Browning (my hero), and some others who I can't off the top of my head recall. (I'd have to go open a bunch of book boxes and I'm too lazy, not to mention I'm supposed to be working.) My then-agent told me I should write historical, too, and when I assured her there was no freakin' way, she directed me to Loretta Chase. Naturally, after reading LORD OF SCOUNDRELS, I knew I'd be way, WAY out of my league in historicals, so that pretty much cemented the decision for me to stay in contemporary right there. I don't care if the contemp market bottoms out egregiously. I can only write contemorary, and that's that. I admire anyone who can cross lines, in or out of genre, but to quote that great 20th century philosopher, Bob Dylan, "It ain't me, babe." (Was it Bob Dylan who said that? Remember, I cut my teeth on the Archies and Barry Manilow, so what the hell do I know?)

ANYway, what happened was that many of us category authors went to historical and saw that our category income was infinitely better, so few of us stayed. (Remember, this was back in the EARLY 90s, when category writers were still seeing some seriously decent income.) And then a bunch of historical writers found out how much we category writers made, and we saw this big rush (well, okay, maybe a mini-rush) of historical authors suddenly popping up in the category lines. I think several of them stayed and did very well there and are still thriving. The secret, in my opinion, is that if you genuinely love the genre or subgenre into which you move, and you have a great story to tell there, you'll succeed quite nicely. But if you're only going there to make money, foggedabbuddit. (Yes, as a matter of fact, I DID live in New Jersey for a time.) Your lack of passion will come through, and you'll ultimately flounder.

This is such a weird business, and I always laugh when I meet doctors and lawyers who want to leave their profession and join mine. Oh, yeah, it's great going for months with NO income and having NO benefits and NO healthcare and NO retirement and NO certainty that I'll still be employed once the next contract is up. Who wouldn't want to sign up for this gig? You absolutely have to love what you're writing, regardless of what it is, and you can't do it because you're looking for the big bucks. There aren't many bucks to be had in this business, and they're becoming more and more scarce with every year. That said, however, we do want to make a good living, to provide for ourselves and our families. So we have to think commercially, and if that means making changes, so be it. Just be sure you still love what you write when you make the change.

THAT said, knowing a bit about Connie's contemp project, and knowing how much she loves it, and how anxious she is to write it, and how incredibly jazzed she is to be doing it--and, oh, all RIGHT, how freaking talented she is--I'm sure she's going to zoom right to the top.

One thing I've learned after seventeen years of doing this is that the market is cyclical. I don't doubt that historical will swing back to the top with a vengeance at some point, and will probably morph into something different from what it is now. At that time, contemporary may become the doormat to the past. I'll just have to hope I'm the doormat at the house of some fabulously successful historical writer.

And now you know the real reason why I hang around with these guys.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 2:18 PM | link | 3 comments |


Okay. Let's say a historical author (let's say she's a stunning Irish-Scandinavian hybrid of an indeterminate but probably fairly young age, who can bench press 95 pounds and plays a mean game of tennis but indulges her softer, gentler side as a master gardener and cook of no mean accomplishment) gets to a certain level and sticks there, not for one or two books but for five or six. Since one of her (few) failings is an inordinate sense of her own worth, this pisses her off. She wants to reach a large audience. She has things she wants to say. Stories she wants to tell. She likes a crowd. Mostly crowded around her!!

Now, she loves writing historicals but there are SEVERE limitations on the sort of historicals that are being published. Her one ill-fated attempt at writing a historical set in another country convinced her early on that if she intended to write as more than a hobby, she would have to toe the geographical lines. So she looks at her options and they all have a contemporary face. If she writes a contemporary she can write a suspense novel, a mystery, a women's fiction novel, a chick-lit, a straight romance... She can set her characters in the Midwest, or in a trip to Italy, explore the wine country of California, install them in a London apartment. If she stays in historicals she stuck about the Regency or Victorian era-- venturing out of England only at her own publishing peril. (Okay, she's also a bit of a coward. Cowards can be good writers!)

