Squawk Radio

Monday, October 31, 2005


Hello, and Happy Halloween! Or, Happy Samhain for you more traditional types out there. Halloween is, of course, my favorite holiday of the year. But not for the “she’s into the weird stuff” reason you might think.

First and foremost I love Halloween because it is my mother’s birthday. My mother loved having a Halloween birthday, and my family always made a big fuss over it. I used to always give her black orchids on her birthday, and we had great costume parties. There’s a family story about how Orson Welles ruined her birthday party when she was eight or nine (hey, this was long before my time and I don’t recall what year it was that Mr. Welles pulled his famous prank.) You see, the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds happened during her party, and parents and kids panicked. Now, my grandfather was a big science fiction fan (I come by it genetically) and recognized what was going on. People left despite his reassurances. My mother was mad at Orson Welles for the rest of her life.

One of my earliest memories is of trick or treating when I was around three. I don’t recall what I wore, but I distinctly remember my brother in a cowboy outfit, and going from door to door with other kids.

The last time I went trick or treating I was eighteen, and I didn’t do it voluntarily. Being totally resentful of my grandmother making me take my fourteen year old sister around the neighborhood I put on my shortest skirt, my tightest sweater, some mesh stocking and all the makeup I owned (Yardley and Mary Quant in those days) and spent a lot of time leaning against lampposts. The calls from the neighbors about my dressing up like a hooker got me into so much trouble. I thought it was worth it.

A couple of years later I needed a costume for a party on short notice. So I grabbed a bedspread and a sheet and did an Arab sheik sort of look. I told my friends that I was really a deep cover Mossad agent. So, when I get around to “being inspired” by the Ari plot from Navy NCIS in a future book, remember – I did it first.

I met one of my best friends at a Halloween party. Jody Lynn Nye is a fine writer of science fiction and fantasy, but we’ve been friends since long before either of us was ever published. Our meeting came about at mutual friend’s party. When I arrived at Mike’s place I noticed a Brian Froud elf sitting on his front stoop. This elf turned out to be Jody. If you’ve ever seen the film Dark Crystal, you’ve seen Jody in her elf ears. She is a gelfling.

Dressing up is one of the great things about Halloween. That’s one of the reasons it is America’s second most popular holiday. It’s a time when people get to step out of their everyday selves and put on new personas. It’s all right to dress up, to fantasize, on Halloween.

Actually, it’s all right to do that all the time if it gives you pleasure, but most folk who love costuming don’t know about the subcultures of historical reenactors or science fiction conventions. I used to belong to the SCA. I attend several SF cons every year. I don’t dress up much anymore – having gone pro I now have to act like one when I’m on panels and giving workshops and stuff. However, I love watching the costumers.

A few years back I’d just arrived at the con hotel and was getting into the elevator. Someone yelled “Hold the door” and I did while a bunch of fully tricked out Ghostbusters, and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man crowded into the elevator with me. They were playing a game my people call “Freaking the mundane”. I almost hated disappointing them by revealing I was one of them. These days dressing like a grownup (except on Halloween) is my costume.
--Susan Sizemore
Connie Brockway, 1:51 PM | link | 55 comments |

Xtina Shivers for Halloween

As many of you already know, this last year my husband and I built our dream home in Washington state. We’re on a hill overlooking a lake and the Canadian Rockies, the house is just what we wanted with a large kitchen, a library, our master bedroom and bath on the main level, an office for me on the top floor and an office for him on the bottom floor. The woods are all around and wildlife abounds. It’s gorgeous, we love it, we’re finally getting to the point where we only have a few more things for the contractor to do … and stuff is breaking faster than we can keep up with. Oh, just little stuff like, say, THE HEAT ON THE MAIN FLOOR IS OUT.

Now we lived in Texas for twenty-one years and we’re used to heat. Washington is magnificent, but it’s not warm. And the repairman can't come to fix the furnace until tomorrow. Of course not. What would be the point of that? We've already paid them for installation. (Yes, yes, I’m bitter.) Of course we have a furnace for each level, so it’s not like we’re going to freeze, but isn’t the point of having a dream house being able to use the kitchen without shivering? And sleep in your bed without a thousand blankets?

We do have a gas fireplace in our great room (we call it a great room because it sounds pretentious) and in the library. The fan on the fireplace in the library doesn't work. Because the people who put in the fireplace in the great room "forgot" to put in the fan, we assumed they'd "forgotten" to put one in the library, too. They insisted that we have the electrician check the power. Because, of course, they'd put the fan in and not told anybody that there was no power to it. So the electrician is SUPPOSED to be coming to finish up a bunch of stuff and get electricity to the fan in the fireplace in the library. Please note - we still don't know if the fan works. But since we were cold last night we cranked up the floor heat in the master bathroom. Um, toasty warm!

This morning it is off. We didn't turn it off. It's just off. We talked to the electrician about checking that, too. He hopes it’s just the thermostat because otherwise it’s wiring in the wall. Or the heater in the floor. You know, under the tile.

What’s your frustration today?
Christina Dodd, 11:15 AM | link | 31 comments |

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Liz Stirs Up Some Spooky Music for the Holiday

Originally uploaded by EliBev.
I know, I know. You're thinking if I'm going to do a Sunday Music Blog about scary music, then I should write about music that's REALLY scary. Like disco. Or the Everly Brothers. Or that most terrifying music of all, the heavy metal ballad. But in my opinion, like Halloween itself, the music of the holiday should also be fun. Hence the Rhino records collection called "New Wave Halloween."

Among the Squawkers, I go by many names, most of which aren't fit to print. But among the top five of my identities is Keeper of the New Wave. I have ALL of the Rhino Records "Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80s" collection. Not just the fifteen volumes of hits, but also the Christmas collection (which is one of my fave Christmas CDs of all time), and this, the Halloween collection.

Everything you need for your next Halloween party is here, so that dancing in costume--already much more fun than dancing in regular clothes--is made even MORE fun. The Ramones singing the closing credits theme to "Pet Sematary." Oingo Boingo singing "Dead Man's Party" (who could ask for more?). The B-52s with "Devil in My Car." Dave Edmunds (another personal fave) singing "Creature from the Black Lagoon." And, it goes without saying, "The Time Warp," which starts the album off with a bang.

And there are not one, not two, but SIX songs titled "Halloween" from the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Dead Kennedys, Sonic Youth and MORE. And as if all that weren't enough, there's the theme to the actual movie "Halloween," and, perhaps scariest of all, the theme song to "The Munsters."

So c'mon, boys and ghouls. Put on your dancin' shoes and make this Halloween the rockin'est ever. Let's make up a punch bowl full of zombies and do the Time Warp again!

Happy Halloween, Everybody!
Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:17 AM | link | 18 comments |

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Things That Go Bump

In honor of Halloween, I’m going to ask: What scares you? I don’t mean real scared. Real scared for me is doing something like driving across the Mackinac Bridge. It’s high. It’s long. It sways. You could really die if you fell off. I was scared witless by a blimp when I was five, but that’s a long story involving the effect of Cold War paranoia on an overly-imaginative child.

I’m talking about entertainment-type scared. Frankly, most things to do with vampires don’t scare me. I read about every vampire book in every genre that comes out (or at least have them all on the ever growing TBR pile), and I see every vampire movie, but not because I find vampires scary. The first time I read Dracula, I thought it was silly. But I was 13 at the time. Reading it as an adult I saw that it was all about sexual repression, fear of female sexuality, and the fear of said sexuality being awakened and corrupted by dark, foreign strangers. But it still didn’t scare me.

But a lot of books and movies have scared me over the years. The first movie I have vivid memories of scaring me is The Exorcist. I was somewhere in my early twenties at the time. My sister and I went to the movie, came home, and without a word from either of us, my sister proceeded to move the rollaway bed into my room so we wouldn’t have to be alone that night. Hey, we were products of a parochial school education.

Then there was Halloween. The original slasher movie. The one that has hardly any gore in it, but is really frightening. My boyfriend made me go to that one. Then he refused to stay the night after he brought me home. Rat. And for some reason he and I are still good friends to this day.

I don’t necessarily find Stephen King’s books scary. However, back when I was in college I made the serious mistake of reading The Shining late at night, in the dead of winter, in an old Victorian mansion. This was not a good idea.

Remember the television show Twin Peaks? There was this evil spirit thing called “Bob” on the show. Bob scared the hell out of me. Gave me nightmares for years. And the phrase, “The owls are not what they seem” still makes me shudder. Thank you, David Lynch.

Stephen Spielberg can scare me witless. Jaws made me scream (the book didn’t). Last summer’s War of the Worlds wasn’t bad, either…but I knew the ending going into it.

The Balrog and Shelob have scared me since I first read The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson’s version of them was just as effective as Professor Tolkien’s. And the movie version of the Ring Wraiths scared me more than Tolkien’s. I’ve seen The Fellowship of the Ring more times than I can count – and I still flinch when the wraiths appear.

