Saturday, September 30, 2006
To the first three people who signed up on our old list, the latest book by each of the squawkers, autographed and shipped to whatever address you'd like (and don't ask me who they are yet because THAT'S A SURPRISE! and you'll have to look to see if you're one of them) then, for three lucky people who register at our new blog site, we'll be picking names from the new list at random throughout the day for the same prize and posting those winners, too!
As many of you know, I think THE BRONZE HORSEMAN by Paullina Simons is the best historical romance I've read in well over a decade.
For a long time, the book's equally wonderful sequel TATIANA AND ALEXANDER was only available in Austalia and Europe. But when I got my bulletin this month, I noticed that Doubleday Book Club (www.doubledaybookclub.com) was offering both books in Doubleday hardcover editions for only $22.99 (plus shipping and handling).
Happy shopping! (And reading!)
Friday, September 29, 2006
ONLY THREE MORE DAYS UNTIL SQUAWK RADIO MOVES TO ITS NEW COOP!
We'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our amazing Squawkees who made it into the Top 10 out of hundreds of entries in the Avon FanLit competition. Congrats to Sara_Lindsey, Elyssany, Mandacoll, Laura T and to Week 2's winner--Lacey Kaye!
We're all as proud as a bunch of mother hens! (And if we've missed anybody, please check in below!)
DISCLAIMER: I wanted to add that all FanLit submissions remain anonymous until a winner is announced each week so that readers and author judges have no idea who wrote what during the judging. We recognized Lacey Kaye's moniker when the winner for this week was announced but we would have had no idea that our other regular Squawkees had finaled if Santa hadn't announced it under the Comments of the blog below.
Liz on Lovin' Her Job
But I digress.
What really made the experience bloggable was that, during the booksigning after our panel, one of the women who’d been in our seminar came up to me and said, “You know, you two were the only speakers I heard this weekend who actually sounded proud of what you write. Not that everyone else sounded ashamed, but no one had the enthusiasm and obvious love for what they do that you and JR Ward so clearly have. Some even sounded apologetic for being writers.” And she wondered if that was because, as JR and I had pointed out in our seminar, romance writers work in a world of women. Almost exclusively, women write the books. Almost exclusively, women read them. The vast majority of editors and agents and publicity people working with romance writers are women. We’re just a big ol’ soup of estrogen, unpolluted by testosterone, and maybe that’s why we’re all so happy.
That got me thinking. (A dangerous activity, I know, but there you have it just the same.) I started thinking about all the jobs I’ve had in the past (virtually dozens--never let anyone tell you a degree in English makes you unemployable), and whether or not I was happier among women than I was among men. And I realized that the only other job I ever had that was on estrogen-overload like this one was when I was working for The Limited, which was what I was doing when I sold my first book. That environment, too, was dominated by females. The regional manager who worked out of our store was a man, but we never interacted with him. The stock manager was a guy, too, but, again, we only interacted with him superficially. Other than those two, it was all women, all the time. And in spite of it being retail, I really liked that job a lot.
But I liked tending bar a lot, too, and that was by no means a woman’s world. And I loved, loved, loved working at the Vogue Theatre when I was a teenager (a wonderful revival house that showed old and foreign films along with “Rocky Horror” in perpetuity), and that was a world populated by... Well. Every kind of person under the sun, a lot of them really weird.
So, ultimately, I decided that my favorite jobs had nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with being around people who are like me. With writing, I’m with other writers. At the Limited, I was with other shoppers. Tending bar, I was with other drinkers. At the Vogue, I was with other weirdoes. So probably, the reason I, at least, am so enthusiastic and in love with what I write isn’t necessarily because I’m among other women. It’s because the community of romance writers and readers attracts other people who are like me: smart, well-read, romantic, and convinced that, no matter how bad the world seems sometimes, there is hope for it. And for us.
The fact that we’re all women is just a huge bonus.
What have your favorite jobs in the past been? What do you like about the job you have now? What kind of people are you most comfortable around? What do you think are the pros and cons of being with women versus being with men?
Thursday, September 28, 2006
ONLY FOUR MORE DAYS UNTIL THE BIG MOVE TO OUR NEW SITE!!!
Update: Because we love you so much, we're going to allow Anonymous posters on the new site through October. But after October you'll have to sign up as an official user of the new site. Most of you probably already frequent sites and message boards with the same policy so we'll hoping it will be an easy transition :)
Lisa on "Scar Power"
Having just finished our friend JR Ward’s astonishingly visceral novel “Lover Awakened,” I’m having a little trouble leaving the gorgeously graphic, sexual, opulently violent world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The book reads like it has been soaked in testosterone. I love the freedom and power of Ward’s style, which tramples all over political correctness on its way through a love story that is so primally satisfying, I close the book with something akin to a post-coital afterglow.
I can’t get the hero, Z, out of my head. I’ve always had a weakness for wounded warrior heroes, and in a book of larger-than-life characters, Z makes everyone else’s suffering seem like a stroll through Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Love him.
Especially love the scar on his lip.
If you’re a writer and you’re struggling with how to make a hero more interesting, give him a scar. It always works.
A scar is a secret story waiting to be told . . . evidence of the body’s attempt to heal itself . . . a symbol of a life that has been drastically changed.
They say scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. This physical evidence of past damage lets the reader know that the hero has suffered and is tougher for it. Is this why we find scars so compelling?
A few years ago, Premiere magazine put Harrison Ford’s face on the cover, and photoshopped away the famous scar on his chin. Readers, including myself, were justifiably annoyed. Leave the smooth-faced model boys to less discerning women . . . Harrison’s scar is sexy. Ditto Joaquin Phoenix, with the scar on his upper lip, and Sean Bean, who has one just over his left eye (which, incidentally, was given to him by Harrison Ford with a boat hook, when they were shooting Patriot Games.)
Is a scarred hero sexy to you, or is it a turn-off? Why? Who is your favorite scarred romance hero or actor?
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
They say you should never count your chickens before they hatch but one thing you can count on is your friends at SQUAWK RADIO. On Monday October 2nd, we'll be moving to our new site. We're going to redirect the URL so you should be able to get there simply by typing in www.squawkradio.com or using your link just like you always have.
Since we won't be on Blogger any more, you will have to sign up to post under your preferred screen name on the new site. Sign-up is amazingly easy. You can still post Anonymously if you like (or if you're just in a naughty mood ;)) but we'd love to get to know as many of you as we can. I also want to assure you that any sign-up info or mailing list info will NEVER be shared with anyone else.
We're going to celebrate this momentous occasion as we celebrate all of them--with copious amounts of tequila. Oh wait a minute--that's how Kitty Kuttlestone celebrates. We're going to throw a Squawk party with some fun giveaways so make sure and pop by our new henhouse on Monday October 2nd for a SQUAWK RADIO COOP WARMING! (Expensive gifts welcome.)
ONLY 5 MORE DAYS UNTIL THE PARTY STARTS!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
CONNIE'S WORDINESS-R-US STORE
No one makes better words to describe subtlties than the Germans.