And perhaps she's a bit naive. Still there is no denying that contemporary stories *successfully* use a far greater range of plots, tone and settings than those in the historical market. So, hoping to grow that illusive bigger readership, she pops off. Wish her luck. She knows she's going to need it. At least, er, I assume she does.

Now, having said that, there are contemporary authors who return to writing historicals. I know that Catherine Anderson has a historical story in the November 2005 NAL anthology that I'm in and I believe she's interested in doing more. But then, she came from a historical background and probably got homesick. I know I expect to. Anyone else know of authors who started in contemporary going historical? Curious.

Connie Brockway, 12:16 PM | link | 12 comments |

Elizabeth on her Weekend Life

Okay, so now that I've taunted you guys with my life this weekend, I shall tell you what I did. I spent Saturday down on the river in the bitter, bitter, BITTER freaking cold, watching airplanes and fireworks. We have this little thing in my part of Kentucky called The Kentucky Derby. Perhaps you've heard of it. It's two weeks away. Which means for two weeks, this city is going to be overrun by all manner of "Get the Tourist Dollar" activities. Except that what they haven't figured out is that the tourists don't get here until just before the Derby (you can tell when they arrive by driving past the airport and seeing all the private jets parked there), so most of it winds up being "Get the Local Dollar" activities. They got plenty of this local's dollars over the weekend, lemme tell ya. And "Thunder Over Louisville" is just the beginning. Soon there will be bed races, rat races (literally--for a tiny trophy full of Froot Loops), waiters racing with glasses of wine (the Run for the Rose--wine, I mean, since that last e should have an accent, but I'm too 'puter challenged to figure out how to do it), parades, hot air balloons being lit up, celebrity-packed parties, you name it. And I'm going to go to ALL of them. (Well, okay, for the celebrity-packed parties, I'll be in the crowd of fans roped off to the side who are star-gazing, but that's beside the point. It IS.)

Cool girl indeed.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 9:14 AM | link | 5 comments |

Elizabeth catching up

Holy cow, you guys were busy with the blogging this weekend while some of us (i.e. ME) were off having a life. Thanks for carrying the load. (And I'll be polite and not say anything about what it was a load of.)

I, too, have to laugh at this concept of "cool girls," since I was the library aide in high school and worked on the yearbook staff and never wore the right shoes or listened to the right music. (The first 45 I ever bought was the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" and the first album I ever bought was Barry Manilow. 'Nuff said.) In junior high, I was the one being thrown into the showers by the cool girls at the end of gym class and had to go to Spanish all soaking wet. So if I'm with the "cool girls" now, someone, for God's sake, help me find the exit. And even now, my glasses prescription is so thick (even with the lightweight lenses) that my optha...opta...oppo...my eye doctor once told me, "Wow. If you'd been born a thousand years ago, you would have been the village blind girl." My date to the prom was a guy I barely knew who had broken up with his girlfriend two weeks before the prom and was trawling for a date with ANYone (and two weeks before the prom, I was still date-free). On prom night, he ended up hooking up with one of my best friends, and they're now married with two kids.

So let's just put that "popular, cool" thing right out of our heads, shall we? It's pain that makes artists good. In this company, I think it's safe to say we've had more than our share. Come all ye acne-ridden peasants to our feast. We'll have much to talk about.

Elizabeth Bevarly
Elizabeth Bevarly, 8:51 AM | link | 9 comments |

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Connie Brockway, The Cure for Cool

Cool?! I was one of the high school newspaper editors, fer chrissake. Never even went to prom-- and the mortifying thing was that I would have gone in a heartbeat had someone, ANYONE, asked me. They didn't.

Now that I think about it, it was at about this time that I started populating my imagination with sardonic, masterful heroes who realized how ravishing nerd-girls could be.