Robert Harris’s Red Dragon had an interesting effect on my homelife. Once upon a time my housemate went off to a party at her sister’s house. I stayed home to read Red Dragon. I put the book down long enough to do the dishes. While I’m in the kitchen with my hands in hot water the front door opened and footsteps ran up the stairs to the second floor. By the time my housemate came back down I was standing by the stairs wielding the heaviest frying pan in the house as a weapon. Almost beaned her. If I hadn’t been reading that book, I might have logically assumed she’d come back to get something she’d forgotten.

I’ve scared myself a couple of times. As a writer, I mean. The first time was when I was writing a book called A Stirring of Dust. This book is a media tie-in to the syndicated vampire television series Forever Knight. I got the gig because I was a huge fan of the show. It’s the first vampire novel I ever wrote. There’s a mean ol’ vampire patriarch in the series named LaCroix. LaCroix has a job as a radio talk show host, and I had to write some monologues from his point of view. Having LaCroix in my head freaked me out something awful. The up side of writing LaCroix was that Nigel Bennett, the actor who played LaCroix in the series, wrote me a lovely letter complimenting me on getting his character right. And I’ve heard that student actors have used the monologues as acting exercises.

Currently I’m being creeped out by a new show on ABC called Invasion. I think it might be the best written new show of the season. It’s a take Invasion of the Body Snatchers and it’s full of all sorts of creepy ambiguity. Also, William Fitchner, who looks really great in a white shirt.

So, what scares you?

Connie Brockway, 11:02 AM | link | 58 comments |

Friday, October 28, 2005


KITTY: I caught up with the super-talented, multi-dimensional author Susan Sizemore as she was putting the finishing touches to a particularly lovely cable knit scarf. One caveat: I tape my interviews and then hand them over to Brockway for transcription. Sometimes she transcribes a little too much.

(sound of ice clinking in glass)

So, Brockway made you a bat. Huh. I thought I was the only bat. Yeah, I'm miffed. Have you noticed how she never includes me in that little in-group on the side? Like she' so--What? Oh. Right. It is running. Thanks.

"I screw dead people!"

Sorry, I HAD to say it. But tell me, Susan—what is the deal with the undead? Why do we find them so sexy? I mean I've bedded some stiffs---
(raucous laughter ending in a coughing fit)
Oh, God. Oh, stop! Ah. Okay. Okay. Really, Susan, what’s up with that? Dish, girl!

SUSAN: I do not screw dead people! No necrophilia in my vampire universe! The Primes are born vampires. It's a genetic thing. Kind of like the X-Men.

KITTY:Your omnibus, Crave the Night : I Burn for You, I Thirst for You, I Hunger for You (Paperback) is out and on the shelves. This is a compilation of your tres successful Pocket vampire books, right? Fabulous idea! How'd it come about?

SUSAN: I love how this came about – because I didn’t have to do anything. I just got a call from my editor one day telling me that the powers that be at Pocket had decided to do the omnibus of the three books. I thanked her profusely, and gratefully sent off a batch of vampire shaped cookies to the Pocket office.

KITTY: In your mythology vampires identify mortals as their soul mates, which is extremely sexy in an uber-alpha sort of way. Want to take us through a quick tour of the couples involved in the omnibus?

SUSAN: The couple in the first (Burn) book is Alec and Domini. He’s a Delta Force operator and she’s a professional bodyguard. He’s a Clan Prime, which means he’s all noble and heroic and a protector of humanity. Okay, so I “cast” my books and my image of them is of Viggo Mortenson and Liv Tyler. He’s a vampire developing a bad reaction to the drugs my vamps use to hang out in the daylight. It’s a bad time to meet his soul mate, as he’s on the edge of turning feral.

The next couple (Thirst) is Marcus Cage and Josephine Elliot. Marcus is a Family Prime, which means that he’s from a vampire culture that tries to blend into the mortal world. She’s a pilot that’s survived a plane crash and is physically and psychically scarred. He’s escaped from a facility that’s doing nasty testing on vampires to learn the secret of immortality. She’s on a camping trip in the desert trying to get her head together. Since he’s starving and in bad shape, he captures her and keeps her hostage while on the run. They fix each other and fall in love and stuff. This is my Vin Diesel and Rhada Mitchell book.

The next vampire hero (Hunger) is also Clan. Colin works as a SWAT sniper. His human love interest is Mia Luchese, and she’s from a family of (retired) vampire hunters. She has no idea the cop she had a brief affair with is a vampire – until after he saves her from being attacked by another vampire. Imagine her annoyance. Colin is an experiment in writing about a relatively young vampire (he’s only in his early thirties) finding his bondmate decades before this normally happens – and he doesn’t like it a bit. I see the characters as Colin Farrell and Jordana Brewster

The next book (Master of Darkness) will feature one of the villains from Hunger as the hero. Laurent is a Tribe Prime, which means he’s from the vampire culture that gives vampires a bad name – bloodsucking fiends, and all that. I described this guy as looking like “Legolas gone bad” in Hunger, but as I was writing the book he kept looking more and more like Josh Holloway from “Lost” to me, and the heroine, a professional vampire hunter, looks like Claudia Black.

Currently working on a Sean Bean-alike Prime hero, and it’s back to the Family culture for this one.

KITTY: Sean Bean, one of my favorite fantasies! Which is your favorite-- na- na nahhh-- no panzying out. Favorite! NOW-- and why.

SUSAN: So, you’re asking me to pick a favorite child? That’s a terrible thing to do! But, okay, I’m deeply in love with Marcus Cage. For one thing, he’s a great cook.

You also have success as a historical romance author and fantasy auteur (tell James she's not the only one who can use ten penny words!) do you EVER sleep? What are you working on now?

SUSAN: James, she can use ten penny words. Though, of course, when I see the word auteur I think of Martin Scorsese – and in my next life I really want to direct. I sleep way too much lately. That’s one of the reasons I’m behind on two books! I’m currently working on the fifth Vampire Prime book, which I’m told is going to be called Primal Heat. Which I think is a hot title.

KITTY: Huh? ( voice muffled) An auteur is a director? Crap. Don’t make me look bad here, Sizemore. (muffling removed)
What's your process? I mean-- I get up in the morning, pull off whatever I fell asleep in, stumble into the kitchen, shock the old bones into 1st gear with a Trifecta Cuban and a liter of Redbull and look up CHEAP-O flights on the internet to see how far I can get on 117.62. Then I get dressed.

SUSAN: Surprisingly similar process, except that I’ve gone decaf, and I check Travelocity.

KITTY: What's out next and when?

Scandalous Miranda. Real soon now. Technically it’s a December book, but barnsandnoble.com says it’s shipping in late November. It’s an historical romance. Also, a short story in a DAW fantasy anthology Time After Time is out next month. And Master of Darkness is out February next year.

KITTY: Time to play “Answer the Idiocy” – and yes, I’m sure it’s not just “idiot.” Here goes:

You're a car. What model?

SUSAN: ’71 Dodge Challenger. Oh, the backseat memories…

KITTY: Finally, you're heading.... north or south?

SUSAN: “South, they always go south.” To quote one of my favorite stories.
Connie Brockway, 3:07 PM | link | 12 comments |

Eloisa...Just Address Me as Your Majesty!

So we've talked about our children's Halloween costumes...but what about our own? Now I have to tell you that I haven't dressed up in a few years, other than putting on a witch's hat so I can answer the door in festive style while handing out treats. BUT...this year I got invited to a party. A Serious Party. The kind that says:

Costumes, or Else

The kind that is given by Bette Midler to sponsor her wonderful parks projects in New York City, with a live auction hosted by Martin Short, and the entertainment?

Elton John!

I need a costume, right? So I wandered out of my university office two days ago and found my way into a proper costume place, one that has been collecting costumes from the theater and stage and then renting them out. I'm going as Marie Antoinette! My skirt is huge, and I have panniers to wear under it so that I have to go through doorways sideways. I have the tightest little push-up bustier you can imagine, and a tiny velvet shrug on top. AND...the topper: a towering white wig with a pink feather!

Don't worry...I will post pictures. I can't wait! I'm thinking of how to put on a beauty spot: Lisa, do you have any advice? I was thinking of eyelash glue and a small velvet spot.

Who else has a party coming up and is going to do some proper dress-up? Is anyone going to town?
Eloisa James, 12:01 PM | link | 39 comments |

Thursday, October 27, 2005

CONNIE CHANNELS SUSAN SIZEMORE--at least until we can figure out how this guest blogger thing works...

Thank you for inviting me to join you ladies of Squawkradio. I am truly honored. I can hear Brockway and Dodd gagging in the background, so I’ll add -- More or less, considering the sources, and all that….

My apologies to all for arriving so late at the party. I have strong negative opinions about late guests, so I hate being one. However, my morning was spent in the clutches of the medical establishment – three, count them, three – appointments in one morning. Then when I finally got home my totally spoiled dog would give me no peace until we went for a long walk. Finally being back from the walk, she’ll now leave me alone until some other whim must be obeyed. I long ago resigned myself to the knowledge that I am not the alpha member of this pack.

