Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Connie here to console all you EMPTY NESTERS
Last weekend, we dropped my daughter off to start her junior year in college. This coming weekend my friend is sending her kid off for his freshman year. How are we handling it? My friend hangs her head, sighs, and reverently whimpers her son’s name on an average of once every fifteen minutes. She has begun to tell anecdotal stories about a kid who is barely 18 and, even more weirdly, always in the past tense. Now, either my friend is planning to do her son in, or she is already experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome.
Me? Not so much. I am too busy rifling through the yellow pages looking for a mariachi band for a forthcoming fiesta. The festival I’m planning to hold? The Feast of the Clean Bathroom! Ole!
It’s not that I lack sympathy. I remember mourning little Doo-Da’s (my pet name for my daughter) initial leap from the nest. I remember looking over the edge of that nest and thinking how far the drop was. I also remember thinking that it might be entertaining watching Doo-da frantically flapping her wings on her way to wherever it is she’s going. Not because I’m a nasty mom—though certainly a case can be made there-- but because having done everything within my power to insure that this kid is not going to hit the ground with a splat, I am also relatively certain she will eventually land safely somewhere. Hopefully not back in my nest...
I tried to teach her life’s most important lessons, (never order meatloaf.) I held her tight when she needed comforting and stood aside the times she beat her little wings in a trial run at freedom only to hit the living room window and slide to the floor, a little bruised but wiser for the journey.
It worked out, too. Oh, that’s not to say that there haven’t been a few air pockets in Doo-da’s maiden flight. Apparently, I’d neglected to teach her the FINANCE chapter from the dog-eared manual I carry around solely in my head, Raising a Doo-Da. But, all in all, I’ve spent more time congratulating myself than castigating myself and for a Catholic mom to say that is doing pretty good.
The first year my daughter went to college I would wake in the morning and look around my pristine house (hey! hey! this is an opinion piece! and my opinion is that relatively speaking my house in damn pristine!) and smile and think, “She’s out there somewhere, independent, brave, learning, her little wings growing stronger as she flaps higher and higher! God love her!”
You should do this to! It’s very empowering! Then go turn her room into a study. That's even more empowering.
But be forewarned: Just when you have developed a civilized routine and have stopped looking under beds for the piles of clothing that used to appear daily in the laundry room—because how can one child produce that much dirty laundry? It’s gotta be there somewhere!-- and have reacquainted yourself with music you want to listen to and at a decibel that you are fairly certain is not damaging your few remaining audio nerves, you'll look around and there she'll be. Doo-da.
“What are you doing here?” you ask around a mouthful of moon pie, because no longer having to worry about representing the four food groups at every meal you are now representing one per day and today’s is “Sugar.”.
“Geez. Nice greeting. Earth to mother, it’s Thanksgiving. And what you done to my room!”
Got that? You understand what I’m telling you? That’s right. THEY COME BACK.
And your nest, the one that may have grown a little dusty over the last two months but remained miraculously uncluttered, the nest where for eight short weeks you could pretty much guarantee that when you opened the drawer where you stuffed your silk scarf it was still going to be there, that nest disappeared the second she walked in the door! Evaporated Poof! Leaving you with only a vague and melancholy yearning. Doo-da is back and she’s brought five times the crap she left with. And to make things really bizarre, though she might have become an adult in the great forest of the real world, in your nest she is still 16 and still a slob and you still can’t stand it so you still are doing her clothes and shutting the door to the bathroom where amazing messes take place with ritualistic regularity!
So, newly christened empty nesters, dry them wrinkly little eyes and take from my words either joy or trepidation, depending on whether you are an empty nest neophyte or a jaded old hen. They come back. Sooner than you can imagine.
So, enjoy your empty nest! Wash your hands in a sink that isn’t ringed with grime or make-up or both. Lie on your carpet and wiggle with pleasure when you don’t roll over any pretzels. Enjoy the blessedly empty places on your end tables where soda cans once dwelt 24/7. Listen to the awe-inspiring silence. Read a book right through the dinner hour. Go now, go ! Stare at your silent and empty washing machine! Do it. It won’t last.
Now excuse me, I got me a mariachi band to hire and the clock is ticking.
Liz Posts Her Promised Foreign Covers...
And Another Interesting One from Germany...
Connie presents the same book from different countries with different titles15 comments
People often ask about where my books are translated, so I thought it would be fun to talk about it for a moment on Squawk. The first thing to know is that romance is popular all over the world (thank goodness!). Each squawker has a literary agent who handles our foreign sales as well as our American ones (although in some cases a publisher will handle foreign sales themselves). My agent has partners in places like Poland. The Polish literary agency then pitches my books to a Polish publisher, who commissions a translator and publishes an entirely different version of my book.
Supposedly they create new covers too, but the truth of that is that they often just reuse covers they had hanging around the back room. A case in point? Potent Pleasures in German! There it is, to the right. And while it's true that my heroine found herself in a compromising position on the ground, she was no gypsy and it wasn't in a barn! What's more, last time I checked, my books are set in the 1800s and that man is wearing a pair of Levis, or I'll eat my cowboy hat.
At any rate, things get more exciting when you're on your ninth or tenth book, because several foreign publishers are likely to want to publish your books. This summer my agent managed two auctions for the right to publish Much Ado about You and Kiss Me, Annabel, one in Spain and the other in England. Auctions are huge fun. For a few days, the two foreign publishers keep bidding against each other. So you get emails saying: "Good News" and "Up Again!" There was one lovely day this summer when I got an email with the subject heading "Are you sitting down?" That was the day that the battle between two English publishers escalated into a hardcover edition. I'm going to get my friends in England to buy loads so I can give them out on my website.
There are some very passionate romance readers abroad (I think we have quite a few reading this blog too). Lisa's Spanish publisher recently sent her on a tour of Spain, and since my favorite pair of shoes come from there, I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that my new publisher will have similarly fabulous ideas of how to treat their authors.
Most authors post foreign book covers on their sites. Anyone seen any particularly funny covers out there? Let's do some research! If you find a great one, let me know and I'll post a few on the blog today. Squawkers, how about your covers?
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Lisa on "Anatomy Of A Love Scene"
In case there is any danger of high-minded discussion around here, I thought it was time for me to post again. Please forgive my recent absence due to a few personal issues and technical difficulties. I have read the blog entries of our beautiful, smart and vastly entertaining friend Julia London, and we were truly graced by her presence last week! She is wonderful in every way, as a person and as a writer.
I am reflecting this morning on the topic of love scenes in romance novels. I like writing these scenes, although they are the most difficult part of the book. Not for reasons of modesty, of course. I have no modesty in this regard, having learned long ago that in the service of the story a writer has to put her inhibitions on the shelf. You can’t write a love scene if you’re worried about what your aunt, your grandfather, your optometrist or the UPS guy will think about you after reading your sexy book.
The first and most important thing to remember is that little moments, small gestures, a few whispered words, are always as erotic (if not more so) than the main action. Before the first love scene ever takes place, you have to build anticipation for the readers and the characters with dozens of “promises”, each one a tiny spark that eventually leads to the great conflagration. I’ll give you an example from my own work, since I’m too lazy to look up anyone else’s work, and besides, I love to reference myself. I think one of my best sexy moments ever is in “Where Dreams Begin”, about a romance between Zachary Bronson, a big brutish (and very wealthy) ex-boxer , and Holly, the refined young widow who has been hired to teach him the rules of upper class society. Somewhere midway through the book, they’re about to go to the dining room, and a lock of Holly’s hair falls to her shoulder. Before she can pin it back up, Zachary stops her. Without saying a single word, he picks up the lock of hair as if it’s a priceless treasure, lifts it to his lips, and kisses it. The tenderness of the gesture, and the image of her hair (so prized to Victorians) in his big, powerful hand, was to my mind, very sexy. And it told the reader quite a lot about what their love scenes would eventually be like.