Gewissenhiß? The bite of conscience! Zeitgeist? The spirit of the time. Ersatz? A replacement or substitute of inferior quality. And my favorite, Schadenfruede, the shameful and malicious joy one finds in the misery of others. Not that I've ever experienced this last but I imagine some people do...
One of the best ways to convey a person's personality is by the terms in which he thinks and speaks. Slang in particular. As a historical romance author, I compiled a twenty page thesaurus of regency slang. If I want to call some one freckled, I look up “complexion” and find “bran-faced,” if I look up “drunk” I find “foxed, jug-bitten, bosky, tap-hackled, ape-drunk, in alt, “ and “properly shot in the neck.”
But now I am writing contemporary novels and while my main characters are not teenagers or young adults, occasionally I find it necessary for one of them to make an appearance. This is when the trouble starts. I have a daughter who ought to be helpful in this area. Not so. Doodah is apparently as slang- challenged as her mother. All she can tell me for sure is that almost any word I attribute to the eighteen year old boy in the book I'm working on is wrong. “Lame,” is...lame. "Shady" is... lame, too.
What are your favorite words borrowed from another language, words you just can’t seem to translate adequately into English? And, for the love of heaven, share with me some SLANG! My teenage boy is ...lame.
While you're enjoying this lovely fan art piece of Portia and Julian from THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME done by talented and devoted reader Lyndsey Lewellen, I would like to announce the winner of today's contest.
I decided to go for simple yet elegant, much like a vampire's attire and picked as the #10 REASON FOR LOVING A VAMPIRE: (Drum roll, please...)
10) He will never hog the mirror in the morning
Congratulations to "hha" for winning an autographed copy of THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME! If you'll e-mail me your snail mail addy at: firstname.lastname@example.org, I'll get your autographed copy in the mail this week!
Thanks to everyone who entered! I spent the entire day chuckling! Bats in the belfry indeed!
1) You never have to worry about him coming home and saying, "What's for dinner, honey?"
2) When he says, "I'll love you forever", he means it
3) Black can be very slimming
4) No more worries about West Nile Virus with that bat flitting around your eaves at twilight
5) Instead of making the bed every morning, you can just close the lid
6) He'll never have garlic breath
7) You can spend all day at the mall shopping while he's sleeping
8) A Transylvanian henchman is cheaper than a maid or a gardener
9) When he promises to "make love to you all night," he won't roll over in fifteen minutes and go to sleep
You discerning readers may have noticed that there are only 9 TOP TEN REASONS FOR LOVING A VAMPIRE. That's because I want YOU to come up with #10! Just post your entry in the Comment section and I'll announce my favorite one at 7 PM Central time tonight. The witty winner will receive an autographed copy of THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME! These are the rules:
1) You can submit more than one entry but please only do ONE entry per Comment to make for easier reading.
2) ALL Comments are welcome. Your Comment doesn't have to be a contest entry.
3) Squawkers can enter but can't win. (Sorry, Xtina!)
Monday, September 25, 2006
Please email me at email@example.com with your snail mail address and I'll get these right out to you! Congratulations and enjoy!
The poop from KITTY
They are moving to better digs, one with a BOOK CLUB, and a better MEMBERSHIP list, and an EVENTS calendar where you can see what the squawkers are up to -- booksignings, appearances, book releases-- as well as who and when their guest bloggers be on.
When is this happening?
Soon, very soon, barring Terri's being swept away in a flood. HOWEVER, because it may take a few days to redirect the URL (don't ask me what that is, the last "Url" I knew was a soldier in Topeka) you MAY show up here only to be told that SQUAWK RADIO is gone. It's NOT! It's just moving. TRY the NEXT DAY! Once the new site is up, the squawkers have promised presents and giveaways. But I'm not real clear on what, I just know it's not liquor. 'Cause I asked, So...that's the KITTY POOP. Now, roll call!
CONNIE REPORTS IN:
I have a trailer! I have a trailer for my first contemporary and soon-to-be released (November 7,'06) book, HOT DISH! Check out my website at www.conniebrockway.com to see it!
TERESA PROVIDES THE SCOOP!
Well, Kitty, there's only cure for Kitty poop and it involves a plastic baggie and a very large scoop.
Teresa is getting ready to celebrate the publication of THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME by hyperventilating...no, wait...by hosting a terrific contest tomorrow right here on SQUAWK RADIO. So pop in to see what you can win!
And if you haven't already, there's still time to enter her September contest at www.teresamedeiros.com for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate from Books-A-Million so you can rush out and buy VAMPIRE and all of the hot October releases.
Teresa will be signing THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME at Books on Main in her Kentucky hometown from 1-3 PM this Saturday September 30th.
She'll be interviewed over at www.runningwithquills.com on October 9th and will be guest blogging at http://www.wnbc.com/romance/index.html on October 16th.
CHRISTINA DODD DOES THE SNOOPY DANCE!
Late last night I got an email from Shelley Mosley, librarian extraordinaire — “Congratulations on having TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS named one of Booklist's Top Ten Romance Novels of the Year!” That means out of the approximately 2300 romance titles released this year, the American Library Association's magazine decided TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS was one of the top ten! Thank you, Shelley, and thank you, John Charles who gave TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS such a wonderful review!
To celebrate, I’m giving away five copies of THE PRINCE KIDNAPS A BRIDE to five lucky people chosen from our Squawk Radio mailing list (that’s one for each winner, in case I’m so giddy with joy I’m not making sense.) You can sign up in the Bravenet box to the left of this page. So sign up now! We’ll announce the winner tonight!
To read excerpts, go to http://www.christinadodd.com
I'm autographing TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS on Saturday, October 7, 2006, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
625 116th Avenue NE
Along with authors Susan Andersen, Jayne Ann Krentz, Katie MacAlister, Debbie Macomber, Julia Quinn, Vicki Lewis Thompson and many more! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to DAWN, Domestic Abuse Women's Network of South King County.
LIZ GINGERLY PICKS UP THE SCOOP, WIPES IT OFF, AND RUNS WITH IT
There's still time to buy my September Blaze, MY ONLY VICE, but hurry! After this week, they'll be gone. Unless you come to Joesph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday, October 6th, at 2:00, where I'll be signing along with a host of other Kentucky writers, like recent Squawk guests JR Ward and Toni Blake, and frequent Squawk visitor Monica Burns. Oh, all right, I'll even include Lori Foster, despite the fact that she's one of those pesky Running with Quills people. (Hi, Quills! Love ya, babes!) And speaking of JR Ward, she and I spoke this weekend at the Kentucky Women's Book Festival on the popularity and empowerment of romance novels, to a lovely group of women who gave us a very warm response. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go finish a new Desire on which I am unforgivably far behind...
ELOISA RUNS OFF WITH THE SCOOP AND THE POOP!
