Squawk Radio

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


The advantage of having the most famous cover mistake in history (CASTLES IN THE AIR, the heroine has three arms, and if you want to know how this happened, read my article at http://www.christinadodd.com/castles.php ) is that when another author gets socked with a bad cover, everyone — booksellers, authors, readers — rushes to tell me about it. Now I’m not talking about bad covers from publishing companies who are working on a shoestring budget. I’m talking about covers that come from multi-billion dollar corporations with professional art departments operating with huge budgets … who just happen to blow it once in awhile.

For instance, here’s my friend Heather MacAllister’s alien baby cover.

And her one-legged heroine cover.

And her, “I’ve got fat legs, silly boots, and a skirt that barely covers the essentials,” Spanish cover.
Heather’s been gifted with more than her share of really horrific covers.

But my friend Susan Mallery, who used to write as Susan Macias, has had a few whoppers, too, notably FIRE IN THE DARK, her western historical with the naked rubber man in the water with, if you look closely, a floating orange penis. Or a trout that got really intimate, but in that case, why is he smiling?

I was with Susan when she got the cover in the mail … I’ll never forget her outburst of maniacal laughter. It was sort of scary.

When I worked at the bookstore, I stopped cold when I saw a hero who looked like Mr. Rogers. And no disrespect to Mr. Rogers, I thought he was great, but I never wanted to be a really close neighbor, if you know what I mean.

But the cover I’ve been saving as the piece de resistance is a book by Maggie Price.

Take a look at this. Check out the expression on his face. Then note the title …


So obviously collecting cover mistakes has become my hobby. Have you heard of any more? Let me know, and I'll post as many as the ones I can! (I guess the gorgeous Italian cover that spelled my name wrong seems minor now, huh?)

Heather MacAllister sent me this one:

Check out the position of his body and her legs and ... that cover is mind-blowing!
Okay, I'm going to hell for that pun.

Thanks to suec for calling my attention to this cover:

Lucky? You have to be kidding!

And I have the newest Susan Mallery cover:

Which one is the girl???

A cover from Maureen Child:

She says, "LOVE the awful covers on the blog today!! Thought I'd throw my 'hat' so to speak into the ring.........this one--the poor heroine will be waiting to be a mom forever. He has no lower body.................."

Hey lookie here, Liz--Teresa popping in here with your DONOVAN'S CHANCE cover! (Thank goodness I have the entire Elizabeth Bevarly collection--all 80 gazillion books!) And I have to say that I think you just have a dirty mind because the thing coming out of that guy's pants looks much more like an extra from SNAKES ON A PLANE. It definitely has eyes and it's about to nip the heroine's hand! Click on the pic for a closer view (if you dare!)

Christina Dodd, 11:30 PM | link | 69 comments |

Liz on Family Memorabilia

I was over at my mom’s last night, and she gave me something she’d come across while going through some old stuff she’d found. It was a recipe for buttermilk biscuits, something that is fairly commonplace in my family. But this one, she knew, would interest me, not just because it was written down by my great-grandmother, who died when I was fairly young, but because of the final ingredient: “Lard (size duck egg).” Even better, on the other side of the card, because the original recipe was for 42 biscuits (as was needed for a family of 19), my grandmother pared it down to 18 biscuits, and her final ingredient is: “Lard size of walnut.”

I’ve officially designated this card, with both my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s handwriting and whimsical instructions, A Bevarly Family Heirloom, and it has gone into the Heirloom Box. Mine is a family of few heirlooms (obviously), mostly what Flannery O’Connor called “good country people” on both sides until my parents’ generation. (And yes, with a bit of a surreal, dark side, just like in the short story of that title.) I have a few pieces of inexpensive jewelry that belonged to my grandmother and her mother, some blueprints from machinery that my grandfather designed between the two World Wars, a WWII ration book with a few pages of coupons left, an old arithmetic book, and lots of photographs. Save the jewelry, it’s all ephemera, which, come to think of it, is fitting for a writer.

I don’t know how I became the Keeper of the Family Heirlooms, but what few we claim have all seemed to find their way to me. Even my father-in-law’s WWII journal is in our keeping, though my f-i-l is still very much alive. But I love having all these bits of everyday life from previous generations. They were commonplace (even throwaway, some of them) items to my ancestors, but they tell me so much about those people. They tell me even more about where I come from myself.

I just hope I leave something behind for my descendants that’s as enchanting as a recipe quoting duck eggs. Yes, I’ve written books, but I’d like for my son’s children’s children’s children to have something a bit more personal. So maybe I should tuck something of myself into the Heirloom Box before it’s too late. But what?

Wait, I have it. The perfect piece of ephemera to remember me by. It’s a drawing of me as a chicken, sporting a lovely purple muff...

So has anyone else stumbled onto any old family treasures lately? What’s your favorite piece of family history to pass down to the next generation? What piece of your own everyday life do you think would say the most about you to your descendants?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 8:28 AM | link | 57 comments |

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Things have got pretty crazy since that day a few weeks ago when I posted a plea for help with writing a country music song. For people who may have missed that blog, I'm on my way to Nashville this Thursday to meet a country music producer and spend the weekend developing a country song, written by moi. Then next month I'm going to New Hampshire for a weekend at a bed&breakfast to learn about starting a B&B.

Both weekends are courtesy of More Magazine, which asked me to write an article on starting a second career (being as I am just the person to take on another career *g*).

At any rate, back last Spring when I happily agreed, I thought it would be easy and fun to write a country song. Ha. Can we say hubris here? Months later, I posted a plea on Squawk for help writing a song that had just one line "You say I'm desperate and I think you may be right."

Well, a few weeks ago, the picture changed again! More emailed and said that the Today Show was interested in coming along with me and watching MY song be produced. Not only that...the Today Show is going to roadtrip right along with me to New Hampshire as well!