When I was invited to make comments and spout opinions, or should I say, squawk, as a paranormal writer I had to figure out what I wanted to squawk about. It came to me that I should comment, and ask for comments, on the things that scare us, and why a touch of fear can be so titillating. I reckon I’ll get around to that by Halloween. Right now I feel like talking about communities, and the sense of community.

Oh, not in any deep and meaningful way. I’m too shallow for much philosophizing (unless I’m getting paid by the word). But I’ve been realizing how many ways there are to find a sense of community – and I’ve discovered a few more that I’m a part of of late. It seems that there’re all sorts of ways to find communication and friends, and you might not even notice any particular subculture until you’re a participating member of it. Now, I’ve always been involved with fellow writers. And I’ve belonged to groups like the Society for Creative Anachronisms, and I go to science fiction conventions. The weird stuff is a normal part of my world.

I got to thinking about community because I was invited to Squawkradio, but what really made me want to talk about it is knitting. In the last few months I’ve become yarn obsessed. I’m fascinated with color and texture and patterns. Thanks to Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition I even knit while I’m writing. I used to knit, and do a lot of embroidery, when I was younger, hadn’t done any for well over a decade. I didn’t think I’d ever become interested again. My first brush with the knitting community was when I was having lunch in a Noodles a few months back. Some young women at a table near mine were having a knitting group meeting. I noticed them all working on their projects, and suddenly signed with longing. When I went on vacation I decided to pick up some yarn and needles at a yarn shop, and started refreshing my skills. Then I went back for more yarn. And then more. I’d enriched the island’s economy quite a bit by the time we left. When I got home I discovered local yarn shops, and, dangerously, online yarn shops. UPS has been very busy delivering more and more yarn to my door. I bought books. I hid in my room and knitted and purled maniacally. My housemate made noises about my needing an intervention. But all this knitting was done on my own. The actual community part is something I’ve been drawn into recently.

It started on a ferry ride between Vancouver Island and the mainland. I was working on the scarf that ended up going to Geralyn Dawson when I saw another woman knitting in another part of the passenger cabin. I sidled over to sit behind her, meaning to strike up a conversation if the opportunity should present itself. Oddly enough, it was another community I’m part of that drew me into acquaintance, with the woman’s daughter. I happened to overhear the young woman mention Stargate, and I perked right up, and barged into their conversation. Turns out the young woman is the special effects supervisor of my favorite television show, and I learned all sorts of cool things from her about Stargate and Stargate Atlantis – because of knitting.

Then my roommate (the one who’s planning the interventions…as soon as I finish that sweater for her) saw an ad for a place called Yarn Café. We went there for lunch, and it was like going to heaven. I had lunch in the café, I signed up for a class, I talked to other knitters. I came home with some yarn.

Then this morning, I took knitting along with me to work on while waiting for medical stuff. First someone paused in the waiting room to tell me she was working on a shawl like I was making. We talked about yarn overs and other secret language stuff. Then I ended up teaching the doctor the pattern I was working on, for she is a knitter too. It was delightful to be sitting in an examination room showing the person I’d come to see how to do something. It reinforced this growing sense of belonging that makes me feel really good.

Anyway, thanks for inviting me into this community. And if you’re interested, the shawl pattern couldn’t be simpler. Pick a yarn and a needle size. Cast on three stitches. Knit one, yarn over, knit to end. Do this every row until it’s as long and as wide as you want. I have fancier patterns if you want. I know websites. I’ll go away now.

Susan Sizemore
Connie Brockway, 6:56 PM | link | 17 comments |

For those of you who said Teresa has never taken a bad picture...CAPTION THIS PHOTO!

This is my original 1st grade photo. I have only one question for you--Jack Daniels or Jim Beam? And did I mention that my mom used to cut my bangs? So what do you guys think--is it too late to prosecute for abuse???
Teresa Medeiros, 4:01 PM | link | 25 comments |

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Squawkers Welcome Susan Sizemore!

About thirteen years ago (when I was twelve), my then-editor said, “Christina, I want you to meet Susan Sizemore. She writes a lot like you.” Hm, I thought. So she’s talented. I hate her. (This is my knee-jerk reaction to any talented author — it works well for me.) Then I read her first book, WINGS OF THE STORM, a medieval time-travel, and realized just how clever, insightful and just plain funny she was. Hm, I thought, I don’t mind having her compared to me. But I still hate her.

Then I met her. So okay. I’ve had to look for new authors to hate because not only does Sizemore write clever, insightful and funny books, but she’s a clever, insightful and funny person who, dammit, is also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She also has a diverse talent — she’s written time-travel romance, romantic suspense, epic fantasy and fantasy short stories, historical romance, television spin-offs (for “Forever Knight”), straight vampire (the Laws of the Blood books) and vampire romance. Out right now is CRAVE THE NIGHT, a compilation of her first three vampire romances, I BURN FOR YOU, I THIRST FOR YOU, and I HUNGER FOR YOU. Her next in the Prime series is MASTER OF DARKNESS, out in February.

So naturally when we wanted a guest to get us in the mood for Halloween, we asked Susan. Please help us welcome Susan Sizemore!
Christina Dodd, 7:35 PM | link | 25 comments |

A Book Alert from Teresa!!!

Most of you know that THE BRONZE HORSEMAN by Paullina Simons has probably been my favorite book published in the last decade. I was completely mesmerized by the love story between the young Russian girl Tatiana Metanov and her dashing Alexander, a soldier in the Red Army who hides his American past, all set against the dramatic backdrop of the siege of Leningrad. I literally didn't get out of bed for an entire day while I finished it, something I hadn't done since I was a kid. I didn't want to eat. I didn't want to sleep. I didn't even want to write. It nearly tore my poor heart out when the book ended on a cliffhanger note.

Up until now the sequel, TATIANA AND ALEXANDER, hasn't been available in the U.S. I ordered the book from Amazon.com.uk when it first came out and enjoyed it just as much as the first book. Imagine my delight when I received my Doubleday bulletin this month and discovered the book was being published in the U.S. for the first time as a Doubleday exclusive! Unfortunately, this means the book still won't be available in stores but you can purchase it from Doubleday or Rhapsody Book Club (the romance version of Doubleday) if you're a member. Happy reading!
Teresa Medeiros, 3:47 PM | link | 7 comments |

Lisa Fashionista on "The Girl's Guide To Perfect Pants"


There is nothing so flattering and useful as a great pair of pants. But if you're like me, you have a collection of some great and some not-so-great pants in your closet. If only shopping were like dating, we could take a pair home, go out together a few times, and either commit or tactfully break it off. "Pants, it's not you, it's me." "Pants, I just don't think we're meant for each other."

But no. You have to make your decision, cut the tags off, and then they're yours for good. So if it's helfpul, I will share a lifetime's worth of hard-won wisdom on pants buying. Argue with my rules if you like--but make no judgements until you have someone take a polaroid of you in the disputed pants. If you like what you see, that's all that matters!

Ten simple pants rules:

1. Panty lines are evil. They make you look like you have two sets of butt cheeks. Not a good look for anyone, no matter what size your derriere. "On Gossamer" makes some super-thin mesh panties that work pretty well. Thongs also work well, although I personally find them too uncomfortable to wear for more than, say, three minutes. You might try full-coverage panties, or those new boy-short panties. Just remember, even if you don't see your back view for most of the day, many other people will.

2. Ankle-length or cropped pants make your legs look shorter. If you're tall, you don't care. If you're vertically challenged like me, just know your legs will look like a muppet's. Which on occasion is fine, and I own a few because they're great in warm weather.

3. Pleats always make you look bigger. No, don't argue. They do. If you're skinny, you can wear pleats, and the rest of us don't want to hear about it.

4. Super-skinny jeans look good on almost no one. Even super-skinny women.

5. Flares look good on almost everyone, and this is why : you don't want your hips to be the widest part of your body. Flares balance out your shape. Not extreme flares, just nice regular ones. Bootcuts are fantastic.

6. Low rises are fine within certain limits:
a. They must never be so low that the rest of us can see your butt crack.
b. They should sit just a little below your waist
c. They must never be so tight that your sides bulge out over the top. And don't assume an overblouse will hide this. I've tried it. Doesn't work.

7. Stretch denim is our friend.

8. Dark rinse jeans are more flattering and expensive-looking than paler shades.

9. Big patterns make you look bigger. Small patterns are more flattering. No, don't tell me about the big-patterned pants that work so well for you. I'm not listening, la la la la la la. . . .

10. Avoid "whisker-creased" jeans . . . you know, the ones with the white stripes across the tops of the thighs to make seem as if they're already old when you buy them. These usually don't flatter anyone except women with perfect thighs. And if you have perfect thighs, please keep it to yourself. Also avoid buying jeans with holes already in them.

