Friday, February 29, 2008

Royalty Round-up

So Prince Harry is being forced to withdraw from Afghanistan now that the freaking Drudge report has leaked that he's been there for the past several months. Poor guy, all he wants to do is serve his country and he keeps getting thwarted by bureaucracy. I know that's he third in line for the throne, but Prince Andrew got to serve during the Falklands war, flying his helicopter, dodging bullets, coming home to Koo Stark. The British government of course worries that Harry could be a prime target for kidnapping by the Taliban and other extremist groups but isn't that the risk that the other soldiers take as well? At least he got a little taste of what its like to actually be in the field, something that Prince William is never going to experience.

Gone are the days when the monarch led his troops into battle. I think that William III was the last King to actually lead his troops, during the Battle of the Boyne. I don't think that any of the Georges got the chance to do more than just wear a ceremonial uniform (something that Edward VII turned into an art form).

Meanwhile the Queen's first granddaughter, Zara Philips, daughter of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Philips, has posed for her first portrait.

Like her mother, she's fond of the horses, although much prettier. She's often labeled in the press for being a rebel which in English terms means she has a tongue piercing and likes to date rugby players. She's won the European Championships which is a big deal if you are into horses, and she's Britain's best bet if she makes the Olympic team. Princess Anne was on the 1976 Olympic Team in Canada but I don't think she did to well. Hopefully Zara will be bringing home the gold this summer for the Royal Family.

In other news, President Nikolas Sarkozy of France and his new wife Carla Bruni will be meeting the Queen next month. That should be interesting, considering that Sarkozy had another wife as of last October. Is there anyone out there but me who finds it wild that he met and married Carla Bruni like two months after meeting her? That's some coup de foudre. It's like something out of a Harlequin Presents, except without the accidental pregnancy.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Breast Cancer Protection Act

A friend sent me an email with this petition and I thought I would post it for everyone.

From a nurse:

I'll never forget the look in my patient’s eyes when I had to tell them they had to go home with the drains, new exercises and no breast. I remember begging the Doctors to keep these women in the hospital longer, only to hear that they would, but their hands were tied by the insurance companies. So there I sat with my patients, giving them the instructions they needed to take care of themselves, knowing full well they didn't grasp half of what I was saying, because the glazed, hopeless, frightened look spoke louder than the quiet 'Thank You they muttered.
A mastectomy is when a woman's breast is removed in order to remove cancerous breast cells/tissue.

If you know anyone who has had a Mastectomy, you may know that there is a lot of discomfort and pain afterwards.

Insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an outpatient procedure.

Let's give women the chance to recover properly in the hospital for 2 days after surgery.

It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very important .. Please take the time and do it really quick!
Please send this to everyone in your address book. If there was ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of those times. If you're receiving this, it's because I think you will take the 30 seconds to go to vote on this issue and send it on to others. You know who will do the same.

There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require Insurance Companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating the 'drive-through mastectomy' where women are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their Web page with a petition drive to show your support. Last year over half the House signed on.

PLEASE!! Sign the petition by clicking on the Web site below. You need not give more than your name and zip code number.

This takes about 2 seconds. PLEASE PASS THIS ON to your friends and family, and on behalf of all women, THANKS.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pimping out New Authors - Dead To Me

So last night, a writer from the workshop I was in for two years, had his first reading at the Barnes and Noble downtown in the Village. Unfortunately I missed. A) because I was hot and sweaty from my salsa class, B) my hair looked horrible and C) I had a hole in one of my black boots and the rain was soaking in terribly. Plus American Idol was on and I forgot to set my DVR. So I missed it. But I'm here to pimp out Anton's first book to you all.

Here's a brief synopsis:

A new urban fantasy featuring a man working on the right side of law-with talents that come from left field.

Psychometry-the power to touch an object and divine information about its history-has meant a life of petty crime for Simon Canderous, but now he's gone over to the good side. At New York's underfunded and (mostly) secret Department of Extraordinary Affairs, he's learning about red tape, office politics, and the basics of paranormal investigation. But it's not the paperwork that has him breathless.

After Simon spills his coffee on (okay, through) the ghost of a beautiful woman-who doesn't know she's dead-he and his mentor plan to find her killers. But Simon's not prepared for the nefarious plot that unfolds before him, involving politically correct cultists, a large wooden fish, a homicidal bookcase, and the forces of Darkness, which kind of have a crush on him.