Since then, things are escalating in an alarming way. I'm putting up pictures here of a Nashville establishment that airs new music, especially new songs... the idea now is that if THE SONG (as if it being referred to in emails) is ready to go on Friday night, it is going to be performed live in the Bluebird Cafe! Not only that, but we have a genuine singer coming to the studio for two days to develop the song and do the singing! (They did ask me if I wanted to sing at the Bluebird....I couldn't even manage a squawk of laughter at that notion.)

So: can we count the ways to get nervous here? I do finally have a song. My first shot at it (the line quoted above) was pretty cerebral. I thought about what a country song should have in it -- pick-up trucks, love, desperation and a twang -- and I tried to write one with those things in it. My second attempt used everything I've learned from writing romance. If you don't write about something that is absolutely real and true to you -- the book (or the song) fails. I have a friend whose ovarian cancer just recurred. I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about her. We were in Venice, and water was lapping all around me, and I started imagining saying goodbye to my children and my husband.

Yes, I am going to Nashville with a total sentimental tearjerker of a song, written in the bathroom in a Venetian hotel so I didn't wake anyone up (can we get farther away from the blue hills of Kentucky?). Here's one of my verses -- if you want to read the rest, I posted it on the BB on my website. I hasten to say that my friends on the BB have given me lots of suggestions, so I'm rewriting today and adding things like a hook and a bridge:

By next summer's sweet days,
I'll be a photo in a frame.
A memory in the night,
No more than a name.
Will they remember how I loved them?
Will you tell them for me?

It has been forcefully suggested to me that I didn't write a country song -- it's more of a folk song, or possibly just a poem (there's nothing like the Squawkers to tell it like it is!). Well, the good news is that I'm not going to Nashville with just one failed country/folk/nothing song.

The wonderful writers on my BB wrote a song together -- so I'm taking that! Plus, some incredibly talented women wrote their own songs, and I'm taking those as well! First thing on Thursday, the song producer (who is responsible for one of Reba McIntyre's number one hits!) is going to choose one of those songs for production over the weekend. I think it would be wonderful if it were the group song! So, for your musical pleasure -- TA -DA! THE GROUP SONG (various lines written by Eloisa, Terrio, Beth, Rose, Janga, PJ, Ms. Meow, NH, and Diana, with help from other friendly voices):


You say I'm desperate and I think you may be right
But regrets or not, I'm going home with him tonight
I'm so sick and tired of being all alone
Crying to my girlfriends for hours on the phone.
Call me reckless, but when there's nothing left to lose, a woman will take chances to outrun the blues.

All I've ever wanted is a man of my own...
To wine and dine and dance with,
Reach out to every morning
Day by day build a home

He came to me this evening, like lightning on the bay
With a smile like the sunrise of a brand new day
You say I'm desperate and I think you may be right
But regrets or not, I'm going home with him tonight

All I've ever wanted is a man of my own...
To wine and dine and dance with,
Reach out to every morning
Day by day build a home

I feel like a sinner
I need to fall on my knees, fall down now and pray
But not tonight, cause tonight I'm gonna play
Though I am a gambler Lady Luck has never loved
Something in his sunrise eyes
Says tonight I may have luck I’m gonna play
And just hope come morning, he's here to stay


Morning comes…mmm I reach across the bed
All these thoughts runnin' through my head
Will he look as good in morning's light
As he did last night in my bar hazed sight?!?
My sheets will be rumpled and I won't know his name.
My hand’ll touch his cold pillow and I’ll know it turned out the same.
You say I'm desperate and I think you may be right
But… For tonight I'll tell my conscience to go home.
For tonight I'll forget my fear of love and try it
For tonight, I'll stop crying all alone
Tonight I'll find a cowboy of my own.
You say I'm desperate and I think you may be right
But regrets or not, I'm going home with him tonight

All I've ever wanted is a man of my own...
To wine and dine and dance with,
Reach out to every morning
Day by day build a home

You say I'm desperate and I think you may be right
But regrets or not, I'm going home with him tonight

It's a wonderful song! To be honest, I'm totally freaked by the idea of a Today Show crew following me around Nashville, and then around New Hampshire -- and then there's going to be a live segment on the show itself in January or February! But I would be even sicker to the stomach about my lack of song-writing credentials...except I don't have to be. I don't know how to say this as strongly as I feel it: my life is so much richer for the community of friends who have grown around Squawk and around my BB: friends who have come together and given me a song so that I don't have to go to Nashville with nothing more than a weepy little poem masquerading as a song.

The older I get the more I realize that life would be incredibly difficult without my girlfriends -- whether they're friends through the internet, or my university, or my writing life.

Let's have a celebration of girlfriends! When's a time that your particular posse saved your life -- did a group intervention to keep you away from the wrong guy, or wrote you a song to go on TV with, or....
Eloisa James, 7:25 AM | link | 41 comments |

Monday, August 28, 2006

Christina Dodd asks WHO WOULD YOU SLEEP WITH?

My college-age daughter was just home for a visit before school started. We were listening to my iPod, to the soundtrack from RETURN TO ME. It includes a lot of really romantic songs, most of them sung by Dean Martin — if you’re not familiar with him, the man had a warm, relaxed style. Plus one of our favorite movies is BELLS ARE RINGING starring Dean Martin, and in his youth, he was one fine man — tall, dark, handsome, with a wonderful brooding face and charm oozing from every pore. The combination of good looks and that warm (did I mention warm?) easy voice made me confess, “I would have slept with him.”

To which my daughter said, “Yeah, but I would have to say I’d prefer Paul Newman. Not just any Paul Newman, though. Paul Newman at the exact moment when he made THE LONG HOT SUMMER, when he was on-screen with those fabulous blue eyes and his boxer shorts with his perfectly sculpted chest and those thighs …” She sort of went into a coma at that point.

Until I pointed out my mother, her grandmother, always said that Paul Newman could put his shoes under her bed anytime. And quite frankly, he could cook his spaghetti sauce in my kitchen anytime.

Yes! Yes! I know. I’m happily married. Not only that, but Dean Martin is dead and Paul Newman is seventy-nine and has been married for almost sixty years.

