Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Lisa on "Villains-turned-heroes"
Well it’s out!
I have been so delighted and honored by the reactions to Devil In Winter. It’s a privilege to be able to write for a living, and especially to write something as personal as a romance novel. I believe there is a special bond betweeen romance writers and readers, because we all share an interest in the intricacies of the human heart, and all the passion, humor, mystery, tenderness and general craziness of falling in love.
The hero of Devil In Winter is Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, who is a villain in the previous book. Originally I had no plans to turn him into a hero, but as “It Happened One Autumn” drew to a close, I couldn’t let him go.
Have you ever noticed when you’re watching a movie or reading a book that sometimes you’re rooting for the villain as much as the hero? In the old Hollywood westerns, the good guy always wore the white hat, and the bad guy wore the black hat. But some men look pretty damn good in the black hat! Some actors, and some authors, manage to give the bad guy a deliciously wicked allure. Like Antonio Banderas in “Assassins” or Alan Rickman in “Robin Hood” or Rutger Hauer in “Blade Runner”.
It is one of my favorite fantasies to see a powerful villain brought to his knees by love. But as I considered the problem of how to make Sebastian into a hero, I realized I had to show enough of his character to make him a little more sympathetic, and I also had to to put him through the wringer. You can’t redeem a villain easily--he has to go through some life-changing experiences, and this entails a little suffering.
The fun I had as an author was for Sebastian go through this process at the hands of the woman he (and the readers) least expect it from. Evie is a shy, awkward woman with a stutter, as compared to Sebastian’s silver-tongued smoothness. You would never think she could hold her own in an argument with him. But I knew Evie had steely inner strength, which was the only reason she had survived so long in the home of her abusive relatives. And from the very first scene between Evie and Sebastian, I felt the chemistry, tension, challenge, and reluctant liking that eventually pulls them together.
So who are some of your favorite villains from movies or books? Who lit your fire even though you were supposed to be rooting for someone else?
Monday, February 27, 2006
CHRISTINA’S BOOKTOUR part deux
That evening I signed at Wal-mart. A Wal-mart signing always surprises the shoppers; they come in to buy toilet paper and find an author autographing books. Sometimes it takes a lot of talking to convince people that, yes, I wrote the book. But Wal-mart is the largest bookseller in America and the night before Valentine’s Day, that store was busy and full of people who needed Valentine’s Day gifts. That was a very good signing. By the time I got to the hotel, it was about 8:30 and I hadn’t eaten since noon. I ordered dinner from the restaurant downstairs and went up to my room … and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally about 9:15 I called down and asked about it, and they said they were bringing it up.
Here’s my theory. Room service got it from the restaurant and didn't get around to delivering it right away, so they had to microwave it. It was lamb chops, very well-done lamb chops, which made it mutton-y, and — wait for it! — they didn’t bring up a steak knife so I could cut it. Did I call down for a steak knife? Nooo. Picture Christina alone in her room, looking like Henry VIII, eating with her fingers and tossing the bones over her shoulder.
Okay, I didn’t really toss the bones over my shoulder, but I wanted to.
On Valentine’s Day I traveled to Philadelphia to my daughter’s. She’s in law school at UPenn, and she called the week before and asked me out for Valentine’s Day. She’s a nice girl. Since I was far from Scott and she’s currently unattached, so we had the perfect date — good food, good wine and incredibly witty conversation. At least we thought so.
The next day I was interviewed on the Morning Show on WCAU-TV CHANNEL 10 (NBC). Here’s something I now know about myself. Public speaking may petrify me, but television is a breeze. Well, really. Think about it. Two very good-looking people are focusing all their attention on me and asking me about myself. What’s not to like? My daughter said I did a great job. I’ve seen the interview (and was trying to get a photo off the video to show you, but haven’t been able to yet. Later!) and you know what? She’s right! Best of all, the next day my daughter and I indulged in a manicure — and the manicurist recognized me from the interview! I mean, yes, I know that people actually watch TV, but I’ve never had someone flutter over me!
Sunday, I flew home to Washington, twelve grueling hours of flying. Ten days away is a long, long time, especially when it involves me being pleasant for more than one day in a row. I can barely work up pleasant for more than one hour in a row. (Shaddup, Teresa.)
I had five days at home where I rushed around trying to finish all the stuff I had neglected while I was out signing books and eating lamb chops with my fingers, then I drove to Seattle. I finished the tour with two last, magnificent Barnes and Noble booksignings filled with really wonderful fans, including our own Lacey, and the chance to visit with a few friends — I ate meals with Jill Barnett and Kristin Hannah, and Julia Quinn came to the very last signing.
When I got home yesterday, I kissed the floor.
Not true. I kissed Scott. Thank you to everyone who came to an autographing. I treasure your kindness. And in the end, I'd rather have great signings and crummy hotels with armpit food than the other way around. My ego is puffed, my waist is slimmed, and I’m ready to write.
I can’t remember who said it, but there’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
CHRISTINA REVEALS THE GRANDEUR OF BOOKTOUR, Part 1
Before I was published, I thought going on a booktour would be glamorous, a time filled with fine hotels, fine food and adoring fans.
Booktour is grueling, funny, wonderful, surprising, embarrassing and exhausting, often all at the same time. The booktour for THE BAREFOOT PRINCESS started when the Scranton PA Library asked for a romance writer to speak for Valentine’s Day. My publicist at Avon called and asked if I was interested, and I shrieked, “Yes! I can go to Philly afterward and see my daughter!” You’ll note at no point did I say, “Yes! Because booktour is glamorous and filled with fine hotels, fine food and adoring fans.”
I have been on booktour before.
The tour started in Buffalo with the Worst Hotel in the History of the World (some of you may recall my bitter blog about the banana a la armpit) and a fabulous booksigning at the Waldens in the downtown mall. Not bad — no fine hotel, no fine food, but by golly, some adoring fans!
Then off to Scranton. (Not a good hotel, almost starved trying to get a meal, but no bananas.) The Scranton Cultural Center is one of the most glorious pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen, and when they showed me the auditorium where I would speak, I burst into laughter. And took a photo to show you. This place must seat two thousand people! I, um, didn’t fill it up. But I gave a great speech (she said modestly) and sold books to Irene M’s sister and a lot of really friendly, welcoming people in Scranton.
The next day I had two autographings and a tour of the HarperCollins book distribution center. Yes, I know, you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound glamorous.” Wrong! It was fascinating! And flattering! And breathtaking! I got there and — look at my banner! I’ve never had a banner before!