Doesn't that sound awesome? I had the good fortune to hear a good deal of this book during the two years that I was in the workshop, along with Carolyn Turgeon (author of the awesome Rain Village and the upcoming Fairy Godmother book), as well as the Queen Bee herself, Jennifer Belle, doyenne of the New York Times style page and fantastic author (Little Stalker, out in trade this summer).

And here's what people are saying about it:
"Simon Canderous is a reformed thief and a psychometrist. By turns despondent over his luck with the ladies (not always living) and his struggle with the hierarchy of his mysterious department (not always truthful), Simon's life veers from crisis to crisis. Following Simon's adventures is like being the pinball in an especially antic game, but it's well worth the wear and tear."--Charlaine Harris, author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries.

If you like urban fantasy or paranormal, and you're a little tired of reading about vampires, pick up a copy of Dead To Me. Hopefully I can convince Mr. Strout to guest blog in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You Win Some, You Lose Some

So Tilda Swinton won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role to use the proper title but lost the fashion stakes. Or I should say that she won Worst Dressed for the night in the get-up she has on. I still find it hard to believe that someone actually designed this. Literally sat in front of a sketch pad, and came up with the horror on the left. And its in velvet no less.

I too have won and lost recently. Most of you know that I was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Well, I just found out I didn't make the top 100. Apparently the PW review counted alot towards who moved forward, and my PW review sucked. He/She hated my manuscript for MUCH ADO ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL. He/She had some valid points but it was horrible enough that there was no way even if everyone gave me 5 star reviews that it would have mattered.

I want to thank all the people who took the time to write me reviews on Amazon. Thanks guys! And all the people who congratulated me as well. And at least I don't have pictures of me on the Internet wearing a horrible outfit!

Oh and am I the only one who thought it was tacky that they left out Brad Renfro out the In Memoriam montage? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokeswoman excused by saying that they couldn't include everyone. Really? That's your excuse? I'm sorry but they could have dumped the lame joke that Jon Stewart made about montages so that they had an extra few seconds to include both Brad Renfro and Roy Scheider.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar Fashions

So I watched the Oscars last night and I could go on about how excited I was that Marion Cotillard won for La Vie en Rose, or the shock of Tilda Swinton winning for Best Supporting Actress but what we really care about is what did people wear. Speaking of which, what the hell was that schmatte that Tilda Swinton had on? Seriously, I haven't seen anything that hideous since Kim Basinger showed up in the one armed white satin outfit with the gold-braiding. The least talented contestant on Project Runway could design something better. I get that she's all avant-garde and edgy but that was just butt ugly. Bjork's swan outfit was more attractive. I would post a picture but I couldn't post something that atrocious, not without another cup of coffee.

Now this is more like it. I'm not a huge fan of Renee Zwellweger but the woman knows how to dress.

Anne Hathaway looking lovely in red Marchesa. Marchesa gowns seem to be turning up frequently on the red carpet. One of the designers is Harvery Weinstein's new wife. Not that people weren't wearing their gowns before then. They are absolutely stunning.

I love Cameron Diaz's dress but could the woman do something with her hair? How hard can it be do have it done instead of a messy casual pony-tail?

Cate Blanchett who wears the most stunning maternity gowns ever on the red carpet. Although I hope she flew by private plane since she's like 7 months pregnant. When do the airlines suggest that you stop flying when you're preggers? 8 months?

Heidi Klum aka Mrs. Seal looking totally glamorous in a red dress, not designed by Michael Kors.

Penelope Cruz, looking stunning a dress designed for her by Karl Lagerfeld. I noticed that she didn't show up with Javier Bardem, so they must be keeping the relationship under wraps.

And finally Best Actress Marion Cotillard. I loved this dress personally. I thought the whole mermaid thing was gorgeous and not overdone.

So what did you think of the Oscars? And which were the best and the worst dresses of the night?


Friday, February 22, 2008

Cheating Spouses/Boyfriends

So I finally finished reading the Golden Heart entries for the preliminary judging. My category was novel with strong romantic elements. Whew! I have to say that they weren't better, a few were pretty good but there was one thing that 5 of them had in common.