And if anyone should mistakenly think that somewhere in the interim I segued in cooldom-- here's a picture taken of me this afternoon. Caught napping at the Minnesota Arboretum. I know, I know... beyond cool.

Connie Brockway, 7:34 PM | link | 3 comments |

Eloisa on the cruel truths of high school

Does anyone besides me remember just how awful high school was? Sometimes I get a fleeting sense that someone is intimidated by talking to me (Shakespeare professor, New York Times bestselling writer, bla bla bla). This always surprises me because I had the ego so thoroughly kicked out of me in school that I just don't see myself as the least intimidating.

Back then I was plump, miserable and sported a red afro. Both boys who showed signs of dating me in my senior year, including the boy who took me to the senior prom, are now out and gay. Has anyone read the book FAT GIRL? I just finished it, and while the author had much greater and more tragic reasons for her misery, that book came the closest I've seen to depicting just how ungodly it is to be a young person who is not physically perfect in this country.
Eloisa James, 6:27 PM | link | 5 comments |

Christina brings reader concerns to the high school lunch table

Many of us got email expressing concerns about the purpose of Squawk Radio, and there was a great riff on one of the bbs which said it best. A reader suggested that we were like the the cool-girl clique who sat at their own table in high school. She asked if she came over, would she feel like acne-ridden freshman who sits at the cool-girls' table and they stop talking, really talking, and get polite?

Eloisa, Teresa and I responded in much the same way: wow, you mean we're the cool girls?

Eloisa said, "Can I just say that I grew up in a small town in Minnesota (population 2000), and I was plump, red-haired, too weird and unpopular for words...and I LOVE the idea of being at the cool-girl table? Can we keep this up, guys? Eloisa....finally made it, umpteen years too late."

I added, "Here's the thing -- if you don't come over to talk to us, we're not the cool girls, we're the nerds with the pocket protecters and the taped glasses. And may I say, in my former life I was a drafter and I have already worn pocket protectors and taped glasses. I also know how to use a protractor and both an engineering and architectural scale. Does that make you comfortable enough for you to drop in on us ... or will you never come over now because you don't want to hang around with the dweebs?"

And Teresa said it best, "Honey, if you think we're like the cool-girl clique in high school, then you've obviously never seen our yearbook photos *g*. Someone once said that behind every writer is a weird little kid and that is so true! If you comment, will I be nicer to you than I will to Connie, Eloisa, Christina, Lisa or Elizabeth? Um, probably. But that's only because I've had a few years to practice being rude and disrespectful to them. And I know they love it! Our goal with the blog is simply to have fun and to discuss some fun things and some serious things and to have a place to vent when one of us is just dying to verbalize an opinion and our families and friends are giving us that glazed look that says, "Go away, you weird little kid." Hope you'll pop in. You can sit at my lunch table anyday! Hugs, Teresa "Harriet the Spy" Medeiros"

I'm sure our other three Squawkers may have had similar experiences. (Guys?)

So Connie has fixed it so everyone can comment and until we're hit by spammers, you'll be able to add your insights so that everyone can enjoy them. This is a learning experience for us, so stick with us and we'll get it figured out!
Christina Dodd, 1:54 PM | link | 4 comments |

Teresa Medeiros Really Tries to Say Goodbye

Okay, one last post before I go off-line for a week. I totally agree with Christina that I won't be trashing anyone's specific books or reputation on this Blog. Mostly because if you're a non-writer, I would never come to your place of business, stand in the doorway of your office, and shout, "You suck! You should go split rocks for a living!" (Anybody see the SEINFELD episode where Jerry went to the office of the woman who heckled his show and heckled her???) There are plenty of sites and message boards on the web where readers can dish honestly about books without a bunch of neurotic writers (ie. Christina) hanging over their shoulders.

But I would like to reserve the right to recommend books if I read something wonderful. Even if it's not written by us. Even if my friend didn't pay me to recommend it. But if you want to pay me, that's cool, too. Just send a sack of unmarked bills in a plain brown wrapper c/o Teresa Medeiros to...oh... never mind...I forgot where I was for a minute...

