Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween. I think it's my favorite holiday of the year, apart from my birthday which should be a national holiday. Part of the reason that I love Halloween is that it's two days before my birthday meaning that I get to celebrate for more than just one day. Plus any day that I get to dress up in costume is a good day for me.

This year, I went to a Halloween party on Saturday as Demeter, Goddess of the Earth. Appropriately enough it was pouring down rain in the morning, but by the time that I had to get ready to get dressed for the party, the weather had turned beautiful. I'm totally taking credit for that. After all, you don't want to mess with Mother Nature.

Remember those commercials from the 1970's for margarine. If you're old enough to remember them, then you had a good idea of what my costume looked like. It was a peach off the shoulder dress with a green overlay, long on the sides but very short in the front.

When I arrived at the party with my frozen bottle of champagne (who knew that champagne froze?) and my caviar dish, one of the guys at the party commented on my costume, and then wanted to know if it could be shorter in the front! That's the sign of a successful costume. Over the years, I've gone as a female bucccaneer, Anne Boleyn, a Desperate Housewife, Druscilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and last year, International Woman of Mystery, Femme Fatale.

I have to work tonight, so I'm missing the Halloween Parade in the village, which I went to once, just for the experience. Unfortunately, I tend to get claustrophobic in crowds, so I didn't enjoy it that much. As for trick or treating, I was never allowed to go as a child, not even in the building because my mother was too afraid of my getting razor blades or bad apples to let me go. So when I got older and we had Halloween dances at school, I more than made up for not getting to trick or treat.

Gosh, I have so many fond memories of Halloween parties. I mentioned the one where I snagged the Aussie cowboy, but I remember going to a party in college at a frat party and making out with some guy wearing a black slip. And we had an awesome party in London one year at a friend's house in Kilburn where we sat around telling ghost stories and smoking pot. Did I just say that?

I don't know that I've ever had anything weird like pyschic phenomenon or anything happen to me despite the fact that it is All Hallow's Eve. Mary Jo Putney has a great post over at Word Wenches on the origins of Halloween.

What are you favorite Halloween memories?

Monday, October 29, 2007

This is your brain without sleep!

This is exactly what I wish I could be doing right now. I didn't get home from work until 3 a.m. and I've had about 4 hours of sleep and I'm dragging. If only I lived in Spain where I could be having a siesta right now. Instead I'm here at work making notes on the book I hope to write during NaNoWriMo in a few days.
So far, the plotting and the characters are coming together nicely. I had planned on working on my YA partial that I started back in May, but these characters just came to be, begging for their story to be told, ever since I saw this final scene on "I Wanna Be a Soap Star."
Yes, the premise of my new novel was inspired by a reality TV show. And aspects of my own life. Yet, I already know these characters intimately and the scenes that I want to write and the parts of the city where my characters live. In some ways, this book is going to be a valentine to New York City in the fall, and how magical it can be.
But right now, I just want to put my head down on the desk and nap.
Thanks for reading,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mama, don't let your baby grow up to be drama critics!

Yesterday, I went to a roundtable at the Philoctetes Center featuring three important drama critics of the 20th Century, Robert Brustein, Eric Bentley, and Stanley Kauffmann on the state of dramatic criticism in the United States. For anyone who doesn't know these 3 gentleman, Eric Bentley is the author of Playwright as Thinker which was published in 1946, Robert Brustein as well as being a critic was also the head of the Yale School of Drama and the artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theater, before moving on to Harvard to found the American Repertory Theater and the MFA program. Stanley Kauffmann was the drama critic at the New York Times in the 1960's as well as for The New Republic. Combined these men have about 200 years of dramatic criticism behind them.

It was interesting to hear these men speak because they were around with Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams were premiering their first plays, back in the days when Broadway was mainly filled with either drawing room comedies like Philip Barry's or the melodrama's of Eugene O'Neill. The general consensus of the panel was that dramatic criticism is on the wane at the moment. Oh people still write reviews either for web-sites like theatermania or for the newspapers but the kind of critical thinking that these men brought to their reviews no longer exists, at least in this country, where most cities have one major newspaper.

New York still has 5 if you count The New York Sun and Newsday, but what the newspapers and most magazines do now are just simple reviews, so historical context for the most part. Entertainment Weekly, when they do review theater, operate on the A through F critique. I can't imagine a critic like Kenneth Tynan or Robert Brustein ever resorting to a letter grade in a review. Brustein mentioned that when they initiated the dramatic criticism major at Yale, there were no jobs for the graduates once they were done, so the program shifted to dramaturgy.

There was a time when everyone knew the name of the big drama critics in New York, even if you didn't live in New York. People like Brooks Atkinson or Walter Kerr. The last person to have that kind of name recognition was Frank Rich aka The Butcher of Broadway. Or maybe Clive Barnes, who I once saw sleep (not just sleep, snore) through a production of Joe Orton's Loot, which he then gave a rave review to.

I was fortunate enough to have Michael Billington, the chief drama critic of the Guardian, as my dramatic criticism instructor when I studied at The British American Drama Academy twenty years ago in London. Each week we would go to see a show, and then we would get to dicuss it with him in class. We were encouraged to keep a theater journal of the other plays and musicals that we saw, and later on we had a tutorial with him, where we went to his house in Chiswick to drink tea and read aloud from our journals.

He was the first critic that I ever read where I had to keep the dictionary handy to read his reviews. What was fantastic about the class was that we were allowed to argue our views with him. My friend Joanna actually managed to convince him to reconsider his review of Sam Shepherd's play A Lie of the Mind by arguing that the play had been damaged by an inferior staging and bad casting.

Keeping that journal allowed me to see theater in a new way. When I did my semester abroad in college, we also had to keep a theater journal which I still have. I actually took it down when I got home last night to read over what I had wrote. Most of it was of the variety that "Ian McKellan is a god and I worship him,' and 'Antony Sher is the most exciting actor ever to appear on the English stage, and I want to have his baby.'

Of course little did I know at the time that I wasn't going to be having either of their babies since they don't play for my team! But there were reviews where I ripped apart a production that the RSC did of Romeo & Juliet for using excess props on stage (Tybalt drove on in a red Porsche, Mercutio did a frantic disco dance, played the electric guitar and jumped into a swimming pool during the ball scene, and Juliet was listening to her walkman and reading Vogue before launching into her speech about wanting night to come so that Romeo would arrive), and not paying enough attention to the text.

The point was made that besides most newspapers shrinking their theater coverage or dropping it all together, there is a distinct lack of critical thinking about much of anything in this country, which I tend to agree with. When I was in high school, we were forced constantly to think critically in history and in English class, but I think that most public schools gloss over it, or the kids just don't get it. Their thinking is reserved for getting to the next level in whatever X-Box game they are playing.

Which is a shame. One of the reasons that I love Vanity Fair magazine is that you get such a great mix of fluff and serious pieces (Oh and James Wolcott who writes a monthly column for the magazine spilled his wine on me yesterday).

The best dramatic criticism (and I've read most of Robert Brustein's work) opens up your mind and makes you really think about your response to a play or to a movie. It involves all of your senses. I've learned about plays and playwrights that I never would have known existed if it hadn't been for reading men like Brustein and Kenneth Tynan.

It's funny because on the other hand, literary criticism just ruins reading for me. I don't want to read about F.Scott Fitzgerald's use of imagery, or what the green light means at the end of The Great Gatsby. I don't really care.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hands on New Orleans

Okay, my God! I had the winning bid on eBay to have Abby Zidle, Senior Editor of Pocket Books read the first 30 pages of my manuscript. I had no idea that I would ever have the winning bid. At first it kind of freaked me out but Hands on New Orleans is such a good cause. Now I just have to decide which manuscript to have her read. The YA or my Chick-Lit novel. I'm thinking the YA. I'm kind of psyched about it. I've met Abby a few times at events and she always has amazing shoes.

Oh, and I just bought my ticket to London! I'm definitely going now. Airfare wasn't bad. I have to fly into Gatwick, which is like the worst airport, at least it was last year since they were doing so much construction. But the airfare was cheaper because everyone flies into Heathrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Writer's Block, Oh My!

So last night I went to the Philoctetes Center here in New York for a roundtable on Hypergraphia and Hypographia, two terms that I had never before heard in my entire life.

Hypergraphia is the unstoppable drive to put words on paper or any other available surface. Basically, the people who have this write non-stop. They'll write on anything, napkins, match book covers, menus. We have a writer in our chapter who has something similar. She even brought in poems that she's written on napkins. People with this affliction, if you can call it that, will write even around the edges of what they've written to get it all down. It's almost like a verbal diarrhea. It's associated with temporal lobe changes like epilepsy and mania. Apparently Vincent van Gogh and Doestoevsky suffered from it, which makes sense when you consider that van Gogh didn't pick up a paint brush until he was 30 and then painted like a fiend until he committed suicide.

