Wednesday, January 27, 2010

L@FF Nominated for Best Book of 2009

The Long and Short of It has nominated Love at First Flight as its Best Book of 2009!! This is super exciting and a huge honor! Thank you to Marianne and Judy for giving L@FF one of their coveted Best Book reviews in July, which qualified the book for this nomination.

So how can you help? Mark your calendar to vote any time between Feb. 1 and 14. Don't worry, I'll remind you!

Here is the review that got me here, one of my favorites for L@FF

What if the guy in the airplane seat next to you turned out to be the love of your life?

Juliana, happy in her career as a hair stylist, is on her way to visit her boyfriend of ten years who's working out of state. She's wondering why they're not engaged yet. Michael is going to his fiance's parents' home for an engagement party he doesn't want. A states' prosecutor, he's about to try the biggest case of his career, he hates the distraction, and he's having doubts about the relationship.

They sit together on the plane, and discover they're on the same flight coming back. When the weekend is a disaster for each of them, they bond on the plane ride home. But life is full of complications, including their exes, who don't want to let go, and when Michael's trial turns dangerous, the two must confront what they value most in life...

Marie gives us a touching, heartfelt and dramatic love story with memorable characters and a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Not many authors can give you a romance novel that is ripe with heart stopping suspense and make it work, well Marie Force definitely can and does with Love at First Flight. Her main characters are involved in a love triangle that make you root for each of them at different times in the book, and said characters are well developed and so interesting that when the story's over you wish there were more to read. If that’s not enough she throws her readers into a murder trial with seriously evil bad guys and sequestered witnesses starring her supporting cast of characters which are so good they could support their own story. Her writing style is wonderful and her descriptive dialogue takes you to all the places the book visits in vivid detail. The love scenes are sultry and sensual and sexy and add a certain depth to the story.

So if you love a great romance with a lot of suspense, and you're not opposed to using a box of tissues as a prop and you like your love scenes on the sizzle burner. Then this should definitely be your next read. Great work Marie!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Missing Gene

I didn't get it. You know the gene I'm talking about, the one that requires women to fuss with their houses. My HDTV-addicted friends are forever painting, redecorating, rearranging, redoing. It's a really big week for me when my house gets cleaned. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't be doing stuff to my house, but then I realize I am quite all right with it just the way it is. I've also been relieved of my paint roller after an unfortunate paint vs carpet disaster (the paint won) in our Florida house. I was told I was no longer "allowed" to paint (oh PUNISH ME, honey, PLEASE). Shortly after the disaster, I saw the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Ray teaches soon-to-be groom Robert that if you screw something up, SHE won't ask you do it again. Works both ways, and I wish I had seen that episode earlier in my career as painter.

You see, at one time, before the writing bug bit hard, I did have the fuss-with-my-house gene. I once attempted sponge painting a wall to match the red flowers in a new sofa. We tried five or six different shades, but just couldn't get it right. After an entire day of sponging paint onto my wall, my cousin walked in and asked who'd been shot. My mother, who was supposed to be on my side, laughed her booty off. It was not funny! However, I can't deny there was a St. Valentine's Massacre-esque feel to it. My sponge was soon revoked, never to be seen again. Dan got so frustrated by the many paint purchases that he poured them all together and created a Pepto Bismal pink living room that the new owner insisted we paint over before he would sign on the dotted line at closing. Can't say I blame him. People walking by the house would double take in horror when they saw the hideous color of our living room.

Prior to the disaster that ended my interior painting career, I once painted the 10-foot walls in my Florida family room with two toddlers (aka ankle biters) underfoot while their father was at sea in the Navy. I remember starting on Friday afternoon and about an hour later, the idea was looking really bad to me. I had to use a roller on a LONG pole to reach the top and it was brutal. My neck and shoulders were tin man stiff for days afterward. My neighbor Bob came in hallway through the project from hell and recoiled, calling my color "standing-on-the-sun-yellow." I can't deny it was bright. My eyes were hurting from looking at it. Many future visitors (including the guy who lived there between Navy deployments) recoiled from the brightness, but once I had the crown molding done and added furniture that matched, people said it was clear I'd had a "vision" all along. Not really, but if they wanted to believe that, I was okay with it. Martha Stewart I am not.

In our current house, we're still living with the walls three of us painted during a frantic "the-furniture-is-coming-Monday-and-this-all-has-to-be-done-before-it-arrives" weekend with one dimly lit lamp lighting our way. We painted the ENTIRE HOUSE in one weekend. The entire house. One weekend. The same weekend Dan ended up with stitches in his hand (not my fault). Keep painting, I cried. Turpentine will prevent infection! Needless to say, our walls are slightly "less than." Guess what? Seven years of looking at them, and I couldn't care less if I tried. If there's anything great about living in this old house it's that it can be a bit beat up and no one really cares. It's old. It's supposed to be beat up. That's not to say I wouldn't move back to my brand new fabulous Florida house in a New York minute if I could just have the house re-located to Rhode Island. However, I don't miss the pressure of keeping that sparkly new house looking new and well, sparkly. This old house often looks crappy. I'm okay with that.

I'd rather be writing. That's one gene I did get, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, especially a sponge or roller.

(After reading this, Emily noted I used the word "recoiled" several times. I was glad she recognized the theme. That's my English honors girl!)

What about you? Did you get the fuss gene? Had any disasters? Roller or sponge?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Proof That I Am Losing It!

People who know me well won't be surprised to hear I'm turning into a bit of a glue bag lately. My once legendary memory certainly isn't what it used to be, and sometimes I do stupid things. (To any family members reading this, I say: SHUT UP.) Ahem, anyway, where was I? Ah yes, I remember now. We were talking about how dopey I've been lately. Here are two recent examples:

Thanksgiving 09. My dad, who LOVES turkey more than any other food on earth, informs me he wants to pay for the turkey. Knowing he likes to contribute, I say fine. I buy the biggest bird in the store and wrestle it home to the fridge. (Emily was gagging over the clear plastic wrap, but that's another whole story.) I tell my dad $42 for the turkey. Of course he gives me a check for $50. I point out that it's $8 more than it is supposed to be, and he says the extra is for shipping and handling. Isn't he cute? Okay, so my house is ground zero for Turkey Day festivities. We have my immediate family during the day and the raucous extended family (the same ones who need that SHUT UP referred to above) for sandwiches in the evening. One of the ways I prepare for this invasion is to take all those stacks of paper that accumulate in the kitchen and move them to my bedroom, also known as the staging area when we entertain. I figured I'd get back to the stacks the next week. Thanksgiving was great, the turkey was yummy, my dad was happy. All was well.

Now, since my mother died, he has gotten very anal about that checkbook. He is proud of his ability to balance it down to the last penny every month. So I figured I'd better cash that check and be done with it. Except, I couldn't find it. It had totally VAPORIZED. GONE. I figured I'd put it somewhere for safekeeping and it would turn up. Only it wasn't in any of my usual safekeeping spots. Uh oh. End of part 1 of the story.

SIDEBAR: Also around Thanksgiving, Jake's school sent home the forms for their after school enrichment programs. I signed him up for basketball four Thursdays in March, wrote the $20 check, and sent it back to school. They had sent a nice note saying they wouldn't cash any of the checks until the first week in January so as not to tax anyone's funds during the holidays. Nice of them, huh?

Resuming part 1, after a thorough search, I had to confess to my dad that I had somehow lost the check he'd given me for the turkey. Of course he said no big deal, wrote me a new one, which I promptly cashed, and that was that. Like Amelia Earhardt, the Bermuda Triangle and other enduring mysteries, I figured I'd never figure out what had become of that check during the holiday madness. Ahhh, but then it gets better...