See ya next week, my little chickadees!
Teresa Medeiros, 8:50 AM | link | 3 comments |

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Christina reminds Connie of the other no-no

We also won't trash other writers or their work. There is no way you're going to read my blogs and know which authors I don't care for either personally or because of their writing and none of the rest of us are going to let that slip, either. We will give our honest opinions about books and trends and husbands and dogs and I'm building a house which has unfortunately taken over my life (except for the writing) and Eloisa lives in Italy part of the year so she can make us deeply envious of her lifestyle and we can retaliate by saying really insightful stuff like "Nanner nanner boo boo." In other words, we won't say stuff behind anyone's back.
Christina Dodd, 6:25 PM | link | 1 comments |


Hey, kids! I'm working on it. We want your comments. Invite your comments. But I am trying to figure out a way that your comments appear in a pop up box instead of a long scroll underneath. There is a taunting suggestion in the BLOG HELP that this is possible but yikes! I have twelve people coming over for dinner in two hours and the dogs are going to go ballistic if they don't get a walk before "their" company comes (yes, I am one of those people) and I need a shower and ...well, please, please, PLEASE don't think I'm trying to exclude comments.

A nice woman wrote me and asked whether or not we'll be PC with one another because we want our fans to like us and therefore will possibly be tempted to tread lightly.


I mean...no.

We've set two "no-nos!" for ourselves. We will not talk about our kids and we will not talk about politics. Other than that expect anything to be put out there.

Connie Brockway
Connie Brockway, 5:30 PM | link | 0 comments |

Teresa Medeiros Waves Goodbye!

I'm going to be off-line for a week, my little chickadees. I'll expect you to generate much conversation and controversy while I'm gone and to talk about me behind my back so I won't be forgotten.

Back on May 2nd!

Teresa, blowing kisses to all
Teresa Medeiros, 4:04 PM | link | 3 comments |

Teresa Medeiros Rocks!

Hey, I don't just listen to Geezer Rock, Christina! One of my favorite singers is Pink. (And that's her name, not her color. She's actually kind of pale.)
Teresa Medeiros, 11:39 AM | link | 3 comments |

Eloisa on TSTL heroines

For me, the essence of a TSTL heroine is the moment when the hero thinks (with agony) "The Danger! She had no idea of the danger into which she just rode..." and he clutches her to his medieval breast while she snuffles quietly into his jerkin.

The thing about TSTL heroines is that they can remain loveable and yet put themselves in the grasp of villains without noticing what they're doing. Julie Garwood writes brilliant, brilliant TSTL heroines. Sometimes it's merely the hero that the heroine antagonizes by throwing all his dogs (and their bones) out of the castle. I love the moment when she sits down and "makes a tapestry in his colors"--all hung up neatly by the time he gets home from doing a little extracurricular hunting.

These are brilliant books because Garwood does the impossible of making us love someone we wouldn't respect in normal life, and that allows us to be thrilled by the danger she gets into and then thrilled by the hero's agony trying to keep her alive.
Eloisa James, 9:03 AM | link | 5 comments |

TSTL by Christina

I actually like heroines who are stupid at the beginning of the book. I relate to them (and to Terri) -- must reference the time we were moving and I was racing between houses and I pulled into the driveway at the new house, didn't put the car in gear, leaped out to open the garage door and heard this huge BANG! ... which was, of course, my car rolling backward into the pickup of the lady across the street who came over crying because she loved her pickup so much thus confirming my TSTL status in the new neighborhood. The point is, I learned from my mistake and check the stickshift when I park on a hill.