And they had a cake! With my cover on it!
And they had a huge poster they had me sign! They’re going to have it framed and hang it up with the other authors in the hallway.
Then I got a presentation of what the distribution center does. In brief, they sell, take orders for and ship out most of the books printed by HarperCollins, the umbrella company for Avon and a lot of other imprints, too. The actual distribution center is a highly computerized system with 99.1 percent accuracy, and when Ron Pocius took me on the tour, I was open-mouthed at being surrounded by millions and millions of books stacked in cartons and whipping past me on the conveyor belt. It was an author’s heaven. Then Dan Holod took me through the office where I met the people who take book orders (God bless them every one!). I ate with and signed books for Olga Nolan’s sales staff (first row, Kerri Sikorski (with scarf), moi, and Dawn Rembish, second row same order, Deb Evans, Olga, Denise DePalma & Kim Gombar.) As if the rest of it wasn’t enough, they gave me a Valentine’s box full of candy (which may have saved my life considering the fight I had getting fed) and the same safety belt the people in the warehouse use, embroidered with my name. Very stylish! These people are surrounded by books every day, and they love to read and they love authors!
Bad hotel, no food, but major adoration coming at me and I returned it completely! Thank you, HarperCollins Distribution Center!
Tune in for Booktour, part two, this afternoon!
Liz Brings You a Little (Musical) Romance
On her album, “The Book of Secrets,” Canadian singer/composer Loreena McKennitt (who refers to her music on her web site as “eclectic Celtic”) has taken the already chilling and haunting poem one step further, by setting it to chilling and haunting music. What results is a composition whose lyrics should be over-the-top melodramatic but is instead a staggeringly beautiful bit of song that can move the listener to tears.
But then, the whole album is staggeringly beautiful. For this collection, McKennitt says she was inspired by everything from “ancient Byzantium to a puppet-maker's theatre in Sicily [to] the rocky island of Skellig Michael once inhabited by Irish monks in the Dark Ages to Venice and the journeys of Marco Polo...to the thunder of hooves across the Caucasus and the echoes of Dante’ s words found, unexpectedly, in a train journey across Siberia.”
Indeed. Listening to “The Book of Secrets,” one is transported to all these places and times. There is SUCH a strong sense of both place and time in McKennitt’s incredibly evocative music. Her voice is a fascinating contradiction of fragility and strength, something that only adds to the singular sense of otherworldliness. And the instruments on the selections sound as if they are genuine products of the worlds that inspired the music, adding to the mystique.
I think the majority of people who read romance novels have probably already discovered Loreena McKennitt, since the music she creates is so unabashedly romantic--in the historical, traditional AND contemporary definitions of the word. But on the outside chance that there’s a Squawk Radio visitor who HASN’T discovered her, I think “The Book of Secrets” is a very good place to start. It has everything we romance readers have come to love--noble heroism, deep emotion and stark raving beauty of its music/prose.
TERESA POSTS SUNDAY YUMMY
This one is from Hershey and it's yummy!
RICH CHOCO CHIP TOFFEE BARS
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter or margarine
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 cups (12-oz package) Hershey's Semi-Sweet Choco Chips (divided)
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1 can (14 ounces) Eagle Brand milk (can use no-fat version if desired)
1 ¾ cups (10 oz package) English toffee bits (divided)
1. Heat oven to 350. Grease 13 X 9 baking pan
2. Stir together flour and brown sugar in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg; mix well. Stir in 1 ½ cups choco chips and all nuts. Reserve 1 ½ cups mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.
3. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour Eagle Brand milk evenly over hot crust. Top with 1 ½ cups toffee bits. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture and remaining ½ cup chips over top.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup toffee bits. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut in bars.
Very rich and very good!!!
Saturday, February 25, 2006
BOOK CLUB FEEDBACK PLEASE!
TERESA POSTS A CLASSIC FACE FOR SATURDAY MORNING
I know Mel is getting older now and was last spotted sporting a Grizzly Adams/Moses style beard, but he held on to my heart for a very long time. I've always said that Mel comprised at least 50% of all of my heroes from my first several books and this picture explains why. I've always thought that he was one of the prettiest men God ever created and it was his aura of beauty and danger that I never could resist.
For vintage Mel, check out TEQUILA SUNRISE, LETHAL WEAPON, and the MAD MAX trilogy, especially BEYOND THUNDERDOME.
Do you have a favorite Mel movie? If so, 'fess up!
Friday, February 24, 2006
Lisa on "Small Indulgences"
Every now and then we all need a little treat. Even if we don’t deserve it. In fact, it’s even better when we don’t deserve it. A little taste of the forbidden, something that costs just a little too much or has too many calories . . . or it can be something like taking a sick day when you’re not sick so you can go to a movie you’ve been dying to see.
Life is not worth living without these small indulgences.
A few mornings ago, my husband Greg used my expensive face soap in the shower. All over his body. When I realized this, I protested that face soap is ten times more expensive than body soap, and he should use the appropriate soap for the appropriate areas. (In other words, touch my face soap again and you’re toast.) This morning, I discovered a second bottle of said expensive soap, sitting proudly next to the first. One bottle is for my face, the other is for Greg’s . . . whatever. It’s his small indulgence, and I’m not going to say a word about it.
How could I complain, when I buy premium ice cream in the tiny cartons instead of the much cheaper brands? Or when I buy a hardcover because I know there is no way I can wait a year for the paperback version?
This is my favorite small indulgence : department store lipstick. Fifteen to twenty dollars a tube--shameful! And yet I buy it. Not just as a treat for my lips, but as a nice little pat on my own back. Here, me, have a treat.
What is your favorite small indulgence? Let us know your suggestions, so we can all sin together!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
In case anyone out there is as obsessed as the Squawkers...the final of the women's Olympic skating is tonight. And while we're all planning to watch, we found the costumes a leeetle bit disappointing on Tuesday. They just didn't live up to the pure vulgarity of the men's costumes--and let's not even talk about those white pasties in the pairs dance!
So where were the pasties? Where were the feathers? Where were the really revolting sequins that only barely cover the breast area--not to mention those weird flesh colored slips they wear under the violent red satin?
If you ask me, the top female skaters (and don't anyone break the news on the comments--we are keeping the finals a surprise until we watch it with our own eyes tonight!) -- anyway, we thought the women looked pretty elegant on Tuesday. Even...graceful. Even...romantic.