First week in January I get a phone call from a volunteer at Jake's school. Thank you very much, she says, we received Jake's registration for basketball and he's all set. Except. . . there wasn't a check for $20 in the envelope. No, there was a $50 check made out to you from a George Sullivan. . . That's my dad. Oh my God. I laughed and laughed and laughed and then I laughed some more. I don't know the woman who called but chances are she won't soon forget my hysterical laughter.

Mystery solved. I am mental. I have NO memory of how this could have happened. It's all a blur. People ask me how I can juggle a full-time job, a demanding writing career, two kids, a house, a husband, etc. The breakdown apparently occurs in the small details of everyday life.

Second example. . . Near disaster at work. . .

This week I discovered a free online software product called Log Me It allows me to network all three of my computers so I can access any of them from any of the others. This is very exciting for a number of reasons, but mostly because it allows me access to my home computers from my laptop when I'm traveling. It's hard to explain how this will revolutionize my life. Trust me when I tell you it will. Big time.

Okay so yesterday I was testing out my ability to make updates to our website via this new groovy connection. Normally, I use the PC in my basement to make web updates. So I am upstairs on my Mac laptop, logged into the PC and clicking away on updates to my company's home page. To say it's pretty cool to be using a Mac to make updates using a program that is available only for the PC is putting it mildly. It's revolutionary. My friend April, who works with me, agrees, so I am not the only geek in town. Anyway, I digress....

So I make the updates, click on the link to publish and voila. I punch in the URL for my company's website and get THIS.

Just to be clear, I work for an English-speaking company. If you clicked on the link, you will see that I immediately thought I had overwritten my company's home page with what looks to be Chinese. Can you spell total FREAK OUT??? Since our webmaster is in France this week, if I had overwritten, we would have had an even bigger problem than usual. I ran downstairs to the PC, but couldn't do a thing because it was still being controlled by my laptop upstairs. Ran back upstairs, closed down the browser. Ran back to the basement, hands shaking profusely, and republished the page and checked it. Phew. Everything was where it was supposed to be. Came back upstairs, took another look at what I had typed into the browser.




I left a very important G out of our web address: That is our address. Leave out the G and you get a trip to the Orient. My hands shook for an hour after this incident. After hearing about my self-made near-catastrophe, Dan said G is for GEEK in this case. Suffice to say my excitement over this new software was short lived.

I am losing it. There's no doubt about it!

But hey, at least I'm not John Edwards, right? :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Year Ago Today

I remember it was an ordinary Sunday. Martin Luther King weekend, and my son Jake was beside himself with excitement about getting to play "pond hockey" on a frozen surface in our friends' neighborhood. An entire posse of boys had gathered to play, which was exciting in and of itself for a boy who lives in a neighborhood with no kids. Off they went to play. Even my daughter Emily went to take in the action, since not all the boys were "little." I was excited to have some alone time to work on my book of the moment and to revel in the silence. Then came a phone call from my sister-in-law, who along with my brother, was spending the long weekend in Florida with my father.

"Something is wrong with your dad." That was all she said, because at that time that was all she knew. He'd sounded funny on the phone, they'd rushed over to find him still in bed at noon, talking crazy, acting crazier. They called 911 and what transpired from there was three months of hell. From what we can deduce, he got up fast from a sound sleep, his blood sugar had plummeted during the night, and he went right down, striking his head on the hard tile floor. He had suffered a massive head injury similar to that which killed actress Natasha Richardson. Luckily for him—and us—he was blocks away from a major trauma center and got speedy medical care that saved his life. We still don't know all the details, such as how he managed to get himself back into bed or what exactly happened. He doesn't remember a thing about it, which is probably just as well.

My son Jake, who is extraordinarily close to my dad, refused to hear a word about how injured my father was or that he wasn't out of the woods by a long shot. Head injuries are funny, I told him. You just never know what you'll get back on the other end. He'll be fine, Jake said, refusing to believe otherwise. He simply wouldn't consider any other alternative. I wasn't sure if he was in denial or if he knew something I didn't know. Either way, I allowed him his illusions.

A long and frustrating two weeks after the injury, my brother and I drove my dad home to Rhode Island where he lived with my family for more than two months. Both my kids loved having my dad living with us, especially Jake who found an ally in his grandfather. "Aw, let him stay up a little longer" or "Does he really need another shower?" What ten-year-old wouldn't love having his own defense attorney living with him? My dad got up early each morning to eat Rice Crispies with Jake before school. Jake hasn't had them since he left. "I only eat those with Da," he says. He will never forget those mornings with his grandfather.

It took six months for my father to acknowledge that he'd been injured in Florida. Prior to that he might say, "I did not" when we'd reference the head injury. So, to hear him say, "I hurt my head in Florida" was a big victory. Slowly, we watched him regain his strength and he returned to living independently in April, forty pounds lighter than he'd been before the injury. As his mojo returned, he started driving again and began working on his boat, getting it ready for the season. One day last summer when we were out on the big boat that only he can run, we were coming into the dock—a tight squeeze on the best of days—when an odd gust of wind hit us, carrying us away from where we wanted to be. Dad slammed it into reverse, poured on the coal, and got us out of there. He realigned, did it again, and hit the mark as he always does. Still got all his reflexes? Check. It was a good test and one he passed with flying colors.

Today, he is back in Florida where it is finally warm after an unprecedented cold snap. He drove himself down after Christmas and is having a grand old time. People asked me if I was anxious about him going back to Florida by himself. Sure I was. But he's going to be 76 in April. Who knows how many more years he can spend in sunny Florida, his favorite place to be in the winter? I want him to go and have fun for as long as he can—provided he calls me by 10 a.m. every morning. Otherwise, as he's been told, I'll call 911.

After nearly losing him a year ago today, I'm grateful for every minute we've gotten to spend together this year. I'm grateful for the months he lived with us and micromanaged my life, our summer days on the boat, our Friday lunches at the Creamery, for holidays and birthdays and dinners with the kids. Turns out Jake was right. Da was going to be just fine. Sometimes kids really do have all the answers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Airplane Love, It's Not Just Fiction

First off, a huge thank you to everyone who came out this week to welcome my friends Sharon and Cheryl to the blog. Congratulations to Razlover and Mary G who won copies of Cheryl's books Slave and Fugitive. We hope you'll check back and let us know how you liked them! That imagination of Cheryl's... whooo!

One of the things we authors do to gain insight into what's being said about our books is to set up Google alerts with our names and the names of the books. No surprise that Line of Scrimmage leads me to a lot of football sites, especially during the season. Love at First Flight, however, has taken me to some interesting stuff, such as the effort by a New Zealand airline to book romance excursions. Most recently was this story on CNN about a couple on the US Air flight that splashed into the Hudson a year ago yesterday who have since fallen in love. Read the story here.

The thing I love best about this story is her fear of birds and his fear of drowning and how they converged on that fateful day. It's a story made for Hollywood and seems destined to have a happy ending. Isn't that what we love best in romance land?

Have you ever seen someone on a flight and wondered what if?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Please Welcome the Cat Master, Cheryl Brooks

I'm very excited to welcome my good friend Cheryl Brooks to the blog today. Cheryl is the author of the Cat Star Chronicles, and the fifth installment, Fugitive, is out now! Cheryl's books combine science fiction, romance and fantasy for a steamy, erotic read. When she's not penning her latest novel, she works the overnight shift as an ICU nurse and lives in Indiana with her real-life hero Bud and their two sons. Welcome Cheryl!

Marie: The thing I love best about your books is the amazing world building. Tell me, where in the WORLD do you come up with these interplanetary settings?