Cheating Spouses or boyfriends.

Can we just put a moratorium on this plot point please? There has to be some other way for a couple to end their relationship besides the man cheating. How about they've just grown apart? He needs to find himself? He's embezzled all their money. He's decided to become a Catholic priest, a Buddhist monk, an Orthodox Jew and he wants a wife who's religious. Anything but the wife/girlfriend catching him in the act, unless it is with a guy. That would be different.

One of the entries actually had the husband cheating with his dental hygeniest named Tiffany. Seriously, my ex-writing partner/best friend and I used this 11 years ago in a sitcom pilot script. It's now a cliche of a cliche. And why does the other woman have to be such a bitch?

As I said, all the stories were interesting apart from that one plot point. I know that there are only so many plots out there, I think it's about 28, but this one needs to be retired. And I know that men cheat, but I would like at least some originality in the cheating if you're going to use it. Make him a compulsive sex addict, or have him meet up with his old high school sweetheart who is now widowed and he realizes that he never stopped loving her. Or a voodoo spell backfired.

Just throwing that out there for the cosmos.


Shameless Self-Promotion Day

It's Friday so it's time for some shameless self-promotion. As anyone who has read this blog in the past month knows, I'm a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Well, the deadline for reviews is March 2nd, so I'm exhorting everyone and their mother to please, please write me a review!

Just click on the above link and download the excerpt from my contemporary YA romantic comedy MUCH ADO ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL.

The best review wins a date with Richard Armitage! Just kidding, but if I knew him I would totally pimp him out to the person who wrote the best review.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

New and In stores: Charlatan by Pope Brock

You know how it is, you walk past Barnes and Nobles, and you see a book in the window that you just can't resist. That's how I felt when I saw the window display for Charlatan by Pope Brock.

Here's the synopsis:

In 1917, after years of selling worthless patent remedies throughout the Southeast, John R. Brinkley -- America’s most brazen young con man -- arrived in the tiny town of Milford, Kansas. He set up a medical practice and introduced an outlandish surgical method using goat glands to restore the fading virility of local farmers. It was all nonsense, of course, but thousands of paying customers quickly turned “Dr.” Brinkley into America’s richest and most famous surgeon. His notoriety captured the attention of the great quackbuster Morris Fishbein, who vowed to put the country’s “most daring and dangerous” charlatan out of business. Their cat-and-mouse game lasted throughout the 1920s and ’30s, but despite Fishbein’s efforts Brinkley prospered wildly. When he ran for governor of Kansas, he invented campaigning techniques still used in modern politics.

Thumbing his nose at American regulators, he built the world’s most powerful radio transmitter just across the Rio Grande to offer sundry cures, and killed or maimed patients by the score, yet his warped genius produced innovations in broadcasting that endure to this day. By introducing country music and blues to the nation, Brinkley also became a seminal force in rock ’n’ roll. In short, he is the most creative criminal this country has ever produced. Culminating in a decisive courtroom confrontation that pitted Brinkley against his nemesis Fishbein, Charlatan is a marvelous portrait of a boundlessly audacious rogue on the loose in an America that was ripe for the bamboozling.

Sounds intriguing doesn't it? I love reading about interesting bits of Americana that haven't been done to death by other writers. I had never heard of either Brinkley or Fishbein until I saw this book in the bookstores. It's gotten rave reviews from both The New York Times and The Washington Post. I even paid full-price for it (well after my Barnes and Noble discount). After all, he has twin daughters whose college tuition is probably going to cost $75,000 a year by the time they turn 18. Right now, it's sitting in my TBR pile along with the huge pile of books by other author friends. Seriously, I need to find some friends who are not writers.

After meeting Pope, in a playwright's workshop at The Players Club here in New York, I read his first book American Gothic, a fabulous book about a long hidden family secret: His great-grandfather had been murdered after having an affair with his wife's sister. Talk about creative non-fiction! I'm amazed that this book has not been snapped up and made into a movie starring Brad Pitt or Kevin Costner.

If you're a history geek like me who loves to read non-fiction that reads like a thriller or the best fiction out there, pick up a copy of Charlatan and American Gothic.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Hump Day!