Have I forgotten something? Or do you know about a great brand of underwear that will save us from the dreaded panty lines? What is your favorite brand of jeans, the pair you always reach for first?
Lisa Kleypas, 2:05 AM | link | 53 comments |

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Lisa on "Eighties Redux"

Dear friends,
As some of you know, I'm writing my first contemporary novel. It is a bigger, more complex story than I've ever tried before, with a longer time span and a bigger cast of characters. It starts off with my heroine as a thirteen year-old girl who is a child of the eighties. Naturally I'm including tidbits of eighties American culture to give this part of the novel some framework and flavor. And the more I ponder the eighties, the more I can feel a primal shriek of agony welling up inside me--"What were we thinking???"

I'm not going to try and delude you into thinking I wasn't "of" the eighties. Some people do that, you know. They pretend they were innocent bystanders, that they weren't "into" Madonna, they never watched MTV, their hair was never that big.

Yeah, right.

Well, I was an eighties girl. My hair was spiral-permed every eight weeks, moussed teased and sprayed into a big brown helmet. I wore shoulder pads up to my earlobes. I resembled a five foot tall linebacker. In four inch heels.

I watched Dallas, Dynasty and Family Ties. And God help me, I can't believe I'm saying this in public--I danced to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" about a thousand times, and I adored it.

I saw the movie Wall Street, and I actually did have a little trouble buying the "Greed is Good" line. But I saw Flashdance and I cut the necklines of my sweatshirts and wore leg warmers. And big headbands that covered my entire forehead.

I owned a Rubik's Cube. I never ever ever ever ever ever got all the little colored squares to match.

I was shocked when I first heard of the strange new disease called "gay cancer" and later renamed AIDS.

So much to remember about the eighties . . .and so remarkable to me that some of my younger readers may not automatically recognize the references I'm weaving through my narrative. What was good about the eighties? What was bad? Anything you think I shouldn't overlook as I try to convey this gaudy, busy, fascinating time in our history?
Lisa Kleypas, 2:17 PM | link | 77 comments |

Monday, October 24, 2005

Teresa Remembers Falling in Love for the Very First Time

A couple of weeks ago, Eloisa talked about the books that made us cry. That got me to thinking about all of the books that made me fall in love for the first time. I'm talking about the children's/young adult books that weren't necessarily considered romance, but started a lifelong love affair with the genre.

One of my favorites was Elizabeth George Speare's Newberry Award winning book THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND. I read it so many times that to this day I can still see echoes of Speare's writing style in my own work. I've never forgotten courageous Kit Tyler and Nathaniel Eaton, the handsome captain's son who ends up rescuing her from the small-minded villagers who believe she's a witch. (And yes, Eloisa has mentioned this book before because it's one of her favorites too!)

Another of my first loves was Alamanzo Wilder from Laura Ingalls Wilder's LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series. (Not the blond, banal Alamanzo from the TV show, but the dark and slightly more dangerous Alamanzo from the books.) When Laura became a teacher, it was Alamanzo who would drive her through the snowdrifts to the schoolhouse each day. He was the strong, silent type, but you could almost feel the romantic tension vibrating between them.

I still remember Gwen Bristow's CALICO PALACE and those other wonderful westerns where the wagon trains were heading west and romance and adventure were always waiting along the trail. Ditto WILDERNESS BRIDE by Annabel and Edgar Johnson where 15-year-old Corey finds herself betrothed to a brooding stranger. And wasn't there even a definite hint of romantic tension between Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe in A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L'Engle? Eloise Jarvis McGraw's MARA DAUGHTER OF THE NILE was one of the first books I read where the hero and heroine were at odds, which was wildly sexy (although I may not have recognized that breathless feeling at the time :)) Patty Bergen and her doomed love Anton Reiker in Bette Greene's SUMMER OF MY GERMAN SOLDIER still haunt me to this day.

I don't have children but if I had daughters, these are some of the books I'd have wanted them to read. I know I'm forgetting a lot of my favorites so why don't you help me? What are some of the books you read as a child that helped to foster your love of romance?
Teresa Medeiros, 2:09 PM | link | 52 comments |
Maybe not much of a challenge but can you match each ghosts' eyes to the right squawker?
Connie Brockway, 11:30 AM | link | 12 comments |

Unexpected Treasure Finds Xtina

When I was first published, I imagined that everyone from my high school (where I was possibly the head nerd) would know I was famous and get in touch so they could fawn over me. And it happened just like that.

Okay, maybe it took fourteen years and twenty-five books before one of my best friends from junior high and high school noticed I was published — but the wait made it more cool! Last year Rae sent me an email, and it was great to catch up and realize that two awkward, glasses- and braces-wearing teenagers (yes, she was my competition for head nerd) from Nampa Junior High School in Nampa, Idaho had managed to have two amazingly successful careers, her as speech-writer for some well-known politicians and me as … well, you know.

Today it happened again, but from much, much farther back. One of my friends from grade school contacted me and said, among other things, “I had a best friend in Sunnyvale, California in early grade school. Her name was Christina Dodd … I have fond memories of our creative play together (thanks to her imagination and my ability to go along with her direction).” I was so thrilled to hear from Delores! But I’m not sure … did she say I was bossy? I was not, and I wrote back and told her to stop saying so.

Everybody has their good friends they lose track of and wish they knew where they were, what they were doing, and what they look like. And sometimes if you’re lucky, like I was today, you find out. Have you had a wonderful reunion with an old friend? Tell us about it!
Christina Dodd, 12:10 AM | link | 16 comments |

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Liz Offers Music for a Mellow, Rainy Day

Originally uploaded by EliBev.
Well, it's mellow and rainy HERE, at least. At last. (I think we've FINALLY said goodbye to summer after a record-breaking 87-degree day this week. Sheesh.)

Now then. What’s the most remarkable thing about Sondre Lerche’s debut album, “Faces Down”? Is it that the songs were written when he was only seventeen (or younger)? That the CD came out when he was only nineteen (and was delayed a year after completion so that he could finish school first)? That there’s a remarkable maturity, both musically and emotionally for one so young? That it’s reminiscent of a decade that predated the kid’s birth by twenty years? That he hardly sounds Norwegian at all when he sings? All of the above?

Whatever. Remarkable the album is. And quite lovely, too. Overrun with accoustic guitar and lyrics that are gentle, yet still kinda teenager edgy, it reminds me a lot of those albums from the 60s that might have provided background music for the neighborhood cocktail hours--right down to the fluid, feminine “lalalalala” background vocals on the opening, title, track. According to Lerche’s web site, one of his influences (among a VERY eclectic list) was Burt Bacharach. Not surprising. What is surprising is that John Lennon isn’t listed as an influence, because when I listen to the album, I hear a lot of late 60s Lennon in the mix, as well.

Let me put it this way. I discovered Sondre Lerche (and frankly, I’m still not sure of the pronunciation, though a local DJ pronounced his name “SONdray LAIRkay”) by walking into a music store when the CD was playing. What first caught my attention was the smooth timbre of the singer’s voice. And at first, I thought I was listening to jazz. Then the next tune made me think pop. Then the next tune made me think folk. By then I realized I was only hanging around the music store to hear what would come next. Obviously, I had to buy the CD and take it home with me.

I’m so glad I did. Sondre Lerche said of “Faces Down” that it “came from that first uplifting rush of spontaneous inspiration in discovering that you can write songs.” I suspect that’s much like the spontaneous rush of inspiration that comes in discovering you can write a novel. Maybe that’s why I respond to it so much.

Or maybe it’s just because “Faces Down” is a rich, lavish, folk-pop-jazz-accoustic symphony that leaves the listener sighing with mellow contentment. Mostly, I like it for a rainy day or driving at night. Or as the background music for my next neighborhood cocktail hour. Cheers, everybody!
Elizabeth Bevarly, 12:09 PM | link | 13 comments |

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Teresa posts a treat for all of you pervy hobbit fanciers out there...

For those of you who missed it the first time around, check out THE SECRET DIARIES OF CASSANDRA CLAIRE, one of the funniest LOTR sites I ever found. Just start with Aragorn's diary and keep reading to learn why Legolas's hair always looked so darn good and why Sam kept casting Frodo those longing glances.

(DISCLAIMER: I ADORE these movies and am reading this site with tongue firmly planted in cheek!)

Most of you already know that Samwise, my plump little hobbit love muffin, was my favorite character from the movies. So who was yours???
Teresa Medeiros, 10:24 AM | link | 43 comments |

Friday, October 21, 2005

Teresa would like to interrupt your regular Squawk Radio viewing with this message courteously supplied by Manuela on the Avon Authors Board. After wiping the drool off of your keyboard, you may now return to your regular Squawk Radio viewing schedule.
Teresa Medeiros, 4:23 PM | link | 19 comments |

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Most of you have probably figured out by now that I'm no more the Martha Stewart of the mothering set than I am the Julia Child of crockpot mavens. In fact, I don't know my way around a sewing machine, I'm no good at playing Candyland, and pushing people on a swing makes me dizzy and nauseated. BUT I do have one skill! I can use a hot glue gun like nobody's business.