Cheryl: Hmmm, world building, huh? To tell you the truth, I have no idea where these settings come from. It's like they're just there in my head. I can see them as clearly as if I were watching a movie. Like the road through the jungle in Slave or the snowy woods in Warrior, I see things, people, places—all of it in my mind. The hard part is describing it so someone else can see it as clearly as I can. It's sort of like a mental story board. I decide what kind of climate and terrain I want for the story and can visualize it immediately. For Outcast I wanted a setting like central Africa, but though I did some research, it didn't alter the mental image I already had of it. Fugitive was set in a house by a lake surrounded by jungle, but there again, I can see it. I know distances and terrain, and I even know which way is north!

Marie: Do you feel like you have an exceptionally vivid imagination? You must have some sort of special gift to come up with a more fabulous feline hero in every book. What inspires the men in your stories? They are quite. . . um. . . . something!

Cheryl: I never considered my imagination to be all that vivid until I shared those imaginings with other people--some who claim to have no imagination at all. But I think anyone could do it if they made the attempt. For my heroes, it just takes answering the question: If you could create the man of your dreams, what would he be like? Would he be tall or short, thin or muscular, alpha or beta... the list goes on. I gave them feline characteristics because the thought of having a man who could purr appealed to me more than a man who could growl.

What makes my heroes different from one another is their background. When you explore a character's history, their personality naturally evolves. Cat, the hero of Slave, was based on a real person in some respects, but most of him came from my own little brain—his sensual nature, his sense of humor, and his determination to stay with Jacinth whether she was willing to recognize the attraction between them or not. Leo (Warrior) was a slave who had been passed from one owner to another and had learned to enjoy the pleasures that came his way without question. Manx (Fugitive) has been on the run for most of his life, but he's managed to survive on his own wit and talents. Tychar (Rogue) was the slave of a queen and became a favorite with the court by being a sweet-talking charmer. Lynx (Outcast) had been a harem slave and knew more about pleasing women than any man alive, but being used by them made him bitter.

Their sexual abilities came about as I let my imagination run wild to create the ultimate lover. I'd explain that in greater detail, but since this is a "family show," perhaps I'd better leave it at that!

Marie: Okay, I'll bite. Finish that thought about the ultimate lover. . . (running to hide in my bunker).

Cheryl: Okay, Ultimate Lover Description
#1 He smells good.
#2 He tastes good.
#4 He's got a nice-sized yummydoodle with a ruffle on it. Not too long, not too short, not too thin, not too thick. Just right.
#5 He can move said yummydoodle in any direction.
#6 He has only to catch a whiff of your desire to get it up and can keep it up for as long as you like.
#7 He can purr.
#8 He's a real sweetie and puts out lots of deliciously orgasmic body fluids.
#9 He likes to give as good as he gets.
#10 He can make me forget that I'm overweight, over fifty, over worked, and underpaid.

Marie: You forgot number 3. Is that not allowed on a family blog?

Cheryl: #3 He doesn't have a beard, therefore will never leave any painful scuff marks anywhere on your body.

Marie: Okay, phew. I was a little scared there for a minute. I’ve gotten out the fan and I’m waving furiously. Things have never been quite so hawt on my little old blog. I admire your ability to really “put it out there” in your books and on your blog, but I happen to know, as your cyber-pal, that you are really quite shy in real life. How do you explain these two sides of Cheryl?

Cheryl: Actually, with people I know well, I'm not shy at all. I will answer any question very frankly, so be careful what you ask me. I can write a book on my computer, but I don't particularly like to talk—email is much easier for me than the telephone. I have a tendency to say very little at parties or in a group of strangers unless someone asks me a question. I'm not very good at small talk, and having to chat with total strangers is very difficult for me. However, when I'm writing, shyness doesn't enter into it since I'm essentially talking to myself: I can tell myself anything, therefore I am not shy. It was a problem at first when my friends were reading what I had written, but when you write such things, a funny thing happens: you start hearing other people's stories—most of them true—which are even more intimate than any love scene I could possibly write.

Marie: You mentioned how people love to tell you personal details since you became the Cat Master. Got any good stories about things you wish you didn't know about the people in your life?

Cheryl: They really aren't things I wish I didn't know, and one of them was very useful when I wrote Outcast. I was in the process of looking for a motivation for Bonnie's character when I heard a friend say she would give her right arm for a decent, moral man. I took that and ran with it. That's the sort of thing I hear the most; not the good steamy stories of how great the sex is, but the sad stories of how bad it is—or the lack thereof. The wild rumors that men are insatiable sexual beasts is just that: a rumor. I hear more tales of woe from women who aren't getting any—but would love to—than I hear from women who are pestered to death by their partners. Other times I hear about sexual encounters that were long anticipated, but fell short of the fantasy. Men rarely live up to our fantasies about them, and I'll have to assume that women don't live up to men's ideals, either. I think if our culture encouraged us to be more frank about our expectations, that might change.

Marie: I think you're absolutely right about that! Let's talk about Fugitive, book 5 in the Cat Star series. Tell us all about it!

Cheryl: LOL! If I tell you EVERYTHING, there would be no reason to buy the book! Let's just say that if you've ever had a fantasy about finding a hunky naked alien man in the jungle while visiting a strange new world, this is the book for you. As with all of my books, there's a bit of action/adventure, a healthy dose of humor, some fun supporting characters, a strong heroine with an otherwise satisfying life that is a bit lacking in the romance department, and, of course, some highly erotic love scenes. Manx is as hot a hero as anyone could wish for, and not only that, he can purr!

Marie: And after Fugitive comes Hero, right? What can you tell us about book 6?

Cheryl: Yes, Hero is next and is the story of Trag, the "other brother" in Rogue, and Micayla, a female Zetithian who was orphaned at a young age and was raised on Earth, ignorant of her heritage. She learns what she is and where she comes from just prior to encountering the the man ultimately responsible for the destruction of Zetith and its people. The trouble is, he knows that she knows and is out to get her. After a wild chase through Orleon Space Station, she and her computer geek friend, Windura, land on the ship that Trag is piloting. The remaining Zetithians and their mates band together to go after the bad guy, but exposing a wealthy political figure will not be an easy task, and the mission doesn't go according to plan—and neither does the love affair between Trag and Micayla!

Marie Looking forward to seeing all six on the shelves together! What has been the most rewarding part of being a published author?

Cheryl: The interaction with my readers and other writers. I have friends all across the country now, and most of them I've never even met! That is one thing I definitely couldn't have said before being published. My books have been read by people around the world, too, which is so incredible, and it makes me realize that the world really is getting smaller. Now if we could just stop trying to blow each other up, we might actually get somewhere as a species.

Marie: It's pretty darned cool, isn't it? I had a reader in Australia tell me my website wasn't working when I got hacked recently. Before I had the "oh my God I got hacked" thought, I had the "oh my God, I have readers in Australia" thought. LOL! This has been really fun! Do you have any parting words?

Cheryl: Yes, the Australia thing surprised me, too, particularly when Rosemary of Rosemary's Romance Books (who won the bookseller award at RWA) asked me to send her some signed labels to stick in my books at her store. I'm like, Wow, they're reading my books in Australia! The first live chat I ever did, I offered a free book to the first one to email me with their address, and I wound up sending that book to Singapore! Freaked me out a bit, but it actually didn't cost all that much to mail it.

Do I have any parting words? Hmm, let me see now. . . . This could actually be turned into a subject for an entire blog post, but I never dreamed that my writing would affect people's lives the way it has. I have readers who visit my blog just to chime in with the others and have fun. The network of friends that has developed because of it amazes me. They care about each other, and that is just too cool. I never thought of writing as being anything like nursing, but maybe it is. You can help people in ways that aren't as obvious as giving them their antibiotics or pain meds. I give my readers a chance to escape from their troubles in the real world—or a chance to talk about them—which is something we all need now and then, just as we all need a little romance.