The second, even more important thing for a writer to do is choose the right timing for the love scenes. Although a lot of a writer’s work is naturally intuitive, I don’t think any of us pause at indiscriminate points in a book and say to ourselves, “Hmm, I don’t know what to write next. Maybe I should throw in some boinking now.”
Which means there has to be a point to the love scene--it must either underscore the condition of the hero and heroine’s relationship as it is in that moment, or move the plot along in some way, or bring about some new understanding on the part of one or both of the characters. No matter how my love scenes may appear to the reader, I can assure you there is an actual point to each one of them in every single book I’ve written. (Not that I have anything against gratuitous sex, mind you. My husband is a great proponent of it!)
One of my more controversial books, “Worth Any Price” has occasionally been criticized by those who think it has Too Much Sex, and certainly everyone has a right to her opinion. But there truly is a reason for the plenitude of love scenes! Some of my heroes are quite cerebral and expressive, and they convey their thoughts and emotions in a variety of ways. However, in “Worth Any Price”, the hero, Nick Gentry, is smart but undereducated, emotionally backward, and extremely physical. His job is to catch thieves--he’s in law enforcement--and so he uses his physical strength and swiftness to earn a living. This is not a guy who will be reciting poetry in bed. Nick expresses himself through sex, and all the emotional and intellectual issues between him and the heroine, Lottie, are played out through the sexual dynamic. So every love scene in the book is completely necessary--if you consider each one, it becomes obvious why it’s there. Take one out, and you’re missing an important step in the progression of their relationship as it evolves from suspicion and mistrust to the perfect understanding necessary for true love.
This leads to the writer’s next consideration in writing a love scene : she must ask herself what the “love style” of each character would logically be. Age, personality, experience, emotional issues, education level and so forth, all determine someone’s behavior in bed. As a reader I always find it disconcerting when I read about a virgin who --in her first time ever--is as relaxed as a professional courtesan, performing skillful blow jobs with no hesitation. A feeling of casualness is not sexy, especially the first time. Nervousness is sexy. Awkwardness is sexy. Exploration, wonder, concern, tenderness are all sexy.
In “Suddenly You”, the hero Jack Devlin is a highly educated man who loves books, so he loves words and verbal seduction. He is also a younger man, which means he likes to have sex often, and his youth gives him a playful quality in bed. I paired him with a more mature heroine, Amanda, who is outwardly staid but secretly adventurous. When she meets Jack, she is in a somewhat reckless mood, having just turned thirty. Amanda’s desire to finally lose her virginity--and Jack’s enthusiastic willingness to assist her in that goal--lead to more daring love scenes than usual.
As to the question of “How far is too far?” . . . well, that is entirely a matter of personal taste. But here are my thoughts : I write love stories for grown-ups, always about two consenting adults in a mutually respectful, sexually mature relationship. In that context, my characters are going to do what real people do behind closed doors. They’re going to experiment, explore, try some things they do and don’t like, and experience intimacy without inhibitions. I would never dream of criticizing anyone for their sexual preferences. If you want to wear a Batman suit, hang from the ceiling fan, play Mozart or Eminem, bring out the whipped cream or wear rainbow-striped socks . . . I say yay for you, have fun! I also say that to my characters. Yay for you, have fun. And to any aspiring writers who may read this . . . Yay for you. Have fun!!!
What are your favorite love scenes in romance novels, contemp or historical? Flattery of squawkers is, as always, highly encouraged, but please do mention the work of other writers outside chickendom. I adore the kiss-in-the-rain scene in Loretta Chase’s “Lord Of Scoundrels”, and my toes still curl when I read the first love scene in Connie’s “All Through The Night” when Anne is sitting in the chair in front of the fire.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Music is the Only Muse for Teresa
In one of my earliest baby pictures, my mother is holding my scrawny little diapered self up over a record player. My dad tells me that it was Elvis playing that day and that I wiggled and gurgled with delight, all shook up by the beat and the sexy half-drawl, half-growl of that soft-spoken boy from Memphis.
Since then, music has continued to hold sway over my imagination, becoming the key that unlocks my creative subconscious. I honestly don't think there would a single Teresa Medeiros book without its accompanying soundtrack. I may not remember the name of every secondary character in my books but I can tell you that Justin and Emily in ONCE AN ANGEL first made love to the haunting strains of the Guns N' Roses power ballad "Don't Cry" or that in NOBODY'S DARLING Billy Darling got shot and collapsed in Esmerelda's arms while "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" wailed out of my stereo. In the last scene of THIEF OF HEARTS, it was the music from "Jurassic Park's" end credits that went soaring over the waves when Captain Doom's pirate ship appeared on the horizon to carry Lucy away to her new life.
My September release AFTER MIDNIGHT began on a similar note. I'd already fallen in love with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas music. (Think Christmas music on acid rock with wailing guitar solos and thundering drums.) Then I picked up a copy of BEETHOVEN'S LAST NIGHT, their first concept album in which Beethoven battles with the Devil for ownership of his soul. (Think Faust meets Scrooge.) The CD combines original music with some of the most unforgettable melodies ever crafted by Beethoven and Mozart.
I froze when I heard the first notes of "Requiem (The Fifth)"--a wickedly sexy rendition of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. As the throbbing bass took control of the song, I could just see this mysterious and powerful man striding through the misty streets of London with his black cloak swirling around his ankles. Was he man or monster? Hero or villain? At that moment, Adrian Kane, Viscount Trevelyan, was born in my imagination and on the first page of AFTER MIDNIGHT.
I'd found my soundtrack! Caroline's yearning for Adrian is perfectly captured in the original ballad "The Dreams of Candlelight," which catches you off guard with its classical climax perfectly suited for two lovers who can no longer resist surrendering to their passion. Haunting versions of the "Moonlight Sonata" and "Fur Elise" accompany Caroline's moonlit ramblings around Adrian's castle. "I'll Keep Your Secrets" perfectly expresses both her doubts and her growing devotion. It was the soaring, joyous "A Last Illusion" that was playing as I wrote the final scene of the book, then collapsed on my bed in a heap of tears as the credits rolled, the recipient of my very own happy ending.
My mother gave me many gifts and I suspect on the day she held me over that record player so I could wiggle with delight, she had no idea she was giving me a key that would open the door to so many different and magical worlds. As Elvis would say, "Thank you, Mama. Thank you very much."
My question for you: Do any of you ever assign songs to your favorite characters or books? When I read THE BRONZE HORSEMAN by Paullina Simons, I thought the perfect theme for Tatiana and Alexander would be the haunting and lyrical "My Immortal" by Evanescence.
Elizabeth Strikes Some Poses
But I'm not blogging on that. For this week's Sunday Music Blog, I'm blogging on this. “Poses” is actually Rufus's second CD (it came out in 2002 and is still available), but it's the first one I bought by him, and it's the one that cemented my love for him. He's another one of those artists who is hard, if not impossible, to classify (I like a lot of artists like that). So I'm just going to call him a pianist and composer (since “songwriter” doesn’t quite capture the range of what he does).
The songs on “Poses” run the gamut, from slow ballads like "One Man Guy" to fun, poppy tunes like "California" to the funny, slightly sinister "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk." And then there's unexpected surprises like the Asian influence on a track titled "Greek Song” and the fact that the poppy music of “California” hosts lyrics that aren’t very poppy at all.
And about those lyrics? As a I writer, I am in awe. Not just because the songs are filled with enough rich imagery to put any poet to shame, but because Rufus captures a wealth of emotion in each one. And not just one or two emotions, but LOTS of emotions. That, perhaps, is why the songs appeal to me so much as a writer. I try to capture emotions when I write, too. But it takes me a novel of a hundred thousand words to do it properly. Rufus Wainwright manages to do it in a few amazingly well crafted stanzas. I’d quote some here, but honestly, there’s just too much good stuff to choose from.