Thank goodness, there were a FEW costumes in this Olympics that could really raise your envy. I mean...we do want Connie to wear something like this to the next Romance Writers of America meeting, don't we? Connie, O Swan Princess? (did I mean chicken?)
What was your favorite costume, everybody?
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
KITTY'S CHALLENGES THE SQUAWKERS TO SOLVE A "PRESSING MORAL QUANDRY"
Don't ask about the kid on the left. I think he's stomping out moral quandries. Okay-- Brockway can fret about the love life of the wardrobe challenged but I thought I would give the squawkers and the rest of you Emily Post wannabes a real problem.
Here ya go:
You've paid the big bucks for a hardcover copy of a book you've really been wanting to read. The thing is, you've bought it as a present for your boss (I would have said "friend," but if the person was a REAL friend we wouldn't be having this little chat). The question is: Can you read the book before you wrap it up and give it to her/him?
This oughta be good for a few laughs. Squawkers? Squawkettes?
It depends on whether you get caught or not.
In other words, if you are reading the book in a strictly sterile environment and making certain that you handle nothing concurrently that will leave any incrementing evidence (i.e. wine glass rings, coffee mug rings, chocolate stains, or potato chip grease stains) sure! However, do not ever attempt to read a book during a beachside vacation and then gift it as new. Beach sand always finds a way into books. It doesn't matter how much care you take, whether or not you hermetically sealed the book before you hauled it to said beach, if you are only planning to read it while overlooking the beach, you will get caught. The book jacket may look pristine, the pages still smells like the printer's press, and the spine be as stiff as a romance hero's er, neck, but if you have read that book in or near a beach, a telling grain of sand WILL fall out of the pages as soon as the recipient unwraps it and you will be busted.
Or, so I've heard.
Eloisa: I think the real question is....what is the nature of a gift?
A gift is something that you select lovingly, carefully, with due diligence and thought about the person you're giving it to. The best gifts are something that person would like -- not YOU. In fact, gift-giving is not supposed to be about YOU.....Connie! It's supposed to be GOOD -- Connie. You're supposed to KNOW THAT IT's GOOD before you buy it (um, Connie?). So...that implies that you have already read the book in question, right? Unless it's a tool guide for that Sear's lover who sleeps next to you at night, you're supposed to know that you're giving something terrific, not a pig in the poke. That implies that you read the book BEFORE you read it.......Connie!
Teresa: Of course you don't read it before you give it, Brockway! If you're so desperate to partake of the author's sartorial brilliance, the appropriate response is to buy yourself a copy, too! After all, the poor author slaved for months (perhaps even years!) in the lonely solitude of her Barbie and Russell Crowe decorated office to craft each delightful word just for the pleasure of her readers. By offering your giftee "sloppy seconds" as it were, you're not only depriving the said giftee of the joy of perusing a pristine copy of the novel, you're also depriving the struggling author of her royalties. You know--the royalties she uses to put food (or kibble) on the table for her adorable, big-eyed little children (or cats). Not only should you buy a copy of the (Teresa Medeiros) book for yourself, you should also buy a copy for your Aunt Sophie in Anchorage, that friend you haven't seen since high school, and that lovely homeless woman who collects change and screams obscenities out in front of the Salvation Army. When you depart the checkout line at your local bookstore, your arms should be laden with multiple copies of the latest (Teresa Medeiros) novel. Etiquette demands no less!
Christina: So we went to the theater last night to see Tap Dogs. Do you know about this group? They’re six white men dressed in grubby clothes who come out and tap really, really loudly while using power tools, sort of like Riverdance meets Stomp. Except — there are no women. There are no people of any other color but white. So the message is that white guys who dance aren’t nancy-boys, they’re tough and grubby. I wanted to leave at intermission, but that wasn’t possible — they didn’t have intermission! Just an hour and a half of really loud tapping on metal surfaces. I swear, I am never going to another show where the scenery consists of a big sheet of corrugated metal.
I’m sorry, Kitty. What was the question? Oh. Books. This is why I don’t give hardcovers as gifts, because I hate moral dilemmas, especially moral dilemmas I’m going to lose. Speaking of books, I’m autographing THE BAREFOOT PRINCESS (#19 on the New York Times!) in Seattle this weekend. Check my website for times and places!
This is an easy one, Kitty! It has nothing to do with getting caught, or whether a person is a boss, close friend or a despised enemy. I learned a long time ago that if you give a gift, it should be given with no strings attached, no expectations of gratitude, and in the most wholesome and kind-spirited manner one can possibly muster. Which means the book should be in pristine condition and beautifully wrapped. Then you can bask in the feeling that you have done something nice for someone, with no taint of selfishness. This is how gift-giving can benefit the one who gives as much as the one who receives it.
MICHELLE'S LIFE OF ROMANCE
Apparently, the title “romance columnist” is a little confusing, cause I actually receive a lot of relationship advice questions. I don’t pretend to know what Fred should say to convince his girl it meant nothing when he slept with her best friend. But I do know how to dish about cheesy covers and strapping Highlanders with chicks who dig romance.
In creating Romance: B(u)y the Book, I had two things in mind – not counting getting paid to write and scoring free books. First, I wanted to take a literary look at the romance genre and explore reader issues in ways that catered to the highest common denominator: the smart, literature-savvy women who read and write romance.
Second, I wanted to introduce those women to the best new romances and most exceptional authors in weekly review/author interview packages.
Internet content diva Nancy Cassutt immediately recognized the scope and importance of the romance reading audience, and gave Romance: B(u)y the Book a home on the 75 local TV news websites supported by Internet Broadcasting, including New York City’s WNBC.com.
Suddenly, the romance genre had a spankin’ new forum: an established and well-respected news “network” visited by about 12 million unique viewers monthly, many of whom would be getting their first impressions of romance from my column.
And I feel no small amount of pressure and responsibility at that.
To write my feature reviews, I draw on various methods of literary criticism, as well as research I compiled on the romance novel shortly after I bought my first one a couple years ago at a Florida grocery store.
By studying popular criticism of the genre, and scores of romances in various sub-genres, I found consistencies of form, plot arc, dialogue, etc., easily recognizable by the romance reader. A language, if you will, that speaks to us of reliable features within the books, and facilitates connections between other romance readers and ourselves.