Eloisa is off to New Hampshire tomorrow to learn how to run a Bed &
Breakfast! Her roadtrip with the Weekend Today Show continues; Eloisa,
the Today Show and More Magazine are converging on the Colby Inn in New
Hampshire so that everyone can watch Eloisa master the fine art of
blueberry muffins. Or soothing angry guests. Or.... who knows? Wish her
LISA POOPS BY (I MEAN POPS BY!)
Lisa is busy waiting on the release of her first big contemporary (SUGAR DADDY), writing her next historical (Cam Rohan's story), planning her children's birthday parties, and generally trying to stay out of trouble. None of which is as easy as one might wish. But it's shaping up to be a great Autumn, and there's a lot to look forward to! Love to all from Lisa!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Liz Brings out the Fall Music
I’ve wanted to blog on the Pogues for a long time, but it was really, really, really hard to narrow it down to one album, because everything this band has done has been phenomenally good. So I finally settled on one of several “best of” CDs that they’ve released. And the reason I chose this one is because it includes my two favorite songs by them, “Sally McLennane” and “Sick Bed of Cuchulain.” The fact that “Fairy Tale of New York” (on which the amazing Kirsty MacColl joins them) also appears, is an excellent bonus.
The collection starts off deceptively, with “Dirty Old Town,” a slow, sad-sounding number that might lead the listener to believe s/he’d purchased an album of traditional Irish folk music. But the beauty of the Pogues is that singer/songwriter/poet Shane MacGowan turns tradition on its ear with his in-your-face, often very angry lyrics. The second song, “The Irish Rover,” picks up the pace nicely, but still doesn’t quite capture what is the truest sound of the band. That comes next with “Sally McLenane,” which combines this joyful, danceable music with lyrics about death and alienation, and then comes to fruition with “Sick Bed of Cuchulain,” whose lyrics are much more graphic: “When you pissed yourself in Frankfurt and got syph down in Cologne/And you heard the rattling death trains as you lay there all alone...”
And that, really, is the Pogues. You have music that is centuries old, the purest kind of acoustic folk ever produced in Ireland, right down to the fifes and drums. And then you have the lyrics. Yeah, Irish music can be sad and angry. But the Pogues don’t even try to romanticize the bleakness and ugliness that life can bring. “The Old Main Drag” depicts a grim world of junkies, and “Hell’s Ditch” shows us a side of prison life nobody wants to talk about.
But not all of it is hopeless, and not all of it is ugly. Some of the songs, like “Misty Morning, Albert Bridge” and “London Girl” have music and lyrics are genuinely beautiful and melancholy. And much of their oeuvre is representative of not just the Irish experience, but the human experience. (Though certainly the band is a strong voice for what its countrymen and -women have survived.) The CD is a bit uneven in the way it moves from slow to fast, so that you never quite feel like you get a rhythm going, but then, that would probably suit the Pogues just fine. I’m thinkin’ they wouldn’t want listeners to get too comfortable.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Saturday Book Blog
I have to start this blog by admitting that I'm an idiot. At least 3 years ago, lovely and wise Avon author Christie Ridgway gave me a glowing recommendation for a trade paperback called THE SECOND COMING OF LUCY HATCH by Marsha Moyer. Christie glowed SO brightly about this book that I wisely went out and bought not only LUCY HATCH but it's companion novel THE LAST OF THE HONKY TONK ANGELS. So why am I an idiot, you ask? Because I let the book languish on my bookshelf for 3 years before finally picking it up to take on a long plane trip last week.
Lucy Hatch's second coming begins with the first line of the novel: I was thirty-three years old when my husband walked out into the field one morning and never came back and I went in one quick leap from wife to widow. At 19, Lucy had wed a taciturn, stoic 27-year-old farmer, believing that still waters run deep only to discover that sometimes still waters only run...well...still. For fourteen years, they were the kind of couple who had an abiding respect for each other but who rarely spoke and only made love with the lights off. Lucy sincerely grieves Mitchell when he dies but perhaps her greatest grief comes from admitting to herself that she also feels a tiny smidgen of relief.
Texas is in the very bones of this book and the grieving Lucy retreats to her hometown of Mooney, Texas to try to find the girl she lost all those years ago. As Lucy sets out to rediscover herself in a little ramshackle rental house out in the country, her family rallies around her: Aunt Dove, her "spinster aunt" and the wisest of the lot, her good looking brother Bailey, her slightly plus-sized and plus-hearted sister-in-law Geneva.
It's Bailey and Geneva who drag Lucy out of that rental house and back to her favorite teenage haunt--the local honky tonk, the Round-Up. That's where she comes face-to-face with town bad boy Ash Farrell. Ah, Ash Farrell! (Insert swooning sigh here). Although he's not a cowboy, Ash is a "cowboy hero" in the best sense of the tradition. He's a lean, tall drink of water--a carpenter (who knows how to use his hands!) by day and a singer who performs every Friday night down at the Round-Up. Women line up at the bar to vie for his attentions after each performance but the minute he sees Lucy, he "sets his sights on her." He brings her flowers, he brings her a puppy, he fixes her leaky pipes. (And no--that's not a metaphor!) His courtship and her initial resistance set every tongue in Mooney wagging.
Marsha Moyer is a master at both dialogue and characterization. I think I first fell in love with Ash when he was telling Lucy about the steeple at the local Baptist Church:
"Reverend Honeywell's got a couple of spotlights trained on it at night now," Ash said. "In case, I guess, Jesus decides to come back at two in the morning and can't see to land."
When we learn that Ash went into foster care at the age of four when they found him all alone in the house with his mentally ill mother, "sitting in the closet eating dog biscuits right out of the box," I'm ready to hand him both my house keys and my panties.
You often hear romance readers whining about how hard it is to create unique love scenes after they've written several books. Their hero and heroine have done it in the rocking chair. They've swung from the chandelier. There can't possibly be any new words left to describe how to put Tab A into Slot B, can there? After reading this book, I'm happy to discover that there are. The love scenes in this book are infused with emotion and helped to remind me that it's not the mechanics that need refreshing but the language used to describe them:
So I let myself slide under again, my mind floating somewhere between dark and light, aware of nothing but my skin under his thickened fingertips, the silken grit of his unshaved chin as it grazed behind my ears, the curve of my throat, the hollow of my collarbone. The quilt had fallen to the floor, and my nightgown worked itself into a tangle at my hips as I felt him move down over me, kissing and kissing, creating a smooth, undulating purl of response from my head to my toes.
As irresistible as Ash is, it's Lucy's voice--wry, funny, and unflinchingly honest--that truly propels the story. When her brother Bailey tells her, "I just want you to be safe is all," Lucy replies with, "My husband got chewed up by a farm machine. Safe is a word that's gone straight out of my vocabulary."
THE SECOND COMING OF LUCY HATCH is both a beautifully written novel and a fine romance. There are very few books that capture the true joy and terror of falling in love and this is one of the best I've ever read. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pull Marsha Moyer's second book, THE LAST OF THE HONKY TONK ANGELS, straight off my shelf before my IQ drops even lower.