It sounds like a great disorder to have doesn't it? Unfortunately, it can be almost painful. I know that I have a hard time writing as fast as my mind is racing, so I can't imagine what it must be like for them.

Hypographia is basically writer's block, which most of us have experienced at one time or another. Of course, no one knows why some people suffer writer's block and some people don't. It can come from experiencing a trauma in your life, that prevents you from sitting down and writing, or it can come from not being able to turn off that internal editor in your head, that constantly tells you that what you are writing is crap.

I personally have suffered from intense writer's block, particularly when my father died. I couldn't write for almost seven months because the grief was just so intense. There was just no way to write my way out of it. I just had to feel it and hope that I would come out the other end in one piece. I was literally hanging onto my sanity by my nails. There were days that I could barely make it out of bed to go to work, all I wanted to do was just crawl into a hole and pull it in after me. Seriously, I thought I was going to lose my mind.

I had lost my mother when I was 24, and I guess I didn't allow myself to really grieve then. I just threw myself into acting and stage managing. So in a sense, I was allowing myself to feel the grief that I had bottled up for 11 years and that combined with my grief over my father just pulled me into the muck.

The internal infernal editor is my other problem. I've managed to turn that off to a certain extent but only by allowing myself to get the first draft out on paper before I edit. If I write a chapter and then edit, I get bogged down in thinking that it's the most horrible thing I've ever written. I really admire writers who can take a month just to write a chapter or a sentence. I was talking to cutie pie author after the roundtable and he was telling me that he's lucky if he writes a chapter in a month, and I'm thinking wow, I once wrote a book in a month. I'm not saying it was a good book, but I wrote it. Jonathan Lethem was talking last night about how he loves going over the sentence structure and playing with the words. The Queen Bee, who's workshop I was in for two years, took five years to write her third novel.

My concern has always been about the story, and the emotions. I probably spend more time trying to get the reader into my character's heads and what they're feeling. I suppose if I wrote literary fiction, I would probably write slower, but I don't. I write genre fiction and I write pretty fast. Not Meg Cabot/Nora Roberts fast, but I could easily write two books a year. As it is, I try to write everyday, even if it's just this blog.

And I never have a problem with finding ideas. My brain teems with plots and characters, some of which will probably never see the light of day unless I'm planning on living to be 150!

The discussion at times got a bit estoteric and eggheady but most of it was informative. This graphic artist gave his solution for writer's block. He told an audience member who stated that her problem was her internal critic, that she should just write the worst film ever, direct it badly, cast really bad actors, edit it badly and then show it to her friends, and then her worst fears would be realized and then she could move on!

Sounds a bit extreme but I see where he was going with the idea.

Anyone suffer from writer's block? And what did you do to get past it?


Thursday, October 25, 2007

So Dumbledore is Gay!

Unless you've been living under a huge meteor, the news came out last week via J.K. Rowling that Dumbledore is gay, and that he was in love with an old schoolmate. Can I just say right here that I don't care? Seriously why was this big news? Meg Cabot announced on her blog that she knew it all along. I must have been missing something when I read all 7 books because frankly it never occurred to me to question Dumbledore's sexuality or indeed any of the adults in the books. Why? Because it had nothing to do with the story!

Really, what would be the point on speculating how many times a week Mr. & Mrs. Weasley get up to it? Or whether or not Hagrid will ever find a woman? Or what the deal is with Professor McGonagle. Or we to suspect that she and Professor Trelawney were life partners? I guess the reason that I never figured out the whole 'Dumbledore is gay' angle is because Harry didn't. If he didn't care through out all 7 books what Dumbledore got up to in his spare time, then why should I are?

And Harry was pretty busy throughout the books, what with trying to keep himself from being killed by Voltemort and basically saving the wizarding world from evil. Not to mention the Muggles. And studying for his exams, and learning potions, and hanging out with Hermione and Ron.

My only concern about J.K. Rowlings revelation is that this just gives the haters out there one more reason to ban the book from schools and libraries. I can just seem them accusing Dumbledore of being a pedophile (he did spent lots of time alone with Harry in his office), and of promoting anti-family values and alternative lifestyles.

Does anyone else out there care or knew that Dumbledore was gay?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

London Calling

So I'm off to London the week of Thanksgiving. Since I didn't go to National this year, I'm using the money I would have spent and treating myself to a week in my favorite place on earth.

Unfortunately, my good friend Chip can't put me up this time, so I'm staying at a lovely little hotel near Knightsbridge called the Claverley. Just around the corner from Harrods where they have a Laduree tea room and near Harvey Nichols and the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

The good news is that Continental has this deal where you don't get charged for 90 days, which is sweet. And I'll be racking up the miles which will hopefully pay for my trip to San Fran for Nationals next year.

I'm having Thanksgiving on Saturday instead of Thursday, which is okay by me, because I don't really celebrate the holiday, what with the Pilgrims giving the Indians small pox blankets and everything. Plus the Pilgrims were notoriously religiously intolerant. So I'll be drinking wine and breaking bread with my English and American friends who live in London.

Plan on seeing some theater. I always make a list before I leave of the shows I definitely want to see, and then some alternatives just in case I can't get tickets. Which never happens, but I like to be prepared. I don't do much shopping in London primarily because it's so expensive to buy anything, especially clothes in London. And the pound is worth almost $2.00! Last year, when I went, I did buy this gorgeous red dress, but that was an aberration. Not going to be doing that this time.

Books, on the other hand, going to be hard to leave those behind. Waterstones is one of my favorite bookstores and now they have several Borders in London as well now. Lots of research books to buy for my other blog Scandalous Women. And Charing Cross road is littered with second hand bookstores.

The other thing I hope to do, besides visit the Tower of London which I also haven't done in years, is take the Jack the Ripper walking tour. I've taken it before but it's always a blast. Paticularly if Donald Rumbelow leads it since he's considered to be one of the leading authorities on the Ripper. I would love to know what he thinks of Patricia Cornwell's theories.

I'm hoping to get a day in Bath, keep your fingers crossed. I haven't been back in ten years, and I'm looking forward to going and heading to the Jane Austen Centre. Hopefully, I'll have a camera this time so that I can take pictures to post on the blog.

I'm so excited!

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

22 Ways to Tell You're Grown Up

1. Your houseplants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.

2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.

3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

4. 6:00 am is when you get up, not when you go to bed.

5. You hear your favorite song in an elevator.

6. You watch the weather channel.

7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of "hook up" and "break up."

8. You from 130 days of vacation time to 14.

9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "Dressed Up."

10. You're the one called the police because those %&@# kids next door won't turn down their stereo.

11. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.

12. You take naps

13. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.

14. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 am would severely upset, rather than settle your stomach.

15. You go to the drug store for Ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.

16. A $4.00 bottle of wine is not longer "Pretty good shit."

17. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.

18. "I just can't drink the way I used" replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again."

19. 90% of the time you spend in front of the computer is for real work.

20. You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.

21. When you find out your friend is pregnant, you congratulate them instead of asking "Oh crap, what the hell happened?"

22. You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry butt.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Welcome Dee Davis!

The Lady Novelist welcomes Dee Davis this week to Got it Goin On. Her highly acclaimed first novel, Everything In Its Time, was published in July 2000. Since then, among others, she’s won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. To date, she has sold fifteen books and three novellas. Her most recent novel, Chain Reaction, was a Golden Leaf finalist for Best Single Title at the New Jersey Romance Writers conference this October.

A town destroyed…A sole survivor…A terrible secret…
Artist Mia Kearney has the perfect life: A successful career, a home she loves, amazing friends…until her world explodes one hot August morning. Lone survivor of a nuclear accident, Mia awakens in a government facility, faced with Homeland Security agent Nicholas Price, a man who wants answers she knows she doesn’t have.

When Mia escapes, Nick has a choice to make. The CIA wants him off the case, but instinct tells him not to let Mia out of his sight.

Now the web of deceit that’s woven tightly around them is about to unravel, and someone out there won’t be satisfied until Cedar Branch’s last surviving resident is dead…

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and how long have you been writing before you were published.

Q: Tell us about when you got “the call”

I was actually asleep. And was so excited by the news that I hung up on my agent before I realized that I had no idea who I’d actually sold the book too. Had to call her back to find out for sure. And then spent the rest of the day shaking with amazement and excitement.