But these affairs aren’t real affairs. They’re the imaginary, guilt-free, “a hot guy transcends generations and reality” affairs. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about, because you know you do.

Johnny Depp, anyone? Jake Gyllenhaal? Johnny Depp? Sean Connery? Johnny Depp? Colin Firth? Russell Crowe (in Gladiator)? Johnny Depp? Gerard Butler? Johnny Depp? Pierce Brosnan? Johnny Depp? Harrison Ford (in Indiana Jones) (or Star Wars)?

Johnny Depp?

If you could have an imaginary, guilt-free, “a hot guy transcends generations and reality” affairs — who would you sleep with?

Only one per customer, pls.
Christina Dodd, 12:39 AM | link | 110 comments |

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Liz Gets to the Root of American Music

I know Bruce Springsteen is someone everyone here has heard about, and I figure a lot of people already have this CD, and I had actually planned to blog on a different CD today, but, well, I listened to this in the car this week and was totally blown away and just HAD to blog on it immediately.

When I first saw “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” in stores, I had two immediate thoughts. First, “Why the hell is Bruce Springsteen covering Bob Seeger songs?” and two, “I don’t remember Bob Seeger recording ‘We Shall Overcome.’” Yes, I am, at times, that stupid. Of course, I quickly realized it’s not BOB SEger (with one e) he’s covering on this album, it’s PETE SEEger (with two es). But even though I grew up in the 60s, I was never all that familiar with Pete’s music. (My Dad, as big a music lover as he was, was a staunch conservative, so never would have allowed “protest music” into our home.)

Nevertheless, SO MUCH of the music on this CD is familiar to me, because my mom, having grown up in rural western Kentucky, sang a lot of them to me when I was a kid. Both “Buffalo Gals” and “Froggie Went ‘a Courtin’” are lullabies, as far as I’m concerned. Others, like “Erie Canal” and “Old Dan Tucker” were also staples in elementary school music class. (I was delighted a few years ago when my son’s class performed “Old Dan Tucker” in a school music program.) In fact, it was my mom’s sister, my Aunt Bonnie, easily the most musically gifted member of our family (perhaps the ONLY musically gifted member of our family) who sent the CD to me, telling me she hoped I liked hearing the music of their childhood.

Oh, I do. I really, really do.

But even hearing these old, wonderful songs again wasn’t what blew me away. What blew me away was the way Bruce surrounded himself by musicians who are masters of American music. All kinds of American music. There’s a definite bent toward pure, New Orleans jazz, but there’s also bluegrass and gospel and folk. And what’s really cool is that, hearing this album all in one sitting, you see how many similarities all these styles share, and how they all influenced each other. You also hear remnants of the music brought to this country via immigration so many years ago, which also influenced these styles. “Mrs. McGrath” is an old Irish folk song I’d never heard before (and Irish folk was such a huge influence on Bluegrass), and it actually made me burst into tears while I was driving, so sad are the lyrics and so hauntingly does Springsteen sing it. There are other places in other songs where the violins and accordians sound eastern European or Russian. It’s just an incredible conucopia of music that is a feast for the ears. And Springsteen's craggy voice gives it an even greater earthiness than it already has, and makes more authentic what has always been a common people's music.

As Springsteen states in the liner notes, the CD was recorded live, on three separate days, in a barn on his farm. The group didn’t rehearse together beforehand, so the album is, very much, just a bunch of great musicians getting together to create great music. When you listen to the CD, you feel like you’ve traveled a hundred years or so back in time, from the city to the country, to a dusty old barn where a band of wandering musicians is setting up to perform in exchange for their supper. So pull up a chair and enjoy. There will be dancing, too.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:36 AM | link | 25 comments |

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Book Blog with Liz

I’ve been pretty stressed out this week. I sent off two new proposals recently, which means I’m out of contract on both types of books I write. In other words, I’m officially without a job until I have another offer, and there’s no guarantee anyone will hire me, particularly at the wage I need to support my family. That makes me a tad edgy.

I’m also working on revisions for another book, which is kind of like tearing down a room you spent months building and decorating in a way you thought would be gorgeous, but you’ve suddenly discovered the foundation isn’t sound, and the colors don’t match, so now you have to go make repairs on something you thought was done. That makes me a little frustrated.

Clearly, it’s time to light the lavender-scented candles, brew a cup of Tension-Tamer tea, and break out THE TAO OF POOH.

I discovered this book in college through a professor’s recommendation and still have my original copy. The pages are yellowed and warped, there’s a big water stain on the title page and a coffee ring on the back cover. Clearly, I’ve read it A LOT. It’s a sweet, wonderful little book that can be read in an evening, and it never fails to ease my worries, at least for a little while.

It’s hard to reduce Taoism to brief enough terms for this blog, but as described in my DICTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION (yes, I have one), the Taoist “conquers by quietism, letting go, standing in harmony with nature.” The philosophy encourages people to live in and work with the world as it IS, without trying to change it. To go with the flow. To be happy simply by virtue of waking up every morning and drawing breath.

To author Benjamin Hoff, nowhere is this philosophy better illustrated than it is in A. A. Milne’s much loved Bear of Little Brain. As the back cover of THE TAO OF POOH states: “While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just IS.” Through a fictional dialogue between himself and Pooh Bear (with other characters from the Hundred Acre Wood wandering into the conversation here and there to further make his point), Hoff shows us that Pooh is happy because he goes through life without questioning or having expectations or trying to effect change to suit his needs. He finds contentment through the simple experiences that surround him everyday, is happy just to be in the Hundred Acre Woods with his loved ones.

It should be obvious that that's what makes a life complete, but sometimes I forget that. Writers aren’t usually viewed as workaholic control freaks, but I’d wager that the vast majority of us are exactly that. The need to control, I think, is part of what drives us to write. We can’t change our reality and the people around us, so hey, we’ll just create a world and people we CAN make do what we want. That’s all well and good for writing books. But when it comes to real life, we need some reminders that we can’t be responsible for everything, we can’t change the world to suit our needs, and we have to make the best of what our real world is.