So this year my daughter declined to trapse off to the store and buy a fairy costume, as she did last year. Oh no...she wanted a Peter Pan costume. And what's more, the Disney version wasn't right. Peter Pan, according to my 6 year old, has clothing made from leaves that just blew onto him and stuck.

No problem! We spent a good hour blowing leaves onto a green shirt (after it had been artistically cut into rags) and then gluing them on. That weird little thing with the red feather is Peter's hat. I thought maybe we should get a pattern for making a hat, but hey, who needs a pattern when you have felt and a hot pink glue gun? We just glued here and there, and Peter has a hat!

So I read about all the lovely things your children and yourself have been...my question is a little different. What's the best costume you ever MADE -- for yourself or a child?
Eloisa James, 8:57 PM | link | 38 comments |

Lisa on "A Vampire Of One's Own"

Dear friends,

The annual question of what-are-you-going-to-be-for-Halloween has once again been answered. On October 31, our household will send forth a dreadlocked pirate and a princess. Last year, my son was a vampire and my daughter was a princess. The year before, my son was a space alien and my daughter was . . . you guessed it . . . a princess. My daughter knows who she is and feels no pressure to try something different. "Princess" works for her. My son is a little more experimental. And he has a way of making each costume his own. When he was a vampire, for example, he refused to wear the plastic fangs. If anyone asked why he had no vampire teeth, he replied somberly that he was a vegetarian.

There are some truly lovely families in our neighborhood who don't allow their children to celebrate Halloween because of its pagan origins. I can't argue with that--it is a pagan holiday with very dark trappings. However, my contention is that Halloween has evolved into a holiday that has far less to do with the celebration of paganism than with the celebration of candy and dress-up. I still remember the childhood delight of deciding what costume I was going to wear, the identity I was going to try on for a night. I also remember the wonderful rattle of candy in my plastic pumpkin bucket, the delicious heft of it in my reddened fingers near the end of the night.

We had better treats then . . . homemade popcorn balls, candy apples, and--since I grew up in a largely Armenian neighborhood--tiny diamond-shaped morsels of baklava, stuffed with cinnamon honey and nuts. Now, of course, my children can't eat a single piece of candy until my husband and I have inspected the lot. I briefly mourn the loss of innocence that compels us to look for pins and razor blades and suspicious holes in the wrappers.

But some things haven't changed. The moment my children walk out in their costumes, they are too funny and dear and cute for words. And every time we walk up to a stranger's door and my son and daughter go through the trick-or-treat ritual, I treasure it because I know this won't last forever.

What are the best costumes you've seen or made? And what are your children going to wear this year?
Lisa Kleypas, 7:36 AM | link | 56 comments |

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Why simple! You just sign up for the Squawker newletter using the little bravenet form on the left hand side bar under the counter! You might have noticed we don't post things like appearances, book signings, conferences etc on the blog. We save those for the newletter (which is more like a Squawker Alert Central) since rarely do all of us land in the same spot on the same day for the same reason. So, for instance, if you wanted to know where Lisa Kleypas is signing her latest book-- sign up for the newletter! Lisa will send you all the pertinent information as soon as she has it available.

Go on, sign up!
Connie Brockway, 6:52 PM | link | 21 comments |

A HUGE Squawk of Congratulations to Lisa Kleypas and Christina Dodd who are hogging up the #15 and #16 slots on the New York Times bestseller list this week with IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN and MY FAIR TEMPTRESS!!!
Teresa Medeiros, 6:02 PM | link | 21 comments |

Eloisa on the Meaning of Life

It has taken me a few years to discover but (how lucky for you all!) I am here, now, to tell you...


The way to happiness, the path to nirvana, the one true joy in life.

(No, Christina, that's not it!)

True happiness comes from one thing: controlling chaos. I meant to add an illustration of my desk to this powerful statement, but I can't get my digital camera to work because it says a "file is unavailable" -- which is a perfect example of my point.

Everywhere I turn, I'm buffetted by chaos. My desk is a welter of papers. Folders are upright, sideways, stacked in piles. There's also an interesting acorn (by right of being yellow) that my son brought me yesterday, a chocolate version of the RITA (the prize for best romance that I would like to win if Connie stops snatching them all up), a pot of half-dead but not quite there flowers and a huge sign that says "Interview 8 pm tonight." It's a live radio interview all the way from Australia and I'm terrified I'll forget all about it. My bookshelf is a wilderness of books to be read, books given to me that will never be read, chicken paraphernalia, various plaques and honors and a box of birthday ribbon. In fact, my life is a wreck. And yet I have bought every organizing book on the market. I spend hours filing (when I have hours). I am lucky enough to have someone to clean my house for me (so the piles aren't dusty). And yet...chaos.

I've figured out a few ways to control the hundreds of things that mothers, wives, and working women have to do, and I thought I'd offer them up, in the hopes that all of you will have even better tips! So:

Eloisa's Organization Tips

1) Make a To-Do list. Put everything on it. This will be so frightening that it will give you heart palpitations, so find a tiny yellow sticky and write three things on it that you have a reasonable chance of doing today. If the big list says "write novel," the little ones can say "write 5 pages." Cross off the little items as you do them: that way you have a sense of accomplishment.

2) Make another list. This one is called Goals. Make the first one, "Simplify," and go on from there. This is kind of a touchy-feely list and can include things like "have a baby before my ovaries go into mothballs" or "cheer up the family so we're not all so cross." Add one more: "See my girlfriends more often."

3) Throw out a lot of stuff. I have discovered that life is easier if you actually don't keep a paper trail. Or a clothing trail either (by which I mean those pants that haven't fit since 1987, but your daughter might like them, or you might fit into them--you won't, she won't, and Goodwill exists for pants like those).

4) Buy a lot of plastic containers and put things in them. Don't make the mistake of buying transparent containers -- you don't want to see what's inside. After a year, if you haven't opened a container at all, you should feel free to throw it out.

And the biggest one of all, and the realization I am really really trying to live by: when you're lying around in the funeral home and somebody is tucking you into a coffin lined with baby blue satin, are you really going to be thinking: "I should have been a more organized person? I should have worked harder? I should have pulled myself up by my bootstraps?"

My suspicion is that I'm going to lie there thinking: 1) I always knew my husband had bad taste and would put me in blue satin, and 2) I wish I'd hugged him more, and 3) I wish I'd hugged all my friends more, and 4) I wish I'd spent more time admiring oddly colored acorns that a child found on his walk and thinks I need on my desk.

Who's figured out some other tips for surviving life in an organized, successful manner -- for anything from cooking to housekeeping to writing to working to raising children?
Eloisa James, 8:24 AM | link | 49 comments |

Monday, October 17, 2005

Christina Ponders Music to Write Sex To

It’s not an easy business, this writing gig. I write a story told (and lived) everyday, the dance of courtship, of love, of passion. When I write a love scene, I want the reader to relive (or anticipate) the moment she first touched the man she loved, first took the huge step of trusting him with her body. The only tools I have are words, but I do have an assistant, and that’s music. When I’m writing, I put on my ipod and listen …

Right now I’m listening to Madeline Peyroux, a Frenchwoman with a fabulous voice, and her album CARELESS LOVE, and that one fabulous song she sings called, “Dance Me to the End of Love.” I swear, that song with its yearning and makes me remember what it is to fall in love for the very first time.

When I want that driving sexual force, I listen to Melissa Etheridge from her album YES I AM and the song, “I’m the Only One.” What great lyrics! “But I’m the only one who’ll walk across the fire for you, I’m the only who’ll drown in her desire for you.” This is such a great song it leaps generations — both my daughters and I bound up and pretend to sing into a fake microphone when it’s on. (Oh, shaddup. Yes, it’s dorky but it’s fun.) (And my kids are terrified right now that I’m going to tell a certain story on them … heh heh. The only thing that’s stopping me is they know stories about me. J)

I love the old standards. Grab Ella Fitzgerald and any of her songbooks and you can find at least one unforgettable gem — “My Funny Valentine” is a great ballad about a guy who’s not handsome or smart but she loves him anyway. Yep, that’s love. Oh! And Nat King Cole — “Stardust,” “Unforgettable,” or ::cough:: “Almost Like Being in Love.” (Which some romance writers whose initials are Christina Dodd were smart enough to name a book.)

“Have You Ever Loved a Woman?” by Bryan Adams (out of Don Juan de Marco, one of the MOST passionate movies ever) tells about the kind of devotion a woman WANTS a man to feel for her. Most men don’t, but when I asked Scott what he thought the most romantic song ever written was, this was his choice. Yes, girls, there’s a reason why I’m a romance writer, and a reason why I’ve been married pretty much since the earth’s crust cooled.