Q: What made you choose romance?

I’m a sucker for happy couples and could never get enough. Wanted more with Meg and Calvin, cried when I didn’t get to see Cinderella get married (TV version), thought Aragorn and Arwen should have had more “screen” time…you get the idea. Basically, I love a happy ending. And as a romantic suspense writer, I love the idea of integrating the suspense plotline with the romance.

Q: What you do love about writing romance?

The riding off into the sunset moment, and the moment when the hero and/or heroine realizes they don’t have to go through life on their own.

Q: Your new book A Match Made on Madison is kind of a departure for you, being more women’s fiction. It also involves professional matchmakers. What sparked the idea? Was it a character? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?

The idea actually came from an article in the New York Times that my agent sent to me. From there the idea of Match evolved. My love for Jane Austen’s Emma also played a part in that evolution.

Q: Did you have to do any major research for this book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?

Unlike my suspense novels, I really didn’t do major research for the book. Although I did call on my experiences in Manhattan and of course on my favorite places in the city. Hence, many of Vanessa’s favorites are in actuality also mine.

Q: You started out writing time travel, and now you write romantic suspense for HQN, and anthologies for Berkley (Hell with the Ladies, Hell on Heels) along with Julie Kenner and Kathleen O’Reilly. What has that been like? How do you juggle multiple projects?

I like writing different kinds of projects. Although to be honest, both the time travels and the anthologies are romantic suspense at their basic core, which means that it’s not as much of a departure as one might initially think. Juggling projects can be tricky. Good time management is the key. And a lot of BIC (butt in chair).

Q. What/Who do you like to read?

I read a little bit of everything really. Madeline L’Engle was a favorite. Also C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. Mary Stewart is my favorite author. I am currently into Emily Giffin, and Barbara Samuel. And I always buy Michael Crichton. I tend to love books more than authors, although I do glom when I find someone new. My favorite book is probably To Kill A Mockingbird. Although My Brother Michael and A Wrinkle in Time are close seconds.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you plot extensively first or do you tend to “fly in the mist?” Has your process changed over time? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

I like to think of it as a road map. I know where I’m starting and where I’m ending. And a few main points along the way. The rest tends to develop during the journey. I think my process has remained pretty much the same over time. But I will say that each book is a little different. Sometimes the plot comes wholly baked and sometimes it’s a bit more sketchy. But with suspense there has to be at least some idea of plot right from the get go. I pretty much write one draft and clean up as I go. I have to know what’s happened pretty much as is in order to be able to know what’s going to happen next. It’s anal, I’ll admit it. But there you have it.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

Write something every day, do your homework, treat writing as a career not a hobby, listen to others—but filter that through your own common sense, trust your instincts as a writer, and believe that dreams can come true.

Q. There was a recent article called "Harm in reading romance novels," Do you think romance novels harm or empower women?

I think it’s too easy to try and label things one way or the other. It’s a trap we’ve fallen into of late. A book, movie, game, whatever – does not have the power to do any of that. It can inspire us – but ultimately the choice is ours. So I’d argue vigorously with those who say there is harm – because the truth is that it’s a story. And at the core, its purpose is simply to entertain.

Q: Romance has garnered the biggest market share in genre fiction, yet it gets the least respect in popular and literary culture. Do you have any thoughts on why that is? Do you find this prejudice changing?

I know that a lot of people believe it’s improving. But personally I haven’t seen any change at all. But the truth is that all genre fiction is degenerated. And pretty much always has been. I think there are a multitude of cultural reasons for that. And in all honesty, it’s not particularly fair, but also not likely to change.

Q. What are you planning to work on next?

I’m currently working on Set-Up in SoHo, the follow-up book for A Match Made on Madison. And playing with new ideas for my next romantic suspense.

Thanks Dee! You can purchase both of Dee's books Chain Reaction and A Match Made on Madison from Barnes and Noble, and

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Goin' Country

I thoroughly humiliated myself this afternoon, trying to be stupidly manipulative with cutie pie author, instead of being happy go lucky. So I thought I'd try and cheer myself up by writing a happy post for a change. I have a guilty secret, I kind of like country music. Not all country music. I'm more of a Dixie Chicks/Gretchen Wilson/Keith Urban/The Mavericks country music fan. Not traditional country. And why do I feel guilty? Probably for the same reason that I feel guilty that Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite movies. Country music is probably the whitest music on the planet. Seriously, apart from Charlie Pride and Cowboy Troy, can you name another country music artist of color?

Well CMT is trying to change that. Sort of. They just announced that they're doing a show that gives celebrities a chance to become country music starts. People like Maureen McCormick, Sisqo and Bobby Brown. That's right, I said Sisqo "Mr. Thong song" and Bobby Brown, the man who sang 'My Perogative' and 'Ain't Nobody Humping Around.' They're going to try and turn themselves into country music stars.

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry that Bobby Brown has been reduced to this. I refused to watch his Bravo tv show because I thought it looked like a train wreck. But I have to admit that the idea of him singing something like Garth Brooks 'Friends in Low Places' has me slightly intrigued. As well as frightened. But then again, he and Sisqo could do a duet and sing, 'Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy'!

And now Blogger is giving me fits so I can't post the picture of Rissi Palmer that I had planned to post. She's a female Country singer who just happens to be African-American, and she's really good. And she's getting a pretty big push in Nashville. Whether or not this turns into record sales or radio play, I have no idea, but I admire her for sticking to her guns and deciding that what she really wanted to do was put out a country album. Apparently a few years ago, she'd been offered a pop deal with Jimmy Jam's record label and she turned it down to pursue her dream of country stardom.

Her album drops on Tuesday and I for one will be standing in line to pick up a copy. You can watch the video for her song "Country Girl" here:

Thanks for reading,


Friday, October 19, 2007

Oooh My Head!

The PMS dwarfs and the Hangover Fairy decided to come over to my house to party, so this is going to be an extremely short post.

I'm feeling a little fragile after heading down to the Happy Ending Lounge on the LES last night along with Megan Frampton to hear Jane Lockwood and Colette Gale read excerpts from their recent works. It was all part of the "Virgin Reading" series that they do the the third Thursday of the month. Virgin meaning have never read their work in public before. Oh, and all the readings were erotic!

I'd met Jane at the NJRW conference and I'd very briefly met Colette in her other guise as Colleen Gleason last year in Atlanta, so I was really looking forward to getting out and having fun. And I did. A little too much fun if you want to know the truth. Vodka and I don't really mix all that well.

The readings ran from the sublime to the ridiculous, the sublime being Colette and Jane. The first reading by the woman who hosted the series wasn't bad, but it made me for the mental, emotional and physical health of the protagonist who was promiscuous in the extreme. The second reading we hit the ridiculous. I have no idea really what this one was about. Something to do with a drug deal maybe and the protagonist cheating her boyfriend with someone named Lynx.

I kind of had a hard time concentrating because the grammar was so atrocious in the piece whe was reading. I'm not sure if that was a character choice but it kind of took me out of things when she used the word 'spellbounded.'

I enjoyed the two pieces by the men which were more comical and completely different from each other. One way a gay version of James Bond called James Blond which featured clever play on names, and the second was about a couple who have sex in the monkey house at the zoo, literally in with the monkeys.
And then we had the lovely Jane and Colette. Colette's book is an erotic version of Phantom of the Opera which is why I have this lovely picture of Gerard Butler as the Phantom called Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of The Phantom of the Opera.

Both pieces made me realize that I'm more of an erotic romance type of girl and not really one for straight erotica. I like a little emotion and plot with my sex, which Jane and Colette have in spades. I have a lovely signed copy of Colette's book to give away in November for our monthly raffle. Every month we raffle off a basket and November's theme is France, because Marie Antoinette and I share a birthday.
Afterwards we took the train to the village and had cheese fries and conversation until the witching hour.
Thanks for reading,

What Super Heroine Are You?

You Are Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"We saved the world. I say we have to party."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I heart Target

So I'm perusing People magazine this morning online, discovering that David Hasselhoff has no sense of grammar, when I noticed that Hollywould now has a collection for Target.

If you don't know who Hollywould is, she's a high-end shoe designer along the lines of Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo, but American and a woman. I've long coveted her shoes but even on sale, I can't afford them. But thanks to the gods at Target, I very much can.

The dress is by Alice Temperley for Target. She's also an expensive designer, whose clothes go for thousands at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf's, but this dress cost me $49.99 not including shipping and handling (I ordered online since I knew my Target in Riverdale was not going to have it).