As you know, it can be a little tricky explaining the “language” of romance to folks who are new to it. My supervisor – I’ll call him Romance Novel Cover Guy to protect his anonymity, and because he’s really handsome – is totally supportive of the column, but only works with the content on a “need to know” basis.
As in, “I SO didn’t need to see that,” his first remark upon viewing my new blog, Romance: By the Blog.
One of the coolest parts of my job is getting to know romance authors. Yet, no matter how long I do this, I know I’ll still have “Fan Girl” moments. Like when I babbled to Christina Dodd about how she’d written a description of a certain male appendage that was one of the best I’d ever read. Or when Connie Brockway had to endure my stammering repeatedly, “well, you’re just, like, one of my favorites ever,” after she’d said something to invite my worship like, “how are you?”
I also live vicariously through my Inbox, though I prefer to think that the day I don’t get excited by an email from a Really Famous Romance Writer is the day I go back to reading Oprah’s Books of the Month.
I receive a couple hundred submissions a month, and from those I select four for Feature Review and AuthorView. That I can choose so few gives me wicked agita; each time I don’t select a novel, I feel as though I’m letting down the author who wrote it, especially if she sent me the novel and we’ve gotten to know each other.
Because with each book piled on my desk – and floor, and nightstand, and kitchen counter, and front car seat, and walk-in closet – I associate a breathing, feeling human whose big, beautiful heart went into creating her novel. And I’ve never written a manuscript, so just the fact that a writer got her book from brain to bookshelf inspires in me nothing but respect.
So, why don’t I choose a novel for a feature review? It’s generally as simple as this:
I’m pretty sure the writer can do better.
I know you have the same instincts. Your “blink” response tells you what grabs you and will keep you up all night reading. Yet, I’d bet you’ve also known disappointment when an author you love writes a novel that’s just not as tight and polished as she’s capable of.
And, like me, I’ll bet you’ll give her another try when her next book is out, because in the past she’s made you care about her work, and by extension, her as a person.
I’m honored to nurture relationships between romance authors and readers on the web pages of my column. In return, they teach me new stuff about this amazing genre every day.
Michelle invites you to send her your ARCs and published novels for consideration c/o Internet Broadcasting; 1333 Northland Drive; Mendota Heights, MN 55120.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
KItty Welcomes Another Working Girl
Okay, let’s get this first thing out of the way right off the top. The henhouse is getting a little crowded with former Miss America contestants. That’s right. There's me, Lisa Kleypas and today’s guest, a former Miss Pennsylvania, Michelle Buonfiglio, and me. Take off the tiara, Michelle, the dazzle off all those rhinestone tiaras is giving me a headache.
In addition to being a member of that rather select group, a member of RWA, and hard at work on her first romance novel, Michelle is also, and for purposes of this blog most importantly, the host of the nationally syndicated Romance:B(u)y the Book http://www.wnbc.com/romance where she reviews and discusses her absolutely favorite pastime, romance books.
(Psst. Michelle, toots, do they need more people over? Do they pay well? Hell, do they pay anything?!)
Anyway, let’s all give a warmish welcome ("ish" because we already GOT an interviewer here, Michelle, and her name rhymes with “pity”) to Michelle Buonfiglio!
TERESA SQUAWKS ABOUT CHICK FLICKS SHE HATES VS. CHICK FLICKS SHE LOVES
I'm a chick, right? I'm supposed to love nothing better than dragging my significant other to the movies on a Friday night to see the latest "women's weeper" with a box of Goobers and a packet of Kleenex stuffed in my purse. So why do some of these movies make me want to weep for the wrong reason?
I only made two rules for this list—no Jane Austen adaptations and no animated Disney movies allowed because they could obviously hog up all the positive slots. Oh, and I attempted to alleviate all of that melodrama with a few comedies!
CHICK FLICKS I HATE
BEACHES – Despite my fondness for both Bette Midler and "Wind Beneath My Wings", at one point I actually found myself yelling at Barbara Hershey and her collagen-inflated lips. "Die! Please, won't you just die already!" Trust me—her endless suffering was NOTHING compared to mine.
THE NOTEBOOK – My parents have one of those eternal love stories just like the couple in this movie and my mom is in a nursing home. So maybe this one just stepped on the wrong toes for me. Although I thought Ryan Gosling was adorable, I just didn't feel any real sense of the two of them really falling in love. I felt like I was told they fell in love more than seeing the relationship building through action or witty banter.
GHOST – I'm probably stepping on some toes by picking this Patrick Swayze classic but I've always found Demi Moore to be so utterly humorless that I can't take her seriously. But she does cry divinely! No woman has ever looked so beautiful with tears trickling gracefully down her cheeks.
DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD – I liked Sandra Bullock just fine as always but I just didn't understand why her mother's character was supposed to be so high strung and annoying. They hinted at mental illness but never really followed through on it. She had a perfectly nice husband. Get over it, already!
MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING – What a depressing comedy! Julia Roberts is a selfish, obnoxious twit who doesn't even get the guy in the end!
CHICK FLICKS I LOVE
TERMS OF ENDEARMENT – I've always found this movie just quirky and weird enough to feel like real life. It really captures the complicated mother/daughter dynamic and it also has the best death scene I've ever watched. The camera never flinches and you can actually see the life fade from Debra Winger's eyes.
EVER AFTER – The prince is cute and Drew Barrymore rescues herself from the bad guy at the end. Enuf said!
BRIDGET JONES' DIARY – Rene Zellwegger channels this hilarious heroine beautifully. And Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in the same movie? What's not to love?
LOVE STORY – This is the original two hankie weeper. It has the most gorgeous music and the best looking dying person you'll ever find. I've never forgotten the scene where they frolic in the snow together or that dramatic moment when she simply announces, "It's time to go to the hospital." I spent months wishing I had a terminal disease after seeing this as a kid.
TRULY MADLY DEEPLY – They call this British movie the "thinking person's GHOST" and I absolutely agree. Alan Rickman is divine as "Jamie" and he makes even the bittersweet ending go down easy.
So how about YOU? What's your most favorite and least favorite "chick flick"???
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
Pam won our Valentine's Day contest, which asked how you would spend $200 on yourself, with no philanthropic ideas in mind. Many of you wrote so beautifully about having dinner with your mother, or your husband, or your sister, or buying huge amounts of Calvin & Hobbes for half-grown relatives...the Squawkers were moved. Really! It takes a lot to get us sentimental.