THE TAO OF POOH is my reminder that my world, with all its faults and inconveniences, has much to love, and that there are experiences all around me that can bring contentment to my troubled mind. Listening to the wind in the trees. Feeling the thrum of a cat’s purr as I rub her under her chin. Snuggling with my husband and son on the couch. Hearing Dizzy Gillespie play “A Night in Tunisia.” Sipping a cup of Tension Tamer tea surrounded by the scent of lavender candles. It's my reminder that, even if I never write another word that pays a bill, I’ll still be surrounded by the most important things in life.

So who else has read THE TAO OF POOH and wants to weigh in? Do you have a book you turn to in times of turmoil that you know will make you feel better? What kinds of things do you do when you fear you’re nearing the end of your rope?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 9:13 AM | link | 41 comments |

Friday, August 25, 2006


My seven-year-old daughter has been promised a kitten for the entire summer -- said kitten to arrive once we returned from Italy. So...yesterday was our first day back. We all woke up at 4 am with jet-lag -- but jet-lag did not stop the enquiries about the kitten. No, sir!

So the family bundled into the car, practically at the crack of dawn, and went out kitten trawling.

Here's our first catch of the day.

Her name is Rosie. She's unbearably sweet and cuddly. She purrs all the time and loves to wrap her paws around your hand and give you a bath.

And here's Charlie! You know how it is...one thing lead to another, and Charlie was reaching his little paws through the cage at the Humane Shelter, begging to be taken home.

Charlie has been a revelation to me. He purrs All The Time. All the time! He's utterly boneless and apparently lives to be loved. I never knew cats came with so few neuroses (all my previous cats have been models of various psychological ailments, though very dear). He doesn't seem to care much for playing, or leaping at imaginary mice, or baring his claws at my furniture.

We had planned to raise our kitten to be a deathless warrior, leaping from tree to tree and attacking the neighboring bird and mouse population. After all, my previous cats loved being outdoors. But this morning we had a family meeting and decided that perhaps these two kittens should just be indoor felines. The problem is Charlie. None of us have any hesitation saying that if a car came up to Charlie, Charlie would run to meet it...purring. Ditto for a big dog or a fox.

Charlie loves the world, and that tiger gene seems to have gone missing with him. Rosie spent a respectable two hours under the bed before crawling out and deciding to explore her room. Then she curled up on the end of my daughter's bed to sleep...waking her owner up at 6 am by switching her tail on her nose. In other words, respectable cat behavior. Charlie slept on his back, one leg in the air, spawled in the middle of a bright pink carpet. No curling up, no hiding, no attempt to look like an intelligent feline.

I know I'm not alone in falling in love with a small animal the moment it entered your house (or bounded into your hands). But the animals I've loved before have all been respectable examples of their breed -- whereas Charlie is definitely a mutant gene. Anyone else have a cat, dog or other animal who defies the breed? Posted by Picasa
Eloisa James, 7:14 AM | link | 53 comments |

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Last Wednesday 15,000 STAR TREK fans and one lone romance writer beamed down to Las Vegas to celebrate the 40th anniversary of STAR TREK in all of its incarnations.

The Las Vegas Hilton was the perfect host hotel because it also contains Quark's Bar and the $100 million dollar STAR TREK Experience museum and rides.

These two little lovelies are Tasha Yar and Lt. Data. Their owners had matching uniforms. (I say "uniforms" because when I went up and complimented a particularly ferocious looking Klingon on his "costume", he glared at me and barked, "Uniform!" I slunk away, thankful to be alive.)

You can always find a hot date (with a Gorn) at Quark's Bar in the STAR TREK Experience at the Hilton! The STAR TREK museum and Borg 4-D ride there are absolutely amazing. I rode with a young man in full Starfleet uniform. When the Borg descended on us, he pulled out his phaser and started firing right along with the actors. I felt much safer with him there although I'm sure the actors were thinking, "What the $#@!" I screamed like a maniac when the Borg Queen sent her 3-D probe after me at the exact moment something poked the back of my seat. Then the bottom of your seat starts to goose you, making you wonder exactly where you're going to get probed!

I finally found a way to get my husband to smile in a photo! Pose him with the still breathtakingly gorgeous BarBara Luna, who played captain's woman Marlena Moreau in the classic STAR TREK episode "Mirror, Mirror." Barbara was one of the warmest and most gracious stars there. We visited her table every day and she never once made us feel as if we were stalking her. (Although of course, we were.)

Here I am posing with a charming Andorian couple. (I'm the one in the middle.) The hardest adjustment in leaving the hotel and heading for home was that I didn't see a single Klingon or other alien at the airport!

FAVORITE NON-TREK RELATED MOMENT came during Armin Shimerman's Q and A session. (If you don't remember Armin as Quark on STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE, you may remember him as Principal Snyder on BUFFY.) When he was asked what it was like to guest star on CHARMED recently, he paused for an awkward moment, then said, "Well, let's just say that they hired those three actresses to play witches for a reason." I had the pleasure of meeting Armin outside the hotel after his talk and he was absolutely delightful. (Probably because I told him he did the impossible by making a Ferengi sexy!)


When Grace Lee Whitney who played Captain Kirk's lovely young yeoman Janice Rand told me I looked enough like her to have played Janice Rand. (Yes, being Captain Kirk's yeoman is my lifelong dream!) Kim Darby was also there and had some wonderful anecdotes about working with John Wayne in TRUE GRIT.

The Klingon woman is one of the actors from the STAR TREK Experience but these other two terrific guys are Sisko and Picard replicas. Aren't they gorgeous in costume...um...I mean, in uniform?


Snuggling with hubby while the legendary fountains at the Bellagio erupted to the theme from SOMEWHERE IN TIME, one of "our songs". I've never been to Vegas before and it was NOTHING like I expected. Hotel/Casinos like the Bellagio, the Venetian, the Luxor, Paris, the Excalibur and New York, New York are on such an immense scale that I just walked around with my mouth hanging open most of the time, thinking, "Gee, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more!"