The shoes below are the Hollywould shoes that I ordered which I think will go very well with the Alice Temperley dress.
I just loved the cute little bow on the front. They also have a red pair that are peep toe that I might get to wear with a black dress or a gray skirt instead of black pumps.

It's not just clothes that I love buying at Target. They also have cosmetics from Boots in London, and now the Bliss Spa has a line of bath products at the store. I also bought my new answering machine/phone there and a combo alarm clock/radio/CD player for my bureau.

I don't think I've ever gone to Target without coming out with something, and half the time, I look longingly at the things I still want to buy, like these gorgeous red dishes that I saw. And some absolutely stunning bedding that I want to get. Not to mention microwaves, and a great red tea pot (as you can see I have a thing for red).

Having a Target so close to my house by subway (it's just 6 stops on the 9 train, takes about 20 minutes to get there) is seriously going to wreck havoc on my bank balance.

But it's just so addictive. I mean look at this sweet little bag that I bought to replace my Isaac Mizarahi one (also from Target). How could I resist when it was only $29.99?

Do you shop at Target? What was the best thing that you bought there?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Halloween Madness

Halloween is two weeks from this very day and for once I'm actually getting started early trying to find a costume, instead of waiting until the last minute and then throwing something together, when I discover that all the good costumes are gone.

I don't know why, but I feel such pressure to have an amazing costume. Probably because my friends always come up with most outstanding costumes. One year, my friend Lucia, went as Desdemona, complete with a pillow on top of her head, and white make-up, and Maria went as the corpse bride. The year before that Maria went as Ophelia complete with drowned weeds.

Last year, I just wore a black evening gown, strapped a fake gun in a holster to my thigh, along with some stuff from the Spy store and went as International Woman of Mystery, Femme Fatale.

Now this year, I have a dilemma, what to go as? I had high hopes of going as the Empress Josephine but unless I can persuade my friend to make an appointment a the Costume Collection here in New York (where I can rent a costume for $45), I'm out of luck. I have a particular dress in mind which makes it even harder. It should be black and gold (I look really good in those colors). Alas, the only other Josephine costume I could find on the web was sold out (clearly other people have had the same idea as moi!).

So I thought of purchasing this lovely Carmen Mirandesque costume that I saw on the In Character costume web-site. It's outrageous, and unexpected, but do I date? Or do I play it safe and go as a saucy pirate wench? There's kind of a been, there done that quality about being a pirate wench. I went one year as a female buccaneer, so I'm kind of repeating myself. Plus since Pirates of the Caribbean, Part 472 came out this summer, everyone and there mother is probably going to go as a pirate (like the year that Cat Woman came out and everyone, including some guys, went as her.)

Or I can wear this costume, and go as Lola Montez, who I blogged about over at Scandalous Women this week. It looks exactly like the costume that Lola used to wear on stage when she did her infamous 'Spider Dance,' in various locales. The dance was so outrageous and considered vulgar, that Lola would be booed by the audience. At least by the men who were distracted by her shapely ankles, and magnificent bosoms.
So, Cha-Cha or Lola Montez?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Welcome Anna DePalo!

The Lady Novelist is pleased to welcome RWA NYC member and Silhouette Desire author Anna DePalo to Got It Goin On today. Anna's June 2007 release, An Improper Affair was recently nominated for New Jersey Romance Writer's prestigious Golden Leaf Award in the short contemporary category, and was 4 on Borders' series romance best-seller list and #36 on Nielsen BookScan's romance best-seller list. And her latest release, Millionaire's Wedding Revenge reached #1 on the Borders Group/Waldenbooks series romance best seller list and was awarded 4 Stars by RT Book Club.

Don't deceive a man with money.
The Miami Millionaire could have any woman--but Stephen Garrison intended to have newly returned Megan Simmons. She ended their sizzling affair years ago.... leaving without explanation.... leaving Stephen determined to seek his revenge. But his plan to seduce his ex-lover, was met with an unexpected discovery: she'd had his child. And now it was no longer enough to seduce Megan back into his bed. Stephen had decided marriage would be the ultimate payback.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and how long have you been writing before you were published.

I was an intellectual property attorney for close to seven years. I joined Romance Writers of America soon after I graduated from law school. So, I was working my way to publication between 1998/1999 and 2001, when I pitched my first completed manuscript to a Harlequin/Silhouette editor at the New Jersey Romance Writers conference. That book saw publication as Having the Tycoon’s Baby (Silhouette Desire, August 2003) and went on to win the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best First Series Romance.

Q: Tell us about when you got “the call.”

It was soon after my wedding in 2002. I came home from work and there was a phone message from the Harlequin/Silhouette editor that I’d pitched a manuscript to months before at the New Jersey Romance Writers conference. She wanted to buy the book! The rest is kind of a euphoric haze for me , but I recall jumping up and down, grinning like a fool, shouting “yeah!” and then calling my husband at work to share the good news.

Q: What made you choose romance?

I’ve always been a voracious reader and never more so than with the romance genre. I’m a fairly optimistic person, and I like happy endings. I can always count on a good romance novel to make me relax and unwind, laugh and be entertained. I don’t think there’s much more to it than that!

Q: What you do love about writing romance?

I like to write generally (it seems to go hand in hand with loving to read!). But I especially enjoy spinning upbeat, entertaining stories of the sort that I prefer reading. Plus, I have an active imagination, and writing gives it a necessary outlet!

Q: Your new book, Millionaire’s Wedding Revenge is set in Miami. What sparked the idea? Was it a character? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?

Millionaire’s Wedding Revenge is part of the Dynasties: The Garrisons continuity series from Silhouette Desire (which features six books about different Garrison family members). Part of the idea for the series was that it was to be set in hot Miami Beach. I have to say, I was happy to go along! I’ve generally set my books in trendy urban settings (Boston, New York and, for next year, San Francisco), so I was pleased to explore another area with its own unique and yet identifiable culture.
Q: Did you have to do any major research for this book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?

Well, I delved into Miami Beach’s interesting Art Deco architecture. I love Art Deco myself, and since my heroine was an interior designer, I needed to explore Miami Beach’s cultural scene even more. In the process of researching dialogue for my heroine, I picked up design tips from the newly redone White House Situation Room, believe it or not.

Q: You’ve written continuity books for Silhouette Desire. What has that been like? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?

I’ve enjoyed writing all the continuity books that I’ve participated in for Desire (Cause for Scandal, March 2006, part of Dynasties: The Elliotts; An Improper Affair, June 2007, part of Millionaire of the Month; and Millionaire’s Wedding Revenge, September 2007, part of Dynasties: The Garrisons). I enjoy working with other talented authors. Sometimes the broad outline of a continuity story will present some challenges as far as making everything fit together, but that’s the challenge and fun of working on a continuity. For example, in Cause for Scandal, according to the continuity idea, the heroine was supposed to be engaged to another man when she loses her virginity to the hero; it was a little tricky to make the heroine a sympathetic character, but I think I succeeded .
Q. What/Who do you like to read?

There are so many! Within fiction/romance, I like Regency historicals (Lisa Kleypas, Madeline Hunter, and so many others!), contemporary romantic comedies (Susan Elizabeth Phillips) and category romances. Just now, I’ve dipped into paranormals with J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. But I’d put Jane Austen at the top of any list!

Q. What is your writing process? Do you plot extensively first or do you tend to “fly in the mist?” Has your process changed over time? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

I have to do a synopsis for my editor, so I always have an outline to work with. I usually breeze through the first three chapters of the manuscript, but then I have to stop to regroup and take stock. At that point, if I haven’t already done so, I do a sketch for each chapter (listing each scene with its main action and point of view). I make sure I know where the main points are supposed to occur (dark moment, climax, resolution, etc.).

In the past, I’ve also done rough character sketches of my hero and heroine, listing each character’s name, occupation, age, hair color, build, likes/dislikes, and personality traits. The character sketches helped me when I got stuck: I’d go back to them and see if there was any detail I could explore and use to move the story forward. These days, those character sketches tend to stay in my head rather than getting written down.

I write a fairly clean first draft. In the past, I’d circle back and edit what I wrote again and again until I reached the end. Now, I try to get as close to finishing as possible before doing much editing (I find that’s a time saver; since story details always change as I write, leaving the editing for later saves me from unnecessary work).

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

Keep writing! You will get better! Writers are made, not born. Also, write what you are passionate about. It’ll make a better story.

Q. There was a recent article called "Harm in reading romance novels," Do you think romance novels harm or empower women?