But in the end, we had to go with the entry that we thought had the most utterly deserving self-interest together with creativity and lust (our favorite characteristics).
So, Pam, CONGRATULATIONS! If you would email me (Eloisa) your snail mail address, I'll nag each of the Squawkers into getting a signed book in the mail to you!
And here's the winning entry:
With the $200 gripped tightly in my hand, I will use my frequent flyer miles to zoom over to the Godiva Chocolate headquarters. I then will take my precious money and USE IT AS A BRIBE! I will look for the sappiest, most gullible-looking employee and bribe them into allowing me to swim in a vat of dark Godiva chocolate. If I should drown in it, then I figure that's the way the Lord meant for me to die!!!!
Monday, February 20, 2006
Lisa talks about "Devil In Winter"
My next book Devil In Winter will be out in about a week! I’ve been published for over twenty years now, and I feel the same excitement every time I have a new novel come out. It is such a pleasure to share my dreams, thoughts and fantasies with my readers.
DIW is the third in my Wallflower series, which follows the progress of four young women who are trying to find husbands in the Victorian age in England. I’ve never done a series before, and it has been even more fun than I expected. I have loved bringing in characters from the other novels in brief “guest appearances”, and seeing how all of them change through the events of each book.
With each novel I try to set up a challenge for myself, to keep things fresh and interesting. DIW is different from my other books in a few regards. Usually my heroes are self-made men, outsiders who try to find a place for themselves in a very stratified British society. But the hero of this book, Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, is an aristocrat. He was also the villain of my last novel, and trust me, he is no “fake rake”. He’s an authentic bad guy. He is blond and blue-eyed and looks like an angel, while inside he is the darkest and most wicked hero I’ve ever created. So the question was, how could I redeem him, and who could do it? The fun was in pairing him with the most unlikely match imaginable . . .Evie, the nicest and shyest wallflower, who has a stammer, and has been abused by her relatives until her self-confidence is pretty much nonexistent.
Evie has been underestimated by everyone, including herself. She turns out to have a quiet strength and a sharp wit that fascinates Sebastian as much as it annoys him. And even though she isn’t confident, she has a strong sense of her own self-worth that demands respect. And their marriage of convenience results in a sexy battle of wills, not to mention surprise after surprise for both of them.
So here are some things you may not know about “Devil In Winter” :
--The book is dedicated to the Squawkers, "for friendship that makes my heart sing"
--I got the idea for a title after reading a naughty old saying, that a man who hasn’t had sex in a while is as horny as the devil in Winter. After reading the book, you’ll see this suits Sebastian perfectly.
--Lillian finally gets her opportunity for revenge after what Sebastian did to her in the last book.
--There are a couple of mentions of Derek Craven, the hero of Dreaming Of You.
--Evie refuses to have sex with Sebastian after their wedding night. As a result, he is nearly crazed with desire for her, and at one point he pins her against the wall and tells her all the things he wants to do to her. I, jaded old romance writer that I am, still blush every time I read it. Definitely the most erotic scene I’ve ever written.
So there are some tidbits! I’m so glad the wait is almost over, and I hope you’ll keep your eye out for Devil In Winter hits the stands!
BTW, if you have any questions about the story, I can try to answer them as long as I don’t give away any spoilers *g*.
ELOISA THINKING ABOUT NANCY GIRLS (NOT BOYS)
This one is about Nancy. The name Nancy. It came about because I'm starting a whole new series of books, which means (among other things like insanity and lack of sleep), a whole new raft of names. Names are so interesting...they keep me up at night. Every name has connections that influence how you think about that name. Think of the names you could never name a child. For example, Adolf is way too close to Hitler for my comfort zone. Delilah is another name that's a bit dicey.
When you're writing historical fiction, those limitations are tripled and re-tripled. One of my favorite names from the Renaissance periods was Lettice. This was very popular in the Middle Ages, and so had a fancy, antique ring in the Renaissance: one of Queen Elizabeth's maids-in-waiting was a Lettice. But can I take a heroine and name her Lettice? Naw. Everyone would be
about Romaine and that's a hop, skip and jump from Ramona the Pest.
Because that's the real problem with naming: all those famous people who share the names that you'd like to give your heroine. Some names are just plump with memories, to me: memories that have such a flavor that it would be difficult to given it to a heroine (like Ramona).
So here's an example. NANCY. I could never name a heroine Nancy anyway, because it's a newer name. But think about it: it's a newer name that's out of fashion now. Look at the Nancy's I stuck on this page. None of them are rappers. Or current movie stars. Nancy's heyday has come and gone...at least until it springs back into fashion (I'm holding out hope for a granddaughter named Lettice. Then I could have a grandson named Obediah, another favorite. So I put Nancy's I remember up above.
What are some other famous Nancy's? Here's one to get you started: Nancy Myers. She was the director of Something's Gotta Give... OTHERS?
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Liz Brings Hot Music to a Cold Day
Yep, sounds like it’s time to break out the salsa music.
“Cubanismo” is a word used to refer to anything that is distinctly Cuban, which this band surely is. Fronted by the EXcellent trumpet player Jesus Allemany, who began performing in Cuba as a teenager, the band’s roots lie in a form of music called “son,” described at PBS.org as “the meeting of the African and Spanish elements that gave birth to what we know today as ‘tropical’ music (salsa, rumba, Latin jazz, or ‘Afro-Cuban’).” With more than a dozen musicians playing, Cubanismo employs all of these rhythms and more in their music. And BOY, is it wonderful.
I loved salsa before I moved to Puerto Rico in 1987, but living there really cemented that love. You can’t escape music in the Caribbean--it’s everywhere you go. Bars and restaurants, naturally, but also on the beaches and in the streets. We’d walk down Ashford Avenue in the Condado on hot, sultry nights, and there would be salsa flowing from open-air bars, one right after the other, and then, suddenly, you’d see a band jamming on the sidewalk. At night, we’d lie in bed and hear the music blaring from car stereos below us. And it is such happy, infectious music, you can’t help but smile and dance. (Even when you’re in bed trying to sleep.)
Horns and percussion are what really hit you when you first listen, but other instruments like flute and piano and bass also make their way into the mix with Cubanismo. (And other Latin bands, too.) And there is heat. Lots and lots of heat. With Cubanismo and its big-band sound, it is heat that immediately carries you away from the snow and fifteen !@#$%ing degrees to a pre-Castro Cuba full of smoky nightclubs and elegant white-suited men dancing with ladies who have hothouse flowers tucked behind their ears. I feel like Carmen Miranda when I listen to Cubanismo. So today, everybody, no matter the weather, the rum and Cokes are on me.