Judging from the number of glowing 5-star reviews on Amazon, I'm not the only one to discover LUCY HATCH. But what about you? Do you have a "buried treasure" book to recommend? A book that you adore but the world ignored? What's the best book you ever read that no one else seems to have heard of?
Friday, September 22, 2006
Summer may be over, but you wouldn’t know it here in Texas--the sun is still blazing like it’s mid-July. There’s not much you can do to avoid the sun where I live, so the only recourse is to wear hats and apply sunscreen to every visible inch of your body. Which, I’ll confess, I’m not always good about doing. But from now on I’m going to be far more aware of the hazards of sun exposure, because we recently had a scare involving my mother and a strange black line on her fingernail.
The line looks exactly like something that was drawn on with a pencil, thin and dark, running from the base of the nail to the tip. And even though it was unusual and a little worrisome, my mother didn’t tell anyone about it for months, just covered it up with nail polish. I think many women would have done the same--we’re all too busy, and by the time you go to the doctor, wait in the office, and finally get to see the doctor, half a day is gone.
Finally, however, my mother went for a manicure and the cosmetician told her that a black line on your fingernail is potentially a dangerous sign. There’s a very aggressive form of melanoma that shows up as a line or dark spot on a fingernail or toenail . . . most often in black or hispanic women (my family is part Mexican) . . . and it can spread very quickly to the lymph nodes. Furthermore, people have a tendency to ignore this telltale sign for far too long.
There are other reasons a black line can show up on your finger nail--it can be a sign of vitamin deficiency, a tiny burst blood vessel, or a harmless mole that has appeared in the nailbed. Fortunately for my mother and our family, the doctor thinks her finger is just fine, although they’re keeping an eye on it just to be safe.
So now my concern is for you, dear friends--if you have any kind of dark spot or line on any of your fingernails or toenails, PLEASE go have it checked out. And keep an eye on your skin in general. If you have any new moles or dark spots on your skin, check them out with the ABCD rule in mind :
A : Asymmetry. Instead of being perfectly circular, the mole is a strange shape
B : Border. The edges of the mole are ragged-looking or irregular
C : Color. The mole is changing color, either darkening or lightening, or has more than one color
D : Diameter is more than 6mm, or bigger around than a pencil eraser.
From what I’ve read, it doesn’t matter if the mole is flat or raised. But you should pay attention if it feels itchy or painful, and if it bleeds and never seems to heal completely.
I know it’s difficult for all of us, with our overpacked schedules, to take time out and take care of our bodies. But please pay attention to your skin, because you are important to your own friends and family, and to the Squawkers as well! We want you to be healthy, safe and happy.
Do you use sunscreen regularly? . . . What kind do you like the best, in terms of scent, feel and effectiveness? Do you have any good suggestions about makeup foundation with sunblock in it? Any other skin care advice you’d like to share?
Thursday, September 21, 2006
So...here I am in Nashville. For those of you who may have missed the earlier versions of this story, I am in the process of writing a story for More Magazine about starting second careers (I know, I know--I'm not exactly a person who needs to take on another job). Still...this seemed like fun, especially when the Weekend Today Show said that they wanted to roadtrip right along with me. So a couple of weeks ago, I signed up for a Vocation Vacation and set off for Nashville...to learn to write country music. With a little help from my friends here on Squawk and on my BB, I hasten to say. I posted the first version of my song over on my BB, and very nice people pointed out that there was supposed to be a Bridge. And one person noted that the Chorus was supposed to be the same every time. The same? My choruses were almost the same...it was more interesting this way!
So I was totally prepared for my trip, right? No! I had to buy a pair of jeans. Honestly, I haven't owned one in 10 years. After a painful enounter with a 12-year-old saleswoman in Neiman Marcus, I emerged with flared jeans -- and you can't see this, but -- they have sequins on the back pocket! Nashville, here I come!
The first thing I did was spend two days learning how to write a country song. One of the first lessons? Choruses have to be exactly the same every time! And -- who knew? -- rhymes are important! argh.
But with the help of the wonderful Bruce Berg, head of the Popular Music Department at the University of Athens, Georgia (and writer of several of Reba's Number One hits!), together with Ken Johnson, an up-and-coming young Nashville star, we managed to write a song. I say "we"--because that was another thing I had wrong about song-writing. In Nashville, songs are written in collaboration. Sitting around on the floor, writing that song was one of the most fun days I've had in years. Which is strange because the song is very sad -- I wrote it after having the news that a friend of mine has suffered a recurrence of her ovarian cancer. I started thinking about saying goodbye -- and ended up writing a love song for the person I would leave behind. Here I am in front of the astounding Bluebird Cafe, where Ken sang our song live on Saturday night. If you ever have a chance to go to Nashville, go to the Bluebird -- it's one of the most astonishingly intimate, joyful places to enjoy music that I've ever experienced.
The next day we went out to a state-of-the-art recording studio in the country and recorded the song -- with all sorts of people on the bass guitar, steel guitar, piano, etc. That resulted in a Demo CD, which will be (or is being) pitched to major country music singers. It could be that the song is too sad to be picked up, but I hope not. Here's that plaguey Chorus that cost me so much trouble:
Let's live all our lost tomorrows
In the days that we've got left
Kiss me now like midnight
Make me remember how I'm blessed
I may leave you in a whisper
When the dawn calls out my name
But I'll take your love with me, my love,
Like a photo in a frame...
The song is called "Photo in a Frame" -- that's another thing I learned from my friends on my Bulletin Board. Every song is supposed to have a Hook. So "Photo in a Frame" is my hook, and it repeats throughout the song.
So...guess where I'm going next week? To a fancy Bed and Breakfast to learn how to run a B&B! The Today Show is coming right along. I'm feeling a bit whiney -- writing a song was so much fun that I'm not sure baking blueberry muffins at dawn is going to match up.
At this point, the Today Show is scheduled for January 16 -- with a possible bump to the weekend after. My article in More Magazine (with lots of pictures) should be coming out that week as well (it's the February issue). I'll blog the news if I find out anything different. Here's a really fun part to it -- they're going to give away a FREE Vacation Vocation! So you too can head down to Nashville to write a song with Bruce!
So let's pretend you win a Vocation Vocation -- and you can go "try out" almost any job in the US, with a mentor to help you out. Where would you go? What would you do? The only curb on your imagination is that you have to be realistic -- don't say you want to be a start-up on the Yankees or a ballerina in the New York Ballet.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
ELOISA'S KITTENS. Every once in a while, one of us has posted a picture of our pets. Today we thought we'd do something of a round-up, mostly because I am so in love with our new kittens that I'm boring the Squawkers to death talking about them. It turns out that Rosie (the little long-haired one) was separated from her mother too soon and she's not so great at cleaning herself. She does the necessities, but ignores the rest (kind of like my children, now I think of it). At any rate, Charlie finds this of great concern. He keeps himself sleek and shining at all times. So, after a week or so, he took over Rosie's toilette. He pins her down and washes her from head to foot. You can tell from her expression that she doesn't exactly love it...but she doesn't try to get free either. In fact, her expression resembles that of my 12-year-old when I'm brushing his hair.