So, since I’m always looking for new songs, what are the sexiest melody you know? You never know, the next time my heroine rips off my hero’s clothes, it could be to your song!
Christina Dodd, 11:53 PM | link | 100 comments |

Liz Becomes Socially Conscious

A recent trip to a new/used bookstore I hadn’t visited in a while led me to the discovery that the owner was scaling WAY back on her old categories (the shorter romance novels published by Harlequin and Silhouette). As in, she wasn’t going to carry anything more than a couple of years old, unless it was by a major name. This of course saddened me, because the old categories are getting harder and harder to find. My sadness turned to delight, however, when said bookstore owner generously told me I could go through her collection and take any old books I wanted for free.

Free books. Oh, my. Life doesn’t get any better than that. Unless they’re free books that spawn all kinds of happy reminiscence.

So I gleefully pawed through scores of old, old Desires, since Silhouette Desire was the line that made me rabid for category romance. I started reading them while majoring in English in college, and after a week full of 500 and 600 level literature classes that had me reading dense (in more ways that one) tomes featuring heroines who were either a) driven mad, b) abused, or c) killed off in a variety of ways, often by their own hands, it was kinda nice to come home and crack open a slender Desire where the heroine was in command of both her life and her destiny. More important, the heroine was happy.

But it didn’t strike me until I dove into my old, old Desires last week just how socially significant the books are. The one I began last night was published in October 1984, exactly five years before my first book (likewise a category romance) was published. At that time, I was only months away from abandoning a Master’s Degree in English midway through my studies, because I was reaching a point where I was beginning to loathe the written word--both written by others and by myself. Obviously, a lot changed in that time. But, hey, that’s the 80s for you. A time of change.

This book is SO different from the category romances written today, and truly, were it written now, it wouldn’t stand a chance of being published. Not just because it takes place in Denmark. And not just because both the hero and heroine are archaeologists. And not because it’s poorly written, either, because it’s actually very good. But it isn’t timely. Any reader younger than me would throw it against a wall by chapter three, because she’d consider the hero--a total beta male by the standards of that time--to be a jerk. For example, in the first chapter, he insinuates that the heroine should bring him a cup of coffee, simply because she’s a woman. The heroine, of course, declines--and in a deliberate gesture, instead gets herself a cup of coffee she hadn’t wanted before his request.

But that’s what’s so significant about these books, what makes them so important. They are a snapshot of the times in which they were written, far more than any other literature produced at the time. Two hundred years from now, if anthropologists want to know what life in late twentieth century America was REALLY like, all they need do is read a bunch of category romances, starting from the time they began to achieve popularity in the 70s and following through the turn of the century.

At the risk of sounding sexist, women are far better equipped to be recorders of history than men are. We’re the ones who are most involved in the daily tasks that keep the world turning. We’re the ones most likely to maintain the familial and social relationships that constitute society. And we’re the ones who dictate popular culture through the products we buy. Consequently, WOMEN’s fiction is going to be a much more accurate reflection of the times than men’s fiction is.

And MAN, are those old categories a reflection of their times. A time when the women’s movement had made a difference in women’s lives, but sexism was still alive and well. A time when women were told it was okay to have a career--as long as we took care of the family, too. A time when perfectly nice men still felt they were entitled to special treatment simply by virtue of their gender.

A time when women were genuinely beginning to realize just what an adventure their lives could be. Those early categories took place all over the world--I found books that day in the new/used store that were sited in Greece, South America, Scotland and Hong Kong. The jobs the heroines have range from art collector to herbalist to CEO. And in every book, the heroine is doing just fine, thanks, when a man turns up in her life who, unlike other men she encounters, ultimately learns to respect and admire her for her accomplishments and herself.

That’s what the 80s were about to women in large part: Winning respect and admiration for their accomplishments, both large and small, that they had deserved and been denied throughout history. And exploring myriad opportunities, both personal and professional, they hadn’t had the chance to investigate until then. I hate it that the books that reflect such a significant part of the feminine experience in American history are becoming so scarce. So I’m going to start snatching up as many as I can. And two hundred years from now, anthropologists across the country will thank their lucky stars for my library.

So am I the only one who likes to take trips down memory lane with my old romance novels? What made you start reading and loving romance? What in those old books still speaks to you? What are your favorites from ten or twenty years ago, and what makes you go back to read them over and over again?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 8:37 AM | link | 45 comments |

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Congratulations to our guest Squawker Debbie Macomber!

Debbie is a great writer and a great friend, and now she's the winner of the first Quill Award for the Best Romance of 2005!

The competition was tough. To win she beat out the other finalists: two Nora Roberts books, BLUE DAHLIA and NORTHERN LIGHTS, Janet Evanvitch's THE ROCKY ROAD TO ROMANCE, and Mary Janice Davidson, UNDEAD AND UNEMPLOYED. But Debbie's homespun combination of humor, drama and warmth prevailed.

The Quill Awards is "A new book award program that pairs a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz to bestow the first literary prizes reflecting the tastes of the people who matter most--readers." In other words, the readers voted on their favorite book and the Awards Ceremony will be broadcast on NBC on October 22! I can't wait to see it. From all of us at Squawk Radio, Debbie, congratulations!
Christina Dodd, 11:32 AM | link | 9 comments |

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Teresa Has Peeps Too!

I just wanted you guys to know that Eloisa wasn't the only one with chicken paraphernalia. I was signing in Clarksville, Tennessee today when one of my DRs (Darling Readers) stopped by. She hadn't realized I'd be signing this afternoon. After chatting for a few minutes, she disappeared only to return a little while later bearing this adorable Beanie Baby named "Peeps". So when I tell you I have the best peeps (and the best readers!) in the world, I'm not kidding!
Teresa Medeiros, 5:28 PM | link | 20 comments |

I just received this letter from the Children's Advocate at our local women's shelter SANCTUARY HOUSE and wanted to share it with all of you.

Dear Teresa Medeiros,

I just wanted to say thank you and your wonderful readers for the wonderful donation of Beanie Babies. I really appreciate that you and your friends at Squawk Radio helped host this drive. A lot of our children come into the shelter without anything. So it is really nice that we are able to give a child a toy to provide some comfort during this trying time.

Without the support of the community and people like you, we would be lost. So once again, thank you for help us help others and making a difference in the life of Sanctuary's children.

Candy Lear
Children's Advocate

Thanks again to all of our generous readers at Squawk Radio who donated Beanies for this project!!!
Teresa Medeiros, 8:53 AM | link | 9 comments |

Friday, October 14, 2005

Eloisa In Praise of Tear-Jerkers...

Mrs. Mike, Archtypal Tear-Jerker

I just wanted to put up a short blog in praise of the True Tear Jerker. How many of us haven't found ourselves sitting in bed, sobbing so hard that your eyes feels weird and your chest is literally heaving, kleenex strewn all over the bed AND the floor?

My mother recently decided that she was tired of having closets full of grown children's books, called a mover, and consequently deposited on my doorstep all of my old books. Including Mrs. Mike. If you find yourself up for the kind of book they really don't write much any more...a saga about a sixteen-year-old Irish girl and a rugged Canadian Mountie in which everything doesn't necessarily turn out perfectly...find this book!

I loved it when I was sixteen, and oh, I loved it now. Sgt. Mike is everything one could hope for in a husband: steady, incredible loving, romantic and funny. And when the worst that can happen happens, he's there for Katherine Mary. Until she leaves him... but...

It is a love story, after all. One of the great ones ever. And I dare you to read it and not find yourself strewn with kleenix, and your husband walking in the bedroom and saying, suspiciously, "didn't you just finish your period?"

So what's one of your favorite tear-jerkers? Movies count too! How about The Other Side of the Mountain? Anyone remember that?
Eloisa James, 3:14 PM | link | 85 comments |

Liz Provides a Little Pastime Until Somebody Who Was Supposed to Blog Today Blogs

Originally uploaded by EliBev.
I know this is usually Connie's forte, but...

Elizabeth Bevarly, 1:54 PM | link | 20 comments |

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Teresa Faces Her Worst Nightmare...and Survives

Just last week Eloisa discussed all of the dreaded conference neuroses that we suffer. And ironically enough, during a business trip to a Books-A-Million seminar in Birmingham, Alabama this very week, I had to face MY very worst traveling nightmare. Was it a terrorist threat? Sitting next to someone on the plane with SARS? A bird with red eyes and a runny nose perched on my hotel window ledge?

Alas, it was worse than that! Only an hour before I was supposed to go downstairs to meet and greet my adoring public, I discovered I had forgotten to pack...MY MAKE-UP!!! (That howl of anguish you just heard came from Lisa.) I am usually very careful about this. I may not always carry extra underwear but there are 2 items I always pack in my carry-on in case my checked luggage is lost—my speech and my make-up. This time I carried on ALL of my luggage, but failed to pack the make-up. (At least my husband could have FAXED me a speech!)

Given that I'd had this very nightmare numerous times, one would have thought immediate hysteria would ensue. After all, I am at the age where I need foundation to cover both wrinkles and zits. And since I'm having a bad hair life, it makes me feel a little better if I can pretty up my face. But instead of falling apart, an eerie calm descended over me. I rummaged through my purse to discover a lone tube of lipstick, then quickly dressed and went down to the hotel gift shop to discover that the only make-up they carried was a lone tube of lipstick. (That
"#$%^#@" you just heard came from Liz.)