It amazes me how often this question comes up! I can think of many things that “harm women” in this world, and I doubt romance novels are even in the top 100. And for the record, I like to give romance readers a little credit: romance novels are entertainment, and the readers know it. Does anyone think a (male) reader of thrillers is going to go out and attempt James Bond-like stunts? Of course not!
Q: Romance has garnered the biggest market share in genre fiction, yet it gets the least respect in popular and literary culture. Do you have any thoughts on why that is? Do you find this prejudice changing?

I think the bias against the romance genre stems from the fact that it’s mostly entertainment by women for women. Things of that variety are generally undervalued and derogated, unfortunately. Some people might sniff that the romance genre is unrealistic, but the same can be said of science fiction and mystery, for example, and yet those genres don’t face the same prejudice. Other people might point to the sex (these are relationship books, after all), but how many esteemed male writers have had articles in Playboy and been none the worse off for it?
Q. What are you planning to work on next?

I just finished a stand-alone book for Silhouette Desire. CEO’s Marriage Seduction will be out in March 2008. It’s about a tough CEO who butts heads with his favorite heiress…until things take a turn for the steamy . After that, I’ll be wrapping up a 2008 continuity series for Desire, Park Avenue Scandals, with The Billionaire in Penthouse B in December.

Thanks Anna for stopping by! You can purchase Millionaire's Wedding Revenge from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Eharlequin.

Stay tuned for more interviews with RWA NYC authors, Jule McBride, Dee Davis and Kathleen O'Reilly in coming weeks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day at Got it Goin On

Today is Blog Action Day, so in the spirit I'm using this post to write about what I try to do for the environment.

Well, for one, I try to buy my paper towels and toilet paper at Whole Foods since they sell recycled paper. And I've begun trying to buy household products that are environmentally friendly I also donate books and magazines to the public library for sale. I seperate my cans and bottles and either take them to the grocery store to recycle or put them in the special blue bags downstairs.

I've begun shredding documents and also putting them in recycling bags so that hopefully the paper can be pulped and then reused again in the future. However, I'm really bad when it comes to water. I love taking showers and baths, and I know they are a notorious waste of water, but for me, it's a way to relax at the end of the day or to wake up in the morning. On the other hand, I have become better at turning off the water while I brush my teeth and wash my face at night.

My father, without even knowing it, was kind of an environmentalist. Of course, my mother and I just called it being cheap, when he would walk around the house turning off all the lights, and keeping the heat to an excruciating 5o degrees at our house upstate. Whenever my mother and I would complain that it was cold in the house, he would just tell us to put on a sweater.

My parents both grew up in the depression, so I was taught never to throw things out if they could still be used. I haven't gone as far as changing the filter in the lightbulbs the way Marge did on The Simpsons last night, but I resole my shoes and boots instead of throwing them out, and I try to donate all my clothes to either Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

I'm also thinking of buying a refurbished laptop instead of spending the money on a new one, and I would love to donate my old computer, but I don't know if there's anyone out there who wants a computer that's almost 11 years old.

If anyone knows of an organization that takes old computers let me know.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Movie Review: Elizabeth the Golden Age

Yesterday, after our chapter meeting, I decided to go and see Elizabeth the Golden Age, to cheer myself up after a recent romantic disappointment. I figured Cate Blanchette, beautiful costumes, and Clive Owen, I was going to be in heaven. After all, my name is Elizabeth and I was seeing a movie with my name in big lights.

Well, heaven, not so much. I really wanted to like this movie. I love Tudor history and I love Cate Blanchett. The first movie, Elizabeth, which turned her into an international star was wonderful even if it was crap history.

Unfortunately this movie was even crappier history than the first one. I knew while watching it that they were trying to cram way too much into one movie. Mary Queen of Scots and the Spanish Armada? They spent more time on Philip II of Spain they did on poor Mary Queen of Scots.

And why was Samantha Morton doing a Scottish accent? Mary Queen of Scots lived in Scotland from the age of 5 until she was 19 when she came back to Scotland. She spoke french during her time at the French court, since she was briefly Queen of France. So what in god's green earth made them think she would sound Scottish? Not to mention that they never even tell you in the movie why she's a prisoner in the first place or the fact that she'd been locked up for 18 years. The Babington plot which I'm just guessing is what I saw in the movie, was totally convoluted in the film. I had no idea who Rhys Ifans was supposed to be playing or that Walsingham's half brother was involved.

Which brings me to Clive Owen. Maybe I'm biased but there really wasn't enough of him in this movie. And once again it was crap history. Sir Walter Raleigh and Beth Throckmorton didn't get married until 1591, long after the Spanish Armada, and there is no evidence that Raleigh was involved with Sir Francis Drake (who was introduced about 5 seconds before the very end of the movie. The hero of the whole thing and he's barely mentioned. Sheesh!)

But doesn't Clive look dashing hanging from the mast in a scene where the British decide to burn a bunch of ships as the Spanish Armada comes sailing up right into the blazing inferno thereby saving Britain from speaking with a Castilian accent. There's an incredibly sexy scene where he's undressing Bess, at the same time that Elizabeth is looking at her naked body in the mirror.

Another problem with this film is that Cate Blanchett does not look like an aging monarch. She looks fantastic. Elizabeth at this time was 55 years old. She'd spent years wearing white lead paint on her face. The one thing they did get right was all the wigs that the Queen wore.

The costumes were absolutely stunning, and the performances were uniformly good, but it seemed pretty paint by numbers to me. There was none of the true excitement that there was in the first movie. Maybe because they tried to cram too many events into the movie, with very little explanation, as if everyone had had a crash course in English history before they came to see the movie.

Or it might possibly be Elizabeth I overload. Since the first movie came out we've had miniseries starring Ann-Marie Duff called the Virgin Queen, and one starring Helen Mirren, not to mention David Starkey's excellent documentary that was shown on PBS. Everyone just seemed tired in this one. Even Clive wasn't twinkling with his usual intensity. Seriously a whole movie could be done just on Sir Walter Raleigh trying to establish the colony of Roanoke and we all know what happened with that.

Still there were some nice moments, such as when Elizabeth, suspecting something was going with with Bess and Raleigh has them dance the Volta which chiefly consists of the man lifting the woman into the air, and the scene towards the end where Elizabeth exhorts her troops before they go into battle. She was wearing a lovely flowing wig and armour that looked like it was designed by Dolce and Gabbana.

I would have to give this movie a C+.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Kiss is just a Kiss, except when it's not

I've always found kissing to be one of the most intimate things that two people can do together. In fact, I've read there are prostitutes who won't kiss their clients, because it's deemed too intimate, something they want to share with the man or woman in their life, not a stranger.

A good kiss can make you weak in the knees, a bad kiss can make you want to wash you mouth out with soap. If a man is a bad kisser, it kind of doesn't make you want to find out what else he might be bad at. Of course, it's entirely possible that a guy can suck at kissing and be good at sex, but it kind of ruins the mood.

Ross, on Friends, once said that kissing was like the band that opened up for Aerosmith. Something that you have to sit through until you get to the main event. Is it just me or is that not the most depressing thing that you've ever heard?

When I was acting, I always made it clear to my partners that there would be no tongue when we kissed on stage. Most actors were okay with that, except for one actor I worked with on a show, who tried to give me a tonsillectomy when we kissed. Needless to say, I complained to the director!

I've also always had or tried to have clear boundaries with my male friends as well. Fine to kiss them on the cheek, or on both cheeks but no kissing on the lips. It just confuses things. The only time that I've kissed a male friend on the lips, he was someone that I once dated, and it was New Year's Eve. And things were looking like they were about to progress to boyfriend/girlfriend territory again.

But I know that not everyone thinks that way. There are men, and probably women out there, who think it's fine to kiss their friends of the opposite sex on the lips. But when does it cross the line? What if one person knows that they have a significant other, which for some reason they haven't revealed, and they've been kissing you on the lips. Have they transgressed?

Questions of the day: How important is it that someone be a good kisser? Have you ever dated anyone that wasn't? And is it ever okay to kiss your friends of the opposite sex on the lips?


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Interracial Relationships in Romance

Since I blogged about why it's always some white dude on The Bachelor, both Karen Scott and Charlie Horse have chimed in with their takes on Interracial Romances, which brings me to today's post. Why aren't there more interracial relationships in romance?

Now, before you leave me a comment saying but what about romances with Native American heroes, I'm not talking about those. Or the plethora of sheik romances on the shelves thanks to Harlequin Presents. I'm talking about books where either the hero is AA and the heroine is white or hispanic or the heroine is AA and the hero is white etc.