Another reason I like this guy so much is because, to look at his photo in the liner notes, with his craggy features and don’t-care-if-it’s-combed-or-not hair, wearing a leather jacket and T-shirt and joined by a couple of Goth Girls, you’d expect an entirely different kind of music. I love it when someone's outer shell houses a person who is so much more complex than s/he appears to be. Rufus Wainwright looks like the kind of guy you’d cross the street to avoid, or the bully hanging out in the schoolyard after hours. In fact, he is a poet, a lover, a searcher of souls.
And a damned fine pianist and composer.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
CAPTION THIS PHOTO!
The Year: 1991
The Place: The Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee where the lovely and talented Katherine Sutcliffe has been gracious enough to host a party and invite the public, which includes country legend Kitty Wells and a perky blonde newly published romance writer whose hair has just reached its towering creative peak
Friday, August 26, 2005
SQUAWK RADIO GIVEAWAY!!!
Thanks to my fellow chickens and the generous folks at Benbella Books, we're going to be giving away 4 copies of FLIRTING WITH PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: FRESH PERSPECTIVES ON THE ORIGINAL CHICK-LIT MASTERPIECE on Squawk Radio. I'll be personally autographing MY DARLING MR. DARCY, the essay I wrote for the collection. The compilation of essays and original fiction was edited by Jennifer Crusie and is a pop culture look at the PRIDE AND PREJUDICE phenomenon by 24 bestselling romance, chick-lit, mainstream, sci-fi, and fantasy authors. If you're not familiar with Benbella books, they've done several great volumes of pop culture essays on such topics as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, CHARMED, FARSCAPE and STAR TREK.
To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is post a Comment under this topic. It can be one word, it can be nonsense, it can be expressing your tender appreciation for Colin Firth in the role of Mr. Darcy, it can be gibberish (in another words--the usual stuff). At 7 a.m. on Wednesday of next week (September 1st), we will use a complicated numerical formula that will involve drawing random numbers, then counting to pick 4 winners from the Comment section. (Oh, and the Squawkers can comment all they want, but they still won't be eligible! Greedy Squawkers!)
One more before the Chickens boot Julia off...
I want to thank you all--I've had a blast being the guest blogger this week at Squawk Radio. Please send my commemorative chicken body coffee mug to the usual address.
This has been so much fun! I could honestly get carried away and just comment to comments all day. But as a result of my week at Squawk Radio, I now have new jeans to try with a promise that they might actually FIT, I have an actual website to teach me how to fold fitted sheets, and I have learned that even if the old man stains the entire bathroom, he hasn't gone as far as some DHs have, which puts him in a whole new light :-).
I hope some of you will drop by my blog sometime and say hello: julialondon.blogspot.com, better known as the Whine Sisters. We don't have as much traffic as the Sqauwk Radio, but we are always trashing Mary Kate and Ashley Oslen for being so skinny, so there's something to look forward to. :-). As for Squawk Radio, I hope I get invited back someday!
Here is one last picture for you to enjoy. This is what happens when I drink too much--I follow Connie around and do what she tells me. She said, "Oh look, it's Heather (Graham). Lets get our pictures taken and act like we're really scared!"
Me: "Okay! Wow, this is so much fun!"
Heather: "Whatever. Just don't touch me."
And here it is, the picture that will live on, because I intend to use it to mess with Connie for years to come.
Thanks again for showing this whiner a good time, and always remember...it's pocket over pocket. Toodleloo, Julia F. London
Julia London Discovers the Bane of Her Existence: Fitted Sheets
So yesterday, I had a laundry meltdown. I had washed some sheets, folded them the way I normally do, which is flat sheet nice and square, fitted sheet wrapped around my arm and stuffed into a closet.
But when I went to put the sheets away, I opened the linen closet and the whole thing exploded on me. That is because I can't fold a fitted sheet to save my life, and they all came tumbling out, sprawling all over the tile floors that were, unfortunately, covered in dog hair.
I can' figure fitted sheets out! I have tried everything, and it never works, it always comes up in one big gigantic ball. It wouldn't be such a thorn in my side if I didn't have two older sisters who fold their fitted sheets perfectly and arrange them in neat, color-coordinated columns in their linen closets. You can't tell the flat from the fitted.
I am very disturbed by it because I am not a slob. I like a nice, neat house just like anyone. Granted, I prefer to have a housekeeper make it nice and neat, but when push comes to shove, I can get in there and tidy up with the best of them. I just can't fold fitted sheets! I am convinced there was a class I missed growing up, how to fold fitted sheets 101. I actually told my mom she never taught me how to fold a fitted sheet, and she got that look on her face--you know, one eyebrow arched high, her lips pursed, and she said, in a superior voice, "You mean, you wouldn't learn. Just like you wouldn't learn to cook. Or do the dishes. Or--"
"I get the picture," I said. But please, my memory is so completely different. My mom is just getting old and she doesn't remember that while my three siblings sat in the den watching the Brady Bunch and eating potato chips all over my freshly vacuumed floor, I was in the rest of the house, toiling to make THEIR beds, vacuum THEIR floors, carry out THEIR trash and feed THEIR dogs. My memory is that I was the middle child slave to the family, Mom!
But anyway, I digress. I asked her to show me how to fold a fitted sheet, and she got all exasperated and said, "How old are you?" Which I thought was beside the point, but I told her, and she said, "Fine. Pay attention this time." And she proceeded to fold it up in about two nano seconds. Something about pockets over pockets.
Well I tried yesterday to refold all those damn sheets pocket over pocket, and ended up wrapping most of them around my arm and shoving them deeper into the linen closet. Fitted sheets, the bane of my existence. Ranks right up there with the curse of dog hair, which I battle on a daily basis.
What's the household bane of your existence? What chore do you hate more than the smell of liver and onions? How bad is the dog hair in your house? Could you knit a sweater out of it? Stuff a pillow? Are your fitted sheets neatly folded?
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Julia London Finds Big Butt Jeans
I have been on a jeans search for months now. My Levi 501s are great for around the house, but I wanted something a little fancier for the grocery store. I have yet to find a pair of jeans that fit me! Either they are too short, or they hit right at my hip bone--which may be attractive on Terry Hatcher but on me, makes most people shield their eyes--or, if you can't wear the new hip-hugging elephant bell pants, then there are Lee jeans. You know the Lee jeans -- high pockets? Straight legs? Totally unhip for people like me who care what people think of them?
Well imagine my great delight to read that the Gap had come out with a new line of jeans for women. Not stick figure Lollipop heads, but real women. They had three kinds: Straight, for those women who have managed to hit 40 without putting on any weight and can still wear the body-hugging jeans. Full, for women who have hit 40 with some extra baggage, cut wider in the hips and thighs. And Generous, for women who have extra padding in the back, and if they get jeans to fit the butt, the waist is too big, and if it fits in the waist, it is too small through the hips. In other words, your standard big butt jeans.
Well color me ecstatic. My problem is more tummy, but I figured with the three new cuts, I would find something to wear. So I trot down to the Gap, pick up jeans in the fantasy size I think I still wear in the straight--which I was certain I could still wear--and in full. No need to try on the big butt jeans.
I tried on the straight jeans first. Big mistake. Got them on over the hips and thighs okay, but no way were the two ends going to meet, and judging by the gap I had left, I figured I needed at least two sizes larger, which was sooooo not going to happen. So I peeled those off, and pulled on the full jeans. They were better, but the fuller cut in the thighs made it look like I had saddlebags on either side of me. The salesgirl appears about this time and says, "How you doing in there, ma'am?"
Ma'am. That should have been my first clue to get out of the Gap.