Thanks so much for your time and for sharing your insights with my readers, Cheryl. If you want to read more about Cheryl and her Cats, visit her blog. It's so hot it comes with a warning!

Cheryl and I want to know what qualities make your ultimate lover list. She'll give away a copy of Fugitive to the most "inspired" comment. Let em rip!

Buy Fugitive here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Interview With My Pal Sharon Lathan

I'm really excited to welcome my very good friend and fellow Sourcebooks Casablanca author Sharon Lathan to my blog! Sharon and I first met at the 2008 RWA National Conference in San Francisco. We attended the Sourcebooks dinner (will we ever forget those limos?) and then met up again the next day at the Sourcebooks spotlight session, after which we went to lunch together and a friendship was born! Even though Sharon lives three thousand miles from me in California, we have become very close e-friends. Sharon was also with me for the best moment at the 2009 RWA conference, when we got to meet Nora Roberts and have her pose with my Emily on her 14th birthday. Sharon also has a daughter named Emily who is a great fan of my books, which is just another reason to love Sharon—she has nice kids! Sharon is such a sweetie, and I'm delighted to have her here today to talk about her Austen sequels, the latest of which, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, was released earlier this month.

Marie: I love your story of how you came to be a Darcy sequel writer. Tell us about how you stumbled upon your writing career at the movie theater!

Sharon: It truly was stumbling! I went to see Joe Wright's adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice" over Thanksgiving weekend in 2005 with no expectations beyond watching a fun chick-flick with some girlfriends. I was totally mesmerized. I immediately began devouring anything related to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Joe Wright, Matthew Macfadyen, the Regency, England, and so on. It was merely a fun diversion for a couple of months, but as time passed, and I discovered other fan-fiction, I realized I had this story swirling in my head. My story was of their marriage and life, presenting it as a happily-ever-after vision. I began writing these scenes down, eventually bravely sharing them with the Jane Austen fan-fiction community. But it was some 10 months later before I recognized and accepted that I had a potential writing career! I still can't believe it sometimes.

Marie: (I should mention that Sharon works as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit.) That's a great story, Sharon. Since we've gotten to know each other, I've become aware of the huge Jane Austen genre that's blossomed in the last few years. All these years after her death, she's still going strong! Tell me some more about your series, beginning with the first book and up to My Darling Mr. Darcy, which recently hit the shelves.

Sharon: Indeed, she is doing well for a woman some 200 years old! I often wonder what she would think of Austen-mania (not that her opinion would probably stem the tide). I bet she would be stunned. The devotion to her novels is truly amazing. That passion is why there are so many varied takes on what she wrote. My series is a sequel, obviously, and offers something different from the others. In short, Lizzy and Darcy are happy! I strive to present a positive picture of marriage. These first three novels only cover one year of their life together, so the pace is leisurely. The reader is taken through the day-to-day happenings both within the private moments of the lovers and the public world they inhabit.

The three novels are meant to be read in order. They are really one long story, or saga, as each week into month from the wedding day on through to their one year anniversary is recounted. "Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy" is the honeymoon, getting-to-know-each-other portion. Lots of loving and discovery of their passion for each other as well as learning to live as a couple and members of Derbyshire society. "Loving Mr. Darcy" moves the Darcys away from Pemberley, traveling to London and other parts of England. Lizzy is introduced into Society and the interactions with other characters is extensive. "My Dearest Mr. Darcy" brings the focus back onto our favorite couple. They travel to the seacoast, but for the most part they settle into Pemberley as the year draws to a close and they welcome their first child.

Marie: Thanks for all that insight into your wonderful series! I happen to know you're very happily married to your own Mr. Darcy. How much of your image of the Darcy's marriage was inspired by your own first year of wedded bliss?

Sharon: Well, if you ask Steve (my wonderful husband), he will insist that he is the embodiment of my written Mr. Darcy and the total inspiration for my writing. Ya think? LOL! Not to burst his bubble, because he truly is a terrific guy, but we all know that there is real life and then the written fantasy. Ha!

Nevertheless, I am very fortunate—or blessed, as I believe—to have found my soulmate. After 23 years, I can affirm that we are very much in love, more so in fact, and even happier than we were in the beginning. My approach to writing of the Darcys was to tell of those giddy, highly romantic early months that (hopefully) all relationships contain, while hinting of that deeper love that comes only through time and adversity. As my saga progresses we see that deeper spiritual bonding play out. Yet there is no doubt that Darcy and Lizzy's first year, especially those honeymoon months, is VERY reminiscent of what I recall! *wink.* No fantasy there, trust me! And I don't even remember arguing that much with my new spouse. Probably because we were too busy engaged in more pleasurable pursuits!

Marie: Going to poke out the old mind's eye, Sharon. LOL! Just kidding. You always speak of Steve with such a dreamy look in your eye. That's a lovely thing after 23 years and two kids together! I had a feeling Mr. and Mrs. Darcy were based on a tad bit of Lathan reality. You've had three books released in 10 months, a publishing tilt-a-whirl. What's been the best and worst parts of the whirl?

Sharon: Oh no, Marie, was the image a bit TMI? So sorry! Personal experience aside, I think the reality of new love and fresh discovered passion is fairly universal. I once had a young, unmarried gal write on my forum that she enjoyed my book but just didn't believe it was physically possible for two people to have sex that often! The way she wrote it was hysterical. Before I could even respond, a dozen other women did, assuring her that it was indeed quite possible! I wish I still had that post because it was very funny.

Anywho—The "publishing tilt-a-whirl"—Ooh, I like that! Coin a phrase, Ms. Force. Nice! Yep, indeed it is very like a frightening carnival ride at times. I am sure I will look back upon this year at some point and wonder how I managed. Then again, maybe I haven't managed at all and am now dreaming all of this while straitjacketed in Bedlam!

The best parts, hands down, are when I hold the finished book in my hand and/or see it on a book store shelf. It truly is a surreal thrill to see my name on a book, knowing the work that went into it and how proud I am. I keep waiting for the angelic Hallelujah chorus to burst forth as it seems only fitting for how my heart feels. That hasn't happened, but I have gotten tons of emails, etc. from satisfied readers. That is the next best part, for sure.

The worst part is the negative reviews. And I don't mean those folks who honestly, kindly, and tactfully say why they didn't care for it. Fine and dandy; it isn't for everyone, I know. What gets me are the horrid people who clearly delight in ripping someone else apart with the express purpose of wounding and boosting their own egos. Fortunately those reviews have been fewer as time moves on, and I have grown a thicker skin. But it was very rough in the beginning and emotionally I did not handle it well. 'Nuff said.

Marie: No worries on the TMI. I was just teasing you! That's a pretty funny story about the woman who didn't believe it was possible to have that much sex. Poor thing. Haha! I agree with you on the best part of the tilt-a-whirl. Holding those finished books in hand is a lovely thing indeed. And, I have to toss in there (hijacking your interview, here) that the people I have met, including my lovely Casa sisters and many other writing friends as well as the many dear readers who take the time to write in and say bravo, have been right up there with the smell of a printed book with my name on it. And OH, the naysayers. I agree: why do they have to be so vicious? I think you're dealing with more than your share of that because you've taken on a beloved author and her stories. Do you think that's part of it? And to move on to bigger and better things, tell us about books 4 and 5 and what's in store for the Darcys.

Sharon: Hijack away! I think we are on your blog, right? :) I totally agree about the friendships and acquaintances made being so special. The reality of how many truly dear friends I have made via this story and my publishing ventures is an anchor that keeps me calm and secure when the trials come. And that is not a jest or exaggeration. It brings me right to your point about the naysayers....