The heroines I consider TSTL are the ones who won't/can't learn. I read a historical and the Regency era heroine couldn't figure out why everyone got excited when she was caught alone with the hero, not once but at least three times. I didn't finish the book. I did fling it against the wall because honest to God, how dumb could she be? Why didn't she figure this out? How could she be all innocent and huffy about having to marry the hero? What a dummie! But the book sold a BUNCH and is a lot of people's favorite. So I'm going to guess that despite the negative talk on the web, TSTL heroines are actually a favorite of many readers.

Guess what I'm writing now? Okay, she does learn, but man, for the first half of the book, she's clueless -- and happy about it.
Christina Dodd, 12:27 AM | link |

The Eagles sang about cocaine????

Who are the Eagles?

Christina, who thinks Terri should toss out her LPs and get a good Ipod.
Christina Dodd, 12:26 AM | link |

Friday, April 22, 2005

Me Thinks the "ladies" Doth Protest Too Much...

Man, I only said they were from Kentucky!

Connie Brockway, 10:22 PM | link | 0 comments |

Elizabeth on TSTL

Oh, man, are you guys going to make me THINK on this blog? Form coherent impressions? Opine? (Actually, I kind of like opining. When I know what I'm talking about. Or have had enough wine that I THINK I know what I'm talking about. Or, better still, have had enough wine that I don't care what I'm talking about. But I digress.) See, this TSTL thing is one of the reasons I stay off the 'Net unless it's to trawl eBay or ABEbooks. Or, now, participate in this blog. Because I want to write my books in as much of a vacuum as I can. If I start worrying about what people think are too much stupidity in my heroines, or too much arrogance in my heroes, or a staggering lack of reality in my plots, or a staggering absence of plot for that matter, I freeze up. I start second-guessing everything, start wondering if I'm going to offend someone by writing a certain thing, and then I run the risk of toning everything down and making everything bland. A brilliant writer friend of mine once said that if people love her work, great. If people loathe her work, great. It's when people think her work is average that she worries. Because she wants to rouse some strong reaction in readers, be it good or bad, and when she gets no reaction at all, she knows she's not writing a strong story. I totally agree.

I can't please everyone. So I try to please myself. And my mom. And, to a lesser degree, my Aunt Dot. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't. I just feel like when we start dissecting the stories and the characters, they start to lose some of their magic. I mean, how many books did I read before I was a writer that I could completely immerse myself in, that I could sigh over, that I'd be haunted by for days, that I'd go back and reread and be able to recapture every last spark of that magic? But as a writer, I've gone back and read them, only to find flaws in the story or characters that prick a little chink in the enchantment. Because I THINK too much about them now. I hate that. I want to be a pure reader again. And I want to be a pure writer. Or as pure as I can be. So I can't think about it. (And those who have been in my office can attest to the sign framed in gold sitting atop my desk that says, "JUST DON'T THINK ABOUT IT." So maybe my heroines are TSTL. Maybe some of the heroines I like to read about are TSTL, too. I don't know. I've not read anything on-line or elsewhere that tells me they are. And I hope to keep it that way.

Elizabeth Bevarly, 8:55 PM | link |


Hey, speak for yourself, Terri! I just came home from the MALL. Yes, we have MALLS where *I* live in Kentucky. And eight-lane highways. And restaurants that serve stuff with hollandaise sauce. And skyscrapers seb'n stories high, which is 'bout as high as a buildin' oughta grow--yessir! (Oops. Slipped into "Oklahoma!" there for a second. Sorry about that. Actually, we have skyscrapers even higher than seb'n stories high.) Okay, okay, I saw some cows on the drive back to the house. But only a few. Okay, dozens. Scores, even. They were all well read and urbanely attired. And, yeah, I'm barefoot now, too, but I put shoes on before I went into the mall. And MY cousin and I only dated for a few weeks.