I said, "Well, I am a little disappointed, frankly. I read all about your new cuts and they aren't working for me."
Salesgirl (opening my cubby hole door to have a look for herself). "Ah," she says, nodding knowingly. "I think I have some jeans you might like."
"Don't bring me those big butt jeans!" I shout after her. "I DON'T HAVE A BIG BUTT!"
I don't know if she heard me or not. So I peel off the full cut jeans, and the girl returns a moment later with two pairs of blue and two pairs of black jeans. "Here," she says, thrusting them at me. "I brought a couple of different sizes and styles."
Different sizes. Universal sales girl code for I-can't-believe-you-are-trying-THAT-size-you-enormous-pig.
"Thanks," I say, and take the jeans and shut the cubby hole door.
"Let me know how those do!" she sings. I silently mimic her while I pull on the first pair of jeans. They actually fit. They fit! They fit they fit they fit! They come up to just below my waist, so nothing is hanging over. They are just the right length, too. I sit down in them, stand up again, check out my butt, and discover that much to my surprise, these jeans lift and separate! I look good! Okay, so its a size larger than what I really wear. I can live with that. The good news is, I have a pair of jeans that fit! I'm so excited that I decide to take both blue and black.
"How's it going, ma'am?" the salesgirl calls out to me. "Do you need another size?"
"NO," I snort, insulted she would even ask. I come out, hand her the blue and black. "I'll take both."
Her eyes light up. We march together to the checkstand. And as I hand my credit card over, I happen to glance at the tag. "Generous," it says. I have just purchased two pairs of Big Butt Jeans. And they fit. siiiigh. And in a bigger size.
Someone just shoot me.
If anyone knows of jeans that actually cover the offending parts, are long enough for tall women, and don't say generous anywhere on the tag or inside labels, will you please clue me in?
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Connie and Julia, Together at the Ritas
Just for your amusement...and to see if I can really figure out the picture thingie...here is Connie before the big fit of wailing at the RITA ceremony this year.
Julia London Wonders What Is Up With Men?
They told me to blog about whateve. Yippee! Before I start, let me please put up a disclaimer. I know it looks really bad for a professional writer to have a lot of typos and grammatically incorrect sentences floating around, so let me apologize in advance :-).
Today I thought I would tackle what's been on my mind the last few days: Men. Here's the deal--my hunky husband and I are thinking of selling our house and moving. Our house is old and seems to be in a constant state of repair, and we thought, why are we doing this every weekend? Why don't we move to a new house and let someone else have this headache? So we called a realtor, who came to our house and said, "Oh, wow. Huh. Wow. I think you're going to need to change a few things before you put this on the market."
After all that work installing new kitchen and doors and offices and painting and landscaping and blah blah blah, it still needed work. She advised us to re-carpet the two rooms that aren't tiled, put up drapes where we had blinds, paint, paint, and paint, and then re-tile one bathroom. We did all that. We worked all through the month (when I should have been writing, hello! I had no idea selling a house was so much work!!). We gave old furniture away, made two trips to the dump and more to Goodwill. I thought we were done. I thought our house looked terrific.
But then last week, while I was away, I get a message on my cell: "I'm re-arranging the furniture. I think you'll like it." The call was from my husband. I immediately panicked. There had been a desk incident a couple of years ago, where he wanted to move it in front of a big picture window, and I said no--that turned into one of those huge knock-down, drag-out arguments about where a desk should go that quickly escalated into name-calling and accusations. We didn't speak for days. So I called him and demanded to know what he was doing.
"I was watching baseball and I didn't like where the couch was." Translation--it wasn't three feet in front of the boob tube with a built in snack fridge. "So I moved it. Then I moved a couple of chairs. And the little tables at the end of the couch. We didn't need one of them anyway. But you'll really like it!"
I tried to be chipper and not hyperventilate. I told myself there was nothing I could do from Ohio and to calm down. Furniture can be moved again when he goes to work. Nothing to get all upset about, right? Right!
The next day, I get another call on my cell. This time, I am in the middle of a booksigning at Walmarts. "I'm going to stain the master bathroom. I think it will look better."
"Wait, WHAT?" I screeched into the phone. The one woman who had actually picked up a book of mine instantly put it down and walked off.
He said, "Stain it. You know there was the piece of trim that needed to be stained? Well, I stained it, but then it made some of the rest of it look dull, so I'm going to stain it all."
I tried to keep a smile on my face while I worked through where in blazes this man came from, because heretofore, I couldn't get him to stain his shirt without harping on it for days. This is a man who has never had any interest in clothes or furnishings or dishes, and definitely no interest in the bathroom other than, where is his towel and his shaving cream. Suddenly he was rearranging furniture and staining the bathroom while I am away?
"What do you mean stain?" I asked carefully.
"You know. Put some of that dark stain on wood like we did with the trim around the door."
"Okay," I said, my heart pounding. "What do you mean, "stain the bathroom?"
"Like...put the dark color on all the wood."
I picture all the wood in my bathroom. "Please don't," I whimpered. "I'll be back in a couple of days. Hey, lets stain together!" I tried. "That's something we can do together! You know how we're always looking for stuff to do together?"
He snorted into the phone at that and said, "Listen, you'll like it, I promise. Everything will look really shiny. Okay, I gotta go. And don't you have some books to sign?"
Well, no, I didn't, but that's another story. So anyway, I spent the next two days trying to envision what my newly stained bathroom looked like. Shiny, apparently. I tried not to think of all the other home decorating tasks he might be tackling in my absence. I prayed that the heavens would give me back the guy who wears the same shirt over and over until I move it from being the first thing he sees in his closet. I swore never to get upset that he wasn't helping me do something around the house again and to thank my lucky stars he wasn't doing anything.
But I have to say...when I got home Monday, I was actually very pleasantly surprised. The room he had rearranged really did work better. The stain in the bathroom? Just trim, and it looked very nice. I never would have guessed he had it in him. He was very pleased that I was pleased. But you know how that goes. Now he's walking around, looking at my house and saying things like, "Do you really want that painting there? Don't you think it would look better over there?"
I am hoping it will wear off as soon as football season returns and we retreat to our usual and separate corners.
So what was up with that sudden rash of home decorating genuis? And what weird thing has your guy done recently?
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
KITTY KUTTLESTONE INTERVIEWS JULIA LONDON
KITTY: Hi Julia. What's shaking? Enough nice-nice.
Let's talk about the Ritas. Some book you were up for, whose name I can't remember, was up against some book by Brockway, again the name of which escapes me, and both of you lost out to some book up by some other chick and really...who cares what it was, right? But I know these things mean alot to you guys. I mean I really really wanted that Pulitzer. So, what I want to know is this...who cried loudest after losing the RITA, you or Brockway?
JULIA: Connie. For me, the award was just in being nominated with such fabulous authors (and there was a minor award in finally being released from the sardine section of the longest awards ceremony in the history of the world). But for Connie, well, she just really needs the constant attention, and when she doesn't get it--especially at big gala award shows--she is easily crushed and tends to wail a lot. My heart went out to her that night for being a big loser. But hey she's got about 15 RITAs already, so I think she bounced back pretty quick. .
KITTY: Gee, Julia and she talks so highly about yo-- DAMN IT! I just snorted Pepsi all over my keyboard! Okay, so you're a philosophical kinda girl. What words do you live by? I live by the motto IN VINO VERITAS myself.
JULIA: Never eat anything bigger than your head. Look at my chicken body and see why those words are so important.
KITTY: I dunno, Julia. I seen some recent pictures and I think Brockway coulda..well, never mind. Back to RWA and Reno. I saw you waltzing around the hotel wearing some yummy arm candy. Who was that, how much did he cost you and where can I get one?
JULIA: Louie is my husband. Isn't he cute? He's been pretty affordable so far, but he wants a publisher to write in a new Harley into a contract somewhere for him.