Yes, critical opinion is part of the game. But, there is no doubt that I have received more than my fair share due to taking on Austen's characters. I know this not just because of my own experiences (and it has been bad, trust me), but because I know many other Austen writers. The stories of abuse are the same and of a vicious nature and extent not generally seen in the average literary critic. Thus, receiving the praise and affirmation that we fragile authors always need becomes even more vital. I quite literally (To use a word Deb, our editor, hates but in this case is true!) would not have been able to persevere if not for my loyal fans. I owe them everything.

OK, mawkish sentimentality done! Darcy #4 now has a title! Whoot! Or at least, this week it has a title that Deb assures is "confirmed" but not "final"—not that final means final. Kapish? Me neither. "Romancing Mr. Darcy" is being edited as I type this and is set to be released October 1, 2010. Unlike the previous three, it covers a bit more than a year. The pace is faster and secondary characters take a larger role. Of course Lizzy and Darcy (and now the baby) are central. Darcy #5 is not finished, but it set for a Spring 2011 release. Readers will discover it to have the same similarities of all my novels—romantic and historical, but with action and drama taking center stage more than ever before. And that is all I shall say at this point! *insert evil laugh here.

This November I also have a novella being released as part of a Darcy Christmas-themed anthology, along with Amanda Grange and Carolyn Esau. I titled it "Reflections of Christmas at Pemberley" and wrote a series of scenes that span 25 years in the life of the Darcys. I am so proud of this novella!

Marie: So sorry to hear you've had such a hard time with the haters. People have no idea how much of ourselves we put into these books, and most of them are probably frustrated writers who are jealous of your success. I got a two-star Amazon review for Love at First Flight and that hurt! Ha! I guess I shouldn't bother to complain after what you've been through. The new books and the novellas sound great! Will you do more with the Darcys after book five? Do you ever think you'll write a non-Darcy story?

Sharon: Anyone who gives "Love at First Flight" two stars is clearly insane. But it does hurt, no matter how stupid the review is. And I agree with your assessment of the motives.

Marie: I like how you think! As my son would say, pish-posh on the two-star review! :-)

Sharon: After the fifth "Darcy" novel I am working on a companion novel focusing on Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Darcy's sister. Although a "Darcy" novel in one respect, I really feel as if it is totally different. For one thing, the other Darcys are not involved. In this story Georgiana is nearly five years older than she was in Austen's P&P, and since she wasn't given much of a character in the original, this Georgiana is of my own creation. Secondly, the novel is set primarily in post-Napoleonic Empire France. Third, it is more of a pure romance than the other books. A true girl-meet-boy type story, although I do include a wealth of history and intend to take it past the wedding as that is my MO!

Beyond that I am undecided. I love writing historical fiction with romantic elements, so imagine I will stay with that. I have a couple other secondary characters I would love to write about. One is Dr. George Darcy, who is 100 percent my creation, so that would be unique. I am open to whatever pops into the wee brain!

Marie: Well, Sharon, it's been really fun to chat with you. I hope you enjoyed our interview and I wish you much success with My Dearest Mr. Darcy and the next two books in the series! Any last words?

Thanks for your wish for my success, Marie, and for coming up with the idea for this interview. And that brings me to my "last words." The community of writers, especially romance writers, is unparalleled. I was new to Sourcebooks, not even known by anyone, when the Casablanca gals welcomed me into their fold. The experience of opening myself to other writers, partaking of their freely given knowledge and heartfelt support, has been a blessing. That community, a sisterhood of sorts, is invaluable and has aided me in remarkable ways this past year and a half. I could go on and on, but trust me—if you are even thinking of being a writer and part of this crazy business, get connected!

Definite last words: The Sourcebooks line of fiction and romance is awesome. And the CasaBabes ROCK!

Sharon and I with our good friend Kendra Leigh Castle at the 2009 RWA Conference in Washington, D.C.

Thanks so much for being here today, Sharon! Best of luck to you as well as Mr. and Mrs. Darcy!

Buy the book!

Find out more about Sharon and her Darcy saga.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

TV Update

So who is watching The Bachelor this season? Any thoughts on last night's ratings-grabbing "scandal" in which early front-runner Roz was sent packing thanks to an "inappropriate relationship" with a producer who was subsequently fired? Phew. Did you get all that? I dunno, it's only week 2 and I'm already bored. Jake just doesn't do a thing for me with his big Ken doll smile, his sunglasses tucked into the back of his shirt collar and his whole goody two shoes persona. He's just TOO good to be true. Apparently, he's been on a lot of first dates. I can see why. He's boring. Sure, he's good looking, but he's BORING.

Lots of good stuff to read about this season on the blogosphere:


Lincee Ray's hilarious recaps on I Hate Green Beans

And Chris Harrison's blog on Entertainment Weekly

Did you catch Brother's & Sisters on Sunday? The last five minutes was some of the best TV I've seen in a LONG time. You've had 48 hours so (SPOILER ALERT) I will say this: Watching Nora out Simon for being the skunk that he is was fabulous. Watching Sol jump out of the closet and Nora refer to him as her Bond girl was the funniest freaking thing I've seen in ages. Emily and I watched it twice and laughed just as hard the second time. Hilarious! Like I said last week, when B&S is firing on all cylinders, there's nothing more fun to watch.

Speaking of fun, Castle was also fabulous last night. FAB-U-LOUS. A long-lost love from Rick's past resurfaced, finally giving him a love interest, albeit for that one episode. However, having Alyssa Milano around seemed to make Beckett a little jealous, which was fun to watch, too. Next week's episode looks amazing with our dynamic duo on the path of the person who murdered Beckett's mother. If you're not watching this show, you're missing out!!

Anyone know when Friday Night Lights comes back to NBC? I am so ready.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention today's news that Conan O'Brien is refusing to tamper with the tried and true formula of The Tonight Show. I gotta say I agree with his thoughtful statement, which you can find here. While he rightfully acknowledges other people have bigger problems than his, NBC finds itself in a mess and he's looking to be their scapegoat. Maybe Jay should just retire or take his show elsewhere. You just got to wonder why anyone bother to sign a contract anymore. Conan moved his family from NY to LA. Because he had a contract. What do you think? Shouldn't that count for something? On another note, remember when NBC actually had good shows? Ahh, those were the days!

Guests This Week: Sharon Lathan & Cheryl Brooks

Don't forget to come by tomorrow to read my interview with Sharon Lathan, whose new book "My Darling Mr. Darcy" is now on shelves. Sharon and I had a great time with the interview, and I think you'll really enjoy it! Please help me to welcome the first of what I hope will be many guests! And, on Thursday, we'll welcome my pal Cheryl Brooks, author of the Cat Star Chronicles. Book five, Fugitive, was recently released to some fabulous reviews. Cheryl and I are nonstop e-mail correspondents, so you'll want to check out what we're talking about this week. With Cheryl, anything is possible, and you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

One of My Secret Dreams

I want to be the lead singer in a band. There. I said it out loud. I love to sing. In my own humble opinion, I'm a pretty good singer and often practice in the car, shower, around the house, in the yard, at parties. . . As I write this, it's occurring to me that perhaps this is why my kids have iPod buds surgically implanted in their ears? To drown out the, ahem, "background noise" around here? They know they are a big part of my dream for I yearn to form a garage band with my little family of four. My husband Dan is a drummer from way back when. Three days before our wedding, his parents arrived in Rhode Island with a full drum set attached to the roof of their van. I wish I had a picture of that. . . "You get him, you get his stuff," my mother-in-law proclaimed after they offloaded the drums into my parents' garage in preparation for our move to Spain. This was a woman who had all but given up on marrying off this particular 31-year-old son, so the passing of the drum set was filled with symbolism. We have moved the drums from Rhode Island to Spain, from Spain to Maryland, from Maryland to Florida, and from Florida back to Rhode Island. Since I've yet to see him PLAY those drums, it occurs to me that we should've just left them in my parents' garage, huh?