Still feeling weirdly calm, I went back to my room with only 30 minutes to go before I was due at the signing. Without mascara or eyeliner, I have the eyes of an albino rabbit. Deciding it was more important to look good than to avoid permanent blindness, I attempted to use the hotel ink pen as an eyeliner. It didn't work very well. Those things just weren't designed to draw on skin. I eyed the lone tube of lipstick, knowing what I had to do. Taking it into my trembling hand, I proceeded to smudge lipstick on my eyelids, my cheeks, and oh, yes...my lips.

Then I gazed into the mirror and prayed that the Lord would let my inner beauty shine through. (Those howls of laughter you just heard came from Connie and Christina.) Perhaps, if the Books-A-Million managers were gracious (and nearsighted) enough, I could skate by on nothing but dimples and charm. After all, don't hundreds of thousands of women leave the house every day without make-up? Why in certain intellectual circles (and at the national RWA conferences) the less make-up you wear, the more intelligent you're presumed to be! (That superior nod of agreement you heard was Eloisa's.) Just because my mama was a Maybelline queen who never left the house without full eyeliner, that didn't mean I had to be afraid to show my naked face to the world, did it?

So I marched boldly downstairs and after a few minutes of chatting with those charming people who obviously loved books just as much as I did, I did the unthinkable--I forgot about myself. My only moment of weakness came when I spotted the trio of black Sharpies the Books-A-Million folk had kindly left for me to sign the books. But I battled that temptation, knowing that if I tried to use a Sharpie as an eyeliner, I'd probably end up looking like Cleopatra or worse yet, an albino raccoon. (Plus I wasn't sure workmen's comp would cover putting your eye out with a Sharpie during an autograph signing.)

When I came home, I shared this sobering and life-altering experience with my fellow Squawkers. Then I e-mailed them some pics. I'd barely hit SEND before a REPLY from Christina came bouncing back. "Ya know, Terri," she wrote, "You don't look so bad without make-up." Unfortunately, the picture I'd sent was from a signing the week before when I WAS wearing full make-up. Ya know, with friends like these...

So tell me, my little chickadees, when YOU'RE traveling, what's the one thing you won't leave home without?
Teresa Medeiros, 2:47 PM | link | 50 comments |

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Last night the phone rang at about one-thirty a.m. It was Doo-dah. She was calling to apprise us of the fact that she had just electrocuted herself. And to tell us that her arm was “all tingly.”

Well, duh. That happens when you

That’s right, in a burst of Home Improvement Euphoria, and having run out of adaptors for various crap, Doodah decided to turn her two prong electrical outlet into a three prong outlet. She made a call to “a guy” (who she apparently assumed by virtue of gonads alone was tapped into some Greater Electrical Consciousness) and got “instructions.” He did tell her not to stick anything metal into the exposed outlet. He did not tell her to TURN OFF THE JUICE or that FLESH CONDUCTS ELECTRICITY, TOO! Thus Doodah’s fishing expedition for the proper wire with her fingertips. Thus further, the flat-on-her-ass kickback from however many volts I don’t want to know.

Now, I’m feeling pretty calm about the whole thing today, but immediately after getting off the phone, I burst into tears. David, with the inimitable logic of the clueless male, pats me awkwardly on the shoulder and croons, “It’s all right. She’s okay.”

At which point I slap his hand away and glare at him and hiss, “Yeah! TODAY. But what about tomorrow? Dear God, David, she’s a very smart girl doing better than 3.5 at a very hard college and she doesn’t know enough not to stick her finger in an electrical outlet! What else haven’t I taught her?” By this time I am in full keen, rocking back and forth and doing a mea culpa that would have done my Irish granny proud. “What other things do I assume she knows that she doesn’t and which one day are going to get her killed? Does she know not to mix bathroom cleanser and bleach? Have I told her not to siphon gas with her mouth? Aeeeiiiii!”

So, I ask you, mothers all, what other things should I have taught Doodah that I haven’t? Where have you been brought up short by the realization that you have not adequately prepared your kid for...well...LIFE?

Connie Brockway, 8:14 PM | link | 47 comments |

The current bane of Xtina’s existence is … Drum roll, please!

Picking out names.

Oh, sure, you’ve done it. You named your kids something, or your cats or your dogs. You know how important this is. You worry about it, argue about it and finally come up with the perfect name. But I’ve written almost thirty books. I’ve named literally hundreds, maybe thousands of people. I am constantly naming heroes (must sound manly) and heroines (feminine but not too gooshy) and secondary characters (should reflect their personality.) And don’t forget, the names should be distinctive!

Right now I’m starting a book. I’ll be in a mad fervor, writing a scene, when suddenly I’m jerked to a halt by a character who requires some kind of moniker, something beyond the ever-popular INSERT NAME HERE. So I go to my trusty baby name book and start the slow torturous trek through the letters. J … J is good for a hero, it’s has a strong sound. How about Jagger, that sounds manly. No, wait, I don’t want to remind the reader of Mick and his lips. Jenkins … Jenkins sounds like the butler. (Note to self: save for butler.) Jensen … gads, no, Scott’s cousins by marriage are Jensens and I don’t want to start anything with the relatives.

So finally I find a great name and what happens? I realize I’ve used it before. (I’ve had two heroes named William. Heck, maybe three.) And honestly, this stuff is trickier than you think. I’ve come up with names that rhyme (ugh) and sometimes my brain gets stuck in a rut — in the current manuscript I’ve already named one secondary character Alan and one Alanna. (Note to self: change that.) I wrote a novella once (it’s out of print) and I named the heroine Rose and the hero Thornton. It wasn’t until I was on page 80 that I realized what I’d done when one of my kids asked incredulously, “Mom, are you really naming them Rose and Thorn?”

Sometimes I’m too lazy — oops, I mean too involved in my prose — to get up and get the baby name book and … well, the heroine in my first book, a medieval, was Saura of Roget. Saura, okay, that sounds medieval. But you know, you KNOW, how I came up with Roget, don’t you? I frantically glanced around my office, and … Well, let’s put it this way. To this day, Susan Sizemore teases me about naming a character after my thesaurus.

So do you have any really great names for my characters? And what character names have you read that you thought should have been something else? Anything else?
Christina Dodd, 11:21 AM | link | 69 comments |

Monday, October 10, 2005

Eloisa returns covered with feathers!

Chickens Galore!
I just wanted to show everyone the lovely gifts that I went home with after the booksigning. I've been Squawkified! Some of the most generous, friendly women in the world showed up at the booksigning and showered chickens on my head.

Number One among these was Elsie, who doesn't comment on the blog all that much, but now I know she's there. How? Well, Elsie read my worried blog before leaving for the conference, so she showed up with chickens, chicken pens (that said CHICKS RULE!) that I could give to readers, chocolate kisses and a plate to put them in, and Squawk Radio buttons I could give away as well. I almost started crying right there and I would have, except that readers were standing in line trying to get all those give-aways I suddenly had.

I think Lisa and I both came home glowing with the feeling of being part of a squawker community. We're thinking of having little squawker parties before booksignings! Wouldn't that be fun?

Would you come early to a booksigning if there was going to be a little squawker gathering? No need to bring chickens!! What kind of thing makes you get out for a booksigning?
Eloisa James, 10:19 PM | link | 53 comments |


I caught up with the talented Christina Dodd in that new hinterland she’s haunting. I think it’s called Washington State. It makes Brockway’s Minnesota look toasty. She insisted we freeze our asses off sitting on her deck outside. Luckily, she made martinis. As well as writing extraordinary novels, she makes good martinis, too. Here’s portions of the taped interview:

Christina: Here, Kitty, let’s go out on my deck. Put on this coat. And this hat. Here’s the gloves. Let’s just use your cigar to light the fire in the fire pit. Now sit down, put your feet up and wrap this throw around your legs. Look at the view! Breathe the fresh air. That’s right, breathe. No, it’s impossible to get too much oxygen. Isn’t that refreshing? Look at the view. Isn’t that beautiful?

Why are you squirming like that, Kitty? Why are you acting so prickly?

Oh, wait a minute. Lisa bought you that Brazilian bikini wax, didn’t she? No wonder you’re acting prickly! Well, none of that here! This is Washington state! We’re all about good health, nature in the wild and Birkenstock shoes. Yes, Kitty, you can have another drink. Gin, dry, up. I know. You’re right, the martinis do stay icy out here!

KITTY: Why did you write another governess book? What’s MY FAIR TEMPTRESS about?

Christina: People have been asking for another book in the Governess Brides series, and asking and asking, so I called my dear friend the brilliant Connie Brockway and said, “I need a brilliant idea.” Because Brilliant Connie (did I mention she’s brilliant?) is a veritable font of brilliant ideas. So we brainstormed the plot of a guy who’s masquerading as a fop to hide the fact he’s stalking these two guys who helped kill his brother. His father gets exasperated with his behavior and hires a governess to teach him What a Woman Wants.