Here we are in the year 2007 and of all the books that are published that are romances, how many feature an interracial relationship? I can name two Silhouette Special Editions that were published in the last two years that featured a romance where the romance was between either an African-American man and a white woman and vice-versa, and both those books were written by Barbara Gale, who is a member of RWA NYC (and was recently featured in an interview on this blog a few weeks ago). This book, The Ambassador's Vow won a Romantic Times Reviewer Choice Award for Best Silhouette Edition.

Suzanne Brockmann of course, after many fan letters, gave Sam and Alyssa their own book, Gone Too Far and Sharon Cullars wrote a novel Again published by Aphrodisia that featured a romance with an African-American heroine and a white hero. But that's pretty much it, that I know of. I don't read a lot of e-published books or small press books, so I could be missing out.

One of my favorite books is by Sandra Kitt called The Color of Love. Leah Downey is a talented black artist dealing with a loveless relationship. Jason Horn is a white cop trying to get over the traumas of his past. When they meet, sparks fly--but can they keep it together? If you haven't read it, I suggest that you run out and try to find a copy. It was optioned for an HBO Film but never made. It's too bad, I could totally see Christopher Meloni as Jason and Sanaa Lathan as Leah. She's actually written several books for Signet that featured interracial romances.

Soaps have finally started dipping their feat in the waters of interracial relationships, most notably Prince Nikolas Cassadine on General Hospital. There have been several over the years, mainly between white men and African-American women, but they've come along way since the 70's.

Maybe it's because I live in New York, but not a day goes by that I don't see several interracial couples, not just black/white but black/asian, white/asian, Indian/white etc. It's like Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition moved to New York. Maybe in the rest of the country, it's just not as prevalent.

Is there just not an audience for this type of book? Genesis Press tried to do a whole series of books that featured interracial romances that didn't last long. I know I've featured several interracial romances in my novels, so I'm certainly interested in reading them. And I've been in several interracial relationships myself. Are publishers just not that willing to take a chance on them unless the writing is amazing?

I'm curious to know what other people think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Contest Queen

"Contest Queen, Young and Sweet, Only Forty-Three, Contest Queen, hear the beat from the tambourine, oh yeah!"

Well, I'll be forty-three after my next birthday, but you get the idea. All of a sudden after having avoiding contests for years, I've now entered 3! Yes, I have added the Golden Heart and Amazon's Breakthrough Author Award to my list of contests which include the Brava Novella Contest.

I'm not sure why I've avoided contests, the only reason I can think of is that I've been so focused on writing, and querying agents that I just haven't had the chance to enter. Also, the contest has been a deterrant. Up until two years ago, I was living from paycheck to paycheck temping while I pursued writing and acting. Much of 2003 was spent unemployed. I only had enough money to pay rent, pay my therapist and take yoga classes five days a week. I was down to eating like two meals a day or sometimes one in order to have money. Unemployment only pays $364/week.

But now I'm a little flush, so I thought what the heck! Of course, sending 6 partials, 6 synopses, and the full is not going to be cheap, but I'm sending the full on a disk, so that should make it lighter.

Now I just have to figure out what my next step is in terms of writing. I have two chick-lit romantic comedy paranormals to rewrite, and I still have to finish the YA that I started several months ago. Of course, since coming back from NJRW, my mind has been teeming with ideas, including two erotic romances. MF and I came up with a fun idea, which actually might work better as a screenplay where you have the visuals.

So right now, I have one YA partial, one YA idea, 2 full length novels that need to be rewritten and a chick-lit paranormal that needs to be researched and written. Since NaNoWriMo is coming up, I thought I would finish the YA to see if it actually works as a novel, and just plug in later the stuff that I need to research.

Unless I change my mind.


Oh, and I went to see the Jennifer Lopez/Marc Anthony concert on Sunday. If she's not pregnant, then she's lost whatever fashion sense that she had, because her costumes all consisted of variations on a caftan! They were so beyond fugly. He was electrifying, she needs to stay away from ballads because she has a hard time staying in tune. But they looked very adorable together when they sang their two duets at the end.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Movie Review: Margot at the Wedding

Margot Zeller, a savagely bright, razor-tongued short-story writer who creates chaos wherever she goes, sets off on a surprise journey to the wedding of her estranged and free-spirited, unassuming sister Pauline. Margot, with her all-too-rapidly maturing son Claude in tow, arrives with the gale force of a hurricane. From the minute she meets Pauline's fiancé--the unemployed artist Malcolm--Margot starts to plant seeds of doubt about the union. As the wedding approaches, one complication crashes into the next: vengeful neighbors, a beloved tree in the backyard and Margot's own marital turmoil. The two sisters find themselves at the precipice of an unexpected transformation ultimately revealing that even when your family is about to implode the one thing you can cling to for solace and comfort is your imploding family.

So I went to see Margot at the Wedding yesterday at the New York Film Festival yesterday. I was lucky to get the ticket since they go really fast every year, and I joined the Film Society at Lincoln Center precisely so that I could get tickets earlier, and I still didn't get tickets to see either of the Bob Dylan films that I wanted to see.

I had seen Noah Baumbach's other two films, the latest was the Squid and the Whale starring Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels and I liked his ability to create three dimensional characters warts and all. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh are two of my least favorite actors. Most of the time I can see the wheels turning in their head during the movie. But they were both surprisingly natural and unaffected in this movie, particularly Jennifer Jason Leigh, who I find almost mannered in her acting.

There is no tidy ending to this movie, and the relationship that Margot has with her son Claude is almost too close, uncomfortably so. Their relationship demonstrates that their needs to be clear lines between parent and child. At times she treats him almost like a confidante and then at other times like he's a very small child, younger than 14. It's the type of movie that's going to make conservatives say "I told you so," that being too liberal as a parent can lead to problems.

Jack Black for me was the only weak link. He's not a very good actor, and he's certainly not in the same league as Kidman and Leigh. It helps that he's basically playing a schlub, the type of guy that most women have dated at one time or another, that you marry at your peril. Basically harmless but completely unmotivated, yet angry at the world because they're not getting the recognition or the job they think their talents deserve.

It was nice to see Irish actor, Ciaran Hinds in a small part as an old flame and colleague of Margot's and John Turturro as Margot's husband Jim.

The movie gives you tantalizing clues as to the relationship that Margot and Pauline had with their father. But you never see their other sister Becky or the mother. At first, I thought that there was something missing by not having them show up until the last minute and then barely on screen. But then I realized, they weren't really necessary because the movie is about Pauline and Margot, and their love/hate relationship.

I thought Noah Baumbach caught the relationship between the two sisters perfectly, one who seems to have everything, a nice husband, small amount of fame as a writer, two sons, and the sister who is less together, but you realize during the movie that it's actually reversed. Pauline is much more together than her older sister.

All in all I would give this movie a B+


Monday, October 08, 2007

Back from the land of Springsteen

I'm back from the New Jersey conference filled with new ideas, made new friends, discovered new restaurants and totally tired!

New Jersey is one of my favorite conferences, and not just because it's only an hour from my house. I had a great drive down with KMJ and Megan, catching up on our lives since the last chapter meeting. When we got to the NJ, KMJ dropped her bags off at her hotel and then dropped Megan and I off at the Woodbridge so that we could check in and register for the conference.

Friday, I went to three workshops, including writing erotic romance, since I have an interesting idea for a Blaze that I might work on during NaNoWriMo. Also using history in romance and also a great workshop on using backstory in your novel. I'm the Queen of Infodump, so that was a workshop that really helped me out. I'm getting better at backstory, particularly with the novella that I wrote and submitted for the Brava novella contest.

I had dinner with KMJ, Megan and Janet Mullany one of the Risky Regencies who is totally delightful, at the Bonefish Grill which is this yummy seafood restaurant near the hotel. I had the best plate of mussels that I have had in a long time. Janet also writes as Jane Lockwood and I managed to pick up a copy of her book Forbidden Shores at the bookfair (where I spent way too much money). I loved that Janet called the book "filthy"!

Ate too much cake after the Golden Leaf awards, but I danced it off the next night at the Saturday night party where I lead a conga line and then later did my interpretive dance to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". There were more great workshops on Saturday including Eloisa Jame's workshop on creating a Beta hero. But the best was the Keynote speech that Sherrilyn Kenyon gave at lunch.

She talked about her road to being published, how she'd sold 6 books in one year and then nothing for 4 years! But she kept on writing even though she had to borrow postage from her neighbor to mail her proposal and now she's a New York Times bestselling author. It just goes to show you that no matter how hard it is, no matter how many people may get publishing contracts before you, that you can't quit if writing is truly in your blood. I was so inspired that I'm totally nominating her for our Author of the Year award for The Golden Apples.