Well its Wednesday and already I feel like this week is dragging. Last night the men on American Idol for the msot part were not that great, and I still have 2 more Golden Heart entries to read. I couldn't believe it when I looked in the box and discovered that I had still had 2 more. It's like they've been multipying since they've been in the Fedex box under my desk.

Plus I am totally freaking out. Lovely agent has my partial for Veiled Beauty and I haven't heard from her yet, which I don't know whether its a good thing or a bad thing. If it stunk to high heaven, she would have told me right away, right? I'm hoping that she's passed it on to the other agents for their opinion before she emails me back. In the meantime I have the urge to go swimming in a big bottle of vodka!

Still I have RA to look at while I'm waiting. And my nails are too short for me to do too much damage. I've also ordered more books for Barnes and Noble. That damn membership card! It makes it all too easy to buy books. I bought Nancy Martin's latest Blackbird mystery to hit paperback and Michele Martinez's first book in paperback. Saw Lisa Scottoline's but I can't buy anymore hardcovers right now.

Oh and the leather pants I bought over the weekend online at Victoria's Secret showed up today. Here's hoping I look hot in them and not like a Jimmy Dean sausage link!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Congratulations Sean Bean

Congratulations to Sean Bean who married his girlfriend, Georgina Sutcliffe the other day. This is Sean's 4th marriage and Georgina's first. He has 3 children by two of his wives, which include Abigail Cruttenden, his co-star from Sharpe. In fact, I think she played his wife on Sharpe.

Sean is a gorgeous 48 years old, and his new bride is 29. It's nice that he's so optimistic that 4th time is the charm, but I don't know if I could marry a man who had been married 3 times before and had 3 kids by two different women, even if he did look like Sean Bean.

I will say he is consistent, he does love blondes!

Friday, February 15, 2008

6 Really Unimportant Things About Me

I was tagged by Kwana for this meme days ago, but I've been busy editing my proposal for Veiled Beauty, so I haven't gotten to it until today. I'm not tagging anyone because I'm pretty sure everyone I would have tagged have already done this meme by now. So here goes:

1) I won the perfect attendance award in 9th grade.

2) I love John Singer Sargent. Madame X is my favorite painting. I actually own a dress like this.

3) I had my first kiss on the lips at the age of six from my boyfriend Miguel who I stole from my best friend Audrey. Yes, I said six. I went to private school.

4) I went to England the first time at 16, the summer that Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. It was the first time I'd been on a plane and the first time I'd left the country

5) My mother tried to leave the hospital the day after I was born to buy a pack of cigarettes and to vote for Johnson in the Presidential election.

6) Both my father and my uncle both served in WWII, my father in the army and my uncle in the navy. And they both survived.

So that's it.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stupid Celebrity Feuds

I didn't watch the Grammy's on Sunday because I was too busy weeping over Extreme Makeover Home Edition at work (an Iraqi war veteran with 4 kids and 1 leg got a new house after his wife left him With the 4 kids. What do you want to bet she comes back now that he has a pimped out new house?). So imagine my surprise to learn that Miss Natalie Cole was dissing Amy Winehouse after the awards, saying Amy winning 5 awards sends the wrong message.

What message would that be? If you are talented, you might win awards? Oh, because Amy is in rehab? Like Natalie Cole hasn't seen the inside of a rehab facility in her career. Last time, I looked being drug free wasn't a criteria for a Grammy nomination. If that were true, 90% of the musicians working couldn't get a nomination.

I just find a little 'the pot calling the kettle black' for her to be all up in arms about Amy Winehouse. Isn't this the woman, who made her comeback singing duets with her dead father? Amy Winehouse won her Grammy's because her album is phenomenal. I don't care if she came on stage with a crack pipe, she deserved those awards.

Is it just me or does anyone get the feeling that celebrities talk shit just to get their name in the paper? Aretha Franklin sent out a letter complaining that Beyonce introduced Tina Turner as the Queen, since AF is the Queen of Soul. Seriously? You're upset about that?

And don't get me started on Speidi complaining that people bitched about their $1.95 music video. If you are going to put it out there, expect to get bricks thrown at you. And stop making comments about Lauren Conrad, it's so boring! The only reason that Heidi Montag has any kind of career is because she roomed with LC on The Hills.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

You have got to be kidding me!