Here I am being assimilated by the Borg. Reistance is indeed futile!

My pride and joy! Finally William Shatner discovers someone he can't upstage in a photo op! (And no, this isn't a wax figure and yes, he was sitting down and I was standing up.)

The coolest thing about this being the 40th anniversary was that there were stars from every STAR TREK show, including a rare appearance by Scott Bakula from ENTERPRISE. Some of the highlights were: Brent Spiner (Data) and Jonathan Frakes (Riker) verbally sparring on stage; the gorgeous Connor Trinnear (Trip from ENTERPRISE) in a really great gray t-shirt trading barbs with Dominic Keating; Robert Picardo (the Doctor) and Ethan Phillips (Neelix) doing a reading of HOUSE CALLS, a one-hour play that takes place after VOYAGER'S return to earth. Garrett Wang and Tim Russ (also from VOYAGER) were simply hilarious together and it was a special thrill for me to see Michael Dorn (Worf). (When I thanked him for being there as I was getting his autograph, he looked up at me and purred, "It's my pleasure" in that incredible deep voice and I nearly swooned!) All of the captains from the shows were there except for THE NEXT GENERATION's Patrick Stewart and any time you can get Shatner and Nimoy on the stage together, it's pure magic.


When Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Gene Roddenberry's widow and the "first lady of STAR TREK" (she played Nurse Chapel in the original series, Lwaxana Troi in THE NEXT GENERATION and the voice of the computer in all of the series and movies) rolled by in her wheelchair and everyone in the audience spontaneously rose to their feet and began to clap.

Watching a young African-American couple in original series uniforms gazing up at a spectacular new print of all 5 STAR TREK captains. I looked up at that picture with them and I saw Captain Kirk, Picard, Jonathan Archer AND African-American Commander Benjamin Sisko from DEEP SPACE NINE along with STAR TREK's very first female captain, Kathryn Janeway from VOYAGER. I realized in that moment that the message Gene Roddenberry first set out to deliver in 1966 is just as relevant today as it was forty years ago--There is still hope for a bright future and there can be a place for all of us in it.

So if YOU could attend a convention and meet the stars of any TV show or movie, past or present, which one would it be???

Teresa Medeiros, 6:24 AM | link | 68 comments |

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Ya know, I'm getting tired of dragging out this champagne bottle every week but those pesky Squawkers just won't quit hogging up all the slots on the New York Times bestseller list. So Congrats to:

Lisa Kleypas who will spend her FOURTH week in the top 15 of the NYT list at #11 with SCANDAL IN SPRING!!!


Christina Dodd who will spend her THIRD WEEK on the NYT list at #19 with TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS!!!

Is it just me or is anyone else getting sleepy? Zzzzzzzzzzz........

Teresa Medeiros, 6:31 PM | link | 16 comments |

Lisa on "Things We Need To Know"

Dear Friends,

Of all the books I want to buy at the moment, the one at the top of my list is Nora Ephron’s “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” Everything Nora Ephron writes is worth reading and makes me feel better about myself and life in general. In fact, now that I think about it, there must be some cosmic literary resonance attached to the name Nora, conferring both excellence and financial success on all writing Noras. (Note to self : give serious consideration to changing pen name to “Nora Kleypas”)

The wonderful first chapter of “I Feel Bad About My Neck” includes Nora’s advice on “What I Wish I’d Known.” Here are some of her words of wisdom :

--Buy, don’t rent.

--Anything you think is wrong with your body at age thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-five.

--You can order more than one dessert.

--If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going to fit.

I have been so inspired by Nora’s words of wisdom, that I have to share some of my own hard-won advice :

--There is no point in making cookies from scratch when the pre-made refrigerated dough is so good.

--Those too-small jeans in the closet are just taking up precious space. If you do lose enough weight to get back in them, you deserve to buy a new pair.

--Drink coffee without guilt.

--Make school lunches the night before.

--Hug often.

--Never say “I told you so”--it never helps and usually only antagonizes someone.

--Invest in as many pairs of great black pants as you can afford.

Since I’ve learned so much from you over the past year, dear friends, I would love to hear any advice of yours on the topic of “What I Wish I’d Known”. What are your small but significant truths about life?
Lisa Kleypas, 5:48 AM | link | 57 comments |

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


This weekend we visited friends. We headed south which, from Minnesota, is pretty much anywhere else in the contiguous United States, and once again it was borne in on me why I don't live "south." Because Mothra and it's Mothra-spawn live "south."

Now, I'm not generally a coward. I've fed bats by hand at the Wildlife Rehab Center; casually relocated snakes from one area of the yard to another; barely blinked when a mouse ran over my foot (alas, sometimes in the house) and while I'm not going out of my way to pal around with spiders, I generally have a "live-and-let-live" attitude. But when it comes to beetles or centipedes or ANYTHING with a crunchy exo-skeleton and soft, liquidy interior that chitters and skiddles and brrrrrr! I'm phobic. Hate 'em. Will go a hundred feet out of my way to avoid them. And yet, there I was Sunday night on a dimly lit porch in Missouri face to face with this ....thing called a Cicada. Ever seen one of these?

Gawd! They are roughly the size of a transport flier, louder than a tornado siren and they attack! I kid you not. They leap at you and take flight, skittering and buzzing and ew!

I have no trouble admitting to you all that I screamed. Loudly. Until my husband, knight in shining armor that he is, came onto the porch, scratched his head, bent down and picked the ***er up! I kid you not.

Civilized woman by day; blood-thirsty enemy of all things with a carapice by night, I started chanting, "kill it, kill it, kill it" but no, he picked it up and threw it over the rail into the grass so that it could live to terrify another day. But not me. The next morning we hightailed it back to Minnesota where the winters might be a tad long but they don't harbor the sleeping forms of mothras...