KITTY: Brockway’s about as brilliant as three day old fish—but whatever. So are you an accomplished flirt who left lots of, er, unhappy dates at the front door? Or is this wistful thinking?

Christina: I have been told by Brilliant Connie that I have no flirting skills at all. She says she has never seen me flirt with anybody. I was pretty insulted, but the Romantic Times review for MY FAIR TEMPTRESS says, “Dodd is clever, witty and sexy, and her fans know it.” I suppose some people would say this refers to the book, but who am I going to believe? A respected industry magazine or my idea person?
Hm, never mind.

KITTY: I have also heard something about your fashion foibles so... Pop quiz! Tulle or organdy for an April wedding? WRONG! The answer is SLOE GIN FIZZ. Okay, what's the worst fashion faux pas you ever committed?

Christina: Besides walking through the mall with the toilet paper on my shoe?

KITTY: Your webpage is covered with all these fabu quotes and reviews on your books. Sweet. But have you ever had a bad review?

Christina: Whoo-boy, yes, I’ve had some stinkers. My favorite funny one was the one on Amazon about A WELL FAVORED GENTLEMAN (the hero was half-selkie, a magical creature from Celtic legend who is a seal in the water and a man on the land) — “This is one of the worst books I have ever read. I think relations between species are disgusting, and this book of selkie love is no exception.” And there’s one for MY FAIR TEMPTRESS — “The best parts of the book, although infrequent, were the love scenes. Dodd has an amazing talent for writing steamy and original sex.” I think she meant to be mean, but personally I’d rip my credit card getting it out of my wallet to buy a book with that review.

KITTY: What was the best thing someone has said about your work? And stop rifling through those blank sheets of paper on your lap like you're looking for the quote. I know you have it memorized. Geez.

Christina: When I’d published about twenty books, my mother re-read all of them in order and said, “You’ve always been a good writer, but your writing has gotten better and better over the years.” Only my mom would say something so important to me — and only my mom would read all my books in order. J By the way, Kitty, how is your mom? When she celebrated her birthday, I saw the flare of the cake candles on the horizon.

KITTY: Hold on a second, I feel a little woozy. Glucose-intolerance, you know. Mom’s fine, thanks for asking. She just organized her biker club’s annual trek to Sturgis. Speaking of moving around, you lived in Texas for years. What made you move to Washington?

Christina: I love Birkenstocks?
Okay, not.
My husband and I are both from the west. I’m originally from California — yes, Kitty, that’s where Haight-Ashbury is — and lived in Idaho and Oregon. Scott’s from Idaho. We lived in Texas for years and loved it — yes, Kitty, it is warm there, but this brisk air is bringing roses to your cheeks. Either that, or it’s the gin — but we’re sort of like salmon. We had to swim upstream to our spawning area. This way we’re close to our families, but not too close, and it’s absolutely gorgeous here. Look along the horizon. Those are the Canadian mountains. Closer you can see the lake and the valley and the Pacific and the islands. I know it’s soppy, but the scenery here feeds my soul.

KITTY: Man, you gotta stop offering up targets this big! A woman can only stand so much! Hold on. Hold on. Okay. I think I’m ready now. Just another couple swigs. Okay. What’s the orange thingy you’re sitting in front of in your web site photo? Are you in jail?

Christina: Yes. My photographer’s doing time, but he charges really good rates.

KITTY: Do you REALLY have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the handsome prince?

Christina: Not unless you want warts on your lips.
How many frogs have you kissed, Kitty?

KITTY: Frogs. Not so many. Toads? Hundreds.

Christina: Since you were kind enough to trek all the way up here to do my interview, like Lisa, I want to do something special for you. Something that’ll make you remember Washington State. So we’re going up into the mountains where we’ll get naked and have a good, hot sauna. After we sweat out all the toxins, we’re going race outside to plunge into a snow bank and — Kitty? Kitty?

Man, look at that old lady run.

But she’s right. Here on the deck, the martinis do stay cold.
Connie Brockway, 11:54 AM | link | 28 comments |

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Teresa Exposes the Glamorous Life of the Romance Author

So I've just changed both of my litter boxes and gotten them all tidy and fresh smelling. I come home from church Sunday night to discover my geriatric cat Queennie has um...made use...of one of the the litter boxes. Alas, she has also somewhat...um...halfway missed the target. So I decide to scoop up said mess with a Kleenex and flush it down the commode. But I've barely started down the hallway when I drop the Kleenex and um...make a tremendous mess.

So I'm frantically cleaning up before my husband can come downstairs and discover what a doofus I've been. I eliminate the mess and rush into the kitchen for a can of Lysol. I'm spraying the Lysol everywhere when I suddenly realize that I've accidentally grabbed the can of Lemon Pledge.

So I go running back to the kitchen for a paper towel to clean up the floor. But I'm wearing only socks and the floor is now as slippery as an ice rink. So I fall down. Hard. My husband returns to find me lying on the floor, laughing so hard I can't get up while the cats gaze at me in perplexed silence.

I'm so glad he loves the Three Stooges!
Teresa Medeiros, 8:13 PM | link | 22 comments |

Liz Does Some Swingin'

Originally uploaded by EliBev.
When my mom and dad met, circa 1950, he was playing saxophone in a swing band as his night job. It was that moment, I’m certain, that ensured my love of such music forever. I grew up hearing the big sound of big bands often in my house, and my mom used to sing all kinds of girl singer standards from the 40s and 50s when she did her housework or cooked dinner or performed just about any other task. I was familiar with the Dorseys and Artie Shaw and Les Brown and Duke Ellington and Count Basie when it was in no way cool to know about such guys. And I never told any of my friends that I could swing like a swingin’ hep cat should.

So I was delighted when big bands started to make a comeback in the nineties in the wake of the Brian Setzer Orchestra. (And how cool was that, that my fave rockabilly singer made the move to big bands?) But where bands like the BSO and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy stayed pretty true to the tradition of big bands, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies put a major contemporary spin on it.

While the music on “Zoot Suit Riot” is, without question, big band music, there’s a definite ska influence. And the subject matter of many of the songs is gritty and downright unpleasant. It makes for an uncomfortable mix, wanting to dance all over the house while hearing about domestic violence and alcoholism and misogyny. But I think that’s partly the point. Cherry Poppin’ Daddies are all over the map with their music, and over the course of several albums, they’ve used a variety of musical subgenres to voice their social commentary. We don't live in a world of absolutes. There is going to be ugliness and misery amid beauty and pleasure. Likewise, there will be beauty and pleasure amid ugliness and misery.

In spite of the harshness of some subject matter, however, the album as a whole is a delight. There are traditional big band songs, like “Brown Derby Jump” and “Come Back to Me.” But there’s also “Here Comes the Snake,” which is probably the sexiest, most erotic song I’ve ever heard. And it’s all wrapped up in Steve Perry’s smooth, sensual, throaty vocals that send a shudder of heat through the listener’s body.

Tommy Dorsey would be horrified by some of the lyrics, no doubt. But he’d swing like a swingin’ hepcat should the minute his feet hit the dance floor. And maybe that's not such a bad message to convey in one's songs. That even in the midst of unhappy circumstances, there are still avenues that can lead us to a dance.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 1:05 PM | link | 8 comments |

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lisa on "The Pleasure Of My Company"

Well, the New Jersey conference has been pure delight for many reasons, not the least of which is the time I've been able to spend with dear Eloisa, and other friends such as Mary Jo Putney, Madelyn Hunter, Kathryn Smith and our lovely, charming Santa. Good food, great wine, and best of all, wonderful company. There is almost nothing I enjoy more than being with women who love books as much as I do . . . and this weekend I've met more than I can count.

But it struck me tonight as I entered the peaceful silence of my hotel room . . . for the first time in a long while, I am alone in a room. No chores to do, no children who need my help, no phone ringing. Nothing but quiet and privacy.

I used to take my alone time for granted. In fact, when I was single I resented it. I wanted to be with people, I wanted noise and excitement, and I craved the companionship of someone I loved, who loved me back. I was weary of my own company.

However, a funny thing happened during the past ten years of a happy and fulfilling marriage. I lost most of my private time in the bustle and frantic pace of ordinary family life. And although it has been willingly sacrificed, and I value all the things I have gained in return, I have learned that spending a few hours in utter silence, left with nothing but my own thoughts and inclinations, is very nearly magical. I am answerable to no one. I can take a forty minute bath, or read without fear of interruption. I can watch a chick flick, eat a piece of chocolate cake without sharing, stay up late, sleep in the middle of the mattress.

Tomorrow I will return to my family, and I ache to put my arms around my husband and children. I'm grateful that I am needed. But I'm also grateful for these precious moments of freedom, for the time spent with just me, myself and I.

How do you spend your occasional moments of alone time?
Lisa Kleypas, 9:51 PM | link | 32 comments |