Elizabeth Bevarly
Elizabeth Bevarly, 8:45 PM | link | 0 comments |


Okay, I have a confession to make. I'm TSTL. That's right--My name is Teresa Medeiros and I'm too stupid to live. The first day we moved into our new house, I ran the car into the garage, effectively wrecking both of them. After listening to the song LIFE IN THE FAST LANE by the Eagles at least 10 million times since the 70's, I just figured out the line that says, "There were lines on the mirror" is talking about cocaine, not wrinkles. Only today I risked life and limb (and my beloved Jag) to drive to Starbuck's during a terrible thunderstorm/tornado watch because I couldn't bear to live another moment without a Mocha Lite Frapuccino Grande. So I consider it a personal affront when readers say that they can't stand heroines who are too stupid to live. Just go ahead and kill me now, why don't you? (For other examples of my stupidity, you may contact any of the other Bloggers on this loop by private e-mail and a comprehensive list will be provided to you.)

But seriously, I hate almost any black and white rules that put limits on my fiction, either writing it or reading it. I want to write about all sorts of characters and my very favorites are characters who make mistakes and learn from them. One of my favorite themes is to follow a girl as she makes the journey toward womanhood. And you know what--girls often do foolish, impulsive things, especially in pursuit of love. Things like climbing out of a window in a ballgown like Lottie in ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL. I love that Connie brought up Lolly in the classic romance JUST A KISS AWAY by Jill Barnett because it was Jill who once said to me, "I love to write about people who make grand and glorious mistakes and who suffer terribly for those mistakes and who are better people for it by the end of the book." Isn't character growth the very definition of well-written fiction? So many things that we used to simply call "a plot" are now dissected mercilessly on the internet as "characters that are TSTL" or "Big Misunderstandings" or "Mary Jane heroines". If we avoid all of these things, then eventually we won't have anything to write about except perfect (and boring) characters and the romance genre will continue to grow even narrower in scope.

Every one of us has suffered through that moment in the horror movie when the heroine decides to creep down into the cellar all by herself with only a flashlight for a weapon to investigate the mysterious noise. I may shout, "Don't do that, you idiot!" but it doesn't usually make me stop watching the movie. (And while we're on the subject of flashlights, how come those people on CSI don't ever just turn on the freaking lights?!?!?!)

I would also like to argue that there are all different kinds of smarts in this world. In my book SHADOWS AND LACE, when Gareth asks Rowena how long it's been since she's eaten, she says, "Four days" and holds up three fingers. Is she stupid? No, just uneducated. I once had a fascinating conversation with another writer about Jed Clampett of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Was he stupid? Nope, he was innocent. There's a distinct difference. Was Lucy Ricardo stupid because she managed to get herself into all of those messes? Nope, she was funny.

I'm a very open-minded reader. Give me characters I can care about and I'll let them get away with murder (sometimes literally). I only have one hard and fast rule--the hero must never, EVER kick a kitten.

Teresa Medeiros, 6:25 PM | link |

Ya'll come back now, ya here!

What are you trying to say? That just because Liz and I live in Kentucky that we're probably barefoot and wearing overalls? Hey, I might be barefoot right now but I'm not wearing overalls!

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got me a cow to milk and a cousin to marry...
Teresa Medeiros, 4:26 PM | link |

How Stupid is Too Stupid?

I've been seeing this term bandied about the various message boards and websites. It's "TSTL" and it refers to the heroine of a romance novel whose actions are so bizarre or so self destructive (either physically or relationship-wise) that the reader deems her not only not worthy of the requisite "happily-ever-after" but Too Stupid to Live. I'm willing to step out on a limb here and suggest that any reader who deems a heroine as being TSTL is one cocked elbow away from hurling the book that she inhabits into the wall. Ouch.

Now I can understand feeling let down especially if the heroine is moving along in a reasonable and, most important of all, characteristically intelligent manner and suddenly does something out of character that endangers her well-being or the well-being of someone else.


Love does make us stupid. Act stupidly. Act impulsively. Act without thinking of the future or the past.

So...how stupid is TOO stupid?