So this leads me to wonder...got any phobias you want to share? Anything set your skin crawling or jump-start your breathing into over-drive?
Connie Brockway, 8:53 AM | link | 67 comments |

Monday, August 21, 2006


1) Her china cabinet is filled with STAR TREK plates instead of china

2) She can admit she's a William Shatner fan without blushing

3) In the original version of her novel A WHISPER OF ROSES, Morgan MacDonnell was a Klingon

4) She thinks Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgees is a plump little hobbit love muffin

5) One of the Christmas trees in her house is decorated ONLY with talking Star Trek ornaments

6) Instead of seeking therapy for her problems, she lies on the couch and pretends she's talking to Counselor Deanna Troi

7) If she had her very own holodeck, she would spend all of her time re-enacting her favorite romance novels and never come out

8) Her cat is named "Buffy the Mouse Slayer"

9) She owns all 3 seasons of LAND OF THE LOST on DVD and once had imaginary friends named Will and Holly

10) She can't respond to your Comments today because she's flying back from the STAR TREK 40th Anniversary Convention in Las Vegas!

So do we have any other self-professed geeks out there? Are you a closet geek or do your friends suspect your secret identity? And what first converted you to geekdom? Was it STAR TREK? STAR WARS? BUFFY? Or that sexy THING on the cartoon version of THE FANTASTIC FOUR?
Teresa Medeiros, 7:01 AM | link | 58 comments |

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Liz Offers a Miracle of Music

Marshall Crenshaw appeared on the music scene in the early 80s during a rockabilly revival that was all too brief. He was so associated with that movement, in fact, that he was even tapped to play Buddy Holly in the movie “La Bamba.” A lot of people consider him a one-hit wonder for his song “Someday, Some Way,” which is certainly a catchy little ditty, but a stream of albums since his first one have illustrated a range of talent that goes way beyond catchy little ditties. My favorite of his, however, is this CD, “Miracle of Science.”

There’s just such a nice maturation of his talent on this CD, both musically and lyrically, possibly because he took a five-year break between it and the album before it. There’s still an enormous pop influence, but it’s more soulful, and much of the guitar totally rocks. There are touches of country in songs like “Who Stole that Train off the Track?” and hints of the blues in the ironically titled “Laughter.” And there’s the cool, 60s guitar-sounding “Theme from Flare Gun,” which could have been performed by the Ventures. Another visit to the 60s comes in his even cooler cover of “The In Crowd.”

Thematically, too, there’s a movement away from lighthearted romance to the deeper emotions of relationships and how they feel to people who have been through them. There are songs of unfulfilled expectations, dashed hopes, even heartbreak. That’s not to say the CD is a downer. On the contrary. There are happy numbers, too, in songs like “A Wondrous Place” and, yes, a couple of catchy little ditties, like “What Do You Dream of?” And it’s all capped off by “There and Back Again,” a song about reminiscence with which anyone past the age of young love can identify, and which leaves the listener with a wistful smile (and more than a few happy memories).

I like Marshall Crenshaw, too, because he’s one of those artists who keeps doing this because he loves it, and because it’s what he’s good at. Since that first CD, and that one hit, he’s never been at the top of the charts, and nobody much talks about him. But he keeps putting out quality work, and he keeps touring, and he keeps writing songs, because that’s what he DOES. It’s something a lot of us in the book writing business can also relate to. You do it because you love it, and you hope someone else will, too. Me, I love it.

Thanks, Marshall.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 10:52 AM | link | 10 comments |

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This blog is going up late -- because I couldn't finish the book. That is...I could have finished The Eight any time in the last week, but I kept slowing down and making myself savor it.

To be blunt, there are many romantic suspense novels that sound wonderful but that I can't read. I really don't like blood. I don't like to think that there is a weirdo crouched in the bushes outside my house thinking that I am his mother or his lover or a witch and planning to do nasty things with a knife. Basically, I don't care for men who choose to spend their lives killing women, and I don't want to spend time between the pages of a book with them, any more than I would choose to do so in my normal life.

But that doesn't mean I don't love thrillers. They just have to be the right kind, the kind that are Not TOO Real. Too real, for me, is some weirdo hiding outside the 7-11. Not too real, for me, is a thrilling novel that involves huge leaps in scientific or technological knowledge. In which the good guys are fighting to prevent the end of the world or unfathomably large consequences along those lines.

You guys already know that James Rollins writes this kind of book. Some people say that Dan Brown does as well, but frankly, The Da Vinci Code was just too full of strange coincidences for me. Then a friend steered me to this book.

Katherine Neville's The Eight has (according to the cover) been a best-seller in every country in the world and listed in Spain as one of the ten best books ever written, so I guess I came to the party late. But really -- this is an amazing book. It weaves a bit of science, a bit of math, a bit of chess, a wholloping amount of suspense, some gorgeous descriptions of places ranging from New York to Algeria to 18th century France. There's a love story in there too -- between a brilliant chess genius and the heroine.

I can hardly describe it, but it involves a worldwide search for a chess set whose inscriptions hide a secret of such tremendous power that its formula, once deciphered, would literally change what it means to be human. The world would change almost as an afterthought.

The book is absolutely fantastic! If you're a fan of fun, literate, not overly intellectual but definitely smart, thrillers -- go get The Eight. You'll love it. The one comment that I am compelled to make is that it was Katherine Neville's first book. Consequently she put in a bit too much of "Little did I know that as I drove up the whatever..." I can forgive her that because her plot is so intricate, her prose so beautiful, and her ideas so scary. The whole book reminded me of a Mary Stewart novel -- (I am absolutely certain that Neville must be a fan!) -- but it's a Stewart novel grown to four times its length.

If you happen to be a Stewart fan, as I am, run to the store! Any one know of other thrillers along these lines that I should read? Because (sob), I just finished The Eight..

Eloisa James, 10:30 AM | link | 18 comments |

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lisa says "Fare Thee Well, Metro."