Christina Dodd Shows Off Her Pets
This is a working breed, and I recommend it highly. They’re not easy care — they require a lot of instruction, and I have to work with them every day, but as you can see, once they’re trained, they’re very useful. They’re frequently playful and cuddlesome, especially if given their favorite treat, “beer.” They have to be groomed on a regular basis, but they shed very little. Although they become grumpy as they get older, I think you’ll find the rewards of owning this particular pet far outweighs the disadvantages.
TERESA SHARES ONE OF HER FAVORITE PICS OF BUFFY THE MOUSE SLAYER...
This was the first day we brought her home. Notice the contrast between her fluffy adorability and the laser-like intensity of her serial killer eyes. She still likes to chew on my fingers.
TERESA WITH XTINA'S DARLING DOG
And since I don't have my own dog right now, Xtina was kind enough to let me share hers on a recent visit to her glorious Washington state home. Ritter fell in love with the powder blue slippers Xtina gave me and I fell in love with Ritter. I still miss lounging around on that lovely couch scratching his tummy every night!
This last weekend I went to NAIBA (North Atlantic Booksellers Association) and met many people who run and work in independent bookstores--places that I generally consider to be heaven on earth.
At any rate, these lovely people had wisely chosen to give a prize to Libba Bray for Rebel Angels -- Best Young Adult Fiction of 2005.
She gave an incredibly funny acceptance speech which included an Ode to Booksellers.
I ran up and did the fan-thing afterwards. So here we are, Libba holding her plaque.
She's the nicest person in the world and if you haven't yet managed to read A Great and Terrible Beauty, and Rebel Angels (the sequel), run out to a bookstore and buy them! In my opinion, they're really adult novels -- with a coming-of-age, magic, better-than-Harry glow to them.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Liz on Her Favorite Season
Beginnings can be exciting and exhilarting thanks to their wide open potential for ANYTHING to happen. But they can be scary, too, because there is so much potential for ANYTHING to happen. I’m a security freak. And, okay, a control freak. I like to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and how it’s going to happen. And I want to know it WAY before it actually happens. Of course, that’s impossible, even when I’ve planned something down to the last detail. There’s always stuff that can go wrong--and usually does. And I’m not good at changing gears quickly. Much of life is adjusting to the unexpected. Those who can think quickly generally do fine. But those of us who want to look at every angle of a situation before acting can have a bumpier time of it.
“Once upon a time” is a phrase that can lead to an infinite number of outcomes. But an outcome itself is only one thing. Even though I love starting a new book, writing the equivalent of “Once upon a time” can make me twitchy and terrified, because I know I have so much to do and think and say after I write it. Writing “The End,” on the other hand, fills me with euphoria and a giddy sense of peace. It is final. It is immutable. It is DONE. (Until revisions. But even those come to an end. Eventually.)
I like it when things end. Even good things. I like resolution. I like it when everything finally plays out, especially if it plays out the way it’s supposed to. That’s probably why I love books and movies so much. It’s probably one of the reasons I became a writer. And it’s why I love fall. The year is ending, but I know there will be another one after it. Another one filled with the potential for ANYTHING to happen. One thing, though, will be a given next year. At the end, there will be another glorious fall. And by the time that fall arrives, I will have completed so many projects, both professional and personal. And with every project completed, I’ll be a little more complete myself.
So what’s YOUR favorite season? Why? What are you looking forward to between now and the the end of the year? And what do you like better: beginnings or endings?
Monday, September 18, 2006
Okay, I'm not some rabid Patrick Dempsey fan but even I have to admit he fills out those worn Levi's rather nicely on the Fall Preview edition of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. I guess I must be preverse because I find crochety Hugh Laurie of HOUSE to be the hottest doc in...well...the house. (Thanks Connie for the introduction! ;))
I'm always a little behind because I like to watch shows on DVD because they feel more like serialized novels to me. (Just picked up the 2nd season of LOST!) But I do insist on having my weekly fix of TWO AND A HALF MEN every Monday. (Say what you will about Charlie Sheen's personal life--his comic timing is impeccable.) And yes, I'm dying to know what will happen to Luca and Abby's baby after that nasty hostage situation on the season finale of ER. (And I will definitely be pining until January when Jack Bauer returns to interrogate my heart!)
So what's YOUR pleasure and your poison this fall? Which returning shows are you dying to watch? Are you dreaming about Dr. McDreamy on GRAY'S ANATOMY or is it those DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES who have you desperately reaching for the Tivo? Have previews of any of the new shows captured your interest or your imagination?
Sunday, September 17, 2006
We have picked a winner from the Squawk Radio mailing list! Put your hands together for firstname.lastname@example.org who will enjoy autographed copies of each of the three Black Dagger Brotherhood books! And thank you, JR Ward, for generously donating your time and your prizes to the Squawk Radio Squawkers!
Liz Sings the Praises of Patio Music
I think one of the problems with the world today is that we don’t have patio parties anymore. Decks just don’t have the same feel, somehow. They’re so much bigger, and they’re not connected to the ground, and they just don’t breed the same sort of intimacy a patio does. So with the summer winding down, I’m going to start a patio party movement in the hopes that next summer, there will be more. And I’m nominating Herb Alpert and the TJB as the official music of patio parties, because it’s so quintessentially ‘60s.
“Going Places” is my favorite TJB album because most of the music is so lively and happy and ebullient. You’ve got great classic numbers like “Tijuana Taxi” and “Spanish Flea,” which I absolutely ADORED when I was a child, and “Zorba the Greek,” which Alpert plays with amazing skill. I don’t know how he can blow that hard and that fast into a trumpet, but, man, does he sound great. Every now and then you’ve got the musicians howling with exuberance, and you realize how much fun they’re having simply being able to play the music they play. There’s “3rd Man Theme,” which is incredibly evocative of the 60s mystique, and “Felicia,” which somehow makes cheesy background vocals sound fabulous. There are strings in some places, too, but they also act as aural provocateurs that take us right back to what was both a turbulent and simple decade that will never be matched in history. And neither will its music.
There are enough slow numbers in the mix, like “More and More Amor” and “Mae,” to give you time to replenish the bar and mix up a new batch of mai-tais and zombies (the official patio party drinks) and bedeck them with paper umbrellas (more patio party essentials), then the music speeds back up again so you can do a little twisting by the pool. Best of all, all of it is spiced up with that “South of the Border” flavor to which Herb Alpert and the boys bring just the right amount of spice. There simply is no band like them anywhere.
Okay, okay, I admit that Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass work great for deck parties, too. Instead of Cuba and Betty Friedan and “The Edge of Night,” you can talk about the Middle East and Dr. Phil and “Lost.” But you’ll have a lot more fun if you put on a tiki shirt and capri pants and sip a mai-tai while you're doing it. Trust me.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I’m sitting here at my kitchen table with an unnamed friend and we’re arguing about the names in The Black Dagger Brotherhood. Unnamed says that Zsadist and Phury and Vishous, names that suggest real words (sadist, fury, and vicious) drag her out of an incredibly powerful story and are too literal. Unnamed says she prefers more subtlety. I say, “Honey, these guys are sadists, furious and vicious. It works for me!”