Second point I'd like to broach. What about the heroine who is just plain old...unbright? Someone whose personality is, from page one, depicted as being a little frivolous, thoughtless, heedless ...Unintelligent. Any sympathy for her? I'm thinking of Lolly in Jill Barnett's fabulous book Just A Kiss Away. Aren't we all sort of sick of bookworm heroines? Aren't we ready to fall in love with a heroine who isn't a bluestocking, doesn't have any hidden but fabulously well developed skills, and doesn't aspire to be the top of some male-dominated profession? I am.

Connie Brockway
Connie Brockway, 4:12 PM | link | 0 comments |

Some People Just Look More Comfortable Holding a Whip Than Others...

You're probably going to note a regional flavor to some of our messages. Eloisa and I (and I will undoubtedly screw up and call her by her non-pseudonym at some point because pseudonyms are so un-Minnesotan!) are the intelligent ones (we already covered wh...Minnesota). Christina and Lisa are the short ones (hey, there's only so many comparisons I can make between Miss Mass and Miss Mess) and Terri and Liz are in Kentucky. Nuff said.

I'm trying to figure out if there is some general email address where you could contact us, but so far it looks like a simple email to (author'sname)Blog@www.(authorsname).com should work for now. I think, as per the reasons in Christina's post, I've managed to turn off the comments allowed.

Shoes? Donald Pliner. Stuart Weissman.

Connie Brockway
Connie Brockway, 3:18 PM | link | 0 comments |

Crack that whip, Christina!!!

Oooooh, Connie as Blog Dominatrix! You've given me some really scary mental images of Connie in black leather wielding a whip. Maybe we should quit talking about that AND women in prison before we attract the wrong sort of audience :)
Teresa Medeiros, 3:02 PM | link |

Also ...

If you have a question you'd like us to discuss, email one of us and if we're not too self-absorbed, we'll fling it out and gnaw on it.

Christina Who is Starting to Like This Position of Power and Intends to Keep It at Least Until Connie Gets Back
Christina Dodd, 2:49 PM | link |

Christina Dodd on comments from the crowd

For the moment you can add comments (sometimes), but altho we're all novice bloggers we've heard about the porn spammers that pick up on these blogs, so Connie (who's our blog dominatrix) is going to block comments soon. That's not to say we don't want to hear from you. Email us and let us know what you think, and if you're clever and witty, we'll post for you. If you're more witty and clever than we are, forget it, who needs the competition? And if you're a porn spammer, drop dead.
Christina Dodd, 2:47 PM | link |

Teresa Medeiros Behind Bars

No, Christina, we're not true friends until our cycles get synchronized--you know--like women in prison.
Teresa Medeiros, 1:26 PM | link | 0 comments |

Teresa Medeiros Puts Her Foot Into It

Thank goodness, Eloisa! For a minute there I thought you were going to blog about something boring, but then I realized you were talking about SHOES!!!

Actually, shoes have very little appeal for me in real life or on covers. Apparently, one of my ancestors offended a gypsy shoemaker and he put a curse on our family, causing our feet to get a size larger with each successive generation.

Has anyone noticed the trend in headless heroines (on covers that is)? I'm excited about the cover for my September release AFTER MIDNIGHT because my heroine actually has a head. Which would imply that she also has a brain...
Teresa Medeiros, 1:14 PM | link |

Elizabeth on blogging, covers, squawking and, oh, yeah, hello

Talk about covers? I'm still trying to get over Terri calling herself "shy." But speaking for myself, my most recent book in print has a man's shirt and car on it. The one before that had something that looked suspiciously like bullet holes. Before that, it was a necktie, a man's sneaker, a golf ball and some boxer shorts. Can I conclude then that the goal for my covers in the past has been to drive female readers away? (Parnoid? Moi? In this business? Surely you jest.) But that's okay. I'm with a new publisher now. And my first cover for them has... Hmm. Well, actually, it's a computer mouse. Also not the most feminine accoutrement in the world. But the cord is wound into a little heart shape. And the background is lavender. And it's damned cute, too. Really. It is. Honest.