Marianne Mancusi over at Cosmo and Chat has some great photos including one of me in my dress from Saturday's party.

I also caught up with some of our chapter members at the conference, including a few that I hadn't seen in awhile, setting up more interviews that hopefully you will see in the upcoming weeks. But there was a sad note, one of our members had a minor heart attack just before she was due to leave for the conference. Thankfully she was okay, but we were all worried about her and sending her our prayers.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stolen Identity

So here I am at the New Jersey conference having a good time, spending quality time with my friends, when I discover that someone has stolen my hotmail account and used it to send bogus emails to my friends and now I can't even use my hotmail account anymore because of it. I've been blocked out.

Can you believe that? First of all the email was so ridiculous it wasn't even funny. The premise was that I was somehow stuck in Africa doing relief work, and I needed money to either get out of Africa or to continue to do my work with HIV/AIDS patients. So not only have they stolen my email account, but they're using the plight of ill people to try and scam money from them. This really pisses me off.

Not only because now I have to close my account but all of my friends's emails have been stilen by someone. Mercury in retrograde doesn't start until the 12th and it's already kicking my ass.

Has anyone else had their email addresses stolen by someone trying to scam money?


Friday, October 05, 2007

Scandalous Women - Lady Hester Stanhope

I've written a new post about Lady Hester Stanhope, Queen of the East over here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Welcome Catherine Greenfeder

The Lady Novelist is proud to welcome RWA NYC author and charter member Catherine Greenfeder to Got It Goin On this week. Catherine's second novel Wildflowers came out in June to rave reviews including 4 stars from RT Book Club who said, "Greenfeder's western romance is filled with the trials of settlers going west. The author pulls no punches, and the dangers are graphic to say the least, but very realistic for that era. The villain is a nasty piece of work; the heroine strong-willed; and the hero brash but lovable and a bit clueless when it comes to matters of the heart."

Ryan Majors, trapper, mountain man, and half Nez Perce Indian, is down on his luck. Trapping is in decline. In St. Louis, Missouri, he learns of his brother Chet’s murder and swears revenge. He also promises to help his sister-in-law and her children. Luck appears in the form of an opportunity to lead a missionary wagon party to the Willamette Valley. Ryan would rather teach a mountain lion to dance than lead a missionary, but the money and the minister’s spirited daughter, Johanna Wade, persuade him otherwise.

Johanna Wade left her native Boston to join her father’s missionary wagon to Oregon. She didn’t count on meeting the ruggedly handsome mountain man-turned trail guide, Ryan Majors, who would teach her not only how to survive in the wilderness but a reason to love again.

Together their journey along the Oregon Trail meant danger, opportunities, and the chance for love.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and how long have you been writing before you were published?

I'm a full-time language arts teacher and a part-time novelist. I'm married and have one son in college. I've been writing a long time; I published short nonfiction including travel articles, book reviews, and poetry before having my first novel published last year.

Q: Tell us about when you got "the call"?

I received an offer for a contract for Angels Among Us in July 2004 from Wings e Press. It was the second time that I submitted the manuscript to them. The first time they rejected it with the advice to revise and resubmit which I did. After trying to publish a work of fiction for so long, I was overjoyed.

Q: What made you choose romance?

I've enjoyed reading romance novels since high school; however, I really got interested in writing a romance much later in my adult years. I enjoyed the happily ever after endings, the sensuality, and the characters who engage my emotions. Even the classics that I read for English classes -- Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Lady Chatterly's Lover, and Shakespeare's plays have romance in them. I found that one of the most compelling parts of the plot.

Q: What you do love about writing romance?

I enjoy telling stories where the characters overcome obstacles that challenge them and their relationships, creating characters whose lives touch the reader on an emotional level, and where "true love" wins out in the end.

Q: Your book, Wildflowers is a Historical Romance, set along the Oregon Trail during 1848 has received rave reviews. What sparked the idea? Was it a character? A scene you just couldn't get out of your head?

Wildflowers had been the first romance that I wrote. I think the idea for the book came from my love of westerns, my interest in Native American culture, and my respect for the pioneers. A psychic told me that in one lifetime I'd been a homesteader on the frontier and in another a Native American. I'm not sure about that, but I did feel a strong affinity with both the time and places I wrote about. I also have family in Oklahoma which is the home of the Five Tribal Nations. So, visits there gave me an opportunity to research for the book.

Q: Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?

When I edited Wildflowers, my editor had been a native Nebraskan. She had been very helpful in editing details on the forts which were stopovers for the wagon party. I had to plot carefully around the setting and the time it took for the pioneers to travel across the country from Missouri. I did extensive research including consulting the National Parks Service and a woman who participated in a reenactment of traveling on the Oregon Trail.

Q: Did you have to do any major research for this book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn't already know?

Yes, I have boxes of books and research notes that I took before, during, and even after I wrote Wildflowers. I loved to research, so it wasn't that difficult. I learned a lot and used some of it. Pictures, diaries, and maps came in handy. I also viewed documentaries and listened to music of that era. I had never realized how difficult it was to travel across the country, and most pioneers did so by foot. The wagons were used mainly for supplies. The elderly, the very young, and the sick rode the wagons. I learned how they forded the rivers, descended steep mountains, and dealt with the daily obstacles they faced. It was very hard on the women, and quite a few of them were pregnant as they traveled. Many of the pioneers had been farmers so they were used to hard work, but this was an extraordinary and difficult journey. Johanna, the heroine, is the minister's daughter. She used her skills as a teacher and to care for the sick and injured. I learned about home remedies and Native American cures for all kinds of ailments. Ryan, the trail guide, was brought up among his mother's Pawnee people. So, he knows how to hunt, to survive in the wilderness, and is familiar with the tribes they meet on the trail.

Q. You've also written a paranormal romance, Angels among Us, also from Wings E-Press. What sparked that idea and how easy or hard is it to switch from writing contemporaries and historical?

The idea for Angels Among Us came to me while at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I always had an affinity with angels, and I've been collecting them (statues, pictures, etc.) for years now. Whenever I see the Neapolitan tree at the museum I am in awe. A few years ago I went to see it, and I swear that one of the angels "spoke" to me. She said something like "When are you going to write my story?" So, I thought about that. I wanted to write a romance novel with an angel as a main character. Hence, Eviance Angelique, guardian angel to Kay Lassiter who happens to be a psychic seeking the truth about her parents' deaths. The romance part had been more difficult as I focused more on the paranormal. Yet, I knew that Kay had returned to her native New Jersey home for a few reasons -- to start a business, put the past behind her, and to make peace with what happened to her. In the process, she also rekindles a romance with her high school love, Jake O'Malley, local science teacher.

I found writing historical very time consuming in terms of research. I've written a mainstream woman's book which required research on the Great Depression and W.W.II years. At this point, I prefer to write contemporary and paranormal romances.

Q. What/Who do you like to read?

That's a tough question. I like to read a variety of books including mysteries, romances, and nonfiction. Early on I liked Janet Dailey, Danielle Steele, Sydney Sheldon, and Mary Higgins Clark. I'm trying to read more current books. We have a lot of really wonderful writers in the RWA chapters I've joined. So, I've read some of their books, and I've learned a lot from them. I also read a lot of YA books because I teach middle school students.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you plot extensively first or do you tend to "fly in the mist?" Has your process changed over time? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

I think that my writing process varies depending on the book. When I worked in Manhattan, I had an hour commute by bus. Rather than read a romance novel, I decided to try to write one. So, I drafted Wildflowers in a notebook (pre-laptop days) on my commute. I did everything with that book -- research and write, outline on index cards, keep a notebook, use clippings, and so on. That book went through a few critique groups. A former member, Rita Rinaldi, had been a big help with revisions.

I wrote Angels Among Us quickly and researched after the draft. RWA/NYC chapter member Kathryn Hayes had been invaluable with giving me feedback on the draft. As I said, my agent has the other two books. She's actively working on getting them published. She has given me helpful critique. Former member Michael Powaznik acted as my critique partner for the mainstream novel.

I just finished the rough draft for my third paranormal romance novel. I'm working with a critique group to revise the book. I hope to have it done in a few months then send it off.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

Yes, never give up! Years ago at an RWA/NYC chapter meeting I had the chance to listen to Alice Orr speak about writing. She handed out a paper which I keep near my computer. It reads "Do It Anyway". Through the years of rejection, writers' block, and struggling with putting words on the page, I often think of her advice. Also, I view writing as a craft, one that you learn as you do. I'm always learning. Hopefully, the writing gets better.