From Publishers Marketplace:

O.J. Simpson's long-time sports agent Michael Gilbert HOW I HELPED O.J. GET AWAY WITH MURDER, promising to "detail O.J.'s late-night confession" and provide "shocking new proof that O.J. Simpson did indeed murder Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman" along with information on Gilbert's crucial role in obtaining the not guilty verdict and why he stayed silent for so long, to Regnery, with a portion of his royalties pledged to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

You have to be f*@#$&*ng kidding me with this! We're supposed to believe that OJ confessed to this dude, and he kept his mouth shut for FOURTEEN YEARS, and didn't say anything about it until now. And how nice that he's pledged a portion of his royalties to Make-a-Wish to expiate his sins of omission.

Gee, Michael, instead of waiting for a book deal, it might have been nice, oh I don't know, if you had said something to the police AT THE TIME OF THE MURDERS. I'm really interested in his excuse for staying silent for so long while a killer walked free. Excuse me, ALLEGED KILLER. I wouldn't want to be sued for defamation of character or anything.

What do you think? Is this guy for real, or just another one riding the OJ wagon straight to hell?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Love Bites in the Big Apple

In celebration of Valentine’s Week, the Romance Writers of America/ New York City Chapter presents LOVE BITES IN THE BIG APPLE – short love stories written by chapter members located in the Heart of New York City.

The seven stories in the “Love Bites in the Big Apple” will appear on consecutive days on RWA/NYC’s MySpace site ---\nyromancewriters -- starting on Monday, February 11, thru Sunday, February 17.

Four of the stories are written by published romance authors: Margaret Birth, Leanna Renee Hieber, John Lovelady and Isabo Kelly. The authors and their publishing dates are as follows:

Publishing Date Title, Author
Monday, February 11 A New York State of Mind by, Leanna Renee Hieber*
Tuesday, February 12 Negotiating by Katrina Snow
Wednesday, February 13 A Time to Love by Margaret Birth*
Thursday, February 14 Never in the Back of a Cab by John Lovelady*
Friday, February 15 The Man On Her Right by Lise Horton
Saturday, February 16 Love is in the Air by Maria Ferrer
Sunday, February 17 The Trouble with Muggers & Demon Dogs by Isabo Kelly*
* published author

Readers are invited to visit the RWA/NYC MySpace site daily and post comments on each story. Those readers will be entered into a random drawing for a grand prize of chapter books and goodies.

So head on over to and check them out. You'll be glad that you did!

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Absolute Wilson - Movie Review

Yesterday I went to the Philoctetes Center to see a film about the director Robert Wilson called of course Absolute Wilson. The film chronicles the life and work of Wilson.

I've not a huge fan of Robert Wilson's work but I thought it would be interesting to see what he was like and what drove him to create the rather bizarre performances he's created over the years, including one play that took place over 24/7 in Iran.

I'm one of those people who actually like plays that have a plot. I'm not really fond of plays being desconstructed, and moved around with giant televisions etc. Most of the time, I figure that the director hasn't a clue, so he's just throwing everything but the kitchen sink up on the stage.

Wilson was born in Waco, Texas in 1941 when the South was still incredibly segregated. He stuttered as a child and was seen at least from what I got from the film as somewhat stunted intellectually. They mentioned in the film the fact that he's left-handed and I wondered if they had tried to force him to write with his right hand. Queen Elizabeth II's father, George V, was left-handed and was forced to learn to write with the other hand, and he had a horrible stutter. Plus he was also abused by one of his nannies which might also have something to do with it.

Anyway, Robert grew up thinking he was stupid, until a dance teacher helped him by telling him to slow down when he spoke which helped his stutter. He was also gay, which never goes down well in the South, and he had one very good friend who was black, the son of their housekeeper, another no-no.

So like most misfits, he came to New York to go to Pratt to study I'm assuming design, although his professor stated in the film that he never did any of the assignments, he would just create his own. He got involved with the avant-garde theater Off-Off Broadway which was really taking shape in the sixties. Artists were taking over lofts in SoHo, storefronts, anywhere that they could turn into a theater.

Because he's visual and also had trouble communicating, most of his pieces, from what I could tell in the film, deal with language. It seems mainly how language can be a barrier. From interviews in the film, Wilson's life is all about his work. He seems to travel constantly putting on productions simultaneously, with no time for a private life, and I think it shows in his work. If you're afraid of intimacy, of anyone getting to know you on a deeper level, then its going to color everything you do.