Dear Friends,

Last week Greg took me to see Talladega Nights : The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby. Like everyone else in the audience, I laughed until I nearly caused myself physical harm. I adore Will Ferrell, and--argue with me if you will--I think there is something sexy about him. He looks like he would be fun. No matter what character he plays, even when he’s villainous, sneering or egomaniacal, there is a bedrock of sweetness and regular-guy manliness beneath the posturing.

Among the many moments of standout silly fun in Talladega is a scene in which Ricky Bobby thinks he’s on fire after a racetrack crash, and he careens wildly across the screen, back and forth, in his underwear. Part of the comic hilarity of the scene is the fact that Will Ferrell has an ordinary man’s body. He’s not fat--in fact he’s very nicely proportioned IMHO. However, we have all become accustomed to the ultra-groomed, excessively toned physique of movie actors such as Brad Pitt, who doesn’t have a six pack but a twelve pack, so “normal” is almost startling. And funny.

Unlike Brad and other touted movie studs, Will is not waxed, plucked, shaved, moisturized, gym-honed, pumped-up, fake-baked and highlighted. He’s got a big, slightly hairy, real guy body.


And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Apparently filmakers, critics and many others have been surprised by women’s positive reactions to Will Ferrell’s real-guy physique. My speculation is that women are tired of the metrosexual. We’re tired of men who have more cosmetics and lotions and hair products in the bathroom than we do. I think women harbor a suspicion that a metrosexual might spend more time in bed admiring himself than his partner . . . and if he’s that conscious of his own grooming, he’ll certainly be hyper-aware of ours.

Will wouldn’t care if your legs were shaved. Will would do whatever you wanted, and make you laugh in the process. Will knows how to play, and how to be a man. Picture Brad in “Troy”, and picture Will as Ricky Bobby, and be honest . . . which one would be more concerned about your needs than his own? I mean, even Superman had to go off with his spit curl and his blue tights and “find himself” for five years while Lois worked as a single parent.

So tell me your thoughts . . . do you prefer Metro or Manly? What do you think of as real manliness? And just how many beauty products should a man be allowed to keep in the bathroom cabinet?
Lisa Kleypas, 8:34 AM | link | 53 comments |

Thursday, August 17, 2006


When a writer gets that wonderful call and finds out her first book is going to be published, one thought springs to the forefront of her mind — how can I use my talent to improve the world for all mankind?


Sorry, that’s absolutely absurd. Or at least it was in my case. I thought — what if no one comes to my first autographing?

But then, I’m shallow. To me, an autographing seemed like the ultimate high school popularity contest, and please note — people who were popular in high school are too well-adjusted to be writers. (The lone exception to this is author Susan Kay Law, who was an honest-to-Pete perky, blonde cheerleader, but I don’t hold it against her in any way. Really. Not at all. The skinny little blonde snot.)

Of course, even then I knew equating autographing success with popularity was nonsense. I worked part time in an independent bookstore for about five years before I was published, and saw some of the biggest authors in the business come to the store to autograph. Most of the time, we had a great turnout, but sometimes, for no apparent reason, none of our customers would show. Autographings are a random, odd experience for everyone — but, gee, I didn’t want to be random and odd. I had been that in high school. I wanted to be huge. I wanted to be successful. I wanted everyone to know I’d published my first book, CANDLE IN THE WINDOW! So I did the right thing — I begged my boss at the bookstore to give me my first autographing.

Ninety books sold! Seventy people — the people who had been my customers! Flowers! A cake frosted like my cover!
I probably forgot thirty names while I was signing, and learned an author always asks every person how to spell her name (Gan — who knew her name was Georgeann?) It was wonderful!!!!

Since then I have driven three hours across Texas with Barbara Dawson Smith to speak to a readers’ group at a bookstore only to discover the readers’ group was a figment of the bookstore owner’s imagination and the bookstore only sold used books, and we couldn’t even sell a single used copy. I have signed at Wal-mart when it was a hundred and fourteen degrees outside and the only thing any customer wanted was to tell me her kid barfed back by mens’ underwear. Since my first book was published, it’s been fifteen years and thirty books, and I’ve never had as good a booksigning — or a moment as gratifying and as empowering — as the moment I experienced at Carol’s Book Corner in Houston in 1991. That autographing is one of the coolest, most gratifying moments of my life.

So what moments do you remember that marked a turning point in your life? Your graduation? Your wedding? The moment you squeezed that kid out of your loins and held her/him for the first time? Or that private, special moment that no one else has experienced but proved to be a turning point in your life?.
Christina Dodd, 12:41 AM | link | 30 comments |

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I have begun my next book. Again. Actually, for the fourth time. But this time it’s going to stick. How do I know? Because once more I caved in to superstition and performed the Begin the Book Ritual and it's always worked before. And no, contrary to popular belief this does not involve my throwing my thighs on the altar of Hershey’s kisses by eating a 2 lb bag in one sitting as has been Someone's unkind suggestion. My ritual is much more arcane and a good deal less flavorful.

First, I clean my altar, er, desk. I gather together all the heaps of paper that have accrued on since my last Begin the Book Ritual with the intention of going through them and dealing with each and every one. Soon enough this gets boring so I settle for stacking them in piles sorted by weight and size.(An aside: I’ve noticed that almost all invoices are printed on flimsy paper while dental cleaning reminders come on high grade linen. Dentists! What a racket!) Then I move the piles to the floor in an unused corner of the office--which is not always easy to find-- where they’ll sit for a few months until one of the dogs starts shredding them and at which point I will file them all away in a file labeled “FILE THESE!” I have lots of like labeled files.

Next, I take all the trinkets, photos, tschatskes and doodads off my desk and spray everything with some pathogen in an aerosol can. Then I smear this around with a piece of David’s tee shirt which well may have been a whole tee-shirt a few minutes previously to this but which now has given up the ghost in the service of Connie’s Ritual. There are worse causes.

After the smearing, I carefully dust each little trinket from my desk, sometimes humming a little ditty as I go, sometimes crooning fondly as I recall the circumstances by which they came into my possession. Mostly I wonder why I have so much crap on my desk.