I love it when I’m right.
Because JR Ward has created the intricate world of Zsadist, a former blood slave, who loves a vampire aristocrat and will do anything to free her from the bad guys who have captured her. He can’t love her; his memories never release him from the old pain and humiliation … yet what must he do for a woman who’s faced the kind of torture and anguish only he can understand?
In the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the vampires are alpha heroes who search out their females and will do anything to protect them. The bad guys are lesser, soulless beings who lose everything, even the color of their hair, in their quest to serve evil. There’s a sense of cosmic planning — this is no small struggle, but the eternal brawl between good and evil. JR Ward has, from the very first book, has created a fully realized underworld of darkly erotic vampire and the lessers, and at the same time makes us deeply care about each vampire’s individual story.
I don’t want to give away any of the LOVER AWAKENED plot — the twists and turns of the story are so exciting I couldn’t the book down, and I want you to experience the same please.
So you know what? Unnamed and I are both right, because Unnamed and I both finished LOVER AWAKENED in record time. Whether you like the names or dislike the names doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the Black Dagger Brotherhood books grab you, grip you and shake you until you can’t think of anything else.
JR has promised to come in and discuss LOVER AWAKENED with us, and she’s donating autographed copies of each of the first three books to one lucky winner picked from our mailing list. So … if you have a comment or a question for JR Ward, now’s your chance. Talk to you, ask her question, and tell you how much you love her books — because heaven knows, I love them.
And so does Unnamed.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Liz Reveals How the Learning Channel Saved Her Life
Yes. It was the Learning Channel.
Thankfully, before Death pulled me over the threshold, my husband and son came running up and said, “Sorry, Death, wrong address,” and parked me on the sofa in the family room instead. Then they put two liters of diet ginger ale and the phone on the coffee table, covered me with a blanket, and tuned the TV to the Learning Channel. Then they did the only decent thing they could do--they left for school.
The next 120 hours are a little hazy. I remember a lot of caulk and fake eyelashes, but I’m pretty sure they were on different shows. And I remember two people throwing a woman’s wardrobe into a trash can and telling her she needed to buy the right size bra, because if a woman’s in the wrong bra size, she looks like a triple rum pound cake with rum sauce. Oh, no, wait. That was on a different show, too. I think.
What I DO remember is hearing a lot of advice about how to make things better. What’s interesting is that I heard the same information from people who would probably never sit down at the same table for, um, anything. Supermodel Frederica told me the same thing about sun damage to my skin as did Miami tattoo artist Kat. And the folks on “A Baby Story” are as big on the little black dress as are Clinton and Stacy on “What Not to Wear.” (Though, admittedly, your maternity black dress won’t be quite as little as the one Clinton and Stacy might recommend.)
After five days with The Learning Channel, I learned a lot. If I wanted to flip my house this month, I could do it. If I wanted to be a cover girl, I could do it. If I wanted to host a cocktail party for twenty, I could do it. If I wanted to rebuild a ‘69 Dodge Charger, I could do it. If I wanted to become a late life mom...
Well, let’s not get carried away.
But the main thing I learned from the Learning Channel, is that EVERYthing can be fixed. Including, evidently, someone who’s at Death’s door. A door, I might add, that could really use a good caulking.
So what do YOU do to recover when you’re really, really sick? What are your favorite fix-it shows, be they home and garden or personal hygiene? If you could "fix" one thing about yourself or your life, what would it be? And what’s the best advice you ever got from The Learning Channel?
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Liz on Small Towns
I love writing about small towns. Probably because I didn’t grow up in one myself. I love how, in small towns, the six degrees of separation are reduced to, at most, two. I love how everyone, regardless of their differences, can put those differences aside when the community is threatened. I love how everyone shares a common history, and they all seem to know that history really well. I love it that there are so many “characters” in small towns, because so many people in small towns are unmuddied by outside influences. I love how time seems to slow--and sometimes even move backward--the minute you enter a small town. And I love it that, where it seems like there should be no secrets in a small town, sometimes the secrets kept are HUGE.
I live in a small town now, but it’s not like the ones I write about. We don’t have a quaint town square bordered by quirky shops and cafes. In fact, we have only one retail establishment and one restaurant. Unless you count the lunch counter at the general store (yes, that’s the one retail establishment), in which case, I suppose we have two restaurants. Still, the bigger one floats on the river, which I guess is kind of quirky.
But there’s A LOT of new development going on out here, turning us into more of a bedroom community of Louisville than a small town. We have a stoplight now, and they’re building a second water tower. They’ve opened a second elementary school since we moved out here, and we have a high school now. They’re clearing fields for new developments, and they doubled the size of the firehouse. I can’t say they’re welcome changes, though, to be honest.
There are still several horse farms, however, which I can’t imagine going anywhere. And I can’t see the general store becoming a Circle K any time soon. The 300+ acres of woods behind our house are protected for the next 100+ years, so the wildlife will still have a home for a while. That’s all good to know.
Our plan when we moved out here was to stay for nine years, while our son attended the school we chose for him (K-8th grade), then we intended to move back to a more urban neighborhood, like the one we left, so he could attend the high school he’ll attend downtown. That move will come in about a year and a half. I think, by then, it will be time. I’ll miss the horses and the woods and the general store and the floating restaurant. But I won’t miss the backhoes and the dump trucks and the piles of dead trees. Small town living has been nice, while it lasted. But like so many things in life, it’s changed.
So how about you? What’s your idea of the ideal place to live? If money and career location were no object, where in the world would you live? What kind of home would you have? Why would you choose that sort of home?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Let me think… With Match Me If You Can now out in paperback, should I blog about the book’s hot steamy sex? (I’ve gotten more e-mail than I could ever have imagined about the so-called “balcony scene.”) Yes, I’m definitely going to blog about sex, including some other very kinky love scenes I’ve written over the years. No, wait…! I have an even BETTER idea. Let me blog about…grandmothers! Yes, that’s SO much more interesting than sex.
Okay, maybe not, but grandmothers are on my mind. First because I became one a year ago. And, second, because Annabelle Granger, Match Me’s heroine, had such a close relationship with her Nana, and I want to be exactly that same kind of grandmother. (Annabelle inherits Nana’s matchmaking business after the old girl dies.)
I didn’t have a close relationship with either of my grandmothers. My mother’s mother was born in 1864. No, that’s not a typo. She was very old when my mother was born, and my mother wasn’t exactly a spring chicken when I was born. My grandmother was a sweet lady, but I only remember that she smelled funny, loved candy, had a hump, and was really, really old. One nice memory is of her standing over her stove in the old farmhouse kitchen making me oatmeal. My other grandmother was okay, but not a real strong nurturer, let’s say. I don’t remember laughing with her or doing anything silly. One nice memory is having my head in her lap while she played with my ears.