Okay, so the drums are covered. We're all decent singers thanks to the karaoke machine I bought Dan for his 40th birthday, which was, holy cow, nine years ago this February (he's getting OLD!) My kids have grown up hamming it up on the microphone, which, I might add is a wonderful gift to give your kids. I can't imagine either of them (or many of the other kids in our lives) will ever have issues with public speaking. They've been doing it most of their lives. A few years back, Emily received a keyboard for Christmas. I believe it's under her bed. A couple of years later, Jake received a guitar from my brother for his birthday. It's collecting dust in his room. They clearly don't feel my sense of urgency. Emily is in 9th grade. We have just a few more years left to pull this off. Isn't ANYONE willing to work with me? Recently, they have made some inquiries about learning how to play these instruments and getting them into lessons is "on my to-do list." How long should I reasonably expect this to take? My instrument is ready (me mee mee meeeeee). In addition to the "instrument" I was born with, the best gift I received this Christmas was from my cousin Jen, who, in support of my dream, gave me a tambourine! SQUEALS OF JOY! Oh my God, I LOVE my tambourine. I see myself in Stevie Nicks-esque robes, flowing locks of hair, a microphone in my hand and a tambourine at my hip. I am so READY.

The next challenge is the music this band would cover. I picture Fleetwood Mac (see above reference to my beloved Stevie Nicks), some Chicago since Emily does play the trombone but Jake is flaking out after only one year of trumpet, maybe some Crosby, Stills and Nash or CCR. That's my kind of music. I fear the other "musicians" in my band will have a different play list. This is often the topic of dinner conversation where debates rage about what songs make the list. In an effort to keep the plans for the band on track, I have agreed that each member can pick four songs to start us off. Mine would be:
1. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac
2. Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac (Jake agrees with this one)
3. Don't Stop Believing by Fleetwood Mac
4. Only the Beginning by Chicago with Emily on trombone
5th bonus song for founder of garage band: Come to My Window by Melissa Ethridge

I'd be willing to consider some Coldplay as Viva la Vida and Yellow are favorites of mine. I could probably pull off some Beyonce--all the single ladies, all the single ladies. Jake sings a mean Shakira. . . I'm willing to occasionally cede lead singer duties to another member of the band as long as I still get to play my tambourine. Dan will need a mic at the drums so he can belt out his signature song, "Brandy." I think it was all those years in the Navy. . .

Here's a picture of my future garage band, except, well, the lead singer is ME (with flowing robes and tambourine) and the other performers aren't all men, and, well, this is nothing like MY garage band will look. . . We'll be MUCH cooler. My kids are a lot cuter than these guys and when we rock out. . . well, we won't look so pedestrian. Maybe we'll even get matching haircuts and outfits like the Patridge Family had. Oh and a bus! Definitely a bus and my dad can drive us from gig to gig. It occurs to me that I might be getting ahead of myself. . . Even if the bus and matching outfits don't pan out, we'll be stars of our own garage! Disclaimer to neighbors: we apologize in advance if the um noise--I mean MUSIC--coming from our garage in any way impairs your enjoyment of that very expensive pool you installed a few years back. We won't, however, charge you for the privilege of being entertained.

What other songs do you think we should cover? How long should I expect it to take for my kids to learn these instruments I need them to play? Is there any way to fast track this process? Is my dream achievable?

I leave you with the wise words of Abba:

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream, I have a dream.

Standing on the edge of the stream. Anyone with me? Hello?

Two other quick notes before I sing us out: Today would've been my mom's 73rd birthday. More than five years after she left this life, I still miss her every day. AND, today is also my 14th anniversary at the best day job I ever could've hoped to have. Thank you AGA. Here's to many more years together!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Two Exciting Guests Next Week

Very exciting news! Next week my writer buddies Sharon Lathan and Cheryl Brooks will be coming by for a visit. Sharon is the author of a popular Darcy sequel series, the latest of which, My Darling Mr. Darcy, came out this month. Cheryl is the Cat Master, author of the Cat Star Chronicles series. Her fifth book, Fugitive, is now on shelves! Both gals are my good friends and we had a lot of fun preparing our interviews.

Come by on Wednesday to visit with Sharon and Thursday for Cheryl. In addition to their writing careers, these lovely ladies have something else in common—both are nurses who work the overnight shift. Sharon is in the neonatal intensive care unit and Cheryl in the ICU. The three of us share a common bond of juggling full-time jobs, families and this book writing gig that has taken over our lives! I hope you'll come by and welcome Sharon and Cheryl to the blog!

I want to take a second to thank Friend of the Blog (FOB) Mary G. for unearthing a bunch of "best of 2009" reader lists that include my name or that of one of my books. Lots of authors aim to land on the NY Times bestseller list, but this newbie author is very, very pleased to have satisfied readers singling her out as among their favorites. So, to all of you who included me on one of your lists, I say thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. Nothing pleases and humbles me more than satisfied readers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holy Hell I've Been Hacked

You read that right, my website is under attack! I've cleaned up the junk and gotten to know my "cpanel" better than I ever imagined I would. I spend most of my awake hours attached to a computer, but that doesn't mean I know a damned thing about how any of it actually works. Let me tell you, I've had to figure it out in the last couple of weeks. One of my readers in Australia emailed to say she couldn't get my website to open. Huh? So I checked it out and low and behold, HACKED! I've cleaned it up three times now. Grrrr!

I have to wonder, who are these people who have time to mess around with a lowly author's website? I also wonder what these people could do if they used their powers for good rather than evil. They loaded my site with enough junk to tip off Google, and they affixed a "if you click on this site your computer will blow up" message to my site. That's a really friendly welcome mat to put out for readers, huh? Just what a newbie author wants when readers are actually seeking her out. The good news, if there is any, is that people are checking out my website and they're taking the time to let me know it's not working correctly. So, to all the good, genuinely nice people out there, I say thank you. To the evil hacker losers who spread their nasty viruses throughout the web, I say get a life.

Oh and dear friends at Google, could ya please do something about that hateful welcome mat you've got Velcroed to my website? Many thanks,
The lowly author

Monday, January 4, 2010

What I'm Watching

When my kids were little and I was stuck (I mean happily mothering) at home 24-7, I used to have a daily must-see show that was my reward for surviving another day. Some of my past favorites include The West Wing, ER, Once and Again, Sisters, Picket Fences, LA Law, Friends, Cheers, Frasier, Seinfeld, Party of Five, the original Melrose Place. And on and on the list goes. I am thinking of more as I type. I have a lot less time to watch these days and often don't watch live TV (thank you JESUS for the person who invented TiVO). Here's what makes the cut these days:

Brothers and Sisters. For the most part, I adore this show, which is full of hugely talented actors and is anchored by the incomparable Sally Field. I like to look at Robert (Rob Lowe), I laugh at everything that comes out of Kevin's mouth, I adore single-mom Sarah, and deer-in-the-headlights Justin and just-came-out Uncle Sol. I tolerate Kitty (Calista Flockheart) and Rebecca, but I blame the writing of their characters for my blahness (yes, that's a word, I say so) toward them. I truly can't stand Holly. Oh wait, that reminds me: thirtysomething HAS to be on the list above. She was my least favorite cast member in thirtysomething, too. Patricia Wettig talks like she has cotton balls jammed in her mouth, but I do admire her for not having work done. Most women of her age in Hollywood look like plastic freaks. I'm glad she doesn't. Ken Olin, her real-life husband, fellow thirtysomething alum and B&S executive producer, needs to shave the crappy beard. He was sooooo HOT back in the day. Remember? Sigh.... What I don't like: When the writing in this show is good, it hums along with all cylinders firing on full steam. When the writing flops, like it has during the Kitty-has-cancer-storyline-from-hell, the show can be hard to watch (read: cringeworthy, see 01/03/10 episode as exhibit A). They managed to successfully cure Kitty's cancer in one whirlwind hour last night, which tells me they were getting a lot of pushback from viewers and critics who don't find cancer entertaining. It strikes too damned close to home for too many people. Myself included. Rating: Like it enough to watch it live.