C’mon! Everybody mambo!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
LOOK AT OUR CHRISTINA!
This is the Bestseller page from Publishers' Weekly, the professional journal for all publishers and booksellers in the US. And guess who appears in this week's publishers' weekly in a place of pride? Yes! It's our very own Squawker, Christina Dodd! Here's two views of it, because not only did PW make The Barefoot Princess the fourteenth best-selling novel in the entire country, but they did a special little pull-out feature on Christina. That's the (slightly askew) close-up down below.
You KNOW somebody's getting famous when she's a clue in the LA Times crossword: "Romance Novelists Christina."
I don't know if everyone can read the pull-out (I can't), so here's what it says:
In a late fall LA Times crossword puzzle, clue 13 down is "romance author Christina." The answer was Dodd, proving the popular romance author has come a long way. PW's review of her latest, The Barefoot Princess, noted: "Dodd's intelligent historical romances never fail to please."I guess the only complaint we have is that it should be "Romance SQUAWKER Christina."
Or better: "Romance Squawker Connie."
Oh, forget that part, "Romance Novelist Terri."
BEST OF ALL! "Romance Novelist ELOISA!"
Jokes aside...this is a huge triumph for Christina. It means that PW, like the LA Times recognizes her as one of the most celebrated and beloved novelists of our genre.
from all the Squawkers... Even Kitty.
TERESA GETS SHOT THROUGH THE HEART ON VALENTINE'S DAY
If Jon Bon Jovi can please a woman half as well as he can please a crowd, we have another candidate for SEXIEST MAN ALIVE. I had the delicious pleasure of seeing Bon Jovi in concert on Valentine's Day and with all the surprises he and the band had in store for us, it felt more like Christmas morning.
First the lights began to dim and the crowd began to applaud and scream as they gazed at the darkened stage, their anticipation palpable. Suddenly a roar went up from the back of the arena. I turn to discover that Jon has magically appeared on a platform right in front of me, giving the poor devils in the cheap seats the thrill of their lives. (And an incredible view of his adorable backside.) During another section of the concert, he vanished again only to materialize right AMONG the seats on the other side of the arena where he performed a melting rendition of MY FUNNY VALENTINE before walking all the way back to the stage, grasping hands and making women swoon along the way.
And did I mention there was music, too? Music with infectious hooks, driving rock rhythms, and lyrics soulful and romantic enough to have been penned by a romance novelist. (You haven't lived until you've heard 20,000 people singing, "Shot through the heart and you're to blame, you give love a bad name!" in perfect unison.) The audience got another surprise thrill when Jennifer Nettles, the lead singer of Sugarland joined the band on stage to perform their rock/country crossover hit "Who Says You Can't Go Home." (One of the advantages to seeing a concert in Nashville is that you never know who will show up!) Oh yeah, and there were other band members too--Tico Torres, David Bryan, and Richie Sambora, recently estranged from Heather Locklear. When Richie and Jon shared the microphone to croon "I'll Be There For You" to each other, you just knew that Richie would survive losing Heather as long as he had Jon by his side.
Jon remains eerily ageless, even looking younger than he did in the big hair era of the 80's. (Vampire anyone?) When he looked over his shoulder, his lips slowly curving into that sexy and boyishly disarming grin, a collective sigh went up from the crowd and you just knew that every woman in the arena from 19-90 was aching to throw her panties on the stage. It somehow only adds to his appeal that he's been married for 17 years and has 4 kids.
Bon Jovi remains on the very short list of artists I'd pay $100 to see because they're master showmen who make sure you get every penny of your money's worth. So how about you? What's the best concert you've ever been to?
SQUAWK RADIO'S SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!
The results are in! SQUAWK RADIO'S FIRST ANNUAL SEXIEST MAN ALIVE is none other than Matthew McConaughey! Gerard Butler (http://www.gerard-butler.net), Clive Owen, and Colin Firth ended up in a dead heat for Second Place. Thanks for all the votes, guys! It was tough work weeding through all of these pics and deciding which ones to post but SOMEBODY had to do it! ;)
Friday, February 17, 2006
ELOISA on Life With Children
I had to read that sentence three times. Had I really said that? It's not that I don't agree...in a kind of philosophical way. But I must have had a glass of wine in my hand, and a babysitter at home, when I voiced it.
Let me describe the current situation. My husband is away on business. Three days ago my daughter came down with a sore throat that progressed to a (mild) fever and (mild) diarrhea. All day I have been working desperately, trying to finish edits to a manuscript, while she trots back and forth from the babysitter to my desk, the better to hand me notes. Here's an exact transcript of one of them: "I em Bord!" Tomorrow would be better, right? She'll be in school. That's what I thought, until my son pounded up the stairs and disappeared into the bathroom, followed by the unmistakable sound of someone being very sick.
Can I just say that sometimes the "meaning of life" is a diluted concept? Let's start with the premise that we all adore, love and admire our children, be they animal, mineral or human. But "We can't imagine life without them"? Ha!
Anyone remember morning sex? Dozy, sleepy, roll over and make-the-day-start-out-right sex? The kind of sex that disappeared along with the patter of tiny bare feet?
How about a relaxed cup of coffee while you read the entire New York Times cover to cover (or whatever your local paper may be)? In those days, a husband or partner might wander out for muffins or bagels and cream cheese...these days, he's too busy trying to separate small people who fight with the concentrated energy of tiny bulldogs.
And finally...remember dates? DATES? Dates were when a man you didn't know very well called you up and asked you out for dinner. You got spiffed up and put perfume in various places around your body, and opened the door with a smile. You looked great. He looked...whatever. Maybe great, maybe not. Who cares? You went out to dinner, to a movie -- and there was nothing saying that you had to be home at 10 o'clock. It was all exploration, all discovery. Oh brave new world!
Of course, there are moments when morning sex, and dates, and calm coffee mornings seem overrated. Those would be the moments when someone isn't upchucking in the bathroom, or rolling around the floor pulling someone else's hair, or screaming like a banshee. Those would be the moments when the note you are handed says something quite different from "I em Bord." Moments that almost make me think that without children...I might be bored.
But before that idea gets stuck in my mind...WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT LIFE BEFORE CHILDREN? Or if you've avoided the whole procreation business, WHAT WOULD YOU LEAST LIKE TO GIVE UP IF YOUR HOUSEHOLD WAS INVADED BY SMALL, STICKY, ALBEIT LOVING, PERSONS?