I do lots of silly things with my year old grandson. We dance, dance, dance. I rub his feet (and his ears.) I make hysterically funny faces and obnoxious noises. And I started reading Goodnight Moon to him when he was one week old. In honor of Annabelle’s beloved grandmother, I call myself Nana, too. When he’s a grown man, I want him to have a ton of happy memories about me.
Which makes me wonder… What kind of relationship do/did you have with your grandmothers? And, as a new Nana, what do you think makes a terrific grandmother beyond lovin’ the pieces out of the grandchild?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I’m a frequent lurker and I’m thrilled to be here officially. Today, I’m thinking about blind dates…
First, however, let me announce that the paperback release of my New York Times bestseller MATCH ME IF YOU CAN is on the shelves. The book came out in hardback in August 2005 and is another of my Chicago Stars books. In MATCH ME, Annabelle Granger, a young woman with a checkered employment history, inherits her grandmother’s matchmaking business and takes on the client from hell, a super sports agent who expects her to find him the perfect wife. Unfortunately, his idea of perfect isn’t the same as hers. It’s a little like Bridget Jones meets Jerry McGuire.
Which brings me back to the subject of blind dates -- both fixing up friends and going on them yourself. Unlike my heroine Annabelle, I have a lousy track record as a matchmaker, probably because I’m not very selective. If my friends are both single and approximately the same age, that’s good enough for me.
I find it fascinating how many women have met their future husbands on a blind date. That’s how I met my husband Bill. I was a first year high school teacher and another staff member fixed us up. He was an engineering student at Ohio State. I still remember my first sight of him through the glass panes in my parents’ front door. Tall, medium brown hair falling over his forehead, jacket collar turned up, and a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. Yippee! A bad boy for Miss Goody Two Shoes! And it got better. He drove like a maniac. (My father almost had a heart attack when we pulled out of the driveway.) He came from a big, blue-collar, ethnic Catholic family. I came from a small, white-collar, very waspish protestant family. How could I help but fall in love?
That bad boy is now a loving grandpa who hasn’t smoked in at least 25 years and no longer drives like a maniac. (Well, not most of the time.) We’ve been married for thirty-five years, so I’m definitely a fan of blind dates.
What about you? Any horrific or wonderful ones? Are you a good matchmaker? Tell all!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Join us at Squawk Radio on Tuesday the 12th and Wednesday the 13th when New York Times bestseller Susan Elizabeth Phillips pops by the henhouse!
Susan has been topping nearly every bestseller list and every "Best of..." list since her very first novel was published. She was recently honored with the Romance Writers of America "Lifetime Achievement" Award.
I first fell head over heels in love with her work when I read FANCY PANTS lo those many years ago and I'm delighted to say that her most recent release MATCH ME IF YOU CAN (now out in paperback!) is every bit as wonderful. She sets a standard for excellence that every writer should aspire to. I literally do not read her books unless I'm on vacation because she's the only writer I know who can make me care more about the book I'm reading than the book I'm writing.
Please join us in extending a hearty Squawk welcome to the legendary SEP!
Lisa on "9/11"
My parents, my two children and I went on vacation the week before 9/11, and flew back home the night of the 10th. The next morning I woke up, turned on the news and saw the first tower burning. Immediately I called my husband Greg, who was in Vegas at a trade show, and as we were talking and watching TVs simultaneously, we both saw the second plane hit. Greg quickly hung up to try and get a rental car to drive home. No luck. He was stuck in Las Vegas for a week, which is hardly the worst place in the world to be stuck in, but all he wanted was to come home. It was a huge relief for all of us when he finally made it back.
My family knew one person who had a job at the World Trade Center--he was the son of an old family friend, and he worked for a financial firm. This ambitious young man got fired on the Friday before the 11th. He called his Dad right afterward, tearful and worried about his future, convinced that getting fired was the worst thing that had ever happened to him. It turned out that getting fired probably saved his life.
As we think about that day five years ago, and pray for those precious lost souls and those who loved them, and for the soldiers overseas, we know we must appreciate every day we have on this earth. I’m so grateful for the small, ordinary pleasures of life . . . the hugs from the children, the emails from friends . . . and all the countless things we often take for granted.
Where were you on 9/11? How did you find out, and what were your thoughts?
Sunday, September 10, 2006
In addition to the lovely and talented Susan Elizabeth Phillips blogging with us Tuesday and Wednesday, the also lovely and talented JR Ward, author of the hugely popular vampire series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood, will come for a visit Saturday during the book blog for her newest release, LOVER AWAKENED!
JR will be giving away autographed copies of the first three Black Dagger Brotherhood books to one lucky winner chosen from the Squawk Radio mailing list. So join now -- it's the sign-up on the left of your screen -- and beat the crowd!
Then join us in welcoming Susan Elizabeth Phillips and JR Ward to Squawk Radio!
Our music maestro, our goddess of the lyric, sister of the sonata, mistress of the rolling beat -- Liz, in other words -- has been felled by a cold.
Undoubtedly she is muffled in blankets and listening to great music. Hopefully she'll be back to telling us about those thoughts next Sunday.
This is an exciting week: we have SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS as our guest squawker on Tuesday and Wednesday -- Hurrah!!!
Have a wonderful Sunday, Squawkers and Squawkettes!
Friday, September 08, 2006
I devoured all of Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Whimsey mysteries and while Barbara Cleverly (and you have got to love the name!) isn’t Dorothy Sayers (who is?) she’s writing about the same era and her protagonist, Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands, is of the same class. It’s about here that the paths diverge. Peter did his snooping in England, Joe Sandilands investigates crime occurring in India during the period of the Raj.
Cleverly does a fabulous job of sucking you into the often claustrophobic, class-conscious, and insular scoiety of the English expansionists. The world she brings to life describes two cultures living parallel to one another, as oddly interdependent as they are segregated. When they do intersect, it cannot help but result in tragedy.
I love the conceit of the book: the ragtime atmosphere transported to the exotic realms of the Raj, the English upper classes desperation to hold on to a way of life World War One saw obliterated, the heroism and/or knavery of the young soldiers. Oh, and the mystery is pretty good, too.
Joe Sandilands, about to be discharged and sent home to London, is given one last duty at an English army outpost: find out if there is anything more than coincidence in the string of deaths that have claimed the lives of five officers' wives over the course of a dozen years. Of course, there is—there wouldn’t have been a mystery otherwise, but in true Sayers fashion, the motives make the story.
Cleverly doesn’t cheat. She seeds the clues throughout the book and if her characterizations are a little broad, her story telling is crisp, fast-paced and toothsome in the best Sayers sense of the word. I can hear the English accents, the trill of laughter, feel the ennui of the jazz babies doing their best to recreate cool London nightlife in the stifling Indian heat and experience the ominous threat that stalks them.
The Last Kashmiri Rose is the first in what is currently a five books series. I’m heading to the store to pick up the next.