My busiest night!
The Bachelor. A guilty pleasure that I can't seem to give up. Ahhh, the cute guys, the cat fights, the desperation, the over-the-top dates, the cat fights... I am also a huge fan of Lincee Ray's recap blog, I Hate Green Beans. Lincee does an awesome job of capturing the insanity, the fun, and the romance of it all. If you haven't read her blog in the past, you should follow it this season. I promise a lot of laughs! Okay, as for Jake, the jury is still out in my book. I was uncomfy last season watching him bawl after cueing Jillian in that Wes was a skank. We all knew Wes was a skank. Jilly knew it, too. No one could understand why she kept Wes around and let genuine good-guy Jake go. Now Jake gets his chance at love and redemption, but the ads for this season have made me throw up in my mouth more than once. Could they BE any more cheesy? Apparently, this season has a happy ending. Most of them do. Whether or not they STAY together is always the big question. We shall talk more about The Bachelor here as the season unfolds. Rating: Like it enough to watch it live.

Two and a Half Men. Love it. Charlie Sheen basically plays himself minus the domestic violence that seems to color his personal life. A fantastic, dependable comedy with a stellar supporting cast. And Jake. OMG, anyone with an adolescent boy will love Jake Harper. He's a genuine piece of work! Rating: Like it enough to watch it on TiVO.

Castle: I love, love, LOVE Nathan! As an actor, he gets more done with his face than most others do with their whole bodies. This is a fantastic show about a mystery writer who strong arms his way into shadowing a female NYC police detective. Their chemistry reminds me of David and Maddie on Moonlighting. Again, a fantastic supporting cast, especially Castle's precocious teenage daughter and his mother (played by Susan Sullivan--remember her from Falcon Crest?). My only nit with this show is that Castle is a bestselling mystery writer but we never, ever, ever see him writing. Those of us who are writers will attest to how unrealistic that is! Rating: Like it enough to watch it live (most of the time).

Tuesday and Wednesday
Two words: American Idol. Every year I say never again. Every year I watch every second of it. I really loved last year, but like everyone else, I can't figure out how Adam Lambert didn't win. It will be interesting see how Ellen does in Paula's place. I loved Paula and all her quirkiness. Ellen will be funny and gentle and kind. It will probably be fine. But let's face it. There won't be any chemistry between her and Simon. None. Zero. Zilch. I guess they'll have to put newlywed Kara next to his snottiness. I always want to hate him, but damn it, he's always right! He is the one member of the cast who would be simply irreplaceable in my humble opinion. The one thing I love the best about this show is that I can watch it with the kids, although they lose interest as the season unfolds. Rating: Like it enough to watch it live.

Grey's Anatomy. I don't even like it anymore, but like a bad accident, I can't look away. I still love McDreamy and he keeps me watching. Doesn't matter what he says or what he does. I just look at him and I am happy. (I'd like him to play Jack in the movie version of my very first book Treading Water. If you know Patrick and could get word to him, I'd appreciate that.) I'm glad Izzy is gone for a while. I'm glad George left. I don't care about Meredith. I kinda like Christina except for when she's having mad monkey sex with the Scottish guy. Real ick factor there. I like Bailey, but sometimes I want to just tell her to SHUT UP. And I couldn't give a shit less about the chief. Do. Not. Care. That pretty much sums up my attitude toward this show. More Derek I say. Less of everyone else! No longer must-see. It's lucky I let it take up space on my TiVO. Rating: Hate it enough to watch it on TiVO.

Private Practice, on the other hand, has me hook, line and sinker. I LOVE THIS SHOW! I care about every, single character. I care about their practice, I care about their families. I think I've decided it's sheer caliber of actors that makes the difference on this show. I mean take Amy Brenneman, add Tim Daly, plus Taye Diggs, and right there you got game. Bring in the fabulousness that is Addison Montgomery, emotionally starved poor little rich girl who loves to remind everyone that she's a world class surgeon, and you've got a show that fires on all cylinders ALL the time. Absolutely MUST SEE. Rating: Like it enough to watch it live.

Saving the best for last: Friday Night Lights. Quite simply, the very best show on TV. Quite simply, the very best show I've ever watched. How about that? Talk about an ensemble cast that's got it going on. The coach, his wife, his daughter, Tim Riggins. Did I say Tim Riggins? Yummmmmmmmm. The one guy my daughter and I would seriously fight over, even with that shaggy, dirty hair and those unwashed jeans he wears in every episode. Yummmmm. Now if Kyle Chandler, who plays the coach in a career-making role, wanted me to run away with him, I'm hitting the road peeps! My friend Julie would fight me for him, but he really wants me. (Don't tell her--she'd be heartbroken.) People think this show is about football. Yeah, there's football. But there is SO much more. It's impossible to ably do it justice in just a few sentences. Teenaged angst, marital strife, small-town gossip, parental dismay, drugs, sex, strippers. Got your attention? Don't take my word for it. Go rent seasons 1, 2 and 3 (I apologize for the detour they took in season 2. Don't hold it against them. They got it back on track in season 3.) Gear up for the start of Season 4 this month. I. Can't. Wait. It's the only show all four of us watch together. I even got a new sofa so we can all watch it together. We jokingly call it my FNL sofa. Rating: Like it enough to watch it live.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Must see.

Stuff I watch if it's on
Law and Order SVU
NCIS (Isn't Mark Harmon still dreamy all these years later?)
Men of a Certain Age (liked the pilot, haven't seen anymore)

Okay, your turn. Are any of my shows on your list? What am I missing that I have to see? (Please don't say Mad Men. It puts me to sleep. BORING. Sorry.) What are your all-time favorites?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Things I Don't Understand About Teenagers

As the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, who is really quite smart, funny, and an altogether good kid, I do find myself often in the company of teenagers. A few observations of some of the more mystifying traits:

1. They are never, ever, EVER cold. In what started out as a joke but took on a life of its own, Emily received about 30 pairs of socks for Christmas. Do you think she'd ever stoop to actually wearing a pair of them? Noooo. She went out yesterday in about four inches of snow in ballet flats and, you guessed it, no socks. Most of the kids in her school don't bother with winter coats because they don't want the hassle of carting them around all day (lockers are soooo last century). Another mom told me about dropping her daughter off at the same school a few years back, again with several inches of snow on the ground, and the girls were wearing flip-flops. What the hell is wrong with these people? Emily's boyfriend recently walked more than a mile in a thin sweatshirt and PJ pants (a staple of the teenage wardrobe) to visit with her. I asked him, you really like her THAT much? He just gave me a goofy grin. Again, I ask, what the hell is wrong with him? He did seem grateful when we gave him a ride home.

2. They think EVERYTHING is funny. We've come to realize that when Emily begins a sentence with the following words: "The funniest thing happened," you can almost guarantee it is not funny. Not even kinda funny. They also love to recite back comic bits from movies they've seen or episodes of Saturday Night Live (a recent discovery by our daughter who was shocked to hear we watched it when we were her age--and that back then it was actually funny). These recitations usually take place in the midst of hysterical laughter while their unappreciative (adult) audience waits for them to get to the funny part. And waits. And waits some more. Ahhh, okay. Again, not funny. However, when she busted up laughing with milk in her mouth at lunch today and milk came spewing out her nose? Now THAT was funny. Oddly, though, she didn't think so.