From the snippets that we got to see in the film, his work is interesting, but its certainly not something that I would want to see 40 times the way Susan Sontag mentioned in the film that she had done. If I can't indentify with anyone in the play, I find it hard to watch, although I can admire the performances and all the work that went into it.

I also found it interesting how he would meet people, who were damaged in some way, and then put them into his work. He adopted a young black kid who was deaf and used him in his work for a few years, but then (at least according to the film) he seemed to disappear from Wilson's life. Another guy that he's continued to work with is an artist named Christopher Knowles who is brain-damaged. To me, while it seemed that in one way he was helping these people, in another way he was also exploiting them for his own gain, which I found a little off-putting.

What I missed in the film were more dissenting opinions about his work. There are brief interviews with John Simon, who for many years was the much reviled critic for New York Magazine, who didn't seem too fond of his work, but everyone else seemed to hail him as a genius. While they talked about his failures over the years as an artist, it's always with the idea that people just didn't understand him. That he was too out there for America, which is why most of his work has been done in Europe, where most theaters are subsidized heavily by the government. That attitude, that we in America are just too stupid to appreciate him which always annoys me.

I'm glad that I took the time to go see it, because it's always good as a writer or an artist to be exposed to other points of view, even if you don't agree with them or even like them.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, February 08, 2008

Adventures in Research - Part Trois

I've decided that the only way that I'm going to get through the research for my historical YA, Veiled Beauty, is with many, many pictures of Richard Armitage. That's Richard as Sir Guy with Maid Marian in the second season of Robin Hood, probably shocked that the series has been renewed for a third season.

I had a bit of a jolt on Monday when I watched this American Experience program on Grand Central Station. In the 19th century, there was no such thing as Amtrak. Railroads competed for business and for routes. The New York Central railroad of which Vanderbilt was a chief stockholder had the route from Chicago to New York to Boston and then points in Upstate New York pretty sewn up. Grand Central Depot as it was called back then was where the trains stopped in New York.

Now my heroine is from Philadelphia. For her to get to New York and then Grand Central, she would have to take the Pennsylvania Railroad line from Philadelphia to Jersey City in New Jersey and then take a ferry across to New York, make her way to Grand Central Depot and then take the train from there to upstate New York. Yikes! That's one long ass trip. And the trains were still steam engines. Electric trains didn't really come into vogue until the tail end of the century and really into the early years of the 20th. This was after many accidents at Grand Central depot with steam engines.

Of course, in my head, I had my heroine going to straight to New York and then on upstate all on the same train. Silly me! I had thought of moving my heroine to Boston, but the problem is the woman that I'm partly basing my heroine on came from Boston and I don't want it to be that similar. Plus I like Philadelphia, I know the city fairly well from my days stage managing a friend's theater company. And because of its background being founded by Quakers, and a hotbed of abolitionists, and the place the Declaration of Independence was signed. The City of Brotherly Love and all that.

I can also use how utterly exhausted my poor heroine is going to be after having schlepped all the way from Philadelpia to my advantage. Right now things are a little too easy peasy for her when she arrives at college. She might even have to stay overnight at a boarding house before she takes the trolley to college in the morning, leaving her dreadfully low on funds.

When I came up with the plot for my new YA, I had thought because I'm a history geek, that the research would be easy. Then it dawned on my that while I knew a great deal about 19th century England, my knowledge of late 19th century America was not as extensive as I had thought. 19th Century New York society yes, the lives of the middle class not so much. And lives of late 19th century college girls not at all.

It's been a real learning process trying to find out the information that I need but also a lot of fun. And its not going to go to waste because I have at least 2 other books that I want to set in the same time period which hopefully I'll get to write if this comes off.

As long as I have my pictures of Richard to inspire me!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wanted: A Few Good Women

For the Armitage Army. Who are the Armitage Army? The legions of discerning women who have discovered the smouldering talents of Richard Armitage. Above is a clip from North and South from Elizabeth Gaskell's book of the same name (not the miniseries from the 80's starring Patrick Swayze and Lesley Ann Down.

Here he is snogging Dawn French as Geraldine the Vicar of Dibley (proving that he even loves full-figured women as well!)