KITTY: Husband. Husband? As in "communal property?" Whoa. How long have you been married and does this cramp or enhance your style? I mean writing styler, of course.
JULIA: We were married a little over a year and about 15 pounds ago. Marriage has enhanced my writing experience and imagination in ways you cannot imagine. Who knew what four stepchildren would add to the mix? Well, you guys probably would have a had a clue, but never having had kids of my own, I was moronically clueless and now I can write volumes on how to be a really bad stepmother. Fortunately, there are many more enhancements from marriage than cramps.
KITTY: You do both contemporary and historical romances. What's up with that? Greedy?
JULIA: Yes! Now I'm gunning for butterhead fiction.
Actually, I started writing in two genres for three reasons. One, because I wanted to grow as a writer (not in poundage, which seems to have happened, but in craft), and needed to expand past the regency historical romance to do that. Second, because the market is always changing and publishers are always buying each other out and jettisoning half their lists, I wanted to make sure I didn't have all my eggs in one basket. And three, I, too, like my good friend Constance Howard Brockway, like as much attention as anyone is willing to pay me. Which, in spite of my efforts, isn't much attention at all. Except at supper time, and then suddenly I am everyone's best friend.
KITTY: You know, I know Brockway and honey, that chicken ain't half of what she's capable of once she gets started in that Photoshop software. But hell! Live dangerously! And speaking of living dangerously, how did you come up with this Thrillseekers Anonymous idea , what is it, and since it's called "thrillseekers," why the hell haven't you interviewed me?
JULIA: Thrillseekers Anonymous is about a bunch of guys who run an exclusive, members only adventure service for the wealthy and famous. I came up with the idea from my own deep-seated desire to hang with buff, rich guys, and my love of tabloid journalism.
The first book, Wedding Survivor, is about a Jen and Ben-type wedding gone very, very awry, which meant that I got to read all the trashy mags at the grocery store and call it research. I have only interviewed big celebrities and adventure people and attractive could-be-a-star some day people. So therefore, Kitty, you sort of fell out of the parameters.
KITTY: So what's with the guy wearing the Jimmy Choos on the cover? Or is that one of thrills? Cause if it is, I'm all over it with the kinky sex.
JULIA: Those are cowboy boots, thank you very much. And it isn't about kinky sex, well...not real kinky.
KITTY: Damn. How many books have you already got plotted out?
JULIA: Just the ones I am working on. Plotting is the hardest part of writing for me and it takes me a long time to come up with them. And by the way, if anyone has any ideas, I am all ears.
KITTY: Honey, the things I could tell you about cross-dressing in Guatemala in the 50's...Talk about thrills! You're not too shabby at providing thrills in your historicals, either. Any more of those delicious Highlander books in the offing?
JULIA: Highlander in Love is the last of the Highlander books. I won't rule out doing more, but in the foreseeable future, I'll be back in regency England.
With the next trilogy, I am moving back to regency England and the milieu that I created for the Rogues of Regent Street. I'm doing a series about three women who are left orphaned by their glamorous mother, their stepfather absconds with their money, and they are desperate not to let anyone find out lest they be cut from all the right marriage lists.
KITTY: Tres cool, muchacha. Now, the final question: If you were a drink, what drink would you be?
JULIA: Pabst Blue Ribbon Tall boys. Duh.
KITTY: Man, I knew I liked you! Julia, my friend, we have got to hang. The things I could tell you about the squawkers...
The Summer Family Reunion
My mother really loves family reunions, so this is about the 65th in my life (and no, I'm not that old yet). We all gather at a lake in northern Minnesota -- which is where all good Minnesotans go, like lemmings, every summer. Lakes abound, and so do people talking about the best place to buy worms, if that gives you a sense of it.
Uncles, aunts, cousins and my own family flood in. I have three siblings, each of whom has reproduced, so the number of attendees under ten is significant. They swim naked and scare each other with stories about leaches. People lucky enough to be older than ten sit around talking about our jobs (everything from public service to writing literature to giving out mortgages), eating, cooking and eating some more.
For dinner we put up a long long table on the screened-in porch, light a lot of candles, open a number of bottles of wine, and banish all the rugrats upstairs to watch a movie. Conversation ranges from "that was the year I was lent out to the State Department," to "My favorite reality show was Wife Swap -- no, it isn't what you think!" (this in response to raised eyebrows from those of us who aren't exactly reality-show-knowledgeable).
Over the years, I've noticed a number of recurring events. I bet you all can add a few:
1). At some point, a man will wander by as you wrestle at the sink and remark: "You'll never be able to wash a pot that large in such a small sink." Need I mention that he will continue on, affectionately nursing his beer?
2) Many things will "get" into places they don't belong, a passive tense generally employed by those under eleven, as in "A fishing line got up in a tree somehow," or "A lot of milk got on the floor in the living room." Also: "Nick (or Sarah or Pete) is crying because his tooth got knocked out."
3) The guests will be divided between those who only eat hotdogs and other grilled meats, and vegetarians (or a whole tribe thereof), who will decline the potato salad because the potatos (bought at the SuperValue down the road from the lake) weren't organic, were they?
4) One must brace oneself for bewildering leaps in intellectual growth from other people's children. Conversations of this nature are common:
Cousin Firk: "So how's Denise doing these days?"
You: "Oh, all right. She's going to repeat kindergarten, but we're thinking about it as an learning opportunity. How's Beatrice?"
Cousin Firk: "Oh, you know Beatrice! The Principal told us that her teachers unanimously agreed that she simply must jump another grade. We would be concerned about whether she would fit in with the older age group, but ever since she was elected head of the model UN at seven years old, we've never worried about Beatrice socially. She's the most popular in the class!"
5) Men will set up the barbeque "area" away from anywhere children might congregate, perhaps behind the garage. If by chance a child wanders into that area, they will be quickly ushered away by a large man in shorts, sitting in a lawn chair. Your child will later tell you, solemnly, that the place behind the garage was a "child-free zone" and that Uncle Zack was just making sure that no one got hurt.
OK, guys, add your own rules!! Don't tell me family reunion agony is suffered in my family alone...
Monday, August 22, 2005
WHO'S THAT SIPPING A DRINK ON THE DIVING BOARD?
Teresa Falls in Love All Over Again
Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a dangerous woman. I learned that way back in 1989 when I stumbled across her novel FANCY PANTS. In that richly textured, mainstream glitter and glitz women's fiction novel that still managed to be one of the most extraordinary romances I'd ever read, she first did the impossible. She made golf interesting. That's right. Her hero, Dallie Beaudine was the sexiest golfer to ever pull on (or off) a pair of...well...golf pants.
Since then, I've been forced to govern my SEP reading with a very strict set of rules. Because she's on a very short list of writers who can make me care more about what I'm reading than about what I'm writing, I'm only allowed to read her books on vacation, on long car or plane trips, or when I've just finished writing one of my own books.
Fortunately for me, a car trip to Florida coincided with the release of her brand spanking new Chicago Stars book, MATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Not since I first read ROOTS in the car when I was 13 have I enjoyed a road trip so much! From the very first page, SEP evokes empathy for her characters. We first meet modern day matchmaker Annabelle Granger trying to lure a drunk man out from under the wheels of her car because she's late for a very special appointment with high-profile sports agent Heath Champion, aka The Python. How can you not fall in love with a woman who smears lipstick on her lovely yellow shirt when she's trying to sniff her armpits for B.O. while driving? That's the beauty of SEP's female characters. They're not just the friends we'd long to have. They're already us!
She also excels in choosing the right details. The very fact that the heroine owns a Hello Kitty cookie jar tells you everything you need to know about her. As a writer, I found myself utterly seduced by sentences like, "Her sister-in-law used perfume like bug repellant." And Heath Champion has to be one of the most luscious, three-dimensional contemporary heroes I've ever read. SEP knows men! She knows how they think and how they talk and she loves them anyway, which only makes us love them more.