First, I gotta say I, too, suspect the timing of the Tom apology and Vanity Fair pics are strategic to buffing up Tom's image BUT let's look at the puzzle pieces:
1> Katie Holmes has a baby and goes missing for months.
2> Tom shows up at Brooke Shield's house weepy and remorseful over his public censure of her drug use for PPD.
3> The Walgreen's in Tom's neighborhood is seen delivering a truck load of anti-depressants to the Cruise back door. Later, reporters are told they are "for the maid."
Okay, I made up that last one but as a former sufferer of peri-partum depression (where I *couldn't* take drugs) I see the possibility for a cruel bit of irony here. I know my husband would have had me hooked up to an IV with a 24/7 drip going had it been possible. And actually, it would make me like old Tom better if I thought he had undergone a real change of heart due to empathy rather than act how he thinks the public wants him to in order to improve his box office draw.
What do YOU guys think?
Nora Roberts and I were interviewed by CNN in Atlanta before my RWA speech, and the interview is posted on CNN.com. Check it out!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
So Baby Suri has finally come out of the proverbial nursery closet. (And isn't she a beauty! Look at that mouth. I think she looks just like her mom! And speaking of mouths, has anyone seen the pout on Brangelina's baby? Oy!)
Despite all of their other oddities (like setting back the science of psychiatry 100 years), did anyone else think that Tom and Katie had a perfect right to keep their baby under wraps from the press? If I was a celebrity, I'd be so worried about kidnapping threats that I'd probably NEVER allow my kid to be photographed.
There has to be a compromise between making them walk around with a blanket over their head until they're 19 a la Michael Jackson with little Prince Michael and Paris Michael and poor little "Blanket" and plastering shots from their delivery all over the front of the National Enquirer.
So what do YOU think? Squawking Minds want to know!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I know what you're expecting. A lot of suggestions that contain the words "moon", "june" and "croon" along with instructions for sprinkling fresh rose petals on your sheets and taking long walks on a moonlit beach. But having been married 22 years now (Yes, I live in Kentucky. I COULD have married when I was 12 just like I COULD have written my first book when I was 5.), I'd like to give you some more practical advice. Whether you've been married 3 years, 33 years, or have just spotted the guy you think you'd like to marry sitting in front of you in your freshman English class, I hope you can put these tips to good use.
1) Lower your expectations and accept responsibility for your own happiness. This may very well be the key to happiness in ALL things in your life. How many times have we wailed, "He/My Job/My cat just doesn't make me happy!" Well, guess what? It's not anyone else's responsibility to make you happy. You're not perfect and neither is he. But if you can learn to embrace his flaws and teach him to find yours endearing ("She snores like a freight train. Isn't that adorable?"), then happiness will be within your grasp.
2) When you first get married, try to put a 100 miles and at least one river between you and both of your families. This isn't always possible but if it is, it will give you a chance to establish your identity as a couple and a "family" without well-meaning interference from either set of in-laws. It also helps you learn to depend on each other instead of running home to mom and dad whenever you have an emotional or physical need to fulfill.
3) Practice the 3 C's--caring, commitment, compromise. Without these 3 qualities, it's difficult to have any sort of successful relationship. My husband and I learned a lesson about commitment the very first year of our marriage. (You'll never have worse or stupider fights than your first year of marriage! We once threw our Precious Moments wedding cake topper into the garbage can to "symbolize the destruction of our marriage".) We were having one of those utterly ridiculous fights when one of us tossed out the dreaded "D" word. It scared us both so badly that we vowed to never again speak of divorce, no matter how bitter the disagreement. If you know you're committed to working through every problem that arises, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Of course there are special dispensations for infidelity, abuse or other transgressions of trust.)
4) Never stop dating. Ah, this is where the rose petals and moonlit walks on the beach come in! I know it can be hectic if you're both working and there are small children and not a lot of money, but a simple Friday night movie or dinner date (even if it's 5 for $5 night at Arby's!) can help to remind you of why you fell in love in the first place. There's nothing more painful than two people with empty nest syndrome who suddenly realize they've become strangers over the past 20 years.
5) Make your kids the spokes of your marriage, not the hub. If you think of your marriage as a giant wheel, picture you and your husband at the center of the wheel with the kids revolving around you. There's no greater gift you can give your children than two parents who love and respect each other.
6) Never stop laughing either with each other...or at each other. This is why it's so important to marry a man with a sense of humor. Marriage can be great fun, especially when you're married to your best friend. I still giggle when I remember how my husband forgot to reverse the blade on his beard trimmer and accidentally shaved off half of his eyebrow. (It wasn't the mishap that was so funny, but his reaction--"Don't look at me! I'm hideous!" You'd have thought he was the Elephant Man!)
7) Ask for help when you need it. This is a tough one for men. It's usually a lot harder for them to commit to seeing a counselor without coercion or threats. (Don't be ashamed to use either!) The common mantra is "it takes two to improve a relationship" but the truth is that we each have tremendous personal power to effect change so don't be afraid to seek help for yourself if he goes all caveman on you.
8) Be aware that you can still get "crushes" after you get married. There should be a red flag next to this tip. The trick is to recognize the difference between "infatuation" and "abiding love". My heart still lights up every time my husband walks into a room but it's very easy to believe that once the initial "sparkle" of your first attraction deepens to a glimmer that you've "fallen out of love" or "grown apart", which can make you prey to the attentions of that cute guy in your office. If this were true, we'd all have to change mates every 6 months just to keep the adolescent thrill alive. If you find yourself experiencing a "crush" that seems irresistible, then be ruthless about removing yourself from the situation, even if that means changing jobs. I can promise you that 6 months down the road (about the time you'd start noticing your crush's back hair and his annoying tendency of talking through his nose), you'll be glad you did!
9) Never take each other for granted. One of the fundamental tenets of cognitive therapy is that "feeling follows action", also known as "fake it 'til you make it". My husband never goes off to work without a little note tucked in his lunch that says, "I love you" or "You're my hero" or "You're my forever love." Not a day goes by that he doesn't send me an e-mail that simply says, "I love you" or "I missed you". Sometimes we tend to treat strangers with more kindness and courtesy than we treat those who share our homes and our lives.
10) And along those same lines, Recognize and cultivate romance in the small things. I'll never forget an Ann Landers letter I once read. A woman was writing to tell Ann her husband was never "overly affectionate". He didn't reach out for spontaneous hugs or hold her hand in public or say "I love you" with any regularity. But he made sure her car had regular tune-ups and every single week without fail, he brought her a bag of her favorite candy. It wasn't until after 35 years of marriage and his death that she realized that every time he handed her that bag of candy, he was saying, "I love you." I thought of this at the Star Trek convention a couple of weeks ago when I was sitting in a cold, drafty convention hall and my husband showed up with two things--my sweater and a bag of dark chocolate M&M's. I just smiled up at him and said, "I love you, too."
So how about you? Can you share your wisdom with us? What is the best (and the worst!) relationship advice you ever got?