Liz on the Joys of New Parenthood (No, Really)
We had no idea. And we were in no way prepared.
Before our son was born, I read all the parenting magazines that told me I’d fall in love with my baby the minute the doctor put him in my arms. About the warm, rosy glow I’d experience every time I breast fed him. About the bond he and I would forge right out of the gate. But my most vivid memories of those first few weeks of parenthood consist largely of my husband and me sitting on the couch watching “Batman” and “Animaniacs” because we were too exhausted to even push the channel button on the remote control, and both of us murmuring like zombies, “We made a terrible, terrible mistake. What were we thinking?”
Eventually, however--once the shock wore off--the rosy glow did come. And it came from things I never could have imagined or been prepared for. The way we’d open our eyes every morning to the sound of the crib mattress squeaking because our son was jumping up and down on it to wake us. And the way we’d go into his room and he’d greet us with a huge smile, so delighted was he that we were just...there. The rosy glow came every time he wrapped his fat little fist around my wrist when I sat him in my lap to read to him. It was there in the way that his favorite toy for the longest time was a garlic press. It was there when he used the club chair in the living room as a parking garage for all his Thomas engines, since it had a cool flap at the bottom he could push up and down like a door. It was there every time I watched him sleeping. (And not just because he was finally asleep.)
Our new baby brought other things, too, that we never expected and couldn’t be prepared for, things that changed my husband and me as much as they changed our lifestyle. Fear, even terror, that lies just below the surface and which will be with us for the rest of our lives. The realization that, when all is said and done, we are as primitive as badgers in that we could and would harm or kill without compunction anyone who tried to do our offspring harm. The knowledge that we alone are responsible for another human being in the world, one whom we could, depending on our actions and examples, turn into Hitler or Gandhi.
But stronger even than any of those was the generation of an entirely new emotion--parental love. It differs from other kinds of love in that it is truly unconditional. Totally unexpected. And is tied into a million different things. I loved both my parents growing up, but I knew they had each other to rely on, and that there were a lot of things in their lives that didn’t include me. I love my husband, but he’s his own person and can ultimately take care of himself. But our son, for now, is reliant on us and is still working on being his own person. His life is woven inextricably with ours for a while yet. Someday, he’ll go off and be his own person who will ultimately take care of himself. Someday, there will be things in his life that don’t include his father and me. Someday, he’ll know another kind of love than what he has for his mom and dad.
Someday, he might even know what it is to be a parent. And then my husband and I will start all over again, loving our grandchildren in yet another way. I have no idea how our lives will change if/when we have grandchildren. I suppose it’s impossible to prepare. But if watching my own mom with her grandkids is any indication, there’s a pretty major rosy glow there.
So who else was amazed by the difference a baby made in their lives? What is it that your kids, of any age, do that leave you with a warm, rosy glow? Just why do we love our kids so danged much anyway?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
These Old Sweethearts of Mine
In fact, right now, right this minute, if I look down from my keyboard I can see two pairs of eyes in fur-covered faces. One set is closed tight as Stella, my 80 pound, 12 year old lab snoozes beneath my feet. The other set, belonging to a Tibetan Terrier named Ollie who is perched on the hassock a couple feet away, is trained outside the window, wide and ever-vigilant. Danger, Ollie would have you believe, comes in many guises: the mailman, the Fed-ex guy, the horrible Westie on the corner( the hatred of whom gives Ollie’s life meaning and structure) the squirrels plotting nefarious squirrel deeds up in the trees and, shudder, little black birds. If I move, within a short while my companions will join me. I'm part of a pack. Clan Brockway.
But these two are just a long line of darlings and beloveds, canine companions, angels in fur coats, who have blessed my family since I was born. I come from a long, long line of dog lovers. There has always been at least one dog sharing the family digs. In fact, in my entire life there have only been two year when I didn’t share a house with a dog. They‘ve been all shapes and genders, ages and conditions: Spook, a cocker my grandmother rescued as a puppy from an abusive home; Sunny, the Street Setter whose epilepsy didn’t diminish the fact that she was the smartest animal (and far surpassed many people) I have known; Corky, Sunny’s polar opposite, brain-damaged at birth but blessed with the gentlest disposition imaginable; Jason, a bona fide Champion Elkhound with a penchant for fine Italian leather; and Lily, a eight pound ball of ..well, we never were sure but she was quick!
And there was our first dog, “our” being my new family, my husband and me. We got Addie when we’d been married two years. She was our test baby. Raising her gave me the confidence to believe I might someday manage a hairless one!
Addie was amazing. She slept on the foot of our bed—and sometimes the middle—and, when David was gone, right under my left arm. She was my pal and my playmate and my confidante. When I had a bad bout of depression one year, it was Addie who comforted me best, just by letting me lay my ear against her side and listen to her heart beating steadily, strongly and purposefully.
She never required, she always assumed; I didn’t have to ask, I always knew.
After our daughter was born Addie became a nanny. I look at the pictures of those two now and I realize it’s no wonder my daughter adores animals and has a special bond with them. Addie was her first and best freind.
Addie taught her patience, and kindness and responsibility and compassion. One time, when we were all going fishing, Doodah decided at the last minute she needed to use the bathroom. We toldher we’d wait in the boat so out she hops and out hops Addie with her. Though we called, threatened, cajoled and begged, Addie would not get in the boat without Doodah. She kept running between the cabin and the dock, barking wildly, afraid we were going to leave her “kid” behind...
When Addie was diagnosed with a brain tumor and, soon thereafter, could no longer do those things she loved, she taught me invaluable lessons about what it means to live, to accept those conditions we cannot change and to enjoy to the fullest those things left to us. And when I stood beside her as she died, I learned about compassion, and faith, and saying "so long," but never "good-bye."
Now there are two more loves in my life. Stella is old and has trouble on long walks and Ollie the Fool is just hitting his stride.
Sometime people have asked me whether I have a muse. If a muse is the repository of all things lovely and generous and humorous and giving, well then, yes. I am blessed with two. No...make that nine.
For all the muses I have known and have yet to know...thank you, my old sweethearts.
Lisa says "Meet Pepper Kleypas"
I have always adored cats. I love their beauty and grace, their mercurial natures, their sometimes hard-won affection, the way they arch when you pet them, and most of all their purring. Nothing beats a cat’s purr.