I also love the fact that the characters from the previous Chicago Stars novels weren't just marched onstage for a "Very Special Appearance" but were actually used to further the plot and facilitate the romance between Annabelle and Heath. I loved seeing Phoebe and Dan from IT HAD TO BE YOU with a few more wrinkles and a couple of teenagers of their own.
SEP is obviously one of my favorite authors of all-time. What I'd like to know today is who is the author who still has the power to take your breath away? (And you're not allowed to name any of the Squawkers because we're painfully modest--well, except for Kitty). Who is the author who makes you sigh with satisfaction every time you close one of her books? Who is the author who can make YOU fall in love all over again?
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Christina Dodd's good news/bad news
The bad news: the masons ran the well dry and we have no water, which means we're camping out in the world's tallest tent.
The good news: our new couches were delivered.
The bad news: they're the wrong size and we have to wait another six weeks for the right size.
The good news: our front door was finally delivered.
The bad news: okay, there is no bad news. The trim can't be finished until the security people have run their wires, but the door is custom made from black walnut with African mahogany trim, exactly what we asked for, and it's GORGEOUS. (I'll post a better photo when it's completely installed.) The door craftsman was only seven weeks late delivering it (we were told we were lucky -- he's been six months late) and it beats the plywood we've had since we moved in! We're celebrating tonight!
So was it just me, or has there been a bad moon out this week?
Elizabeth Gets Down
How to begin to describe this band...? Even as someone who uses words for a living, I can’t seem to find the right adjectives. I suppose I could say this CD contains quintessential club/dance music. But that just isn’t enough. Scissor Sisters (and yes, the band’s name refers to, um, a sex act popular with lesbians) fuse pop music and disco, then throw in some cabaret and David Bowie glam, then add one (male) singer who favors falsetto and another (female) who says she’s “a drag queen trapped in a woman’s body,” and turn out a group who sound and look like no other band working today. Or yesterday, for that matter.
All in all, Scissor Sisters’s self-titled debut album is just a damned fun CD that turns any event (even housecleaning--hell, especially housecleaning) into a dance party (with just enough slow songs thrown in to keep you from having a heart attack). And the song “Take Your Mama,” has become one of those rare ditties that, no matter how bad or sad my mood, snaps me right out of it. Not just because it has a great beat and is easy to dance to, and not just because it has a guitar riff starting with note one that is utterly infectious. Like so many songs on the album, the lyrics are clever, evocative and funny. I mean, how can you not smile when you hear Jake Shears singing:
Now we end up takin’ the long way home
lookin’ overdressed, wearin’ buckets of stale cologne.
It’s so hard to see streets on a country road
when your glass is in the garbage and your Continental’s just been towed.
The band itself is an eclectic mix of not-quite-determined genesis. Legend has it that Shears and guitarist Scott “Babydaddy” Hoffman met at the University of Kentucky some years ago (which should make Terri run right out and buy the CD without further encouragement). But it took moving to New York (and even London) to really make things click. Ultimately, the band ended up with five members who are wholly individual from one another (and just about everyone else in the world), yet completely complementary to one another.
So if you’re into funky pop and the club scene--or if, like me, you miss funky pop and the club scene and are no longer hip enough to feel a part of it--Scissor Sisters will bring an element of both into your life. And into your kitchen. And into your car. And into your housework. The music is just really wonderful, and, as I said, highly danceable. Right down to their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” Bet you never thought you’d dance to THAT, didja?
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Liz Tries to Choose a Weekend Read
Catherine Mann's CODE OF HONOR in the bedroom
Susan Elizabeth Phillips's MATCH ME IF YOU CAN in the family room
Pat Barr's JADE in the living room
Lindsay McKenna's ENEMY MINE in the office
The first is a military romance, and Catherine Mann is an EXcellent writer. The second is, well, SEP. Say no more. The third is a recent find at the new/used store, a 25-year-old epic historical romance of 692 pages where the heroine starts off in England, then becomes a concubine in China, and then has to find her way back to England. The last is a jungle romance (a real personal fave, and I've always loved Lindsay McKenna's books). Honestly, I think I'm leaning toward the 25-year-old epic right now. Been a while since I've read one, and it could be great fun.
So what's everyone else reading this weekend? What are you going to dive into next? Got any good recommendations?
Friday, August 19, 2005
Okay, twinkies, enough with the sweetness and tomato sauce. What say we have a little gratuitous sex, okay?
Lessee, anyone got anything from my boy, Ben Browder? How's about Hunk 'O My Dreams Jason Stratham? Oh, yeah lemme dig into the archives kiddies. Pull up a chair. Auntie Kitty has something to show you...
Now Connie's Cookin !
Why does Connie keep blogging about homey things?
IS she...nesting? My GOD. Is immersing herself in the World of Cozy because she’s—!(In horror, the reader backs away from the monitor.)
No, no Dear Reader. Fear not that some future Brockway will be toddling into kindergarten next to her mother’s walker. I’m immersing myself in the Ways of the June Cleaver because the book I am writing is all about homemaking, celebrity, food, mothers we are born to and mother we choose.
In a way, it’s a natural route for me. I love creating (I do not love cleaning up the mess that creating often entails. You know, dishes, weeds, fabric snips, paint brushes.) I especially enjoy cooking and, well, I’m not too ...oh, hell. I’m fabulous at it.
So, now that I’ve jerked you all into slack-jawed wonder at my hubris, let me ask you: Is there anything you do that you do so well that you really don’t have any desire to demure about it? Are you a damn fine dancer? Musician? Skier? Bridge player? Are you willing to announce your talents or are you modest? And how do you feel about that? I want to know because this all plays into the book I’m writing—the willingness to own up to your talents and put them pout there also means you may have to prove them. And yourself.
So, in the spirit of proving myself, a recipe. I have added as many comments as I can to make this as fool proof as possible.
Connie, Always Keep a Backdoor Open, Brockway
FRESH TOMATO BISQUE
¾ c. fine chopped yellow onion
½ c. butter
1 ½ tsp fresh dill (3/4 tsp dried)
2 tsp. fresh oregano ( 1 tsp. dried)
1/4 c. flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp white pepper, ground
3 c. chicken broth
4 c. fresh, ripe diced tomatoes, seeds removed (can substitute 28 oz can of diced
In large soup pot sauté onions and spices in butter over medium-high heat. Stir in flour. Sauté 2 minutes (this will cook out the raw flour taste— the mixture will be foamy so keep stirring). Remove from heat and gradually add ¼ of the chicken broth, stirring quickly to incorporate. Return to heat , gradually add rest of chicken broth and then tomatoes, stirring all the while.
¼ c. fresh, chopped Italian parsley
¼ c. honey
¾ c. heavy cream
¾ c. half and half
Remove pot from pan. Wait a minute or two, add the above ingredients, then return to low heat if not serving at once in order to heat gently through. DO not at any point boil or simmer the soup after adding the creams or it will curdle. And finally, if you like a smooth tomatoe soup, this is where you get out your submersible bhand blender or cool the soup down and pour all of this into a blender.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
When I first heard that a manuscript of mine was going to be published (Potent Pleasures), my main response was kind of a dazed curiosity. I liked the book. But I was absolutely dying to know why an editor in New York City would like it. "What could it be?" I asked myself. "My scintillating prose? My devastating dialogue? The fact that my hero and heroine cleverly make love in the Very First Chapter?" Ok...I was hoping it wasn't just delight at my couple's rapid union. So I asked. I've never forgotten my editor's answer.
"Oh, the first line," she said calmly.
I tried desperately to remember the first line and couldn't.