As soon as the desk is clean, the real work begins. I don my high-priestess robe which may, to the uneducated eye, bear a startlingly resemblance to a cheap acetate robe from Chinatown. And then, the piece de resistance: my Incan thinking cap which, to the uneducated eye, bears a startling resemblance to a felt chicken hat. That's it; I'm ready to contact My Muse.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words...so here you go. Connie on the cusp on inspiration.

It worked, too! I am well on my way to chapter three and feeling confident. And when I do start to waver? Well, there’s always the Incan thinking cap...

How about you? Are there any rituals you perform before you start a project? Are you a spring cleaner? A fool for holidays? Do you do something special the day you send your kids back to school? (I still cleave fondly to my bottle of wine under the pergola—”even though my kid’s in college. I tell the neighborhood moms I’m doing it for them!)
Connie Brockway, 11:58 AM | link | 22 comments |

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I know Russell Crowe is supposed to be a voracious reader but I'm not sure if the pic to the left is intended to promote reading or be a cautionary warning against smoking in bed.

I will say that it did get me thinking about where I like to read (Yes, Connie--among other things). Unlike some of you, I'm not coordinated enough to read in the bathtub. If I tried, I'm afraid the only result would be a very wrinkled me and a swollen, sodden mass of wood pulp that used to be a book.

In the summer I love to curl up on this divine divan in our sun room. I've coveted a divan ever since I was a little girl and I saw an illustration in LITTLE WOMEN of Jo March reclining on her attic divan on a rainy day, eating a juicy red apple and reading a novel. (Unfortunately I'm more likely to be stuffing my piehole with a bag of dark chocolate M&M's.) It's so relaxing to be reading with a gentle breeze drifting through the windows or the rain pattering down on the metal roof. Of course the real challenge is resisting the temptation to lay the book aside and snuggle down for an afternoon nap!

In the winter I nest in this oversized chair in the corner of our living room away from the TV. It was the wall-to-wall bookshelves that sold me on this house and there's something terribly comforting about glancing up and seeing all of those other books glowing softly in the light--some already well-read and loved, others just waiting to be discovered. And the best thing about this chair-and-a-half is that there's exactly enough room for me and at least half a cat!

When I was a child, my dad used to cook a big breakfast for us every Saturday morning. And my official job while he cooked was...to stay in bed and read! I still remember how cozy it felt to be tucked into bed reading HALF-MAGIC or THE PRINCESS BRIDE while the sound of my daddy's whistling and the succulent aroma of bacon wafted up the stairs.

There are some books you always remember because of WHERE you read them. (Hospital waiting room, anyone?) I first read THE HOBBIT on a sunny Saturday afternoon while sitting cross-legged at the very top of a fire tower at Pennyrile State Park with the forest stretched out below me as far as the eye could see. (I could almost see the Eagles come swooping over the horizon to save the battle and the day!) I read ROOTS when I was 13 during a long car trip to Disney World. And I finished Stephen King and Peter Straub's THE TALISMAN on the way home from a vacation in Massachusetts with Phil Collins singing, "Take Me Home" as the perfect accompaniment to the final moments of both the trip and the book.

So when and where do you like to read the most? Do you read in bed before you go to sleep? Do you sneak a peek at work? Do you like to read outdoors? Do you curl up in a favorite chair? And do you tend to associate certain books with the moments and places in your life when you first read them?
Teresa Medeiros, 1:57 PM | link | 73 comments |

Monday, August 14, 2006

What Liz Didn't Do on Her Summer Vacation

My son goes back to school a week from today. My husband’s classes at the preschool officially begin a week from tomorrow. That means we have ONE WEEK--this week--to do all the things we haven’t yet done on our summer vacation that we’d planned to do. So let’s see now. Let me check the list. What’s left?

1. Visit my brother and his family in Florida. (All of us.)

2. Clean out the basement and garage. (All of us.)

3. Paint the deck and front porch. (All of us.)

4. Go to King’s Island. (All of us.)

5. Camp out in the backyard. (Hubby and son.)

6. Plant an herb garden. (Son and me.)

7. Take cooking classes. (Son and me.)

8. Read all six Harry Potter books. (Me.)

9. Lose another fifteen pounds. (Me.)

10. Paint and artfully stencil kitchen cabinets. (Me.)

11. Write sweeping, 800-page family saga unlike anything written before. (Me.)

12. Write dazzling movie screenplay that will make Orlando Bloom show up at my front door weeping with gratitude for its creation, and begging me to not just sell it to him, but for twice the usual rate for a first-time screenplay writer, and insisting I star alongside him. (Me.)

Okay, so maybe I was a tad optimistic in my summer planning. It wasn’t like I didn’t get ANYthing done. I planted about ten pots of marigolds. (Only to have them all spontaneously combust when the temps hit the 90s and stayed there.) And I finished the last book of the OPUS quartet. (Though by the time I got it in, it was two months late.) I lost ten pounds prior to conference. (Though two have already crept back on.) We went to a family reunion in South Carolina. (Wherein it was hammered home yet again that yes, in fact, it IS only our branch of the tree that’s, um, bent and, ah, twisted.)

And hey, it's not like I can't put all these things on my fall to-do list, right? I'm absolutely positive that, by December, my son and I will be cooking Chateaubriand with herbs we plucked from the pots under our newly painted cabinets, and Orlando will be knocking at my front door.

So what did everyone else NOT do on their summer vacation? What grand plans have you seen fall by the wayside when time--or disinclination--prohibited their fulfillment? What one project do you wish you had TIME to complete?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 9:26 AM | link | 33 comments |

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's time to break out the exploding champagne bottle again!

Congrats to LISA KLEYPAS and SCANDAL IN SPRING for being #10 on the New York Times bestseller list this week and to CHRISTINA DODD and TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS for claiming the #20 slot.

You do all of us Squawkers and Squawkees proud!

Teresa Medeiros, 1:50 PM | link | 14 comments |