Q. There was a recent article called "Harm in reading romance novels,"Do you think romance novels harm or empower women?

In general, I think that if they portray strong female characters, romance novels provide role models for young women. They also can show ideal images of relationships and romance. It's something to aspire to. When I write my hero, for instance, I think of the qualities that I'd admire in a man. I "fell in love" with Ryan as much as Johanna did in Wildflowers. He was courageous in the face of danger, protective, and very romantic.

Q: Romance has garnered the biggest market share in genre fiction, yet it gets the least respect in popular and literary culture. Do you have any thoughts on why that is? Do you find this prejudice changing?

I think that romance novels have gotten a bad rep for different reasons. First, I find that people who don't read romance are quick to criticize those who do or those who write them. Secondly, some of the book covers don't do justice to the author's work. Finally, there's an elitism. I teach middle school students. Not surprisingly, the girls (aged thirteen to fourteen) enjoy the teen romance novels. So, I've been sure to include books by such authors as Mary Kennedy, Meg Cabot, Nicholas Sparks, and others in their book club selection. By the way, I've "come out of the closet" about being a romance writer at work. My students are proud of my accomplishment, and I think it inspired a few to go off and write their own books.

Q. What are you planning to work on next?

I'm currently revising Ghost Writer, a paranormal romance novel that I drafted over six months. It's in the "rough" stage, and I feel it will take a few rewrites to get it up to submit. It's a ghost story set at the Jersey Shore. It involves parallel plots with ghosts from the Victorian era and the present occupants of an inn. I'm having fun writing it.

Thanks Catherine for stopping by! Catherine will be at the New Jersey conference this weekend at the booksigning but you can order both Wildflowers and Angels Among Us from Wings ePress now.

Coming up an interview with Silhouette Desire author and RWA NYC member Anna DePalo!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book Meme

I snagged this meme from the Pajama Gardener (Thanks!)

Total number of books?

If you include what's sitting on my floor, I'd have to say over 500 at the moment. But I've owned thousands over the years.

Last book read?

The Prada Paradox by Julie Kenner.

Last book bought?

The Courtesan's Revenge by Frances Wilson.

Five meaningful books?

This is a hard one. The Diary of Anne Frank. Probably the most powerful book that I read growing up. It opened my eyes to the world outside my doors, and taught me about hope, and also about evil.

Forever by Judy Blume. A banned book which is fitting this is National Banned Books month. I read this book when I was 12 in seventh grade. I'd already started reading Harlequin Romances but this was the first book that told me just how painful and wonderful first love could be.

Gone with the Wind - I don't know why it's so weird to be a woman of color who actually likes Gone with the Wind, although I have to say that I love the movie more than I do the book. Yes, its a book about the glorious South, the lost grand life of plantations but it's also a book about survival, and the passing of an era, that had to end whether with war or some other way. And I love Scarlett. She was smart and strong and did what she had to do to survive and was hated for it. Better for her to have curled up and died or whined like her sisters then pull herself up by her high button shoes. It would have been more ladylike and genteel but war isn't genteel. And I always believed that in the end she would find a way to get back together with Rhett, that now that she knew how much she loved him, she would be just as tenacious as she was rescuing her family and Tara.

Motherless Daughters - This book was a godsend for me after my mother died. I don't know how I would have coped without it.

Jane Austen's Emma - I actually read this book before I read Pride and Prejudice. I've always had a soft spot for Emma. She maybe think she knows best, be a little snobby, but her heart is in the right place. And I love Mr. Knightley. He gently but firmly puts Emma in her place, and teaches her how to grow up.

I'm tagging Megan Frampton, Mary over at the Bandwagon, Deirdre Savoy, Patt Mihailoff, and Charlie Horse.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why can't The Bachelor....

be Black? Or Asian or Hispanic? Anything but another white dude?

No offense to Brad Womack, the current Bachelor who is cute, and funny and seems less of a tool than some of the previous dubious titleholders, but I was thinking last night as I watching the show that it just seems like the same old, same old with this show.

You know, girls with more cleaveage than sense who spend however many weeks either throwing themselves at the Bachelor or playing coy. And then being catty about each other.

At one point, they were at the race track and a player for the San Diego Chargers came in named Shaun. Really attractive black guy and the girls were all atwitter, and I thought why have they never had a Bachelor of another race? Is the audience for this show too conservative? Considering that the lone minority contestant for this show was gone after the first episode it makes you wonder (Seriously does ABC even asks these guys whether or not they've ever dated outside their race? Or are they too busy being politically correct?).

No minority has ever made it to the final four or the final two. I'm not counting Tessa from last season's Bachelor because she's Eurasian. But seriously, this show might be more interesting if they mixed it up a bit. There has to be some hot, rich, Asian or Hispanic entrepreneur looking for love.

Perhaps the reason there hasn't been an African-American bachelor is ABC doesn't want to get the hate mail from black women who are pissed that he's on a show with white women! Too OJ or Tiger Woods for them. But then again, on VH-1, Flavor of Love was very mixed bunch of racially diverse hoochies as was Rock of Love and I Love New York. It is easier for cable with its smaller audience to be more diverse?

Still, it's time that this show started reflecting more the cultural diversity of this country. Heck, Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy are more culturally diverse than this show. Even Dancing with the Stars. If ABC can put on a show based on the GEICO cavemen, why not a Bachelor who isn't white?


Monday, October 01, 2007

Reveling in the Renaissance

Yesterday, I headed on up to the Upper Manhattan (Inwood) to Fort Tryon Park where the Cloisters museum is located to attend the mini Renaissance Faire that they've had for the past twenty years.

It was a fun day, although very hot and crowded. There were the usual assortment of vendors, including the Society for Creative Anachronism who had a booth. I wandered around for awhile, looking at the costumes which were gorgeous but incredibly expensive at $120 just for the dress, not even the blouse or bustier.

I purchased some bath salts and almost had my fortune told. Watched the joust and the living chess game which were mini versions of the same at the New York Renaissance Faire where I worked after college. In fact, the actor who played the Sheriff of Nottingham, choreographed the Living Chess game.

I'm always curious at the Faires that include Robin Hood among the characters since technically Robin didn't live during the Renaissance but during the reign of Richard the Lionheart (allegedly since some historicans believe Robin is a myth like King Arthur. I, however, believe that both men existed, but then I'm a romantic at heart). I'm guessing that the legend of Robin Hood gained in popularity during the Renaissance. I think that's when the first play version of his legend was written and performed.

Working at the Renaissance Faire (or Ren World as I liked to call it) in Sterling was my first paying acting gig apart from some extra work and I was very excited to get it. This was my second or third time auditioning for them when I finally got cast. It was the longest and strangest summer of my life and I'm dying to write a YA about the experience.

There were tons of people in costume at this Renaissance Faire which somehow didn't seem as odd as it did when I worked at the Renaissance Faire in Sterling. At the time, I had no idea how into this stuff people got. There was this one couple that came every weekend dressed like Elizabethan Courtiers in really expensive costumes. They must have been so hot in those things. My friend Gary dubbed them "Prince and Princess Get a Life."

One of the weirdest moments was discovering that one of the nuns from my old school was working at the Faire as a madrigal singer. She wasn't a nun anymore, she'd left the order and gotten married, but I felt really odd seeing her and calling her by her name. She'd been the music teacher when I was in grade school. Imagine Maria from the Sound of Music but more militant and you get Sister Regina. We used to call her the Nazi Julie Andrews nun. She used to walk on her tippy-toes which I thought was weird.

Anyhow, she and her new husband were working as Madrigal Singers at the Faire, and I found it really hard to see her as anything other than Sister Regina, no matter how hard I tried. I was dying to ask her totally impertinent questions about her life as an ex-nun. Like how did she manage to meet and marry someone so soon after leaving the order (Seriously, here I am 42 and I still haven't managed that). Also, if the nuns were brides of christ, does that mean that she and Jesus got a divorce when she left the order? Also, do they give you money to buy clothes when you leave, or do you have to wear the outfit that you wore when you first joined? Which could be really weird if you joined in like 1968 and it's now 1986.

Also, what made her leave the order? Did she just get tired of sleeping in a room smaller than most New York closets, and having to wear black all the time? The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience (that would do me in)? Or living with a bunch of women? Being a nun must be like living in a sorority for God but without the fun frat parties. Plus they all had to have gotten their periods all at the same time which would explain why once a month they were also bitchy. You haven't lived until you've seen two nuns snapping at each other!

Of course, I didn't ask her any of these questions. Just because she wasn't a nun anymore, didn't mean she didn't scare the crap out of me.

Have as anyone else gone to a Renaissance Faire or worked at one? Or been taught by nuns? What do you remember about them?