3. They are the smartest people in the universe. I never knew I was so stupid until I had a teenager. I mean, I am seriously, seriously stupid. Did you know? (If you are in any way related to me, do not answer that.) Emily was elected class president in September. Her first order of business was organizing a bake sale for open house. I, who work by day as the communications director for a 15,000-member national organization, suggested that she set up a Facebook page for her class so she could post regular updates and not have to make phone calls every time she needed to reach her classmates. To that she replied, "That is the worst idea I've ever heard. It's a terribly impersonal way to communicate." Oh. Okay. When one of her fellow class officers came up with the same idea a couple of months later, it was billed as brilliant. What do I know?

4. In keeping with no. 3 on my list, they are also the most technologically savvy generation ever. I mean seriously, if they weren't so self-absorbed they could take over the world. There is nothing they can't operate, manipulate, fix, reprogram, deprogram, etc. When my cell phone acts up, I hand it off to Emily. It comes back with a new ring tone I don't recognize and a silly picture of her on the wallpaper, but the problem is fixed. They master a complex cell phone or iPod or iPhone in minutes when it would take us parents years to just get started. If only they knew the power they hold in their hot little hands. Their potential is truly frightening. However, lucky for the parental generation, they are too busy texting LOL and LMAO and ROTFLMBO (see Item 2 on comedy) to their friends to realize the full scope of their power. Let's hope they don't figure it out.

5. What's up with the underwear on full display at all times? Thankfully, the girls aren't as into this trend as the boys (although the thong wearers like to make sure everyone knows they're sporting butt floss.) The boys are just ridiculous. It's called "busting a sag," or so I'm told. You've seen the pockets on the backs of thighs in the mall, right? News flash: that's not where they belong! My cousin Sue, the mother of three teenage boys, came up with the perfect solution to this issue when she was seeing more of her sons' boxers than their jeans. Digging through the dresser for her biggest pair of granny panties, she pulled them up as far over her shirt as she could get them and went walking through a family room full of her sons and their friends. MOM, they shrieked, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? If you can show me yours, she replied, I can show you mine. Ironically, that was the last she ever saw of boxer plaid hanging out the top of her sons' pants. (I'm pretty sure she cured their friends, too. They'll all be in therapy for years...) I say GOOD FOR HER. Inspired parenting at its very best!

What crazy teenager trends have you experienced? Did you know you were stupid or did it take a teenager to point it out to you? What tips do you have for surviving the teenage years?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

Hello friends!
I hope you had a wonderful New Year's celebration. It's hard to believe the 00 decade is over and we're into "the teenage" years. Let's hope those years are less turbulent for our country than they are for those of us with teenaged kids! Regular readers will notice a couple of additions to my sidebar. In 2010, I want to keep better track of my writing progress, and I'd really like to know exactly how many fabulous romances I read during the year. I figured I'd keep track of both here. Once I finish my first 2010 book, I'll add a new gadget that tracks 2010 Reads. I have a feeling it's a pretty significant number, but we shall see!! I'd love to hear about what you're reading, what you love, what you don't, what trends you see that please you and those that don't. One trend that I am frankly OVER is the vampire. I never have understood the lure, but I know paranormals are hugely popular. Not with me. I do read them if my friends wrote them and often enjoy them. But I would never choose a paranormal over a contemporary or historical. Historicals have become my friends in 2009. I sampled my first one with my friend Michele Anne Young's "Lady Flees Her Lord," and was instantly hooked! I've since blazed through at least 100 of them, and now I'm attempting to write one. I'm having a lot of fun with that. We'll see how it goes as this year unfolds. Right now, it's more of a "can I really do this?" experiment. So far, so good. What matters most is that it's fun!!

Over my 17-day stay-cation (the BEST vacation of the year), we had a lot of snow. That's somewhat unusual for us this early in the year up here in RI. Often when big snowstorms head our way, we don't get much down here on the coast. This year, we've probably already had more than two feet. When I lived here growing up, I used to HATE the snow. I never have liked being cold and snow was always a pain in the rear. Now that I am all grown up with kids of my own, I love the snow! It brings everything to a big fat halt and gives us time to hang out at home, read, play games and WRITE. I've written the entire 21,000 words of Fool for Love since Dec. 17, during two of the busier weeks of the year. It's snowing again today and I say let it snow, let it snow, LET IT SNOW! During the stay-cation, I've also done quite a lot of reading. Here is what I've read:

Captive of Sin
By: Anna Campbell
I've gotten to know Anna through my Casa sister Lucinda McGary, who along with Anna is an owner of the very popular Romance Bandits blog. Cindy is my dear friend and EVIL TWIN. Anna's new book is a really fun story about a damaged hero who saves a damsel in distress. In turn, she saves him from himself. A great book!! I loved it. Anna is a hoot in person and if you ever get the chance to hang out with her, you won't be disappointed. Pick up her earlier books, too, especially To Tempt The Devil. Loved that one, too!

Forbidden Falls
By: Robyn Carr
Regular blog readers will recall my fixation on Robyn's Virgin River series earlier this year. I think I read all seven books in four days during a summer vacation. Totally AWESOME! This new installment doesn't disappoint with a new-to-town minister who hires a down-on-her-luck single mother to be his pastoral assistant. The sparks fly between these two unlikely lovers. Throw in a subplot featuring a favorite couple from an earlier book along with Jack, Mel, Preacher and the rest of the Virgin River regulars, and Robyn has penned another winner. If you haven't read the Virgin River books, RUN don't walk to your nearest bookstore. I promise you won't be disappointed. The only bad thing is we have to wait until February for the next one!

Kindred In Death
By: J.D. Robb
I'm a huge fan of this series, which now numbers 30 books. Last December I read the whole series during the staycation. Prior to that, I'd read a few of them piecemeal. You really need to begin with Naked In Death to get the full lowdown on Eve and Roarke's amazing love story. Their story continues to amaze in this latest rendition that follows the investigation into the rape and murder of a police captain's daughter. As always, Eve and her team of friends and colleagues, aided by her ex-criminal and current uber-billionaire, tech-savvy husband Roarke are on the path of a killer. Before I read this latest installment, I heard this one was long on police procedure and short on relationship stuff. So I went into it expecting to be slightly disappointed, but Ms. Roberts gave us a nice mix of both. I always find myself craving more Eve and Roarke, which is probably what fuels the runaway success of the series. This is one series I often buy in hard cover, if that tells you anything about how much I love it. The one negative thing I will say about this latest book is, like in some of the past installments, I found some of the police stuff hard to follow. I had to go back a few times and re-read and still wasn't always clear about what was going on or how they'd come to certain conclusions. That said, however, a bit of confusion didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of this latest In Death book.

Finally, a few plugs for new books out this week by my friends:

By: Cheryl Brooks
This is the fifth book in Cheryl's Cat Star Chronicles. I read this one in manuscript format and it's a fun, sexy romp! Run out and buy the whole series! You won't believe Cheryl's world-building skills. What an imagination!! (Oh and did I mention it's SUPER SEXY?)

My Dearest Mr. Darcy
By: Sharon Lathan
The latest in Sharon's ongoing look into the happy marriage between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. I am now two books behind and must get caught up! Sharon will be coming by soon for a visit, so stay tuned.

Breakfast in Bed
By: Robin Kaye
Robin's books are as funny as she is—and she's pretty damned funny. All we do is laugh when we catch up on the phone. This is the third book in her Domestic Gods series. I love the tagline for that series: Every woman wants a man who is a good in the kitchen as he is in the bedroom. Is that inspired or what? Looking forward to reading this new one in which a DG in training falls for the woman who was teaching him to be a better man for ANOTHER woman. Knowing Robin, you can expect a laugh riot!

What have you been reading during the holidays? Any great recommendations? Are we friends on Facebook? If not, why not? I'm growing my Facebook site and I want you there with me!