I'm not the first woman to discover Richard Armitage, but now it seems like everyone is watching North and South and joining the Army (Amanda, your secret decoder ring and life-size poster are in the mail). Recently Kwana, Megan and Kristie J. have joined the Army.

Why Richard Armitage and why now? Could it be because in North and South he plays the ultimate smouldering alpha male, John Thornton, the owner of a mill in Northern England? Is it the lips? The beautiful light brown eyes? The way he can be stern and cutting at one moment and then tearing his heart out to throw it at Margaret Hale's feet? Sigh!

And don't even get me started on Guy of Gisbourne, in the otherwise forgettable and regrettable Robin of Sherwood. He makes being evil look good and he's redeemed by his love for Marian who for some reason prefers the punk who lives in the woods that claims that he's Robin Hood, but he's such a wimp, I don't believe him. Seriously, she'd be much happier with Sir Guy, even if he is evil, as long as she gets him to wash his hair occasionally.

Richard Armitage is from Leicestershire in England, and he has that sexy Northern accent that Sean Bean has (although SB is from Sheffield as Michelle Cunnah likes to remind me). Why I never ventured into the North of England, I'll never know. Apparently they breed them differently up there.

Kwana writes that she hopes to write a hero worthy of RA. He certainly fills my writing dreams.

I could easily imagine RA playing a sexy Regency vampire, all smouldering and wearing black as he sinks his teeth into your neck. Or a sexy but rebellious vicar who comes to the village in Victorian Engalnd and turns everybody's life upside down, including the uptight widow who's family own the living. How about this, RA is a sexy and smouldering former soldier in Wellington's army who comes back all broken and shattered by his experiences in war, and has to be nursed back to health and love by the widow of his best friend who has been left destitute after her husband's death (actually I think Mary Balogh wrote this already). Or a sexy pre-Raphaelite artist, and the model who must work to pay for her 12 brothers and sisters so they don't have to slave in the factories and get addicted to gin. Not too mention the good old-fashioned boss/secretary Harlequin Presents story. So many fantasies, so little time. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?

Thank god I bought that region free DVD player so that I can indulge my addiction and purchase some of Mr. Armitage's performances that aren't available on this side of the pond. But good news for Armitage lovers in the US, the new series of Robin Hood will be shown on BBC America as of the end of April. A good time to start subscribing to Satellite or DirectTV if your cable company doesn't have BBC America (Thank you TimeWarner Cable, it's the only good thing to come out of the huge amount of money I pay you every month).

So if you haven't joined The Armitage Army, what are you waiting for? It's certainly the only Army I ever want to join. Pick up a copy of North and South here.

Or just rent it from Net-Flix. You'll be happy you did.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Congratulations Megan Frampton!

So last night, I opened the mail box and there was the March issue of Marie Claire magazine with Jessica Alba wearing I'm not sure what, but inside on the book review page was Megan Frampton's first review for the magazine.

Yeah Megan!

Hurry up and get a copy of the magazine when it comes out on newstands probably in the next week.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, February 04, 2008

Character Collages

As I've been working on the proposal for my historical YA, I've realized that some of my characters are coming up as a bit flat and I realized that's because I didn't have a clear idea of what they looked like. I tend to be a visual persons, so it helps if I make a collage with pictures of what I think the characters might look like.

So I've been combing the web looking for people, not necessarily actors, that I think look the most like the people who are populating my fictional world. One of the most important characters is Victor Delacroix, who is the total hottie French professor at Brearly College.

Now I looked at a lot of pictures of Frenchmen but the closest to what I think the character looks like is Gabriel Aubry also known as Halle Berry's baby daddy. I mean the guy is smoking hot. So what if he's French Canadian? Victor's father is a French creole from New Orleans, and he grew up in between Paris and Lousiana.

Victor is kind of a rebel as well. He throws out the curriculum that the school has set and instead is having the students translate Baudelaire and Verlaine, and reading from Flaubert as well as Dumas. He tells them about the Impressionists and Toulouse Lautrec. I might even bring up the Dreyfus Affair at some point.

There is a innocent flirtation between my heroine and Victor, but he's twelve years older than her, and it is a YA so there's no sex. Just lots of possibilities!

Question of the day: Do you ever use pictures of real people to inspire your characters? Do you ever make collages with the houses and people that populate your books as a visual aid?