And Christina is right. We run the gamut of the female experience in our little group. We talk about all the most important stuff (in addition to our periods, I mean). Chocolate. Russell Crowe. La Perla bras. Carpet swatches. Chocolate. Oh, and also social inequity and equal pay for equal work. We talk about stuff like that ALL the time. Really. We do. Honest.

And publishing. Can't forget publishing. It is, after all, what brought us all together.

Elizabeth Bevarly
Elizabeth Bevarly, 1:09 PM | link | 0 comments |

Who are we and why are we writing?

From Christina who thinks these important questions should be answered by someone who knows, but I'm going to take a crack at it anyway.

We're six published writers of various genres - about a year ago we figured out how many books we had written between us and it was well over a hundred. We email everyday, amusing ourselves and each other. Or at least amusing ourselves. We share our woes and our triumphs. The best part about this group? When one of us surges ahead in publishing, the others are comfortable enough to whine, "But what about me? When do I get to win?" Occasionally if there's too much triumph for one person, the emails will start coming in, "Who are you and why are you emailing me?" or even the succinct, un-subtle, "Bitch." Sometimes the threat will come across email "I'm going to lapse into a sullen silence." That never happens because nobody notices. The rest of us are too busy being entertaining. The truth is, if someone really wants to make everyone cranky, all she has to say is something like, "I've been bicyling and it really works! The weight is just melting away!" I don't want to mention her initials (Teresa Medeiros) but considering some of us have an April 30 deadline and are doing nothing but sit in front of the computer(initials Christina Dodd), that was just mean.

How close are we? We talk about our periods. THAT'S the ultimate female bonding.
Christina Dodd, 12:49 PM | link |

ELOISA: On Blogging & Covers

I think of blogging as an extension of our curious relationship to the world of publishing: we create the books that people want to read and then spend a huge amount of time negotiating the path between our computer and a bookstore. A blog (i.e., information sharing) could be a crucial instrument in the fight to succeed in this business. Or it could just be a place to share gossip. But I would prefer to see this as a place to put six best-selling minds to work on analyzing the book business.

So...on the information-sharing front, has anyone noticed that every book out there has a pair of shoes on the cover? I'm talking women's fiction now, not romance. Romances seem to be going heavily into real estate. I'm assuming that since we write women's fiction, art departments must want to put desirable objects on the cover. Does this mean that shoes are now the focus of women's buying sprees? I myself seem to be putting all my money into good bras (LaPerla--there's nothing better).

Anyone seen any terrific covers lately?

Eloisa James, 12:13 PM | link | 0 comments |

Welcome from Teresa Medeiros!

1) I think they're pointless exercises in egotism. Just because I'm a bestselling author, why should anyone care what I think about the latest publishing scandal or last week's episode of DR. PHIL? (Oh my gosh! Did anybody see it a couple of weeks ago when Sharon and Ozzy Osborne were on?)
2) Because I'm a very shy and private person who hates to reveal details about her personal life(Did I ever tell you about the time I was accidentally put in Special Ed classes in the first grade? Or what about the time I fell between the bleachers during a choral performance and decided to just stay under there for the rest of the show?)
3) I don't read blogs
4) Because it's just another thing to do besides actually writing a book

1) Connie Brockway threatened me
2) I love to play with fonts. It's like having my very own coloring book
3) Because I'm the only one among us who regularly watches TV so I might actually have Something Important to discuss
4) Because when I told my husband about it, he said, "Oh, just another thing to do besides actually writing a book, eh?"

Teresa Medeiros, 11:58 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, April 18, 2005


A hearty welcome to all those who have chosen to peek in on the proceedings. We'll be up and posting the first blog within the week--and as soon as I can figure out how to do cascading style sheets we may even have pictures of us all gracing the background of the blog!
Connie Brockway, 8:25 PM | link | 7 comments |