This editor I'd never met but who sounded so sane on the phone went on cheerily, "Yes, I knew the moment I read the first line that I was going to buy the manuscript."
The First Line? What about my carefully crafted plot? Didn't she really mean that the decision was made after reading the heart-rending scene in which the heroine almost dies in childbirth, only to be saved by the hero?
By now, I imagine you'd like to read this sale-worthy first line. Ha! Here are five first lines. DON'T go on the comments and tell which books they are! That'll ruin it for everyone who doesn't know. Tell us if there's one you don't know (or can't guess). I'll post the answers at on Friday sometime...
But more importantly, fish out your favorite book and post its first line!
1) "I see..." said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room toward the window.
2) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...
3) Charlotte was one week short of seventeen when her life changed, falling into two halves like a shiny child's ball: before, and after.
4) There are some men who ener a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me -- not forever, but periodically.
5) It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Megabacks--Hot New Trend or New Coke???
Just last Friday, the New York Times ran a piece on the new trend in paperback publishing. (Here's a link to the NYT Article, so kindly provided by Manuelita over on the Avon Authors Board.) Disturbed by the aging of the baby boomers (and their vision) and the declining sales of mass market paperbacks (even though they still vastly outsell every other format available), several publishers have begun to market a new format for mass market paperbacks. These "megabacks" are exactly the same width as normal mass market paperbacks, but 3/4 of an inch taller. (To me, they resemble travel guides.) The longer page allows for an increased type size and more importantly, more white space between the lines to assist with ease of reading. The books will be marketed at a slightly higher cover price of $9.99. (Which as most of you know will probably be discounted in several venues.)
One of the main selling points of these books for the distributors is that they are designed to fit into the same racks as the regular-sized mass market paperbacks. But I already ran into a problem with that theory at my local drugstore. The first 2 Bestseller shelves were tall enough to display the new Sandra Brown megaback, WHITE HOT. But the next 2 shelves were too short, so both the new Catherine Coulter and Clive Cussler books were LYING FLAT ON THEIR BACKS, which means you couldn't see their covers, which is Every Author's Nightmare and is obviously not conducive to healthy sales.
I inspected several of these books at my local Borders this weekend. I liked the way they felt in my hands. They felt a little heavier, a little more durable and expensive. (Hey, if I'm going to pay more, I WANT more!) The print did look more pleasant to read. But one of my friends is already complaining because they don't fit as easily into her purse.
Several of the book distributors (including Wal-Mart) are taking a wait-and-see attitude, ordering limited quantities of the new look. I think only time will tell if this new trend is going to catch on, but Sandra Brown's WHITE HOT is going to be the first Megaback to debut at #1 on the NYT paperback bestseller list!
What we Squawkers are interested in is YOUR opinions as avid readers and book buyers. Are you willing to spend a dollar or two extra if it means easier reading? Your other assignment (should you choose to accept it) is to go out into the field and report back to us this week under the Comments section of this blog. Pick up the books, play with them, read a few pages and let us know if you think this hot new trend is here to stay!
(But if you get arrested for loitering or fondling the books without buying them, just address your bail request to Connie Brockway at...)
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Liz Rises to Manuelita's Challenge Below, Before Terri Has a Chance To
Oh, the bangs may have been shorter or longer (or crookeder when I trimmed them myself--and I don't know who the hell I thought I was kidding when I did that), but it never varied from straight with bangs. I may have tried a side part when I was feeling especially wild, but the bangs were still there. I may have even pulled them back from time to time (like when I felt a burning desire to play Magenta--that's me on the far right, in case you didn't figure it out), but they were still very much present.
So there you have it. The history of my hair. This photo, alas, portrays the only highlight. ('Cause my hair doesn't even highlight well.)
Elizabeth Does the Back-to-School Thing. Again.
The hell you won’t.
When I was a kid, summer was nirvana. As a working mom, summer is a pain in the ass. My husband teaches preschool, so I have not one, but TWO, extra bodies in the house during the summer months. This makes working at home difficult. It’s not that they’re noisy. It’s not that they’re intrusive. It’s not that they’re bothersome. It’s that they’re THERE. I don’t know about the other Squawkers, but I simply cannot work well unless I’m home alone. It almost feels like I’m being unfaithful to my family if I spend time with fictional characters instead of with them when they’re right on the other side of my office door. Not to mention they might walk in on me and see me playing spider solitaire, and then the jig would be up, and they’d know how much I goof off.
So I’m delighted that they’re both going back to school this week. What I’m not delighted about is all the back-to-school crap that goes along with getting them back-to-school. The new wardrobe for the kid who somehow went up a full size in eight weeks’ time. The new shoes for the suddenly enormous feet. The completion in one week's time of eight weeks’ worth of things his father and I PROMISED we’d do over the summer. The list of no fewer than two dozen “essentials” it has been decreed my son must bring with him on the first day of school.
When I was a kid, all we had to do was find a couple pads of lined paper and a pencil box, preferably one with Little Kiddles or Barbie on it, then toss in a handful of number twos with a pencil sharpener. If one was ostentacious, one might add an assortment of animal-shaped erasers. My son’s list of requirements for the average sixth-grader include such necessities as White-Out (in the age of computers and printers?), 4X6 index cards (I would think the 3X5s they also insist he have would do the trick) and not one but three VIEW binders. What the hell is a VIEW binder, anyway? Why do all the letters have to be capitalized? For that matter, what the hell is a clic eraser? Even the guy at Office Max didn’t know. And since when do you have to go to an office supply store to buy school supplies? And why are the receipts so detailed now, including descriptions of each item instead of a long, generic item number? Don't they realize that makes it impossible for me to slip them in with my legitimately tax-deductible receipts? I can just hear the accountant saying, “Why did you need seventy-two clic erasers? And just what the hell is a clic eraser anyway?”
Oh, well. Whatever it takes to get them back-to-school. I need my house back. And I need it empty, save myself and a handful of fictional people who do NOT need clic erasers or White-Out. I need to finish this book that was due yesterday before the end of the month. And, dammit, I need to be able to play spider solitaire without risk of discovery.
So is everyone else as happy as I am that the kids (and in some cases, husbands) are going back to school? Is everyone else scrambling to find bigger shoes and clic erasers? And is it just me, or does summer vacation leave you feeling like you really need a vacation?
Monday, August 15, 200511 comments 24 comments
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Is anyone missing a song? Because Christina found one.
I’m working in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning up, gloating over my absolutely fabulous refrigerator not to mention the two convection ovens and the gorgeous range top, and I find myself obsessively singing. And what am I singing?
“So This is Love.”
From Disney’s “Cinderella.”
Don’t get me wrong. I adore Disney movies (I do an entire speech on the classic novel structure of “Beauty and the Beast” and can do a rip-roaring imitation of Luminere singing “Be Our Guest.”) I adore Disney music. But while I love the movie Cinderella (you’ll notice all my books tend to be Cinderella — the impoverished young woman who rises from the ashes to win a prince), the music and lyrics from Cinderella was not a high point in musical innovation. It’s bad enough that I know all the sappy words (“So this is love, woo woo woo woo, so this is love, so this is what makes life worthwhile”), but why did this song from this movie that I haven’t seen since my kids were in grade school suddenly swamp my brain (Woo woo woo woo)?
What’s more, this isn’t the first time this has happened. At the most inopportune times, the notes from the Who’s “Who are You?” (Whoooo are you? Doot doot, doot doot) will aim for my brain — and stick. Where did these notes come from? Okay, so “Who are You?” comes from watching too much CSI, but why does it play over and over for weeks to such an extent I would do anything, including watch “The Addams Family” with its inescapable theme (doo doo doo doo snap snap), to drive it out?