I’ve never gotten why people are so insane about dogs, these panting slobbery creatures with bad breath, who chew things and need to be walked in all kinds of weather, and whose affection seems rather cheapened by the ease with which it is won.
But after much begging from my children and husband, I have finally relented. There is now a dog in our house. She’s an English Cocker Spaniel named Pepper, she’s eleven weeks old, and she pants, chews, slobbers, and does all the doggy things you would expect.
I am in love. I finally get dogs.
Pepper doesn’t argue. Pepper is always happy to see me. Pepper is grateful for anything I do, and her feelings burst forth so lavishly, she makes me laugh on my worst days. I am fascinated by the different relationships she has with each member of the family, by the fact that she is quiet and more cuddly with me, rougher with my son and husband, a shameless begger of treats with my daughter. She is a furry dynamo of joy, a tail-wagging, kiss-dispensing, adorable sycophant.
My heart belongs to this floppy-eared angel, who lauds me with appreciatively heavy breathing even when I haven’t brushed my hair or put on makeup, who thinks my way of opening a can is just great. We appreciate each other, Pepper and I. And I’ve learned something from the way she greets every morning with unbounded joy.
These are some of the reasons I love my dog. Anyone who would like to share their dog’s name and what is special about him or her, I would love to know!
VOTE for SQUAWK RADIO'S SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
THE SQUAWKERS WANT TO KNOW . . . WHAT'S YOUR FANCY?
TO WISH YOU A HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY AND ANNOUNCE SQUAWK RADIO'S FIRST ANNUAL VALENTINE'S DAY CONTEST!
Yesterday, my husband left for Florence. Now, he's from Florence, so this is no big surprise. His mom is there and more to the point, Rutgers University is sending him over there to check out their Study Abroad program, which they do periodically. The taxi was waiting (OK, not blowing his horn, but there he was), when Alessandro got a confused look on his face. That would be in response to what I had just said.
"Goodbye, sweetheart. I love you. I have a Valentine's present for you and I'll give it to you when you come back, OK?"
"Yes!" he shouts, feeling for the door knob. "I'll...I'll find something over there for you!"
So I should be all depressed, right? Here it is Valentine's Day, and my house is turning into kid-central. My sister's children, one of my friend's children...I'm the clearing house for children whose parents are going out to dinner.
Am I going to be depressed? NO! Should you be depressed if you, like moi, am going to be watching the Olympics tonight? NO!
Valentine's is like any other holiday--what you make of it. Here's what I'm thinking to myself: "Who loves you, baby?"
The answers are various, but the truth is, for all of us, MOI comes in high on the list. SO...here's the Squawker Question of the Week. Right in the middle of our "Relationship Week," let's talk about nourishing one of the most important persons in your life. The one who's always there for you (ha). The one who is always at your back (ha).
Take an imaginary $200. There's no one and nothing in the world that you need to spend that $200 on, but...YOURSELF. Your own, gorgeous, delicious, filled-with-love Valentine's present (or presents)....
SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BUY FOR YOU?
THE BEST SELECTION WILL BE CHOSEN AT THE END OF THE WEEK AND THE WINNER WILL RECEIVE AN AUTOGRAPHED BOOK FROM EACH OF THE SQUAWKERS!!!
Monday, February 13, 2006
TERESA BRINGS YOU SOME EYE CANDY FOR VALENTINE'S WEEK AND ASKS YOU TO CHOOSE THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!
Whether channeling a young Paul Newman in a A TIME TO KILL, sporting the best tan ever in SAHARA or getting busted for playing bongos in the nude, Matthew McConaughay has left an indelible impression on the female psyche. It's no wonder he was recently chosen PEOPLE magazine's SEXIEST MAN ALIVE.
With that long, lanky body, that sweet-as-molasses Texas drawl, those piercing blue eyes and irresistible dimples, he also made a perfect model for my one and only cowboy, Billy Darling, in NOBODY'S DARLING. (Although I just might consider allowing LOST's Josh Holloway to audition for the part today. Now where did I put that casting couch? ;))
So who would YOU have chosen for the SEXIEST MAN ALIVE this year if you were editor of PEOPLE magazine? We're going to compile all of your suggestions, then do a formal poll before announcing SQUAWK RADIO'S first official SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!
TERESA FLIRTS WITH DISASTER...
He leaned across the table toward me, his dark blue eyes sparkling with a come-hither look. With his bad boy grin and lightly tousled hair, I couldn't help but want to take him into my arms. He reached across the table, closing the space between us.
"You're SO pretty," he whispered, gently stroking my hair.
Before I could respond, his mom snatched him up into her arms and snapped, "Don't mind him. He's a terrible flirt and he just loves blondes."
I grinned as she carried the four-year-old across the crowded Pizza Hut. He hung over her shoulder, waving wistfully and still casting me longing glances. So it's true, I thought. Some men really are born flirts!
I once worked with just such a guy. Based on his numerous and well-documented affairs of the heart, you would have expected him to be a combination of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, with a little Keanu thrown in to spice the mix. Instead he was a stocky, rather ordinary looking fellow with a receding hairline, a slight paunch, and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. I just couldn't figure out what it was about him that made perfectly rational women abandon both their morals and their marriages.
Then during one slow night on the ward, he offered to teach me how to play Chinese checkers. Since he wasn't exactly inviting me up to his place to see his etchings, I decided I'd be safe.
That's when I learned his secret. He treated me with perfect respect. (I was HIS supervisor, after all). There wasn't even a hint of inappropriate innuendo, no casual touches or suggestive winks. BUT his focus on me was absolute. During those magic moments, it was as if I was the only woman—perhaps the only human being—on the entire planet.
Ah ha! That was it, I realized! That was how he convinced women to tug off both their panties and their wedding rings! (Not to worry. I was in no danger of doing either.) But I did feel as if I'd spent an hour in the company of a master flirt. He'd reminded me that women are absolute suckers for attention because let's face it—we deserve so much more of it than we ever get.
So the next time that cute guy at the theater concession stand gives you an extra squirt of butter on your popcorn or a handsome businessman offers to help you heft your luggage into the overhead bin, it's okay to feel warm and tingly. Just keep your panties—and your wedding ring—on until you get home!
So have any of you ever encountered a master flirt? And if so, what techniques were YOU able to identify?
(This blog was originally published when Teresa Guest Blogged at www.literarychicks.com.)