Here’s my theory. The universe is not made of protons and electrons, as we’ve been taught, but of song notes. The composers compile them into songs, play them, and at the speed of light they travel to the nearest brain where they embed themselves into the gray matter there to play over and over again until they’re ejected by an even more obnoxious song — i.e. Margaritaville (“Wasting away in Margareeetavillllle, looking for my lost shaker of saaalt”). Sometimes it’s possible to cleanse the brain completely of a song, but that creates a vacuum, and as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum. So if you’re somewhere near someone who successfully ejects their song, it zooms to your brain and sticks like one of those trick arrows right through the skull. It's not fatal, but it's damned annoying.
I figure I must have been wandering the grocery store, minding my own business when some mother of small children, exposed to too much Cinderella, ejected “So This is Love” from her brain and it zoomed, inane lyrics and all, to fill the nearest vacuum — my brain.
What do you think? Does this ever happen to you? Does my theory have validity? And what horrible songs are you currently ejecting … and sending winging my way?
Pardon me while I duck.
Sunday Squawker Blast from the Past!
Here's Connie way back in 1999, greedily clutching just one of her many RITA awards.
And here's the always chic and sophisticated Christina Dodd, once again hanging out with Guest Blogger Geralyn Dawson in 1999. Geralyn obviously knows she looks simply smashing in peacock blue!
Guest Blogger Geralyn Dawson and Teresa at their very first meeting in 1992. Love those shoulder pads, Geralyn! Teresa kept this dress for years, calling it her "I Have A Dream Dress" because she had a dream she might someday be able to fit into it again. But hey--she barely fit into it here!
Liz and Teresa from a police line-up in 1992 just to prove Teresa didn't ALWAYS have long, fluffy blond hair! She once had SHORT fluffy blond hair!
It's San Francisco 1990 and Teresa is obviously VERY happy to make the acquaintance of Elizabeth Bevarly for the very first time. Hey Liz? Was that your jarhead marine haircut or do you just have a pony tail???
(If any of the Squawkers or Guest Bloggers would like these photos removed, just send a check to Teresa Medeiros at...)
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Connie really likes to garden...
Or rather Connie really likes her husband to garden.
But when push comes to shove she's willing to get down and dirty. It must have something to do with the loooong winter but when things do finally get green and growing here in Minnesota, I have to be out in it.
Here's the backyard yesterday and yes, I can tell you the common and botanical name of all 310 varieties of plants in the yard! That thing taking over the corner of the triangle garden is an heirloom variety tomato called Purple Calabash. The tomatoe looks positively deformed and is positively the best tasting tomatoe I have ever had! There's a brandywine in the other corner--large and very mild tasting fruit and an odd volunteer in the second garden whose fruit is going to be bright yellow! I have no idea where it came from but since we have been growing heirloom tomatoes for years, I suspect it's a little cross-pollination hybrid.
Any other gardeners out there?
Why Teresa Really Shouldn't Leave the House After May
I want to love gardening. Really I do. But there are four problems:
1) I hate to get dirty
2) I hate bugs
3) I hate to sweat
4) I hate any sort of physical labor that involves dirt, bugs, or sweat
But since the shrubs in front of my house were beginning to resemble some sort of wooly mammoths from the prehistoric era, I decided to drag myself outside this morning before the heat index climbed to 140 degrees and trim the hedges.
Things were going well. I had a bottle of cold water. I had my supplies all lined up. The heat index was only 120. And I managed to trim the hedges in the back of the house without cutting the extension cord in two as I've done twice before.
But then, tragedy strikes!
As I'm trimming one of the front bushes, I suddenly feel this terrible pain in my left ring finger. A howlingly dreadful pain that must surely involve some sort of involuntary amputation. Unable to visually locate a rattlesnake of any kind, I finally see a wasp nest dangling inside the bush, guarded by the proverbial angry bee. Being a former registered nurse, I know exactly what to do. I drop the hedge trimmer and run inside, screaming hysterically for my husband. By now, the pain has mounted to nearly inconceivable levels. We apply our favorite home remedy--an ice cube smeared in baking soda (the baking soda is a base which will neutralize the acid in the wasp venom). Ignoring my protests that it will make me too sleepy to function, my husband insists on pressing 25 mg of Benadryl on me.
Despite the fact that my finger is now roughly the size of my right elbow, I bravely sniff back my tears and decide to go outside and finish the job. Which is when I discovered that gardening is so much more pleasant when you're enjoying a slight pharmeceutical buzz.
So how many of you are gardening fanatics and how many of you would rather be sitting inside your air-conditioned homes on days when the heat index is 150, enjoying a Diet Coke and a good book?
It's the weekend, CAPTION MY PIC!21 comments
Friday, August 12, 2005
These guys can pour my driveway anytime!
If you know what I mean.
After this, I promise to refrain from more construction photos ... for awhile. But I took this photo from my balcony on my office, and it gives you a good view of how they poured the driveway -- and who poured the driveway. I was riveted, especially by the guy who looked like a young Mel Gibson during his Mad Max days Whew! And yes, that's my front yard as it looks today. ::sigh::
I tried to zoom in and get you a better view of the, um, finish work, but my digital doesn't have a strong zoom and Scott for some reason doesn't think I need a camera so I can get good photos of the concrete guys.
VANITY, THY NAME IS CHRISTINA
Ahahahaha! I’ve been waiting to use that line.
Yes, this is my vanity in the master bathroom, a lovely expanse of granite, wood and mirrors topped by my big splurge, make-up lights that make me feel like a star. When I turn them on, I look like Lisa.
Okay, maybe not Lisa, but the ten construction guys who are doing the concrete and the masonry work outside grin when they see me and I’m sure it’s because of my make-up. It couldn’t be the fact we still don’t have blinds on the bathroom window. Could it?
Teresa Brings You A Man for All Climates
Just a couple of weeks ago Lisa brought you Bill Murray as an unlikely but vastly appealing sex symbol. This week I bring you...David Caruso from CSI: MIAMI! I have to confess that I missed "Caruso Mania" the first time around when NYPD debuted. No matter how often he bared his skinny bum on the screen, I was totally mystified to hear that women were swooning over this guy who looked to me like Howdy Doody and didn't have red hair so much as orange hair. As most of you know, he disappeared off the professional map for several years only to reappear in Miami when the new incarnation of CSI appeared.
I started watching. And I got it. Boy, did I get it! Caruso has an indefinable charisma, soulful eyes, and an inner confidence that has nothing to do with swaggering machismo and everything to do with feeling comfortable in his own skin. His character, Horatio Caine is a protector, a defender of innocent women and victimized children. No sane women would hesitate to trust her life...or her body...into his capable hands.
So have any of you ever been wrong about your first impression of an actor or a man? I'd love to hear your story because after watching the entire first season of 24 in one marathon month, I have an even more disturbing confession to make--I'm hot for Keifer!!!
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Connie Brockway: A hair's breadth away from losing it
It began innocently enough. We live in a 50's style rambler with the original windows and siding. Sometime, oh, in the winter of 1998 or so, my husband said, "Wouldn't it be nice if come spring some of these windows opened?"
Things being as they are in this household, around 2001 I answered. "Yeah."
Then wham! I wake up one day in June of this year to find the yard being invaded by buff young shirtless men carrying saws and crowbars and lumber and windows. Okay. I admit it. At first it wasn't bad. The blood rushing through my temples succeeded in drowning out the buzz of electric saw and insistent pounding of hammers. For a while. But those days were short and short- lived.
Today when Jon (who cannot be more than seventeen and has the best ab muscles in a five state area) banged on the bedroom window and told me to hurry up and open it so he could paint, I cranked that baby with enough force to knock Jon's ass off the ladder. Alas, he must have recognized the demented light in my eyes, for he casually swung beneath the window, snickering as he went.
Anyone else out there have remodeling war stories? Anyone ever actually been convicted of a crime related to their home improvement experiences? Was any prison time involved? Inquiring minds need to know...